Chile - Consular Information Sheet
July 12, 2001
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Chile has a stable government and
a strong economy. Facilities for tourism vary according to price
and area. The capital is Santiago.
ENTRY AND EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport is required to
enter Chile. U.S. citizens do not need a visa for a stay of up
to three months. At the international port-of-entry, a fee, payable
in U.S. dollars only, is levied on U.S. citizen visitors. The
receipt is valid for multiple entries during the validity of the
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments
have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include
requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission
for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not
Dependent children under age 18 (including the children of divorced
parents) arriving in Chile alone, with one parent, or in someone
else's custody, are required to present a letter notarized before
a Chilean consular officer in the United States certifying that
both parents agree to their travel. To exit Chile, children traveling
under one of these scenarios must present either the notarized
letter used to enter the country or a letter of authorization
signed before a Chilean notary if executed in Chile. In either
case, the document presented must be executed not more than three
months prior to entry or departure.
Travelers considering scientific, technical, or mountaineering
activities in areas classified as frontier areas are required
to obtain authorization from the Chilean government at least 90
days prior to the beginning of the expedition. The portions of
Antarctica claimed by Chile are exempt from these pre-approval
requirements. Officials at the Torres del Paine National Park
require mountain climbers to present an authorization granted
by the Frontiers and Border Department, obtainable at the Chilean
Embassy or Chilean consulates throughout the United States.
For further information concerning entry, exit, and customs requirements,
travelers may contact the
Chilean Embassy at 1732 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington,
DC 20036, tel. (202) 785-1746, Internet: http://www.chile-usa.org.
Travelers may also contact the Chilean consulates in Los Angeles,
San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Miami, Honolulu, Chicago,
New Orleans, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, San Juan, Charleston,
Dallas, Houston, and Salt Lake City.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: There are no known threats directed
specifically against U.S. citizens visiting or residing in Chile.
Traditionally, September 11-18 is an active period for public
demonstrations. Violent political, labor, or student protests
can occur at other times also, often near government buildings
in Santiago and Valparaiso or in the vicinity of major universities.
Regardless of when or where such assemblies occur, American citizens
traveling or residing in Chile are advised to take common-sense
precautions and avoid any large gatherings or any other event
where crowds have congregated to demonstrate or protest. Additional
advice about demonstrations, particularly during the September
period, may be obtained from the U.S. Embassy at the telephone
numbers listed below.
There are credible reports that land mines may pose a danger
to hikers in remote sections of several popular national reserves
and parks near northern border areas, including Lauca and Llullaillaco
National Parks, Salar de Surire National Monument, and Los Flamencos
National Reserve. Visitors should check with park authorities
before entering less-traveled areas and observe all warning signs.
There are also demarcated land mine fields in the Magallanes region
of southern Chile, between Punta Arenas and the Torres del Paine
National Park, and on Tierra del Fuego, which should be strictly
CRIME: Street crime is a problem in metropolitan Santiago
in general and specifically in the city center. One should be
particularly alert while walking in the downtown area, especially
in the late afternoon, after dark, or on weekends, even in well-traveled
areas. In Santiago and other large Chilean cities, thieves thrive
on crowds on the street during rush hour and aboard public transportation.
Petty crime is also prevalent at crowded tourist locations, at
Metro (subway) stations, on trains and buses, and occasionally
in taxis. Persons wearing expensive-looking jewelry or carrying
luggage or cameras are favorite targets for pickpockets and purse
snatchers. Bags and briefcases may be stolen from chairs in restaurants
and outdoor cafes. Outside Santiago, robberies and assaults have
occurred most frequently in the Vina del Mar and Valparaiso areas,
which become increasingly crowded during the height of the Chilean
summer season (December through March).
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. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's
Safe Trip Abroad and Tips
for Travelers to Central and South America, for ways to
promote a more trouble-free journey. These publications are available
by mail from the
Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office,
Washington, DC 20402; via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs;
or via the
Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical care, while generally good,
may not meet U.S. standards, particularly in remote areas. Although
emergency rooms in some major hospitals accept credit cards, many
doctors and hospitals in Chile expect immediate cash payment for
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 if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.
U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred
outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased.
Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment
for medical services outside the United States. However, many
travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that
will cover health care expenses incurred overseas, including emergency
services such as medical evacuations.
When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans
should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require
payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical
evacuation to the United States may cost well in excess of $50,000.
Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face
extreme difficulties, whereas travelers who have purchased overseas
medical insurance have found it to be life-saving, when a medical
emergency has occurred. When consulting with your insurer prior
to your trip, please ascertain whether payment will be made to
the overseas healthcare provider or whether you will be reimbursed
later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also
include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition
of remains in the event of death.
In-country medical evacuations from outlying areas to Santiago
cost $2,000 or more. For travelers to the Antarctic and/or Easter
Island, additional insurance to cover the cost of air evacuation
specifically from those remote regions is strongly recommended.
In the event of illness, injury, or even death, the cost of evacuation
from the Antarctic region can exceed $90,000.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas
insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau
of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical
Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available
via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202)
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: All of Santiago is affected
by a high index of pollution, which appears as heavy smog in the
winter (May through August) and dust in the summer (December through
March). The most severe pollution occurs from May to October.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be
obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's
hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747);
fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via CDC's
Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/.
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.
Safety of Public Transportation: Fair
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Availability of Roadside/Ambulance Assistance: Fair
Driving is on the right-hand side of the road, as in the United
States. Although major roads in Chile are generally in good condition,
secondary roads are sometimes poorly maintained and/or poorly
lighted. At night, heavy fog conditions in rural areas have led
to multiple-vehicle accidents with occasional deaths and injuries.
Care should be exercised while driving in the mountains because
the roads tend to have many tight switchbacks and rarely have
guardrails. Many major highways in Chile are toll roads; drivers
should carry a sufficient amount of local currency to cover the
In Santiago: Care should be exercised when changing lanes or
merging because Chilean drivers do not signal lane changes and
rarely yield to merging traffic. Buses are especially aggressive
in moving from lane to lane. Traffic jams during peak hours in
downtown 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.
Santiago anti-pollution measures call for certain major arteries
to 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).
Driving under the influence of alcohol in Chile is severely penalized,
and it can lead to incarceration if the driver is involved in
Visitors to Chile must have an international driver's permit
in order to drive legally in Chile. Although car rental firms
will rent to customers with only a U.S. driver's license, several
persons have been detained by the police for lengthy periods for
driving without a valid international permit.
additional general information about road safety, including links
to foreign government sites, please see the Department of
State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html.
For specific information concerning Chile, driving permits, vehicle
inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the
Chilean Automobile Association, Avenida Vitacura 8620, Santiago,
tel. (56-2) 431-1000, http://www.aclub.cl, or the
National Tourist Bureau, SERNATUR, which is located at Avenida
Providencia 1550, Santiago,tel. (56-2) 236-1420, http://www.sernatur.cl.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) has assessed the Government of Chile's Civil Aviation Authority
as Category 1 -- in compliance with international aviation safety
standards for oversight of Chile's air carrier operations. For
further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation
within the United States at tel. 1-800-322-7873, or visit the
FAA's Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some
foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of
air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific
carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at tel. (618) 229-4801.
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
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 jail sentences
and heavy fines.
DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Chile is an earthquake-prone country.
Limited information on Chilean earthquake preparedness is available
in Spanish from the
Oficina Nacional de Emergencia de Chile (ONEMI) via the Internet
at http://www.angelfire.com/nt/terremotos2. Other general information
about natural disaster preparedness is available from the
U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For
information on international adoption of children and international
parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site
at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATIONS: Americans
living in or visiting Chile are encouraged to register at the
Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Santiago and obtain updated
information on travel and security in Chile. The
U.S. Embassy is located at Avenida Andres Bello 2800, Santiago;
tel. (56-2) 335-6550 or 232-2600; after hours tel. (56-2) 330-3321.
The Embassy's mailing address is Casilla 27-D, Santiago; the Consular
fax number is (56-2) 330-3005; and the e-mail address is "SantiagoAmcit@state.gov".
home page is: http://www.usembassy.cl, where Americans may
also register on-line.
* * *
This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated January 12,
2000, to update sections on Entry and Exit Requirements, Safety
and Security, Medical Facilities, Medical Insurance, Traffic Safety
and Road Conditions, Disaster Preparedness, and Registration/Embassy
and Consulate Locations.