Don’t cry for yourself in Argentina — Important entry changes for 2013


Photo: Ana Cotta, Flickr Creative Commons

Many Americans may not realize this, but one of the most difficult countries to enter as a tourist is actually the United States.

Visas for foreign visitors can be both time consuming to obtain and expensive. Hence, some countries have resorted to a direct response by charging high fees to visitors from the U.S.

Brazil has long had an expensive and complicated visa process for Americans, but Argentina has, for the most part, been much more lax. These days, be prepared for a new wrinkle.

But in 2009 the country started collecting a $131 fee for U.S., Canadian and Australian citizens upon entry for anyone arriving at the main Buenos Aires airport (the approximate same cost of a U.S. visa for Argentinian citizens).

The fee could be paid in Argentinian pesos, U.S. dollars, travelers checks or by credit card, so while it was an expensive addition to a trip, it wasn’t very complicated.

Now, however, the rules have changed. Most importantly, the reciprocity tax, now US$161, MUST be paid in advance. This change went into effect October 13, 2012, for international travelers arriving at the mostly domestic AEP airport (which meant it affected very few travelers).

But on December 28, 2012, the rule went into effect at the main International Airport (EZE). And, as of January 7, 2013, it’s in effect at ALL border crossings. (Previously travelers who arrived by land or on, say, a ferry from Uruguay, were exempt.)

Before travel, air passengers must go to Reciprocity Fee Payment Page, click on the sign-up box, register and pay by credit card online.

The site will then generate an e-receipt, which MUST be printed and presented as proof of payment on arrival in Argentina.

This last probably means paying the fee advance from home or office. Travelers who have gotten in the habit of using their laptops or tablets on the road and working with mobile boarding passes and confirmations, will have to find access to a printer.

Plus, this change is apparently non-negotiable. Failure to provide proof of payment will result in denied entry and return to passenger’s point of departure. (If they haven’t already, U.S. carriers may start asking for proof of payment at check-in, to avoid hassles.)

Cruise ship passengers are exempt from the fee until July 1, 2013, when they too will have to show the receipt on arrival.

Since the change is so new, there’s no way of knowing quite how many travelers may be caught. But at time of writing this post (Jan. 6, 2013), for example, just has an “entry-exit fees may apply” notice for anyone trying to book a ticket to Buenos Aires.

When the Orbitz link is clicked, there are a number of questions and answers. One is, “Can this fee be paid in advance?” And the answer is “No, these are not visa fees and cannot be paid in advance. It will be collected upon entry in the country.” Oops.

In addition, I can only imagine how many people booked travel well in advance for the high season (U.S. winter/South American summer) and wouldn’t get an alert even if the site they used was up to date.

Travel agents presumably should be able to search future Argentina bookings to advise their clients. But, there are no guarantees they will all do that.

Since the system is new, it may well be tweaked in the future. For now, travelers should make sure they have a printed e-receipt and start the process well enough in advance not to be derailed by a last-minute computer or printer glitch.

For any readers not going to Argentina, the new rules are a reminder that for any foreign travel, even to a country visited in the past, don’t assume anything remains unchanged on the entry rules.

  • TonyA_says

    This is obviously done by Aregentina to retaliate with our own Visa requirements.
    They call it a RECIPROCITY Fee for American citizens. The fact that the $160 must be paid online before arrival using a specific website and the printed receipt must be presented upon arrival AND IT IS NOT ALLOWED TO PAY CASH ON ARRIVAL, shows that ARGENTINA wants to cause maximum pain to innocent American tourists.

    How do I petition my American government to look for all Argentinian overstaying citizens here in the USA, round them up, and deport them to Argentina? Better still why don’t we all boycott and stop doing business and travel to Argentina. Besides, isn’t that country in default paying some bonds.

  • dcta

    You second paragraph actually speaks to why it is difficult for Agentines to get a visa to the US.

  • TonyA_says

    I do not understand these South and Latin American countries that expect us to include them in our Visa Waiver Programs yet there are so many overstaying and illegals here from those countries. Then they have the gall to retaliate by hassling American tourists.

  • dcta

    I really don’t feel like it’s “gall”. International treaties and agreements usually fall on reciprocity of some sort. If it costs them that kind of money to get a visa to come here, then I really do understand why they’d want us to pay the same. Besides, I am wondering whether there are huge number of Brazilians and Argentines actually overstaying visas here?

  • TonyA_says

    When my kids were small, the local company offering babysitting had some of them. I am not sure they checked the papers but when we found out, we got another person (a local American citizen) to do the job. I am just assuming there are many of these same types (overstaying visas).

