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Travel Security Advice for Chile

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COUNTRY DESCRIPTION:

Chile is a rapidly developing country with a large, educated middle class and a robust free-market economy.  Tourist facilities are generally good and are continuously improving.  Read the Department of State’s Background Notes on Chile for additional information.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS:

U.S. citizens entering Chile must have a valid passport.  U.S. visitors will be charged a reciprocity fee at the port of entry, and a small receipt for the fee will be stapled in the last page of the passport.  This visa is valid for multiple entries and remains valid until the expiration of the passport.  In addition, visitors will be issued a tourist visa consisting of a single sheet of paper placed in the passport. This visa is valid for a stay of up to 90 days.  An extension of stay for an additional 90 days is possible, but requires payment of an extension fee.  The visa document must be surrendered to immigration authorities upon departure.

Chilean entry and exit control laws require that a minor child under age 18 traveling unaccompanied must have permission from the parents or legal guardians.  The document must be notarized and, if issued in the United States, authenticated by a Chilean consul in the United States. 

If the child is traveling in the company of only one parent or guardian, the non-traveling parent or guardian will also be required to grant permission for travel.  In this case, the document will also need to be notarized and authenticated by a Chilean consul.  The permission to travel may also be notarized by a Chilean notary in Chile. 

Parents are required to have documentary evidence of their relationship to the child.  An original birth certificate or certified copy of an original birth certificate is required.  This requirement applies to all foreigners as well as Chileans.  This requirement is increasingly being enforced by Chilean immigration officers.  When traveling with a minor child in Chile on a tourist visa, having such documentation on hand will facilitate entry and departure.

Visit the Embassy of Chile web site http://www.chile-usa.org/ for the most current visa information and entry/exit requirements.  Visitors should be aware of the severe Chilean restrictions on the importation of fruit, vegetables & agricultural products.  Check the Ministry of Agriculture web site http://www.sag.gob.cl/ for current requirements.


Information about dual nationality and the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website.  For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information sheet.

SAFETY AND SECURITY:

The potential for terrorist activity is low.  There has been some politically-motivated violence among indigenous communities in southern Chile, none of which has affected Americans.  Potential for civil disturbance is low, although demonstrations, sometimes violent, do occur.  Particularly violent days are March 29, the Day of the Young Combatant, and the anniversary of the September 11, 1973, coup against the government of President Salvador Allende. 

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's web site where the current
Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts can be found.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas.  For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s pamphlet
A Safe Trip Abroad.

CRIME:

Crime rates are low to moderate throughout Chile and are moderate in Santiago, Valparaiso, and other major cities.  American citizens visiting Chile should be as careful in cities as they would be in any city in the United States.  There have been few violent crimes committed against Americans.  However, American tourists are at a heightened risk for pick-pocketing, purse or camera snatching, and theft from backpacks and rental cars.  Such crimes have been reported in all areas of Chile frequented by tourists.  In Santiago, visitors should be especially alert to the possibility of crime at the Plaza de Armas and the Mercado Central; at major hotels and restaurants in the Las Condes, Vitacura, and Providencia areas, and in the Suecia and Bellavista entertainment districts.  In Valparaiso, visitors should be especially alert in the port and adjoining tourist areas.  Tourists using taxis in Santiago should be alert to possible scams involving currency switching.  Tourists should also be especially alert while using public transportation, such as the Santiago Metro Subway and public buses and while in the vicinity of Metro stations and bus terminals. The emergency number for the police (Carabineros) is 133. 

In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available.  Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law.  In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.  More information on this serious problem is available at
www.cybercrime.gov/18usc2320.htm.

INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME:

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.  If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance.  The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred.  Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. You will find information about the Chilean legal system at the following website http://www.ministeriopublico.cl/Women that are victims of domestic violence will find helpful information at the website http://sinca.conama.cl/.

The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Chile is:


131 – AMBULANCE (SAMU)
132 – FIRE DEPARTMENT (BOMBEROS)
133 – POL
ICE DEPARTMENT (CARABINEROS)
See our information on
Victims of Crime.

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION:

Medical care, though generally good, may not meet U.S. standards, especially in remote areas.  Although emergency rooms in some major hospitals accept credit cards, 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 source of 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). Additional information on air quality levels is available at the National Air Quality Information Service (SINCA) web site - http://www.sinca.conama.cl/.

The ozone layer is especially thin at the bottom of the world.  Travelers should take proper precautions to protect themselves from ultraviolet radiation.

For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) web site at www.who.int/enFurther health information for travelers is available at www.who.int/countries/chl/en/.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Chile. 

MEDICAL INSURANCE:

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.  Please see our information on medical insurance overseas.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.  The information below concerning Chile is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance

Driving in Chile is on the right-hand side of the road.  Traffic laws in Chile differ from traffic laws in the United States in some respects.  Right-hand turns are generally prohibited at red lights unless otherwise posted.  Seat belts are mandatory. Several modern toll highways have recently been opened in and around Santiago, dramatically improving transit into and through the city.  Major roads are generally in good condition throughout the country.  Some secondary roads, however, may be poorly maintained.  At night, occasional heavy fog in rural areas may lead to vehicle accidents with occasional deaths and injuries.  Care should be taken while driving in the mountains because the roads tend to have many tight switchbacks and may not have guardrails.  Chains are often required and should be used on mountain roads during the winter.  Many major highways in Chile are toll roads; drivers should carry a sufficient amount of local currency to cover the tolls.  The new major highways in and around Santiago generally collect tolls through use of an electronic transmitter issued by the concessionaire and placed on the vehicle.  “Day passes” may be purchased separately.  Vehicles rented at Santiago airport generally are equipped with the electronic transmitter and the rental car companies charge a surcharge for its use.  Some major arteries remain under construction in Santiago and drivers should be alert for detours and delays. Information on the major highways in the Metropolitan Region requiring an electronic transmitter is found at
http://www.concesiones.cl/.

