How to Get a Brazil Volunteer Visa (And Where to Volunteer in 2022)

Brazil is one of those magical countries that every traveler falls in love with. From the gorgeous beaches to the vibrant cities, the delicious food and friendly people, there’s so much to love. It’s one of those countries that once your trip is over, you’re probably already looking for ways to book your next plane ticket back.

If you’ve considered returning to Brazil, or are planning your first trip and already know you’ll fall in love, you should consider volunteering. Whether you’re interested in volunteering with rescued wildlife, youth or for the environment, Brazil is an excellent choice for volunteering abroad. And while the Brazil visa might not be as difficult to obtain as a Chinese visa or Russian visa, getting the right visa is crucial if you plan on getting involved with volunteer work while visiting.

 

 

Limitations of Tourist Visa

Strictly speaking, a tourist visa is exactly that, it’s a visa just for tourism. A typical Brazil tourist visa lasts 90 days and is only valid for entry if you plan on visiting friends or relatives, are traveling for tourism activities or to participate in athletic competitions where there is no financial compensation.

Volunteer work is not covered by any of the activities involved in a tourist visa, so it’s important not to get caught out thinking you can volunteer or spend a long time in Brazil if you just arrive on a tourist visa. The following section lists all the requirements and paperwork you need in order to obtain a volunteer visa for Brazil.

 

 

How to Apply for a Brazil Volunteer Visa

Different to a work visa, where you are authorized to conduct business or work for someone for financial gain, a volunteer visa allows a traveler to stay in Brazil for up to a year to be involved in volunteer activities. Obtaining a visa is relatively easy and can be started online via the Brazil Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The following is a simplified summary of the Brazil visa application process for volunteering:

  1. Read and understand the visa and its requirement at the Embassy’s website (Note: Brazil might have a visa waiver deal with your country; check at the Embassy of your country).
  2. Have all the essential visa documents listed in the section below.
  3. Complete the online application form.
  4. Upload all the essential and required documents, photos and signatures in the online application.
  5. Print out the “Visa Form Delivery Receipt”, attach the passport photos and sign.
  6. Create copies of all the documents you uploaded, as well as anything else related to your volunteering role.
  7. Services such as Visaexpress.com can assist you at this point in filing the application. To do so, contact Visaexpress.com with your name and your application number. You will also receive specific instructions on how to pay your visa fee.
  8. At this stage you’ll receive instructions on how to make payment for the visa application fee. Pay that and record the receipt number as proof.
  9. Send all your documents by mail (listed below), including:
    1. A letter with your contact details – email, telephone address and phone number
    2. Full detail receipt of payments which contains information like beneficiary’s account number, payment date, application number, etc. 

When sending your volunteer visa application in you’ll also need to include an envelope that is self-addressed of size A4 in order to receive your passport back. Use mail services with tracking numbers so you are able to monitor the return of your document.

Applicants need to submit their visa application to the closest Brazilian embassy, where the average processing period required is about 10 business days, however it depends on the country. All visa processes must be submitted through post, as visa application and processing in person is not possible. 

 

 

Required Brazil Volunteer Visa Documentation

In order to complete the application you’ll need a few documents, such as:

  1. A valid passport with at least 6 months before expiry and two blank passport pages (please note the last three pages of the passport are not counted).
  2. The completed online form, with your assigned application number and a signed receipt.
  3. Two 2″ x 2″ passport photos.
  4. A notarized copy of your government issued ID, such as a drivers license. In many cases it’s also useful to have a notarized copy of your birth certificate, which also includes the full names of your parents listed.
  5. A criminal record check from your local police department if you are over the age of 18 and plan on spending longer than 9o days in Brazil.
  6. Information from the organization that you plan on volunteering with in order to prove your purpose for applying for a volunteer visa in Brazil. This includes your role, the role of the organization, information on the legality of the organization and various other requirements. Depending on where you are volunteering it’s best to check with your organization on what you’ll specifically need to provide.