  • bodega3

    Or many abusing the visa they entered on. The care company that was used for my Dad sent over a Fijian that worked on a visitors visa. We didn’t know it until Hospice made a call and she high tailed it out of the house telling us why afterwards. Her daughter-in-law would also vacation here and worked at a senior facility during her visit. All wonderful ladies, but a huge game witin their community that many are playing. They are paid in cash and wire the money home every Friday.

  • Ezeq Deregibus

    Again wrong. Au pairs are NOT visa overstayers. There is an special working holiday scheme for au pairs.

  • TonyA_says

    Me wrong? :-)
    Why are you assuming they were au pairs?
    They weren’t. They were Argentine tourists overstaying in the USA. When I found out, I got rid of the one assigned to us immediately.

  • Ezeq Deregibus

    Sorry Tony, what you say is highly unlikely. Why would someone overstay a tourist visa when a simple working holiday scheme is in place?
    BTW do you know how many American visa overstays do WE have, usually extending their visits by commiting fraud (crossing to Uruguay)?
    You would be surprised…

  • Euge La Que Teje

    South americans may enter the USA as illegal immigrants where as the USA invade and destroy countries and their cultures!!! I´d up it to $1000 US

  • TonyA_says

    Which culture did we destroy?
    Did we force you all to Catholism or changed your names to Spanish?

  • TonyA_says

    Also, this article did not mention how Americans are supposed to get a VISA to visit Brazil and how the fees are payable by POSTAL MONEY ORDER ONLY. Another stupid welcome move.

  • dcta

    My clients have never complained about the Brazilian visa process being difficult, if anything, they’ve raved to me about how organized it is and how polite everyone is. I think the visa is $160 BUT – and this is interesting – it is a multi-entry visa good for 10years. I think the one we give them is 90 days and single entry.

  • TonyA_says

    The Reciprocity fee is not a VISA. The Argentina fee is good for 10 years (think). The Chile (I think) is only for 90 days. Brazil is a VISA. I am not complaining about politeness. I am complaining about the hassle of getting a VISA and paying only with Postal Money Order.

  • NSL14

    That’s right Tony. The Argentina “Reciprocity Fee” is not a visa (none needed) and it’s good for 10 years. It’s extremely easy to get. I just came back from Argentina. I had a printed receipt, and I put it on my iPhone in a PDF. You need the printed receipt. The officer we saw wasn’t interested in looking at my phone.

    As to Brazil’s visa, it’s $180 if you don’t bring your application physically into them, and instead send it in. If you bring it in, it’s $160. The money, as pointed out, must be a Postal Money Order in the US.

  • TonyA_says

    The problem I see with Argentina’s Reciprocity Fee is that it MUST be paid BEFORE ENTERING the country; and there is no way to pay it when you are already in their airport even if you have CASH.

    Makes we wonder if they are going to hold the airlines accountable for checking if American, Australian or Canadian passenger have a printed receipt with them prior to boarding an airplane going to Argentina.

  • janice

    Tony, yep, especially because it’s changed. When I booked myself to Argentina a few years ago I booked months out with frequent flier miles. As an agent I keep up but have to wonder how many people booked, assumed they could pay on arrival and will get stopped. And what if you misplace the receipt…?

  • TonyA_says

    At least a VISA is stamped on your passport.
    This receipt is nothing but something you print from your home printer. I will never keep up with something like this.
    If you misplace it, then you need to pay again and print in the airport (latest) before you depart the USA.
    Whoever thought of this idea is not concerned with consumer friendliness at all. Must be a government bureaucrat paid to make life more difficult.

  • Southern Cone Travel

    The Chile fee is valid for the life of your passport, whether that happens to be three months or ten years.

  • ton lammering

    well if you petition just write to your congressman i guess) add a note with “please could you stop doing this to foreigners so they will stop doing it to us. Because “we”cant influence the politicians “you” choose, i am quite sure that the reciprocity will stop as soon as the us does. It is in the end a “don’t do to another what you don’t want done to yourself”issue

    as for the innocent so are the millions of tourists that visit the usa and that have to pay for visa’s or esta

  • Ezeq Deregibus

    Dumb thing to say Tony. You better open up a petition for visa overstaying citizens of the UK which are the largest group of overstayers. Argentina have minimal overstays and minimal visa refusals. This according to the state department. So it is good to make a statement, since the US visa requirement for Argentinian citizens is, for the most part, unjustified. (political)

  • Expat in Central Chile

    Chile has had a reciprocity fee at SCL airport for international entries for a long while (way before Argentina started). For other airports and land and water entries, it is not collected and there are no visible plans of this changing.

