Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

  • Reviewed: 29 September 2023, 09:30 NZDT
  • Still current at: 26 February 2024

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If you are planning international travel at this time, please read our COVID-19 related travel advice here, alongside our destination specific travel advice below.

Exercise increased caution

Exercise increased caution in Brazil due to high crime rates (level 2 of 4).

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Violent Crime

There is a high level of violent crime throughout Brazil. It is particularly prevalent in major cities including Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Recife, Natal, Fortaleza and Salvador, and in the north of the country (particularly the state of Amazonas), including near the borders with Venezuela and Colombia. In this context violent crime can include murder, mugging, armed robbery, home invasion and sexual assault and often involves firearms or other weapons. Be mindful of where you are going and plan your transport options in advance. 

There are serious problems with public security in the state and city of Rio de Janerio, which can affect visitors. Reported robberies of tourists in Rio de Janeiro have been increasing, including those walking the Corcovado Trail to the Christ the Redeemer statue. Other hotspots include Copacabana Beach, Ipanema Beach, and the areas of Lapa and Santa Teresa. Given the security problems in the city, visitors should take common sense precautions, and keep closely informed of developments. We recommend following any advice issued by local authorities. 

Petty crime such as pickpocketing and bag-snatching is common, especially in tourist areas, on public transport, public beaches, airports and around festive periods such as Carnival. Extra care should be taken to ensure food and drink is never left unattended. Victims of spiked drinks have been robbed and sometimes assaulted. We advise New Zealanders to be particularly aware of their surroundings at all times and to take steps to safeguard and secure their personal belongings. It is best to remove all valuables (including passports) and carry only the minimum amount of money and belongings, as victims of crime are often targeted due to their perceived wealth. Avoid using cellphones when on the street or when in exposed public areas, especially at night. 

No resistance should be given if you are the victim of an armed robbery, mugging or other crime involving a firearm as this could lead to an escalation in violence. We recommend you avoid travelling after dark and to isolated areas, including the beach.


“Express kidnappings” (when criminals abduct a victim for a short amount of time and force them to withdraw funds from ATMs)  are a risk in Brazil. Carjackings also occur in Brazil and vehicle break ins are a significant problem. When driving, keep your doors locked and windows closed. Exercise vigilance when stopped at traffic lights or stuck in traffic, and keep your cellphone out of sight.

We recommend only using rideshare services such as Uber or licensed/registered taxis, (with red licence plates). They can be found at registered taxi ranks, and should openly display company information and phone numbers. 

There is a high road accident rate and overall standards of driving are poor. Under Brazil’s “Lei Seca” (Dry law) the blood alcohol limit is 0%, if convicted you can expect heavy fines and possible jail sentences.

There is a particularly high level of violent crime and organised criminal activity in vulnerable neighbourhoods (favelas) of major Brazilian cities. We recommend you avoid visiting these areas, even as part of an organised tour, as the security situation is unpredictable and your safety cannot be guaranteed, including when guided by a tour provider. Be very wary of using GPS navigation or taking a taxi through these areas – if in doubt consult your hotel or tour guide.

Civil unrest

Protests occur regularly in Brazilian cities, including Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and Brasilia. Although generally peaceful, there have been violent incidents and injuries associated with protests, and in some cases, Brazilian police have used tear gas and riot control to disperse protestors. Strikes affecting public transport can occur at short notice and may cause travel delays.

New Zealanders in Brazil are advised to avoid all political gatherings, protests and demonstrations as even those intended to be peaceful have the potential to turn violent. You should monitor local media for information on protests or strikes. New Zealanders who are in an area affected by demonstrations or violence should leave the immediate vicinity and follow any instructions issued by the local authorities.

General Travel Advice

We advise carrying a photocopy of your passport or an official form of ID at all times, as they are frequently requested before being allowed access to public buildings. It is best to leave the original documents in a secure place. 

Possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs is severely punished, and often involves long prison sentences.

We recommend you use ATMs that are located within bank branches or within malls, during daylight hours. Credit card fraud, including skimming, is common in Brazil. We recommend New Zealanders take extra care when using credit cards and ATMs (cover they keypad with one hand when entering your pin) and carefully check credit card statements for fraudulent charges.

New Zealanders travelling or living in Brazil should have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place that includes provision for medical evacuation by air.

New Zealanders in Brazil are encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The New Zealand Embassy Brasilia, Brazil

Street Address SHIS QI 09, conj. 16, casa 01, Lago Sul 71625-160, Brasilia DF, Brazil Telephone +55 61 3248 9900 Emergency Telephone +64 99 20 20 20 Fax +55 61 3248 9916 Email Web Site Hours Mon - Fri 0830 -1700 hrs

New Zealand Consulate-General São Paulo, Brazil

Street Address Avenida Paulista, 2421 Edificio Bela Paulista, 12th floor, Cerqueira Cesar 01311-300, São Paulo SP, Brazil Telephone +55 11 3898 7400 Emergency Telephone +64 99 20 20 20 Email Hours Mon-Fri 0900-1700 hours

See our regional advice for Central/South America

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New Zealand Embassy Brazil

Street Address
SHIS QI 09, conj. 16, casa 01, Lago Sul 71625-160, Brasilia DF, Brazil

Telephone: +55 61 3248 9900

Emergency Telephone: +64 99 20 20 20

Fax: +55 61 3248 9916



Hours: Mon - Fri 0830 -1700 hrs

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