 

 

Top Brazil Volunteer Opportunities

Once you’ve organized your volunteer visa it’s time to start finding a volunteer placement that best suits your skillset. This is the fun part! Find below a couple of awesome examples of different volunteer organizations. There are also a number of helpful website resources that list volunteering opportunities:

Volunteer South America – The OG of low cost and free volunteering opportunities. Don’t let the name fool you, this has listing throughout all of Latin America. From Mexico all the way down to the tip of Argentina and Brazil. This is where both of us found our volunteering opportunities in South America, which eventually led us to each other in the middle of Peru back in 2012!

Omprakash – Another fantastic resource for finding organizations to intern or volunteer at. It also includes ways to network with other volunteers, donate to organizations and learn about what it takes to volunteer abroad.

 

Eco Caminhos

Located 100miles NE of Rio de Janiero (~3 hours drive) is the self-sustainable farm Eco Caminhos. Founded in 2014, Eco Caminhos was started with the goal of creating local solutions to the overwhelming issues of climate and habitat change. This communal living farm utilizes renewable energy, composting waste, growing their own food and is built to be entirely self sustaining.

Along with being an amazing wealth of knowledge for learning about sustainability, Eco Caminhos also offers a range of different volunteer opportunities for anyone looking to learn, grow and better themselves. There are both short term (4-12 weeks) and long term (1yr+) program opportunities, as well as even shorter crash course style programs that last between 1-4 weeks. Check out their website to learn more. 

 

Mais Caminhos

The goal at Mais Caminhos is to empower the next generation of underprivileged children and teenagers to build themselves a better future. Ran by the same team behind Eco Caminhos, at Mais Caminhos there are a number of different length volunteer programs to suit your availability.

If you want to be involved in the classroom or with any of the teaching positions you’ll need to commit to at least three to four months. This helps ensure some stability and consistency with the students and their learning. For those that have less time there are still plenty of administrative opportunities that are crucial to the success of the organizations mission and vision.

Traveling to Brazil: Tips and Visa Information

Hopeful travelers often overlook Brazil as a potential destination; maybe because it’s too far from where they’re located, or maybe because their impression is that the country is not tourist friendly. But that couldn’t be further from the truth! The ninth largest country in the world brims with potential for activity, excitement, and meaningful adventure. And now traveling to Brazil is even easier thanks to the recent eVisa changes from the government. A visa process with no headaches and no hassles is just one of the reasons to explore the enthralling, massive country.

 

Brazil Visa: Getting There Legally

The Brazil visa application process differs by nationality, but as of June 2019 it has become a whole lot easier for a big portion of the world. On June 17th 2019 the Brazilian government officially announced that travelers from the United States, Australia, Japan, and Canada no longer need an eVisa to travel to Brazil. Similar to countries from the EU, it now means no tricky online application or fees, just book your ticket and away you go!

Upon entering Brazil all you need now is proof of a valid return ticket and at least 6 months validity on your passport expiration. It’s also good practice to have proof of financial records to support yourself while in Brazil in the very unlikely case that they ask for it. And as always, it’s HIGHLY recommended to have travel insurance! While there’s no need for concern, there are areas of Brazil known for a higher crime rate, especially during busy holidays seasons like Carnival. Travel insurance helps relieve the stress of worrying about how you’re going to pay those medical bills or replace that camera if something goes wrong on the road.

 

 

 

 

Going to Carnival Responsibly

There are so many things to experience in Brazil since its one of the largest and most populated countries in the world. However, no visitor arriving in mid-February would want to miss the Carnival held in Rio de Janeiro, when the streets are flooded by parade floats and celebrators alike in a tradition dating back hundreds of years. One can absorb the inherent joy of Brazil just by attending the Rio de Janeiro Carnival. Attendees dress extravagantly and the party extends deep into the night, making the experience total pandemonium –yet a memorable pandemonium. Just be wary of street dealers or any other suspicious characters trying to convince you to do something out of the ordinary. Pickpockets are common, and tourists are easy targets for scams as benign as overcharging for a meal.

 

 

Of course, Brazil also has hundreds of other activities in Rio de Janeiro, a city widely considered to be unique in its own right. But outside of Brazil’s largest city, there are vast tropics and rain forests for the more environmentally minded traveler. That’s not to mention the hundreds of miles of coastline. In Brazil, the possibility of stumbling onto some new off beaten path is seemingly endless.

