Australian tourists will no longer be slugged US$117 (A$170) at the border when entering Chile via Santiago Airport, with the country axing its longstanding 'reciprocity fee' from December 16 2019.
For now, this puts Chile in the same category as many other popular destinations for Australian visitors, who can simply book their flight and turn up at the airport, without arranging a visa in advance or purchasing one at the border.
That freedom will be short-lived, however, as Australian passport holders visiting Chile from May 16 2020 will be required to obtain an online e-visa prior to travel. Skip this crucial step and you won't be able to board your flight.
The Chilean Government hasn't yet publicised whether a fee would be charged for an e-visa, or how long these would take to process from the time an application is lodged.
Regular visitors to Chile will be able to request a multi-entry e-visa, although single-use e-visas will be offered as well.
It's not yet known whether an e-visa will be needed to enter Chile via all airports and land borders, or only via Santiago International Airport where the outgoing reciprocity fee exclusively applied.
Why do countries charge 'reciprocity fees'?
Such tit-for-tat fees for Australian and other passport holders were levied by the Chilean Government to align with the costs that citizens of Chile incur when visiting that other country: typically matching the price they'd pay to obtain a visa of the same type.
It's a common approach that countries take where visa-free agreements don't apply or where a visa is still required for a particular type of visit, with nations such as Russia and the United States commonly pricing their pre-arranged visas to align with the fees and charges levied on their own citizens by a traveller's home country.
Travel between Australia and Chile has boomed over recent years with Santiago-based LATAM launching direct flights between Melbourne and Santiago in October 2017, and moving many of its Sydney-Auckland-Santiago services to non-stop flights as of October 2019.
From late June 2020, Qantas is also upgrading its Sydney-Santiago route from four flights per week to a daily service, to be operated by the Roo's Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
Other recent visa changes for Australian travellers
- New Zealand introduces ESTA-style visa waiver
- Brazil axes visa requirement for Australian travellers
- How to visit China for up to six days without a visa
- No more instant USA ESTA approvals: plan ahead
- Australians no longer need a visa to enter Qatar
- Canada's electronic pre-clearance for visa waiver travellers
- Indian visa applications become more tedious