Chile-US Reciprocity Fee and Visa Big News

Chile has ended its $160 reciprocity fee for US citizens effective 2/26/14 in response to the US adding Chile to its Visa Waiver Program, The Flight Deal reports.

This is win-win.

US citizens can now visit Chile without getting dinged on arrival for $160 (which was good for the life of the passport). Chile is a great destination, though not a low cost destination, and tacking on $160 dissuaded some travelers or led them to methods to circumvent the fee. Southern South America airfares generally are not cheap, however deals for Chile pop up with some regularity. This helps Chile’s economy bring in new tourist dollars.

Chileans now have much-reduced hassle to visit the US. I have gotten visas to countries from Saudi Arabia to Iran to North Korea and none has been as difficult, overall costly, confusing and capricious as getting a US visa. This penalizes legitimate travelers that have many options in the world for their tourist spend. Anyone seeing a US-Chile flight at check-in will know the massive, overstuffed suitcases of Chileans from their US shopping trips.

Chile Argentina 012

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  • Sean

    This is fantastic. Though it is still expensive in general, at least compared to Peru.

  • Craig

    This is great news for me. I had already lined up a family trip to Santiago for December so this will save me some nice bucks!

    I wonder if some of these South American countries are cutting off their noses to spite their faces with these reciprocal fees. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are losing substantially more tourism dollars than they are gaining from the visa fees.

    I’m connecting in Brazil, but why would I want a short stopover if it costs me $140 or $160 a person?

  • @Craig – the conflict between rational economic gain and national pride. It would have to take serious movement from the US to get even more prideful countries like Argentina and Brazil to budge. A shame on the micro level for travelers in both directions. At least for Argentina reciprocity fee and Brazil visa they can be applied to a new passport, while Chile was only good for the existing passport, even if only a few months’ validity left.

  • john

    It is an interesting topic. Chile is a great destination, but the reciprocity fees in effect stopped me from considering going back (same for Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil). I could not justify the hassle/expense for a second trip (I went back when none of this was a problem).

    So, yes it is dissuading tourism even though the fees are not really exorbitant (its not gonna break the bank). At the same time I get their point of view and the US is by far the worst.

    I find it interesting that Chile enters the VWP on May 1, yet it has already dropped the fee for Americans.

  • @john – I suppose mileage runners were the main group dissuaded, but I can also see families choosing a place like Colombia over Chile when faced with getting hit with multiples of that fee, especially if only ever planning one visit.

    I imagine, rightly or wrongly, plenty of people flew there unaware over the years and their first impression of Chile was what they may have felt like a shakedown, coloring their perceptions from the first moment.

    For once US citizens can be smug at the Canadians still in line to pay up.