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Chile - Exercise normal security precautions
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Chile. Exercise normal security precautions.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, has increased in recent years, particularly in Santiago, Valparaíso, Calama and Viña del Mar. Small bags and purses have been stolen from hotel and hostel lobbies, crowded tourist locations, the metro (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.
Remain vigilant at all times and take extra care on buses and in bus stations, as criminal groups have been known to target tourists by first distracting and then robbing them. 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 San Pedro de Atacama or Antofagasta, have reported being robbed while sleeping.
In Valparaíso, remain particularly alert in the port and adjoining tourist areas, where thieves, often working in groups of two or more, “snatch and grab” cameras or purses.
Some residential areas (poblaciones) should be avoided at all times due to the higher risk of crime. Check with your hotel or other reliable contacts in the city you are visiting to determine which areas should be avoided.
Muggings, sometimes involving the use of weapons, have been reported in Cerro San Cristóbal and other parks in the Santiago area, even during the day. Be vigilant in parks, and avoid them at night.
Take care when driving a rental car in Valparaíso and Santiago. 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.
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, as they may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.
Residential break-ins and robberies are reported regularly, and are on the rise in the communities of Lo Barnechea, Las Condes and Vitacura.
Telephone scams are a common occurrence in Chile. Never provide any personal or financial information or details about the whereabouts of family members.
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.
In recent years, several small-scale explosive devices have been detonated in Santiago. Targets of attacks have included transportation hubs, churches, government buildings, businesses, banks and automated banking machines (ABMs). An explosion occurred on September 8, 2014, near a metro station, injuring several people. Another incident took place on February 21, 2015, at a church, but no injuries were reported. Further incidents could occur. 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.
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), May 1 (Worker’s day), May 21 (Navy Day and Annual Speech by the President to Congress), and September 11 (the anniversary of the 1973 coup), as these dates are often marked by large demonstrations. Follow the advice of local authorities and avoid large crowds and demonstrations, as they may turn violent with little to no warning.
Demarcated minefields are a danger in remote areas, including in the northern regions of Arica, Panicota, Tarapaca and Antofagasta, which are near the borders with Bolivia and Peru, and in the southern regions of Magallanes and Antártica, near the border with Argentina. Minefields are generally marked, but some signs may be damaged or may not be 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 guard rails. 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. 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 at 139.
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 are shared by up to five passengers.
When arriving to or departing the country, use airport-registered taxis, which can be booked and pre-paid at the airport.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
Outside of permitted camping areas, open fires are strictly forbidden in national parks. As of February 10, 2015, local authorities may revoke tourist permits from anyone caught starting a fire illegally. The transgressor may be asked to voluntarily depart Chile within 72 hours or be subjected to deportation proceedings. If the open fire results in a larger forest fire, there may also be criminal penalties and fines.
Always register with local authorities before setting off to the mountains or remote areas. Inform park rangers, police or other local authorities of your itinerary, even if you travel with a professional guide. Learn about local hazards and weather conditions before you go. The Chilean Forestry Service (in Spanish) provides information about parks and wilderness areas in the country and weather forecasts can be found on the Chilean Meteorological Service website (in Spanish).
Report missing or injured persons to the police immediately by dialing 133.
Elements within some Mapuche communities, Chile’s largest indigenous group, are engaged in a conflict over land and indigenous rights in Chile. There have been several reports in recent years of politically motivated violence in some parts of the Araucanía region of southern Chile. These attacks have targeted multinational forestry corporations and private Chilean landowners. Canadian and other foreign citizens have not been directly affected or targeted. Nevertheless, you are advised to exercise caution when travelling in the Araucanía region, and it is recommended that you travel during the day.
It is the sole prerogative of every country or territory to determine who is allowed to enter or exit. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry or exit requirements. The following information has been obtained from the Chilean authorities and is subject to change at any time. The country- or territory-specific entry/exit requirements are provided on this page for information purposes only. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, information contained here is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided. 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. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives for up-to-date information.
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 tourists are issued a tourist card—valid for a maximum period of up to 90 days—upon arrival. You must retain this document and present it to immigration officers prior to departure from the country; failure to do so may result in delays. 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, a replacement card can be obtained from the nearest office of the police investigations unit (Policia de Investigaciones or PDI) (website in Spanish only).
