Policia Federal

August 31, 2009

Scott discovered this morning that he has been in Brazil for 90 of the past 365 days, the maximum allowed on our tourist visas without an extension (I’m about two weeks behind).  He had been mildly worried about the expiration all last week while our guests were here, but since extending the visas for another 90 days included a trip to the Federal Police, we put it off, waiting until they were gone.  There were other complications as well.  We had to have a ticket out of Brazil, which we had waited for a while to book to be sure of our plans (we’re going to Buenos Aires to run a half marathon and see the city before we head to New York for a few weeks in mid-October) and when we did book our Gol Linhas tickets, they were only able to take American Express on their website, and they wouldn’t take credit cards over the phone.  We had to go to a physical Gol counter to pay.

This morning we did our due diligence.  We counted up Scott’s days, figured out which forms we needed, went to the Internet Cafe to fill them out and print them (and have a coffee) and realized at the 11th hour that there was no reason to go to Santos Dumont (the closer, domestic airport to pay for our Gol tickets) and then the defunct Policia Federal building in the Centro that no longer exists, but straight to Galeao, the international airport here, to the Immigration Police.

We got in a cab expecting the worst–to be told that we had to leave immediately, to be deported, to be thrown in airport jail (unlikely, but you never know how things work here).  We thought that maybe they could count Scott’s days in Brazil differently and think it was his 91st day and kick him out, not renew his visa.  It could take all day.  All night, we could wait in line for ever, we could be told to come back tomorrow after hours of deciphering too fast Portuguese.

We got to Galeao quickly, and paid at the Gol counter within in minutes.  We were given a confirmation for our flight to Buenos Aires (the missing piece since we hadn’t paid for the tickets yet) and then traversed the airport to find the Policia Federal.  The room looked a lot like the DMV, we took numbers and sat, forms in hand.  We waited, eyeing the finger printing station set up in the back of the room, wondering what everyone else was doing there.  After about half an hour we were called in.  Have you paid yet? we were asked in Portuguese.  We gave the man in the office our passports.  He entered Scott’s information into the computer and then moved on to mine.  From our side of the partition, all seemed to be going well.  Take your form and go pay at the Banco do Brasil, he said to us (in Portuguese).  We left the office (and our passports!) to run to the opposite side of the building to the bank.  We paid, nervous the whole time, and came back.  Were they going to snatch our passports and pretend that they had never seen us before? Were we going to have to wait in line all over again?

We walked right in.  He handed us both another form to fill out–our addresses in the US, our parents’ names, our address here.  We signed a couple of times, and boom, we’re good to stay in Brazil until late December (at which point we should have more permanent visas, but I guess that will be the next installment of this tale.)

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3 Responses to “Policia Federal”

  1. karen said

    From now on don´t be so pessimist, things do work around here after all!!Such a wonderful couple in jail….i know why they gave you the visas right away: We want you to beat the argentinians on the marathon!!!!

  2. Good job! I had a very different experience trying to renew my visa in Rio 😛 I was a bit cheeky with the frustrated police officer and got locked up for several hours!! (true story!) They didn’t renew my visa, but to be fair I totally deserved it 😛
    Unfortunately, I had a bad experience in Rio because of that!! Which is why I’m going back now to give Rio a second chance to win me over. I’ll avoid the authorities this time!! 😀

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