Throughout Chile, care should be exercised when changing lanes or merging because many drivers do not signal lane changes and rarely yield to merging traffic.  Many Chilean drivers exceed posted speed limits, do not maintain safe distances, and do not observe posted road signs.  Buses are especially aggressive in moving between lanes.  Speeding is common, including in urban areas.  Traffic jams and detours in Santiago and other areas are common.  Taxis are plentiful and relatively inexpensive.  Drivers should drive with car doors locked at all times, especially in the southern parts of the city and near the airport, as there have been reports of thieves entering cars stopped at traffic lights or moving in slow traffic.  In Santiago, certain major arteries switch directions during morning and evening rush hours.  Visitors to Santiago should obtain up-to-date information on these changes from their auto rental company or the Chilean Automobile Association (please see below).  Visitors that wish to use the public bus and subway system in Santiago should visit the following websites for information on purchasing a “BIP” card, a prepaid ticket required for public buses, routes and other helpful information regarding the public transportation systems: http://www.transantiagoinforma.cl/; http://www.metrosantiago.cl/ and www.micros.cl.

Driving under the influence of alcohol in Chile is severely punished, and can result in incarceration if the driver is involved in an accident. In accidents involving injuries or death, police may detain both drivers for many hours. 
Visitors must have an international driver’s permit in order to drive legally in Chile. The international driver’s license must be obtained in the United States before traveling to Chile.   Although car rental firms may rent to customers with only a U.S. driver’s license, the police fine foreigners for driving without a valid international permit. 

Please refer to our
Road Safety page for more information.  Visit the website of Chile’s national tourist office at www.sernatur.cl and national authority responsible for road safety at http://www.vialidad.cl/.

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.  For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s web site at http://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/iasa/.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:

Visitors should take care to use only the services of government licensed tour operators throughout Chile as the Embassy is aware of at least one accident involving American fatalities with an unauthorized tour operator.  Special care should be taken by arriving cruise ship passengers if arranging land tours not authorized by the cruise line.

Chile is an earthquake-prone country.  Information on Chilean earthquake preparedness is available from the Oficina Nacional de Emergencia de Chile (ONEMI) at
http://www.onemi.cl/General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/Information about emergency preparedness is also available on the Embassy web site at http://santiago.usembassy.gov/The U.S. Geological Survey provides earthquake information on Chile at http://earthquake.usgs.gov/regional/world/index.php?regionID=8.

Minefields are found in Chile’s northern border with Peru and Bolivia and on the southern border with Argentina in Patagonia.  Minefields are generally marked, but markers may have been shifted, become obscured or been vandalized.  Travelers should pay attention to markers and follow clearly identified roads and trails when traveling in minefield areas.  Border crossings should only be made at authorized locations.  Persons visiting wilderness areas in the border regions mentioned above should check with park or other local officials concerning minefields and other potential hazards.

Chile is a popular destination for outdoors and adventure sports.  Much of the country is mountain, forest, desert, or glacier.  Despite the best efforts of local authorities, assisting persons lost or injured in such areas can be problematic.  American citizens have been killed in recent years in mountain climbing and whitewater rafting accidents, and seriously injured while skiing.  Persons planning to travel in isolated and wilderness areas should first learn about local hazards and weather conditions.  Information about parks and wilderness areas can be obtained from the Chilean Forestry Service at http://www.conaf.cl/Information about mountain climbing in Chile can be obtained from the Federacion de Andinismo de Chile at http://www.feach.cl/Current weather forecasts are available from the Chilean Meteorological Service at http://www.meteochile.cl/Reports of missing or injured persons should be made immediately to the police so that a search can be mounted or assistance rendered.  Travelers in isolated areas should always inform park rangers, police, or other local authorities of their itinerary before starting off.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law.  Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses.  Persons violating Chilean laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.  Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Chile are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.  Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.  Just as in the United States, foreigners in Chile must have proper immigration status and pay taxes on income earned in Chile.  Recently, Americans have been deported for working in Chile without authorization.  Please see our information on Criminal Penalties and ensure compliance with all Chilean immigration regulations; consult the web site of the U.S. Embassy in Chile for more information at http://santiago.usembassy.gov/.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES:

 See our Office of Children’s Issues web pages for information on intercountry adoption and international parental child abductionChile has demonstrated patterns of noncompliance with the Hague Child Abduction Convention. Chile’s patterns of noncompliance fall in its judicial performance. The courts continue to demonstrate a clear bias toward Chilean mothers.

REGISTRATION/ EMBASSY LOCATION:

Americans living or traveling in Chile are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy through the State Department’s travel registration web site so that they can obtain updated information on travel and security within Chile.  Americans without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy.  By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency.

The U.S. Embassy is located at Avenida Andres Bello 2800, Las Condes, Santiago, Chile.  The telephone number is (56) (2) 330-3000.  The Embassy web site is http://santiago.usembassy.gov/, and the email address for the American Citizen Services Unit is This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it The Consular Section fax number is (56) (2) 330-3005.  The American Citizen Services Unit is open to the public from 8:30am-11:30am, Monday through Friday, except U.S. and Chilean holidays and the first Friday of each month. 

This replaces the Country Specific Information dated October 23, 2007 to update all sections except Aviation Safety Oversight.

 


The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office has information regarding Chile HERE....

Looking for an Embassy ?, check out our World Wide Embassy Listings Section HERE (For US Citizens) or HERE (For UK Citizens)..............

Regards

The SW Team........

 

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