is an annual report produced in conjunction with the Regional Security Office
at the U.S. Consulate General in Brasília. OSAC encourages travelers to use
this report to gain baseline knowledge of security conditions in central
Brazil. For more in-depth information, review OSAC’s Brazil country page
for original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some
of which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC
The current U.S. Department of State Travel
Advisory at the date of this report’s publication assesses Brazil
at Level 2, indicating travelers should exercise increased caution due to crime.
Do not travel to any areas within 150 km/100 miles of Brazil’s land borders
with Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, and
Paraguay due to crime. (Note: This does not apply to the Foz do Iguacu National
Park or Pantanal National Park.) Do not travel to informal housing developments
(commonly referred to in Brazil as favelas, vilas, comunidades,
and/or conglomerados) at any time of day due to crime. Review OSAC’s
report, Understanding the
Consular Travel Advisory System.
& Safety Situation
U.S. Department of State has assessed Brasília as being a CRITICAL-threat location for crime directed at or affecting official
U.S. government interests. Crime, from petty to violent, is the primary
security concern for visitors to Brazil, particularly in the country’s larger
cities, to include Brasília. Exercise more caution in December and January.
During the holiday season, Brazil experiences an increase in crime due to a
number of factors. These include Brazil’s system of prison furloughs, which
allows for prisoner leave during the holidays; a higher percentage of police
officers on annual leave during the Christmas season; and the reality that
citizens receive a “13th month” salary bonus in December and are in possession
of more disposable income during these months. Burglars target vacant homes and
apartments during these two months with a greater frequency than the rest of
the year. These crimes affect foreign visitors, who are targets on occasion due
to perceived wealth.
criminals gain entry to a property via the vehicle gate while the residents are
leaving or arriving, or they threaten local staff into compliance. General
countermeasures and situational awareness are strong criminal deterrents. Proper
use of alarm systems to give first responders early warning, and properly
checking surroundings when entering/exiting homes, have proven most effective.
should feature solid-core entry doors with quality deadbolts, peepholes,
security grilles on all windows, adequate front and rear security lighting, and
a monitored alarm system. Business and home surveillance camera systems are
worthwhile investments in Brasília, and are effective deterrents against
Most residential properties, especially single-family homes, also
use security alarm systems. These systems allow local security companies to contact
local police directly. Some neighborhoods employ static guard posts to monitor
activity on adjacent streets. Larger properties and commercial sites generally
employ 24/7 security guard services. Review OSAC’s reports, Hotels: The Inns and
Outs and Considerations for
transportation hubs, hotel sectors, and tourist areas are the locations with
the highest crime rates, ranging from petty theft to armed robbery, especially
at night. Bus stations in and around downtown Brasília remain a concern;
pickpocketing and armed robberies occur in these locations more frequently than
in other areas of the city. Remain alert to surroundings, especially at large
markets. The informal housing areas around Brasília are unsafe at night; avoid
them during those hours. Review OSAC’s report, All That You Should
criminals use weapons such as knives and handguns when conducting illicit
activities. Exercise caution when traveling at night through more rural areas
and informal housing areas due to the significant potential for roadside robbery.
visitors may be more susceptible to targeting for certain crimes because they
may be less likely to file a police report and/or return to testify at criminal
proceedings, should police apprehend the perpetrators. Be careful of cash
transactions on the street; a hurried transaction often leaves the customer
with shoddy/counterfeit goods or with counterfeit money.
not accept drinks from strangers, and always watch your drink for scopolamine, GHB,
or a similar drug. Victims have woken up robbed of their valuables or sexually
assaulted after accepting doctored drinks. Review OSAC’s Report Shaken:
The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad.
commonsense preventive security techniques, just as you would in any large
city. Do not walk on beaches or in parks after dark, where assaults are common.
crime is the principal threat to visitors in Brazil, criminals use a variety of
scams to rob victims, including:
- An unknown caller claims to have
kidnapped a person you know, possibly a family member. Unless you immediately
pay the ransom, they will harm the person in question. It only becomes clear
that the kidnapping never occurred after you pay a ransom.
