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Chile - Exercise normal security precautions
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Chile. Exercise normal security precautions.
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.
Several small scale explosive devices have been detonated in Santiago since mid-July 2014, mainly targeting public transportation and automated banking machines (ABMs). On September 8, 2014, an explosion occurred during daylight hours near a metro station, injuring several people. Remain vigilant, be aware of your surroundings, exercise a high degree of caution when using public transportation, and report any suspicious behavior or unattended packages to local authorities.
Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, has increased, particularly in Santiago, Valparaíso, Concepción, Villarrica and Viña del Mar. Small bags and purses have been stolen from hotel and hostel lobbies, and from the backs of chairs at bars and restaurants. Do not show signs of affluence, and ensure that your personal belongings, passport and other travel documents are secure at all times.
Robberies and assaults occur most frequently in the Santiago, Viña del Mar and Valparaíso areas. Thieves are active in crowded tourist locations, markets, metro (subway) stations, trains, buses and taxis, as well as cafés and restaurants popular with foreigners. In Valparaíso, remain particularly alert in the port and adjoining tourist areas. Avoid poorer residential areas (poblaciones).
Muggings, sometimes involving the use of fire arms, have been reported in Cerro San Cristóbal Park, and in other parks in the Santiago area, even during the day. Be vigilant in parks, and avoid them at night.
Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Pay attention when drinks are prepared and served, especially in the Bellavista neighbourhood of Santiago. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances, as they may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.
Take care when driving a rental car or taking a taxi in Valparaíso. Thieves have punctured tires in order to distract foreigners and steal their belongings from the vehicle.
There have been reports of politically motivated violence involving indigenous communities in southern Chile (specifically in the Araucanía region), but no foreigners have been directly affected. If travelling in the Araucanía region, it is recommended that you travel during the day.
Demonstrations and civil unrest
Demonstrations occur regularly in Santiago and Valparaíso, and occasionally elsewhere in the country. Student protests occur intermittently, causing road blocks, public transportation disruptions and confrontations with police. You should be particularly vigilant on March 29, the day of the Young Combatant, and on September 11, the anniversary of the 1973 coup, as these dates are often marked by large demonstrations. Monitor local news reports, follow the advice of local authorities, and avoid large crowds and demonstrations, as they may turn violent with little to no warning.
Demarcated landmine fields are a danger in remote areas of the northern regions of Arica-Parinacota, Tarapaca and Antofagasta in the north, remote areas of Valparaíso in central Chile, and in the southern regions of Magallanes and Antártica, near the border with Argentina. Landmine fields are also found in remote sections of several popular national parks, including Lauca and Llullaillaco national parks, the Salar de Surire National Monument and the Los Flamencos National Reserve. Check with park staff or local authorities before entering less-travelled areas and observe all warning signs.
Driving standards are poor. Accident rates, particularly in Santiago, are high. Keep windows closed and doors locked at all times. Major highways are mostly toll roads. Ensure that you carry sufficient local currency to pay the tolls. Do not venture off major highways with basic or small rental vehicles. Secondary roads are sometimes poorly maintained and/or poorly lit. Driving on mountain roads can be dangerous due to the lack of guard rails. Traffic police (carabineros) presence is very visible on highways. Have vehicle documentation ready. Ensure that you have written authorization from your rental agency if you intend to travel outside the country in a rental vehicle. The authorization must be requested from the car rental company three to five days before the trip, and a processing fee applies. If you are using a private vehicle, the owner must provide you with proper authorization.
Traffic congestion in downtown Santiago is common during peak hours. Certain major arteries alternate traffic direction during morning and evening rush hours. For up-to-date information, call the traffic police (carabineros) at 139.
Taxis are plentiful and inexpensive. Agree to a fare beforehand. Taxis with illuminated signs indicating their destination are "collective" taxis. These follow a fixed route and are shared by up to five passengers.
Taxis and radio-taxis can be booked and prepaid at the airport. Airport-registered transportation is recommended. Major hotels will arrange to meet travellers upon arrival. Shuttle minibuses are also available.
See Transportation Safety in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
Dial 133 for police, 132 for the fire department, and 131 for a public ambulance.
It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry requirements. The following information on entry and exit requirements has been obtained from the Chilean authorities. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of the Republic of Chile or one of its consulates for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Chile, which must be valid for the duration of the trip. Before you leave, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Tourist visa: Not required
Business visa: Not required
Student visa: Required
Work visa: Required
Although most Canadians do not need a visa to visit Chile, all travellers are given a tourist card (valid for a maximum period of 90 days) upon arrival. The tourist card must be presented prior to departure. Failure to produce this document may result in delays until a replacement card is obtained.
