Chile Basics

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The Basics

Time: GMT -5 (GMT -4, Mar - Oct)

Electricity: Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. Round two-pin plugs and round three-pin plugs are used.

Money: The local currency is the Chilean Peso (CLP), which is divided into 100 centavos. Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club and to a lesser extent, American Express, are accepted in most large shops and hotels. ATMs are widely available.

Currency Exchange Rates

CLP100.00 = USD 0.14GBP 0.11CAD 0.18AUD 0.20ZAR 2.01EUR 0.12NZD 0.22
Note: These rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.

Language: The official language is Spanish.

Entry requirements for Americans: No visa is required by US nationals for visits of up to 90 days. A passport valid on arrival is required for travel to Chile.

Entry requirements for UK nationals: UK nationals do not require a visa for visits of up to 90 days. A passport valid on arrival is required.

Entry requirements for Canadians: No visa is required by Canadians for visits of up to 90 days. A passport valid on arrival is required for travel to Chile.

Entry requirements for Australians: No visa is required by Australians for visits of up to 90 days. A passport valid on arrival is required. Visa exemptions also include passengers with an APEC Business Travel Card, valid for travelling to 'CHL' on business, maximum stay of 90 days.

Entry requirements for South Africans: South African nationals must hold a passport valid on arrival. A visa is not required for stays of up to 90 days.

Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealand nationals must hold a passport valid on arrival. A visa is not required for a stay of up to 90 days. VISA exemption also includes those travelling with an APEC Business Travel Card, valid for travelling to 'CHL' for business, a maximum stay of 90 days.

Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish nationals must hold a passport valid on arrival, but a visa is not required for a stay of up to 90 days.

Passport/Visa Note: A return or onward ticket is required. We always recommend that passports be valid for six months after intended period of travel. Extension of stay possible for additional 90 days for visa exempt visitors.

Travel Health: There are no vaccination requirements for entry to Chile, but vaccination for hepatitis A is recommended and a typhoid vaccine may be recommended for long-term travellers who plan to visit rural areas and eat outside of hotels and restaurants. Water is generally safe in the cities, but should be treated in the rural areas; bottled water is widely available for drinking. Santiago is severely polluted and this could cause respiratory problems or eye irritations, particularly between May and August. Travellers visiting the Andes Mountains should be aware of altitude sickness, and ascend slowly to allow the body to adjust. Healthcare in urban areas is generally good, but hospitals and clinics are expensive and usually require payment in cash. Comprehensive travel health insurance is recommended.

Tipping: Tips of about 10 percent are expected in restaurants. It is not customary to tip taxi drivers but it is usual to round up the fare if they help with luggage. In general tipping small amounts is customary for most services.

Safety Information: Chile is a politically stable country with few safety threats to travellers. Incidences of pick-pocketing and mugging are on the increase in big cities and travellers should take care of their belongings, especially around tourist areas and bus stations, and avoid walking alone late at night. Tourists should be particularly cautious in the Lake District as theft is on the increase, and muggings are becoming more common in popular walking areas such as Cerro San Cristobal, Cerro Santa Lucia and Cerro Manquehue. There has been an increase in reports regarding people receiving spiked drinks at nightclubs and bars, particularly in Santiago. Avoid any involvement in political protests and demonstrations, which take place from time to time. Chile has a landmine problem, mainly restricted to border areas adjacent to Peru and Bolivia. These areas are seldom visited by most travellers so landmines shouldn't be a problem but visitors are advised to stick to marked roads, obey all signs and seek the advice of local authorities if travelling to the border areas of regions I, II or XII. Note: 28/11/19 Large-scale demonstrations have taken place across Chile since October 2019. They can proceed with little or no notice and can result in violence and travel disruption in cities and towns. Affected areas include Santiago, Temuco, Iquique, Conception and Rancagua. Large cities such as Santiago, Vina del Mar, Arica, Puerto Montt, Valparaiso, Antofagasta and Iquique expect daily demonstrations, and consular support in parts of the country may at times be limited.

Local Customs: Bargaining is unusual in street markets or stores in Chile - if there is a price on goods it is seldom negotiable. Although Chile is largely conservative in outlook, homosexuality is legal and is increasingly widely accepted socially. Punishment for the possession and consumption of drugs is strict in Chile.

Business: Chilean business culture tends to be formal, and this includes dress, which should also be conservative. In business, Chileans should be addressed by their titles and surnames, unless otherwise stated. Businesses are often family-run. Third party introductions are indispensable when arranging a meeting, and developing a personal relationship is key. Chileans often stand very close when conversing and it is impolite to pull away. Visitors are also expected to re-confirm appointments before arriving at a meeting. Foreigners should be on time for meetings, but it is not unusual for the host to be 15-30 minutes late. On introduction, a firm handshake and exchange of business cards is usual - cards should be printed in both English and Spanish and care should be taken to pay attention to the card before putting it away carefully. Business hours are generally 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, often with a siesta over lunch.

Communications: The international access code for Chile is +56. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). The area code for Santiago is (0)2. Hotels, cafes and restaurants offering free wifi are widely available. As international roaming costs can be high, purchasing a local prepaid SIM card can be a cheaper option.

Duty Free: Travellers entering Chile do not need to pay customs duty on 400 cigarettes, 50 cigars (large or small) and 500g tobacco; 2.5 litres of alcohol; and perfume for personal use. Meat products, flowers, fruit and vegetables may only be imported if permission is given by the Department of Agriculture.