Travel Focus: Rio de Janeiro

Travel Focus: Rio de Janeiro

While the Rio Olympics are well underway, here are some tips for those of you in our network who might be down there right now or are planning to travel there in the near future.


There are no known indigenous terrorist groups operating in Brazil. However, there is significant and sustained organized criminal activity throughout Brazil, especially prevalent in the major cities. Hezbollah is also known to have built networks in the country as well.


Rio de Janeiro has over 1,000 different slums, called favelas. These areas should be avoided.  As the city prepared for the 2016 Olympics, police effectively controls most major favelas in Rio. Still, drug gang members walk openly with weapons in unpacified favelas.

Local police have been known to occasionally shake down tourists for bribes or to rob them outright.

Do not display or walk openly with expensive jewelry or electronic devices.

Use ATMs located in discreet locations and in major tourist hotels only.

Armed carjackings are not uncommon in Rio.  If confronted with this situation, we urge giving up the vehicle without resistance or comment.  This is true for any armed robbery.  Criminals in Rio are prepared to meet resistance with deadly violence.

Do not use unlicensed cabs or vans, only taxis with functioning meters.

Credit card fraud is a major problem in Brazil.  Only use credit cards at major hotels and formal, established restaurants and shops.

While kidnappings for ransom have become rare in recent years, these incidents continue to occur.


Brazil has one of the highest levels of vehicle accidents and death rates due to accidents in the world.  This is due, in part, to poor road conditions, haphazard lane markings, excessive speeding and large numbers of trucks.  When driving in the city, pay particular attention to your surroundings while waiting at traffic lights. If you feel threatened in your vehicle at any time, do not stop.


Medical care is adequate in Rio, but certain medications may not be available. Private hospitals and clinics in are better staffed and equipped than public ones, but often expect immediate cash payment for medical care.

Laws and Customs

Tourists are subject to local laws.

Possession of illegal drugs is severely punished.

It is a legal requirement in Brazil to carry evidence of identity (original ID and copy of passport and visa) at all times.

Consumption of any alcoholic beverages prior to driving is illegal in Brazil.

For more information about travel security in Rio de Janeiro or other destinations, please contact Interfor International.

Travel Focus: Rio de Janeiro

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