- Download our Moving to Chile Guide (PDF)
Expats who are looking to settle or work in Chile will need to do extensive research and consider the various visas to decide which would suit their purposes best, whether for a temporary stay or permanent residence.
Citizens of many countries will simply receive a stamp on their passports on arrival allowing them to stay in the country for up to 90 days. To obtain the stamp, they may need to show proof of funds for the duration of their stay and evidence of their scheduled departure date.
Nationals of many South American countries require only their national identity documents to enter Chile. Citizens of countries that are not visa-exempt should contact the Chilean embassy in their home country for visa application requirements.
Tourist visas for Chile
Visitors who are not from visa-exempt countries will have to apply for a tourist visa at least 30 days in advance. The required documents for obtaining a visa for Chile vary but normally include a detailed travel itinerary of flights and accommodation, as well as proof of funds to sustain the traveller during their stay. Minors travelling require additional documents.
It can take up to 20 days to process the application, after which the visa must be collected and paid for at the designated Chilean embassy.
Tourist visas allow stays in Chile for 90 days as long as visitors are not undertaking paid work activities. A tourist card (tarjeta de turismo), issued on arrival, should always be carried. A fine must be paid if visitors overstay the time permitted by their visa or tourist card.
This card can sometimes be renewed at an additional fee for an additional 90 days when it nears its expiration date, and this can be arranged through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Migration. Extending the visa is not a guarantee and is decided on a discretionary basis and shouldn't be relied upon. Expats should also be prepared for long queues and waiting times.
For more information on the different visas offered and specific visa requirements, see the official Department of Foreign Affairs and Migration (Departamento de Extranjería y Migración) website.
Chile has recently brought out an eVisa, named E-Vistur, to expedite the tourist visa application process. The Chilean government is gradually rolling out the eVisa, and it is currently only available to expats of around 24 nationalities, including Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France and Germany, although more countries will become eligible in time.
Up-to-date information on visas and visa fees can be found on the official Department of Foreign Affairs and Migration websites, Extranjeria in Spanish or Minrel in English, and contacting the nearest Chilean embassy is necessary.
Business visas for Chile
For professionals and businesspeople aiming to engage in business activities in Chile, a specific business visa is required. This visa is appropriate for a range of business-related activities including attending meetings and conferences, exploring business opportunities and conducting market research. The business visa can be issued for either a single or multiple entries, with the duration of stay determined by the specific activities planned.
Applicants for a Chilean business visa must provide several documents, including a valid passport, a recent photo meeting specific requirements and a letter of invitation from a Chilean company or business partner. The processing time for a business visa is typically around six to seven business days, but applicants should plan for potential delays.
It is crucial for business visa holders to understand that this visa does not permit them to engage in any form of paid employment in Chile. Activities are restricted to those outlined in their visa application and could vary depending on individual circumstances. Consulting with immigration counsel is advisable for clarity on permissible activities.
Investor visas for Chile
Chile's Investor Visa, also known as the Chilean Golden Visa, offers an attractive pathway for foreign individuals to invest significantly in the country. The visa grants temporary residence permits to those who invest more than a specified amount, catering as well for senior managers of foreign-owned companies in Chile.
The Chilean Investment Agency outlines specific requirements for the Investor Visa. Eligible investments include real estate, bond investment and direct business investment. The programme promises residence permits within months for passive investments, with minimal physical presence required. This option is particularly appealing to those seeking to make a significant economic contribution to Chile while gaining residency rights.
The Rentier programme is designed for foreigners with sufficient regular international income, such as pensions, rental income, dividends or salaries, to qualify for temporary residence in Chile. This programme is ideal for individuals who can sustain themselves and their families financially without the need for local employment.
The Startup Visa programme targets individuals keen on launching startups in Chile. It offers varying levels of financing and conditions, providing a nurturing environment for entrepreneurs. This programme is an excellent opportunity for those looking to innovate and start new business ventures in Chile.
Each programme caters to different investment and residency needs. Prospective applicants should carefully evaluate each option against their personal and financial circumstances.
For the most current information on these investment programmes, including application procedures and eligibility criteria, visit the official Chilean website, InvestChile.
Student visas for Chile
Foreign citizens who wish to study in Chile and are already enrolled in an educational institution must obtain a student-resident visa.
Student visas are usually valid for one year, unless the duration of the course is shorter than that, though it can be renewed. Students with scholarships for Chile often get their visa validated for the duration that the scholarship allows.
It is sometimes possible to work on a student visa if the Department of Foreign Affairs and Migration deems that the work is necessary to complete or fund the course.
Obtaining a student visa is typically done outside the country through the official Minrel website and at the nearest Chilean consulate. Those who reside in Chile, specifically in Santiago and Antofagasta, can typically apply via mail.
Foreigners on a student visa may be entitled to bring their spouse or dependent children. To do this, they must apply for a separate visa, including additional documents and proof that all applicants will be financially covered during their stay and will not take up work.
The process can take some time, although it does vary. Those hoping to study in Chile must contact the Chilean embassy and plan well in advance.
Residence visas for Chile
Foreigners who wish to stay in Chile for longer than 90 days must normally get a temporary residence permit. This includes most applicants from visa-free countries.
Temporary Resident Visa
The Visa de Residencia Temporaria is intended for those who wish to travel the country to settle in Chile to seek work or to visit family members. This visa is valid for a year, although it may be renewed once. After that, expats should consider applying for permanent residence or leaving Chile.
There is an associated dependant visa for family members of the Temporary Resident Visa holder, but dependants on this visa are not allowed to work in Chile.
Getting Permanencia Definitiva allows foreigners to permanently settle in Chile and live and work with full rights of a Chilean citizen. This is normally for foreign citizens who have lived in Chile for some time and have held previous visas and work permits. Expats should review the official Extranjeria and Minrel websites as well as visit the Registro Civil or any ChileAtiende office to start the process and obtain a unique key to continue an online application.
Visa Subject to Contract
The Visa Sujeta a Contrato de Trabajo is a resident visa and type of work permit granted to foreign workers who have been hired from overseas and intend to live and work in Chile. It is usually valid for the length of an expat’s contract.
The dependant visa linked to this is for the immediate family of the contract worker, and holders of this type of dependant visa are not allowed to work while they live in Chile.
Working Holiday Visa
This visa is another type of work permit which allows nationals of certain countries to travel and study or work in Chile for a year or less.
*Visa regulations are subject to change at short notice, and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.
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