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Photo: Diego_3336

American, Canadian, and Australian passport holders planning to visit Argentina anytime after December 20, 2009, may want to recheck their bottom line.

AFTER A COUPLE OF false starts this year, Argentina is officially set on December 20 to implement a reciprocity fee for visitors who come through its main point of entry: Buenos Aires’ Ezeiza International Airport.

The fees are equal to what Argentines have to pay to get visas to those countries (hence the term “reciprocity”), are payable in Argentine pesos, dollars, travelers check, or by credit card, and last for the life of the passport in the case of Australians and Americans (per entry for Canadians — sorry guys).

Here’s the fine print from the Argentine Department of Immigration.

Of course, Argentina isn’t the first to charge American tourists. It joins Chile ($131 for entry by air), Bolivia ($135 visa fee), Paraguay ($65 visa fee), and Brazil ($150 visa fee), leaving Lima and Montevideo the only fee-free major points of entry for visitors looking to hit the southern cone.

To learn more, visit the U.S. State Department’s website for country-specific information, or check out this article on visa and reciprocity fees in South America to round out your knowledge.

If recent years’ visitor tallies hold, Argentina stands to gain some $52 million from its 400,000 annual American visitors, and the nearly 40,000 unofficial American residents who come and go.

It’ll be interesting to see if Montevideo, which is only a short Buquebus ferry ride away from BsAs, tries to increase tourism by advertising the use of Uruguay as a starting point for an Argentina vacation.

Not surprisingly, expat and travel message boards have lit up with the news, the response being overwhelmingly negative. While no one wants to part with an extra $131 on their travels, Americans should keep perspective.

The fee gets you an automatic tourist entry into Argentina for the life of your passport. All it gets an Argentine is a chance to wait up to 45 days for an interview with a passport official who may or may not grant the visa.

Community Connection

Will the reciprocity news bring Matador to disown our Favorite Spots in Buenos Aires, Argentina? Don’t count on it.

Trip Planning

 

  • http://wheretherebedragons.com Tim Patterson

    Damn. That’s a bummer. Maybe best to fly into Montevideo and then ferry to BsAs. Or screw it – just spend your whole trip in Uruguay.

  • http://www.evaholland.com Eva

    Thanks for those last couple lines, Eileen. It’s so easy for travelers to aim their frustrations at the South American governments bringing in these fees – the solution is probably to lobby our own governments about the way we treat foreign nationals instead.

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny the Irish polyglot

    I wholeheartedly approve this decision :) Last lines say it all.

  • Tom Gates

    Don’t forget the $22 exit fee at the airport…on top.

  • http://www.saltshaker.net Dan

    While the last line may be true, it’s not overly accurate – the average wait time is less than a week, and they grant 94% of all visa applications for tourist visas here in Buenos Aires. The 45 day wait is a guarantee that it will be within that time, and only takes that long if there’s a problem with the person’s paperwork that they submit with the application. The visa is also good for 10 years, even if the passport expires before then.

    There’s also a big difference in the tourism. It’s not exactly like there are vast numbers of Argentines contributing to the bottom line in the U.S. on tourist visas, while, there are not only tourists, but a huge number of expats from the U.S. who live here, on tourist visas, long term, and who bring a significant level of cash flow to this country. Argentina needs the tourism dollars (and euros and whatever), and this could put a damper on a level of tourism that’s already down nearly 30% from previous years because of a combination of the US economy, and high inflation here in Argentina.

    At least they made it for the life of the passport, the original congressional proposal was to make it for every entry, i.e., every 90 days for those who renew regularly to stay here.

  • http://www.uncorneredmarket.com Audrey

    Thanks so much for this information as we were debating whether to cross on December 19 or 20th from Paraguay. Decision just got easier.

    While it sucks to pay these reciprocity fees, I do understand why these governments implement them and I do wish that the U.S. government would stop the ridiculous practice of making you pay for the visa whether you get it or not.

