This is an annual report produced in conjunction with the Regional
Security Office at the U.S. Consulate General in Recife. OSAC encourages
travelers to use this report to gain baseline knowledge of
security conditions in northeastern 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 password.
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
Overall Crime & Safety Situation
U.S. Department of State has assessed Recife as being a CRITICAL-threat location for crime directed at or affecting official
U.S. government interests. Street crime incidents such as mugging,
pickpocketing, and armed robbery pose the greatest risk to travelers. International
crime rankings often cite major urban centers within the Recife Consular District
as among the most dangerous cities in the world.
conditions are harbingers of security in the region. The Secretary of Social
Defense (SDS), the senior body for law enforcement in the state of Pernambuco (of
which Recife is the capital), reported a spike in the homicide rate between
2014 and 2017. However, since the peak in 2017, Recife benefited from a wave of
economic growth, which has in part contributed to a 35% reduction in homicides
from 2017 to 2019. In 2019, the State of Pernambuco had its lowest number of
robberies in five years, a 17% reduction from 2018.
overburdened criminal justice system has very low conviction rates. An acute
shortage of jail space across Brazil and resulting prisoner furloughs
contribute to a cycle of violence. Despite laws that strictly regulate
firearms, criminals frequently procure and use handguns. Criminals also use
military grade weapons, blades, and other improvised weapons.
the risk is greater at night, street crime frequently occurs during the day.
Incidents of theft are frequent on city buses and metro trains. Brazil’s
criminals often use motorcycles in street crimes to evade police. Comply with
criminals’ demands; resisting increases the likelihood of serious bodily
harm. Exercise caution while on Recife beaches, as petty theft and alcohol
related incidents are common.
Crime can occur in any part of the city, including in
affluent areas, but the incidence of crime against tourists is greater in areas
surrounding the airport, hotels, bars, nightclubs, Recife Antigo (the historic
center of the city), public transportation centers, and other establishments
that cater to visitors. The theft of cell phones is common. Review
OSAC’s report, All That You Should
700 surveillance cameras monitor and attempt to deter crime in Recife. The SDS uses
these surveillance systems to dispatch police. Police and static guards patrol areas
near Boa Viagem, the location of U.S. Consulate staff housing. Larger
apartments and commercial sites often employ 24/7 private security guard
services. Despite the cameras, security guards, and police, criminal activity is
a regular occurrence.
Visitors and locals can be victims of stolen identity involving
credit/debit cards. Merchants are sometimes involved in the theft of
credit/debit card account information at point-of-sale machines. State
Department investigations revealed that hackers compromise bank security
measures to steal account numbers. The use of credit cards is very common in
Recife. When using a credit card, never allow waiters or clerks to walk away
with your card, and make sure they use the card’s chip in lieu of swiping.
Monitor accounts for the duration of your visit in Brazil. Inform your banks
and credit card issuers of travel plans to Brazil to monitor unusual charges. Review
OSAC’s reports, The Overseas Traveler’s
Guide to ATM Skimmers & Fraud and Taking Credit.
Review OSAC’s reports, Hotels: The Inns and
Outs and Considerations for
A growing area of concern is the rise in cybercrime.
Cybercriminals with significant capabilities regularly target U.S. businesses
in Brazil. Brazilian cybercriminals are sophisticated and regularly employ
malware, and steal billions of dollars annually despite government efforts to
stop malicious online activity. Some debit/credit card thefts have been
attributed to hacking; close monitoring of banking account information should
automatically follow any sales transactions to ensure credit/debit cards and personal
information is not compromised. Withdrawing money from ATMs not inside hotels,
banks, airports, or other locations with supplementary security measures poses
serious risks. 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
conditions vary greatly throughout northeastern Brazil. Most roads in large
cities are paved. However, many roads, even in urban areas, are in poor
condition with large potholes and overgrown vegetation. Some roads may become
impassable during the rainy season. Recife has poor, easily clogged water
drainage systems; potholes appear suddenly and remain unrepaired for weeks. Many
rural roads are unpaved and can be impassable during heavy rains.
driving is a requirement, as traffic can be congested and unpredictable. The
level of public and private driver training and safety awareness does not reach
minimum U.S. standards.
on the roads remains a problem, especially during evening travel, traffic jams,
and road closures due to protests. Although U.S. government employees in Recife
have not reported being the victim of a carjacking or robbery, these crimes
occur in the city, particularly at night. Criminals take advantage of victims
stopped at red lights, particularly in the evening hours, and in less dense or remote
areas of the city. Call0800-081-1078 for
the Traffic Police (CTTU).
lighting is unpredictable, lanes lack clear markings, and drivers frequently
drift to avoid poor road conditions, resulting in unsafe driving conditions. In
Recife, a lack of parking results in informal parking that blocks roads and
sidewalks. Peddlers and panhandlers create an additional hazard, as do slower
moving human and animal-pushed carts.
has zero tolerance for drinking and driving and has enacted a law to combat
drunk driving known as “Lei Seca” (Dry Law). Frequent unannounced
checkpoints occur in most cities, including Recife, where police will initiate breathalyzer
tests on vehicle operators. While these checkpoints establish a viable
deterrent, there still are incapacitated drivers on the road. Throughout
Brazil, automatic photo-ticketing systems attempt to discourage speeding and
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 Issues
iterations of the State Department Travel Advisory for Brazil warned
travelers not to use public buses in and around Recife due to crime. The current
iteration of the Travel Advisory does not carry this warning.
