Official advice:
Exercise normal safety precautions

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Chile overall, exercise normal safety precautions ↓

Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.

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Latest advice, 06 May 2016

Due to significant protests affecting travel to and from the island of Chilo, we advise Australians to take extra caution and follow advice of local authorities in the region of Los Lagos. Protestors have cut off access to and from the island and transport services have been disrupted. The level of the advice has not changed. We continue to advise Australians to exercise normal safety precautions in Chile.

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Chile.
  • You should exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. Monitor the media and other sources for changes to local travelling conditions.
  • Since 2 May 2016, significant protests in the Los Lagos region and the island of Chilo have disrupted transport links to and from the island. Protestors have erected barricades and ferry services have also been affected.
  • There have been a number of recent incidents of small explosive devices being detonated in central Santiago, mainly targeting banks, public transport and other institutions. Further incidents could occur. You should remain vigilant in public areas, keep your bags with you at all times, and report any suspicious behaviour or unattended packages to local authorities. See Safety and security.
  • Australians should be particularly vigilant during days of national or commemorative significance, as large protests and demonstrations could occur.
  • Large-scale protests can occur in Chile, including in central Santiago, other major cities and rural towns throughout Chile. Tear gas and water cannons have been used in the past by local authorities. You should avoid all demonstrations and protests as they may turn violent without warning, and monitor local media for information, particularly before visiting central Santiago or other major cities.
  • Dual citizens should be aware of their visa requirements and confirm these with their nearest Embassy or Consulate of Chile. See Entry and exit.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
    • organise comprehensive travel insurance and check what circumstances and activities are not covered by your policy
    • register your travel and contact details, so we can contact you in an emergency
    • subscribe to this travel advice to receive free email updates each time it's reissued
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Entry and exit

Australian tourists entering Chile through Santiago International Airport required to pay a “reciprocity fee”. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Chile, or the Santiago Airport on +56 2 2690 1063, for up to date information on fees.

Visas are required for work permits, study and for Australian diplomatic and official passports holders and must be arranged prior to arrival in Chile from your nearest Embassy or Consulate of Chile.

On entry to Chile, a Tourist Card will be issued for a stay of up to 90 days. An extension can be applied for at the Chilean Immigration Office located at San Antonio 580, Santiago; telephone (56 2) 2550 2469. The Tourist Card must be surrendered upon departure. If lost or stolen, a replacement Tourist Card can be obtained at the International Police headquarters or at Santiago’s international airport.

If you are travelling to Chile through the United States of America, or if you are transiting Honolulu or another US point of entry, you are required to meet US entry/transit requirements. Make sure you check your visa requirements with the nearest US Embassy or Consulate well in advance of your travel. You should also read our travel advice for the United States of America.

Make sure your passport has at least six months validity from your planned date of return to Australia.

Australians who overstay their visa will not be allowed to leave Chile until they have regularised the situation with the Chilean migration authorities. This can only be done at the Migration Department of the Ministry of the Interior and Public Security. If you arrive at the Santiago International Airport, or another departure point with an expired visa, you will not be allowed to board your flight.

As visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice, contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Chile for the most up to date information.

Travelling with children

If travelling with children aged under 18 years, parents may be asked to show the original, and provide a copy, of the child's birth certificate, particularly if they do not share a common surname.

Children under the age of 18 years who are not accompanied by both parents must present a notarised document certifying the agreement of the absent parent(s) and a copy of the child's birth certificate when arriving or departing Chile. A parent who has sole custody of a child must also present the court order conferring custody.

Any documentation not in Spanish must be accompanied by an official Spanish translation. These documents must be notarised by a Chilean consular officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Santiago or at a Chilean Embassy or Consulate overseas prior to travel. The date of execution of the documents must not be more than three months prior to entry or departure. The same document may be used for entry and exit. It is recommended you carry three copies of each document.

Children under the age of 18 years, born overseas to Chilean parents, can enter Chile on an Australian passport and remain in the country for up to 90 days as a tourist. For stays longer than 90 days, the child must obtain a Chilean passport.

Information for dual nationals

Chile does not recognise dual nationality. This may limit the ability of the Australian Government to provide consular assistance to Australian/Chilean dual nationals who are arrested or detained.

Australian citizens of Chilean origin should be aware that Chilean legislation may deem them to be Chilean citizens, even in cases where they may have taken steps to renounce Chilean citizenship. In such cases, the Chilean authorities may require that dual nationals enter and depart Chile using Chilean passports. Australians of Chilean origin should contact their nearest Chilean Embassy or Consulate before travelling to Chile to confirm their citizenship status and the latest entry and exit requirements. Chilean entry and exit requirements for dual nationals may change without notice.

Our Dual nationals page provides further information.