    The point of the Chile one is to make a statement.

    The point of the Argentina one was originally meant to make a statement (only AEP and EZE international arrivals) but has now apparently turned into a way for the government to collect hard currency to help prop up the economy.

    As a resident expat in Chile, I will no longer be visiting Mendoza because of this fee.

  • Southern Cone Travel

    It’s bad policy on the part of both countries to create obstacles to visiting the country.

  • ton lammering

    it’s more than the fee’s the amount of information the us can and will get on visiting foreigners is staggering, in fact i doubt that any of it is usefull as it is not even a needle in the haystack. In fact the way the us is intercepting and interfering in all kinds of data/financial transactions is becoming more a problem than a solluction, i just spend the morning telling an american official why i am paying usd from 1 european country to another european country.

    that many countries are either retailiating or stop cooperating is not that strange

  • Southern Cone Travel
  • TonyA_says

    You have a very nice website.

  • Espen

    Please notice that this is mostly a problem for people with US, Canadian and Australian passport. If you have an EU passport there are no fees. If you can get passport from a EU country, it will be worth to get it for a trip to a number of Latin American countries.

  • TonyA_says

    Ah, how many Americans can get an EU passport?

  • Espen

    Probably more than you think. I am surprised how many have Italian passports due to their grand parents. I see it more in Latin America where I have friends from Chile and Uruguay who also have Italian passports. It makes it much easier fro them to travel in Europe.

  • Stuart Watson

    Thanks for the tip. I forwarded your e-mail to a friend who returned recently from Argentina. He in turn forwarded your e-mail to his Argentine guide. The guide was unaware of the new fee requirements and reported that now being aware saved aggravation for a 25-person tour he is leading next week.

  • TonyA_says

    Argentina Grounds Presidential Plane After Fears of Seizure over Bond Default Source.

    For her upcoming trip to Asia and the Middle East, Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner will be flying first class in a private plane.

    The plane, however, will not be her traditional presidential jet,
    Tango 01, but a privately charted jet due to concerns that creditors
    might try to seize her official aircraft.

    Tango 01 has been the target of creditors before, as well as aircraft from the country’s Aerolíneas Argentinas. So far, all the creditors’ attempts to impound aircraft have failed.

    Wow, you can’t make up funnier news than this. A country of deadbeats try to hassle $160 PREPAID from every American tourist while they don’t bother to pay US for their loans (made decades ago). What a country. And oh by the way, be careful taking their national airline. You don’t want to get stuck in an airport one day with a sheriff trying to seize the airplane you are about to fly on. ha ha ha.

  • Southern Cone Travel

    Argentina is a badly governed country, and certainly has problems with repaying its debts, but those loans are not necessarily to the United States.

  • TonyA_says

    Didn’t US banks sell those troubled bonds to a hedge fund thst seized an Argentinian tall ship in Ghana? The UN court had to rule the ship free.

  • James Penrose

    *Always* check the country’s embassy web pages for this sort of info. Places like Travcelocity are neither liable for nor likely to bother with the most current changes.

    Even the best travel agent cannot keep up with everything. The cruis elines are especially lax about telling you about entry requirements..until you show up to board and find out you need a visa and shots to visit Tashdumpistine and you ain’t getting on the ship without them.

  • Trent

    I refused to enter the country today when crossing from Paraguay when they tried to hit me with the $160.00 requirement, for which they were willing to go the website themselves and let me pay for with my credit card. The US has a reason to charge a high premium for entry, almost all of the 147 other countries want to enter the US, to work, earn a higher salary and give their children, if not themselves, a chance for a higher standard of living. The DEMAND is high, those from first world countries who want to go into Argentina are TOURISTS wanting to spend their money or VOLUNTEERS wanting to help the poor of the country. This experience left a bad taste in my mouth and prevented me from spending my money in the country. Some people in high positions are not making good decisions in Argentina, what a shame.

  • Marie

    Excuse me! So you think that people from south america only come here for work! You live inside a bubble dear, we also have Hispanic Tourism that spend and expand the American Dream…

  • Ezeq Deregibus

    Not really Trent. Visa is a political item. As I said before the largest group of Visa overstays in the USA are actually Canadian and British. In percentage, we probably have more american “tourists” working illegally in Argentina than Argentine overstayers in the USA. All statistics show that Visa should not be required for neither Argentina, Chile or Uruguay. The USA is ready to right this wrong with their political friends of Uruguay and Chile (even when they have higher numbers of visa refusals). Sadly, politics have little to do with hard facts and it’s gonna take longer for the USA to right this wrong with Argentina.