No More Chilean Reciprocity Fee For American Travelers

Because of the waiver of the visa reciprocal fee in Chile, you can pay $160.00 fewer dollars to experience a sunset such as this one near Valle Nevado northeast of Santiago if you are an American citizen. Photograph by FlyerTalk member toadman. Click on the photograph for a trip report written by toadman.

If you are a citizen of the United States of America and you did not visit Chile primarily because of the cost of $160.00 for a visa per person simply to enter the country, you are now in luck if you want to visit Chile in the future:
As of February 26, 2014, you are now exempt from paying the visa reciprocity fee of $160.00.
Americans are typically charged reciprocity fees by countries whose citizens are charged visa fees to enter the United States. Furthermore, when the United States increased its fee for a non-petition-based non-immigrant visa to $160.00 on April 13, 2012, countries such as Chile, Argentina and Brazil which impose reciprocity visa fees to American citizens increased theirs accordingly to match…
…so when Chile was designated as a member of the Visa Waiver Program of the United States effective as of February 28, 2014, Chile reciprocated accordingly — which is good news for you if you are an American citizen…
…and if you are an American citizen who is a member of a family of four — all of whom want to visit Chile — the waiver of the visa fee represents a significant savings of $640.00. That amount is not exactly loose change.
Although citizens of Chile will no longer be required to pay a visa fee of $160.00 to enter the United States as of May 1, 2014, an Electronic System for Travel Authorization fee of $14.00 is still required to be paid.
If you are a citizen of Albania, Australia, Canada or Mexican, you are still required to pay the visa reciprocity fee for entering Chile.
With the inclusion of Chile, 38 countries are now members of the Visa Waiver Program of the United States, which allows nationals of designated member participants to travel to the United States for tourism or business — B visa category — purposes for up to a maximum of 90 days without obtaining a visa.
I personally would like to see more countries adopt visa waiver programs. I have no data to support this — but I believe that countries would experience a greater financial benefit from tourist dollars than from imposing a visa fee which can be perceived as unfriendly and offers no benefit to the traveler.
What are your thoughts? If you have not already, will you consider visiting Chile in the future if you are an American citizen who now does not need to pay a visa reciprocal fee of $160.00?

  1. I know that I have adjusted holidays according to visa policies in the past. Though I still believe that it is mostly European countries with the most difficult procedures. For those not eligible for a visa, one is often required to purchase flights and hotels before applying for the visa. If you are flying from South America or East Asia, refundable airfare is extremely expensive, and obviously you are discouraged from changing your flight information that you have given the consulate.

  2. One minor correction: Brazil does not charge a reciprocity fee like Argentina and Chile. Brazil requires US citizens to obtain a visa in order to enter Brazil, just as the US requires Brazilian citizens to obtain a visa. Chile does not require a visa; the Chilean government charges the reciprocity fee on entry to SCL. Argentina requires that the reciprocity fee be paid online prior to travel, but like Chile they do not require US citizens to obtain a visa to enter.
    Regarding the second last paragraph, I’m not clear on whether you are advocating that countries like Canada with absurdly strict entry visa requirements should expand their visa waiver programs, or whether countries like Chile that charge reciprocity fees should stop charging them notwithstanding the entry visa requirements of other countries.
    If you are arguing that countries like Chile should stop charging reciprocity fees, I disagree. The intent of the Chilean government was never to raise revenue, but to put subtle pressure on the US and other governments to lift entry visa requirements for Chilean citizens. Because tourism is a relatively small part of the Chilean economy, the government was less concerned about negative impacts to the tourism industry than reducing red tape for Chileans traveling overseas. In this sense Chile is different from Peru. Peruvian citizens also need visas to enter the US (and Canada, and many other countries) but the Peruvian government chooses not to impose a reciprocity fee, presumably because they fear the resulting impacts to their tourism industry which constitutes a larger part of their economy than Chile’s.
    I fully support Chile and other countries that choose to charge reciprocity fees. What’s that old saying about sauces for the goose and gander….?

    1. Thank you for the correction pertaining to Brazil, Siempre Viajando — as well as for your thoughtful commentary.
      I am not advocating that countries should stop charging reciprocity fees — rather, that countries should stop charging fees in general simply for travelers to enter their countries. That especially includes the United States, as I absolutely agree that the United States — a primary offender of imposing charges as part of its visa entry requirements — should not impose these fees in the first place; and certainly understand why an affected country would reciprocate.

  3. The issue is with the US government. If they impose visa fees, why shouldn’t the countries affected impose reciprocal fees. So don’t blame the other countries. The problem needs to be solved at home first.

  4. I don’t mind paying reciprocity fees but then you have countries like Bolivia who not only require a visa, but also a yellow fever vaccination in order to visit. Given that yellow fever is extremely rare in the country and 99% of the tourism areas of Bolivia are at high elevation where there are no mosquitos, this kind of policy can only be seen as a way to discourage people from visiting and spending money there. Of course, being that Bolivia is such a wealthy place, I suppose they can afford to do this, but I won’t be visiting anytime soon.

  5. Thank you for this post! So timely for me. I am leaving for a trip to South America with an anticipated stay of 3 months. Never even considered I would need a visa to visit any of the countries I’m going to! This is great news. Thank you again!

    1. Comments such as yours are the main reasons why I enjoy writing The Gate, ldsant. It is only my pleasure to be of assistance. I hope that you are doing well and that you enjoy your trip to South America!

  6. Thank You for this post! Very timely as I am going to Santiago on the 15th of March to catch a cruise ship. I had read about having to stand in a line to pay then additional lines for traditional processing. I also heard that if the receipt was lost trying to leave Chile was a nightmare. Has anyone been through SCL since the change? How did it effect the flow through processing?

  7. So this $14 fee… is it charged each time you visit or is it like the original fee where you only had to pay once and the “visa” was valid until the expiration date of your passport? I already paid this fee a few years ago, and I ski in Chile so this interests me.

    1. The $14.00 fee is for citizens of Chile entering the United States, alphaod. I do not believe citizens of the United States are charged $14.00 to enter Chile — but I could be wrong.

  8. My wife just returned from a cruise through South America on Holland America, they are still charging the 160.00 fee to enter Chilie and Argentina.

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