There are many variables involved when a crew begins their pre-flight planning for an international trip. From flight planning to hotels and required en route permits, the crew holds a long checklist of requirements that must be met to perform a smooth and seamless mission. One of the more complex requirements is ensuring all crew members are holding valid travel documents to enter the respective countries in which they are traveling.
Flight Support in Brazil
Brazil is one of the countries in South America that is less straight forward than most when it comes to crew visa requirements. When going to Brazil on a private aircraft, crew members are generally cleared on arrival, provided they are listed on the general declaration (Gen Dec) and have proper crew identification in hand. The caveat to this statement is this: Who exactly is defined as crew? Essentially, Brazil defines “crew” as only the cockpit crew or those members who specifically hold a pilot license. In this instance, any flight engineer or flight attendant that is on the aircraft would not qualify as a crew member in the eyes of the Brazilian customs agents and would not be cleared on the Gen Dec for entry visa requirements.
Meeting Brazilian Crew Visa Requirements
Here are a few different scenarios to help you determine what your next step should be to meet Brazilian visa requirements:
1. For those arriving and departing on a private aircraft, you will need to have the non-cockpit crew members apply for visas and ensure ample time for processing, as these visas are required to be in hand before arrival. This can be done either directly through a stateside embassy or you can elect to use a company that focuses solely on obtaining visas. For active crew members on a Part 91 or Part 135 flight, a business visa will be required. You will have two options for the type of visa: Single Entry or Multiple Entry. If you are traveling to a country that is a popular travel destination, it would be most beneficial to apply for a multiple entry visa, which typically remains valid for a minimum of one year from the date of issue. Once this is secured, you may enter and exit the country for your proposed flight.
2. For instances where any member of the crew will be arriving or departing via a commercial airline, perhaps to accommodate a crew swap, the dynamics change a bit. Clearance on a Gen Dec is relinquished once that crew member is no longer in charge of the aircraft. The same concept applies to a crew member that has arrived on a commercial airline and intends to depart Brazil on a private aircraft. Under these circumstances, their designation or status in the country changes when they assume the role of crew on a private aircraft. Crew members will be required to obtain a business visa before arrival to ensure entry compliance for members of the crew that will participate in a crew swap. This applies to cockpit and cabin crew alike.
To ensure proper travel visas are obtained, operators are strongly encouraged to consult with a third-party provider that is more familiar with entry requirements and can guide the operator in the right direction. Each country has unique visa requirements, and not all countries have the same interpretation of “crew.” Just as permits and flight plans are an important factor to a successful trip, visa requirements, and compliance are equally as important.