Chile is a long, narrow country located along the western edge of South America. It stretches over 4,300 kilometers (2,670 miles) from north to south but is only about 177 kilometers (110 miles) wide on average. This geography gives Chile a diverse range of landscapes, including the Atacama Desert in the north, the fertile Central Valley, the Andes Mountains running along its eastern border, and the Pacific coastline to the west.
In addition, Chile maintains a diverse and open economy, with key sectors including mining, agriculture, manufacturing, and services. According to World Bank data, Chile's GDP (Gross Domestic Product) will be worth USD 301.03 billion in 2022. Chile's GDP value represents 0.13 % of the global economy.
The country's reputation for political and economic security provides a reassuring backdrop for travelers seeking a worry-free experience. A well-developed tourism infrastructure further facilitates exploration, with modern transportation networks and a wide range of accommodation options. With its combination of awe-inspiring scenery, vibrant culture, and a dedication to responsible travel, Chile has become such a popular destination in the last 5 years.
Benefits of Chile Residency
Obtaining Chilean residency can offer several benefits, both for individuals and their families. The following is a list of some of the potential advantages of getting residency in Chile:
Various Residency Options
Chile offers various residency options, including retirement visas, work visas, and investment visas, making it accessible for a wide range of individuals. Moreover, Chile's flexible residency programs are known for their straightforward application processes and relatively low minimum investment requirements compared to many other countries.
Fast-Track to Citizenship
Residency can lead to permanent residency and eventual citizenship after 5 years of residing in Chile, offering long-term security. Chilean citizens can travel to 157 countries without a visa. In addition, holding Chilean citizenship provides access to a wide range of benefits, including participation in national elections and the ability to hold public office. This further strengthens the bond between citizens and the country, allowing them to actively contribute to the political and social fabric of Chile.
Chile is known for its stable economy and is often considered one of the most economically developed countries in Latin America. Chile's impressive economic stability is reflected in its consistently low levels of inflation and unemployment. Its unemployment rate has remained relatively low compared to other countries in the region, underscoring the resilience of Chile's labor market. Chile's unemployment rate is projected to reach 8.28% in 2023.
High Quality of Life
The country offers a high standard of living with a good healthcare system, education, and overall quality of life. The country boasts a well-developed network of hospitals, clinics, and healthcare facilities equipped with modern technology and staffed by skilled professionals. Additionally, Chile places a strong emphasis on preventative care and digital healthcare trends, contributing to a generally healthy population.
Natural Beauty and Diverse Climate
Chile boasts stunning landscapes, including the Andes mountains, Atacama Desert, and a long coastline, making it a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Chile's geographic diversity means you can choose to live in a variety of climate zones, from temperate to arid to Mediterranean.
Low Crime Rates
Chile is one of the safest countries in South America, with relatively low crime rates. The country's commitment to maintaining low crime rates is reflected in its well-organized law enforcement agencies and effective judicial system. In 2023, the safety index is 40.94 while the crime index is 59.06.
No Language Barrier
While Spanish is the official language, many Chileans speak English, making it accessible for expatriates. Chile's cosmopolitan cities and globalized economy have led to a growing proficiency in English among the population. More than 1.5 million citizens are native English-speakers, which reflects almost 10% of the Chilean population.
The Chilean peso is a stable currency, which can be appealing to investors and those looking for financial stability. The Central Bank of Chile has a strong track record of implementing prudent monetary policies, which have helped maintain the stability of the Chilean peso. According to Reuters, the Chilean peso is poised for stability as economic and political concerns fade.
If you're considering retirement, Chile offers retirement visas with benefits like tax exemptions and access to healthcare. Chile's retirement system is designed to provide financial security for retirees. The country has a well-regulated private pension system, known as the Pension Fund Administrators (AFP), which allows individuals to contribute to their retirement savings throughout their working years.
Chile encourages foreign investment and has a growing business environment, particularly in sectors like mining, agriculture, and technology. Chile offers a range of incentives to attract foreign investors, including tax treaties, free trade agreements, legal protections for investments, and avenues for obtaining investment visas or residency in Chile, further facilitating foreign participation in the country's vibrant economic landscape.
