Find A Job
Once you have the right kind of visa, there is in principle no bar to you obtaining employment in Argentina. However, you will need a strong grasp of conversational Spanish as a minimum.
You will need a visa to enter and work in Argentina. There are several types of visa: see the Visa section for the full range. Visas can be applied for via the Consulate Generals of the Argentine Republic in any country.
On arrival you must you must register within 90 days with your local Registro Nacional de las Personas. They will issue you with a DNI (Documento Nacional de Identidad). As well as acting as an identity card, this has your equivalent of a social security number and will be required for entering into any kind of contract.
You will also need a tax code. Employers are known to avoid registering employees for tax and social security, to keep their costs down. This can result in fines for both the employer and the unregistered individuals. It is your responsibility to see that you are registered.
There are two types of code. For employees, there is the CUIL (Clave Único de Identificación Laboral). Apply through the website of the Administración Nacional de la Seguridad Social (ANSES) or at an ANSES office.
For the self-employed, there is the CUIT (Clave Única de Identificación Tributaria). Apply to the Administración Federal de Ingresos Públicos (AFIP) in the area where your business is located.
Argentina has bilateral agreements with some countries, including countries in Europe, that exempt expats from making social security payments if they are already covered at home. The United Kingdom is not one of these countries.
Your closest Argentine consulate or the Ministerio de Trabajo, Empleo y Seguridad Social (Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security) can confirm whether you will need to make social security payments, and whether these can be refunded when you leave the country.
To receive the state pension, the retirement age is 63 for women and 70 for men, provided that they have paid contributions for at least 30 years. A private pension is recommended. If you already have one in your home country, discuss the implications of moving countries with your provider.
There are several job websites in Argentina, including Bumeran. Online platforms such as these enable you to look through the database and post your resume.
Argentinian employers are finding it hardest to find skilled tradespeople such as electricians, carpenters and welders, as well as IT staff and sales representatives. Part of their problem is that Argentinian salaries are typically lower than for equivalent roles in other countries.
Teaching English as a second language is always popular and is probably the only position for a foreigner where a strong grasp of Spanish is not a requirement. A TEFL certificate and experience lead to better-paying positions.
The maximum you can legally work is 8 hours/day, with 44 hours/week for daytime work, 42 hours/week for night work or 36 hours/week for work in hazardous environments. Most office working days begin at 9am, with a lunch break of 1-1.5 hours. Apart from the service industries, employees do not usually work on Saturday afternoons, Sundays and public holidays. A minimum wage applies to anyone over 18
As well as eleven national holidays, employees who have completed six months of service with the same employer over a 12-month period are eligible for annual leave: 14 calendar days with less than five years’ service; 21 calendar days with 5-10 years’ service; 28 calendar days with 10-20 years’ service; 35 calendar days with 20+ years’ service.
Women have compulsory maternity leave from 45 days before to 45 days after childbirth.
The cost of living is low compared to Europe, but Argentinian wages are not high. An average monthly wage after tax is 31,000 ARS (Argentine Pesos) – around USD 520 or GBP 370. If you are looking for more than a typical Argentinian wage then it may be best to approach multinationals with an Argentine wing. Argentina is also host to several NGOs and aid agencies.
Power, heat, water and waste collection will come to about 4,600 ARS a month for an 85m2 apartment. An internet connection will cost about 1,600 ARS a month. Average monthly rent in a city centre is 15,000 ARS for a one-bedroom apartment and 25,000 ARS for a three-bedroom apartment. Outside a city centre it is 12,000 ARS for a one bedroom-apartment and 19,000 ARS for a three-bedroom apartment. In rural areas, you can expect to pay considerably less.
Useful Argentinian job sites:
• El Clarín
• Jobs in Buenos Aires
There are many local private recruitment agencies listed in the Yellow Pages. You may however make more of an impression by doing your own research and contacting companies directly.
Speculative applications by mail or internet are common practice. As with any job application, finding the name to write to directly in the target company will increase your chances.
Applying For A Job
Your CV should be written in good Spanish and follow the typical format, concentrating on making a good impression without exaggerating. Put any chronological list (e.g. education, work experience) in reverse order, starting with the most recent, giving names and dates. Your CV should include:
• Personal details (Datos personales): first and last name; place and date of birth; marital status; contact details, and so on;
• Education (Formación académica);
• Other qualifications (Otros títulos y seminarios): relevant qualifications, courses attended, and so on;
• Professional experience (Experiencia profesional): include your job titles;
• Languages (Idiomas): the languages you speak and your level of fluency;
• Computer skills (Informática): your level of I.T. skill; the software packages you are familiar with; and so on;
• Miscellaneous (Otros datos de interés): details such as driving license or anything else they may need to know.
Dress neatly and professionally for job interviews. Address anyone present by their title (Señor, Señora, Señorita) and surname: do not assume a first-name basis.
You may be greeted with the classic Argentine cheek kiss rather than a handshake. If this happens, present your right cheek; it is more about the action than actual contact. Let them take the lead and follow suit.
You will almost certainly be asked how long you intend to be in the country. Many foreign candidates are rejected on the basis that they are leaving too soon.
There are no questions that are off limits, but there are also no answers that can automatically debar you. You may well be asked a personal question to gauge your reaction, so be prepared for this. It is quite reasonable to reply, calmly and with a smile, that in your country that would be a strange question.
After the interview, send a follow-up email as soon as you can to thank them for their time. Mention your hope of working with them soon. Highlight your availability and refer back to any strong points in the interview. If they do not get back to you within a week, feel free to send them another email or call, politely asking about the status of your application. Persistence tends to pay off.
Qualifications And Training
Argentinian firms are more interested in demonstrable skills and experience than formal qualifications. If you are good at your job in your own country then you can probably convince them you will be good at it in theirs.
Apply For A Visa/Permit
Argentina offers a number of different visas for different circumstances, and as a result, the application process can be complicated. In addition, good Spanish is useful in navigating the regulations. However, citizens of the U.K., the U.S.A, Canada, Australia and most western European countries can visit Argentina, and remain for up to 90 days, without a visa. To find out whether you qualify for a visa exemption, you can check the website of the Argentinian embassy or the consulate in your home country. Citizens of all other nations must apply either for an ETA (Electronic Travel Authorisation, known as an EVA or Autorización de Viaje Electrónica in Spanish) or a visa for any visit.
If you are a citizen of an exempt country, you can travel to Argentina without a visa. You must have a valid passport, with at least six months remaining from the time you enter the country and with at least one page still blank, and a return or onward airline ticket. You may also be asked for the reason for your visit, and for proof that you have sufficient funds to support yourself during it.
Additionally, before you travel, you may need to confirm with your airline that boarding without a visa is still permitted, as circumstances have been known to change. If you are travelling with your child but without your spouse or partner, you may be asked to provide proof that you have their permission, in the form of a notarised consent document. You might also need to show your custody agreement.
You can, once in the country, apply for a visa extension of up to 90 days at the Direccíon Nacional de Migraciones. You will be charged a fee for this; at the time of writing, this is AR$600. You may work in neither a paid nor an unpaid job with this type of visa.
If you hold a B2 visa for the U.S.A., or a Schengen Visa for the EU, you can apply for an ETA. This allows multiple entries to Argentina for up to 3 months, and it is possible to extend it for a further 3 months. An ETA is for tourism purposes only. In addition, your US B2 or Schengen visa must be valid for a minimum of 9 months from the date you arrive in Argentina, and your passport must have at least 6 months validity and at least one blank page. Possession of an ETA does not guarantee admission; immigration officers have the right to refuse entry to anyone they consider does not fulfil the immigration requirements or presents a security risk. It takes around 16 days to process an ETA application. The fee is US$85/£65/€76, at the time of writing.
If you have been invited to conduct business in Argentina, you will require a business visa. You can apply for this at any Argentinian consulate. Business visas are specific to you and cannot be transferred. They are valid for 60 days. With your application, you will need to supply:
• Your passport – this must be valid for at least six months from the start of your intended stay, and must have at least two blank pages
• Two up-to-date colour passport-size photographs of yourself
• A letter of invitation from the business, organisation or individual who has invited you
• Proof of your business or employment in your home country
• A round trip reservation
• Proof of accommodation in Argentina
• Proof of fee payment ($200/€200, depending on which consulate you attend)
• Your completed application form
• An appointment for an interview at the consulate
You may be asked to supply additional documentation at the discretion of the consul.
Visa to attend a fair or congress, or to carry out scientific, artistic, technical or professional activities
As with the business visa, you must apply to your nearest Argentinian consulate for this type of visa. It is usually valid for 30 days. The same documents are required as for the business visa, including an invitation letter from the appropriate Argentinian organisation or individual. The same fee is charged.
