Overview of visas, reciprocity fees and departure taxes in South America

Passport stamps
••• Daniel Greer

Heard rumors about the reciprocity fee in Chile? One of the biggest questions when traveling abroad is whether visas or other documents are needed to enter a country. No one wants to land in a country only to find out they cannot enter because they were unaware they had to buy a visa in advance.

South America has a mix of visas and reciprocity fees and the lines are not so clear when it comes to what is required, sometimes fees are charged for landing in an airport but not overland.

It can be quite confusing, especially if you are travelling to more than one country in South America.  However, below is a quick overview of the current requirements for entering countries in South America, when you are planning your trip your travel agent and airline should confirm this information as well.​

Note: All funds are in USD

Argentina

Argentina does not require a visa in advance but in late 2009 it initiated a reciprocity fee in response to Canada, the United States and Australia initiating fees to Argentines. This fee was $160 for Americans, $100 for Australians and $100 for Canadians and is charged when you enter Argentina.

However as of March 26, 2016 the fee is temporarily not required for tourists traveling less than 90 days as a move to strengthen ties and between the United States and Canada.

While it is technically supposed to be levied at all borders, it is currently only being charged at Ezeiza International Airport.

Tourists coming over land, by ferry and alternate airports have not been charged this fee so far. As it stands the fee is good for a ten-year tourist visa for Canadians and Americans; Argentina has started offering a less expensive visa for 5-years and tourists can choose at the border which one they would like.

 Australians must pay the fee upon each entry.

There is an $18 departure fee for leaving the country.

Bolivia

Bolivia only charges a reciprocity fee to Americans, for $135. The visa restrictions in Bolivia are a bit more specific depending on the citizenship.

Americans pay for the visa to be valid for 5 years. It permits visiting the country for 90 days of a year. However, this cannot be extended like other countries OR similar to other nationalities visiting Bolivia.

Canadians may visit for 30 days of a year without being charged, to stay longer a $35 visa is required.

Citizens from the United Kingdom and Australia may visit for ninety days without a fee. It can be extended by leaving the country and returning for a new stamp.

While it is a requirement that tourists have proof of yellow fever vaccination, it appears this is no longer standard practice and tourists are reporting that it is not being requested.

Brazil

One of the few countries that require a visa in advance, Brazil charges $140 to Americans, $65 to Canadians and $35 to Australians to enter the country. Citizens from other countries, including the United Kingdom, do not need to pay for a tourist visa.

NOTE: These fees have been temporarily waived to encourage tourism during the Olympics.

You cannot get your visa at the border and must order it in advance. The tourist visa is valid for ten years and allows tourists to travel for ninety days of any year. While it seems these fees are steep, they have increased over the years because of reciprocity with the United States, Canada and Australia which started charging Brazilian citizens visa fees.

Upon leaving Brazil there is a $40 departure fee.

Chile

Another country that initiated a reciprocity fee which has changed over the past few years.

This one is a bit steep as Chile with charged $132 to Canadians, $131 to Americans and $61 for Australians. Much like Argentina, it was only being charged at the Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport in Santiago. Tourists coming over land or through other airports were not being charged. 

Once Canada dropped its fee for Chileans the reciprocity fee was dropped along with a fee for Americans. Australians and Mexicans continue to pay reciprocity fees in Chile.

The tourist visa allows 90 days of any year and the visa is valid for the life of the passport.

There is a $30 departure tax to leave Chile, it is often included in the price of the ticket, it is best to confirm before purchase.

Colombia

There is no fees for visas or reciprocity. Tourists may need to show proof of a ticket to exit the country. While it is a requirement, it does not appear to be standard practice and tourists are reporting that this is no longer being requested.

There is a departure tax for leaving the country, $33 if a visitor has been in the country for less than one month and $66 if the visitor has been there longer. Some airlines include this fee in the price of the ticket, it is best to confirm before purchase.

Paraguay

Paraguay charges a standard fee of $65 to citizens of the Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.

There is a $25 departure tax from the Asunción airport.