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Chile to Argentina at Chile Chico: Border Crossing

Written by Jessica on February 9, 2013

chile-argentina-flagThis article is part of our Border Crossing Report series.

Border name: Rio Jeinimeni
Closest major cities: Chile Chico, Chile and Los Antiguos, Argentina
Cost for visas: $160 reciprocity fee for US citizen (pay in advance!)
Cost for vehicle: $0
Total time: 30 minutes
Date crossed: Wednesday January 16, 2013


Reciprocity Fees: Argentina recently changed their rules for collecting reciprocity fees for US, Canadian and Australian citizens. Fees were previously only collected if you entered via a major airport. Now fees must be paid online and in advance for all border crossings, including land borders. Go to this website, pay your fee and print the receipt. Take this with to the border. The current fees are: $160 for the United States (valid for 10 years), $100 for Australians (valid for 1 year) and $75 for Canadians (valid for one entry) or $150 (valid for multiple entries).


Border crossings further south: If coming from the southern part Carretera Austral note that there is another crossing, east of the town of Cochrane, called Paso Roballos. We heard multiple times that this road was in very poor condition and decided to take the easier road to the north. There is also a rumor that there will soon be a border crossing for vehicles just northeast of Villa O'Higgins. At this time the road on the Argentinian side, including one very important bridge over the Rio Mayer, has not been completed.

The Steps

  1. Drive to the Chilean immigration and customs building 3.5 miles outside of the town of Chile Chico.
  2. Go to the immigration counter and hand over your passports with your tourist card that you received upon entry. The official will keep your tourist card and stamp your passport.
  3. Go to the aduana counter and hand over your vehicle permit and vehicle title. The official will enter a few things in the computer, return your title and keep your permit.
  4. Drive two miles to the Argentinian border post.
  5. Go to the immigration counter (on the far left side of the building). Hand over your passport and receipts for reciprocity fees. (Reciprocity fees only apply to US, Canadian and Australian citizens).
  6. The official will give you a tourist card to complete. He will enter info into the computer and will check the code on your reciprocity fee receipt. You can NOT pay the fee at the border.
  7. Go to the signed aduana counter. Hand over your vehicle title and the driver's passport. The official will enter info in the computer and print a vehicle permit. Sign two copies. You get one, they keep the other.
  8. Someone may inspect your car for food and other items. We were just waved through. Yay!

Our Experience

We left Puerto Guadal around 9:45 am and arrived in Chile Chico just before noon. The road on this side of the border is dirt and very badly corrugated in places. However, the views of Lago General are spectacular.

We stopped in Chile Chico to find an internet café where we could print our reciprocity fee receipts. Jared and I paid the $160 fee online the previous day, but had no way to print. We were unsure if the border official would confiscate food, so we decided to do our shopping on the meatier Argentinian side.

The Chilean border post outside Chile Chico.

At high noon we arrived at Chile border offices. No one was inside except 3 or 4 bored looking officials. We handed over our passports, and the typical typing, stamping, page-flipping, stamping, process carried on for a few minutes.

The immigration official then waved us to the aduana counter immediately adjacent. At aduana we handed in our vehicle import permits. The official was momentarily confused because we had two import papers. When we entered the country we were originally given the import paper for Argentinian cars, and later swapped if for a new paper. Somehow we ended up leaving with both.

Nonetheless the official put one in the trash and entered our details in the computer. He kept the original (correct) vehicle permit and told us to carry on.

We drove 5 minutes to the Argentinian buildings, on beautiful asphalt, the likes of which we hadn't seen in nearly 2 weeks. We parked on the road just before the buildings.

The Argentinian border post outside Chile Chico.

Just inside the door on the left-hand side, a desk was labeled immigration. No one was waiting so we walked up and handed over our passports and the receipts for the payment of our reciprocity fees. The official gave each of us a tourist card to fill out with the usual information. He entered a bunch of stuff in the computer, including the code found on our reciprocity receipts. Then he stamped the tourist cards and stamped our passports and returned everything to us.

Kobus went to the aduana counter, right next to immigration. He turned in the title and his passport. Again there were no lines, so things went quickly. The official entered our information and printed out two copies of the vehicle permit. Kobus signed both, the official stamped both, kept one and gave us the other.

We asked if we needed to do anything else and he waved us out of the building. We did see signs related to the restriction of vegetable and meat products, but no one was searching or being searched when we crossed.

Best part about this border: 30 minutes. Bam. Done.
Worst part about this border: If you are a US, Canadian or Australian citizen, don't forget to pay the reciprocity fee and print the receipt in advance!

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