Although you do not require a permit to participate in outdoor expeditions such as trekking tours, amateur filming activities, mountain biking or car competitions, foreigners engaged in the planning of scientific, technical and/or mountaineering activities in Chilean frontier zones must obtain an expedition permit from the Dirección Nacional de Fronteras y Limites del Estado (DIFROL). If you wish to visit national, archaeological and/or historical monuments located in frontier zones, you require authorization from the Chilean Consejo de Monumentos Nacionales.
Canadian-Chilean dual citizens may enter Chile without a Chilean passport, but they require one in order to leave the country. Children born in Chile also require a Chilean passport to leave. Furthermore, if travelling to Canada, all dual citizens require a valid Canadian passport.
See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
Children and travel
Travellers under the age of 18 (minors) travelling to Chile alone need a letter of consent from both parents to enter and leave Chile. Minors entering Chile with only one parent need written authorization from the other parent to enter and leave the country. This authorization must be in Spanish and be obtained from a Chilean embassy or consulate. Minors should also always carry a birth certificate that shows both parents' names.
Canadian minors who are residents of Chile and who are departing alone or with only one parent are required to present a notarized authorization from both parents (if travelling alone) or from the parent who is not present (if travelling with only one parent).
See Children for more information.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Yellow Fever Vaccination
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
|* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in South America, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in South America. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among pediatric travellers, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers at high risk visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care provider about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
In some areas in South America, certain insects carry and spread diseases like American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease), chikungunya, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness), West Nile virus and yellow fever.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is currently an outbreak of chikungunya in this country. Chikungunya is a viral disease spread through the bite of an infected mosquito that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. Protect yourself from mosquito bites, particularly around sunrise and sunset. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.
- Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- The risk of dengue is higher during the daytime, particularly at sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
There is no risk of malaria in this country.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in South America, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Medical services and facilities
Santiago has one of the highest pollution levels in South America. Heavy smog can pose serious health hazards from May through October.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws & culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
There is a zero tolerance policy regarding drinking and driving. Under Chilean law, even one alcoholic beverage puts the driver over the acceptable limit. Convicted offenders could face a license suspension, fines and/or detention.
To combat high levels of pollution in winter, restrictions on driving in central Santiago (within the ring road) are imposed from June to September. The last two digits of the licence plate number determine which days of the month a vehicle cannot be driven. These lists are published in newspapers. Temporary bans may be imposed on up to 60 percent of city traffic when levels of pollution are extremely high.
An International Driving Permit is recommended.
The currency is the Chilean peso (CLP). U.S. dollars (but not Canadian dollars) are easily exchanged across the country. Purchases in U.S. dollars can only be done in certain stores in Santiago. Credit cards are usually accepted in hotels and restaurants in major tourist and business destinations, but they are often not accepted in locally owned small hotels and restaurants, including in Santiago. For convenience, carry traveller's cheques in U.S. currency.
Natural disasters & climate
Natural disasters & climate
Border crossings may close due to severe weather conditions or earthquakes. For information on the status of border crossings in Chile, please consult the Chilean Department of Public Works (in Spanish).
Chile is located in an active seismic zone and is prone to earthquakes and tsunamis. Earthquakes can occur anywhere throughout Chile. Familiarize yourself with earthquake security measures in hotels and public and private buildings, and in the event of an earthquake, pay careful attention to all official warnings and evacuation orders issued by the Government of Chile.
Flooding is frequent during autumn and winter (particularly between May and August), mainly as a result of heavy rains and overloaded sewage systems. This often results in traffic jams.
In some parts of the country, river levels can increase substantially following a short period of heavy rain. The resulting flooding can seriously damage property and cause injuries and deaths. You should avoid riverside accommodations, as dry riverbeds swell rapidly, particularly in central and southern Chile.
Forest fires often occur during the summer months. Even though they can happen anywhere, they usually affect the area comprised between Santiago/Valparaíso and the Magallanes. In the event of a major fire, you should follow the instructions of local emergency services, particularly with regard to evacuation procedures. Air quality in areas affected by fires may be poor. Monitor local media for updated information.
There are 500 active volcanoes in Chile, and approximately 60 of them have erupted in the last 450 years. If you live in or are travelling to areas near volcanoes, you should monitor activity levels closely.
Debris from erupting volcanoes may clog rivers and cause them to overflow, which could in turn cause flash floods and landslides. Ash clouds may also cause disruptions to domestic and international flights. Monitor local media for current information, follow the advice of local authorities and consult the Oficina Nacional de Emergencia for information on emergency procedures. Further information on volcanic monitoring is available from the Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (in Spanish).
In the event of a natural disaster such as an earthquake, tsunami, volcanic eruption, forest fire, landslide or flood, official information for the public will be available at the website of Chile’s Oficina Nacional de Emergencia – Ministerio del Interior y Seguridad Pública ONEMI (in Spanish only).
Santiago - Embassy of Canada
Concepción - Consulate of Canada
For emergency assistance after hours, call the Embassy of Canada in Santiago and follow the instructions. You may also reach the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa by calling collect at 613-996-8885.
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