Effective before the end of October is a new procedure for paying entry fees to visit Argentina, a change that potentially could keep uninformed travellers stuck at the airport and unable to enter.

Beginning 31 October at Buenos Aires’ regional airport Aeroparque and 28 December at the international airport Ezeiza, visitors from the US, Canada and Australia must pay the required reciprocity fee online by credit card before arriving in Argentina. Previously, travellers from these countries could pay the fee using cash or credit card at the airport when passing through immigration.

Reciprocity fees are costs charged at a country’s points of entry (most often airports) for passport holders of certain nationalities, created to counter the fees the passport holder’s country charges citizens from that nation. For example, the US requires Argentine, Chilean, Bolivian, Brazilian and Paraguayan nationals to pay a fee to visit the US, and in turn, those countries levy a charge on US travellers to their countries.

In addition to reciprocity fees, travellers to South America – especially those stopping in more than one country – may also have to obtain a tourist visa, which requires advance planning and adds costs. Many South American countries have implemented or altered their fees and visa requirements over the last few years as the region has become increasingly popular with international tourists. And with tourism to the region set to boom when Rio de Janeiro hosts the World Cup in 2014 and the Summer Olympics in 2016, we have gathered the need-to-know basics regarding fees and visas for South America.

All of the fees listed below are in US dollars.

Travellers affected:
US, Canadian and Australian passport holders

Fee: US passport holders face the heftiest fine at $160, but it is a one-time fee that lasts for 10 years. Canadians on the other hand pay $75 for a single entry and the Australian fee of $100 lasts for one year. Prior to arriving in Argentina, visitors must register with the official government site Provincias Pagos, complete a form with personal and credit card information and print the receipt to be presented at immigration control.

Visa paperwork: None. Travellers are automatically granted a visa stamp for a 90-day stay.

Resource: The Argentine government’s official site for Migraciones (Immigration) details the fee changes and the payment process.

Travellers affected
: There is no reciprocity fee, but visitors from a number of countries including the US must present a tourist visa or the forms necessary to acquire one at immigration control. Visitors from Australia, the UK and Canada enter visa-free, unless they are staying for more than three months. All visitors must present an International Vaccination Certification for yellow fever.

Fee: For US citizens the visa cost totals about $135 and lasts for five years with a maximum stay of 90 days per year.  

Visa paperwork: The visa application can be downloaded on the Bolivian Ministry of Foreign Relations site, and additional information about compulsory documents is available under the Consular Services tab.

Resource: Further details for US passport holders can be found on the site for the US Embassy in La Paz.

Travellers affected:
The fifth-largest country in the world is booming with tourism, though the visa process renders a last-minute visit near impossible. The Brazilian government requires passport holders from more than 100 countries to acquire a visa, and visa appointments fill up weeks in advance at Brazilian embassies and consulates, especially in cities like Buenos Aires from where international travellers often attempt a quick jump over to Brazil.

Fee: Costs vary among countries, and US citizens face the highest visa charge at $170. Costs for other countries are spelled out on the official site for the Brazilian Consulate in Washington DC.

Visa paperwork: To apply for the visa, travellers should mail in their documents or schedule an appointment at their nearest Brazilian consulate or embassy. Materials such as the official visa application form, tickets in and out of Brazil, and proof of vaccination for yellow fever might be required.

Resource: The official site for the Brazilian Consulate in Buenos Aires lists countries whose residents require visas and details the necessary paperwork.

Travellers affected:
A one-time reciprocity fee hits visitors from Australia ($95), Albania ($30), Canada ($132), the US ($160) and Mexico ($23) and is valid for the life of the passport.

Fee: The fee is only charged at the Santiago International Airport SCL, the country’s main international airport in Chile, so those arriving in any other airport or by any other mode of transport can skirt the charge.

Visa paperwork: None

Resource: Additional information is available on the Santiago Airport site.

Travellers affected:
Most visitors to Paraguay are required to obtain a visa, including those from the US, Canada, Australia and India.

Fee: The reciprocity fee and visa cost, which is lumped into one sum, is $65 for a single entry or $100 for multiple entries, valid for 90 days from the date of issue.

Visa paperwork: Basic requirements include the application form, colour passport photographs, copies of a document listing the tourist’s home address, travel tickets and itinerary or hotel information, as well as proof of financial solvency, like recent bank statements. Applicants from certain countries are required to submit additional dociments in their application, so it is important for visitors to review the information with their home country’s embassy or consulate resources.

Resource: As the US State Government site warns visitors, no direct flights run between the US and Paraguay, so those stopping in another Latin American country with Paraguay as a final destination should keep in mind the fees and visa requirements of the other countries where they stop.