Even though Covid is no longer the disruptive disease it once was, and the vast majority of countries in the Northern Hemisphere have lifted all travel rules, the Global South is yet to catch up. In fact, a shocking 75 percent of South America still discriminates against unvaccinated American travelers, openly making it harder for them to visit.
The irony of the story? Earlier in the pandemic, countries like Brazil, Colombia, and Uruguay stood among some of the easiest to enter, at least prior to vaccination becoming widespread. However, in late 2021, rules as tough as Europe’s or Canada’s were enacted, and all of a sudden, they became more difficult to enter than their own reference countries for restrictions.
Now, even the overly conservative Canada lifted all of its curbs, yet the same cannot be said about the Southernmost tip of the Americas:
Only 3 Countries In South America Are Open Restriction-Free
In total, South America is a multi-cultural collective comprising twelve different sovereign states, where several languages are spoken – with Portuguese and Spanish being the most popular – and that share a common colonial past. Excluding any overseas departments of European countries, such as French Guiana and the Falklands, they are:
Home to some of the most beautiful nature and brimming with History, the region is becoming increasingly popular among American backpackers, especially now that solo travel is the number one trend post-Covid. Sadly, when it comes to pandemic regulations, only three of the above destinations are fully open.
As can be seen on the latest IATA Travel Regulations map, last updated today, Argentina, Ecuador, and Guyana are the only countries in South America that no longer impose stricter entry requirements based on vaccination. Traveling to these three, the following applies to all U.S. passport holders:
- Vaccination is no longer a pre-requisite for entry
- No pre-departure testing is needed, irrespective of immunization
- No post-arrival testing is required
- Quarantine mandates are not in place
Out of those, Argentina was the first to lift the border gates, followed by Guyana on October 7 and Ecuador earlier this week. On the other hand, their nine neighbors, or 75 percent of the continent, continue to discourage unvaccinated foreigners from traveling, and while outright bans no longer apply, different testing rules are enforced.
What Entry Restrictions Apply In Other South American Countries?
Brazil, the largest country in South America and a major winter destination, expects inbound passengers to present either a valid vaccination certificate – two doses are sufficient – or a negative Covid test taken ‘at most 1 day’ before departure. This is replicated in the closely-aligned Uruguay, except the latter permits the unvaccinated to get tested up to 72 hours prior to boarding.
In comparison, Paraguay allows the unvaccinated to enter, presenting a negative test (within 72 hours of flying) or a positive Covid test result issued by a laboratory between 10 and 90 days before boarding. Moving northwest on the map, Bolivia accepts negative PCR tests that are 72 hours old or a 48-hour maximum Rapid Antigen test presented at the embarkation point.
Chile is exempting vaccinated travelers from its testing regime but requiring all others to show proof of a negative PCR test result released 48 hours before boarding the ‘last flight’ to Chile. This means that if you’re on a connecting flight to Santiago with a long layover exceeding this time period, you may need to undergo testing twice.
If you’re dreaming of hiking the legendary Inca Trail in Machu Picchu, one of the wonders of Peru, but are unvaccinated, be prepared to undergo testing not earlier than 48 hours from the flight departure time. Lastly, Colombia allows PCRs submitted within a time frame of 72 hours, Rapid Antigens within 48, and Venezuela is PCR-only (72 hours).
Regarding Venezuela — it is the strictest of them all, being one of a handful of countries applying a validity period to vaccination certificates worldwide. Unless you have received a booster dose and your primary vaccination course has been completed more than 270 days ago, you will be expected to follow the rules for unvaccinated guests.
As a general rule, booster doses extend one’s immunization status indefinitely.
Are Restrictions Still Needed In 2022?
So you get the point: South America is still pretty wary of importing Covid, but can this level of caution justify the existence of travel restrictions in 2022? As concluded in a new report published by four renowned doctors, focusing on Canada’s pandemic approach, which up until this fall had been similar to its Southern partners, the answer is no.
Pandemic trends have shown pre-departure testing had no ‘significant’ impact on Covid prevention. The doctors themselves noted that ‘many travelers’ with positive PCR tests were likely to not even be infectious anymore, rendering Covid-tracking efforts useless. Travel bans not only do not keep Covid away but do irreparable damage to the tourism sector, even after being scrapped.
Canada and Australia are clear examples of that.
These destinations seem to be turning a blind eye to the evidence at hand, and that includes the United States, officially the last G7 superpower to ban unvaccinated foreigners. So far, there has been no indication as to when the U.S., Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and the like will resume their pre-2020 normality, but we hope this materializes sooner rather than later.
Just a reminder: fully-vaccinated U.S. citizens already enjoy unrestricted access to all of South America, with the exception of Venezuela, which requires an additional booster certificate.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com