So you are planning on visiting Brazil, maybe the broader South America, or perhaps you are a digital nomad, and you are still not sure how long you want to stay there, so you have not bought any onward travel tickets yet. Will you be allowed to enter Brazil without a return ticket?
There are no specific legal requirements for onward travel proof. However, the border officers can deny you entry if they suspect you might stay illegally in the country. The onus to take the traveler back is on the airline with which they came. Because of that, most airlines will refuse check-in without proof of onward travel.
However, there are some ways we can deal with this to ensure a safe trip to our destination. After all, the beach is waiting, right?
By the way, make sure to pack appropriately and check the kind of plug you need in Brazil, to be able to charge your phone anytime, (almost) anywhere.
Who Can Enter Without An Exit Date?
First things first, before even buying your ticket, check if you need a visa. Brazilian visas are never granted at the airport, so make sure this is not the reason you might be going back home. Several countries, including the USA, do not need a visa to enter if they plan on staying less than 90 days.
Now on to the onward travel. As mentioned above, you don’t need a visa for a visit shorter than three months. One way (the most obvious way) of proving your stay is shorter than that, is by having a ticket to exit the country within that timeframe.
By reading the guidance from the Department of State U.S.A., we can see that Brazilians and expats residing in Brazil with a permanent visa will be able to enter the country without proof of onward travel.
For Brazilians, proof of ID, such as Identity card or Passport, will suffice. For foreigners living in Brazil, the RNE (National Foreigner Registry) or supporting documents would be necessary.
What if I decide to go with a one-way ticket?
If you are not Brazilian nor have a residency visa, it is usually better to have a return ticket or proof of onward travel. The border officers might deny you entry if they believe you want to stay in the country for longer than your visa (or lack thereof) allows.
When you are denied entry, it is usually on the company that you entered the country with (air, land, or sea) to take you back to your original location.
This means it would be costly for them to potentially take back people who might have a refused entry so they will themselves enforce these requirements most times.
When you buy your tickets, you enter in a contract that has terms and conditions, and usually, it will be stated there that they are allowed to refuse you boarding if they believe you don’t meet the requirements.
Unfortunately, if they don’t allow you to board if you don’t have documents proving you do not intend to stay in the country illegally, there is not much you can do. The best thing to do is to get in touch with them and check what their policy is before committing to a one-way ticket.
Another thing to bear in mind is that a lot of times, buying a return trip costs the same, or very little more, than a one-way ticket. Buying a two-way ticket might be a better option instead of worrying about one-way tickets.
If you do decide to buy a single ticket anyway, please read on.
I need onward travel proof. What options do I have?
So your circumstances mean you will need a ticket, but you are not very sure when you will be leaving the country. Maybe you know you will be staying for less than 90 days, but you don’t want to set a date. Perhaps you simply have not decided where you are going next.
In any case, the safest option is to have some sort of onward travel proof with you. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that’s the case.
Buy a more premium option – with 100% refund
If you can afford to have some money locked away for some time, buy a return ticket on a more premium price tier. Make sure this option allows for a 100% refund.
Once you get into the country, you can change it for a more convenient date (usually fully refundable tickets allow for date changes without costs too) or request a refund. It might take some time to get the money back due to the processing times of the airline companies, but that can be a good option.
Book it with miles
So you have a ton of miles accumulated due to all those lates you’ve been buying on StarBucks? (I hope that’s not the only purchase giving you miles, though; otherwise, you would need gallons of latte daily!)
You can use these miles to get a return ticket and request a refund. Miles are usually refunded much quicker than cash, so this is an excellent travel hack to know about.
Buy an air or bus ticket to another country
You will have buses leaving to several countries in South America from the main cities in Brazil, like Rio de Janeiro, and border towns. It can be cheaper than buying air tickets, and their refund options are usually better than the airlines. As usual, make sure to read the fine prints.
If you do buy a bus ticket, consider if you really want to travel that way, as it can take a few days with just a few stops for driver changes and buying food on the way to get there.
I would not recommend this option for actual travel, as you would waste quite a few days of your precious vacation.
If you do buy early in advance, you can get some good deals on air tickets to the neighboring countries. This could be a good option if you already know where you want to go.
Get a ticket confirmation number with a Travel Agency
Travel Agencies usually have systems that allow them to do a sort of “soft booking” of tickets for their customers. They will often require an advance payment, but it is usually much cheaper, and they have better cancellation rates than self-booking in general.
Another great way is to use a ticket rental.
– How does that work?
I’m glad you asked.
Some companies will allow you to rent a reservation number by paying a small amount, and they will cancel the ticket for you later on. It is a low price to pay compared to doing it yourself and locking down a considerable amount of money just to ensure a 100% refundable ticket yourself.
A company that does this exceptionally well is OneWayFly, and you can check them out here. This seems to be one of the best (and cheapest!) options for those who need to travel with only a one-way ticket.
This option is perfect for digital nomads as their tickets are valid for up to 2 weeks, and you also have the opportunity to buy the ticket later on.
You can buy a ticket on the spot
If all else fails, you can probably buy a return ticket with the company (or online) on the spot. This will probably be very costly and stressful, so I do not recommend doing this at all.
You can search on your phone for tickets to your next destination or home instead of relying on the check-in counter attendant. It might be slightly cheaper, and you might be able to buy it for up to 3 months later, to ensure you are not paying the highest price on it either.
Can I forge one?
Please don’t do that. You can get in serious trouble, not only by being denied entry in the country but also have some problems with the law.
I thought you were looking for some beach time, not jail time?!
Seriously, though. Don’t.