Reciprocity and Visa Fees in South America: A Regularly Updated Guide
For many destinations, information about visa fees and other related costs are some of the most important details a traveler needs prior to hitting the road. But finding one-stop information sources, particularly up-to-date ones, can be a challenge these days as policies often change, sometimes without warning.
This post is my attempt to bridge that gap. I keep a close watch on travel regulations in South America, so this is a resource I’ll be updating regularly.
Last update: 13 September 2017
But first, what is a reciprocity fee?
They’re not visa fees per se, but rather charges created to counter the fees that one country has levied against the citizens of another. The United States, for example, charges citizens of Brazil and Bolivia entry fees; these countries have reciprocated by charging US citizens for visiting their countries.
Tit for tat, little more.
But they can also be troublesome for those who haven’t done the necessary research. Before Argentina revoked reciprocal fees for citizens of the US, I watched one young twenty-something traveler from the US sent back into Chile from a somewhat remote border post in Argentine Patagonia because he didn’t have proof of payment for the $160 fee.
Claiming ignorance didn’t help. Nor did yelling at the border official whose post, like most others, wasn’t equipped to process payments on arrival. He was told to head back to the nearest town with a working internet café to pay his fee, with these parting words from the man he just yelled at:
“You don’t want to come back when I’m working.”
While US citizens are most often on the receiving end of reciprocal fees, they vary country to country and also involve nationals from Australia, Canada and a few other countries.
This post deals primarily with Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Suriname and Venezuela, countries that levy charges in one form or another against travelers from certain countries. At the moment, Colombia*, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Uruguay provide hassle-free entry to visitors from most countries, so won’t be considered here. (*Dec 2016 – An update has been added on Colombia.)
Finally: while I will be updating this post regularly, it’s always a good idea to consult the nearest embassy or consulate of your destination nation prior to departure, preferably by phone. Even now, in 2017, ministries of many countries do a woefully inadequate job of providing this sort of information on their websites, which in turn leads to the circulation of bad or outdated information.
All figures are in US dollars (USD). Check xe.com for live currency rates and conversions.
These are strictly enforced; at land crossings, travelers without valid receipts will be barred entry. I’ve seen it happen.
Citizens of European Union countries do not require visas and are not charged reciprocal fees. Here’s a complete list of who does and does not require a visa to enter Argentina, via the Argentine consulate in Sydney, Australia.
USA – $ 135 visa fee; payable in cash in USD upon arrival at all land and air points of entry. This is essentially a reciprocity fee. [Bolivian embassy in Washington DC]
Citizens of 50 countries, including all citizens of the European Union, do not require a visa. Permitted length of stay is in most cases initially limited to 30 days, then in most cases can be extended up to 90 – oftentimes at no charge. That extension process can take upwards of 24-48 hours, but in many case, mine included, was done on the spot and took less than 10 minutes. Consult the nearest embassy prior to departure about extension fees you may incur.
One of the few countries where visas are required prior to arrival, with applications submitted either in person or through visa agencies. Some fees:
USA – $160
Canada – $65
Australia – $120
Japan – $25
A full current list of fees via the Consulate General of Brazil in Washington DC is here.
Planning to travel to Rio for the summer Olympic Games? Note that as is often the case by hosts of the Games, Brazil has temporarily lifted some visa requirements, with a waiver, valid from June 1 through September 18, 2016, for visitors from the United States, Canada, Australia, and Japan.
Entry to Colombia is hassle-free for nationals of many countries for up to 90 days. One exception is Canada, whose nationals are charged a reciprocity fee of 160,000 COP (USD 53/ CAD 70) payable upon entry.
The situation here has changed the most in recent years with the reciprocity fees for citizens of the US and Canada eliminated in early 2014.
Upon entry visitors receive a 90-day tourist card which can be extended for another 90 days. Again, check the nearest embassy or consulate for the latest information for any costs that may incur.
At the moment, visas on arrival at Silvio Pettirossi International Airport in Asuncion are available for citizens of the following five countries, according to Paraguay’s embassy to the US:
USA – $160
Australia – $135
Canada – $150
New Zealand – $140
Taiwan – $100
Citizens from the following 57 countries do not require a visa:
All EU citizens, Andorra, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Peru, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela
Most travelers are required to apply for a single-entry 90-day tourist card in advance, although in some cases they can also be obtained upon arrival at the airport. $25; multi-entry visas $100. Check the Surinamese Embassy in Washington DC for the most updated information.
USA – $30; obtained in person in advance through a Venezuelan embassy or consulate; validity for 90 days within one year.
At the moment, nationals of Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, New Zealand and Switzerland do not require visas. Ninety day stays are granted upon arrival.
Again — I did say you should always consult the nearest embassy or consulate of your destination, didn’t I? Good.