The tax system is relatively straightforward, and personal income taxes are generally lower than in many other countries. There is no capital gains tax in Chile. In terms of corporate taxation, the general rule is that companies are subject to a 27% corporate income tax unless they are classified as small and medium entities under Chilean tax law, in which case they are subject to a 25% corporate income tax rate. The withholding tax rate on dividends and interest is 35%.
Chile recognizes dual citizenship, allowing individuals to hold citizenship in Chile alongside that of another country. This means that individuals can enjoy the rights and privileges of both nations, including the ability to vote, work, and reside in Chile, without forfeiting their citizenship in their country of origin.
Chile Residency Program Overview
Chile offers a range of residency programs tailored to different circumstances and individuals. Generally, there are two types of residency in Chile: temporary and permanent. Each of them has its own subcategory.
If you are a foreigner and you want to stay in Chile for more than 90 days, you need to apply for a visa. This is especially important if you plan to live, work, or study in Chile for a longer period (up to 2 years). You can get a Chilean temporary residence permit (Residencia Temporal permit).
If you are just visiting Chile for 90 days or less, you should check if you need a visa. Some people from certain countries can come to Chile for short visits, like for tourism, visiting family, or getting medical treatment, without needing a visa. This includes the USA, UK, EU countries, Mexico, and others.
Permanent residency (Residencia Definitiva permit) in Chile is the official permission given to foreign nationals, allowing them to remain in the country indefinitely and engage in any legal activities. Overall, you can apply for a Permanent Residence Permit when you have lived in Chile for at least 1 year with a Temporary Permit. Once acquired, permanent residency is valid for life, and you should renew your ID card once every 5 years. If you remain outside of Chile for more than 2 years without returning, even for just a few days, your permanent residency will automatically expire.
Chile Temporary Residency
Chilean temporary residency (Residencia Temporal) refers to a legal status granted by a country to foreign nationals that allows them to live in the country for a specified period of time, usually for a specific purpose such as work, study, family reunification, or other approved activities.
Chile Temporary Residency Opportunities
With the exception of the subcategory of seasonal workers, Temporary Residence is a permit issued by the Servicio Nacional de Migraciones (SERMIG) to foreign nationals intending to reside in Chile for up to 2 years. The residence permits for seasonal workers may be valid for up to 5 years.
Chile offers various options for temporary residency for foreign nationals as per Decree No. 177 of 2022 of the Ministry of the Interior and Public Safety. In general, there are 15 subcategories. Please see the table below.
Each subcategory can be renewed for a maximum of 2 consecutive years. However, the subcategory of seasonal workers can only be renewed for up to 2 additional years. Additionally, the special permit for pregnant foreign women in the humanitarian reasons subcategory is not eligible for extension.
What are the Most Popular Chilean Residency Visas?
Based on our experience and practice, most of our clients are interested in getting the following types of Chilean residency visas:
Independent Means Visa
Individuals with independent means seeking a temporary residence permit in Chile are required to show evidence of consistent passive income. This can be accomplished by presenting lease contracts, whether held in Chile or abroad, or other comparable documents that demonstrate the periodic receipt of financial assets like dividends, interest from investments, or pensions. Income from employment is unacceptable. This residency is mostly applicable to leasers as outlined on the official website.
The applicant's income must be adequate to provide for their fundamental needs throughout their stay in the country. There is no explicit minimum amounts for this category of residency. The main applicant is recommended to provide bank statements demonstrating a monthly income of at least USD 1,500 and approximately USD 600 for each dependent.
If you are 55 years of age or older, an alternative pathway for you to secure a temporary resident visa in Chile is the retirement program.
Individuals seeking this visa must establish their financial independence by presenting a substantial sum of liquid assets. In this context, it is recommended to possess a lump sum of at least USD 125,000 for a sole applicant, along with an additional USD 25,000 for each dependent. These assets can be distributed among worldwide brokerage accounts, bank accounts, retirement accounts, or any combination of the three.
Moreover, foreigners who have received a retirement pension of at least USD 1,500 - 2,000 per month in accordance with the regulations of their home country are also eligible to apply for a 1-year residence permit.
The Temporary Residence permit through business is available for foreign individuals, as well as legal representatives and individuals holding executive or senior management roles in a foreign company. This permit is applicable to those looking to invest a sum of USD 500,000 or more (or its equivalent in other currencies) in Chile, provided that the investment is directed towards the production of goods or services.