  • http://www.saltshaker.net Dan

    Audrey’s reply brought up one more thought. The Argentine fee, like the U.S. fee, is not a visa fee, it’s an administrative fee. The U.S., at least, lets you know before you travel if they’re denying you the visa. Argentina makes the determination to grant a visa at the border, after you’ve traveled here – you don’t get any advance notice, and if they do deny you one (and they do, I have two colleagues and one friend, whom, at different times over the last three years, were denied entry on arrival), you have to take the next return flight out on the same carrier, regardless of what it costs you.

  • http://matadortrips.com/ Hal Amen

    Dan, do you think they’ll stop denying entry to folks who come and go every 90 days now that they’re able to extract money from them? Curious to see how that plays out.

  • http://www.bearshapedsphere.blogspot.com Eileen

    Just to be clear, the fee that you pay to get into Argentina is a reciprocity fee, not a visa, and it is the border officials who make the determination whether or not to allow you in. In Chile, that would mean that you’d pay the fee and then be excluded, were this to happen, as the two processes are done separately.

    Audrey, you guys are golden, it’s only by air for the moment. You’ll be hot crossing the land border to Argentina, but you won’t have to pay.

    I find it shocking that 94% of the tourist visas from Buenos Aires are approved. The United States must be much more untrusting of Chileans than of Argentines, because I have had several Chilean friends who have had their applications rejected after paying the fee and also a sum of money to call the phone number through which you request the interview time.

    Also, I don’t think a “life of the passport” expiration point is particularly helpful. I live in Chile, and will for the foreseeable future, and my passport expires in two years, which means I’ll pay in a couple of months when a flight I booked back to BsAs instead of Santiago because it was cheaper (d’oh!), and then again in a couple of years again when my passport expires. When the passport in which an American visa is stamped expires, the traveler carries both passports, unless I am mistaken. I would have preferred a blanket 10-year fee, though I suppose my case is not typical.

  • http://dataxy.com/passengers Fabricio

    For what I know there is no visa needed for Americans, Canadians or Austalians. This is just a fee. I went in May and as long as you stay less than 90 days it’s fine. Just like in other countries with the difference that argentines got smart about this. It is not until you passport expires… This fee is valid for 10 years (which is the same time a passport lasts). They basically make you pay for a visa that you never get because there is no visa required. I heard there is a family group also to make it more accessible.

  • Bystander

    I have seen the posts all over the travel forums but, to be fair, they are forums frequented by a lot of people who will be affected by the fee. Most visitors to Argentina are not affected. Chile has had the fee in place for years and so has numbers to look at. North Americans and Australians make up a very small proportion of visitors. Most come from other South American countries and a lot from Europe. A large proportion of the North American visitors now arrive by cruise ship (no reciprocity fee). Tourism has been growing steadily year to year.

    It seems to me that North Americans sometimes think they are the only tourists in the world and that without them tourist industries all over will collapse. Yet the Argentine tourist industry is mainly supported by Argentine tourists in their own country, followed by tourists from other South American countries. The same is true of Chile.

  • http://gua2255@yahoo.com jose orellana

    “The fee gets you an automatic tourist entry into Argentina for the life of your passport. All it gets an Argentine is a chance to wait up to 45 days for an interview with a passport official who may or may not grant the visa.”

    This last paragraph is B.S. The cost for processing millions, millions visas is huge, and it is only fair that the applicant pays the cost. But why is the cost to process a tourist visa so high, you might ask???? That doesn’t sound true???

    Well when you know that most illegal immigrants in the US are people that overstay after visas have expired and NOT people crossing the SOUTHERN BORDER, then you will understand why they have to screen each tourist visa to try, just try to choose people that would not overstay their visit.

    So between giving my money to cover the cost of a bureaucratic process and giving it to a bureaucratic and corrupt government that just wants to implement a populist policy, well at least with the Americans it is rational and not some emotional crap by a thief and corrupt politician from Patagonia.

  • http://www.bearshapedsphere.blogspot.com Eileen

    Is it not true that I get waived into the country after paying the fee? Or is it not true that Argentines and nationals of many other countries must be screened for a fee to see whether or not they will be given (often a one-time) visa? Which part of that is BS?

