Travelling to Chile is very easy for residents of most countries. The Chile indeed has signed reciprocity agreements regarding visa with a huge number of countries. Therefore, it is easy to enter as a tourist in Chile. You don’t need to ask a visa before (you receive it at the airport while entering Chile). For example, you don’t need to ask a visa if you come from USA, Europe, or a Latin America country.
A few countries charge Chilean citizens with a visa fee, therefore Chile charge their citizens with a similar fee (see the page regarding tourist visa for more information).
The tourist visa is a good start to have an overview of the country. You can have up to 180 days of visa.
If you decide to stay, you can start the administrative process from Chile, while on a tourist visa. Pay attention to delays and required documents. If you know before coming that you plan to stay, it is good to start collecting documents required for the visa type you want in your native country before. Especially as most of them need to be stamped in various government offices in your country to be recognised by Chile.
What is the visa process?
To relocate to Chile and legally stay there, you need to go through 3 different administrations.
- Extranjeria, the immigration department, where you need to complete all the steps to apply and get your visa (if you have not done this in the consulate of your departure country)
- PDI (Policía de Investigaciones), one of the police department in charge of investigations. They are also in charge of supervising all foreigners living in Chile
- Registro civil, the civil register, the administration that issues identity cards.
Extranjeria: get the visa
In Chile, the process is long, between 3 to 6 months in total. The increased number of foreigners willing to relocate to Chile and the regular strikes of people working in these administrations do not reduce the delay…
For students visa, it is recommended to apply for a visa in the consulate of the country where you come from. This a visa type they do all the time, they are very used to do it, and it only takes 3-4 weeks to do it abroad.
For others types of visas, it is recommended to apply in Chile. Indeed, the consulate will anyway send the requests to Chile. Furthermore, for the work visa, the work contract must be signed in front of a notary in Chile, which complicates the process from abroad.
For more complex and specific visas (there are like 15 different types), a consulate can not be well aware of all the steps and required documents (or even not be able to do it). This gives you an idea of the complexity of doing this from abroad. Even in the headquarters of the immigration department in Santiago, when you bring copies of their own documents and ask specific questions, they can not tell exactly what is needed. You can easily imagine in a consulate where the staff never had to issue this type of visa.
- In Santiago, requests need to be sent by registered mail. You apply in person at Extranjeria.
- Around 4 to 6 weeks after applying, you receive a letter that informs you that the visa is “in tramite” (which means they have received your documents and are processing your visa). With this letter, you can go to the Extranjeria and apply a temporary work permit, which you get immediately.
- Once a week, check online if there is an update in your file (because they will not send you an email…). When your visa is ready, you can go to the Extranjeria with the proof of payment, and get your visa stamped in your passport.
- Next step: PDI, see details below
To avoid losing your time, it is possible to setup an appointment. Be sure to really be there 15 minutes before. On the confirmation of appointment, it is indicated that it is recommended, but when you arrive, the staff says it is compulsory. True story: if you are a busty Colombian girl, arriving 10 minutes late will perfectly acceptable. If you are a man, be on time.
One thing to know if you arrive late: use your smartphone or an internet cafe near the immigration office and immediately book another appointment 30 minutes later.
Address of Extranjeria in Santiago:San Antonio 580
Metro Plaza de Armas or Bellas Artes
From 8:30 to 14:00
To setup an appointment:
Take careAccents on first names/names do not cause problems. However, dashes and points do apparently. It seems there is a law/circular that stipulates that these types of characters must not be taken into consideration. However, the decision is taken by a government officer in an office, not necessarily well aware of these types of subtleties.
While arriving at Registro Civil to get my ID card, I already had a problem: a dash is missing on the visa, so they decided not to issue the ID card. One month lost. Therefore, if you any strange characters in your name, verify the spelling in your visa and PDI registration to avoid any problem.
PDI: register with police department
To register at the police department, you need your passport with the visa and the small white paper you received at the airport. Bring a few hundreds of pesos to cover the registration cost. If you lost the paper, they can issue you a duplicate.
The registration is very quick, but you generally have to wait a lot. It is recommended to go there as soon as it open or a little earlier, so that you can go immediately after at the Registro Civil. If you go there at 10 or 11am, it is unlikely you will be out in time to go to the Registro Civil the same day.
Address in SantiagoEleuterio Ramírez 852
Métro Santa Lucia or Universidad de Chile
From 8:00 to 14:00
Registro civil: apply for your ID card
You need your passport, the paper you have just received at PDI, and copies of both documents (that you can do in the streets near the Registro Civil). It costs 4000 to 5000 pesos. Be sure to have some change, as they don’t like notes of 20,000.
Once you apply, the card is usually ready 2 to 3 weeks later. You must go to the headquarters of Registro Civil in Huerfanos to apply. However, to obtain the card, you can indicate another office closer from where you live. Someone else can withdraw the ID for you, but that person needs to be there with its own ID card when you apply.
Address in SantiagoHuérfanos 1570
Métro Santa Ana, Los Heros or La Moneda
From 8:30 to 14:00