Argentina Suspends $160 Reciprocity Fee For US Citizens

Filed Under: Travel

It’s great when barriers to travel are lifted, whether they come in the form of visas, fees, or something else.

Since 2008, Argentina has charged US citizens a $160 reciprocity fee when entering Argentina. It’s valid for 10 years and multiple entries, so at least you didn’t have to pay it every time you entered the country. This fee was part of a tit-for-tat strategy, as the US charges Argentinians visiting the US a similar fee as part of the visa program. On one hand I understand the concept of reciprocity, while on the other hand it seems asinine to want to collect someone’s money as they enter your country and (presumably) spend money there.

Buenos Aires Airport

Per the website of the Embassy of Argentina in the US, Argentina has suspended the reciprocity fee for US citizens as of March 24, 2016:

In order to strengthen the relationship between Argentina and the United States of America, the Argentine Government has resolved to suspend the collection of the reciprocity fee from US passport holders who visit our country for less than 90 days, for tourist or business purposes.

In reality this policy will just be in place for 90 days, or until a further executive order is issued. However, it’s expected to be extended beyond that.

This policy change came after President Obama visited Argentina last week, where negotiations took place for Argentina to once again be part of the US Visa Waiver Program, which will likely happen as of early 2017. As a more immediate measure, Argentina has eliminated the reciprocity fee for Americans, though hopefully that policy is extended beyond the current 90 day period.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Bottom line

I’ve never understood the punitive fees some countries charge in order to visit. I understand the logic behind visas in theory, though in practice I always find it slightly offensive when you land at an airport in Argentina or Qatar, and the first thing they want to do is swipe your credit card. Don’t get me wrong, the US charges unnecessarily high fees in many instances as well, so I’m not suggesting this is only a problem with other countries.

Regardless, it’s fantastic that Argentina will again join the US Visa Waiver Program, and that the Argentina reciprocity fee is being eliminated. While I’ve never paid it (I have a German passport, which means I’m not subjected to it), I’ve still found the policy to be ridiculous.

Hopefully the elimination of the fee is extended beyond the initial 90 day period.

Do entry fees impact whether or not you decide to visit a country?

  1. Why not just open borders and let anyone from anywhere enter this country as they wish? That is basically what this Government is trying to do so just make it official. Just waive visa for everyone and make it easier. It would save billions to this country.

  2. While silly fees like this don’t specifically determine whether to visit a country, they do factor in as a consideration.

  3. They need tourists. They act like they are equals of America while being miniscule in comparison.

    I hope tourists continue to shun Argentina and Brazil till the pain makes them keep their senses for at least next free decades.

  4. I might be reading it wrong, but it sounds like the 90 days has to do with the number of days a tourist is allowed to stay without paying a fee, not that the fee has only been temporarily suspended for 90 days? Which hopefully means it’s been suspended for good.

    Regardless, I’m glad to hear it. I’m planning a trip for later this year and while the $160 wouldn’t have stopped me from going, it’s nice to be able to spend it on other things. I hope that we do the same and stop charging visitors from Argentina the fee as well.

  5. Visa issues play a huge part in my decisions to visit countries. Brazil is a good example of pain in the butt process that make me avoid it.

  6. @ lucky, thanks for the other link! OK, well now I can just hope that it gets suspended for longer than 90 days…

  7. Considering the Argentine policy has been in place since the last year of President Bush, I’d say this was a relatively effective use of soft power for President Obama

  8. I have refused to visit Russia because of this and several of my friends have not joined us on a uncoming trip to Argentina because of the fee.

  9. Lucky, this is not related to this post, but do you know if Alaska Boardroom members have access to Emirates Lounge in Dubai now? It was announced last year that this as part of the reciprocal benefits between Alaska and Emirates would happen “soon”, but I have yet to hear any follow up news on it.

  10. We were just in Argentina in Feb 2016.The only folks that asked to see the Reciprocity print out was AA in LAX and DFW and our cruise line when we checked in in BA (when we were leaving Argentina). Seemed pretty lax on part of Arg gov’t to have outsiders do their enforcement.
    Assuming this fee goes away for good I wonder if I can get a pro rated refund.It was supposed to be good for 3650 days and mine is only 40 days old.

  11. @ ARG — Right, it applies for people visiting for fewer than 90 days, AND as of now is only in effect for 90 days.

  12. I find it really interesting that Americans always complain about reciprocity fees or visas. A Brazilian must endure a very expensive process to get an American visa, including even traveling to one of the cities with an American Consulate (only 4 or 5 for country almost the size of the USA). Interesting enough most South Americans can travel to Europe without the need for a visa… Better to spend our money… Just do the same…

  13. pssteve – receiving a prorated refund from the Argentine government has about the same chance as lucky flying United

  14. bongo – i know? i don’t get it. i have a friend come visit from Argentina and it took her multiple visits to the US Embassy in Buenos Aires to get the visa and way more than $160.

    and americans think it’s unfair to pay $160 to get a visa on arrival?