Additionally, this permit extends to individuals in executive or senior management positions, as well as specialized technical personnel, who are either hired as employees or contracted to provide services for a company based in Chile. This company must be directly or indirectly controlled by a foreign investor holding a minimum of 10% of the voting rights or an equivalent percentage of participation in the capital stock if it does not follow the sociedad por acciones structure (a Chilean business structure controlled by shareholders) or in the assets of the company.
Chile Temporary Residency Requirements
The requirements for obtaining temporary residency in Chile may vary depending on the specific subcategory one applies for. When applying for a Chile Temporary Resident Visa, you have to submit various documents, including:
- Photocopies of pertinent pages from your passport (containing personal information, expiration/issue dates, and previous visas) Your passport should have a validity of at least 6 more months.
- Colored photograph of yourself.
- Certificate of police clearance from your home country and any country of residence exceeding 5 years.
- Health certificate issued by a certified medical professional within the last 6 months, attesting to your good health and absence of contagious diseases.
- Copy of your flight ticket or itinerary.
- Proof of income, in the form of bank statements.
- A cover letter addressed to the consulate outlining your travel intentions and introducing yourself. Provide your contact information in Chile.
- Invitation letter from your contact in Chile, detailing the purpose of your visit and your residential address.
- If joining a family member: provide the relevant marriage or birth certificate to establish the familial relationship. These documents should be apostilled and translated.
- For internship/work/religious/academic purposes: furnish an invitation letter from the hosting company, validated by a Public Notary in Chile.
- In the case of minors: include a letter guaranteeing financial support from parents or legal guardians. This letter should be signed, sealed, and authenticated by a Public Notary.
- For academic pursuits: include copies of your educational degrees or certificates. These documents should be apostilled and translated.
- Application form and personal information form, typed in English.
- Any other documents pertinent to the purpose of your travel.
All documents uploaded must be in PDF format. The image should be in JPEG format.
Chile Temporary Residency Application Process
There are two possible ways to apply for a Chilean temporary residence permit: from abroad or in Chile.
The Temporary Residence permit application is typically submitted online from abroad, except in the following scenarios:
- When applying for family reunification or based on a humanitarian reason, as specified in Article 4 of Decree No. 177 of 2022 by the Ministry of the Interior and Public Safety.
- If you already hold a Temporary Residence permit and seek to either change your immigration subcategory or extend its validity.
- If you possess a Temporary Residence permit as a dependent and aim to transition to a holder status.
- If you have a Residencia Oficial (Official Residence) permit, either as a holder or dependent, and wish to request a change in immigration category.
To apply for Chilean temporary residency from overseas, you need to use the designated website. The application process is outlined as follows:
- Step 1: Upon accessing the website, select your preferred language from the top-right corner. Click on the "Visa Application" option, which will redirect you to the application/registration page. Here, you will need to provide details such as your age, passport number, country of residence, and nationality.
- Step 2: After specifying your country of residence, you will be informed which Chilean consulate will handle your application. This is where you will need to submit your passport and accompanying documents.
- Step 3: Upon completing the initial section, you will receive a Verification/Validation code. It's crucial to save this code, as you may need it to resume your application if you have to obtain additional documents.
- Step 4: You will be required to attach electronic copies of all the necessary documents.
- Step 5: When your online visa application is processed and approved, you will receive an email notifying you of an appointment at the Chilean consulate to have your visa stamped in your passport. The application process takes up to 30 working days.
- Step 6: Upon your arrival in Chile with a visa, it is mandatory to register your visa with the Policía de Investigaciones (PDI).
- Step 7: Furthermore, you are also required to obtain a residence permit card (Chilean ID) from the Civil Registry and Identification Service (Servicio de Registro Civil e Identificación). Note: You have to complete both the registration and ID card acquisition within 30 days of your arrival.
Chile Permanent Residency
Chilean permanent residency (Residencia Definitiva) refers to a legal status granted by a country to foreign individuals that allows them to reside in that country indefinitely. This status typically affords many of the rights and privileges enjoyed by citizens, such as the ability to live, work, and study in the country without the need for a visa or additional immigration documentation.
Chile Permanent Residency Opportunities
To be eligible for permanent residency, you must initially secure a Temporary Residence Permit.
Temporary Residency holders may apply for Permanent Residency after 1 year of residency in cases accepted by the migration subcategory in which they reside. The application must be submitted no later than 90 days before the deadline for requesting an extension of the temporary residence permit.
