COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: In addition to its stunning natural beauty, the Republic of Chile has a large, educated middle class and a robust free-market economy. Santiago and other largecities have well-developed tourist facilities and services, although the quality of tourist facilities may vary outside major populated areas. Spanish is the national language. English is frequently understood in major tourist hotels and resorts but is not widely used outside those areas. Read the Department of State Fact Sheet on Chile for additional information on U.S.-Chile relations.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit Chile, please take the time to tell our Embassy about your trip. If you check in, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency. Here's the link to the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
Local embassy information is available below and at the Department of State's list of embassies and consulates.
U.S. Embassy Santiago
Address: Avenida Andres Bello 2800, Las Condes, Santiago
Telephone switchboard: 56-2-2330-3000
Telephone from the United States: 011-56-2-2330-3000
Emergency after-hours telephone: 56-2-2330-3000
Consular Section fax number: 56-2-2330-3710
E-mail address for U.S. citizens: firstname.lastname@example.org
Internet address for hours and general information: http://chile.usembassy.gov
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: U.S. citizens entering Chile must have a valid passport. U.S. citizens traveling to Chile for recreation, tourism, business, or academic conferences do not need to obtain a visa prior to their arrival in Chile. A Tourist Card will be issued for a stay of up to 90 days upon payment of a Chilean visa reciprocity fee, currently US $160. Currently, the fee is only charged at the Santiago International Airport. Payment can be made in U.S. currency or by credit card. An extension of stay for another 90 days is possible upon payment of an extension fee at the Chilean Immigration Office located at San Antonio 580, Santiago; telephone 56-2-2550-2469. The Tourist Card must be surrendered upon departure. Failure to submit this card upon departure may result in delays until a replacement is obtained. If lost or stolen, the Tourist Card must be replaced by the International Police (website is in Spanish only) at their nearest headquarters or at the international airport prior to departure.
U.S. citizens who intend to work, live, or study in Chile must apply in advance for a Chilean visa.
All people travelling on official business in possession of an official or diplomatic passport must obtain a visa at a Chilean Embassy or Consulate before travelling to or through Chile. If you hold an official or diplomatic passport and are travelling for tourism or personal reasons, you should obtain a tourist passport to present upon arrival in Chile as the authorities will not grant you a tourist visa or Tourist Card without one.
Ensure that you have appropriate documentation to enter Chile. U.S. passports must be in good condition and valid for the period of stay. The U.S. Embassy cannot secure entry on your behalf if you arrive without a valid U.S. passport, with a passport that is damaged or mutilated, or if you arrive without a visa when one is required.
For up-to-date information on visa requirements, visit the website of the Embassy of Chile in Washington, D.C.
Chile imposes severe restrictions on the importation of agricultural products. Visit the Ministry of Agriculture website (Spanish only) for current guidelines. You must declare all agricultural items, including fruit provided on incoming flights and packaged products. If you fail to declare food items, you may be detained and fined a significant amount. For further information regarding Chilean customs regulations, visit the National Customs Service website. For general information regarding customs, please read our Customs information page.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Chile.
Entry / Exit Requirements for Dual Nationals: Dual U.S./Chilean nationals must enter and exit Chile using their Chilean passports, and they must enter and exit the United States using their U.S. passports. A naturalization certificate is not a valid travel document. The Government of Chile considers all persons born in Chile to be citizens, even if they have since acquired U.S. citizenship. The Embassy has seen cases of U.S. citizen children, born in the United States to Chilean parents, who entered Chile on U.S. passports, being required by Chilean authorities to obtain Chilean passports in order to leave the country. This generally occurs when the child overstays the 90-day tourist entry period. Contact a Chilean Embassy or Consulate for more information. The U.S. Embassy cannot intervene if Chilean officials prevent a dual citizen from departing Chile due to lack of a Chilean passport.
Entry / Exit Requirements for Minors: In an effort to prevent international child abduction, Chile has put in place strict requirements for the entry/exit of minors under the age of 18. Even when the minor is traveling with both parents, the parents will be required to show evidence of their relationship to the child when departing the country. Please carry an original birth certificate or a certified copy of the original.
Minors who are present in Chile on a visa category other than tourist will always be required to submit a written notarized authorization from any non-traveling parent(s) and a birth certificate at the time of departure. In Chile, the authorization can be executed before a local notary public. If the non-traveling parent(s) is in the United States, the written authorization can be notarized and executed directly at the Chilean Embassy or Consulate. If the non-traveling parent is in the United States and is unable to visit the Chilean Embassy or a Chilean Consulate, the authorization can be executed by a U.S. notary. However, an authorization executed by a U.S. notary must be authenticated to be valid in Chile. This means that after the document is notarized, it must be authenticated through a chain of steps involving submission to local, state, and national authorities before it can be submitted to the Chilean Embassy or Consulate. Click here to find additional information on the authentication process. Note that the final step in the process is to submit the document to the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Chile to authenticate the signature of the Chilean official in the United States. This is a lengthy process and should be commenced well in advance of travel.