- An unknown caller states an
employee or family member has been in an accident and needs immediate medical
attention. You must provide payment for the injured individual to receive
treatment—a common requirement in Brazil. This scam often targets household
staff who react without verifying with their employer.
involving credit cards are common as well. Travelers using personal ATM or
credit cards sometimes receive billing statements with unauthorized charges
after using cards in Brazil, or discover their cards cloned or duplicated
without their knowledge.
addition to the high volume of online banking, the World Bank reports that
Brazil has one of the highest concentrations of ATM terminals worldwide. Local
criminals and cybercriminals target hardware – like the terminals – to obtain
credit card and banking information. Increasingly common are instances of
criminal groups using explosives, primarily dynamite, to destroy ATMs in public
areas at late hours of the night to gain access to money stored within.
There is a heightened risk to credit card information in Brazil.
Cybersecurity companies often note that, while still vulnerable, chip-and-PIN
cards are more secure and harder to clone than magnetic swipe cards. Monitor credit
card usage during and after your trip for transaction inconsistencies. Commonsense
practices to guard against card fraud include inspecting the façade of an ATM
for unusual or suspicious devices or equipment, and if using a credit card at a
restaurant or store, making sure the employee brings the credit card reader to
you. Never let anyone walk off with your credit card. Always use an ATM in
well-lighted, public areas, and never let someone “assist” you with your
transaction. Review OSAC’s reports, The Overseas Traveler’s
Guide to ATM Skimmers & Fraud and Taking Credit.
is one of Latin America’s leading digital nations. Approximately 62% of
Brazilians are active internet users. Brazilian financial institutions were early
pioneers of online services, and continue to invest heavily in evolving IT
security solutions. Next-generation biometric identity technologies are common
features in Brazil’s consumer banking sectors. Nevertheless, cybersecurity and
online fraud are persistent concerns, with annual losses reaching billions of
dollars. Hacktivists have defaced government websites and taken them offline in
Brazil continues to rank as one of the most pervasive cybercrime
environments in the world. Brazilian cybercriminals have grown more brazen
despite new legislation and official efforts to stop malicious activity online.
The banking sector has been the primary target of these operations; however,
cybercrime in Brazil also affects daily Internet users, private-sector
organizations, and short-term travelers. Maintain awareness of popular schemes
to avoid becoming a cybercrime victim. Review OSAC’s reports, Cybersecurity Basics,
Best Practices for
Maximizing Security on Public Wi-Fi, Traveling with Mobile
Devices: Trends & Best Practices, and Satellite Phones:
Critical or Contraband?
Road Safety and Road Conditions
roads and poor road engineering in Brasília can cause significant damage to
vehicles during the rainy season. Lighting, traffic signals, and road markings
vary from good to poor.
Brazil, road conditions outside of the main cities vary greatly. Accidents are
always a concern, particularly in rural areas. Conduct road travel during
daylight hours, and be aware of weather conditions that may affect roadways. Police
do not strictly enforce traffic rules and regulations. Drivers frequently
disregard stop signs and other signage. Brazil uses automatic photo-ticketing
systems to discourage speeding; authorities send tickets by mail to the owner
of the vehicle. While traveling in rural areas, as well as informal housing
areas, potholes and speed bumps are often unmarked and difficult to detect in
low light conditions. Exercise extreme caution always.
U.S. companies use armored passenger vehicles to transport visiting senior
executives who they deem to be targets due to their high profile or high-value
Review OSAC’s reports, Road Safety Abroad,
Driving Overseas: Best
Practices, and Evasive Driving
Techniques; and read the State Department’s webpage on driving
and road safety abroad.
