12.20.11

Argentine entry fee: it’s Homeland Security’s fault

Posted in Travel at 18:44 by RjZ

Take that United States! Suppose you’re Argentine, living in Ushuaia, and you’d like to take your family to Disneyland. May I suggest Disneyland Paris? Because, and most Argentines are well aware of this, it’s going to be a great big hassle.

What our typical Argentine family is going to have to do is book a trip to Buenos Aires and make a visit to the U.S. embassy to apply for a visa. No big deal, you’re thinking, I mean, you’ve got to fly through Buenos Aires either way. Unfortunately, I hope they have extended family to stay with in the Argentine capital, because each family member must meet with the authorities in person, so it’s going to be few days before you get it all done. Our familia could fly on from there, but since there’s no guarantee that everything will work out the first time, most Argentines are forced to schedule their flight for a different trip to the capital, just to make sure all the ducks crossed and the T’s are in a row.

Once they’ve paid 2400 pesos for a family of four, everyone will get a passport stamp and it’s off to Disneyland. If they’d like to check out Disneyworld next time; they’ll have to go through the process all over again. Most Argentines are aware how expense 2400 is…that’s about 560 USD, which is cheap compared to the flights from Ushuaia. (Not to mention hotels and meals during the embassy visit). So, you can see why I’d suggest maybe Disneyland Paris would be good enough. I mean, it’s French Disneyland which isn’t really the same, but you know, it’s close, except it’s in French, and it’s probably cold in Paris during austral summer holidays. Oh well.

Argentines don’t have to pay 600 pesos per person for a visa to France. And, as a result, the French don’t have to pay to enter Argentina. But we U.S. Americans do. And we started it. (We and Canada and the U.K.) Argentina resisted this reciprocity fee thing for some time but since 2009 they now charge U.S travelers exactly what the U.S. charges them. It’s still a deal. You can pay right there in the airport when you enter. You can pay cash, pesos, or use your credit card and your visa is good for ten years (or the life of your passport), all of which is a heck of a lot easier than what the Argentines must go through to get a U.S. visa. Funny thing, U.S. citizens don’t need a visa at all to travel to Argentina. This is purely a fee, levied in response to visa charges on Argentines (and it’s a popular solution many South American governments have chosen).

The U.S. already had high fees ever since 9/11 and increased them still higher in January 2008. The department of Homeland Security (I hate that name) claims “because of new security-related costs, new information technology systems, and inflation, the $100 Machine-Readable Visa fee is lower than the actual cost of processing non-immigrant visas.” Clearly, the Argentine government is acting fairly, charging us what their citizens are charged, but they may not be acting wisely.

If only a few thousand people decide not to travel to Argentina (but rather to go someplace cheaper) the costs to the travel industry could add up fast. 300,000 tourists means over $40million for the Argentine government but with each tourist spending much, much more during their trip, only a 1000 people changing their minds about that trip to Argentina could be costly. Would it effect your choices? Peru doesn’t yet have such fees. Would you go to Peru before Argentina to save $140 bucks?

A note to trekkers and backpackers on longer trips. You’ll be charged this somewhere in South America for sure, but you can avoid Argentina’s simply by arriving overland! The fee is levied at Ezeiza airport in Buenos Aires, but not at overland entry points

1 Comment »

  1. gina said,

    December 29, 2011 at 20:58

    Similar story in Bolivia. $150 for a 5-year visa, regardless of whether you arrive overland or into the airport.

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