March 16, 2024


 min read

Chilean Citizenship by Descent








Chilean Citizenship by Descent


Chilean citizenship by descent, also known as "ciudadanía por descendencia," is a legal provision that allows individuals with Chilean ancestry to acquire citizenship based on their familial ties to the country. This pathway offers a unique opportunity for those with Chilean heritage to reconnect with their roots and fully embrace their cultural identity through formal recognition as citizens of Chile, even if they were born in a different country.

By obtaining Chilean citizenship, individuals not only gain the legal rights and privileges afforded to citizens but also become part of a larger community with a rich history and diverse culture. This recognition opens doors to a wide range of opportunities, including the ability to live, work, and study in Chile without the constraints faced by non-citizens.

Chilean Citizenship by Descent Overview

Chilean citizenship by descent is a popular option for individuals who have Chilean ancestry and wish to reconnect with their cultural heritage or establish legal ties to the country. It is particularly sought after by descendants of Chileans who emigrated during periods of political instability or economic hardship. Venezuela had the highest proportion of immigrants in Chile in 2021, accounting for half of all immigrants who obtained Chilean citizenship by descent. The overwhelming majority of foreigners in the South American country were from other Latin American countries, primarily Venezuela, Peru, and Colombia. The migration rate in Chile is expected to rise by 1.3 percentage points between 2023 and 2026. In 2026, the rate is expected to be -2.28 percent.

The Chilean Constitution, Civil Code, and Law On Immigration form the legal framework for acquiring Chilean citizenship through descent. Chilean citizenship grants a range of rights and privileges to individuals who hold it. This includes participation in the country's political processes, such as voting and running for public office, access to state-provided healthcare and education, and eligibility for various social benefits. Additionally, Chilean citizens are entitled to consular protection and assistance when abroad, and they can travel to numerous countries visa-free or with relaxed visa requirements. 

Chile Citizenship by Descent Requirements

You are eligible for Chilean citizenship by descent if you are a relative of a Chilean citizen up to the second degree of consanguinity, if you were adopted by Chilean citizens, or if any of your parents lost their Chilean citizenship before your birthday. 

Chile allows individuals to acquire citizenship by descent under specific circumstances, as outlined below: 

  • You must be able to prove your direct lineage to a Chilean ancestor. This ancestor must have been a Chilean citizen.
  • You have turned 18 years of age. 
  • You are a holder of a Residencia Definitiva permit (permanent residence permit) that has not expired. 
  • You have at least 2 years of continuous residency in Chile. 
  • You should not have a criminal record in Chile or in your home country.

Chile Citizenship by Descent Documents

When it comes to the required supporting documents, they are as follows: 

General Documentation

  • Scan of a passport identification page, a national ID card or consular certificate from your home country; 
  • Certificate of their country's criminal or court record for applicants over 18 years old. It has been legalized or attested, as well as translated if needed;
  • A travel certificate from the Policía de Investigaciones (PDI, or Chilean Bureau of Investigation) is required for people who came to Chile as minors and can't get a criminal record certificate from their home country.

Documentation for Children Between 14 and 17 Years Old 

If both parents are in Chile:

  • Affidavit from both parents or the person who has custody of the child stating that they agree to the case for getting citizenship by descent. 

If a parent is not in the country:

  • Notarized authorization from the father who is in Chile and notarized authorization (or the corresponding certifying officer) from the one who is abroad, apostilled or legalized as needed. Alternatively, a broad power of attorney of the parent who is abroad that is delivered with the power of attorney authorizes her or him to apply for citizenship. 

If either parent has died:

  • Death certificate of the deceased parent.

Documents Proving Family Bonds with a Chilean Citizen

If you are the parent of a Chilean child:

  • Birth certificate of your children.

If you are blood related to someone up to the second degree (grandchild, grandparent, sibling):

  • Birth certificates that attest to family ties.

If you are the child of a Chilean father or mother who lost his nationality before your birth:

  • Your birth certificate;
  • Birth certificate of the father or mother with the annotation of loss;
  • Carta de Nacionalidad of the father or mother, prior to 2005.

Chilean Citizenship by Descent Application Process

There is a concise overview of the steps one typically follows to obtain Chilean citizenship by descent: 

Step 1. Meet Eligibility Requirements

To qualify, you need to be a descendant of a Chilean parent or grandparent and have lived in Chile for a designated duration, typically around 2 years, holding a valid residence permit. Firstly, you will need to submit a visa application at the closest Chilean consulate in your home country or at the Servicio Nacional de Migraciones (SERMIG). Subsequently, you will be granted a temporary residence permit for a year, which will be followed by a permanent residence permit after another year. 

Step 2. Gather Required Documents

To apply for Chilean citizenship by descent, you will typically need to gather a set of required documents. These documents commonly include a certified copy of your birth certificate, your parents' or grandparents' Chilean birth certificates or citizenship documents, your own and your parents' or grandparents' marriage certificates, a police clearance certificate from your current country of residence, proof of Chilean ancestry, and a completed citizenship application form. 

Step 3. Translate and Authenticate Documents

Non-Spanish documents will usually need to be translated into Spanish by an official translator. Additionally, some documents may need to be authenticated by a notary public or relevant authority. This step is imperative in demonstrating the authenticity and validity of the documents in accordance with Chilean legal requirements.

Step 4. Submit Your Application

At this stage, you will complete the citizenship application form via this online portal and attach all necessary documents. Make sure to double-check that all the information provided is accurate and up-to-date before finalizing the submission. Once you have reviewed everything, click the 'Submit' button to send your application for processing.

Step 5. Pay Fees

You will be required to submit the necessary fees to the government agency. The fee amount stands at $33.026, which covers various administrative costs associated with the process. Before making the payment, double-check all the provided details to avoid any potential discrepancies. 

Step 6. Wait for Processing

Citizenship applications can take up to 1-2 years to be processed. The Chilean government may conduct a background check on the applicant. If everything is in order, and you meet the eligibility criteria, your application will be approved.

Step 7. Oath of Allegiance

Once your application is approved, you may be required to take an oath of allegiance to Chile. The Oath of Allegiance typically takes place in a dignified setting, often at a government office or a designated ceremonial venue. You may be joined by officials, dignitaries, and representatives of the community, all of whom are there to witness and celebrate your integration into Chilean society.

Step 8. Receive Citizenship Certificate

Upon successfully completing all the necessary steps, you will be issued a Chilean citizenship certificate, a Chilean passport, and a Chilean ID (Cédula de Identidad). These documents are crucial for establishing your legal status as a Chilean citizen. The citizenship certificate serves as official proof of your new status, while the passport allows you to travel internationally with the privileges and protections granted to Chilean citizens. The Chilean ID, known as the "Cédula de Identidad," is a national identification card that you will need for various official transactions within Chile.

3 Tips How to Get Chilean Citizenship by Descent from Golden Harbors Experts

We have successfully guided numerous clients through the process of acquiring Chilean citizenship by descent, ensuring they meet all the necessary requirements and providing comprehensive support throughout the application procedure.

Chilean citizenship by descent involves proving your eligibility through a family connection to Chilean ancestors. Based on our experience, here are three tips to help you through the process:

  1. Research Your Family Tree

Begin by tracing your family tree to determine if you have Chilean ancestors. In most cases, eligibility for citizenship by descent is limited to a specific number of generations, typically two. This means that you need to identify a Chilean parent or grandparent who was a Chilean citizen. You may need to gather birth certificates, marriage certificates, and other documents to establish your lineage. Consult online resources and local archives for any historical records or genealogical databases that can provide valuable insights into your family's roots in Chile.

  1. Verify and Translate Documents

If any of your documents are not in Spanish, you will need to have them officially translated. This ensures that the Chilean authorities can understand and verify the information. Certain countries may necessitate an additional step, wherein documents must undergo a process of legalization or receive an apostille, which serves as a formal authentication. This process is particularly critical for vital documents such as birth certificates. This ensures compliance with the legal protocols and requirements set forth by the Chilean government. 

  1. Consult with Chilean Authorities and Legal Experts

The requirements and processes for obtaining citizenship by descent can be quite complex, and they may vary depending on individual circumstances. It is advisable to consult with the Chilean consulate or embassy in your country and seek legal advice from an immigration attorney who specializes in Chilean immigration. Golden Harbors team can guide you through the specific steps and requirements for your case. Our expertise and guidance will be invaluable in navigating the complex requirements and procedures associated with obtaining citizenship by descent.

FAQs about Chilean Citizenship by Descent

How Long Does It Take to Get Chilean Citizenship by Descent?

It takes 2 years of residency to qualify for Chilean citizenship by descent. The application process itself can take an additional 1-2 years.

Is there an Age Limit for Applying for Chilean Citizenship by Descent?

No, there is no age limit for applying for Chilean citizenship by descent. This provision allows individuals of Chilean ancestry to acquire citizenship, irrespective of their age. Both minors and adults can apply for citizenship under this method.

Is There a Language Requirement for Applying for Chilean Citizenship by Descent?

No, there is no language requirement for applying for Chilean citizenship by descent. Applicants are not required to prove proficiency in Spanish or any other language spoken in Chile. The main criteria for eligibility typically focus on proving a familial connection to a Chilean citizen or someone who was a Chilean citizen at your time of birth.

Do I Need to Reside in Chile After Acquiring Citizenship by Descent?

No, you are not required to reside in Chile after acquiring citizenship by descent. After successfully obtaining citizenship through this method, there's no obligation to live in Chile, either permanently or for a specific duration. This allows individuals to maintain their Chilean citizenship while living elsewhere or seeking opportunities abroad.

Can I Pass Chilean Citizenship on to My Children If I Acquire It through Descent?

Yes, if you acquire Chilean citizenship through descent, you can pass it on to your children. This means that if you become a Chilean citizen due to your parents' nationality or descent, your children are also eligible for Chilean citizenship, regardless of their birthplace. This principle is known as "jus sanguinis" or "right of blood."


Residence Benefits

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Fast application processing

3-4 months


Global mobility and freedom

international business expansion, entry into the South American market, and setting up a company in Chile allow you to get a residence permit through a business for the whole family


Access to quality healthcare & education

Residents have access to Chile's healthcare system, which is one of the best in Latin America. Additionally, there are opportunities for quality education, both for the permit holder and their dependents


Global mobility and freedom

a residence permit is issued with the rights to work, do business and study in Chile


An opportunity to live in Chile

no residence limits


Global mobility and freedom

option to purchase commercial and residential real estate with an annual return of up to 5%


The clear path to citizenship

residents can apply for Chilean citizenship if they have been in Chile for 5 years


Global mobility and freedom

there is no need to renounce your previous citizenship when obtaining a Chilean passport


Residence for the whole family

family members (spouse, financially dependent parents, and children) can apply for a residence permit together with the main applicant


Global mobility and freedom

Chile has a favorable tax regime, with low taxes and generous incentives for foreign investors


Residence Permit

Processing Time and Terms

Enter your estimated application start date for the Chilean Residence Permit and receive a clear timetable for each step

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Sign a service agreement with Golden Harbors, pay the initial service and due diligence fees, and fill out application forms


Prepare the necessary documentation for your chosen residency category


Arrive in Santiago and apply for a temporary residence permit. Submit all the documents to the Chilean Immigration Department (Departamento de Extranjería)


Government due diligence check, application review, and final approval


Get your Residence Permit card, rent an apartment, and register your presence at the Local Police Station.

There are Always Options to EXPAND YOUR BOUNDARIES! Let's Discuss Yours

Every client is unique

Every case requires an individual approach and solution. Our years of experience in the industry allow us to provide both.

We will answer all your questions and provide detailed information about the available second passport and residency programs to help you make the right choice.


Lead Attorney at Golden Harbors

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Lead Attorney at Golden Harbors