The Cost Of Being An American Tourist

Tyler Durden's picture

Good news for globe-trotting Americans: most countries around the world are free or very cheap to get in to. But, as this map from shows, some countries do charge through the nose for a visa. And it's not the ones you would expect.


First, let's get a persistent myth out of the way, the one that says Americans don't travel overseas. That so-called fact is proven by an oft-cited statistic: only 10% of U.S. citizens – or thereabouts – have passports. Wrong! According to the State Department, the actual figure is closer to 46%. And that corresponds to more than 131 million American passport holders.

And that passport is all you need to gain entry in most countries. The official at the border will stamp one of the pages at the back of your booklet and off you go, to explore other climes and cultures. But quite a few nations are not satisfied with passports alone. They require a visa – and to obtain that visa, you must pay. Sometimes you can purchase it on arrival, often you must get it at the embassy or consulate of your destination country. So, who wants how much?

Entry into Europe is completely free for U.S. citizens, from Monaco to Moldova, from Liechtenstein to Lithuania, from the UK to Ukraine. And just about anywhere nearby or in between. With a few exceptions.

  • A visa for Belarus costs $65. For that price, you get to visit the landlocked Russian satellite state often branded “the last dictatorship in Europe”. It is highly advised to say only nice things about its president Alexander Lukashenko, in power since 1994.
  • Talking about countries with long-lasting leaders, the Russia of Putin (in power since 2000, alternately as president and prime minister) currently charges an entry fee of $160. That sounds like a lot, but Russia is the biggest country in the world.
  • Azerbaijan, that Maine-sized ex-Soviet republic on the extreme southeastern edge of Europe, wants exactly as much. In comparison, that seems a bit steep.
  • Lest you think that it's just post-communist near-autocracies that want a visa fee, check out the Czech Republic. Want to see the splendor of Prague? That'll cost ya $98 to get in. Not cheap, but still not as much as a day pass to Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom. And all the Czech castles are real. Plus, this is if you want to stay longer than 90 days. Shorter visits are still free. Eat that, Mickey!

Free entry is a lot rarer in Asia, but there is still plenty of choice.

  • Americans can get in for free in Mongolia and Kazakhstan, Japan and South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. There is also free entry for countries many not even have heard of – so why not go see Brunei or Kyrgyzstan? The diving is supposed to be good in the Maldives.
  • In the Middle East, you don't pay a cent to get into Lebanon, Israel or the United Arab Emirates, where out of the empty sand dunes the global metropolis of Dubai has arisen almost overnight. Get your Israeli stamp on a separate leaf if you plan to visit any other places in the Middle East: they don't take kindly to people who visit a state they see as mercilessly oppressing Palestine.
  • All the other Asian countries require visas. The cheapest ones, color-coded light green, are Nepal and Tajikistan (both $25); Cambodia, Jordan, Pakistan, Qatar, Sri Lanka and Timor-Leste (all $30); and Kuwait and Laos (both $35).
  • In the slightly more expensive yellow bracket, we find Bangladesh, India, Iraq and Oman ($50). Communist North Korea wants 70 of your capitalist dollars, and Bahrain ($77), Uzbekistan ($80) and Vietnam ($85) think you will afford a bit more for the privilege of visiting them.
  • In the orange band, things turn political – or so it would seem. Iran wants $100 before you get a visa. Even more like a shakedown is the $140 you need to get a Chinese single-entry visa... if you're an American. The same type of visa can be had for as little as $30, if you're not an American citizen. The Afghans ($160) want even more, but we doubt if it's that fee which is keeping away all those tourists.
  • Bhutan is a small kingdom jammed between India and China, trying hard to take from the modern world only what it deems culturally appropriate. Perhaps that is why the $200 visa seems a bit dissuasive. Same for the other pink-coded Asian country: Burma, a.k.a. Myanmar, tentatively emerging from decades of isolationist military dictatorship. By all means go see its fly-in-amber culture, but be prepared to fork out $250 for a visa.
  • The most expensive country in the world, visa-wise, charges more than double. For a visa to get into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, you will have to part with no less than 533 of your hard-earned dollars. Well, at least you won't be spending that amount of money on the Riyadh club and bar scene.

Africa is a mixed bag, visa-price-wise. Some of the continent's most fabled and popular holiday destinations can be visited free of charge. Island paradises such as the Seychelles and Mauritius. Fabulous South Africa and its neighbors Lesotho, Swaziland and Namibia. Northern African dream destinations Morocco and Tunisia. Senegal in West Africa.

  • Egypt would like $20 before you get a live look at the pyramids. Togo and Zimbabwe want $30, while the island paradises of the Comoros ($32) and Cabo Verde ($43), also in the green category, are not as free as the others.
  • Many African countries charge an entry fee between $50 and $100, i.e. the yellow band. These include Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia (it'll be a while before its fee turns into a moneyspinner), Tanzania, Angola, Djibouti, Sao Tome and Principé, Malawi, Benin, Ghana, Mali and Madagascar – to be precise. Yes, buying the movie Madagascar is a lot cheaper, but the island itself is much more awe-inspiring.
  • The most popular color in Africa is orange ($100-$200), with Burundi, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Niger, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Uganda all charging an entry fee equal to one Ben Franklin. Gabon charges you two Bens, as does the neighboring Republic of the Congo – not to be confused with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which wants $175 for a visa. Both Congos are the only two countries in the world with their capitals right across from each other. Land in Kinshasa, take off from Brazzaville, and you'll have spent $375 on visa fees alone.
  • That is more than you would spend touching down in Lagos, although Nigeria is the African country with the highest visa fee: $253.

So what about Oceania?

  • There is a whole list of island paradises that you can fly to visa-free, from Fiji and Kiribati to Micronesia and Palau; from Samoa to the Solomon Islands, and from the Marshall Islands to Vanuatu; and of course Tonga and Tuvalu. Let's throw in another, slightly larger island paradise for free: New Zealand.
  • But cross the Tasman Sea, and be prepared to fork out $20 to enter Australia. That's half as much as Papua New Guinea wants, and a fifth of Nauru's entry fee.

For Americans, it is a bit cheaper to stay closer to home, even if you discount the air fare. You have to travel pretty far on the American continent to find a country that wants money for your visit. It's a pretty short list, even across the entire hemisphere:

  • Suriname, the former Dutch colony marooned on the northern shore of South America, wants $35 for your visit.
  • Paraguay charges at least $100 before you enter the country
  • and its neighbor Brazil takes the cake by taking $160 for your entry visa.

Some of the visa fees come across as deliberately dissuasive – Saudi Arabia nor Bhutan seem keen on becoming major tourist destinations. In general, the richer countries are visa-free, while the poorer ones charge higher fees, no doubt not in an attempt to keep out visitors, but to fill the state coffers. That should not keep away the determined visitor: all things considered, none of the fees is prohibitive, especially considering the fact that higher visa fees are likely to be offset by the lower cost of living in most of those destinations.

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Urban Redneck's picture

That map is somewhat misleading without a similar map of what the US charges foreign tourists from each of those countries (even before considering purchasing power parity).

Manthong's picture

I traveled an awful lot for both business and pleasure for a whole bunch of years...  across both ponds many times… pretty far north  and pretty far south of the equator.

I lived in Europe for a few years before the EU.

The last place I care to be anymoar is in an airport or a hotel given the prevailing regimes in most places.

Oh, and I have not lived up to the Obama Standard of visiting 57 states…

I have only made it to 50.


Oh… Oh …  with a hugely strong dollar way back when,  I could get 30 Drachs to the buck in Greece.  It was a huge benefit.

Such wonderful times… I was happy… the Greek folks seemed to be happy…

 WTF went wrong?

There was a little itsy bit of a Junta thing going on in government, but outside of the activists, THE PEOPLE ON THE STREETS WERE DOING JUST FINE.



xythras's picture
xythras (not verified) Manthong Jan 12, 2017 3:40 AM

Just DON'T go to Afghanistan. Not as tourist, and DEFINITELY not as CIA "teacher". You might overstay your welcome.