Public Transportation Conditions
avoiding public buses while traveling in and around Brazil due to mechanical
issues and high crime rates. Crime statistics indicate that passengers face an
elevated risk of robbery or assault using public, municipal bus transportation
throughout Brazil. In Brasília, one of the areas that sees the most crime is
the Estação Rodoviária (central bus station).
use legitimate, well-marked taxis, which are white or silver with green and
yellow stripes. Private car services (e.g. Uber) also provide
a relatively safe option for travelers. Review OSAC’s report, Safety
and Security in the Share Economy.
of cargo theft, from maritime shipments, overland transport, and storage
facilities occur frequently. Airport authorities in Brazil also attempt to
counter criminal activity targeting aviation facilities with supplemental
countrywide have inaugurated supplemental security measures, in part to thwart
criminal activity targeting aviation facilities. Review OSAC’s
report, Security In Transit:
Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.
The U.S. Department of State has assessed Brasília as being a LOW-threat location for terrorism
directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.There are no known indigenous terrorist
groups operating in Brazil. Brazil is a
non-aligned country with no significant enemies, and is not a target of any known
radical groups. However, during the 2016 Olympic Summer Games, Brazilian
authorities disrupted a terrorist cell whose members may have self-radicalized.
While Brazilian authorities considered the cell “amateur,” this incident belies
mounting concern of possible terrorist-influenced events.
Religious, and Ethnic Violence
The U.S. Department of State has assessed Brasília as being a MEDIUM-threat location for political
violence directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests. Political
violence is possible in any of the major cities of Brazil, but generally
uncommon. There have been numerous protests during the past year in Brasília, generally
relating to domestic political issues. Economic conditions in Brazil have the
potential to contribute to civil unrest, protests, and strikes. After its longest
and deepest recession since the 1930s, Brazil’s economy began to recover in
2017; it has posted GDP growth for two consecutive years. However, in Brasília
and other cities, protests over inflation, living conditions and labor
relations are common. A massive, nationwide strike by truck driver unions that
began in 2018 protested diesel fuel prices, tolls, and the need for tax reform
related to the truck industry. The resulting roads paralysis caused nationwide shortages
of food, medicine, and oil.
most demonstrations remain peaceful and well controlled by local authorities,
acts of violence and confrontation with police occurs. Protests can form with
little notice, and often result in clashes with police, deployment of tear gas,
and destruction of property, to include burning city buses and attacking
private business establishments. Within the Federal District, most protests and
demonstrations take place in the city’s large, open public Esplanda area. Remain alert to potential demonstrations in this area
and avoid protests whenever possible. Review OSAC’s report, Surviving a Protest.
and ethnic violence are not common in Brazil. Brazil is home to a diverse range
of indigenous and immigrant cultures and is home to a wide range of faith
communities that generally coexist without violence.
Brazilians regard U.S. nationals in a positive manner, and are friendly to
hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornados are not common in Brazil, significant
flooding occurs in several regions, and can trigger catastrophic mudslides.
Visitors to remote areas, or areas lacking infrastructure, should exercise
caution and study weather patterns before traveling during the rainy season.
Critical Infrastructure Concerns
The Brazilian army is responsible
for defending critical cyber infrastructure. Brazil’s Computer Emergency
Response Team monitors and addresses general cyber security
incidents. Given Brazil’s highly networked economy and the fact that
authorities still are developing cyber doctrine and capabilities, analysts note
continued critical infrastructure risks.
Economic Concerns/Intellectual Property Theft
data on economic espionage threats to U.S. companies is scarce, intellectual
property rights (IPR) crimes continue to impact U.S. companies. After a period
of dormancy, the Brazilian National Council to Combat Piracy and Crimes Against
Intellectual Property approved a three-year National Plan to Combat Piracy and
coordinated activities among multiple government and private sector
organizations. The Brazil Film Agency established a Technical Working Group to
Combat Piracy, which focused on educating the public and developing policies to
address IP protection. Notable successes include a record level of seizures of
counterfeit and pirated goods, as well as enforcement against illegal
telecommunication products, set-top boxes, and piracy websites. Nevertheless,
levels of counterfeiting and piracy in Brazil, including online piracy, use of
unlicensed software, and illicit camcording, remain unacceptably high, leaving Brazil
on the U.S. Trade Representative’s Special 301 “Watch List” in 2019. Many
Brazilian cities have markets selling counterfeit material. The U.S. Government
has provided the key authorities in these actions with technical support.
goods enter Brazil over its extensive land and sea borders, with the Tri-Border
Area near Paraguay and Argentina a particular concern. Some local police forces
make concerted efforts to combat sales of counterfeit and pirated goods in open
marketplaces. Concerns also persist with respect to Brazil’s protection against
unfair commercial use of undisclosed test and other data generated to obtain
marketing approval for pharmaceutical and agricultural chemical products. Highly
organized criminal gangs have also targeted several medical cargo fleets for
expensive and rare medications.
