- We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Chile.
- Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.
- 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. 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.
- 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.
- On 5 June 2011, the Puyehue volcano near Osorno erupted. Associated ash falls caused extensive delays to air travel into and around Chile and neighbouring countries, as well as the closure of some border crossings with Argentina. The volcano is still erupting intermittently. Consequently, air traffic may still be affected. We recommend you consult your airline for the latest information.
- In recent years, several small scale bombs have been detonated in the Metropolitan Region of Santiago.
- Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
Entry and exit
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Chile for the most up to date information.
Australian tourists entering Chile through Santiago International Airport are required to pay a reciprocity fee. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Chile for up to date fee information.
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.
If travelling with children aged under 18 years, parents may be asked to 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 their 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 in or leaving Chile. A parent who has sole custody of a child must present the court order conferring custody. 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.
If you are travelling to Chile through the United States of America, or if you are transiting in Honolulu or other US points of entry, you are required to meet US entry/transit requirements. Make sure you check with your nearest US Embassy or Consulate your visa requirements 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. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.
For entry and exit requirements for Chilean dual nationals, see the Information for dual nNationals section under Laws.
Safety and security
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General Advice to Australian Travellers.
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. 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.
In recent years, several small scale bombs have been detonated in the Metropolitan Region of Santiago. On 3 November 2009, a small bomb exploded at the Marriott Hotel, Santiago, injuring one person.
There is ongoing conflict between members of Chile’s largest indigenous group and government authorities in southern Chile. Clashes have turned violent. In July 2009, a tourist bus from Santiago to Puerto Montt was attacked near Temuco by a group of 10 people.
Muggings and robberies occur in urban areas, especially at night. People walking alone are often targeted. Daylight muggings have been reported in the Cerro San Cristobal Park and in and around the Plaza de Armas in the capital, Santiago.
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, outdoor cafes and markets and in resort areas. There has been an increase in incidents of thieves slashing backpacks. You should remain vigilant at all times.
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. Australian currency and travellers' cheques are not accepted in many countries. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work overseas. 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.
Make two photocopies of valuables such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.
While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.
As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
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. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
Australians are required to pay an additional fee to have their passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.
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. For further advice, see our bulletin on Overseas Road Safety.
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.
Please refer to our Travelling by air page for information on air travel.
When you are in Chile, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs in Chile are severe and include lengthy imprisonment in local jails.
Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.
Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.
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 brochure provides further information for dual nationals.
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.
Your doctor or travel clinic is the best source of information about preventive measures, immunisations (including booster doses of childhood vaccinations) and disease outbreaks overseas. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our 'Travelling Well' brochure also provides useful tips for travelling with medicines and staying healthy while travelling overseas.
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, and rabies) occur from time to time. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before travelling. 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. 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 altitude, you should see your doctor prior to travel and get advice specific to you and your situation.
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.
The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has confirmed cases of avian influenza in birds in a number of countries throughout the world. For a list of these countries, visit the OIE website. For more information see our travel bulletin on avian influenza.
Where to get help
In Chile, you can obtain consular assistance from the:
Australian Embassy, Santiago de Chile
Isidora Goyenechea 3621
13th Floor, Las Condes
Santiago de Chile
Telephone: (56 2) 550 3500
Facsimile: (56 2) 550 3560
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.
In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
Chile is in an active earthquake and volcano region. Seismic activity could occur at any time. Australians are advised to remain alert to local media and familiarise themselves with evacuation procedures.
On 5 June 2011, the Puyehue volcano near Osorno erupted. Associated ash falls caused extensive delays to air travel into and around Chile and neighbouring countries, as well as the closure of some border crossings with Argentina. The volcano is still erupting intermittently. Consequently, air traffic may still be affected. We recommend you consult your airline for the latest information.
On 27 February 2010, an earthquake measuring 8.8 magnitude struck close to Concepcion, around 300km south of Santiago, the Chilean capital. Hundreds of people were killed or injured and thousands were made homeless. Widespread damage was caused to major infrastructure, including roads and buildings.
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.
In April 2009, the Llaima volcanoes in the Conguillo National Park, located 670 kilometres south of Santiago, erupted. On 22 January 2010, the Chilean Government restricted access to the Conguillio National Park and the surrounding area as a precaution.
The Chaiten volcano, located 1220 kilometres south of Santiago, erupted in May 2008. This resulted in considerable ash fall and evacuation of residents in Chaiten and Futaleufu in the tenth region of Chile and neighbouring areas of southern Argentina. Eruptions disrupted air and land transport. The volcano is still active and continues to present a safety threat. A yellow alert remains in place and public access is restricted.
During the autumn and winter seasons, flooding can occur with little warning throughout the country. Services and transport are often affected.
Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service. If a natural disaster occurs, you should monitor the media and follow the advice of local authorities.
Australians are advised to respect wildlife laws and to maintain a safe and legal distance when observing wildlife, including marine animals and birds. You should only use reputable and professional guides or tour operators and closely follow park regulations and wardens' advice.
For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with Children brochure.
If you are planning on placing your children in schools or child care facilities overseas we encourage you to research the standards of security, care and staff training within those establishments. You should exercise the same precautions you would take before placing children into schools or child care facilities in Australia.