As the current Omicron wave wanes, a number of countries in the Americas have been relaxing once strict entry regimes that kept most visitors out throughout the pandemic. The trend has been particularly prominent in South America, in which a majority of countries have remained receptive to international tourists, even after the likes of Europe and Asia shut down again.
While there is still a long way to go, as Covid cases are yet to become negligible, and vaccination campaigns remain underway, certain destinations in the continent have more relaxed entry rules compared to others. Here, you will find the top five easiest countries to visit in South America right now, ranked from the strictest to the least restrictive:
Ever since Covid was first declared a pandemic, Chile was one of the first in South America to enact entry bans and potent curbs on social life. Even though it has shifted towards accepting limited categories of foreign travelers, its complex set of travel rules still befuddles travelers to this day. Currently, there are different rules based on vaccination status.
While the vaccinated must still observe certain requirements, the unvaccinated face an outright ban on travel to Chile except in specific circumstances. Essentially, visitors must be in possession of several documents before landing in Chile, including a Mobility Pass (also called ‘pase de movilidad‘), which can be obtained through the MeVacuno website.
During the application, travelers will be expected to submit their vaccination certificates. Travelers are advised to apply at least 30 days in advance, as each application is processed individually. If the application is successful, they will received a QR code to present at the border. Those who do not hold a pre-approved Mobility Pass will be denied entry.
In addition to the pass, vaccinated visitors also have to undergo testing at most 72 hours before boarding their flight. Only PCR tests are accepted. Upon arrival to Chile, they are again subject to further PCR or rapid antigen testing, and sent to quarantine until a negative result is obtained. Unvaccinated visitors allowed to enter must remain isolated for seven days irrespective of negative test results.
On top of that, all arrivals must also complete a health form, or Declaración Jurada, not earlier than 48 hours before traveling. Once the form is completed, travelers will receive a second QR code, other than the Mobility Pass, to present at the border. Then, they are required to complete daily self-reports for the first seven days of their stay through another online form.
Lastly, Chile requires all arrivals to be insured for Covid, with a minimum coverage of USD 30,000. On this link, you will find a list of reliable insurance providers that also cover cancelation costs and other eventualities, besides Covid. With all these stringent rules still in place, Chile is by far the strictest country in South America right now.
Although it is far from having reached a complete state of normality, Argentina has comparatively easier entry requirements than the likes of Chile in the Latin American world. Those who are fully vaccinated can enter Argentina without quarantine, though they are still must still carry a negative Covid test prior to entering. Both PCR tests taken within 72 hours, and rapid antigen tests not older than 48 hours are accepted.
Those who have had an infection in the previous 90 days and have spent at least 14 days in a neighboring country, such as Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay are exempt from the testing mandate. Conversely, all who seek entry into Argentina must present travel insurance covering Covid, as well as costs of self-isolation and “medical transport services”.
An online form must also be filled out in advance, available here. Unvaccinated Americans and any foreign non-residents who are not immunized are not allowed to enter for tourism purposes. Those who fall under an exception must observe quarantine for seven days. For further information on entry requirements for Argentina, please refer to our dedicated page on the topic.
Even though it still bars entry to some travelers based on vaccination, Brazil has somewhat simpler entry requirements than the first two on this list. For now, only vaccinated individuals are allowed to board a flight to the country. In addition to a vaccine pass, all arrivals, irrespective of nationality, must also present a negative PCR test within 72 hours of flying (or a rapid antigen test within 24 hours).
All travelers are also required to complete a Travelers Health Declaration in the 24 hours preceding their trip. If unvaccinated, a traveler will only be admitted into national territory upon satisfying exemption requirements and may be issued a 14-day quarantine order. Unvaccinated foreigners are advised to contact Brazilian consular representation in their respective countries.
Recently, Brazil has made the decision to welcome back cruise ships. The news have been particularly welcomed by the Brazilian Minister of Tourism, who called it a “very important segment for employment generation and activation of the economy”. The nation has also launched a new Digital Nomad Visa, in a bid to welcome more long term visitors following two years of restrictions.
Unlike their Mercosur and Mercosur-associated partners on this list, Colombia is granting entry to both fully vaccinated and partially vaccinated tourists, albeit with varying degrees of restrictions. While those who present a full vaccination card can bypass both pre-departure testing and quarantine rules, those who do not can still enter if undergoing a PCR test up to 72 hours in advance.
That is the case for those who have started their vaccination scheme, but have not yet completed it, or who received their final dose less than two weeks before the date of travel. It is worth noting that, when arriving in cruise ships to popular destinations in the Colombian Caribbean, such as Cartagena, visitors must be fully vaccinated and present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of docking.
Other than vaccination, the only other requirement for entry to Colombia is filling out the Check-Mig form. There may be additional rules set out by Caribbean archipelagos belonging to the country, such as San Andres, Providencia or Santa Catalina, including the need to purchase a tourist card before flying.
After getting acquainted with the entry requirements set out by Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia you may be surprised with how extremely easy it is to visit Ecuador right now. Although it is not nearly as popular as the rest, this underrated South American country permits all categories of foreigners to enter, fully vaccinated or not.
Vaccinated Americans, Canadians, and Brits can enter Ecuador restriction-free so long as at least 14 days have passed since the second dose of a WHO-approved scheme. This means no pre-departure testing, on-arrival testing, or self-isolation. If vaccinated, all you will need is to print out and fill out this form before flying.
Those who are not vaccinated can also visit Ecuador, but are required to present a negative PCR test up to 72 hours prior to embarking. Unlike many in the Americas, Ecuador also accepts evidence of recovery as proof of entry, as long as a positive Covid laboratory test dates to more than 14 days ago, and it is not older than a year.
When flying to the continent, travelers are advised to keep up to date with the ever-changing regulations for specific countries in South America, and purchase travel insurance in advance in order to minimize health and disruption risks, even when it is not an official requirement for visiting their intended destination.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com