Updated: Visas needed – South America

UPDATED SEPTEMBER 2019

South America encompasses a multitude of countries and each country has its own visa regulations and requirements, which vary depending on your nationality and citizenship. The last thing you want when you land in South America or cross from one country to another, is to be denied entry because you do not have the necessary visa for South America. Some countries within South America charge reciprocal entrance fees for certain nationalities and some such as Brazil require passport holders of certain countries to have pre-arranged visas.

Other countries may charge fees without warning, and these have to be paid locally at the airport or land border crossing. The most up to date information is always available from the embassy or consulate or sites such as visalink and it is worth checking these several weeks before you fly out in case you need to organise a visa in advance.

Another important consideration is whether you are travelling to South America via a country that may also require you to hold a visa. If you are flying in via the United States for example, you may need a visa, or you may be eligible to travel under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). This enables most citizens of participating countries including Australia, New Zealand, UK, the European Union and Ireland, to travel for up to 90 days or to transit through the US without first obtaining a visa. Even if travelling under the VWP, you must still apply for authorisation online and pay any applicable fee before you travel. You can find more information on the following website: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/

The following sections will give you a guide as to whether or not you will need to organise any visas for South America in advance, but please remember that you should recheck this information before you travel, in case of any changes.

Argentina

A pre-arranged visa is not required to enter Argentina if you are a citizen of Australia, UK, USA, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, the European Union or South Africa. If you hold a passport from another country then you should visit the website of the Argentinean embassy or consulate. Up until June 2017, Australian citizens had to pay a “reciprocity fee” to enter Argentina, but as of August 2018 AUS, USA, Canadians do not need to pay a reciprocity fee.

Iguazu Falls in Argentina, South America

The wonderful Iguazu Falls in Argentina: Photo credit: Shutterstock

Bolivia

Again if you are a citizen of Australia, UK, USA, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, the European Union or South Africa, then a pre-arranged visa is not required for you to enter Bolivia, but the visa restrictions are a bit more specific depending on your citizenship. If you hold a passport from another country, then you should check the website of the Bolivian consulate or embassy.

If you are travelling on a USA passport, you will need to purchase a visa on arrival. This visa is valid for 10 years and permits you to visit the country for a total of 90 days in a year, staying ­­no longer than 30 days on each visit. The visa cannot be extended. Currently the cost is US$160.

Canadians, on the other hand, are allowed to visit Bolivia for 30 days in a year without being charged, but if you wish to stay longer, then a US$35 visa is required.

If you are travelling on a UK or Australian passport, then you may visit Bolivia for 90 days without a fee. You can extend your visit by leaving the country and returning, at which point you will be issued with a new entry stamp.

Lamas in Bolivia, South America

Spot the lamas when you visit Boliva. Also enjoy the beautiful scenery of this lovely country. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Brazil

A pre-arranged visa is not required to enter Brazil if you are a citizen of the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, USA, Canada, the European Union or South Africa.

Rio de Janeiro, South America

A must see when you are in Rio! On top of the Corcovado you have this extraordinary view. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Chile & Easter Island

If you are planning a trip to Chile or Easter Island, and travelling on a passport from Australia, UK, USA, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, the European Union or South Africa, then a pre-arranged visa is not required but a visa can be obtained on entry if required – Reciprocity fee of USD$117. In regard to local taxes, there is an entrance fee, currently US$80 for ALL tourists travelling to Easter Island, which must be paid locally on arrival. Again please remember that this fee can change at any time.

Canteras de Moai, South America

Canteras de Moai, the tourist attraction of Easter Island, Chile. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Colombia

If you are heading to Colombia and are a citizen of Australia, UK, USA, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, the European Union or South Africa, then a pre-arranged visa is not required. But you may need to provide evidence of return or onward travel. Other nationalities should check with the Colombian consulate or embassy website to see whether or not they need to organise a visa in advance.

Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands

Again if you are planning a trip to Ecuador and/or the Galapagos Islands, then you do not need a pre-arranged visa if you hold a passport from Australia, UK, USA, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, the European Union or South Africa. If you are a citizen of any other country then you should visit the website of the Ecuador embassy or consulate to see whether or not you need a pre-arranged visa.

For ALL tourists travelling to the Galapagos Islands, a mandatory US$20 tourist card must be purchased prior to boarding your flight from Quito or Guayaquil. There is also a local National Park entry tax of US$100 that must be paid in cash on arrival into the Galapagos. Please note that these prices are subject to change.

Wildlife Galapagos, South America

Go diving when you visit the Galapagos Islands. Maybe you spot this sea turtle in real life! Photo credit: Shutterstock

Peru

If Peru is part of your South American travels, you do not need a pre-arranged visa if you are a citizen of Australia, UK, USA, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, the European Union or South Africa. If you hold a passport from another country, then please check the Peru embassy or consulate website for visa requirements.

The Guianas (Guyana, French Guiana, Suriname)

Guyana
If Guyana is on your South American itinerary, you will be issued with a 90-day visa on arrival if you hold a passport from one of the following countries: Australia, UK, USA, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, the European Union or South Africa.

French Guiana|
If you are travelling through French Guiana, then a pre-arranged visa is not required if you are a citizen of Australia, UK, USA, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand or the European Union. All other nationalities should check visa requirements with the website of the relevant consulate.

Suriname
If you are travelling to Suriname on a UK, USA, Canadian or European Union passport, then a visa can be obtained at the point of entry at a cost of US$40 or Euro 35.

But if you are travelling on a passport from Australia, New Zealand or South Africa, then you must hold a pre-arranged visa to enter the country. You can get all the latest visa regulations and requirements from your local Suriname embassy or consulate.

Uruguay

If Uruguay is part of your South American itinerary, then you do not need to organise a visa in advance if you are a citizen of Australia, UK, USA, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa or the European Union.

Venezuela

You can also travel to Venezuela without a pre-arranged visa if you are travelling on a passport from Australia, UK, USA, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa or the European Union.

Please remember that it is vital that you double-check visa requirements for all the countries that you plan to visit in South America before you head off. Although the information above was correct at the time of writing (August 2019), visa requirements and regulations can and do change, sometimes with very little warning and you need to make sure you have all the necessary pre-arranged visas for South America before you leave your home country.

Beach in Venezuela, South America

Relax on the beach and enjoy your time in Venezuela. Photo credit: n/a

Note* prices were correct at the time of publication and can be subject to change without notice.

Author: admin

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