A minor entering Chile as a tourist will generally not be required to present a written notarized authorization from the non-traveling parent(s) at the time of departure if the minor leaves with the same adult companion with whom the minor entered Chile. The minor’s immigration record will be annotated to record the name of the adult(s) with him or her at the time of entering the country. If the minor will depart alone or in the company of another party, the minor will be required to submit a written notarized authorization from the non-traveling parent(s) and birth certificate. If the authorization is notarized outside of Chile, it must be authenticated following the steps in the paragraph above.
The written notarized authorization should be in Spanish and include the following: 1) the full name of the custodial and/or non-custodial parents(s) or legal guardians; 2) the parents’ full address; 3) the full name of the child; 4) the child’s date of birth, place of birth, passport number and date of issuance; 5) full name and passport details of the person accompanying the minor; 6) dates of travel, including arrival and departure information; 7) address where the minor will reside; and 8) explicit authorization that a minor can travel alone or in the company of another person.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: Demonstrations occur frequently. Although most are peaceful and have pre-approved routes, they sometimes become violent or change course with little warning. Demonstrations are common on March 29, the Day of the Young Combatant, and September 11, the anniversary of the 1973 coup against the government of President Salvador Allende. Even demonstrations that are meant to be peaceful can become violent and unpredictable. Avoid them if possible. Be alert and aware of your surroundings and pay attention to the local news media.
Protest and anarchist groups are known to place small explosive devices at ATMs and other Chilean government/business locations, which have thus far resulted in few injuries. Several incidents occurred this year involving the fabrication of homemade explosive devices set in the lobbies of national and international banks, and at cash dispensing machines, normally between the hours of 2400 and 0400. Most of these incidents were planned to cause damage to buildings and make a political statement while minimizing the possibility of injury or death, but some have occurred in high-traffic pedestrian areas. The devices are usually comprised of black powder placed inside a fire extinguisher. Be aware of your surroundings and report anything unusual to local police. U.S. citizens have not been targeted in these attacks.
Araucanía Conflict: The Mapuches, an indigenous group, make up a small percentage of the Chilean population and are concentrated in Araucanía and Santiago. Elements within some Mapuche communities are engaged in a conflict over land and indigenous rights in Chile. Violent individuals and activist groups seeking redress for grievances sometimes utilize protest tactics, including burning of structures and pastures, attacks on trucks and other equipment, and death threats. There have been several attacks, allegedly perpetrated by Mapuche members, in the region of Araucanía (Region IX, in south-central Chile) since 2012 which have resulted in deaths. Other attacks on property have taken place in the same area. These attacks have targeted multinational forestry corporations and private Chilean landowners, rather than U.S. citizens or other foreigners. Nevertheless, U.S. citizens are advised to exercise caution when traveling in the Araucanía region.
Visitors to Easter Island may occasionally encounter non-violent demonstrations. Such demonstrations have caused minor disruption at the airport and closure of some government facilities. Demonstrations may result in minor inconveniences and occasional delays.
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CRIME: Most foreigners visit Chile without incident. Nevertheless, street crime is a problem, especially in Santiago and Valparaiso. As in any large city, be cautious and aware of your surroundings. Be alert for pick-pocketing, purse and camera snatching, and thefts from backpacks and rental cars. Petty crime is common in major tourist destinations, in hotel lobbies and restaurants, internet cafes, at bus and subway stations, and in cruise ship ports. Exercise caution when touring Cerro Santa Lucia, Cerro San Cristobal and Mercado Central as pick-pocketing and muggings occur frequently in these areas. Criminals usually work in groups and employ a variety of ruses to distract and victimize unsuspecting visitors. A few taxi drivers engage in currency switching and overcharge with altered taxi meters. Incidents of individuals smashing car windows of occupied vehicles stopped in traffic and taking items of value on seats have occurred. Drivers should keep car doors locked at all times and valuables out of sight while driving and while the vehicle is parked. Your passport is a valuable document. Report the loss or theft of a U.S. passport to the police and to the U.S. Embassy immediately. Secure your passport and other valuables in a hotel safe, and carry a photocopy of your passport for identification purposes. Leave copies of your passport and important documents with family members in case of emergency. For information about measures you can take to protect yourself overseas, see our pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad.
