Friday, February 24, 2012

How to get a Brazilian Tourist Visa

Title shortened from: How to get a Brazilian tourist visa for American citizens at the Brazilian Consulate in Santiago, Chile.

I wanted to do this post because travel to Brasil from Chile is fairly common in the expat community, as well as for study-abroaders...both groups which I have constant contact with, and therefore I am asked the same questions fairly frequently about this process.  Unfortunately, the information is not easily found online and communicating with the consulate in Santiago can be somewhat complicated, so from now on hopefully I can just link to this post and not have to retype or rely on my memory.*

If you are a United States citizen/passport holder (regardless if you have residency & a carnet in Chile) you will need the following things: 

  • A book to read while you wait in line
  • 1 Application form, which you can fill out and print at , they do have a computer in the office where I have seen people doing the form there...though I wouldn't leave it until then! 
  • 1 "passport sized" photo.  (Can be taken and printed at Kodak or other photo stores for around $2,000 for 4).  Do this the day before, as waiting for stores to open the morning you go to the consulate will set you back in line. 
  • 1 photocopy of the photo ID page of your passport
  • 1 Photocopy of your plane ticket or the confirmation page that lists the information and dates  
  • 1 photocopy of your credit card itself (front and back).  They requested NOT to black out the numbers. 
  • 1 photocopy of a bank statement that lists the available funds for the credit card (statement and photocopy must be for the same card).  
  • $$ Money!  (commenters say its currently at $112,000 CLP) 
  • Your passport itself 
  • Photocopies of your tourist card (small paper given when you entered, if applicable) 
Disclaimer:  requirements WILL change with time, so please double check 
You can call the consulate 10am - 1pm at this number: (2)820-5800.  (Put 56 before it and include the 2 to call from Skype). However, I have never had anyone pick up when I press the number for English, and when I call in Spanish they haven't always known what to tell me United States citizens need.

You will need to take these things to the Brazilian Consulate in Santiago, located at 6191 Los Militares. Tall building, 1° Piso (Metro Manquehue).  Enrique Mac Iver 225, 15th Floor.   They only will accept visa applications between 10:00 am and 1:00 pm.  However, there is usually a long line, and sometimes not everybody will get in even though you are on time because they only process a certain amount of tourist visas each day.

I recommend you get there before 9:00 am in order to get a good spot in line.  (Edit: commenters lead me to believe its gotta be much earlier than that!)  It'll probably be better off in the end to spend (at least) that extra hour waiting before they open than more than that, or possibly not get attended at all, if you show up later.   When you get to the 15th floor, people form one long line regardless of the type of paperwork you need done.  When the office opens, they begin allowing people in the office and giving them a number.  There is more waiting inside until your number is called, and there are various counters that do different types of processes, so once in a while they will call people in out of their spot in the original line if a particular counter is free, for instance asking if there are any Brazilian citizens that need paperwork done or signed.

You will need to give them all the above requirements. They'll give you a bank deposit form which you need to take to the BCI around the corner, pay, and return to the consulate immediately with the payment receipt. You do not need to wait in line after going to the bank, simply knock on the door, and wait near the counter of the person who processed your application until (s)he frees up for a second.

The consulate will give you a slip and keep your passport for usually 7 days (they will tell you an exact date of when to pick it up).   When you come back to pick it up, you will go to the same place, wait in the same line, though when your number is called it is a very fast exchange of your slip for the passport and that's it.

The new tourist visas for American citizens are valid for 10 years.  It is still valid if your passport expires within that time; you just need to travel with the old and new passport in order to show the visa.

*Unfortunately, I've made 6 visits to the Consulate at the crack of dawn all the way from Valparaiso.  Learn from my mistaken visits and do it right the first time! 

Did I forget anything important?  Has something changed since I wrote this?  Any other advice???   Please leave a comment for future readers. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Festival de las Artes 2012

This past weekend was the "Festival de las Artes" that I had promoted in a past post.  This festival seems to be the evolution of what used to be called "Carnivales Culturales," without the massive parade and concerts.   Although these two aspects are definitely missed, this festival does include a ton of interesting and varied events.  This year I had my schedule mapped out well ahead of time.  In some cases I was very pleased with what I saw, though others were not quite as I had hoped.

One of the things I felt a little let down with were the "Invasion Callejera" events.  There were 6 of them on the schedule, however what I didn't realize that instead of six completely separate events, this was six chapters of the same piece, Ser.  There were some great costumes, dances, etc.. however the first episode was in a location (in the median of Avenida Argentina) where it was difficult to hear when cars and micros passed, blocking the audience's view and eating up the dialogue.  Though visually appealing, I was not especially drawn into the story.  By the end of the second event, it had a weird, dream-sequence vibe, though I wasn't drawn in enough to keep attending the other chapters given that the visual part wasn't changing much.  I would have preferred to see a variety of artists and talents that normally form part of the scope of the Invasion Callejera events.

Really neat bicycles as part of the Invasion Callejera piece, SER.  

Actors in SER perform in the middle of Avenida Argentina on Friday. 

A definite highlight of the weekend was the show "Transeuntes" by a Chilean company, Balance, from Santiago.  I have, surprisingly, never seen or heard of this group before, but their show was fantastic!  It was a modern, city-themed, aerial acrobatic and dance performance.  Although they had a projected screen of metro-scenes and city life, the show took place on Muelle Baron with the whole city as a backdrop.

Aro/Lira in Transeuntes.   

Tela/Aerial Silks in Transeuntes. 

Tela/Aerial Silks in Transeuntes.

In the hills there were many events as well.  If I had a toddler, I would have been more than impressed with an adorable performance of Repunzle.  Since I don't have a toddler, I myself sat in the middle of the carpet laid out on the floor to get a good view among all the screaming kids.   It was still good.

I was very excited to see the "Best clown acts from the UPA Chalupa Festival," however in the end I felt like I was expecting more than what I saw.  They did indeed get a few laughs out of me even so.

One of the cutest acts they presented was of a marionette Condorito who selected a young girl to dance cueca with him.   The dancing Condorito was absolutely adorable, however the little girl froze on stage and another girl came up to replace her.  When the second girl took the handkercheif out of her hand, the first girl started bawling.  It was a difficult not to laugh at the whole situation.
Condorito dancing with the enthusiastic replacement dancer chosen from the audience.

The first girl chosen to dance with Condorito froze on stage and burst into tears when she was replaced.

I think the Teatromuseo del Titere y el Payaso does some really wonderful things.   Something always neat to see are the giant puppets.   They had two parades during this festival.  I only went to one, but there was an incredibly low turnout.  It was also weird to see many busses taking tours of the hills, with tourists smashed up against the window to see these wonderful creations, and the tour operators wouldn't slow down or stop to let them really have a look.  Can you imagine just passing by something like this in a foreign country and not getting a chance to take a picture??
Freaking awesome.

Parade of giants.

I was also pumped to go to a cinema event where they were showing Mysteries of Lisbon, however I had a lot of things to do and the movie is about a million hours long, so I couldn't fit it in.