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Reciprocity and Visa Fees in South America: A Regularly Updated Guide

Bolivian border post, near Laguna Verde

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.

 Reciprocity and Visa Fees in South America: A Regularly Updated Guide
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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.

Bolivian border post, near Laguna Verde. At 4488m (14,724 ft), among the highest border posts on the planet.
Bolivian border post, near Laguna Verde. At 4488m (14,724 ft), among the highest border posts on the planet.

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.

Argentina

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.

Bolivia

  • 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.

Brazil

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.

And finally, via VisitBrasil, two lists:

countries for which a visa is not required for stays of up to 90 days:

  • South Africa, Germany, Andorra, Argentina, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Bolivia, Bulgaria
  • Chile, Colombia, South Korea, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Slovakia, Slovenia,
  • Philippines, Finland, France, Great Britain/UK, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland
  • Israel, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macau, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Monaco, Namibia
  • Norway, New Zealand, Malta, Netherlands, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Guyana
  • Czech Republic, San Marino, Sweden, Switzerland, Suriname, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uruguay, Venezuela and Vatican City.

Countries for which an entry visa is required:

  • Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh
  • Bahrain, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bosnia, Botswana, Brunei, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cape Verde
  • Cameroon, Cambodia, Canada, Qatar, Kazakhstan, Chad, China, Cyprus, Singapore, Comoros
  • Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cook Islands, North Korea, Ivory Coast, Cuba, Djibouti, Dominica, Egypt, United Arab Emirates
  • Eritrea, United States, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Georgia, Grenada
  • Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Haiti, Hong Kong, Yemen, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq
  • Serbia, Montenegro, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kiribati Islands, Kuwait, Laos, Lesotho, Latvia
  • Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Lithuania, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Malta
  • Mariana Islands, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mauritania, Micronesia, Mozambique, Moldova, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nauru
  • Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Palestine, Papua / New Guinea, Pakistan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan
  • Dominican Republic, Romania, Rwanda, Russia, Solomon Islands, Western Samoa, Santa Lucia, St. Kitts and Principe, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Senegal
  • Sierra Leone, Seychelles, Syria, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Sudan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, East Timor
  • Togo, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Ukraine, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Colombia

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.

Chile

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.

Paraguay

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

Suriname

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.

Venezuela

  • 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.

 

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  1. ladieswholunchreviews says

    Wow, I had no idea. As if it isn’t expensive enough to travel without all those added costs!

  2. Paula says

    Great info – Thanks! At least the reciprocity fees are good for a number years….return visits encouraged~ 😉

    1. Bob R says

      Absolutely. 🙂

  3. Albatz Travel Adventures says

    Great info – I knew about them but had no idea which countries charged them…

  4. paula graham says

    Interesting…EU comes of lightly!!

    1. Bob R says

      Very. One of the privileges of having an EU passport. 🙂

  5. lexklein says

    We couldn’t stomach the high fees for 5 of us entering Argentina, so we flew into Uruguay, enjoyed some time there, then took the boat to Buenos Aires as they don’t charge the fee if it’s not a land entry. We saw another country for a few days and saved money overall – a pretty good solution!

    1. Bob R says

      Very good solution and thanks for the insight on the entry by boat.

      You can imagine the difficulties that Argentine families face when wanting to visit the US. That fee is probably about equal to the cost of one air fare.

  6. Josh Gross | The Jaguar says

    Thanks for writing this, I had no idea about reciprocity fees. What I don’t understand is why does the US charge so many people fees to enter the country? Based on my limited understanding average income in some Latin American countries is much less than in the US, so why make it harder for people from these areas to visit? To me it just seems like another way to make money.

    1. Bob R says

      That’s a good question. My guess is that the reasons are more political than practical, but I really don’t know. In any case, visa fees charges of $100-150 (or more) are fairly common for many countries.

  7. Teresa says

    Thank you for this excellent explanation! Any advice for an American traveling from Chile to Argentina and back? I would definitely opt to pay the fee for Argentina in advance but I worry about the border crossings in Patagonia by bus.

    1. Bob R says

      Glad to hear this is useful for you. What is it specifically that you’re worried about? I crossed back and forth over land by bus in Patagonia several times and experienced no problems. Each time the formalities were conducted quickly, courteously and efficiently.

  8. Helen Gabo says

    Hi, we are entering Chile by bus (twice – in Patagonia and Bariloche). Do we need to pay Chile reciprocity fee. We have Australian passports. Thank You

    1. Bob R says

      The visa info that I’ve found mentions a reciprocity fee of $117 to be paid at airport points of entry only. But for something like this, you really should contact your nearest consulate for confirmation. A list of Chilean consulates in Australia is here: http://chile.gob.cl/australia/en/sobre-la-embajada/chile-en-australia/ As for the multiple entry, that shouldn’t matter since the fees are almost always one-time, valid for the duration of your passport.

  9. Aaron says

    There is no longer an Argentinian reciprocity fee for Americans:

    http://www.embassyofargentina.us/en/consular-section/reciprocity-fee-for-us-citizens.html

    1. Bob R says

      Excellent, thanks for this Aaron, much appreciated. That’s now noted in the latest update.

  10. Anonymous says

    Canadians must pay around 80$ cd to enter Colombia and that each time we travel in the country

    1. Bob R says

      Thanks for that. Will update that section now.

  11. Vicki says

    Hi Bob, Just querying Australian reciprocity fee in to Brazil. From what I found, it is an exorbitant US$160, which ends up costing A$500 for a couple including registered post to & from Brazil Embassy. So for that reason we are giving Brazil a miss!

    1. Bob R says

      Thanks for that, Vicki, much appreciated. Was that $160 via a visa agency? According to the Consulate in Washington DC, the fee for Australians is now US$120. In any case, I’ve updated that section.

      1. Vicki says

        I just double checked with the Brazil Embassy in Canberra, Australia. a Tourist visa fee is A$216 which rounds to US$160. Done on-line via Visalink appears to charge another A$162+GST. Exorbitant!!!!

  12. Michelle says

    Hello. We are flying for Sydney, Australia to Santiago and then transitting straight to Buenos Airses. Do you know if we’ll need to pay the reciprocity fee even if we’re only in Santiago airport waiting for our transfer for about 3 hours? We do not intend to leave the airport. Many thanks for your help !

    1. Bob R says

      My guess is that you won’t but you really need to check with a Chilean authority. I’m not familiar with Santiago’s airport and how they handle transiting passengers. I added a link to Chile’s consulates in Australia to the Chile section above; there is contact info there.

  13. AA says

    The Argentine reciprocity fee for Australians has been dropped as at 1 July 2017. http://smartraveller.gov.au/Countries/americas/south/Pages/argentina.aspx

  14. Mickmmm says

    Thank you Bob, and I’m glad i bumped into your blog. I don’t see any mention on Peru here? but it’s all very informative and interesting. I’m glad to see Argentina dropped the R fee for Australians! Anything in that direction is a bonus! I imagine there is much to do to keep such info up to date, So again thank you.
    We travelled mostly with organised tours and I’m a little cheesed off these companies don’t seem to make much efforts regarding visas and other taxes involved when offering their rather costly packages. I feel this is their speciality and they should be more helpful in that regard. Maybe I’m asking for too much!

    1. Bob R says

      Thanks, glad you’re finding this useful. Peru isn’t included here since entry there is hassle free for travelers/tourists from most countries, no reciprocal fees involved.

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