I was offered a job in Brazil and wanted to make sure it was a good place for my kids so booked a flight the morning of the offer for a flight later that morning. I arrived at airport for my direct flight to Brazil, was issued boarding passes, took the flight but was refused entry upon arrival. The airline flew me back, but I think they shouldn't have even let me board since I now know Americans are not allowed to enter Brazil w/o tourist visa? I don't mind paying the cancellation fees but I feel the rest of the cost of the flight should be refunded? Am I correct?

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    This would be controlled by the conditions of carriage. They should have checked that you had a visa, but only for their own interests, not yours. It's therefore unlikely that you can get any relief. The carrier has no responsibilities to the traveler related to immigration requirements. Both parties have a responsibility to the immigration authorities of the destination country.
    – phoog
    Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 2:50
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    You wanted to check whether the country is a good place for your kids by flying there unprepared? What on earth did you hope to figure out this way? Are there good schools? After hours activities? Crime? You thought finding this out by roaming the streets or what??
    – user4188
    Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 4:13
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    I was offered a job at an international school where my children would also attend. The school is majority Brazilian kids, so by going I could determine if the school would be inclusive for expatriate children. Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 4:36
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    Where were you departing from? If you were departing from the US, it's surprising they didn't check, as many/most passengers would be in that situation. If you were departing from a country whose citizens do not require a visa, they may have overlooked the requirement, thinking that US citizens would be applied the same rules as locals. That still doesn't make it their fault, the passenger is responsible for ensuring they have the appropriate travel documents.
    – jcaron
    Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 10:21
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    @chx You don't really know anything about a place until you visit it. Yeah OP should have checked entry requirements and other sources of information too, but I think it's a good idea to go and look around before you move your family there.
    – Calchas
    Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 11:52

2 Answers 2


The airline IS responsible for checking your visa before boarding, however that responsibility is for the good of the Brazilian government, NOT for the good of the passenger. By not correctly carrying out this check, the airline will likely be fined by the Brazilian government.

However, the airline has ZERO responsibility to the customer to check the visa. Visas are always the responsibility of the passenger. You failed to meet the requirements for entry into Brazil, and that is completely your fault.

Even if the airline had checked your visa, you would likely not be able to claim a refund of your ticket - unless it was a refundable ticket. Most airlines do not give refunds in the event that visa requirements are not met.


Currently, U.S. citizens require a visa to visit Brazil. There is an upcoming exemption for the Olympic Games, and there is also some talk about implementing a general visa waiver for U.S. tourists, but that hasn't happened yet.

The airline should have checked for your visa when you initially checked in for your flight; they have a system called Timatic which tells the airline what documents are necessary for a person of almost any nationality to enter a given country. In the case of your itinerary, it definitely makes clear that you needed a visa, and the airline should have denied you boarding.

What happens next is that the destination country will cause you to be returned to your point of origin at the airline's expense, and since the airline should have known you would be refused entry, Brazil may levy a significant fine against the airline.

Typically, airlines will apply the cost of any unused flight segments toward the cost of returning you to your point of origin. Finally, every airline I have ever heard of makes it explicit that the passenger is solely responsible for any travel documents they may need. So you are not likely to receive a refund of any sort.


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