    In Chile, nationals also must buy the right to call the US embassy on the phone to make the appointment or ask any questions with a prepaid code from the company Chile Express. I do not have to do anything similar to enter Argentina. I may also overstay my visa in Argentina, Chile or any other place I choose to go. I probably won’t, but the only assurance these countries have of my behavior is the fact that I’m an American citizen. It’s not based on any person-specific knowledge of my behavior or background, which makes it inherently less subjective and open to caprice than the US approach towards nationals of these countries, independent of the motives behind it.

    Still pricey though.

  • Carly

    Good idea, Tim! Argentina is no longer for those on a shoe-string budget. :-/

  • Jane

    To be fair, the fact that you’re an American citizen is a good indication that you won’t be trying to get into their country illegally by overstaying your visa. America has an immigration problem, not an emigration one.

    When you have millions of people in a country illegally, then you likely also have a more difficult time allowing people to tour the country legally, as that is the easiest and most common way to stay whether you’ve done so legally or not. And countries with high emigration stats are obviously going to undergo more scrutiny.

    All that said, I can only see this fee hurting the country, not the people it’s aimed at. I’m not saying that Americans, Canadians and Australians make up all of the tourists, but we’re not an insignificant number either, and during this economic downturn, most places are already hurting.

  • John Steele

    As British national I feel welcomed in South-America. No fees because we dont. Dontbe narrow-minded Americans: It has nothing to do wth hate issues but shameful Visa practices by the US. Remember that the UK had a war with Argentina in 1982! So it has nothing to do with hate.

    Why shameful US practices? Because Argentinians, Brazilians, Chileans and tourists from many other countries face difficulties to get a Tourist Visa from those three unfriendly countries: United States, Australia and Canada.

    Most tourists around the world pay $131 dollars for processing fee (except from visa fee waiver countries) without ANY REFUND if the embasy refuses them. US/Canadian/Australian Embasies do awful practices, requirements lists, personal bank accounts and still rejecting most visa requests, screening any tourist as potential terrorist.

    I understand you have immigrationand security problems at home but do not blame 150 nations that imposed Reciprocity Fees back. It´s on their right.

    Argentina and Chile will not ask you what do you do for life. When you pay a recirprocity fee, the official only will check that you arent required for Interpol.

    So Fair IS Fair. Don´t be cheap Americans! Pay in the airport and enjoy!

  • juan jose hernandez

    The arguments in favor of the reciprocity fee are idiotic. Are you telling me that the cost of Argentina to screen people who will not overstay and would not harm that country is $131.00 per person. That’s BS.

    My wife and I canceled our trip to Argentina. We are both from Central America originally but did not want to fork the money for our other possible passports, which only last 5 years. We were stuck as Americans and decided to cancel everything before giving our money away to some populist measure.

    What are the $131 going to be use for????? At least with the USA, we know is covering the bureaucratic and administrative fees of screening visitors. Why should US residents subsidize that expense. It makes sense that the visitor forks it.

    I bet you it’s just some corrupt populist measure meant to appease “el pueblo” and fatten up some politicians.

    What do they think that the few countries that are charged are going to change their policies????? Like they are not thousands of Brazilians and Argentinians that do not overstay in Canada and the US. I don’t blame them. I would too. What I am criticizing is the lack of logic.

    ONE CHARGE SERVES A PURPOSE. THE OTHER ONE IS JUST A TANTRUM. They do not charge citizens of countries whose citizens do not overstay their visits….

    IDIOTIC and COUNTERPRODUCTIVE. We’ll stick to Peru and Colombia, warmer people, less arrogant, and with less “infulas de grandeza.” Put yourself and your country in perspective. Argentina could have as much tourism as Mexico, but yet again they choose to regress instead of to progress.
    Don’t censore me SSs!!!!

