We finally arrived in Lima this week, where we will be for much of the month of August. One of the reasons we’re staying here for awhile (and we do indeed have many) is that we needed to spend some time in a capital city in order to get our visas for Bolivia and Brazil. Each of these countries puts citizens of the US applying for a visa through a similar process that we put their citizens though…let the fun begin.
We decided to start with Bolivia first. This is because we will be entering Bolivia before Brazil and that their process is possible to finish within a day. Arriving at the Embassy first thing in the morning with our passports we began to fill out our paperwork and went to pay the fee. This was not enough, we needed to “create” a complete travel itinerary (which isn’t so easy since we’re backpackers) and make a reservation with at least one hotel. We also needed to prove financial solvency (photocopy of a credit card) and immunization against yellow fever.
Overall this wasn’t too terribly much to ask of us and the process from beginning to end lasted about 2 hours. Brazil will be similar but will need some more specific information such as proof of onward travel. The thing that is really irksome to us is the price, $135 each just to enter the country for 90 days; pretty steep when you consider that with the exception of these two countries we expect to pay a total of zero dollars to the nations of South America.
Is this fair? As much as I hate to say so, I think it probably is more than fair. For a member of one of these nations to enter the USA, they must also prove financial solvency (in far more detail than a photocopy of a credit card), submit themselves to a series of interviews, and of course a background check by none other than the NSA. Often just getting to and from the interviews, since they are conducted at our Embassies or Consulates can be a financial hardship, but then there is the $135 fee on top of that…which could be a month’s wages.
Obviously many readers will recognize why it is so difficult to enter the USA. We have many people who try to come illegally and for illegitimate reasons…problems that many other nations simply don’t have. But at what cost does this security come; by keeping would-be tourists away do we breed more anti-Americanism? Until our system is fixed its only fair that we take a spoonful of our own medicine.
Hi guys! As an American/Argentinian citizen, I couldn’t cross into the Brazilian side of Iguazu with my American passport… I guess I should have brought my trusty Argentinian ID!
I love reading your posts!
Mom Tobias says
I thought this was a great piece- well written, informative, and
“from the heart”!
Cuz Kevin Kranen says
Great blog ! We’ve been reading your posts regularly the last 3 weeks since we’re off to Brazil tomorrow for 2 weeks. Just finished paying the 600 or so $$ for visas for the whole family – I agree with your sentiments about US tourist visa policies (and reciprocity).
Was hoping that you be wandering the streets of Manaus, Belo Horizonte or Recife when we are there, but it looks like it is close but no cigar.
Enjoy and thanks for the travel tips..
Glad to see everyone appreciated this post so much. Most of us in the states have no idea what would-be tourists and legal immigrants go through and its nice to see the post being appreciated.
Eva & Jeremy Rees says
We got lucky with Brazil. We visited for a few weeks 4 years ago when we were honeymooning, and now again. The visa, it turns out, is valid for 5 years, so we saved the cash.
You can always plan a return trip to get more bang for your buck!
HI Like your blog been following it for a while now for tips – getting ready to start my RTW trip in colombia in 10 days.
As a Kenyan national it only cost me $20 for Brazilian visa – thats the only break i got i’m traveling to 12 countries and all except 2 require a visa with its arduous process.
i booked a cruise to start my trip that would have taken me from ft lauderdale to panama. but i have to forfeit because getting a visa for costa rica and panama was next to impossible – so dont sweat the brazil visa thing.
Hi Louis! So good to hear from you. Can’t believe that CR and Panama would get in the way instead of the US…that’s just awful luck. Do let us know if we can be any help!! In the meantime we’ve added you to our reader and to our tips page as a fellow blogger… Good luck!!