Visa Costs Higher for People from Poor Countries

Average tourist visa costs in USD paid by sender country.

How much do people have to pay for a travel permit to another country? A research team from Göttingen, Paris, Pisa and Florence has investigated the costs around the world. What they found revealed a picture of great inequality. People from poorer countries often pay many times what Europeans would pay. The results have been published in the journal Political Geography.

Dr. Emanuel Deutschmann from the Institute of Sociology at the University of Göttingen, together with Professor Ettore Recchi, Dr. Lorenzo Gabrielli and Nodira Kholmatova (from Sciences Po Paris, CNR-ISTI Pisa and EUI Florence respectively) compiled a new dataset on visa costs for travel between countries worldwide. The analysis shows that on average people from North Africa and South Asia pay more than three times as much for tourist visas (at just under 60 US dollars), as people from Western Europe (at around 18 US dollars).

Average tourist visa costs in average daily income paid by sender country.

The inequality becomes even greater when the differences in wealth between countries are taken into account. While Europeans usually only have to work for a fraction of a day to be able to afford a travel permit, in some African and Asian countries the visa costs are equivalent to several weeks or even months of the average income.

“Our dataset provides information about a dimension of global inequality that has, so far, received little attention,” says Deutschmann. “While Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that every person has the right to move freely and to leave any country, including their own, in reality there are barriers at many different levels which can obstruct global mobility, depending on where you come from. And our data clearly shows that these barriers include visa costs.”

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