Brazil does not have an open doors policy, but then again, it is not the fussiest country in the world. Travelers coming from Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and other neighboring countries can enter with a simple photo I.D. Most European nationals need nothing but a valid passport and maybe a return ticket.
If you are coming from a country that requests visas from Brazilians, though, you will need to get a tourist's visa. It may sound like petty revenge, but it seems reciprocity rules in the world of diplomacy. Do not make a big deal out of it, it's just red tape...
You can apply for your visa as much as three months ahead of your trip. Most people go for the regular tourist visa, which allows you to stay for as long as three months (you can renew if necessary). There is also a transit visa, good for ten days only. Both are easy to get either in person or by mail.
As we have received loads of messages asking the very same question, here goes a specific note to our friends from the US, Canada, Australia. Yes, if your passport was issued in either of these three countries, you do need a visa. There are no exceptions that we know of, and sorry, you cannot get a visa at the airport. If you do not have a visa, they will probably not let you check-in for your flight. If they do you will have problems in Brazil when you try to go through immigration. We are not sure about the requirements for Kiwi travelers.
Before you ask the next question, there are consulates Washington D.C., Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, NY and San Francisco. In Canada the consulate is in Toronto, and in Australia it is in Sydney. There are Brazilian embassies in the capitals of most countries that we keep diplomatic relations to, including all nations with regular flights to Brazil. We do not have all the phones and addresses to give you, though, sorry.
If you don't want to go to all the trouble, ask your travel agent to take care of your visa. Remember they need to sell those tickets! There's usually an extra fee for services like this, though. After doing our homework, we found out it is not all that hard to do it yourself. Here is what you need:
According to messages we get from visitors, you do not need a visa if you are coming from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, UK, Italy, Holland, Belgium, Luxemburg, Portugal, Spain, Austria, Hungary. We are not sure about the status of countries that joined the E.U. recently, sorry. Double check with your travel agent or airline to avoid surprises.US Nationals that do not want to go to the trouble of dealing with the red tape themselves can count on the professional services of Travel Visa Pro to speed things up.