While permanent residency is granted for a lifetime, it will lapse automatically if you spend more than 2 years continuously outside of Chile without returning, even if it is just for a short period. Consequently, if you intend to reside in another country, please be aware that you must apply for an extension of your permanent residency at the nearest Chilean consulate, ensuring you do so at least 60 days before the initial 2-year period expires.
Chile Permanent Residency Requirements
As an applicant, you must upload the following general and specific documentation for your application:
Chile Permanent Residency Application Process
The application process for getting permanent residency in Chile is outlined below:
- Step 1. Initially, you need to obtain a "clave única". This unique password grants you secure and efficient access to all public administration services. You can request it at any Civil Registry office or through ChileAtiende, the comprehensive state service platform.
- Step 2. To start the process for permanent residency, you are required to submit your application through the official website of the Servicio Nacional de Migraciones (SERMIG).
- Step 3. Once you submit your application, the SERMIG will review it to ensure it meets all necessary requirements. Following this, you will receive an email notifying you of the acceptance status of your request or of submitting additional documents.
- Step 4. Upon approval, you will receive an email with instructions to download your permanent residency certificate.
- Step 5. After obtaining permanent residency, the next steps involve visiting a Civil Registry and Identification Service to request an updated ID card. To acquire your identity card, you will need to present both your passport and your certificate of permanent residency.
Temporary vs Permanent Residency in Chile
This table below provides you with a comparison between permanent and temporary residency options in Chile.
Chile Tax Residency Overview
Chilean tax residency is determined by a combination of factors, primarily based on the individual's physical presence in the country. An individual is considered a tax resident of Chile if they spend more than 183 days within a 12-month period in the country. Additionally, individuals who maintain a permanent home or habitual abode in Chile, or those whose economic and vital interests are primarily located within the country, may also be considered tax residents. Once established as a tax resident, individuals are subject to taxation on their worldwide income, including income earned both within and outside of Chile. Depending on the signed double-taxation treaties, they may be able to reduce their tax burden.
Non-residents, on the other hand, are only subject to taxation on income generated within Chilean borders. They are not required to report or pay taxes on income earned outside of the country. To determine tax residency status and obligations, individuals should carefully consider their physical presence, financial ties, and overall economic activities in Chile and seek advice from tax professionals or authorities if needed.
Overall, Chile has no wealth tax, capital duties, financial transaction taxes, or real estate transfer taxes. When it comes to a personal income tax, it is tiered based on income level and ranges from 0% to 35%. With regard to corporate taxation, it is customary for organizations to be subjected to a 27% corporate income tax, unless they qualify as small and medium entities as defined by Chilean tax legislation, in which scenario they are liable to pay the reduced rate of 25%. The standard value-added tax (VAT) rate applicable to imports, services, and sales is 19%. Wherever a service or product is sold in Chile, it is subject to VAT.
How to get Chilean Residency: 5 tips from Golden Harbors Experts
Over the years, we have supported numerous clients in obtaining residency in Chile, offering valuable guidance on bolstering their applications. Here are some of the key tips we provide:
- Meet the Eligibility Criteria
Different visas have specific eligibility criteria. These may include factors like having a job offer, starting a business, being a student, or having a family member in Chile. Research the requirements for the type of residency you're interested in on this official website and ensure you meet them. Keep in mind that meeting the eligibility criteria is just the first step in the immigration process.
- Gather the Required Documents
Depending on your visa category, you will need to gather various documents. Common documents include a valid passport, proof of income or employment, a criminal record check, and other supporting documents. Any document obtained from foreign sources or through the respective consular representation in Chile must undergo the process of apostille or appropriate legalization, in accordance with Articles No. 345 and 345 bis of the Código de Procedimiento Civil. Additionally, any document not in Spanish or English requires a certified translation.
- Background Checks and Health Certificates
Depending on your visa category, you might need to provide a criminal background check and/or a health certificate. Individuals of all nationalities must furnish a certificate of criminal and/or judicial record from their country of origin. This document remains valid for up to 90 days from its issuance date. It is recommended to begin the process of obtaining these documents well in advance of your visa application to ensure timely submission and processing.
