The American Passport has some of the fewest foreign travel visa requirements for holders (ranked 8th for freedom of movement in 2016).
Many countries still require inbound tourist to pay for a visa for reasons from political agreements (or disagreements) to economic drivers. In some cases, transit visas are required if you’re only transiting through an airport within a country.
What country is the most expensive for tourist visas? What country earns the most from tourists?
VisaHQ provides a service to help travellers apply for tourism visas online. Their database contains costs charged by each countries embassy for issuing travel visas to American citizens.
For this post I only considered the Embassy fee, ignoring any additional costs. As each country offers visas of differing lengths (days), conditions (number of entries allowed), and Embassy processing speeds, I used the cheapest visa provided for each country.
Visa costs and availability are always subject to change. Data was collected from VisaHQ during April 2017.
I calculated potential visa revenue using visa costs to US tourists against all inbound tourists of all nationalities (which will include nationals of the inbound country) in 2013 from a UNWTO report (“US visa cost” X “inbound tourists”).
Most expensive tourist visas for Americans by county
|Rank (cost)||Country||alpha-3||region||Embassy fee USD|
Nigeria is the most expensive country for a tourist visa — $265 USD gets you a multiple-entry visa (leave and return as many times as desired) valid for 2 years.
The top 5 most expensive countries for tourist visas for American visitors spans 17 countries. 8 in this list are African nations, 6 Asian, 2 Americas, and 1 Oceanic. In total American citizens are required to pay for tourist visas to enter 89 countries.
Entry into the EU is completely free for US passport holders. In total US citizens can travel to 142 countries without having to pay for a tourist visa.
Potential visa revenue by country
|Country||Embassy fee USD||International tourist arrivals (1000)||Potential visa revenue USD|
China could potentially earn almost $8 billion USD from inbound tourist visas (56 million tourists paying $140 USD a each). Russia and Saudi Arabia also stand to raise billions from tourist visas, $3.5 billions USD and $1.5 billion USD a piece.
121 countries raise no revenue from tourist visas (or equivalent visa-free entry) issued to Americans.
I calculated potential visa revenue using visa costs to US tourists against all inbound tourists of all nationalities in 2013 (“US visa cost” X “inbound tourists”). Clearly this is incorrect. Many inbound tourists of other nationalities will likely be subject to different visa requirements and costs when compared to US citizens. Similarly, this figure includes citizens of the inbound country who won’t need a visa.
If I could get a breakdown of visa costs and inbound tourists by nationality the accuracy of this calculation could be significantly improved.
In total American citizens are required to pay for tourist visas to enter 89 countries. Nigeria charges Americans the most for a tourist visa, $265. China could potentially earn $8 billion from inbound arrivals (assuming all visitors were tourists and required to pay the same visa costs as Americans).