Posted by: standing_baba | April 5, 2011

On Being an Illegal American in Brazil

A conversation at the Brazilian-Uruguayan border:

Brazilian Official: “Are you aware you overstayed your visa by 237 days?”

Me: “Yes, sir.”

Brazilian Official: “And that if you’d have arrived 5 days later we woud have had to deport you?”

Me: “Yes, sir.”

Brazilian Official: “That would be annoying, huh?”

Me: “Indeed, sir.”




  1. I’m just curios seeing as though so many Latin Americans sneak into america.How can I slide into Brazil with hopes of never returning to ice cold winters in america ever again. A prompt response would be appreciated man.

  2. Hello. I need some help. I am American and have been living in São Paulo for 2 and a half years illegally. I came here because my partner who is Brazilian and who I had been living with in American for over 2 years was deported. I couldn´t live without him. I am a recovering addict, my parents are dead, I am an only child and I was on the verge of a relapse. So, I joined my partner in Brazil. The problem is that I didn´t know that I only had 90 days on the tourist visa to take care of my documents and get married here. So I´m fucked. I work illegally. I live well and don´t worry about deportation… I am very low-key, however, I would like to marry my partner. We have been together for over 5 years and it´s like we really love eachother. He can´t go back to the states for at least 10 years and I won´t leave without him. I hired a lawyer.. an immigration specialist on Paulista. She told me that marriage and even a stable union or União Estável requires the visa to be valid. The suggestion is to leave the country and come back but I won´t leave my partner. If I get deported I plan on re-entering illegally. Money isn´t a problem. Can you please help me? Do you know other ways to get legalized? I can prove that I am in a stable union but the stupid law won´t accept our union because of the visa. It´s bullshit. I don´t have health insurance. I can´t open a bank account. Nothing. Please help. Do I just stay illegal?

  3. Not sure you’ll see this as it’s several years after posting!
    But I’m going to try and re enter brazil at the end of the month after having overstayed my tourist visa. I left in June so have only been out a bit over 2 months…when i left they had me sign the bit of paper saying i will pay my fine and said ‘volta logo!’ and nothing about having to stay out or anything….I haven’t heard of anyone being denied entry to brazil but am just wondering if you have a take on it…Thanks!!

  4. Hi guys,

    I have a surely unique illegal configuration:
    1. I entered Brazil (Florianopolis) in 01/2013.
    2. I stayed illegally until 09/2013; 8 months overstay which resulted in a 830R$ fine to pay when I come back. All good for me.
    3. I travelled 2 months around the US until 11/2013.
    4. To avoid paying the Brazilian 830R$ fine and maybe being blocked at the airport with my less-than-3-month re-entry, instead I went to Montevideo (Uruguay) and got my 3-month tourist stamp in 11/2013.
    5. I re-entered Brazil by taxi via the custom-free border of Rivera, Uruguay.
    6. I took the bus to Florianopolis.
    7. On 07/2014, I need to leave Brazil to go to France.

    The possibilities I see:
    1. I exit Brazil via Sao Paulo airport: I might have to explain the whole illegal situation to the customs without any entry stamp + my unpaid past fine, which doesn’t sound good to me.
    2. I exit Brazil via Florianopolis airport to go to Buenos Aires, and then to France: maybe FLN airport isn’t as strict as Sao Paulo with international flights and customs? Buenos Aires because I can’t go to Uruguay as I am officially still in Uruguay with my tourist visa. If I go to Uruguay, they will tell me that I stayed illegally, and I guess fine me.
    3. I exit Brazil via Rivera by bus, and then take the bus until Buenos Aires.

    Honestly, I don’t know. I am a bit stressed. Do you have any experience related or ideas?