- Proof of Urgency
Should you possess a legitimate cause necessitating swift processing, such as a time-sensitive job offer or a pressing family emergency, it is advisable to enclose a letter elucidating your circumstances and formally requesting expedited handling. Should you require assistance in composing this document, immigration consultants stand ready to aid you in generating a suitable draft.
- Seek Legal Assistance
The visa and residency application process in Chile can be complex and may involve navigating through various legal requirements and government agencies. It's advisable to seek the assistance of a qualified immigration consultant. Golden Harbors team can guide you through the process, help you gather the necessary documentation, and ensure that your application is complete and accurate.
Chile Residency for US Citizens
US citizens are increasingly drawn to Chile for a variety of reasons. The country offers a high quality of life with a stable economy, excellent healthcare, and a relatively low cost of living compared to the United States.
For US citizens, Chile provides the convenience of visa-free access, further facilitating the process of residency. This means that US passport holders can enter Chile without requiring a visa and stay for up to 90 days. This accessibility makes it relatively straightforward for Americans to explore the country and consider it a potential destination for longer-term residency.
To get Chilean residency as a US citizen, the process begins by arriving in Santiago, the capital city, and applying for a temporary resident visa. This involves paying a fee of about USD 1,500, covering the entire process, including assistance with the legalization and translation of documents at either the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or a public notary. The next step is to submit all required documents to the Servicio Nacional de Migraciones (SERMIG) and stay in Chile for 7-10 days in case any additional paperwork needs to be provided. The entire process takes approximately 2-3 months. Upon receiving final approval, you need to have your passport stamped within 2 months.
Subsequently, secure accommodation by renting an apartment and registering your presence at the local police station. To be eligible for permanent residency, it is necessary to spend more than 185 days in Chile. After 1 year of obtaining temporary residence, you can apply for permanent residency. After 2 years, ensure you visit Chile at least once per year. To extend your permanent residency, approach your nearest Chilean consulate at least 60 days before the expiration of the 2-year period. Finally, after 5 years, you can apply for citizenship by naturalization.
In terms of tax considerations, Chile offers a favorable tax environment for foreign residents. Unlike some countries, Chile does not impose worldwide income taxation, meaning that income earned outside of Chile is generally not subject to Chilean taxes.
How Hard is it to Get Chilean Residency?
It is not hard to get Chilean residency. Obtaining Chilean residency can vary in difficulty depending on factors like nationality, purpose for residency, and individual circumstances, but with proper documentation and adherence to requirements, it is achievable for many applicants.
Will Chile Accept Non-Violent Felons for Residency?
Chile does not have specific policies addressing the acceptance or rejection of non-violent felons for residency. However, having a criminal record, even for non-violent offenses, may still impact the immigration process. According to Decree 5,142, those who have been convicted or are currently being prosecuted for crimes or "simple felonies" (minor crimes) cannot be nationalized as long as the accusations are not dismissed.
How Much Does it Cost for a Chilean Residency?
It depends on the nationality. The government fee ranges from USD 0 to USD 2,700. In addition to government fees, individuals seeking Chilean residency should be prepared to incur costs for document preparation and legal services.
How Long Does it Take to Make Residency in Chile?
The entire process, from document collection to visa issuance, takes about 2-3 months.
Can You Travel to the US with Chilean Permanent Residency?
Yes, you can travel to the US with Chilean permanent residency. As a Chilean resident, you can apply for the US Visa Waiver Program. Chilean business and tourism visitors can enter the US without a visa under this program.
What is a Chile Residency Visa?
A Chile residency visa is an official document issued by the Chilean government that grants legal permission for a foreign national to live, work, study, or carry out other specified activities within the country for an extended period of time.
How to Get Chile Permanent Residency as Freelancer?
To qualify for permanent residency, freelancers must have resided in the country for a minimum of 180 days per year, provided they entered on a temporary visa and have maintained that residence status for at least 1 year. If holding a work visa, continuous residency of 2 years is required to be eligible for permanent residency.
What is Retirement Residency in Chile?
Retirement residency is a program designed to attract retirees and pensioners from other countries to come and live in Chile. Foreigners who have acquired a retirement pension of at least USD 1,500 - 2,000 per month in accordance with their home country's regulations, provided it enables them to meet their essential needs while residing in Chile, are eligible to apply for a 1 - year residence permit. It is also possible to prove financial independence in the form of a lump sum of liquid assets worth at least USD 125,000. This option is available to applicants over the age of 55.