Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The joy of obtaining travel visas

The clock is ticking: I depart on Saturday, August 30th, for my two-month adventure in South America - I fly into Brazil, visit Peru, then return to the U.S. from Brazil.  To make that happen, I must get a visa to Brazil. The Brazilian consulate website states that this fairly new visa requirement for U.S. citizens is in "reciprocity" (revenge!) for the U.S. requirement of visas for Brazilians. Fair enough, I suppose!

With limited time for this major administrative task, I have two options:

A. Drive 90 minutes one way to the Brazilian consulate in San Francisco and present my package of documentation, passport and $130 fee, then turn around and drive back home. After a week or two, I will need to return in person to pick up the visa; or

B. Use a visa expedition service. Travisa,,  is the one recommended to me. For a handsome fee, they will allow me to use Fed-Ex to apply for and receive a visa with their help. Even more paperwork is required for this option. (Considering the price of gas for the total of 4 hours' drive time to San Fran, plus parking at Union Square, it  may not be so expensive after all!)

Regardless, I need to gather up my passport, photocopy my driver's license, fill out long forms, print out copies of my hotel and flight confirmations, supply a letter indicating my reason for going there (required for a business visa). And one more fun thing for the visa: today, I get a yellow fever vaccination!

I am qualified for a tourist visa, so I will apply for that.