 

Traveling Outside of Rio

Brazil is one of the largest countries in the world by both population and size by landmass. This means that given the opportunity, tourists should venture outside of Rio de Janiero and check out all of the relatively small, yet still massive, cities in Brazil other than Rio. There’s Sao Paulo, Foz do Iguaçu, and Paraty to name a few. Each of these places contain their own perks. Foz do Iguaçu is known for its incredible waterfalls that actually consist of 275 individual falls.

 

 

Paraty is shrouded in the country’s ancient history, reflected by its visually stunning churches and architecture. Sao Paulo is nearly as massive as Rio de Janiero, rivaling its vivacious culture, tourist attractions, and history in almost every way. Of course, beyond the dozen or so major urban areas of Brazil, there always lies the Amazon, which is an untenable adventure in and of itself. The sheer intensity of nature can come into full force in the Amazon unlike anywhere else in the world.

Unfortunately, most tourists either don’t allot enough time to explore Brazil, making it difficult to travel domestically, or plan their itinerary exclusively around the happenings in Rio. Staying in Rio the whole time you’re in Brazil is still a great experience; it’s a sprawling metropolis, one of the largest in South America, and there is a lifetime of cityscape to explore. However, it’s only outside of Rio that a traveler will find the coveted off-beaten path. Whether that adventure comes from exploring the Amazon, going further down the coastline into even more mountainous regions, or simply traveling to other cities within Brazil, there’s no dearth of experience outside of Rio, nor any regrets of staying confined to a single city within the entire country.

 

 

If you’re going to explore outside of Rio de Janeiro, visiting the rest of Brazil requires either meticulous planning or a sense of bold adventurism. Wherever you go you’re likely to stumble onto something new and interesting. However, the sheer size of Brazil can be intimidating for some. Despite this, Brazil attracts a large number of tourists each year. Having hosted the Olympics in 2016 only bolsters its popularity, which was already increasing. The number of travelers who enter Brazil annually is expected to rise, which may encourage more tourists to consider visiting such a dynamic country. The main worry is not finding activities to allot during your stay, but the fear of not having time to see enough.

 

Top 5 Reasons to Backpack Brazil

This weeks Top 5 Reasons to Backpack Brazil is brought to you by our South American backpacking buddy Emily from Emily Luxton Travel Blog

Brazil, with it’s stunning coastline, breathtaking natural beauty and air of constant party, is an amazing place to backpack. The people are full of passion and joy (you just need to watch a football game with them to see how much!), the food is delicious, and there is so much to see and do. It’s hard to squeeze the whole country into a four week trip, let alone a top five, but her’s a decent crack at the top 5 reasons to backpack Brazil…

Sexy Samba and Carnival

Rio’s iconic five day festival takes place before lent every year, but year-round the city pulses with the spirit of the samba celebration. The hypnotic dance style, with it’s crazy, colorful costumes and serious overdose of hip-shaking, is at the heart of carnival, where the main parade is actually a competition between the city’s samba schools. Throughout the year it’s possible to visit samba schools to watch shows and carnival rehearsals to get a taste of carnival before the main event.

Stunning Beaches

If you only needed one reason to backpack Brazil, the incredible Atlantic coastline is surely enough. Choice surf, palm trees, fresh coconuts and paradise-inspired scenery, Brazil has it all. In the south, there’s the rugged coastline around Paraty, with dramatic cliffs skirted by the dense green of the Atlantic rainforest. In Rio it’s all trendy beach bars and outdoor gyms, overlooked by the unmistakable Sugarloaf Mountain. Up in the north, there are some spectacular beaches, especially around Porto Seguro and the popular Afro-Brazilian island Morro de São Paulo near Salvador. Island lovers shouldn’t miss Ilha Grande; home to idyllic waterfalls, tropical rainforest, and howler monkeys, not to mention some stunning white-sand beaches.

Incredible Iguassu Falls

This stunning, and simply enormous, waterfall has to be one of the best reasons to visit the country. It’s actually made up of over 150 individual falls, and is so big that it spans two countries. In my opinion, Brazil is the best side to see Iguassu from, as it’s only from here that you can see the massive horseshoe fall, Garganta do Diabo (Devil’s Throat).

The Amazon!!!