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.
U.S. Department of State has assessed Recife 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.
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic
The U.S. Department of State has assessed Recife as being a MEDIUM-threat location for political
violence directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests. Extremist
groups occasionally conduct acts of civil disobedience and may enter into
violent confrontations with police. There have been political protests in the
past year throughout the country. While most protests in Recife are peaceful,
they can become confrontational. Avoid large crowds or ongoing protests. Review
OSAC’s report, Surviving a Protest.
Brazilians regard U.S. nationals in a positive manner, and are friendly to
and mudslides are a seasonal problem in Recife. Monitor weather conditions,
especially during the rainy season (July to September). Many streets and
neighborhoods lack drainage systems, which exacerbates flooding.
beaches can be hazardous due to sharks. In 2018, Recife beaches registered two
shark attacks; one was fatal. Adhere to the Shark Danger warning signs posted
along Recife beaches. Review
OSAC’s Report When
Critical Infrastructure Concerns
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.
Cargo theft remains a major security issue on the roads throughout
Brazil. As a result, many companies employ countermeasures, including armed
security escorts for high value loads and the use of satellites to track truck
OSAC’s Report, In-Transit Cargo
Theft in Brazil.
The risk of economic espionage is
not particularly high in Brazil, but other intellectual property rights (IPR)
issues continue to challenge U.S. companies. Concerns also persist with
respect to Brazil’s inadequate protection against unfair commercial use of
undisclosed test and other data generated to obtain marketing approval for
Brazil remained on the U.S. Trade
Representative’s Special 301 Watch List in 2019 due to high levels of
counterfeiting and piracy, including online piracy. Illicit goods enter
Brazil over its extensive land and sea borders, with the tri-border area with
Paraguay and Argentina a particular concern. Avoid
street vendors selling knock-off designer products; by buying them you may face
a large fine.
Personal Identity Concerns
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
Brazil’s 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+ travelers.
The 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 with disabilities.
volumes of drugs originate in or pass through Brazil en route to Europe, Africa,
and North America. Within Recife, marijuana and crack cocaine are the most
for ransom have become less common in recent years. One tactic of organized
gangs is to target individuals observed withdrawing money from ATMs or exiting
banks. Using ATMs located in secure locations such as
shopping malls or major hotels reduce the chances of criminal targeting. Review
OSAC’s report, Kidnapping: The Basics.
Brazilian 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
Police, 194 for Federal
Police, and 190 for Military
+55 81-3322-3122 for the Tourist Police.
Due to a lack of resources and equipment, as well as staffing
shortages, police response times may be slow. Because of these same issues, police
have a higher rate of unsolved crimes. When reporting a crime, you may have to
go to a police station or report less serious crimes via the internet.
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.
Medical care at private clinics in Recife is
sufficient for most emergencies. Private facilities normally require cash
payment in advance for medical care. Public hospitals provide a lower standard
of care, and are often overcrowded and understaffed, but they are experienced
with medical emergencies including trauma injuries, and generally do not
require pre-payment. Find contact information for available medical services and
available air ambulance services on the Consulate’s Medical
The U.S. Department of State strongly recommends purchasing
international health insurance before traveling internationally. Review the
State Department’s webpage on insurance overseas.
Bring prescription medicine sufficient for your
length of stay. Be aware that Brazil's humid climate may affect temporary and
long-term storage of medicines. Some prescription medicines (mainly generic)
are available. Consult with medical providers regarding immunization
and vaccination requirements prior to travel. Refer
to OSAC’s Report, Traveling
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.
Mosquito and other animal-
and isect-Borne Diseases, including Chagas, chikungunya, dengue, Zika, visceral leishmaniasis, and rabies
are present in Brazil. There are no prophylactic
therapies for dengue and chikungunya. While chikungunya and dengue fever have
become endemic countrywide, malaria is more prevalent in the interior.
All U.S. government personnel obtain yellow fever
vaccination prior to travel to Brazil. Travelers should carry a documented
yellow fever card.
Zika is a cause of severe birth defects, CDC recommends pregnant women and
couples trying to become pregnant within the next 3 months carefully
consider the risks and possible
consequences of travel to areas with risk of Zika.
you travel, strictly follow steps to minimize exposure to and prevent mosquito
Leptospirosis, while not common, is a viral
infection spread via rodent droppings and waste. Given the limitations of the
sanitation system in Brazil, exercise caution including vigilant hand washing
after outdoor contact and vaccination of pets that may contract the disease
from food bowls and other exposed surfaces where rodents may traverse. Be
careful of canned beverages and coconuts that are typically stored on the
ground, where rodents and other insects congregate.
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 of
Incidences 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. Refer
to OSAC’s Report, I’m Drinking What in My Water?
The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health
guidance for Brazil.
Review OSAC’s reports, The Healthy Way, Shaken: The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad, Health 101: How to Prepare for
Travel, and Fire Safety Abroad.
OSAC Country Council Information
There is no Country Council in Recife. Interested private-sector
security managers should contact OSAC’s Latin America Team with any
U.S. Consulate Contact Information
Rua Gonçalves Maia 163,
Bairro Boa Vista, Recife, Pernambuco 50070-065
Monday-Friday: 0700 to
Regional Security Officer (RSO): (+55)
American Citizen Services (ACS): (+55)
After hours Duty Officer: (+55) (81) 99916-9470
Other U.S. Diplomatic Posts in Brazil
you travel, consider the following resources: