Category Archives: 2014 FIFA World Cup – Security Update

It’s Kick Off Time! But Will It All Kick Off In Brazil?

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Short answer: probably not.
In the build up to the 2014 FIFA World Cup, there have been frequent protests about the expense of the stadia, fears of crime sprees, concerns over safety of stadia as well as a number of other topics favoured by nay-sayers. However, it is assessed that once the World Cup begins, the spirit of the sport will unite the masses with football fever. Much like the catastrophic predictions preceding the Summer Games of 2012 and Winter Games 2014, sensationalism sells newspaper and on both of those occasions, the populations pulled together and celebrated the occasion rather than take issue to spoil it.
This is not to say there won’t be the occasional violent event outside a stadium or that street robberies won’t occur, but it is assessed that it won’t happen with a greater frequency or severity at any other time in Brazil or at other large scale sporting events.
It is important to note that Brazil is a big with a lot of people (ranked fifth for both land mass and population) therefore it is foolish to assume there is a homogenous security environment. Not only will the situation vary significantly by city but by neighbourhood, time of day, and security presences as well so the best defence will be an awareness of the immediate situation and the avoidance of trouble.  When angry crowds start forming leave, avoid dark areas with no escape routes, know the emergency phone numbers, don’t carry valuable possessions in the open at night, and always have spare currency separate from your wallet just in case the worst should happen.  The best policy is always to stay out of trouble rather than trying to figure your way out of it.
Please stay tuned to our blog as we keep you up to date on events in Brazil. If you would like to know more about the security environment in Brazil, we will be posting detailed assessments of each host city, please see the details for the São Paulo for the first game between Brazil and Croatia:
Let the games begin!!
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São Paulo Travel Advisory

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São Paulo

City Description

São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil and is the capital of the state of São Paulo, Brazil’s most populous state.


All the greater areas of São Paulo have a high rate of armed robbery, with pedestrians and drivers being targeted at traffic lights and during rush hour traffic.

The “red light districts” of São Paulo, which are located on Rua Augusta north of Avenida Paulista and the Estacao de Luz metro area, are especially dangerous as there are regular reports of young women slipping various drugs into men’s drinks and robbing them of all their belongings while they are unconscious.

Armed holdups of pedestrians and motorists by young men on motorcycles are a common occurrence in São Paulo. Recently, criminals have begun targeting restaurants throughout the city. Such incidents have especially occurred between the hours of 10PM and 4 AM, at establishments in the upscale neighborhoods of Jardins, Itaim, Bibi, Campo Belo, Morumbi and Moema.

Laptop computers, other electronica and luxury watches are the targets of choice for criminals in São Paulo.

Efforts by incarcerated drug lords to exert their power outside of their jail cells have in the past resulted in sporadic disruptions throughout the city, with violence being directed at the authorities, and including bus burnings and vandalism at ATM machines, including the use of explosives. MS Risk advises travellers to São Paulo to be aware of your surroundings and to exercise caution at all times. You are also advised to respect police roadblocks and be aware that some municipal services may be disrupted.

As in Rio de Janeiro, favela tours have recently become popular amongst foreign tourists in São Paulo. MS Risk advises against travelling to São Paulo’s favelas as neither the tour company nor the city police can guarantee your safety.


International Airport

São Paulo has two main airports: São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport for international flights and Congonhas- São Paulo Airport for domestic and regional flights. Another airport, the Campo de Marte Airport serves only light aircraft.

São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport is located 25 kilometers (16 miles) northeast of the city center in the neighboring city of Guarulhos.


Despite heavy traffic being common in the city’s main avenues, and with traffic jams relatively common its highways, automobiles are still the main means to get into the city.

The city is crossed by ten major highways:

  • Rodovia Presidente Dutra/BR-116 (President Dutra Highway): Which connects São Paulo to the east and northeast of the country. The most important connection is with Rio de Janeiro.
  • Rodovia Régis Bittencourt/BR-116 (Régis Bittencourt Highway): Connects São Paulo to the south of the country, with the most important connections being Curitiba and Porto Alegre.
  • Rodovia Fernão Dias/BR-381 (Fernão Dias Highway): Connects São Paulo to the north of the country, with the important connection being Belo Horizonta
  • Rodovia Anchieta/SP-150 (Anchieta Highway): Connects São Paulo to the ocean coast. This highway is mainly used for cargo transportation to Santos Port. The most important connection is Santos.
  • Rodovia dos Imigrantes/SP-150 (Immigrants Highway): Connects São Paulo to the ocean coast. This highway is mainly used for tourism. Most important connections include Santos, São Paulo, Guarujá and Praia Grande
  • Rodovia Castelo Branco/SP-280 (President Castelo Branco Highway): Connects São Paulo to the west and north-west of the country. Most important connections include Osasco, Sorocaba, Bauru, Jaú and Campo Grande
  • Rodovia Raposo Tavares/SP-270 (Raposo Tavares Highway): Connects São Paulo to the west of the country. Most important connections include Cotia, Sorocaba, Presidente Prudente.
  • Rodovia Anhangüera/SP-330 (Anhanguera Highway): Connects São Paulo to the north-west of the country, including its capital city. Most important connections are Campinas, Ribeirão Preto and Brasília.
  • Rodovia dos Bandeirantes/SP-348 (Bandeirantes Highway): Which connects São Paulo to the north-west of the country. It is considered the best motorway of Brazil. Most important connections are Campinas, Ribeirão Preto, Piracicaba and São José do Rio Preto.
  • Rodovia Ayrton Senna/SP-70 (Ayrton Senna Highway): This highway connects São Paulo to the eastern locations of the state as well as the north coast of the state. The most important connections are São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport, São José dos Campos and Caraguatatuba.


The two major railway stations in São Paulo are Luz and Julio Prestes in the Luz/Campos Eliseos region. Julio Prestes connects southwest São Paulo State and northern Paraná State to São Paulo. Luz Station has an underground station and has east and westbound suburban trains that link São Paulo to the Greater São Paulo region to the East and the Campinas Metropolitan region in Jundiaí in the western part of the State.


São Paulo has three rapid transport systems: the underground rail system has five lines; the suburban rail system, Companhia Paulista de Trens Metropolitanos (CPTM) has six lines that serve many regions that are not reached by the underground system; and the fast-lane bus system, in which there are many bus lines throughout the city.

The Metro in São Paulo has been affected by a strike which is now threatening the opening of the World Cup soccer tournament.  Although late on Monday 9 June, Union leaders suspended a five-day strike that has paralyzed the city, workers indicated that they would vote on Wednesday on whether to resume the walkout.


Bus transport, both government and private, is composed of approximately 17,000 buses. São Paulo Tietê Bus Terminal is the second largest bus terminal in the world and serves localities across the nation, with the exception of the states of Amazona, Roraima and Amapá. Routes to 1,010 cities in five countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile Paraguay and Uruguay) are available.

The Palmeiras-Barra Funda Intermodal Terminal is smaller and is connected to the Palmeiras-Barra Funda metro and the Palmeiras-Barra Funda CPTM stations. It seves the southern cities of Sorocaba, Itapetininga, Itu, Botucatu, Bauru, Marília, Jaú, Avaré, Piraju, Santa Cruz do Rio Pardo, Ipaussu, Chavantes and Ourinhos (on the border with Paraná State). It also serves São José do Rio Preto, Araçatuba and other small towns located on the northwest of São Paulo State.





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Brazil Country Travel Advisory

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Brazil – No travel restrictions

While there are currently no travel restrictions for Brazil, MS Risk advises all travellers to exercise a high degree of caution throughout the country. This is due to high crime rates and regular incidents of gang-related and other violence.

2014 World Cup

The 2014 FIFA World Cup will be held in Brazil from June 12 to July 13, 2014. Games will be played in a number of major cities across the country, including Brasília, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. If you are planning on travelling to Brazil during this period, MS Risk advises that you make your travel arrangements, including accommodation, transportation and purchase of sporting event tickets, well in advance using only genuine and reliable sources. You should note that English or French may not be readily available in Brazil.

Crimes, such as thefts, are known to increase around major sporting events in Brazil, with tourists often being the targets. MS Risk therefore advises all travellers to exercise extreme caution and to remain aware of your surroundings at all times. We advise that you use ATM’s in well-lit public areas or inside banks and avoid using them during the evening and night.

Over the past several weeks, demonstrations have occurred throughout Brazil. Further demonstrations leading up to, during and after the World Cup, may take place and may turn violent with minimal or no notice. MS Risk advises all travellers to avoid demonstrations, monitor the local developments and follow the advice of local authorities.

Emergency Services

  • Fire Department: Dial 193
  • Police: Dial 190
  • Ambulance Services: Dial 192

In São Paulo, dial (11) 3120-4447 or (11) 3151-4167 to reach the tourist police. In Rio de Janeiro, dial (21) 2332-2924, (21) 2332-2511 or (21) 2332-5112 to reach the tourist police.

In the event of an emergency or an accident with injuries, dial 193 anywhere in Brazil. In the case of an accident without injuries, contact the military police at 190.

Civil Unrest

Risk Rating: Low – Medium Risk

Political and labour strikes and demonstrations are common throughout Brazil and could lead to violent incidents. During protests, roadblocks are sometimes used. MS Risk advises travellers to avoid large gatherings and keep informed of future demonstrations by monitoring local news reports.

Since 10 June 2013, demonstrations have been taking place throughout Brazil to protest against corruption and an increase in costs to basic services. Such demonstrations can occur anywhere and at any time. In São Paulo, protests can cause delays along the main road that leads to Guarulhos International Airport. Expect traffic and public transportation disruptions.


Risk Rating: High Risk

Crime levels throughout Brazil are high, including in most urban centres such as Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Brasília, Recife and Salvador. However violence and crime can occur anywhere and often involve firearms or other weapons. In the past, victims have either been seriously injured or killed when resisting perpetrators. MS Risk advises all travellers to remain vigilant, particularly before and during the festive and carnival periods.

