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Officialdom and Business in Chile

Passports are required for nearly all travelers entering Chile; the only exceptions are citizens from select South American countries: Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay.  Citizens from all North American and most European nations do not need advance visas.  However, nationalities that must obtain a visa prior to arrival include Indians, Jamaicans, Koreans, Poles, Russians, and Thais.

Chile grants 90-day permits on tourist cards; keep this card because it must be presented upon departure.  Extensions can be made in 90-day increments by contacting Departamento de ExtranjerĂ­a (Moneda 1342, Santiago Centro, Tel: 02-672-5320).  Plan ahead, as these require a $100 charge and often take days to process.  Some travelers find it easier to simply hop across the border and re-enter.  Missing tourist cards can be reported and/or replaced by contacting PolicĂ­a Internacional (General Borgoño 1052, Independencia, Santiago, Tel: 02-737-1292).

In general, public officials are very honest and helpful, even to foreigners.  However, do not attempt to bribe them, as this is seen as extremely disrespectful and may result in a harsher punishment.  Most penalties are on par with Western countries, except drug possession, which is considered a serious crime and its penalties are strict.  The general police, or carabineros, wear green uniforms.  They can demand documentation at any time, so always carry your passport (or a copy).  The national emergency number to reach the police is 133.


Members of the Chilean military take themselves very seriously and should be given the upmost respect.  Do not take photographs of military personnel, as this could lead to film confiscation – or in harsher circumstances – jail time!


In business settings - as with most settings - Chileans are very polite; formalities are common and expected.  Men should always remove their hats before entering any office.  Greet others with pleasantries such as buenas dias (morning) or buenas tardes (afternoon and evening).  Handshakes are standard between men.  Men and women often kiss on the right cheek, but a simple handshake is a safe default in formal settings.  Chileans have a strong work ethic, often working six days a week.  Always be punctual – even if they sometimes aren’t.  Before entering a business negotiation, Chileans like to build rapport and exchange pleasantries.  It’s best to cushion business deals with kind words and to be open to compromise.



Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Chile: When to Go: La Serena, When to Go: Vicuña , Carretera Austral and Northern Patagonia Border Crossings, Safety, When to go to Chiloé, Tours on Easter Island, Chile's National Parks, Safety and Security, Ciudad de los Césares and When to go.

By Rachel Anderson
I'm a twentysomething dandelion floating across the field of youth. I have an unquenchable thirst for writing, exploring and cheap wine. A cross...
12 Mar 2009

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