Personal Identity Concerns
The law prohibits racial discrimination,
specifically the denial of public or private facilities, employment, or
housing, to anyone based on race. It also prohibits the incitement of racial
discrimination or prejudice and the dissemination of racially offensive symbols
and epithets and stipulates prison terms for such acts. The 2010 census
reported that, for the first time, more than 50% of the population identified
themselves as belonging to categories other than white. Despite laws and a high
representation within the general population, darker-skinned citizens,
particularly Afro-Brazilians, frequently encounter discrimination and are
underrepresented in national government positions.
federal law now prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Enforcement, however, is weak, and violence against LGBTI+ persons still occurs
regularly, particularly against the transgender community. According to the 2019
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, violence against LGBTI
individuals remains a serious concern nationwide. There were 141 killings of
LGBTI individuals in the first 135 days of 2019. Transgender individuals were
particularly at risk; there were 163 killings of transgender persons nationwide
in 2018, and police arrested suspects in only 9% of the cases. Review the State
Department’s webpage on security for LGBTI+
law also prohibits discrimination against persons with physical and mental
disabilities in employment, transportation, education, and access to health
care; the federal government generally enforces these standards. It is common
for the elderly, pregnant women, and disabled individuals to receive priority
treatment at public and private establishments. Review the State Department’s
webpage on security for travelers
is the second-largest powder cocaine consumer in the world, and the largest crack
cocaine consumer. The critical crime rates in Brazil’s major cities are
inextricably tied to the country’s drug trade, from common street assaults by
addicts, to wars between drug cartels that manifest violently in the prison
systems and marginalized communities. All of Brazil’s major cities experience
the effects of drug use. In 2019, the national homicide tally in Brazil
exceeded 41,000, a dynamic largely attributed to the drug trade.
Brazilians are most often the targets of kidnapping, foreigners are also
vulnerable. Vary routes and times of travel. Household help should not allow
anyone to enter the residence without identification and prearranged
appointments. Report suspicious persons or activities in the neighborhood to
the police immediately. Review OSAC’s report, Kidnapping: The Basics.
customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporarily
importing or exporting items such as firearms, antiquities, mineral samples,
tropical plants, wildlife, medications, and business and communication
equipment. Read the State Department’s webpage on customs
and import restrictions for information on what you
cannot take into or out of other countries.
emergency line is 197 for Civil Police, 194 for Federal Police, and 190 for Military Police. Local police in Brasília are
generally well equipped and responsive to requests for assistance from U.S. and
other foreign visitors. However, disparities do exist across Brazil’s 27 states
in terms of response capability and law enforcement resources for public
Brasília Emergency Services
Rio Branco Battalion/Federal District
(61) 3190-0500/0511 or 99611.5377
Police Precinct/Lago Sul
Police Precinct/Asa Sul
(61) 3445-2017 or 99609-3325
Police Precinct/Asa Norte
3342.1922/1006 or 99609.6768
197 or 3207.4021
Military Police of the State of Rio de Janeiro have their own formations, rules,
and uniforms, and are responsible for maintaining public order across the
state. Polícia Militar is the
country’s military police and is not associated with the Brazilian Armed
Forces; they are the Brazilian equivalent of U.S. uniformed state police
officers. Deployed solely to respond to or act as a deterrent against the
commission of crime, these units do not conduct criminal investigations.
The Civil Police
(Polícia Civil) acts as the state bureau of investigation. Each
state has its own Civil Police Department to undertake detective work,
forensics, prosecutions, and internal investigation, while the Military
Police performs preventive police duties.