An extension of stay for another 90 days can be requested at the Chilean immigration office in Santiago or at one of their offices located at the provincial government (Gobernación Provincial) in the province where you are staying. The extension must be applied for at least one month before the current tourist card’s expiration date. If you have stayed in Chile for longer than the allowed period, you will not be allowed to leave the country until you have paid a fine at the Chilean immigration office.
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. For further information regarding Chilean customs regulations, visit the National Customs Service.
Canadian citizens of Chilean origin should be aware that Chilean legislation may deem them to be Chilean citizens and as such, Chilean authorities may require dual nationals to enter and exit Chile using Chilean passports. For example, 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. Also, children born in Chile may require a Chilean passport to leave the country. 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, as these may change without notice.
Consult Laws and Culture for more information.
Children and travel
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 one 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.
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 , yellow fever and Zika virus.
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
Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Consult Well on Your Way—A Canadian’s Guide to Healthy Travel Abroad for more information. If you have a medical emergency while abroad, officials at the nearest Canadian government office can provide you with a list of licensed health-care providers.
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. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and medical evacuation, if required. Contact your insurance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment. If you have a pre-existing health condition, be sure to carry an up-to-date medical report from a Canadian physician for reference in case you seek medical treatment in Chile.
Prescriptions written by local doctors can be filled at any pharmacy. Over-the-counter medicines are widely available.
Other health considerations
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 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. Pack your entire luggage yourself and do not carry items that do not belong to you.
There is a zero tolerance policy regarding drinking and driving. Under Chilean law, even one alcoholic beverage puts the driver over the acceptable limit. Penalties for drinking and driving include licence 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.
Although you can rent a car and drive with a Canadian driver’s licence, it is recommended that Canadians visiting Chile for fewer than 90 days drive with an International Driving Permit, as 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.
The laws of Chile don’t prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex, and civil unions between same-sex couples were lawfully recognized in April 2015. While homosexuality is increasingly socially tolerated, much of Chilean society is conservative.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Chile. However, Canadian officials may be limited in their ability to provide you with consular services if local authorities consider you a Chilean citizen. You should always travel using your valid Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. You may also need to carry and present a Chilean passport for legal reasons, for example to enter and exit the country (see Entry/exit requirements to determine passport requirements). Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
The currency is the Chilean peso (CLP). U.S. dollars (but not Canadian dollars) are easily exchanged across the country at banks and official foreign exchange bureaus. Purchases in U.S. dollars can only be made 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.
ABMs are widely available in Santiago and major cities throughout Chile.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
In the event of a natural disaster such as an earthquake, tsunami, volcanic eruption, forest fire, landslide or flood, official public government information is available at the Chilean Ministry of the Interior’s national emergency office, known locally as ONEMI (Oficina Nacional de Emergencia – Ministerio del Interior y Seguridad Pública). Most of the website information is available in Spanish only; however, on the main page, ONEMI provides preparation and response recommendations in the case of earthquakes or tsunamis in both English and French. You can also follow ONEMI on Twitter, @ONEMIChile, for the latest emergency information.
Border crossings can 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).
Earthquakes and tsunamis
On September 16, 2015, an 8.3-magnitude earthquake struck off the shore of central Chile. Telecommunication, power and water services have been affected in the region of Coquimbo. Transportation to and from this region might be affected.
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 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. ONEMI publishes information on evacuation routes and assembly points (in Spanish) for coastal towns affected by tsunamis.
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.
There are 500 active volcanoes in Chile, and approximately 60 of them have erupted in the last 450 years. Most recently, Villarrica volcano, located in southern Chile, erupted on March 3, 2015. On April 30, 2015, Calbuco Volcano, also in southern Chile, erupted for a third time in recent weeks. 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 and follow the advice of local authorities. Be prepared to modify your travel arrangements or even evacuate the area on short notice. Consult the ONEMI (in Spanish) for information on emergency procedures.
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. Further information on volcanic monitoring is available from the National Geology and Mining Service (in Spanish).
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 133
- medical assistance: 131
- firefighters: 132
Santiago - Embassy of Canada
Antofagasta - 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.
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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