  • http://bearshapedsphere.blogspot.com/ Eileen Smith

    What gets my goat personally (though I’m actually not sure if it will or won’t) is that I’m a Chilean resident, pay Chilean taxes, etc. I feel that I’m being punished a bit for holding a US passport. On the one hand, I’m sure Argentina will put my money to good use, maybe doing a little primp-up at the airport (which it could use), or any of a host of other administrative details. People living in Chile have long used Buenos Aires as a jumping-off point for cheaper flights to Europe and the rest of the world, and for Chileans, this will continue to be the case, but for Americans, it does make the operation somewhat trickier.

    Juan José, I like your chutzpah. You’ve got a lot of good points, and I can see why you changed your decision about where to take your vacations. Living way down in the southern cone, it’s a little harder for me to avoid BsAs. And if it really is a tantrum, then they’re late to the party. Chile’s had a reciprocity fee for Americans for years.

    I guess we’ll just have to see what kind of effect this has on travels to Argentina. It’s been a long time in development, and I don’t suppose it will be repealed.

  • juan jose hernandez

    Hi Eileen,

    Thank you for your comments, “compliments” (chuzpah??? Couldn’t figure out from the context if it was the good kind), and last but not least the “tilde” in José.

    I agree that Argentina is late to the party of reciprocity “cover charges,” but I believe is part of presenting a united front as South Americans in one more of many issues.

    Of course, I am happy that South America is uniting instead of what has historically happened. And being from Guatemala, it has been particularly humiliating to have external forces (ajem…) depose governments and set their puppets in power, so I understand the need and obligation to affirm your sovereignty and interests, which sometimes are not the same as the hewietari (giants) up north and across the pond.

    But I think much else can be done to take the massive wealth accumulated in developed countries and create wealth not only for these emerging economies but for those investors from wealthy countries lending their money.

    Over the years, I have driven several cars across Mexico from California all the way to Guatemala, and I am always impressed with the wealth of this, the richest Latin American country.

    In 2008, I went for the first time to Argentina and was also impressed with that country, its size and its potential. And compared to Mexico, I was imagining what they could do with the levels of investment that Mexico has and the better wealth distribution than Argentina already has compared to Mexico (at least from what I saw superficially and from the perspective of a more or less uneducated person).

    This is more or less of topic but provided as a solution: instead of the reciprocity fees that scare the right people away from falling in love with a place, I think Latin American countries (and even poorer countries in Africa or South and South East Asia) should focus in lobbying and banding for the elimination of external debt. I heard this before, but I am not advocating for all external debt to be “forgiven.” There is good external debt and rich countries have PLENTY of that.

    What I am advocating is for the external debt incurred by dictators and government proxies and given by rich countries for their own interests (e.g.: the cold war), with the full knowledge that it would be stolen, and that it would never be invested on the poor countries’ citizens. Why should then the people from these poor countries pay for money that they never saw invested in them, but used to buy governments?

    I have never heard this. Most likely somebody smarter or with more of a voice than I have has already stated this more eloquently, but if not it will hopefully reach a person or persons that could push this more even if I do not get any credit.

    There is one thing I wanted to ask you Eileen. And this is also my idea, but might have already exist. I always thought that the reason we hear so much about Argentina’s and Chile’s “desaparecidos” and killed during their dictator years and less about Guatemala’s equivalents is because most of those killed in Chile were mestizos or white, unlike in Guatemala (mostly indigenous, two hundred thousand in what it was a small population then). After visiting Argentina and seeing the same seas of black heads as in Guatemala, with most people having indigenous facial traits, I questioned my previous assessment. I saw your pictures of Chile and I saw plenty of people that doesn’t look like Bachelet to use just as an example.

    Now I think that maybe is just the fact that Chile and Argentina as intermediate countries and with more educated people simply have more of a voice. In Guatemala, millions of people speak even Spanish as a second language, so nobody is writing books about those years or being interviewed. There are also no monuments nor reconciliation with the past. What do you think? I do not know anybody from South America and have never asked this question before to somebody that might have an educated opinion (based on experience or otherwise)

    Happy travels and congrats on the pictures and narratives. You have a eye for beauty, so keep the good work coming.