Counterfeit and pirated goods may sometimes be available in Chile, and transactions involving such products are generally illegal under local law. In addition, bringing such goods back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines. More information on this serious problem is available in the intellectual property section of the U.S. Department of Justice website.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. We can:
The local equivalents to the “911” emergency lines in Chile follow an ABC-123 plan:
131 - Ambulancia / Ambulance
132 - Bomberos / Fire Department
133 - Carabineros / Police Department
Please see our information for victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in Chile, you are subject to Chile's laws and regulations. Chilean laws may differ significantly from those in the United States. You may not have the same protections available to you as under U.S. law, and penalties for breaking the law can also be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Chile's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Chile are strict, and convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences and fines. Persons engaging in sexual conduct with children and using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country may be prosecuted in the United States. Please see our information on Criminal Penalties.
Based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, bilateral agreements with certain countries, and customary international law, if you are arrested in Chile, you have the option to request that the police, prison officials, or other authorities alert the U.S. Embassy in Santiago of your arrest, and to have communications from you forwarded to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Chile lies in an active seismic zone and is prone to major earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions. Several of the strongest earthquakes in history have occurred in Chile. Prepare yourself for a natural disaster by consulting the websites of the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Chile's Oficina Nacional de Emergencia (ONEMI).
Minefields are found in Chile's northern border region with Peru and Bolivia and around the southern border with Argentina in Patagonia. Minefields are generally marked, but markers may have shifted or may not be visible. Follow clearly identified roads and trails when traveling in minefield areas. Border crossings should only be made at authorized locations. Consult with park or other local officials concerning minefields and other hazards.
Chile is a popular destination for outdoor and adventure sports. Despite the best efforts of local authorities, assisting persons lost or injured in isolated and wilderness areas can be problematic. Before you go, learn about local hazards and weather conditions. You can obtain information in Spanish about parks and wilderness areas from the Chilean Forestry Service, mountain climbing from the Federacion de Andinismo de Chile, and weather forecasts from the Chilean Meteorological Service. Forest fires can be a problem in many areas of the country, including areas frequented by tourists. Historically many fires occur during the dry summer months of December, January, and February, sometimes burning hundreds of acres. Check the Chilean National Travel Board (Spanish only) or the Chilean Federal Emergency Agency websites for alerts. Inform park rangers, police, or other local authorities of your itinerary, and report missing or injured persons to the police immediately.
Chile’s mountains and ski resorts are the recreational destination for hundreds of skiers and snowboarders each year. The main ski centers in Chile have good safety standards with well groomed runs, ski and snowboard lessons with certified instructors, and clear signals for closure and opening of runs. Skiing and snowboarding, however, are inherently dangerous sports and injury or death is always a possibility. Skiers and snowboarders should respect the rules of each ski resort and be aware that skiing or boarding out of bounds is extremely dangerous.
Accessibility: While in Chile, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from the United States. While steps are being taken to improve conditions for persons with disabilities, many public places are not adapted to accommodate these needs. For information on handicap accessible locations in Santiago and other locations in Chile, you can visit MapCity.com (Spanish only).
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Santiago has two main private hospitals that are accredited by The American Hospital Association and meet U.S. standards: Clinica Alemana and Clinica Las Condes. Both have international patient departments and experience with some international insurance companies. Medical care in Chile is generally good, though it may not meet U.S. standards in remote areas. Major hospitals accept credit cards, but many doctors and hospitals in Chile expect immediate payment in cash. Prescriptions written by local doctors and over-the-counter medicines are widely available.
Air pollution is a major health concern in Santiago, resulting in severe bronchial ailments affecting infants, small children, and the elderly. The most severe air pollution occurs during the winter (May through August).
The ozone layer is especially thin over parts of Chile. Take precautions to protect yourself from ultraviolet radiation.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: You can't assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It's very important to find out BEFORE you leave. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:
In many places, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctors' and hospital visits in other countries. Medicare coverage cannot be used in Chile. If your policy doesn't go with you when you travel, it's a very good idea to take out another one for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Chile, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States:
Chile has modern infrastructure. Taxis and public transportation are plentiful and relatively inexpensive. Avoid using unmetered taxis; if you do use an unmetered taxi, agree to a fare before embarking. To use the public bus system in Santiago you need to obtain the prepaid “Bip” card. This card can also be used when traveling on the Santiago subway.
Driving under the influence of alcohol in Chile is severely punished (“Zero Tolerance” policy) and can result in incarceration.
Visitors for fewer than 90 days can rent a car and drive with a valid U.S. license, though insurance may not be available in some forms for drivers without a Chilean or international driver’s license. Visitors to Chile for more than 90 days must have an international driver's permit and their U.S. driver's license to legally drive in Chile. The international driver's license must be obtained in the United States before traveling to Chile. The police may fine foreigners for driving without a valid international permit.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Chile's Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Chile's air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA's safety assessment page.
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This replaces the Country Specific Information for Chile dated January 23, 2013 to update Entry/Exit Requirements and Threats to Safety and Security.