  15. Americans are subject to terrorism. They need to vet everyone coming in. They have got to be a lot of expensive behind the scenes procedures that need to be done. Brazil and Argentina had reciprocity fees only because of their big egos and their leftist, egoistic presidents. That was OK until their economies were doing well. They wanted to be treated equal. But now it looks like they had more hot gas and bark than bite. Both economies are floundering.

    In my mind there is no comparison.

  16. If it is extended, this is fabulous news. I planned a trip to Brazil/Argentina in the period where Brazil has relaxed its visa requirements surrounding the Olympics. And if I don’t have to spend $160 to Argentina also, this is a fabulous development. So, if this isn’t in effect in early September that is money saved.

  17. @lopere

    Europeans too. Considering how disarrayed their intelligence and police is. If the Europeans charge Americans a reciprocity fee we should withdraw from NATO and let Russia take Europe over. Yeah I am being dramatic.

    Every country runs to America for help in the time of need but acts up when they are doing better. Not saying America acts out of benevolence every time, but that is not the point. If you want protection of the alpha male you should treat the alpha male as that, with deference. The Donald has a few things right if not the most articulate way to put them.

    Thanks for the soapbox. 😉

  18. The new Argentine president is trying to mend a lot of the bridges the Kirchner’s burned between the two countries. He’s coming to terms with their debt holders and generally pursuing rapprochement with the U.S.

  19. @Bongo and @lopere –

    I don’t see any Americans actually saying its not fair what Brazilians and Argentinians go through as well. Can’t Americans complain and think its just as unjust that the other side of the equation is getting the same, poor treatment. We can be on the same side of the argument/complaint…

  20. A couple of months ago I was in Hong Kong, and we wanted to visit Shenzhen for the day. The visa for a UK passport holder was around $150. We wanted to go so we paid it, and for my German friend around $60.

    Americans are not allowed this 5 day visa upon arrival.

    When we went to Argentina last summer, no fee! Americans were grumbling at check-in about it like its their god given right to have access for free!

    Americans think they have the right to EVERYTHING. That every policy must favor them. This is why the rest of the world truly hates the way Americans “think” and by think I mean “being told and led like sheep”

    The vast majority of Americans are selfish, plain and simple. Especially the ones in LA!!!!

    I love living here, but sometimes when American’s open their mouths, I just wish they wouldn’t bother. If a policy is in place, no matter how stupid and ridiculous, complain through official channels…not to the poor check in staff who have no control over it and I’m sure couldn’t care less 😉

  21. As someone who doesn’t have an amazing passport, I understand the visa fees. Whether or not I have to get a visa, is a HUGE factor in my choice of destinations. Obtaining visas for many countries is exceptionally time consuming, inconvenient and expensive.

    Believe it or not, the US visa process is one of the better ones. 10 year visa, so you don’t need to apply for every trip. Decent opening hours at the Embassy (so many embassies only have consular hours from 9-12), and a free courier service to deliver your passport, so you only need to take 1x half-day off work to get the visa.

    That said, if your country charges a high fee for a visa, you shouldn’t be surprised when you become victims of reciprocity. While $150 might just be an inconvenience for many of the First Class travelers, for many in the developing world, (i.e. most of the countries that require visas to visit the US, Canada, Europe, etc), $150+ plus 2 visits to the embassy is nothing to sneeze at.

  22. Nah, who cares about Argentina or Brazil lifting the stupid fee.
    I wouldn’t visit those dumps anyway.
    You can keep all the Zika and your dump to yourselves.

  23. If you are not from the limited number of visa waiver countries the US really gouges you . $160 would be getting off easy .

  24. TO:Cherlui once its paid theres no refunds especially while it was still active that the fee must be paid. The online e=visa I always do just a couple days before entering a country. Brazil still charges $160.00 yet will waive the visa requirements for a short period for the Olympics for US Citizens. Bolivia charges $160.00 for entry visa for ten years yet how many times will an American go to Bolivia for tourism? Venezuela as of 2015 requires a visa for US Citizens thanks to Mr.Nicolas Maduro. It takes 4 to 6 weeks to be issued in which the applicant must be present at the embassy or consulate. Suriname issues five year visas for US Citizens for $100.00 or a thirty day tourist card for $25.00. Again check with consulate or embassy of the country you desire to visit beforehand as this is just a guidance.

  25. We cancelled a trip to Brazil because of the ridiculous visa requirements. We had been planning on cruising from Rio to Valparaiso. I had booked an apartment in Rio for 3 days before the cruise; I had selected several restaurants where we would eat; and I had planned on taking a tour of Rio. All of these would have helped the local economy in a small way, but when I investigated Brazil’s visa requirements, we cancelled the cruise and booked another one, starting in Valparaiso and ending in Buenos Aires. Some of Brazil’s visa requirements:
    1. 13 pages of instructions.
    2. Having to mail our passports to a Brazilian embassy or consulate.
    3. Having to obtain and mail 2 passport photos.
    4. Having to submit proof of residency (utility bill, driver’s license, etc.).
    5. $160.

  26. @Badger – Now you understand what most other country’s citizens have to go through to visit the United States. It is quite ridiculous.


