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After a relatively free summer and the decline of Covid, it may seem that the world is finally out of the pandemic and that strict mandates are a thing of the past. This may be the case for most of Europe, Mexico, etc., but this is certainly not yet a reality in South Americawhere one country removed all travel restrictions.
For more than two years, the southern hemisphere has banned international travel in an effort to prevent the importation of variants from overseas. Despite enjoying robust protection, with countries like Brazil leading the world in vaccination coverage, the region continued to deny entry to certain categories of travellers.
Notably, Unvaccinated Americansexcept for one:
Most of South America is still closed to unvaccinated Americans
South America is an incredibly large and culturally diverse continent that for decades has attracted American tourists due to its affordability and natural sights. Unfortunately, for most of 2022, a huge percentage of Americans, around 30%, are still prevented from returning depending on their vaccination status.
Almost all countries in South America continue to impose a vaccine requirement at their external points of entry, whether land crossings, airports or cruise terminals. out of twelve, only one mirrored the steps of its Central American and European counterparts when it became the 27th country to revert to its pre-2020 entry guidelines: Argentina*.
*The territory of French Guiana is free from restrictions, but since it is not a sovereign entity, being an integral part of France, although in South America it is not considered
Argentina is the first in Mercosurand over an area in South America, to lift pandemic-era restrictions affecting American travelers and other foreign visitors. As early as April 2022, the House of Tango abandoned its hardline approach, which had made it a completely isolated nation for some time, in favor of much more relaxed policies.
Argentina has been the only country in South America to drop all restrictions so far
Before that date, even citizens of Mercosur, a bloc of which Argentina is a part and where freedom of movement applies, were not allowed to cross the border. Now, any foreigner can enter Argentinawhatever the purpose of their trip, and with no other requirements a valid passport and/or visa, if applicable.
For Americans, this effectively means:
- No vaccine required
- No booster needed
- No pre-departure tests
- No testing after arrival
- No quarantine
Conversely, all of Argentina’s neighbors remain ‘partially restrictive’, according to IATA’s Covid-19 travel regulations map. Much like the EU at the start of the crisis, Mercosur and its associated members failed to coordinate their actions to introduce and remove pandemic measures, leading to a confusing patchwork of rules.
European states, on the other hand, have overcome their differences and now a majority are open to travel. Below the Equator line, this level of cross-border harmonization has not been achieved to date. The most obvious disparity is observed between Brazil and Argentinanearest neighbors and major destinations in South America.
The confusing patchwork of rules affecting tourists in the region
While Argentina is open, Brazil only allows US visitors with proof of vaccination. A negative PCR or rapid antigen test, or even recovery certificates, are not considered valid proof of entry, although in Uruguay, bordering southern Brazil, unvaccinated US citizens are allowed to enter when they test negative within 72 hours of departure.
moving west, Paraguay accepts all of the above, in addition to positive Covid tests (antigen, LAMP, NAAT or PCR) issued “at least 10 days and at most 90 days before boarding”. On the Pacific Coast, Chile accepts both vaccine certificates and PCRs less than 48 hours oldand travelers remain subject to testing upon arrival, a controversial policy also promulgated by Canada.
In northern Chile, Peru’s Inca Heartland, a favorite among trekkers, has similar layouts, except it doesn’t randomly test tourists upon landing. Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Suriname all follow the ‘vaccine or test’ modelwhile Guyana – not french – imitates Brazil by banning those who are not fully vaccinated.
Other regional deviations include:
- In Perutests must be NAAT type, including RT-PCR and RTLamps, and must not be older than 48 hours
- Bolivia accepts PCR test results issued within 72 hours of departure, or Rapid Antigen tests performed no later than 48 hours prior to boarding
- In Colombiain addition to the 72 hour/48 hour rules for PCR and Rapid Antigen respectively, passengers must submit their personal information online through the Check Mig form before traveling
- Venezuela imposes a validity date of 270 days on two-dose certificates, require tourists to show proof of a booster dose once this period has elapsed in order to be allowed to enter on the grounds of being immune
- Venezuela only accepts PCR test results obtained 72 hours prior to arrival, as opposed to departure
- Guyana arrivals may be subject to random Covid testing on arrival, even when meeting other criteria such as vaccination
- SurinameThe validity of the pre-departure test is 48 hours for PCR, 24 hours for Rapid Antigen
- Suriname accepts reinstatement certificates issued up to 6 months prior to travel date
* Other rules may apply for any of the above countries. We advise our readers planning international travel to keep up to date with changing regulations by visiting the website of their destination country’s consulate, where the official requirements are outlined.
As you can see, the rest of South America has a lot of catching up to do with The Tierra de Los Hermanos and other Central American competitors in terms of post-pandemic management. As it stands, it is one of the strictest continents to travel to at the moment, unless visitors have exemptions as vaccinated foreigners or returning residents.
Fortunately, the promising digital nomad hub of Argentina, a poster nation for freedom to travel, is already welcome americans with open arms.
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This article originally appeared on Travel Off Path. For the latest breaking news that will affect your upcoming trip, please visit: Traveloffpath.com
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Disclaimer: Current Travel Rules and Restrictions may change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm entry of your nationality and/or any changes to travel conditions before travelling. Travel Off Path does not approve travel against government advice