Safety and security

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin.

Civil unrest/political tension

Large-scale protests can occur in Chile, including in central Santiago, other major cities and rural towns throughout Chile. Tear gas and water cannons have been used by local authorities.

Since May 2 2016, protestors on the island of Chilo in the Los Lagos region have erected barricades and disrupted transport to and from the island. The protests could spread to other areas of Los Lagos region including the main city of Puerto Montt. If you are travelling to the region, confirm your travel plans with your tour operator or travel provider, monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities.

There have been a number of incidents of small explosive devices being detonated around Santiago. Explosive devices have been discovered or set off near churches, childcare centres, banks, the Santiago Metro and police stations.

A Chilean anarchist group has claimed responsibility for many of the incidents and has vowed to continue its campaign. Further incidents could occur.

Australians in Chile should remain vigilant in public areas, and report any suspicious behaviour or unattended packages to local authorities.

You should avoid all demonstrations and protests as they may turn violent without warning and monitor local media for information about expected demonstrations, particularly before visiting central Santiago or the centres of other major cities.

Australians should be particularly vigilant during days of national or commemorative significance. The anniversary of the 11 September 1973 coup, Workers’ Day (1 May) and Day of the Young Combatant (29 March) may be accompanied by large protests and demonstrations.

Araucana region

People claiming to represent Mapuche communities, Chile’s largest indigenous group, are engaged in a conflict over issues such as land and indigenous rights in Chile. As such, there has been politically motivated violence in the Araucana region of southern Chile in recent years. These attacks have targeted, for example, multinational forestry corporations and private Chilean landowners. Australian and other foreign citizens have not been directly affected or targeted. Nevertheless, you are advised to be vigilant when travelling in the Araucana region, and to avoid these types of disturbances.

Crime

Muggings and robberies are frequently reported in urban areas, particularly in Santiago, Via del Mar, Valparaiso and Calama. People walking alone are often targeted, especially at night. Daylight muggings, including with weapons have been reported in the Cerro San Cristobal Park and in and around the Plaza de Armas in the capital, Santiago. Robberies, assaults and pickpocketing are common in the popular tourist area of Bellavista in Santiago, particularly at night.

Tourists have been robbed and assaulted by taxi drivers or their accomplices, especially late at night. To reduce the risk of robbery you should book taxis by phone, particularly if travelling alone or at night. Prepaid official taxis are available at the airport.

Petty crime including pick-pocketing and bag snatching is increasingly common in crowded areas, such as on public transport, at outdoor cafes and markets and in resort areas. Small bags and purses have been stolen from hotel lobbies, crowded public areas, on the metro system, as well as from the back of chairs at bars and restaurants especially in the popular tourist areas such as Plaza de Armas and Bellavista. There has been an increase in the number of travellers falling victim to the “bird poo” scam, in which a substance is squirted onto the back of a tourist and thieves ‘assist’ the individual to clean up in order to steal their bag.

Tourists travelling on inter-city buses, particularly from Calama to San Pedro de Atacama, have reported having their possessions stolen while sleeping. You should avoid putting any valuables in the overhead storage compartments of buses. You should remain vigilant at all times and take extra care in bus stations, as criminal groups have been known to target tourists by distracting and robbing them (e.g. an elderly person who seems to accidently drop several coins, causes the traveller to approach the person to provide assistance, while leaving their bags unattended). There is a very high incidence of tourists being robbed at Calama bus station. You should never leave items such as credit cards, cash, your passport or other valuables in your luggage while travelling by public transport in Chile.

There has been an increase in robberies involving weapons including during car-jackings as residents leave their vehicles to open or close gates. There have also been a number of armed holdups of stores, including of a jewellery store in a shopping mall in December 2015 when shots were fired.

If your Australian passport is lost or stolen within Chile, you will be required to travel to Santiago in order to apply in person for a replacement travel document. If a police report is required for insurance purposes, travellers should attend the “Policia de Investigaciones (PDI) – Extranjeria” located at Eleuterio Ramirez 830, Santiago and request ‘Proof of Loss of Documents’ (Spanish: Constancia de Perdida de Documentos).

Foreigners have been robbed after accepting 'spiked' drinks in bars and places of entertainment.

Money and valuables

Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash in US denominations (which can be easily exchanged throughout Chile), debit cards or cash cards. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work in Chile. When handling local currency, you should check that you are given the correct change as 1,000 and 10,000 peso notes are similar in appearance.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

Local travel

Anti-tank mines and landmines are a danger in remote sections of several popular national reserves and parks near northern borders, including Lauca and Llullaillaco National Parks, Salar de Surire National Monument and Los Flamencos National Reserve. There are also unexploded munitions outside of military zones in the desert areas bordering Chile and Peru. You should seek advice from local authorities before travelling to these areas and observe all warning signs and follow clearly identified roads. There are also clearly marked landmine fields in the Magallanes region of southern Chile, between Punta Arenas and the Torres del Paine National Park and on Tierra del Fuego.

