All visitors to Chile require a visa, ranging from the 90 day tourist visa to longer-term work and study visas. Here is a guide to the types of Chilean visas available, which one you will need and how to go about getting one.
Please remember, though, to check with your own consulate and on the Chilean Interior Ministry’s website before travelling, to make sure you have full and up-to-date information.
For most travelers, a tourist visa will be sufficient for your stay in Chile. It allows you to travel throughout the country for 90 days, with an option to extend for another 90 days if necessary. Most travelers can obtain the tourist visa at the border when they enter Chile, but check with your consulate if you have any doubt. The tourist visa does not allow you to work in Chile, though the government does offer special tourist working visas for up to 30 days, primarily intended for artists.
You must have a valid passport for the length of your stay. Nationals of some countries are required to pay a reciprocity fee for a tourist visa, which will be good for the life of your passport. The reciprocity fee for U.S. citizens is currently US$140, which can be paid with cash or credit card at the Santiago airport. Canadian citizens must pay US$132 and Australian citizens US$61, as of April 2011. Check with your respective consulate before traveling to Chile for the latest information on reciprocity fees.
Working in Chile
The most common visa for foreigners working in Chile is the aptly named Subject To Contract Visa. Dependents can also be granted residency through this visa, although they will not have authorization to work.
The Subject To Contract Visa is granted for the period of the contract signed by the immigrant and the Chilean employer. To apply for the visa, you must present your work contract along with your valid passport, tourist visa and a fully-completed application form, available on the Ministry website. The contract should be signed by the employer and the employee before a notary, and include several special clauses (outlined here). The employer must have a legal address and ID number (“RUT”) in Chile.
Another work visa available to foreigners is the Temporary Visa, awarded for a period of up to one year. There are several categories for temporary visa holders, including foreigners with a family link to a Chilean citizen; investors; members of a religious order; professionals, journalists and media correspondents; and retirees. A complete list of visa categories is available here on the Ministry website, along with a list of fees applicable by visa type and nationality.
Studying in Chile
Students in Chile can receive a special residence visa for up to one year if they are studying at an accredited educational establishment. It does not authorize students to work in Chile. The visa can be renewed until studies have been completed. Grant beneficiaries receive visas for the duration of their grant. Check here on the Ministry website or enquire at your school or university for specific information.
Special visas are available for foreigners who are seeking political asylum in Chile on the grounds of persecution in their country of residence. The request must be presented in a letter addressed to the Interior Ministry Immigration Department.
Where to go
The Santiago immigration office, which you will need to visit at some point for all visas except tourist visas, is located near the Bellas Artes Metro station, at 580 San Antonio. To speak with an immigration officer, go to the office between 8:30am and 2:00pm. You’ll be given a number when you arrive, so it is best to arrive early. You do not need to make an appointment in advance.
Find out more
Visa categories and immigration requirements are posted online by the Interior Ministry, and the site is also available in English. You can also call the Information Office at 600-626-4222 between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
This post is also available in Spanish