Chile Register Travel insurance Destinations
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Latest updates: Safety and security - update on demonstrations
Safety and security
Safety and security
Demonstrations and civil unrest
The situation is currently unpredictable and fluid in Chile.
On October 18, 2019, a popular uprising started in reaction to economic measures imposed by the government. Demonstrations in Santiago and other cities across the country have developed into nationwide protests and civil unrest. Violent incidents have occurred, including arson, looting and clashes between protesters and security forces. They resulted in several casualties.
Political demonstrations, civil unrest and outbreaks of violence may occur at any time. Roadblocks may be erected. The situation could significantly disrupt the following essential services:
- emergency services
- medical care
Be aware that Chilean law prohibits political activities by foreigners. Participating in demonstration or promoting dissent, including on social media, may result in being detained and/or deported.
Until the situation returns to normal:
- avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place, including Plaza Italia in Santiago
- exercise caution when visiting main squares
- expect a heightened security presence
- allow extra time to reach your destination
- contact your airline or tour operator to determine if the situation will disrupt your travel plans
- follow the instructions of local authorities
- monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
Tourism, logistical, infrastructure and commercial information on the situation in Chile - Government of Chile
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)
- 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.
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.
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.
- Don’t show signs of affluence
- Don’t 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
The number of armed assaults has increased significantly since the beginning of 2019. Tourists have been attacked, even during the daytime. Be particularly careful:
- in the area of Cerro Alegre in Valparaíso
- in Cerro San Cristóbal park, north of Santiago
- in all other parks in the Santiago area
Residential break-ins and robberies occur regularly, and are on the rise in the Santiago Province communities of Las Condes, Lo Barnechea and Vitacura.
- Be aware of your surroundings at all times
- Avoid walking after dark
- If you are attacked, do not resist and give the aggressor the coveted object
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.
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.
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.
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.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
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. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.
Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.
Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.
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.
- In this country, dengue fever is a risk to travellers year-round. It is a viral disease spread to humans by mosquito bites.
- Dengue fever can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can lead to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- The level of risk of dengue fever changes seasonally, and varies from year to year. After a decline in reported dengue cases worldwide in 2017 and 2018, global numbers have been steeply rising again.
- 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.
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
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.
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
Laws & 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.
Respect heritage sites. The preservation of heritage areas is safeguarded by Chilean legislation. Penalties for breaching rules can be severe, from payment of a fine to imprisonment. Do not alter landmarks in any way and do not trespass even if there are no warnings or signs. Ensure you have a good understanding of local site/park rules and regulations. If you are detained for breaching rules of the heritage site, a prosecutor may issue a warrant impeding your departure from Chile during the investigation.
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.
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.
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.
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
Natural disasters & 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
Antofagasta - Consulate 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.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.
The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.
If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
Learn more about consular services.
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