Should Reciprocity Fees — and Visa Fees — Be Reduced or Eliminated?

“Contrary to what most people think and feel, it is not a penalty to visitors, nor should it be interpreted that way. At least not when it comes to developing countries. I hate to sound all Sarah McLachlan here, but for the cost of $160 over the course of 10 years you’re helping maintain infrastructure and create hundreds, no thousands of jobs for a developing economy.”

I do not necessarily agree with the viewpoint of Jon Nickel-D’Andrea in this article posted at The Winglet, from which the quoted content above was extracted.

Should Reciprocity Fees — and Visa Fees — Be Reduced or Eliminated?

The argument which I have heard from many people is that countries such as Chile, Brazil and Argentina have imposed reciprocity fees on American citizens primarily because the United States — which is certainly not a developing country — imposed fees on the citizens of those aforementioned countries who visit. That certainly sounds like a penalty to visitors if that is indeed accurate.

There have also been countries which have suffered from economic issues associated with the implementation of visa fees — as well as cumbersome policies — and those countries which rescinded them had reported a mostly positive increase in economic activity directly associated with an increase of visitors to their respective countries.

Of those countries, all three have since rescinded their reciprocity fees — Chile and Argentina until further notice; and Brazil for a few months this summer in conjunction with the 2016 Summer Olympic games.

There are people — at times, myself included, admittedly — whose decisions to visit a country are affected at least in part by the cost of a visa or reciprocity fee; although I do agree that if that were the only reason after spending thousands of dollars on airfare, lodging, ground transportation, meals, souvenirs and other costs, a couple of hundred dollars might seem to be a paltry reason to have second thoughts about visiting a country.


I believe that visitors should spend their money supporting local merchants rather than directly to the governments themselves. By reducing — or, better yet, eliminating — the fees to secure a visa for a visitor, I believe that the economic benefits would more than make up for it. That $160.00 per person for a visa to visit Argentina could instead go towards patronizing businesses and other areas of the general economy, which in turn would increase tax revenues for the government as one of many benefits. I am by no means an expert on economic policies in global economies; but I believe that charging exorbitant visa fees actually does more harm to countries economically in the long term than helps them.

Although I can understand why a country would want to impose restrictive visas on visitors for various reasons — keeping track of them while they are in that country for national security purposes; as well as to have a revenue stream — they do stand the chance of losing out on the economic benefits of the dollars of tourists and business people when the process of securing that visa is unnecessarily complicated and prohibitively expensive…

…so when Jon Nickel-D’Andrea stated the conclusion to the aforementioned article…

“It is easy to lose perspective of how important these things are in our zeal to reduce the cost of our travel, but may I suggest that if cutting costs is a priority, we do so by going from a category 7 to a category 6 hotel, or maybe skipping that brunch at a Michelin rated restaurant? Just because we’re in the points and miles game it does not mean we cannot be responsible socially aware travelers. The world will thank us.”

…please pardon me if I disagree — and with a healthy dose of skepticism…

Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

3 thoughts on “Should Reciprocity Fees — and Visa Fees — Be Reduced or Eliminated?”

  1. A says:

    I know that the visa fees for Argentina and Brazil have turned me off from going there. I know that as an American, I get way overcharged by the locals when I visit developing countries, something that leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and I don’t really need the governments doing it as well. In Argentina and Brazil in particular, with Igazzu (sp?) Falls,that lie on the border, you might only want to visit the other country for a couple hours to look at the other side of the waterfalls.

    There’s a lot of vetting that goes into the US granting visas, and there’s also a lot of people from Argentina and Brazil who would like to go and stay in the US, but less Americans who are interested in overstaying visas and illegally immigrating to either of those two countries. It’s less about the money and more about the principle. There’s not that much I want to see in Brazil or Argentina, either, so that $160 looks even more expensive and is even more of a deterrent.

  2. Shonuffharlem says:

    There wouldn’t be a visa fee by the USA if they participated in the USA visa waiver program right? Which probably makes the WORLD way safer (since we share the information with all other Visa Waiver countries). So why are these countries not entering the program (well, Argentina just did, proving my point if I understand the Visa Waiver program correctly).

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