Manthong's picture

What if I wore a long leather coat, fedora, sunglasses and just wanted to arrange a 50 kg heroin shipment going east?

stacking12321's picture

the map is wrong, czech republic should be in yellow.
i want my money back that i paid for this article, tyler!

"Lest you think that it's just post-communist near-autocracies that want a visa fee, check out the Czech Republic. Want to see the splendor of Prague? That'll cost ya $98 to get in."

Theosebes Goodfellow's picture

This may all be interesting and true, but remember kiddies, Americans are the only nationality required to have a passport to enter the USA's southwestern border. Everyone else requires no documentation at all!

Moe Howard's picture

I visited the Czech Republic, coming from Poland by rental auto, there were zero border controls and no visa.


My wife wanted her passport stamped, after pounding on some doors at the border, they finally came out and told us "No Visa" "No Stamp".




A quick "check" at the US State Department page about the  Czech Republic shows this


    Not required for stays less than 90 days.

Which puts the whole article in doubt.

I can't afford these free reports.


The Czech Republic (official short name:  Czechia) is a party to the Schengen Agreement.  Visit the Embassy of the Czech Republic’s website for the most current visa and entry requirement information and its FAQ section on Schengen visas.

  • Passports should be valid for at least 3 months beyond your stay to avoid difficulties entering and traveling within the Schengen zone.  For additional details about travel into and within Schengen countries, please see our Schengen fact sheet.
  • You may enter the Czech Republic for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa.
  • You will need a visa for longer stays or to work or study in the Czech Republic.  When a visa is required, submit your application to the nearest Czech diplomatic mission at least 3-4 months in advance of traveling to the Czech Republic.
  • The Czech Government requires travelers to show proof of sufficient finances to cover the cost of a traveler’s stay.
  • You must also carry proof of a valid medical insurance policy contracted for payment of all costs for hospitalization and medical treatment while in the Czech Republic.

Of course the rules above are a joke, if you can just walk in or drive in and there is nobody checking if you meet the requirements.


TeethVillage88s's picture

Czech will give you a ticket for driving outside of the city without your auto headlights on. That is another one.

Déjà view's picture

Cost Of Being A Polish Tourist...

U.S.A. visa $140 ($0 for U.S. tourist to Poland!) In Poland, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is USD 17,820...

The average American took in $44,569.20 last year, according to data released Tuesday by the Social Security Administration. It marks an increase of 3.5 percent from 2013. 

Someone is getting SCREWED...not Americans!

Chinese Visa $140 good for 10 years! U.S. Visa for Chinese citizens good for 10 years.

Poorly researched article!

Moe Howard's picture

Read my post below. No visa required for tourist or business for 90 days.

Manic by Proxy's picture

What's misleading? The article regards U.S. citizrns' cost of visa fees. Your reading comprehension could use some "enhancement". And BTW,  a quick search reveals a non-immigrant visa fee is $160. You're welcome.

Byte Me's picture

Doubly misleading as Checky is a member of Shengen afair - so you just cross the border from Germany, Poland etc, .. ask any "migrant".

I suppose it applies if you'e dumb enough just to fly into Prague, but what the hey?

SoDamnMad's picture

I always felt screwed in Egypt and Turkey because the charter plane I was on would land and Europeans would get in free while I had to go to an office and buy a visa even though I had a residence permit in Europe. Now it is easier. I DON'T GO THERE AND BAD MOUTH THEM EVERY CHANCE I GET.  If I see one from there maybe I will hurl a rock.

TeethVillage88s's picture

Yes. Remember Germans get long holidays from their employer and often there is some travel deals with the employer for discounts, train, plane, or whatever.

It is like Germans will take an island holiday for like $200 USD total while from USA you pay $800 for transportation and have to find your own hotel for way too much money.

But then I am cheap when I see what the Germans pay.

