This article is part of our Border Crossing Report series.
Border name: Salto or Concordia
Closest major cities: Salto, Uruguay to Concordia, Argentina
Cost for visas: $0 (Not including previously paid reciprocity fees for Argentina, see note below)
Cost for vehicle: $0
Total time: 45 minutes
Date crossed: Saturday March 30, 2013
RECIPROCITY FEE NOTE: Effective January 7, 2013 all US, Canadian and Australian citizen are required to pay a reciprocity fee at all Argentinian border entries, including land crossings. You must pay the fee online and bring the receipt to the border. Pay your fee online at this website.
We spent Friday night (Good Friday that is), camped in a field with approximately 4,000 other Uruguayans. Not wanting to deal with the bathroom crowd we packed up and headed for the border a day early. We hit the border about 11am. Our gas light had just turned on.
The aduana marked on our GPS was completely out of commission. There was a huge brick building that looked exactly like a border crossing only no one was there. We kept driving assuming there was a new building. Over the bridge, through the woods, etc, etc.
Just as we started to get nervous we saw a very obvious border post ahead. The border was busy, but moving pretty quickly. We parked out front and headed into to the building on the left. The first desk was marked Uruguay Immigration. We handed over our passports. The lady also asked for our vehicle permit, which she turned and gave to another official, who looked at it momentarily and then walked off.
The immigration official stamped our passports, returned them and waved us one counter down to the Argentinian immigration. We waited in line a few minutes before the official took our passports. He immediately asked for our reciprocity fee receipts. He entered a bunch of things in his computer, asked for our vehicle title, and then walked off into a secret back room. Turns out the passport pages Jared had added in Buenos Aires looked a little too sketchy.
Three officials came out of the back room and decided to consult with a fourth official. They poked and prodded at Jared's passport and even asked him if he has a receipt for the additional pages. WTF people. Finally, I pointed out that I too had additional pages in the back of my passport and they could compare. They flipped some more and finally decided that everything was ok. There's ten minutes of my life I'll never get back.
The official stamped our passports and returned them and our reciprocity fee paperwork. He also gave us a small slip of paper with a stamp and "3 personas" written on it. This was our ticket to get out of the border area. He pointed outside and told us to go to aduana.
We wandered outside and talked with the friendly Uruguayan Aduana official. He finally pointed us to the building on the other side of the road (the right side when entering Argentina). Kobus went in with the usual vehicle paperwork (passport, license and title). The official asked him for the insurance papers. (Read this post for how we got insurance). Thankfully a few weeks ago we stopped in El Bolson to see our insurance man who gave us the official papers. This is the first crossing where we have been asked to present proof of insurance.
The aduana official actually attempted to call the insurance company to verify it was valid. Pro tip: If your insurance is fake, cross the border on the weekend, insurance offices are closed then. Our insurance was real, and they did make a thorough inspection of all the paperwork.
There was another official in the aduana office that started asking Kobus a lot of questions. The typical ones, where are you going, how long are you here for... etc. However he also asked if we were working in Argentina. We replied no, because we assumed he meant; are you working for an Argentinian company while here? But in retrospect there is a much larger question to be answered: If you are traveling and making money from a company not based where you visiting, do you need a work visa? In most cases, no, but I wasn't about to get into it with these border officials.
The aduana officials finally gave us the temporary vehicle permit and said we could go. While waiting quite a huge line of cars had amassed at the food check point. We had seen many other cars searched and had resigned ourselves to losing the veggies we had bought two days ago. But, when we got to the checkpoint the official was obviously trying to clear the queue. He took our stamped ticket and flagged us through.
Best part about this border: They finally checked our insurance!
Worst part about this border: Aduana interrogations make me yawn.