The Federal Police (Polícia Federal or DPF) are responsible
for crimes against federal institutions, to include international drug
trafficking, terrorism, cyber-crime, organized crime, public corruption,
white-collar crime, money laundering, immigration, border control, airport
security, and maritime policing. DPF is subordinate to the federal Justice
The medical emergency line is 192.
For fire emergencies or sea rescue, call 193.
care is adequate at private clinics, where you need to pay cash in advance for
medical care. Public hospitals provide a lower standard of care and are
often overcrowded and understaffed, but they generally do not require
pre-payment and are experienced at dealing with medical emergencies, including
trauma injuries. Find contact information for
available medical services and available air ambulance services on the Consulate’s
Medical Assistance page.
prescription medicine sufficient for the length of your stay, be aware that
Brazil's humid climate may affect some medicines. Some prescription
medicines (mainly generic) are available.
The U.S. Department of State strongly recommends purchasing
international health insurance before traveling internationally. Review the
State Department’s webpage on insurance overseas.
Brazil is experiencing an ongoing threat of mosquito borne
illnesses, and has indicated that it will continue to work
toward mitigating the threat in 2020. For information on mosquito
mitigation, review OSAC’s report, What’s
Bugging Your Staff: Mosquito-borne Diseases - Mitigation Tactics.
viral infection is a significant health risk throughout Brazil. Such infections
include chikungunya, dengue fever, yellow fever, malaria, and Zika. While
chikungunya and dengue fever have become endemic countrywide, yellow fever and
malaria are more prevalent in the non-urban areas. There are no prophylactic
therapies for dengue and chikungunya. The most prudent strategy is to prevent
mosquito bites through repellants, treated bed nets, window screens and
All U.S. government personnel obtain yellow fever vaccination
prior to travel to Brazil. Travelers should carry a documented yellow fever
CDC has issued a Level 2 travel alert for countries affected by the Zika virus.
Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that causes flu-like symptoms (e.g. fever,
headache, joint pain, rash) for two to seven days. Because of concerns about an
association of Zika virus infection during pregnancy with microcephaly, a
congenital brain deformity, pregnant women and those who may become pregnant may
want to avoid unnecessary travel to the region or special precautions.
of water-borne diseases increase during periods of flooding. Only consume bottled
or purified water, and take special precautions when eating fruits and
vegetables, especially during the rainy seasons.
while not common, is a bacterial infection spread via rodent droppings and
waste. Given the limitations of the sanitation system in non-urban areas of
Brazil, exercise caution including vigilant hand washing after outdoor contact,
and vaccinate pets that may contract the disease from food bowls and other
exposed surfaces rodents may traverse. Early manifestations of the disease
present a flu-like symptoms.
Pay special attention to HIV/AIDS prevention. In addition to
elevated infection rates among high-risk populations such as commercial sex workers
and mobile populations such as miners or loggers, World Health Organization data
shows that Brazil has among the highest prevalence HIV rates in Latin America
and the Caribbean. WHO recommends preventive sexual practices to include of use
U.S. citizens have died while seeking medical care from non-traditional
“healers” and practitioners. Ensure you have access to proper medical care if
seeking such services.
The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health
guidance for Brazil.
Review OSAC’s reports, The Healthy Way, Traveling with Medication, I’m Drinking What in My Water?, Shaken: The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad, Health 101: How to Prepare for
Travel, and Fire Safety Abroad.
OSAC Country Council
does not have an active OSAC Country Council. However, there are active OSAC Country
Councils in several other Brazilian cities. Contact OSAC’s Latin America team for more information or
U.S. Embassy Contact
Av. Das Nações Sul, Quadra 801, Lote 3.
Hours of Operation 0800 – 1700
Monday to Friday.
Switchboard: +55 (61) 3312-7000.
Emergency calls after normal
business hours: +55 (61) 3312-7400.
Citizen Service Section: +55 (61) 3312-7571.
Other U.S. Diplomatic Posts in
Before you travel, consider
the following resources: