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Latest updates: Safety and security - explosion in Santiago
CHILE - Take normal security precautions
Take normal security precautions in Chile.
Safety and security
Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, occurs, particularly in Santiago, Calama, Valparaíso and Viña del Mar.
Small bags and purses have been stolen from hotel and hostel lobbies, crowded tourist locations, the subway and taxis, as well as from the backs of chairs at bars, restaurants and cafés popular with foreigners.
- Do not show signs of affluence or carry large sums of money
- Leave your valuables, passport and other travel documents locked in your hotel safe and carry a photocopy of your passport’s identification page at all times
Muggings, sometimes involving the use of weapons, have occurred in Cerro San Cristóbal and other parks in the Santiago area, even during the day. Be vigilant in parks, and avoid them at night.
Residential break-ins and robberies occur regularly, and are on the rise in the Santiago Province communities of Las Condes, Lo Barnechea and Vitacura.
On the road
Take care when driving a rental car in Santiago and Valparaíso. Thieves have punctured tires in order to distract foreigners and steal their belongings from the vehicle. Keep windows closed and doors locked at all times. Do not leave bags, luggage or other valuable items in the car, and never in plain view. Cars that are parked on the street and left unattended are often broken into, even in affluent areas. Vehicle theft has increased in Santiago.
Telephone scams are a common occurrence in Chile. Never provide any personal or financial information or details about the whereabouts of family members over the phone.
A common scam occurring in popular tourist areas involves a thief throwing mustard or a similar substance on victims and then pretending to help clean it off, while an accomplice robs them. Refuse the offer of help if this happens to you.
On January 4, 2019, an explosion occurred at a bus stop in Santiago. A few people were injured.
Be aware of your surroundings if you are the affected area.
Since 2014, several small-scale explosive devices have been detonated in Santiago. Targets of attacks have included:
- transportation hubs
- government buildings
Be 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.
Spiked food and drinks
Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Pay attention when drinks are prepared and served, especially in Santiago’s Bellavista neighbourhood. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances. These items may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.
Demonstrations and civil unrest
Demonstrations occur regularly in Santiago and Valparaíso, and occasionally elsewhere in the country.
Student protests occur intermittently, accompanied by road blocks, public transportation disruptions or confrontations with police. You should be particularly vigilant on dates of national significance:
- March 29 (the day of the Young Combatant)
- May 1 (Worker’s day)
- May 21 (Navy Day)
- September 11 (anniversary of the 1973 military coup)
Large demonstrations often take place on these dates.
Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
More about mass gatherings (large-scale events)
There are ongoing public sector strikes across the country. Expect possible delays at border checkpoints, ports and airports due to striking Chilean customs staff.
Contact your travel provider to check the status of your departure and allow plenty of time for check-in at the airport or seaport.
Demarcated minefields are a danger in remote areas, including in Chile’s northern regions of Antofagasta, Arica and Panicota, and Tarapaca, which are near the borders with Bolivia and Peru, and in the southern region of Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica, near the border with Argentina.
Minefields are generally marked, but some signs may be damaged or not clearly visible.
Check with local authorities before entering less-travelled areas, use official border crossings only and observe all warnings.
Driving standards are poor. Accident rates, particularly in Santiago, are high due to careless or aggressive drivers.
Major highways are mostly toll roads. Be sure to carry sufficient local currency to pay the tolls.
Do not venture off major highways with basic or small rental vehicles. Some secondary and mountain roads are poorly maintained and inadequately lit, and may lack guardrails.
Traffic police (carabineros) presence is very visible on highways. Keep vehicle documentation readily accessible. Ensure that you have written authorization from your rental agency if you intend to travel outside the country in a rental vehicle. You must request the authorization from the car rental company 3 to 5 days before the trip, and a processing fee applies. If you are using a private vehicle, the owner must provide you with proper authorization.
Be vigilant at all times and take extra care on buses, in bus stations and at airports, as criminal groups have been known to target tourists by first distracting and then robbing them.
- Watch your bags at all times while awaiting transportation, such as taxis and shuttle services
- Do not put any valuables or identification in the overhead storage compartments of buses. Keep them with you at all times
Tourists travelling on inter-city buses, particularly from Calama to Antofagasta or San Pedro de Atacama, have been robbed while sleeping.
Taxis are plentiful, relatively inexpensive and generally safe.
Avoid using unmetered taxis. If you do use one, agree to a fare beforehand, as there have been incidents of overcharging.
Book a taxi in advance rather than hailing one from the street, especially late at night. Taxis with illuminated signs indicating their destination are called “colectivo” taxis and are generally safe. These follow a fixed route and up to 5 passengers can share them.
When arriving to or departing the country, use airport-registered taxis, which can be booked and pre-paid at the airport.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
General information about foreign domestic airlines
Respect the local flora and fauna in protected areas, even if there are no warnings or signs to this effect. Ensure you have a good understanding of local park rules and regulations before entering national parks. Penalties for breaching park rules, especially in protected areas, can be severe.
- Nature conservation - Chilean national forestry organization (CONAF)
You should only undertake volcano tours, desert expeditions, boat trips, mountain biking and other adventure activities with a well-established and insured company.
Safety features in vehicles and on small boats used in river and lake excursions are not always reliable. If you have any doubt concerning the safety of the installation or equipment, refrain from using them. Ensure that your travel insurance company covers the recreational activities you choose.
If you intend to hike:
- never do so alone and always hire an experienced guide from a reputable company
- buy travel insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation
- ensure that your physical condition is good enough to meet the challenges of your activity
- ensure that you’re properly equipped and well informed about weather and other conditions that may pose a hazard
- inform a family member or friend of your itinerary, including when you expect to be back to camp
- know the symptoms of acute altitude sickness, which can be fatal
- obtain detailed information on trekking routes before setting out and do not venture off marked trails
Learn about local hazards and weather conditions before you go.
- Parks and wilderness areas - CONAF (in Spanish only)
- Local weather forecast - Chilean Meteorological Service (in Spanish only)
Elements within some Mapuche communities, Chile’s largest indigenous group, are engaged in a conflict over land and indigenous rights in Chile.
There has been politically motivated violence in some parts of the Araucanía region of southern Chile. These attacks targeted multinational forestry corporations and private Chilean landowners.
Canadian and other foreign citizens have not been directly affected or targeted. Nevertheless, you should exercise caution when travelling in the Araucanía region. If you do travel there, do so only in the daytime.
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from the Chilean authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid must be valid for the duration of your stay in Chile.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest diplomatic mission for your destination.
Tourist visa: not required
Business visa: not required
Student visa: required
Work visa: required
Canadians do not need a visa to visit Chile, but tourists are issued a tourist card upon arrival. The card is valid for a maximum period of up to 90 days.
You must retain the card and present it to immigration officers prior to departure from the country. Failure to do so may result in delays.
Replacing a lost or stolen card
If lost or stolen, a new tourist card can be obtained in Santiago at a special police unit (Jefatura Nacional de Extranjeria y Policia Internacional), located at Eleuterio Ramirez, No. 852, Santiago, well in advance of departure.
If outside of Santiago, you can get a replacement card from the nearest office of the police investigations unit.
- Police Investigation Service (in Spanish)
- Replacing a tourist card - Police investigations unit (in Spanish)
Extension of stay
You can request an extension of stay for another 90 days at the Chilean immigration office in Santiago or at one of their offices co-located with the provincial government in the province where you are staying.
You must apply for the extension at least 1 month before your current tourist card’s expiration date. If you have stayed in Chile for longer than the allowed period, you must pay a fine at the Chilean immigration office before you can leave the country.
- Chilean immigration office (in Spanish)
In August 2018, the Chilean government began to limit stays on Easter Island to 30 consecutive days for all travellers, including Chileans who reside on the mainland. Upon your entry, you will have to show a:
- passport that will be valid for the duration of your stay
- return ticket that meets the 30-day deadline
- proof of reservation at an authorized resort
Importation of agriculture products
Chile imposes severe restrictions, such as detention and heavy fines, on the importation of agricultural products. Be sure to declare all agriculture items when entering Chile, including packaged products.
- Chilean customs regulations - National Customs Service
If you are a Canadian of Chilean origin, Chilean immigration authorities deem you a Chilean citizen. As such, Canadian-Chilean dual citizens residing in Chile must enter and depart the country using their Chilean passport, and dual nationals that travel to Chile on their Canadian passport but decide to stay longer than 90 days without obtaining an extension may be asked to depart the country on a Chilean passport.
Canadians of Chilean origin should contact the nearest Chilean embassy or consulate in Canada before travelling to Chile to confirm their citizenship status and to check for the latest entry and exit requirements, which may change without notice.
Children and travel
Children born in Chile may require a Chilean passport to leave the country.
Chile has strict requirements for the entry and exit of persons under the age of 18, including special documentation.
Parents of children travelling alone or with 1 parent are strongly encouraged to contact the nearest Chilean embassy or consulate before departure to ensure that the latest entry and exit requirements, which may change without notice, are met.
More about travelling with children
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
- Measles in South America - December 13, 2018
Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health professional 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 - Country Entry Requirements
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.
- There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
About Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada
* 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.
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 children, travellers going to rural areas, travellers visiting friends and relatives or those travelling for a long period of time.
Travellers visiting regions with a risk typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care professional 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 , yellow fever and Zika virus.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is currently a risk of chikungunya in this country. Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. 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.
- Mosquitoes carrying dengue typically bite during the daytime, particularly around sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
Zika virus infection
Zika virus infection is a risk in this country. The mosquito that spreads the virus is found here.
All travellers should protect themselves from mosquito bites and other diseases spread by insects.
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.
Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.
Medical services and facilities
Medical care in Chile is generally good. Health facilities are widely available in Santiago and other major cities, but can be very limited in remote areas.
Treatment at private clinics and hospitals is expensive. Major hospitals accept credit cards, but many doctors and smaller hospitals in Chile expect immediate cash payment for medical care.
Contact your insurance company promptly if you have to go to a medical facility for treatment. If you have a pre-existing health condition, carry an up-to-date medical report from a Canadian physician for reference should you need medical treatment in Chile.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
Travel health and safety
Santiago has one of the highest pollution levels in South America. Heavy smog can pose serious health hazards from May through October.
The ozone layer is especially thin over parts of Chile. Take precautions to protect yourself from ultraviolet radiation.
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 and culture
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
Pack your luggage yourself and do not carry items that do not belong to you.
National parks preservation
The preservation of protected areas of national parks is safeguarded by Chilean legislation. Penalties for violations can be severe, especially in the case of fires.
Open fires are strictly forbidden in national parks outside of permitted camping areas. Local authorities may revoke tourist permits from anyone caught starting a fire illegally. Authorities may ask the transgressor to voluntarily depart Chile within 72 hours or be subjected to deportation proceedings. If the open fire results in a forest fire, there may also be criminal penalties (jail sentences) and fines.
You can drive with a Canadian driver’s licence if staying for fewer than 90 days, but you should still carry an international driving permit. Your insurance may refuse to settle a claim for driving without a valid international permit.
If you are a resident of Chile, you must apply for a Chilean driver’s licence from the municipality in which you live.
There is no car insurance available on Easter Island. In case of accident or damage to your rented vehicle, you will have to pay for the repairs yourself.
There is a zero-tolerance policy regarding drinking and driving. Under Chilean law, even 1 alcoholic beverage puts the driver over the acceptable limit. Penalties for drinking and driving include licence suspension, fines and/or detention.
International Driving Permit
Restrictions in Santiago
To combat high levels of pollution in winter, restrictions on driving in central Santiago (within the ring road) are in place from June to September. The last 2 digits of the licence plate number determine which days of the month a vehicle cannot be driven. Lists of affected plate numbers are published in newspapers.
Temporary bans may be imposed on up to 60% of city traffic when levels of pollution are extremely high.
Chilean law does not prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. While homosexuality is socially tolerated, much of Chilean society is still conservative.
General safety information and advice for LGBTQ2 travellers abroad
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Chile.
If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of Chile, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.
General information for travellers with dual citizenship
The currency is the Chilean peso (CLP).
U.S. dollars are easily exchanged across the country at banks and official foreign exchange bureaus but purchases in U.S. dollars can only be made in certain stores in Santiago. Credit cards are often not accepted in locally owned small hotels and restaurants, including in Santiago.
Natural disasters and climate
Chile is subject to various natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, torrential rains, floods and mudslides.
Border crossings can close due to severe weather conditions or earthquakes.
Information about natural disasters is available from the National emergency office (ONEMI).
- Latest alerts - ONEMI (in Spanish)
Chile is located in a very active seismic zone.
There are 500 active volcanoes in Chile.
Debris from erupting volcanoes can 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.
If you live or are travelling near active volcanoes:
- monitor levels of volcanic activity through the local media
- pay careful attention to all warnings issued
- follow the advice of local authorities
- be prepared to modify your travel arrangements or even evacuate the area on short notice
- Information on Emergency Procedures - ONEMI (in Spanish)
- Volcano monitoring - National Geology and Mining Service (in Spanish)
- Volcano information - National Geology and Mining Service (in Spanish)
Earthquakes and tsunamis
Earthquakes and tsunamis can occur anywhere throughout Chile.
Familiarize yourself with earthquake and tsunami security measures in hotels and public and private buildings.
In the event of an earthquake or tsunami, pay careful attention to all official warnings and evacuation orders issued by the Government of Chile.
- Evacuation routes and assembly points - ONEMI (in Spanish)
Flooding is frequent during autumn and winter (particularly between May and August) throughout the country, mainly as a result of heavy rains and overloaded sewage systems. Transportation and services are often affected.
Flooding from rising river levels after heavy rain 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, forest fires usually occur between Santiago and Valparaíso and in 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.
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 133
- medical assistance: 131
- firefighters: 132
Santiago - Embassy of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada to Chile, in Santiago, and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
You may reach the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa by calling collect at 613-996-8885.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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