    Thank you,

  5. interesting!!

    here’s the issue:
    i have an estonian friend whose passport will expire in less than 6 months, therefore he won’t be granted entrance to brazil….
    however, he is not in europe right now, he’s in south america and estonia is such a tiny country, it only has two embassies around here, one in the us and another in brazil. so in order to renew his passport, he’d have to enter brazil or go back to estonia, which is out of the question.
    so ideally, he’s probably going to try to enter brazil illegally so he can renew his passport….which are the best routes/countries he should enter brazil from?

    thanks in advance :)

  6. how likely is it that one would be discovered for overstaying the visa if one where to take a place ride inside of brazil from city to city? you’d have to show your passport right?!

    and is there a special visa for people who want to stay in brazil for medical reasons that would allow them to stay longer if they where treated there?


    • Unlikely. I flew within Brazil from Salvador to Belo Horizonte to Florianopolis without anyone checking my visa page. Of course, there is always that risk. I’m unaware of any special medical visa. If one exists, the paperwork will likely take awhile to process. Best of luck to you.

      • what about taking long distance buses of perhaps renting a minibus-taxi type deal that would drive us all the way from brasilia to rio?

        do you know if they would have checkpoints along the way where visas might be an issue?

        • also, i just found out that one could check in electronically and if we only have a carry on could just bypass any kind pf physical check in- BUT, wouldnt the computer know that this particular passport has a visa issue if it does in the computer?

          and do they care about visas at the better hotels when you check in?


          • This visa-synced-to-computer theory is rare in most countries, including Brazil. I’m pretty sure the landcrossing border posts don’t even communicate or standarize their practices. After one year bicycling and flying around Brazil only two people ever looked at my visa, the customs official upon entering and the official upon exiting. Hotels most definitely will not check your visa, unless some new stricter law forces them to do so thanks to the World Cup / Olympics mania.

            • awesome, thank you so much for the great info. really appreciate it.

        • There no checkpoints that I’m aware of, and I doubt any common police officer would check your visa stamp. Public transport is fine. No need to rent a minibus.

    • HI – could someone please tell me if it is possible to marry in Brazil if your tourist visa has (long) expired?


  7. What were you consequences of overstaying 237 days? And was the whole 5 day thing a joke?

    • Whoa, your question went unanswered for a very long time. I apologize. The legal consequences of overstaying a visa could result in deportation, jail time, fines, reentry denial for up to six months, and even permanent expulsion from Brazil…but not even the Brazilian immigrations want to go through all that trouble over an otherwise law-abiding American or European tourist. All of the above could happen on the wrong day, at the wrong time, with the wrong person. In my case, I simply joked and spoke Portuguese and told them how much I was going to miss their country. I was expecting to be denied reentry for six months, but the same official said I was welcome to return upon paying my 800 reais fine.

      • Hi!!

        I just came across this blog and it is very interesting your situation… So the officials said you could return at any time once you paid your fine?? I have overstayed by about 4 months currently and will be returning back home to Australia for a bit to acquire documents to marry my partner here in Brazil upon return to make life a lot easier- however being away for 6 months is quite daunting! Is there some sort of official stamp etc that allows you to return or is it that if you pay your fine upon leaving that you will be able to return again at any time on the same tourist visa?

        Thank you so much!

  8. I have a general question in regards to entry/exit for Brazil. I overstayed my 90-day visa by 2 months and then left Brazil 2 weeks ago. the Federal Police said nothing about my overstay and stamped my passport like they have each time before. Is there a chance that my overstay was overlooked or will they forsure catch the overstay when I return this Saturday?

    • You’re in an unpredictable situation. There is a chance that when you return to Brazil the police will not realize you overstayed your visa because your exit stamp indicates no wrong doing. In this case, you’d enter the country with another 90-day visa. But—and it’s a big ‘but’—if the police take the time to compare your exit date with your entry date, a procedure not uncommon with travelers reentering Brazil, they may out you. In this second case, you may not be allowed to reenter the country and/or be given a fine. If you’re planning to reenter I’d have a plan for both scenarios. Being calm, confident, polite, and above all, naively ignorant of their rules, will get you a long way. Claim ignorance, tell them repeatedly and politely that you didn’t know, ask for superiors, wash, rinse, repeat. Feel free to update the blog with the results. Good luck.