  27. We took a South American trip on April 4, 2016 to Argentina. Wasn’t till we arrived that we were told we didn’t need the $160.00 pp total $320.00 entry fee. Is there anyway we can get a refund or do you think we’re just out the money. Really sad as our travel company didn’t know they lifted the fee till we got there.

  28. Going to Argentina for 5 days tourism, October, 2016. Anyone hear the latest on how long reciprocity fee in abeyance? Talk about impossible! Try calling a South American consulate!

  29. such a lovely destination is buenos aires – after having seen 123 countries and twice as many cities, still in my top 10

  30. Not sure about the author but I don’t see any mention of the suspension only taking effect for 90 days. It says for travelers entering 90 days or less but nothing about a 90 days period. Please provide a source for this.

  31. To pay a fee to visit a semi-third world country like Argentina is ridiculous.

    4 people @$130 Cdn is over $500 just to enter. I think not. Oh, did you know they have a Dengue Fever outbreak? Many other places to visit. Amazed people still travel there.

  32. Tried to cross yesterday and they said the suspension was over and wouldn’t let me through. I had to return to Chile. Then, I found out the suspension is either ongoing of their is a problem with their system and I can’t pay the fee. So, so ridiculous. I’ve been to Argentina many times and don’t think I’ll go back. It’s not worth it. As another person commented, “there are lots of other places to visit”

  33. Brazil, too.

    “Brazil has waived visa requirements for the 2016 Summer Olympics, and will allow U.S. tourists to enter the country for up to 90 days.Despite U.S. passport holders being some of the most powerful (yes, powerful) when it comes to travel, Americans can’t just come and go as they please. But tourists traveling to Brazil this summer are now in luck: In the hopes of drawing people to the country for the 2016 Summer Olympics, held in Rio de Janeiro from August 5–21, Brazilian officials have announced they are temporarily waiving visa requirements for travelers in the country from June 1 through September 18. In addition to U.S. tourists, the visa waiver also applies to citizens holding passports from Japan, Australia, and Canada.”

  34. Flight: $1000+, Hotels for a week: $500+, travel insurance: $100+, food/tours/travel: several hundred $$… yet people complain so loudly about a measly $160 that is VALID FOR 10 YEARS! Not exactly ‘hefty’. But yeah, boycott a country… like they will even notice a couple of hundred people that choose not to visit. Boo hoo, all you whingers. Stay at home.

  35. I don’t understand why people thank President Obama. Argentines still need VISA to travel to the States… Rumors are not part of reality..

  36. I wouldn’t be surprised if the US backs out of its promise to fast track VWP status for Argentina. The process to for VWP status can take years. Just ask Uruguay, whose visa denial rate is barely 2% but doesn’t get fast tracked.

  37. I’m super late but just want to add my two cents. First, I don’t think the fee was unfair, considering Argentine citizens had to (and to this day STILL HAVE TO PAY) 160 dollars to enter the US. I don’t know if you know, but in order to get a US visa, Argentine citizens have to go through an interview, too. And by the way, said interview takes place only at the US embassy, which is in Buenos Aires city, so if you live on the other side of the country you have to also pay for your trip to the city.
    Some comments are really rude… Does it matter if Argentina is a ‘third world country’ (according to some comments)? Why is it ‘ridiculous’ to pay the same amount of money that we have to pay to visit you? Do you think you are entitled to visit any country for free just because you are a US citizen? Come on…
    Anyway, I hope this fee suspention for US citizens is reciprocated soon.

  38. way late on my post here, but it’s due to Macri and not Obama? Thank god Cristina is gone and Obama.

  39. Argentina should impose a VISA requirement to US citizens, as Brazil currently does, with previous interviews at Argentinean Consulates… That would be reciprocity!!

  40. life isn’t fair. it’s just a fact. I’ve traveled the world over and paid my share for VISAs. I’ve heard stories of visa nightmares that just make you think,”do I need this ? I just want to visit the country like everyone else.” it’s not about who’s paying and who’s not? how much or how little? it’s about having a nice visit without being hassled, turned away ,ripped off, or your stress level skyrocketing. every country has the right to refuse whom ever they want from entering and charge whatever they want. just do your homework to find out what you’re willing to put up with. forget the other travelers with passports unlike yours, do what is right for yourself and enjoy….life isn’t fair. make choices about where you want to vsit, pay the whatever the price and feel good about it. don’t not regret later that you’ve never seen a place on your bucket list because of what was needed to get in or out. everytime I go through a foreign airport….I still think, “let’s get through this without a problem” because you NEVER know.

  41. I just left Bolivia after 3 weeks. I planned to spend maybe 3 days. They charge Americans $160 and run them through the ringer with required documentation up to and including a typed itenerary of their entire trip, etc.

    I found this exceptionally annoying, to the point where I would not have gone had it not been for wanting to see Tiwanaku.

    However, I ended up staying and spending far more time in the charming towns of Sucre, Potosí, Uyuni and others, and spending a lot of money on tours, treks, trips and so on, because they were so good.

    Had it not been for the one “big” draw for me, though – I would have skipped spending all that money there.

    So to me, it is quite ridiculous.

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