    Juan José y Ana María. (Guatemalteco y Salvadoreña respectivamente)

  • juan jose hernandez

    Just as an update and to show fairness, I am also against the proposal of the US to charge European nations $15 for tourist visitors. Brussels is not pleased about that possibility and the EU will possibly charge Americans a reciprocity fee.

    I agree with the EU because the fee is not being charged for the additional screening it is now necessary even of EU residents and citizens. Only $3 to $5 are being allocated to security. $10 are for PROMOTING AMERICAN TOURISM overseas.

    I think this is unfair. If American officials want to do that they should do it with their own money (really its taxpayers money), not with the money of tourists already visiting.

    I read the article in the Financial Times (a British newspaper). Just put in the search box: Brussels US reciprocity fee visa (or something akin)

  • http://bearshapedsphere.blogspot.com/ Eileen Smith

    Juan José (and Ana María by proxy),

    There is so much to answer here, that I don’t even know where to start. You seem to be very educated about the various entry fees proposed and imposed on visitors, moreso than I am. I am particularly interested in fees imposed on US-passport holders, because I am/have one, and had not considered how those might affect Europeans. Europe is incredibly far away to me, both geographically and world-view wise. Though they say the geopolitical plant is shrinking by the second.

    In terms of dictatorship/disappeared/tortured commemoration inequity (and I assume you are responding to my recent pictures on Flickr, or this is a terrific coincidence) I could not say why. I really do not know. I might have thought it was because there was on commission convened in Guatemala to investigate and make reparations, but that is (I believe) not the case. I am only scratching the surface of what it means to have a Museo de la Memoría here in Chile (story forthcoming), and feel unqualified to comment on where Guatemala stands in respect, though I could point out that with more than 20 indigenous languages, unification may have been harder to achieve. There are advanced studies programs in collective memory, so perhaps you could pick up a tome or two. I’ll ask a friend of mine who is in the know if she can recommend a particular one.

    Thanks for your photography kudos. I wish I could go back in time to 1992 to when I traveled alone in Guatemala for a couple of months, but with today’s camera and skills and show you how stunning it looked through my lens (figurative and literal).

    Thanks for participating here, and for engaging with Matador, and with me.

    Eileen

    P.S. No problem on the tildes, they’re easy enough to find on my Spanish-configured keyboard. And even if not, there’s always cut and paste.

  • Bystander

    Getting back to the reciprocity fee in Argentina, I am not clear whether a permanent resident in Chile who holds a US/Canadian/Australian passport has to pay the fee at Ezeiza. You can travel to Argentina on your cédula if you are a permanent resident. Permanent residents of Mercosur are, I believe, exempt. It would be interesting for a first hand account of whether this holds true for permanent residents of Chile, an associate member of Mercosur and with cross border agreements on what document you need to travel.

  • http://www.bearshapedsphere.blogspot.com Eileen

    Bystander,

    I will get back to you on the whether or not permanent residents of Mercosur pay the $131 on March 11th, when I am scheduled to land in Buenos Aires with no onward flight (oooh, have to work on that) The problem I foresee is that although we can cross land borders with the cedula, I believe we still enter and leave airports on our passports. I will try my darndest to get to the bottom of it, and of course, to avoid paying an extra $131. So far my Mercosur “membership” hasn’t gotten me much, though I did get to pay a “local rate” for a museum in the south of Argentina for being from a “país limitrofe.”

    But if you hear any news before then, it would, of course, be welcome! I also have a connecting flight through BsAs on the 10th of Feb, but I don’t believe they’d be so patudos as to check into our nationalities during a layover. Though since the US requires a visa even for people in transit, who knows.

    Eventually we’ll find out. Thanks for commenting!

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  • Eric

    Does anyone know if entry via AEP (Jorge Newbery aeroparque – the international airport close to the center of B.A.) also charges entrants (I am Canadian) the reciprocity fee?