Expat's picture

Wow, you an asshole.  Sorry, but I could not find a euphemism that conveyed the necessary message.

The article is heavilyk slanted toward the notion that countries charge Americans too much for visasl.  The conclusion is that Americans should stay home rather than give money to these places.

The rest of the world would be extremely happy if Americans like you stayed home altogether.  Ok, now go rant at me how you are saving the world and helping their economies and without the US they would be living in mud huts and eating babies.  blah blah blah.

Ecclesia Militans's picture

Trust me, the "rest of the world" seems to be happy to see Americans (having lived for multiple years in 5 different nations and visiting numerous others, I can attest to this personally.)  British expats weaving their way down a sidewalk after a night of binge drinking and reminding people of forgotten places with names like Gandamack and Mafeking?  Not so much....

Expat's picture

Not so much when Americans "visit" from 30000 ft or when wearing matching green travel outfits!

Moe Howard's picture

They are green travel costumes. Get it right!

Urban Redneck's picture

Many foreign countries fees for US citizens (and their increases) are tit-for-tat retaliations for the fees imposed by US Department of State.  Brazil is the most notorious example of the countries the author specifically referenced because of their continued "unwillingness" to enter into "free trade" and double taxation treaties with Foggy Bullocks.

Your really shouldn't deride the reading skills of your moral and intellectual superiors, especially those who have been traveling the world for decades and have longstanding connections to the US foreign policy machine. 

SteveNYC's picture

The real statistic should be Countries Around the World in Which American Citizens can Travel to Without Getting their Head Lopped Off, Spat At, or Otherwise Treated Badly - Due to their Government's Misdeeds and Crimes".

Who cares about visa costs.....

Urban Redneck's picture

I think Tyler published a table a few days ago with the number of bombs dropped by Obama's underlings by country, it's a good enough proxy for government work... AfPak and Yemen used to be "perfectly safe" for WASP males and I would travel with senior US and local .gov officials with no security detail.  These days I wouldn't travel in those places without a security detail even without those targets for disgruntled locals on my back. 

JailBanksters's picture

So the only one charging the most is the one the US has been protecting for the past 15 years.


stacking12321's picture

usa stole saudi gold reserves in switzerland, while SA has been propping up the failing petro dollar, so, really, who has been protecting whom?

not to worry, the whole fucked up arrangement won't last too much longer.

BandGap's picture

And this arrangement has been in place for over 40 years, not 15.

That's what friends are for.

JailBanksters's picture

I was Implicating their involvement in 911


I Write Code's picture

Go to Las Vegas and you get a free roll of nickels and a two dollar buffet - they pay you to come, and then they give you a free bus ticket home, in most cases.

Cruel Joke's picture

Yemen is N/A. But it is a accessible by drone, right?

zippedydoodah's picture

I'd rather pay to visit the sewers of Paris than be paid to visit the arsehole of the USA. Thank you very much.

Nobodys Home's picture

The cost?

Your life asshole!

All the places I've ever been interested to go in this world would end up in my death if I went to any of them!

TeethVillage88s's picture

Martial law to end in Fiji after 3 years in 2012...

No. I ran into a guy traveling the world who was just there. You need a guide to keep from being killed or robbed and there is a nightly curfew.

But they have some great cars burned out on the roads since they lack the wealth to move them.

Spiro The Greek's picture

Go to Greece, great food, drink, sea, sun and sex...lots of sex !

Dennisen's picture

And there's free parking in the rear.

Volaille de Bresse's picture

"Go to Greece, great food, drink, sea, sun and sex...lots of sex"


You forgot to add ... homosexual sex! If you lieko get rear-ended yeah Greece is your #1 choice. Otherwise...

zippedydoodah's picture

I thought that was New York and San Francisco? #aidsepidemic

nati's picture

I had to pay for a visa (about US$100, good for 10 years) to travel to Argentina from Uruguay by ferry. Argetina charges Americans only because America charges Argentinians when they enter the U.S.

It's basically a reciprocal "fuck you, too" fee.