The largest eco-system on earth, the Amazon takes up about 40% of Brazil’s total area – so it’s pretty hard to miss. And you really shouldn’t miss it; this enormous swathe of rainforest is a real adventure. Fall in love with the breath-taking scenery stretching on either side of the Amazon river, endlessly repetitive and almost shockingly green. The best place to visit the Brazilian Amazon is Manaus, a surprisingly huge city right in the middle of the enormous Amazon and seemingly cut off from the rest of the country. From here you can take tours into the forest and even spend a night or two in a jungle lodge.

Churrascarias (Brazilian BBQs)

An absolute must-do dining experience in Brazil has to be the churrascarias (barbecues). Basically all-you-can-eat buffets, these restaurants serve up amazing barbecued meat, particularly steak, which is served right off the cooking spit. The waiters bring the spits to the table and serve up a little bit of meat at a time, over and over until you stay stop – it’s a carnivore’s heaven!

About the Author

Emily is an aspiring travel writer and wannabe digital nomad currently on an indefinite gap year with her partner Sam. You can follow her adventures on www.emilyluxton.co.uk, a blog which she hopes will show people like her, who missed out on the pre-uni gap year, that it’s never too late to travel. You can also follow her amazing adventure on Facebook and Twitter

Have we missed anything? Drop us a comment to add your thoughts on the must-see backpacking spots of Brazil!

Backpacking Rio Carnival: Without Going Broke

Planning on Backpacking Rio Carnival?

Prepare for one of the biggest parties in the world. The city is packed round the clock with partygoers that never seem to sleep. Think you’re ready for the mayhem? Ticket to Brazil? Check. Over the top carnival costume? Check. Hella cash? Cheeeeck…? Backpacking during Rio Carnival doesn’t have to break the budget. Have a look at how I did it on the cheap.

Cheapest Place to Stay for Rio Carnival

Hostels in Rio jack up their prices during Carnival. A lot! Don’t end up  paying $100 for a crappy dorm bed in a dodgy hostel. Hit up Couchsurfing instead! This takes some planning ahead as most hosts book up months in advance. But if you are sincere and determined, you can usually find someone who had a cancelation that can squeeze you in. Plus you get the added benefit of staying with a local that will know all the best local parties. If Couchsurfing doesn’t pan out, check out Air BnB. My friend and I booked a room in an apartment during Brazilian Carnival in a quiet neighborhood. It was so refreshing to escape the craziness and have a calm place to crash.

Cheapest Food in Rio During Carnival

Traveling to Latin America may sound like it’ll be easy on the wallet, but Brazil is expensive. Food prices are not that far off prices in the States. To save money, stay somewhere that has kitchen and cook! We lived off Top Ramen while we were in Rio. Not the healthiest, but we made up for it by stuffing our faces with Acai berries every morning. Street food is also a good option, but can be limiting for vegetarians as Brazilians love their meat.

 Party it Up at The Blocos

During the week of Carnival Rio turns into a gigantic party. The streets are flooded with bands, drink booths and beautiful men in drag. There are also extravagant themed costume balls that happen all over the city. We were lucky enough to be invited to a Beatles themed ball with a fantastic cover band. While it was a fun experience, we would never have shelled out the money for a $100 ticket. Why pay so much when you can have the same experience for free outside? Schedules for the biggest (and free!) street blocos can be found online closer to the date.

Rio Public Transport

Rio is a huge, sprawling city and the action happens all over. Save some much-needed Caipirinha money and skip the cabs. Rio has an excellent metro system that can take you anywhere you need. During carnival the metro runs 24 hours a day and is almost always full of costumed partiers. Invest in a prepaid card for the week.

Safety in Rio: Don’t Get Hustled

There are a ton of website that pre-sell tickets to the big parade in the Sombrodomo. These sites mark up their prices and charge as much as three times the street price. We bought our tickets the night of the show from scalpers outside the event. This can be a bit sketchy as fake tickets are definitely a concern, but if you have a good intuition I would recommend taking a chance. The top tier schools perform in the Sunday and Monday shows, making those nights significantly more expensive.

Partying in Rio Carnival is one crazy event you need to get yourself to! 