Robberies involving tourists occur regularly, even during daylight hours, and can sometimes be violent. MS Risk advises travellers to avoid isolated areas and unsupervised beaches with poor visibility from the sidewalk. We also advise that you ensure your hotel or living accommodation is completely secure.

Street crime, including pickpocketing, mugging and purse snatching, is common throughout Brazil, especially during public festivities such as the annual Carnival. Tourists are particularly targeted. MS Risk advises travellers to avoid wearing expensive jewellery, watches and clothing. Do not carry large amounts of money. Keep mobile phones and cameras out of sight and leave your passport and valuables in a safe place. It is recommended that you carry another form of photo ID, such as a driving license, with you at all times. If threatened, MS Risk advises that you be ready to hand over all valuables and that you do not attempt to resist attackers as they may be armed or under the influence of drugs.

There has been an increase in robberies at ATM’s. Some ATM’s have been fitted with anti theft devices, which apply pink coloured ink to the notes of an ATM that has been damaged or tampered with. Travellers should be aware that any pink coloured note will not be accepted in the market and automatically loses its value. If you withdraw cash at an ATM and it has any sort of pink marks, you are advised to speak to the bank straight away in order to get the note changed. If this occurs outside of bank hours, or not in a bank branch, you should get a bank statement from the ATM showing the withdrawal and take it with the marked note to a police station in order to attain a police report.

Bank and credit card fraud is common in Brazil, including card cloning from ATM’s. MS Risk advises all travellers to keep sight of your card at all times and to not use an ATM if you notice anything suspicious.

Mobile phone cloning also occurs in Brazil. You are advised to take care of your handset at all times.

Kidnappings and carjacking’s occur throughout the country, particularly in larger cities. In past incidents, victims were usually picked up from the street and forced to withdraw funds from ATM’s. MS Risk therefore advises travellers to remain cautious with new acquaintances who offer friendship, hospitality or assistance.

Theft from cars is common and there have been cases of carjackings. When approaching your car, have the keys ready in order to make it easier to get into the car. When driving, keep the doors locked and windows closed and take particular care when stopping at a traffic light. In three or more lanes of traffic, consider using the middle lanes. Avoid deserted or poorly lit places. MS Risk advises all travellers to be aware of people approaching to ask for information, especially at night. The threat of personal attack is lower outside cities, however incidents can occur even at holiday destinations that appear to be relatively secure.

While rape and other sexual offences against tourists are rare, there have been attacks against both men and women, with some involving ‘date rape’ drugs. MS Risk advises travellers to purchase your own drinks and to keep them within sight at all times.

Gang-Related Violence

While police officials in Brazil have carried out crackdowns on crime throughout the country, this has led to retaliation attacks that have been carried out by criminal gangs. As a result, there is an increased chance of violence across the entire country, including in major cities. MS Risk advises travellers to remain vigilant at all times and to comply with security directives that have been imposed by local authorities.

Incidents of gang-related violence continue to pose a threat in large urban centres, where there is often a visible disparity in the levels of wealth. In the past, targets of gang-related violence have included police stations, buses, official buildings and businesses. Most tourist hubs and destinations have also been targeted. In urban centres, particularly in or near favelas, violent incidents and armed clashes have occurred between police forces and alleged criminals on a regular occurrence.

While additional security forces have been deployed throughout the country, future gang-related violence is likely to occur and could involve the use of weapons, including firearms, which are increasingly easy to obtain. MS Risk advises all travellers to exercise a high degree of caution at all time and to avoid travelling alone, especially at night.

Drug Trafficking

Drug trafficking is widespread in Brazil. If you are caught trafficking, the penalties are severe and often involve long prison sentences in a Brazilian prison. The penalties for possession of drugs for personal use range from educational classes to community service.

Road Travel

Brazil has one of the highest road accident rates in the world. This is due to aggressive driving habits, a significant number of trucks on the road, reckless passing, excessive speeds, poorly marked lanes, construction, vehicles moving in the wrong direction on one-way streets, and poorly maintained roads.

MS Risk advises all travellers to avoid driving after dark and to keep doors locked and windows closed at all times. We also advise that you be careful when stopping on the side of any highway, both for traffic and for the potential of being a victim of crime.

When driving in large cities, MS Risk advises travellers to pay attention to your surroundings while waiting at traffic lights. It is common for motorists to treat red lights as stop signs between the hours of 10 PM and 6 PM in order to protectagainst hold-ups at intersections. Most cities will have a flashing yellow light, which indicates that drivers only need to yield.

Public Transportation

Theft on buses and trams is common, especially at night. Violent incidents frequently occur in unofficial taxis, which are often present at airports. Registered taxis are clearly identified however they may look different in each city. To be safe, MS Risk advises that you purchase tickets from taxi offices at the airport’s arrival hall. In town, we advise that you use taxis from taxi stands only. Only use taxis to travel to and from airports. Local law requires the use of the taxi meter in order to determine the legal fare. Adding surcharges to a fare is illegal. Should taxi rates change, and their meters have not been adjusted, drivers may indicate these changes by showing you an authorized paper with the new rates. At night, it is safer to order a taxi by telephone then to stand on a street.

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