  • http://www.bearshapedsphere.blogspot.com eileen

    Update:

    1. The fee has been raised to $140.
    2. US passport holders who are Chilean permanent residents who fly into Argentina from anywhere other than Chile do pay the fee. I was told that if you fly from Chile you can enter on your carnet and avoid the fee, but I am not sure this is true, as I am fairly certain we can’t actually enter Argentina by air with the carnet.
    3. As far as I know it is only Ezeiza, but there may be other information out there, please comment.

  • Juan

    Eileen,

    I’m chilean, I live in Chile and I’ve traveled to Argentina and Brazil by air without even having a passport, I only had to show my “Carnet de Identidad”. If you own a chilean identity card (carnet de indentidad) I dont see why it should be any different for you.

  • Juan

    This article is wrong in two key points:

    1)The reciprocity fee lasts 10 years for US Citizens (even if the passport has expired and you need to renew it)

    2) The fee is valid for one entry only in the case of Australian passport holders.

    Regards
    Juan

  • Juan

    This article is wrong in two key points:

    1)The reciprocity fee lasts 10 years for US Citizens (even if the passport has expired and you need to renew it)

    2) The fee is valid for one entry only in the case of Australian passport holders.

    Regards
    Juan

  • Emmanuel

    THe only thing i am going to say that it is really fair this fee
    regards from Argentina, the best country

  • Emmanuel

    and i would like to correct some terms. I think it’s time to stop saying Americans when we refer to people from the United States, America is a continent not a country i’m sick and tired of this we all are americans you should think about it!

    • BETTYBOOP

      ARE YOU AN IDIOT??!!! PEOPLE FROM ITALY ARE ITALIAN, PEOPLE FROM GERMANY ARE GERMANS. I AM FROM THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND PROUD OF IT!! I FEEL HONORED TO BE CALLED AMERICAN. MAYBE YOU NEED TO LEAVE AMERICA AND GO BACK TO MEXICO SO YOU CAN THEN BE MEXICAN! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU ??? IT’S OBVIOUS YOU HAVE NO PATRIOTISM OR LOVE OF AMERICA. SO I SAY LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT! YOU SHOULD THINK ABOUT THAT!

      • Miguel Enrique Gordillo Espade

         The racism is keenly connected to “America”…Oh jose can you see! Anyhow, it is shameful that anyone would deny that america is the most racist nation alive…well, next to Israel. Looky here betty bloop, I am sorry you had to CAP a response that way…but you are mad at something that may very well be hidden deep inside you! Can you read the history behind America? Behind it is an Italian that started the fire, by the way: Amerigo Vespucci, a fine Italian Navigator…it is OBVIOUS you have no idea what the word “patriotism” really OBVIOUSLY means. Sorry Emmanuel, there are many bloopers in this God forsaken nation…next, they’ll strike Iran because OH…WMD? I should go buy a shoe factory…

    • Miguel Gordillo1

       Emmanuel? hmmm…is that an English word? I believe that our friends below are stipulating the fact that we (Central Americans and South Americans, given that the southern most (bottom) part of NORTH amerikans are actually LATINO speaking alike the TOP (northermost part of north America)…is really a hegemony of sorts. I mean, Even canada like a romantic language for heaven sake…man, Americans don’t want another language other than English. And I love English…but, NOT Americans that don’t want a Romantic language as part of their culture! Capiche? Non mi hai capito? Per favaore…y enojate porque soy Chapin (Guatemalteco)..,fijate!

  • Rspreng

    I flew to Cordoba, Argentina from the US via Chile and paid no reciprocity fee in July, 2011.    The fee applies only to people flying to AR and landing in BA, I believe.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NGEK4RCS2SQOV2KP2LHYE6O4MQ Schwartz

    The Directive from the Argentine Immigration Authority (part of the Home Office) indicates that these fees shall only be paid if the foreigner enters through either Aeroparque (AEP) or Ezeiza International (EZE). AEP flights cover mostly domestic flights and a few international but limited to countries which citizens would be exempt from paying this fee. In counterpart, Cordoba International Airport does not make this fee mandatory.

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