We are on month six of our trip around the world and will soon head from Africa to South America. At this point we’ve come to really look forward to border crossings like the time we walked from Kazakhstan to Kyrgyzstan and our ferry crossing from Spain to Morocco. For our upcoming trip to South America we will do a mix of crossings by air, land, and boat and wanted to get our ducks in a row before we arrived.
South America has a mix of visas and reciprocity fees and the lines are not so clear when it comes to what is required. We have read that sometimes fees are charged for landing in an airport but not overland. Some have reciprocity visa fees which means if America charge their citizens for entry into the US, then Americans get charged an entry fee.
These visa fees, which are all over $100, can add to the overall cost of travel so it is important when planning your Latin America itinerary to take these into account. The cost of visa actually influenced our itinerary in terms of limiting the number of countries we will travel to during our time in Latin America.
The guidelines below are for Americans only and are in USD. We will update this post with more details as we arrive to Latin America.
We won’t be visiting Colombia on this trip, though we LOVE this country. We previously visited in 2015 just before we got engaged. We were asked both before and after our trip if we thought Colombia was safe and we say a resounding YES. This country holds a special place in our heart and is on our list of the top places we’ve visited! As Americans there are no visa or reciprocity fees. We have read that tourists may need to show proof of a ticket to exit the country, but this was not asked of us when we exited the country.
We had also read that there is a departure tax, $33 for a visit less than one month and $66 if you’ve been there longer. We also did not encounter this, but some airlines include this fee in the price of the ticket so it is best to confirm before purchase.
We are happy to find out that for both Chile and Argentina the previous reciprocity visa fees have been lifted since 2014 in Chile and 2016 in Argentina. From a cost perspective this means savings of $131 in Chile $160 for Argentina.
Though they waived visa fees during the 2016 Olympics, that is no longer in place. Brazil is one of the few countries that require a visa in advance and charges a hefty $140 to Americans, $65 to Canadians and $35 to Australians. Citizens from other countries, including the United Kingdom, do not need to pay for a tourist visa. They also do not allow visa on arrival, so up front leg work is required to enter Brazil.
The tourist visa is valid for ten years and allows tourists to travel for ninety days of any year. Quan visited Brazil for work in 2014 but had since changed her last name and passport after she and Jesse got married so her visa was no longer valid.
There are many international flights into Sao Paulo, particularly from Africa and we had considered using Brazil as our entry port to Latin America. However the combination of a steep entry fee plus the legwork required to get the visa ahead of time put Brazil off our list.
Upon leaving Brazil there is a $40 departure fee.
We were happy to learn that as of 2014 the $131 reciprocity visa fees to Americans were dropped. We did read that there is a $30 departure tax that is sometimes included in the price of a ticket, so we will confirm this upon our arrival and departure.
Here is where it will get interesting. We had also read that as of 2016 the the $161 reciprocity visa fee (good for 10 years) to Americans was also suspended. They also offered a less expensive 5 year visa option for those crossing by land. Our latest intel tells us that these fees are suspended for land crossings and is currently only charged at Ezeiza the international airport at Buenos Aires.
This visa research informed our decision to enter Latin America visa Santiago and to cross into Argentina over land from Chile.
There is a $135 visa fee to American that is good for five year and allow visits up to 90 days. The good news is we are able to get the visa upon arrival. The bad news is, the requirements is quite extensive, so here is the checklist:
- Two passport photos (thankfully we got a stock pile of passport photos for this trip)
- Two color copies of your passport – we have read mixed reviews on how seriously they require that the copies be in color. In terms of entry requirements we always opt to do more just in case
- Yellow Fever Vaccine – this was something we also got done before our trip, but it took a few tries. There was a shortage of vaccines when we were preparing for our departure an we ended up on a wait list at a travel clinic in Denver waiting for a new shipment which didn’t arrive until after our departure. We were lucky to get our shots in Virginia. Even more surprisingly we were able to get the shot at a Walgreens pharmacy!
- Printed proof of departure: Not just from Bolivia but from Latin America!!
- Proof of Accommodation
- Typed Itinerary
- Copy of Bank Statement
- Bolivia Entry Form (Which you will get upon arrival)
- $160 USD the bills have to be new, crisp, and without tears. We have heard that they can be very strict about this requirement so we plan to check our bills carefully to make sure we have enough on hand for entry.
Here we are exchanging money before our departure from South Africa checking every bill. We will be updating this post after we arrive on what things look like on the ground!