Driving in Chile can be dangerous due to aggressive driving practices. Secondary and rural roads are often poorly maintained and lack sufficient street lighting. Roads in mountainous areas often lack guardrails. Chains are often required on mountain roads during the winter. Chile has a zero tolerance policy with drink driving; it is illegal to drive with any blood alcohol content and driving under the influence is severely punished and can result in imprisonment. For further advice, see our road travel page.

Australian tourists who wish to drive in Chile are required to obtain an international driver’s licence from Australia.

If you are planning scientific, technical or mountaineering activities in areas classified as frontier areas, you are required to obtain authorisation from the Chilean government at least 90 days prior to the expedition.

Airline safety

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Chile.

Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.

Laws

You are subject to the local laws of Chile, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you’re arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs in Chile are severe and include lengthy imprisonment in local jails. See our Drugs page.

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. See our LGBTI travellers page.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Health

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

The standard of medical facilities provided by private hospitals in Santiago and other major cities is good. Outside of major cities, however, facilities can be very limited. Treatment at private clinics and hospitals is expensive. While some large hospitals may accept credit cards, doctors and hospitals often expect cash payment prior to providing medical services, including for emergency care.

Outbreaks of water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including hepatitis, typhoid, influenza and rabies) occur from time to time. In rural areas, we recommend that you boil all drinking water or that you drink bottled water and avoid ice cubes. You should also avoid raw and undercooked food, and seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

There have been outbreaks of dengue fever on Easter Island. If you travel to Easter Island we encourage you to take precautions against being bitten by insects, including using insect repellent, wearing loose fitting, light coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.

Travellers who ascend to altitudes greater than 2500m, particularly if the ascent is rapid, or who at higher altitudes make further rapid ascents, are at risk of developing altitude sickness. Altitude sickness can be life threatening and can affect anyone, even the physically fit. Those more at risk include people who have had altitude sickness before, who exercise or drink alcohol before adjusting (acclimatising) to the altitude, or who have health problems that affect breathing. If you plan to travel to higher altitudes, you should see your doctor prior to travel and get advice specific to you and your condition.

The Chilean government regularly issues pre-emergency alerts for air contamination. High levels of smog and air pollution occur in Santiago from April to October. High levels of dust often occur from December to March. People with respiratory problems should take extra care when alerts for air contamination are issued.

Where to get help

Depending on your enquiry, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24 hour emergency number.

If the matter relates to criminal issues, contact the nearest police station for advice. Chilean national emergency numbers are: Police - 133, Fire - 132, and Ambulance - 131.

If the matter relates to complaints about tourism services or products, contact the service provider directly. There is also a national information service number available on 103.

The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and cannot do to assist Australians overseas. For consular assistance, see contact details below:

Australian Embassy, Santiago de Chile

Isidora Goyenechea 3621
13th Floor, Las Condes
Santiago de Chile
Telephone: (56 2) 2550 3500
Facsimile: (56 2) 2550 3560
E-mail: consular.santiago@dfat.gov.au
Website: www.chile.embassy.gov.au

See the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

If you are travelling to Chile, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency-whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the Embassy you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Earthquakes

Chile is in an active earthquake and volcano region. Seismic activity could occur at any time. Australians should monitor local media for the latest developments after an earthquake and follow local advice, including from the National Emergency Agency.

Tsunamis

All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis, but in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, there is a more frequent occurrence of large, destructive tsunamis because of the many large earthquakes along major tectonic plate boundaries and ocean trenches. See the Tsunami Awareness brochure.

Volcanos

The Chilean government uses a three-tier system to classify the activity levels of volcanoes. A green alert level is issued for volcanoes that are stable with no immediate risk of eruption. A yellow alert is used for those undergoing changes in their activity levels, and a red alert is declared for volcanoes which are at an imminent risk of erupting. A list of volcanoes in Chile and their current alert levels (in Spanish) can be found at: www.sernageomin.gov.cl/volcanes. In the event of volcanic activity, you should follow the instructions of local authorities and contact your transport provider about possible disruptions.

Floods and Fires

During the autumn and winter seasons, flooding can occur with little warning throughout the country. Services and transport are often affected.

Large forest fires can occur in Chile, particularly during the summer months. In the event of a fire, adhere to the evacuation instructions of local authorities.

Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System. If a natural disaster occurs, you should monitor the media and follow the advice of local authorities.

Additional Resources

For additional general and economic information to assist travelling in this country, see the following links:

Warnings by area

Map of Chile