      • Thank you for your response. The immigration officer didn’t even notice the overstay- she stamped my passport and said “Seja bem vendo!” :)

  9. Thank you so much for your answer very wise things. the problem with leaving legally is the chance of them not letting me back in because i came in illegally, this is very risky for me because one large factor. I am engaged to a Brazilian women. I made a very stupid decision on entering in before my visa was renewed and now i am facing the harsh reality that making dumb decisions like this effect a lot of people I love.

    My question is this: if I were to get to a very close city in brazil that a friend of mine lives in could he drive me across the boarder into Uruguay? because I know that for Brazilians it is very easy to get in and you dont need a passport you only need your Brazilian ID card… so if my friend was willing to cross over by car, would they check the car? then he could drive me to the nearest airport and i fly back into brazil. what do you think? I get married in April here in Brazil so I am a little desperate right now.. its sad but i am trying to fix it the best way i can…

    thank you again for helping me it means a lot:)

  10. I have a question. I entered Brazil illegally because my visa was expired. It will renew in 25 days but the problem is, I am in Brazil with my passport but technically ” I am not here” because i never got a re entry stamp. I have a valid visa and it will renew in 25 days but what will they say if I leave the country and have no entry stamp into Brazil? I am willing to exit to any country in order to be able to come back in legally… but the problem is, how do I leave with never getting a entry stamp… I want to make it right because I cannot live in Brazil Illegally its not right…. please respond to me thank you!


    • RS,

      Before answering your question I’d like to ask a question: at what point of entry did you arrive to Brazil? How did you do so illegally?

      If arriving by plane I’m very surprised you weren’t given an entry stamp. Arriving by land is another story. There are many border crossings with Paraguay and Uruguay, for example, in which each traveler voluntarily visits the Brazilian migration office. If the traveler so chooses, he can enter and exit illegally by skirting the office. However, as you found out, this may cause problems when entering and exiting at other migration points.

      The solutions are actually quite simple, at least from the Brazilian side:

      1) Return to the same entry/exit point and sneak out the way you sneaked in. Wait for your visa to become valid, then reenter legally with a stamp at the Brazilian migration office. It’ll be as if you were never in Brazil. If that entry/exit point is prohibitively far, then research border crossings closer to you. Post a question in the Couchsurfing city group closest to that entry/exit point to get up-to-date advice from locals, especially since migration bureaucracy constantly changes. Note: don’t be reckless. There are certain remote jungle borders that could be dangerous for illegal crossings.

      2) Do nothing, stay in Brazil illegally as long as you wish, then later sneak out illegally as described in #1. It’ll be as if you were never in Brazil.

      3) Do nothing, stay in Brazil illegally, then exit legally. You can expect a fine of US$4 per day for every day you overstayed your visa—or a maximum of US$500 which can be paid immediately or upon reentry to Brazil—and/or being banned from Brazil for six months. The worst case scenario would be being banned from Brazil for a longer time period, but I haven’t researched the criteria they use to decide stricter punishments. A six month ban from reentering Brazil is the norm, at least I understand this is the case for Americans.

      4) Be honest, exit legally, pay the fine immediately or upon reentry, and be banned from Brazil for six months (or more perhaps if you’re unlucky).

      Personally, I’d consider #1 and #2, especially if you have pending projects in Brazil that don’t require a legal status.

      IMPORTANT: You must take into consideration the migration office of the country into which you’ll enter, Uruguay or Paraguay for example. Some migration offices will require the Brazilian exit stamp before giving you an entry stamp to their country. This could be hit-or-miss, depending on all kinds of uncontrollable factors. With certain unsavory officials in remote border crossings a bribe may be possible, but you run the risk of being shady with an honest man. This could cause problems.

      It’s hard to help without all the puzzle pieces, still curious as to how you entered Brazil.

      Let me know if I can help in any other way,

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