Understanding South American Visa and Reciprocity Fees
Due to the comments on my master British Airways award clinic post, I know many of you are booking amazing South American awards with your British Airways miles before those redemptions become less valuable on Wednesday.
However, before you book you should understand the visa and fees associated with visiting South American countries. If you plan a multi-country trip, these fees can add up - especially if you are traveling with your family.
The reason why these fees exist is because the US government charges high fees to people who visit the US, so many countries retaliated with "reciprocity fees." Whether you agree with them or not, you should be prepared to pay them:
Argentina- $140 paid upon entry and it is good for 10 years. I recently flew from Punta del Este, Uruguay to the regional airport in Buenos Aires (AEP) and thought I might escape that fee, but they still charged me (at least I was able to use a points earning credit card!)
Bolivia- $135 upon arrival.
Brazil- $140 paid in advance by money order with your visa application. You need to apply for a visa in advance, which is a pain. I highlighted my experience and gave tips in this post.
Chile- $131 paid upon arrival and good for the validity of the passport.
Uruguay- No visa/reciprocity fee, but a $31 departure tax.
In general you don't have to pay the fee if you are just transiting a country. Even though these fees can add up, they are just a small price to pay for being able to visit some incredible destinations.