Ilha Grande: Island Paradise

Before I even left home to begin my South America journey in Brazil, I knew the island of Ilha Grande was on the top of my list of places to visit. A Google image search revealed photos of crystalline clear waters and perfectly placed palm trees. Having already picked out my not so Brazilian bikini and a guilty pleasure beach book, I drooled over these pictures counting down the days till my departure.

The island was everything my guidebook had gushed about.  Well preserved, but with a bustling backpacker community that eased my solo-traveler nerves.  Dust dirt roads cover the car-free island, so the noise pollution of frivolous honking and revving of engines stays on the mainland.

The ferry dropped me in the largest village on the island, Vila de Abraão. A plethora of hostels are scattered throughout this town. The island itself is comprised of a thick interior of lush rainforest surrounded by white sand beaches. Although it has become a popular Southern Brazil tourist spot, it has been protected against overdevelopment and the environment protected.

The beaches on the island are boasted as some of the best in the world, the most popular being Lopes Mendez. This beach can be reached by a 20 minute boat ride or a 3 hour hike. Determined to kick my feet up and relax to the fullest, I chose the former. After the boat, the beach is another 15 minute hike through the jungle- the perfect way to work up a sweat before hitting the water.  After emerging from the misty vegetation I found myself stepping into a National Geographic spread. The beach is expansive, so even on a holiday or crowded weekend you can easily find a spot to yourself. The island has obviously worked hard to fight off overdevelopment. No high rise hotels or overpriced beachside restaurants here. Sporadic shacks dot the beach, selling snacks and beverages.

Although I would have been content to spend my entire week on this beach alone, I was eager to check out the rest of Ilha Grande. A group of us decided to make our way down to Praia Dios Rios on the other side of the island. A wide dirt road winds up to the mountain and down the other side to the beach. Our hostel owner gave us a directions for a short cut. “Cut across through a trail in the jungle and you’ll be there in no time” he said. Well the trail was little more than a narrow path of dirt that only becomes narrower and steeper until you find yourself on practically all fours, jumping over fallen trees and dodging highways of ants. My relaxing afternoon on the beach was turning into a grueling expedition through the jungle.

 



After about 45 minutes of slipping and sliding in my flip flops and ducking under dangling spiders we emerged through a hole in the vegetation and onto the much larger, much more manageable trail. Turns out our shortcut wasn’t very short. Another half hour later, I dragged my cranky ass over the last hill and onto the beach, vowing to renew my gym membership as soon as I got home. The beach was miles of empty sand. I ran up to the oceans, thrilled at the prospect of rewarding myself with a cool swim, just to stop short of water in heartbreak. The ocean was filled with gobs of green algae. Every sweaty, suffocated pore on my body cried out with disappointment. I stuck a hesitant toe into the water only to pull out a sticky, slimy chunk. Retreating to the sand, I spent the next couple hours losing myself in my book and my tan.

Algae aside, the beach is worth the hike. If you have a few meters to yourself at Lopes Mendez, get ready to enjoy your own kilometer at Praia Dios Rios. After an afternoon where the most energy I exerted was turning the page, we began to get a little hungry. We found a small blue house with a sign out front that promised food. An older Brazilian woman with a toddler hoisted onto her hip came out to take our orders. We all ordered the one item on the menu- fish. And cold beer, stat. Minutes later, 4 full plates of fried fish with overflowing sides of rice and salad filled our small plastic table. After washing down our meal with our last drops of beer we began the 2 hour hike back to Vila de Abraão. We decided to take the designated path this time, keeping a steady pace as the sun was setting and the howler monkeys began roaring in the jungle on either side of us.

The rest of my time on the island I spent at Lopes Mendez (opting for the boat ride each time, as our trek through the jungle had scarred me for the rest of the trip) and in town shamelessly gobbling up the international cuisine at the backpacker hotspots. Nights were reserved for throwing back Bohemias and cheap caparinhas at whichever bar was the go-to spot that night.

After a week of serenity in the sand, my last day was a whirlwind of rushed packing and a sprint to the dock to catch my ride back to the mainland. Sitting atop the leisurely catamaran, watching the sun set over the water I felt instant regret for leaving the island. If it weren’t for my scheduled flight to Lima I might never have left. But it was probably for the best, otherwise I could still be on Ilha Grande, sipping a caparinhas on Lopes Mendes, watching all the poor fools sail away from paradise.

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