Chile reciprocity fee for Australians scrapped under new visa arrangements

If your New Year's resolution is to visit South America in 2020, the main entry point for Australians just became a lot cheaper.

Chile has scrapped the $US117 ($A170) "reciprocity fee" Australians were required to pay to enter the country, as part of new visa arrangements.

A reciprocity fee is typically charged by a nation's government in response to a similar fee being levied on its citizens to visit a country.

Visas will no longer be required until May 9, 2020 when a new electronic visa will be introduced.

Chile is the latest in a number of countries making it easier for Australian tourists to visit. Brazil also scrapped visa requirements in June 2019, which previously cost Australians $62 for an e-visa and more than $200 if applying in person or by post. India, China, Egypt and Sri Lanka are among the other countries that have introduced e-visas or free visas on arrival this year.

In terms of passport power, Australian passport holders rank equal ninth, following just 25 countries, on the Henley Passport Index. The index ranks passports according to the number of destinations holders can travel to without first obtaining a visa. For Australians, that's 181 countries.

And while Chile's visa will be reintroduced, the fee waiving will make it easier for Australians to explore the country famous for its vibrant cities and otherworldly natural landscapes.

Leanne Jardine, 24, of Sydney travelled South America for eight months on an Australian passport, and visited Chile famous Torres del Paine national park.

"I went to Chile to see the parks and the mountains and hike through Patagonia, it's so picturesque," she said. "It's still hard to believe it's real when you're standing there, it looks like a painting."

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Ms Jardine "lost count of all the visas" needed for travelling the continent.

"I definitely found it easier with electronic visas," Jardine said, "they are processed much quicker too!"

As of October this year, getting to Chile has become easier too, with LATAM now offering non-stop flights between Sydney and the Chilean capital Santiago, cutting out the route's previous stop in Auckland. Non-stop flights between Melbourne and Santiago were launched in October 2017.

It is not yet known whether fees will in turn be scrapped for Chileans entering Australia, with the Department of Home Affairs yet to provide a comment.

A spokesperson from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed that from the 19th of December, local authorities in Chile were introducing a new online visa system for Australians, but also said that "Australian tourists travelling to Chile for 90 days or less can get a visa on arrival but may still need to pay an entry fee as the new system is rolled out".

Smart Traveller advises a high degree of caution for those travelling to Chile, due to civil unrest and violence following protests in Santiago and other cities.

See also: The 10 countries making it easy for Australians to visit

See also: The rip-off e-visa scams that are catching out Australians

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