Traveling in Latin America: requirements and necessary vaccinations

Traveling in Latin America: requirements and necessary vaccinations

Pelhourino, a colorful neighborhood in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil

If you plan to move around Latin America, it is important that you know the requirements of each territory. Here you can find information about the general characteristics to travel through South America, Central America and Mexico, as well as the recommended and mandatory vaccines for each area.

Below you have an index with all the points that we are going to deal with in this article.

Article Index

Necessary procedures

Latin America is made up of a total of twenty countries. Each one of them has special conditions to enter, although they bear some similarities.

General Information

In all countries there are certain nationalities that are allowed to go without applying for a visa. In each territory, this list varies, although in general they are usually States of the European Union, as well as North America, in addition to some parts of Latin America and Japan.

In general, these people are required to have a valid passport, a return ticket to their country and financial solvency to cover the travel expenses. This permit usually has a maximum duration of 90 days. However, in some areas such as Mexico it reaches 180 days.

If you want to know the specific information for each territory, click on the country in the list that interests you:

If you are concerned about the language, you should know that Spanish is spoken in all countries, with the exception of Brazil (Portuguese is used), French Guiana and Haiti, where French is practiced.

However, in some territories they have more official languages, corresponding to the indigenous ethnic groups in the area. Here are some of the most prominent:

  • Bolivia: Quechua, Guaraní and 34 other languages
  • Haiti: Haitian Creole
  • Paraguay: Guarani
  • Peru: Quechua

Mobility agreements

On the other hand, we find some agreements that allow people from member countries to move between these territories with only their DNI or identity card.

In 1969 the Andean Community of Nations (CAN) was formed, through which there is free mobility between its associated countries: Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

In Central America we find the Central American Agreement for free mobility, also known as CA-4. The member states are El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Honduras.

In addition, in South America there is Mercosur, founded by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay in the Treaty of Asunción. Currently, these are the member countries whose citizens can travel without a passport:

  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela

Other requirements

If you plan to travel with your children through Latin America, they will not need any additional documents as long as both parents go with them. They will be required the same papers as adults (passport, visa, etc.). In addition, it is advisable to bring the Family Book.

However, if the child is going alone or with one parent, they may need a authorization official. This depends on your nationality.

As for pets, it is possible to go with a dog through this territory, although it will be necessary to document the rules of each country. In general, they must be vaccinated against rabies, dewormed and with a certificate of good health issued by a veterinarian.

Also, if you are looking for information on the conditions of each airline and company for the transport of animals, you can visit the following article: Traveling with pets: airline rules and tips.


There is no generalized mandatory vaccine throughout Latin America. However, if you come from a country where yellow fever is endemic and you are going to visit one of the following countries, it is required have that vaccine up to date:

  • Argentina
  • Belize
  • Bolivia
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Guatemala
  • Guyana
  • Nicaragua
  • Paraguay
  • Suriname

In any case, if you are going to visit a risk area in the aforementioned countries, the vaccine against this disease is recommended. The same is true in these states:

Regarding Brazil, you can know all the necessary vaccines and health requirements in this article: Vaccines to travel to Brazil: what are the main diseases?

In any case, it is advisable to consult the specific information of the territory to be visited, as this may vary. On the other hand, for any destination on the continent it is advisable to have these vaccines updated:


If you travel to this continent by ship or plane, you will not have to present any documentation other than that required by the destination. The same thing happens if you go by bus.

However, if you go in your own vehicle such as a car or motorcycle, the following papers may be required at the border:

  • Automobile documentation
  • Circulation permit
  • Vehicle ownership or notarial authorization from the owner
  • Driving license
  • insurance

In addition to these, each country has specific requirements, so you may need to acquire a temporary certificate to confirm that you visit the territory as a tourist.

It is advisable to have the Passages card in Douane (CPD), as it is a guarantee of payment of customs duties in the event that the vehicle does not leave the country.

Recommendations for Spaniards

The Ministry of Employment and Social Security of Spain provides different guidelines for citizens who wish to travel outside the European Union. It indicates that to go to any country in Latin America it is necessary to have a valid passport.

Although in some cases it is not mandatory, it is recommended to hire a private medical insurance, since the Embassies and Consulates do not take charge of this type of expenses, which in some countries can be quite high.

To drive outside the European Union, you need an international driving license, as long as the country you are going to does not have the model permit provided in the Geneva or Vienna Conventions.

Likewise, if you are going to stay for a long period of time in one of the following States, you can exchange your Spanish driving license for that of that country thanks to different agreements:

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