Which countries in South America require a tourist visa for U.S. citizens and which ones do not?
Over the next year, I plan on visiting every country in South America on a very tight budget. In order to realistically budget any travel plans, it is important to take into account tourist visa requirements and fees for U.S. citizens. Each country has a different policy towards U.S. citizens entering and departing that is dependent on the purpose of their visit. Those traveling with a valid U.S. passport have a tremendous amount of privilege and do not require a tourist visa for the majority of countries in South America (Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay, Venezuela, Guyana, and French Guiana). However, there are five countries that have tourist visa requirements for American tourists, as well as hefty visa fees (Suriname, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Venezuela). Visa reciprocity fees charged by these countries can be one major frustration for many U.S. citizens visiting South America. The idea is that the United States charges citizens of those countries a similar fee for visas to the States, so they do the same to U.S. citizens. Below you will find a list of countries that do not require a tourist visa for Americans and countries which do. Hopefully, this will make your trip and budget planning easier.
Countries that DO require a tourist visa for U.S. citizens:
Brazil - $100-$175 tourist visa (depending on delivery method)
American travelers going to Brazil must have a valid U.S. passport and a tourist visa for Brazil. Tourist visas are NOT available upon arrival and must be obtained prior to travel. Visit this website in order to check the requirements and embassy location for your state. Depending on your delivery method, a tourist visa to Brazil can cost anywhere from $100 to $175 USD. For question about the visa process call the following number: 1-800-632-3943
Suriname - $35 tourist visa valid for 90 days
U.S. visitors may obtain a tourist visa at the Embassy of Suriname or purchase a “Tourist Card” upon arrival at the airport for $35 USD. This tourist card is good for a single entry, and is valid for 90 days. More info at: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/suriname.html
Bolivia - $160 tourist visa valid for 30 days per trip for five years
For U.S. citizens, a tourist visa in Bolivia costs $160 and can be obtained in advance or upon arrival. The visitor visa is good for five years. With a visitor visa, you may stay 30 days per trip, not to exceed 90 days per year. For more information, visit this website: http://www.boliviawdc.org/consulate/visas
Paraguay - $160 tourist visa valid for up to ten years
Along with a valid passport, U.S. Citizens arriving by air may obtain a visa on arrival at Silvio Pettirossi International Airport in Asuncion (the capital of Paraguay). This is a multiple entry visa with a validity of up to 10 years. The current fee is $160, payable in U.S. Currency (credit cards are not accepted). If not arriving at Silvio Pettirossi International Airport, you must get your tourist visa prior to traveling to Paraguay. You must apply for a visa in person or by secure messenger at the Paraguayan Embassy in Washington D.C. or the nearest Paraguayan consulate, and pay the fee. Follow this link to find the contact information for your local Paraguayan consulate in the United States.
Venezuela - $100-$175 tourist visa
A valid passport and tourist visa are required to visit Venezuela. The Embassy of Venezuela requires applicants to apply directly to the Venezuelan Consulate. Travelers should contact the Venezuela Consulate for tourist visa requirements here. Visit the U.S. State Department website for more specific requirements and warnings for U.S. citizens in Venezuela.
Countries in South America that do NOT require a tourist visa for U.S. Citizens:
Colombia - no tourist visa required for up to 90 days
Colombia and the U.S. have a strong relationship. Thus, U.S. citizens do not need a Colombian visa for a tourist or business stay of 90 days or less. The only requirement is a valid U.S. passport.
Argentina - no tourist visa required for up to 90 days
U.S. citizens do not need a visa for visits of up to 90 days for tourism or business.
Peru - no tourist visa required for up to 30 - 183 days
Peru is more or less a country of open doors, and no tourist visa is required for U.S. citizens. However, Migraciones (Immigration) authorities may also require evidence of return/onward travel, so be sure your date and place of entry is officially documented by the Migraciones. Do not forget to save the record of your entry, as you will need it when you depart. Your length of approved stay will be set by border officials at the time of entry, and can range from 30 to 183 days.
Chile - no tourist visa required for up to 90 days (but save your record of entry!!)
Luckily for all U.S. citizens, Chile ended its $160 visa reciprocity fee in 2014. Now, U.S. citizens entering Chile only need a passport valid for the period of their stay. Once again, U.S. citizens traveling to Chile for recreation, tourism, business, or academic conferences do not need to obtain a visa prior to their arrival in Chile. Be sure to save the record of entry upon arrival, as you will need it on your return journey.
Ecuador - no tourist visa required for up to 90 days
If you are traveling for business or tourism, you don't need a visa for a stay of up to 90 days in any 12-month period. However, a passport valid for at least six months past the planned date of departure is required.
Uruguay - no tourist visa required for up to 90 days
When you are traveling to Uruguay with a U.S. passport, a tourist visa is not required. You do not need a visa for a visit of less than 90 days, just a valid U.S. passport at immigration.
Guyana - no tourist visa required for up to 90 days
When you are traveling to Guyana with a U.S. passport, a tourist visa is not required for a stay of up to 90 days.
French Guiana - no tourist visa required for up to 90 days
For US citizens, French Guiana is a part of the Schengen Agreement. This means that U.S. citizens may enter French Guiana for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa. Your passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay.