Uruguay Basics

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The Basics

Time: GMT -3

Electricity: Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. There are various types of plugs in use, including ‘Schuko’ plugs and receptacles with side grounding contacts, and the plugs commonly used in Australia.

Money: The official currency of Uruguay is the Uruguayan Peso (UYU), but some tourist businesses, retailers and taxi drivers also accept US Dollars. The peso is divided into 100 centésimos. Currency can be exchanged at banks and Money Exchange Shops, which offer similar exchange rates. It is important to always keep some change. Exchange rates tend to fluctuate frequently. There are plenty of ATMs available in shopping centres and attached to banks in commercial areas, but not all cards are accepted. Credit cards, including Visa and MasterCard, are widely accepted by shops and restaurants.

Currency Exchange Rates

UYU1.00 = USD 0.03GBP 0.02CAD 0.04AUD 0.04ZAR 0.39EUR 0.02NZD 0.04
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: US citizens require a valid passport, but a visa is not required for a stay of up to three months.

Entry requirements for UK nationals: All British nationals require a valid passport for travel to Uruguay. A visa is not required for a stay of up to three months for all British passport holders.

Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadians require a valid passport, but no visa is required for a stay of up to three months.

Entry requirements for Australians: Australians require a valid passport, but a visa is not required for a stay of up to three months.

Entry requirements for South Africans: South Africans require a valid passport, but a visa is not required for a stay of up to three months.

Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealand nationals require a valid passport, but no visa is required for a stay of up to three months.

Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish nationals require a valid passport, but a visa is not required for a stay of up to three months.

Passport/Visa Note: All visitors to Uruguay must hold an onward or return ticket and documents for their next destination. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months' validity remaining after the intended date of departure. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Travel Health: A hepatitis A vaccination is recommended for visitors to Uruguay, and a yellow fever vaccination is required for those arriving from infected areas. Travellers are advised to take precautions against mosquito bites due to a high risk of dengue fever. Medical facilities in Uruguay are adequate for general problems, with 24-hour emergency care available at the British Hospital in Montevideo. Most doctors and hospitals expect payment in cash. Serious medical problems require air evacuation to a country with better medical facilities, therefore comprehensive travel health insurance is strongly recommended. Pharmacies supply most drugs and medications imported from the USA or Europe, many of which are available without a prescription. Visitors are advised to take sensible precautions regarding the consumption of food and water; bottled or purified water should be used, and food should be eaten washed, peeled and well cooked.

Tipping: Tipping is discretionary in Uruguay, but a gratuity of between five percent and 10 percent of the bill is usually offered in restaurants. Rounding up the bill is sufficient for taxi drivers, and hotel porters receive about US$1 per bag.

Safety Information: Visits to Uruguay are generally trouble free, with a low risk of terrorism and no political instability to speak of. There are occurrences of street crime in Montevideo, but police patrols are active and act as a good deterrent. Uruguay, in fact, is renowned for having very little crime by South American standards. Visitors should, however, take sensible precautions with their valuables and when using ATMs, and be attentive particularly while driving at night.

Local Customs: Uruguay is a secular and progressive state, and is welcoming to gay and lesbian visitors. In conversation, Uruguayans are direct and stand close together, and it is considered rude to back away. Close acquaintances may greet with a kiss on the cheek, but a handshake will suffice for introductions. While gender equality is progressive in Uruguay, women may experience a fair amount of attention. Though largely ignored, the staring and comments can, at times, border on harassment. Visitors should avoid making critical comments about the country, or comparing it to Chile, Argentina, and Paraguay.

Business: Uruguayans enjoy discussing politics and answering questions about their country. Meetings tend to be highly formal but seldom start on time. Most businessmen speak English, but it is good to suggest the hiring of an interpreter as a sign of consideration.

Communications: The international direct dialling code for Uruguay is +598. The government-operated telephone service is efficient. Area codes are in use for cities, e.g. (0)2 for Montevideo. ANTEL is the major mobile phone operator and free wifi is widespread.

Duty Free: Visitors to Uruguay do not need to pay customs duty on four cartons of cigarettes, six litres of distilled alcoholic beverages, 5kg of foodstuffs and goods up to US$500 if bought at the entry duty free shops. Certain foodstuffs, plants, narcotics, pornographic material and explosives are strictly prohibited. Live animals, endangered species, medication and large sums of money are restricted. Visitors should check with official government sources before bringing such items in to the country.