The cost of new water connections for poor urban dwellers in middle and low-income economies, that is the official fees, costs of pipework and additional costs, is reported from a global survey of water utilities and a four country, two city questionnaire of newly connected households. The objective is to investigate whether directly ‘charging to enter the water shop’ is the most effective means of recovering costs for the water utility whilst ensuring maximum access to the urban poor who benefit most from convenient access to clean, affordable water.