When you travel to a new destination, you may need to spend a few hours researching what you need to do on arrival. This guide is made to help make this process easier and simpler for you, with the top things to know once you have landed in Santiago, Chile.
Border Control & Visas
The first place you’ll get to after getting off the plane is border control, where they will check if you’re allowed to enter the country or not (it’s not as scary as it sounds).
If you are a citizen of the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the EU or South Africa then you won’t need a visa, just your passport (it is not possible to enter with an identity card). As soon as you arrive at the border you will get a stamp in your passport and a receipt-like Tourist Card (Tarjeta de turismo / PDI) which you must not lose (but if you do, don’t worry, just read on). This card entitles you to stay in Chile for up to 90 days for any tourism activities. However, a short exit and re-entry of Chile (e.g. a weekend trip to Mendoza in Argentina), will automatically renew the tourist card for another 90 days.
Theoretically, you can repeat this process as often as you like. This type of extending your visa is not regulated by law, neither allowed nor forbidden, but in general, does not lead to any problems, and so many foreigners tend to take advantage of this opportunity.
Alternatively, you can request an extension for about 100 US dollars at the Departamento de Extranjería in Santiago (Agustinas 1235, Phone +56 (2) 5502 469) or in other regions at the Gobernación Provincial, but make sure you do this in plenty of time for the extension to be approved (at least 20 days).
For practiced activities within Chile, e.g. an internship, summer job or volunteer work, a visa is officially required, you can find information on what visa you need from your country’s government website or the Chilean Embassy of your country (example: USA, UK etc).
Most foreigners, however, enter the country with a tourist card. To be sure, it’s recommended that you contact a Chilean Consulate in your country and discuss your particular case with the staff. You should estimate 6-8 weeks for the processing time of a visa.
Since the copy of the tourist card must be kept until departure, if you lose it you will have to get a new card at the Policía Internacional in Santiago, General Borgoño 1052, Metro Calicanto, open Mon-Fri 8:30am-12:30pm, or in other regions at the Policía de Investigaciones. This is a fairly simple process, all you have to do is fill out a paper and they will print a new one for you, but the queue to do this may be very long so you could be there a few hours!
Before you land in Chile, you will be given a declaration form to fill out. The form only requires some basic information such as Name, Passport Number, address where you will be staying (so make sure you have that written down if you don’t already), and boxes to fill in declaring what you have in your suitcase.
What you can and can’t bring in to Chile is pretty similar to most countries, you must not have more than USD $10,000 or it’s equivalent in other countries cash or bearer negotiable instruments over this amount and you must not carry any plant or animal products.
After you pick up your suitcase off the luggage belt, you will need to then pass it through a security scanner and hand over the filled-out paperwork. So long as you are not carrying anything you shouldn’t, this should be a quick process. Just remember to fill out the paper before you get to this point.
Getting from the Airport to Santiago: Transportation Services
The airport is located about 30km from the center of Santiago. The ride from the airport to downtown could last from 15 minutes to 1 hour, depending the time that you arrive and which transportation you choose. The options are:
Taxi: A taxi stand is located outside the first level of the airport, adjacent to the international arrivals exit. Taxis are available here 24 hours a day, all year round. A taxi to Santiago will cost roughly between $15.000 CLP and $30.000 CLP. The official number for taxis is +56 (2) 6901381.
Uber: Uber is actually prohibited at SCL Airport, but this doesn’t seem to be stopping the drivers. The instructions for the Uber pick-up are explained on the Uber website, but keep in mind there may not be many Ubers around if the carabineros (police) are around too. The cost of the Uber ride into the city will vary from $10.000 CLP to $20.000 CLP depending on where you are staying in the city.
Minivan: The minivans are located at the national arrivals area. They are a private transport service with a maximum capacity of 12 people that take passengers to their homes. The two most popular minivan services are TransVip and Delfos, and they will charge between $20.000 CLP and $40.000 CLP depending on how many passengers are traveling and where in the city you are staying.
Bus: Located near domestic arrivals area you will find two companies that offer a bus service to the city: CentroPuerto and TurBus. These services run every 15 and 30 minutes and go to the city center. This is by far the cheapest option, costing just $2.500 CLP, but it will take a lot longer to get to your desired location, especially if your location is not too close to a bus stop in Santiago.
As always, there is the option of renting a car, you will notice the rental agency counters alongside the taxi and shuttle bus companies upon arrival.
It is NOT necessary to tip your taxi, uber or minivan driver. However, if the trip was fast and efficient, you can simply round the price up to the next thousand, for example, if the trip cost $4,600, you can round it up to $5,000 CLP. If the driver helped with your bags and was extra polite, an extra $1,000 CLP or so would surely be appreciated, too.
By Ellie Weatherly