SilverSavant's picture

To cross into Argentina from Chile, will cost you 400, if you don't know about the reciprical agreement with Chile, in which case it will cost you 160.   That gives you a 10 year visa.   This was last year.   When they told me 400, I was shocked.  They never said a word about the 160 option, I learned that from online.   So, it is basically a ploy to get 400 if you are stupid enough to pay it, when the real cost is 160, to match the USA fee to Argentines.  By the way, most countries (employees) are happy to take as many dollars from you as possible.  If you are told a high number, back up and do some checking before you pay it and you will save yourself money.   My wife is swiss and she pays nothing and never gets hassled, unless entering the USA.   Fuck the Dept. of Homeland Stupidity.

TeethVillage88s's picture

Argentina... sounds like Latin for Silver.

Argentina and Mexico are cheap now with exchange rate. Apparently the bankers are screwing them again.

Might like to visit Argentina, Belize, Dominican Republic, ... not sure about Mexico. They just had that Anarchapolco conference, Berman, but think they just had a riot or drug violence too.

StackShinyStuff's picture

Zambia is not N/A.  It is $50.  I know this because I will be there on Saturday.  Victoria Falls Bitchez!

gouyou's picture

Bhutan is not 200$, but 200 to 250$ a day...


On the other hand that includes accommodation, food, guide and vehicle with driver, so it's in line with most recreational park...

----_-'s picture
----_- (not verified) Jan 12, 2017 5:56 AM

dont give money to the camel family

Expat's picture

The US has the dubious honor of being one of the few countries which charges people for NOT needing a visa.  $14 a person to be allowed to enter without a visa. 

Saudi increased their visa charges over the last year but it is not a tourist destination (duh).  They are having budgetary problems and, like many other third world countries, use visa fees as a source of hard currency.  I don't know the fees for hadji (anyone know) but would guess that 99% of everyone going to Saudi are going on business.

If the point of this article is to demonstrate how the rest of world hates and exploits rich Americans by charging them huge visa fees when they should open their borders and let us come and screw their daughters for free, then I would also point out that the worst experiences I have had have been at the US border both in terms of oppressive, authoritarian treatment as well as time and organization.

Moe Howard's picture

Although most tourism in Saudi Arabia still largely involves religious pilgrimages, there is growth in the leisure tourism sector. According to the World Bank, approximately 14.3 million people visited Saudi Arabia in 2012, making it the world’s 19th-most-visited country

Expat's picture

yes, but considering that Saudi does not issue tourist visas for now, all the 14.3 million visitors are hadji or businessmen.

By the way, the latest figures are about 18 million of which 14 million are religious visitors to Mecca.

Saudi is a pit, by the way.  The airports are nasty.  The desert is treated as a giant garbage dump.  And while some of the architecture is interesting, it is built with chewing gum and cigarette paper.  But I digress.

sinbad2's picture

The US charges $160 for a tourist visa, business visas are more expensive.

Moe Howard's picture

Fiancé(e) or Spouse of U.S. citizen category visa: $265.00

Kefeer's picture

Travel if you like to be TSA'd.

Anglo Hondo's picture

Honduras will charge $10 on entry, and a further $37 on exit.  But the food, booze and cigarettes are cheap.


Moe Howard's picture

I lived in Honduras for 2 years. The exit fee is appropriate, you pay to get the fuck out.

Amoebic dysentery, lead poisoning [shooting] are at epidemic rates. I know, I caught both.

ShakenNotStirred's picture

"Amoebic dysentery, lead poisoning [shooting] are at epidemic rates. I know, I caught both."

At least you got that bonus for free. Stop complaining.

TeethVillage88s's picture

Honduras seems rough even if you just go directly for scuba diving.

British Honduras has to be a little better (Belize). I might consider going to Belize. They had a Real Estate bubble I guess. Lots of government people buy land, then try to flip it. Every place is too expensive. But Belize is probably hot too.

Still lots of poor people and drug transportation routes go through.

Lots of old ruins, but you are in timbuktu.