What Visas Do You Need For South America?

Wanderlust Travel Blog of the Week

My Suriname Visa – The Only One I Needed in South America

So you want to travel round South America? But you have no idea what Visas you need, where to get them, how much they cost and how tricky it is. Well I can answer MOST of your questions, as I have only missed out two South American countries so far (French Guyana and Guyana). First of all – don’t be letting simple things like getting visas ever put you off travelling!!! If that was the case, I wouldn’t have been anywhere! Getting visas, passport stamps and filling in endless forms are all part of the joys of travelling my friends!!

The below list is based on BRITISH and IRISH passport holders only:

ARGENTINA:

One of my Argentina Entrance Stamps

Visa Needed – NO

Fee – NO

Details – On entry you receive a square entrance stamp, normally valid for 90 DAYS. On departure you receive a square exit stamp. I entered and exited Argentina on 8 occasions, using bus and ferry only. I arrived by aeroplane.

Difficulty Level – Trickier on a British Passport than an Irish one (due to the Falklands) which may mean they ask you a few more questions on the way in.

BOLIVIA:

Doing a mining tour in Potosi in Bolivia – the world’s highest city!

Visa Needed – NO

Fee – NO

Details – On entry you receive a rectangular entrance stamp, normally valid for 90 DAYS though on my passport they didn’t write the exact number of days. On departure you receive a rectangular exit stamp. I entered and exited Bolivia once only and used a bus.

Difficulty Level – Easy as “give me a stamp mate” – you may have your bag searched though.

BRAZIL:

One of my Brazilian exit stamps

Visa Needed – NO

Fee – NO

Details – On entry you receive a square entrance stamp, normally valid for 90 DAYS. On departure you receive a square exit stamp. I entered and exited Brazil on 4 occasions, using bus and aeroplane.

Difficulty Level – Very, very simple and efficient.

CHILE:

Cruising round Cape Horn on the south tip of Chile

Visa Needed – NO

Fee – NO

Details – On entry you receive a rectangular entrance stamp, normally valid for 90 DAYS. On departure you receive a rectangular exit stamp. I entered and exited Chile on 2 occasions using Jeep and aeroplane.

Difficulty Level – No qualms at all. Fairly simple.

COLOMBIA:

Colombia Visas and entries are fairly straight forward – night buses may not be!

Visa Needed – NO

Fee – NO

Details – On entry you receive a rectangular entrance stamp, normally valid for 60 DAYS. On departure you receive a rectangular exit stamp. I entered and exited Colombia just once. I arrived by aeroplane and exited by bus at Cucuta.

Difficulty Level – I arrived by air so it was straight forward, don’t risk bringing in drugs! They have sniffer dogs at the terminals!

PARAGUAY:

My Paraguay Entrance Stamp at Ciudad del Este

Visa Needed – NO

Fee – NO

Details – On entry you receive a red circular entrance stamp, normally valid for 90 DAYS. On departure you receive a red circular exit stamp. I entered and exited Paraguay by bus at Ciudad del Este.

Difficulty Level – Getting the visa stamp itself was easy – the hard thing was shouting at the bus driver to let me off and then trying to find the immigration office! You can read my nightmare entrance to Paraguay here!

PERU:

Christmas Day at Machu Picchu in Peru!

Visa Needed – NO

Fee – NO

Details – On entry you receive a rectangular entrance stamp, normally valid for 90 DAYS. On departure you receive a rectangular exit stamp. I entered Peru by bus at Desaguadero and left by aeroplane from Lima. Details of my trip here.

Difficulty Level – A long queue at Desaguadero, the longest wait I had for an entry stamp in South America, but very easy.

My special Christmas Day passport stamp at Machu Picchu

Peru Bonus – You can get a few extra passport stamps in Peru on the Inca Trail, including a special one at Machu Picchu.

SURINAME:

As an Irish or a British passport holder you will need to get a visa in advance before arrival in Suriname. The country was formed in the 1970s and is a former Dutch colony, even the Dutch need a passport these days. It’s worth going to. Suriname was the ONLY country in South America that I visited and needed a Visa for. I applied for my Visa in Caracas, Venezuela at the Suriname Embassy and it was far from easy!

You will need US Dollars to get a Suriname Visa

Visa Needed – YES!!

Fee – Where do I start? It officially costs $45 US Dollars! (BUT it must be paid in US Dollars only – my Visa cost me well over $100 US Dollars by the time I got buses round town, photocopies made and worst of all I was getting my Visa in Caracas just as the black market crashed!!)

Details – You need a visa to visit Suriname!! You can only get it in 6 other South American cities – Bogota, Caracas, Brasilia, Georgetown, Cayenne. At least that was the case in 2010 when I needed to get mine. In the end I got mine in Caracas, which was some bloody experience!! Here;s my post on how to get a Suriname Visa in Caracas. You can also read all about my experience here!! (Please bear in mind I’ve exaggerated how much of a nightmare it was – I was a bit stressed at the time, but yes cocaines, guns and bribes were involved in getting the cash…)

Difficulty Level – Extremely difficult and a harrowing experience – one of the worst of my travel experiences to get the visa, once I got it, all ran smoothly!! Great country!!

URUGUAY 

Visa Needed – NO

Fee – NO

Details – You will get a rectangular stamp on arrival.

Difficulty Level – Easy and sweet. Your arrival will be by boat from Argentina, by land from Argentina or Brazil or by flight.

For a start Uruguay is a fantastic country so don’t miss it!! It’s also very calm, relaxed and easy going. So unless you’ve been banned from some countries and are smuggling drugs, you will get in fine!

I’ll be back with loads more Visa information over the next few months as it’s extremely important to know this sort of stuff in advance. I’m so glad I went to Suriname, but it was also some experience doing it all in Caracas, once the murder capital of the world!!

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