My wife (Brazilian citizen, US permanent resident) and I (US citizen) will be traveling to Brazil by plane with our 5-month old daughter (US citizen).

Our daughter may not have a passport by the time we depart for our trip. Would we be able to make it through the borders of each country using just official copies of her birth certificate?

  • 5
    As of October 2020 Brazil has an uncontrolled COVID-19 situation (there are less deaths, but it is still spreading fast in many places), many countries still do not allow people to travel from Brazil to them, all the bureaucratic things aside, keep in mind that it's definitely not safe to come here right now (and I guess it will stay like this until most of the population is vaccinated).
    – bnrosa
    Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 12:54
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    Not a chance. Nothing could be less get-away-able.
    – Fattie
    Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 13:49
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    @J... Where are you getting those figures? Based on the numbers here and the population figures for both countries on Wikipedia, the USA and Brazil currently have almost exactly the same cases per capita. In percentage terms, it's 2.49% of the population for the USA and 2.48% for Brazil.
    – Kyralessa
    Commented Oct 20, 2020 at 16:25
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    @Kyralessa Note I said active cases. We're at the point where cases in the past are less relevant than the current number of actively infected people. Brazil's first wave peaked in August and new cases have been declining since then. Currently there are just under half a million active cases in Brazil (90% of total recovered). The US has currently 5.5 million active cases (65% of total recovered). There is currently about four times the density of active cases in the US vs Brazil. It's one of the worst places in the world for covid.
    – J...
    Commented Oct 20, 2020 at 16:45
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    The issue though is not just the number of cases in a particular country at a given time (which is difficult to determine because of differences in testing and health statistics reporting), but that travel inherently involves moving around and coming into contact with many different people, both in the process of traveling and once you're at your destination. Even if the risk is lower at your destination, the risk of staying home and relatively isolated is probably less than the risk of traveling. Commented Oct 20, 2020 at 21:50

3 Answers 3


No. Excepting some special circumstances that don't apply here like official military travel, a passport is required by the US. Brazil similarly requires a passport. Any airline will simply deny boarding if you show up with only a birth certificate.

For instance, if you go to Timatic and tell it that a US citizen wants to go to Brazil with only a birth certificate, it will say:

No, The travel documents held are not sufficient for the traveler's journey, or they may need additional documents as follows:

Brazil - Destination Passport

Passport required.

You should also review the US State Department's Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory for Brazil. If you do not trust the US State Department, consider also the UK's advice against ‘all but essential’ international travel.

There are also non-COVID health matters to attend to in Brazil depending on where you are traveling, including yellow fever and malaria risk areas, so if your travel is imminent, you'll need to address that immediately.

  • Thanks for the thorough answer! I also appreciate your concern regarding the travel advisories. We are aware of the risks and not making this decision lightly.
    – Mark
    Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 15:29

If you have urgent international travel plans, you can get an expedited passport for your child. I once needed to get a same day passport because the government lost mine, and there was a Swiss couple ahead of me in line with their adopted newborn. Here's a link to the government webpage; consider calling them as well.

  • Yes, good point! I learned yesterday (after posting this question) that passport applications can be "upgraded" to expedited processing after submission.
    – Mark
    Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 15:30
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    Note also that Brazil may consider your daughter to be a Brazilian citizen and, if so, would expect her to enter Brazil with a Brazilian passport.
    – mlc
    Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 17:48
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    @mlc: from that page "Brazilian citizens who also have another nationality are allowed to enter and leave Brazil with the passport of the other country in combination with any document attesting Brazilian nationality such as a Brazilian identity card or an expired Brazilian passport. If they do not provide such document, they may still enter Brazil as foreigners, subject to the regular requirements and limitations as such"
    – Ángel
    Commented Oct 20, 2020 at 23:41

Besides the passport as argued elsewhere, at least until a few years ago Brazil demanded visas from U.S. citizens, as a reciprocity measure.

I don't know if it changed, or if there's some exception to small kids or children of citizens. Do you have a visa?

  • Reciprocity is a mix of revenge and incentivizing change, if the US will demand visas from Brazilian citizens, that so will the other way around. It's controversial, because it also hurts businesses and tourism in Brazil. Commented Oct 20, 2020 at 10:43
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    Yes, I have a visa as I've been going for several years, but it's no longer required for Americans.
    – Mark
    Commented Oct 20, 2020 at 16:55

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