The process for applying for a work visa for Argentina is complicated and has a number of steps. Make sure you leave enough time to complete the process, which can take around three months. You must first be sponsored by an employer who is registered with the National Immigrant Sponsors Register, and they must obtain an entry permit for you. This is needed for your visa application. You must also supply your birth certificate, marriage certificate (if relevant), a police certificate showing you do not have a criminal record, your corporate registration or tax documents, your employment contract and a valid passport. All documents must be translated into Spanish and apostilled.
You must also have proof of accommodation in Argentina, and pay both a migration fee and the consular fee. At the time of writing, the consular fee is $250/€250. The migration fee varies. You will be asked to attend an interview at the consulate, and to sign a sworn affidavit as to your truthfulness.
Family reunification visa
This visa is only for children under 18 (unless they have a disability), parents or spouses of Argentinian citizens or of foreign nationals with permanent residence in Argentina. You must be able to produce solid proof of the relationship, including relevant birth and/or marriage certificates, a certificate of good conduct from a competent authority in your country of residence, and a certificate of domicile for your relative who is a citizen or permanent resident of Argentina. All documents not issued by Argentinian authorities must be apostilled.
Retiree and private income visa
Expats with a retirement or private income of over $2,500/£1900/€2250 per month can apply for a retiree or private income visa. You must first apply for an entry permit or consular permit from the Direccíon Nacional de Migraciones or the consulate in your home country. Once you have this, you must also supply:
• Your passport, with at least six months validity from your date of entry and two blank pages, as well as a copy of the identity page
• Your completed application form, preferably an electronic version
• Two current passport-size photographs, which must be in colour
• Proof of your retirement income, including confirmation that it has been awarded to you, and the three most recent pay stubs
• Proof of your private income and funds, and that these come from sources recognised and approved by the Central Bank of Argentina. You must also be able to prove that you can support both yourself and any accompanying family, which requires an income of at least $30000/£23000/€27000 a year.
• A police certificate showing you have no criminal record
• A sworn statement that you have engaged in no criminal activities
All documents must be apostilled and translated into Spanish. In addition, there is a consular fee of $250/£250/€250, plus a migration fee of $600/£465/€540. You will be expected to attend an interview at the consulate, and all documents must be supplied at least 15 days in advance. In most cases, the application takes seven to 20 days, but it can take up to 45 days. Once granted, the visa is valid for one year, and it may be renewed at the end of that time. Once you have been a resident for two full years, you will be eligible to apply for permanent residence, which will include your dependants.
Nationals of MERCOSUR countries (Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil) and its associated states (Bolivia, Chile, Columbia, Equador, Guyana, Peru and Suriname) can apply for a visa by nationality, which allows them to live in Argentina for two years.
Get Health Insurance
Many expats take out private medical insurance, even if this is not a requirement of residence, because healthcare is expensive in their destination country or because certain treatments and procedures are not available.
When taking out health insurance, be sure to check factors such as the annual and lifetime policy limits, whether there are any exclusions which are likely to affect you, whether you are limited to treatment from specific types of healthcare providers, and whether the policy covers emergency evacuation for medical treatment.
Too frequently, potential buyers of health insurance look only for the lowest cost of premiums before really considering the specific benefits and areas of cover they may actually need. Some plans are cheaper for a reason. Often they include large voluntary deductibles on any claim you might make in the future and may severely cap the benefits received under the plan. Clients should define their needs first, establish the particular area of cover they need, then determine their annual healthcare insurance budget. Only then should they look to premium comparisons, last of all.
Do not buy a plan without studying the policy wording carefully. If in doubt, ask, and only when completely satisfied complete all application forms fully, to the best of your ability.
Important questions to ask the insurance provider:
1. Does the plan allow for cooling off periods, cancellation and then repayment of premium in full?
2. Does the plan offer “Moratorium” or is it “Full underwriting” and do you need to have a medical examination before joining?
3. Does the insurer offer a 24 hour help line, 7 days a week, available from anywhere in the world (freephone)? Most insurers now offer this facility.
4. Are pre-existing conditions excluded when joining and if so, for how long are such conditions excluded?
5. Are all and any nationalities accepted or are there restrictions which apply to local nationals? Some insurers will only take expatriates abroad and not local nationals into an overseas plan.
6. Does the plan allow you to continue cover unbroken through your lifetime? In most cases insurers will continue to offer existing clients cover year on year, irrespective of age or claims history, although premium rates charged can increase dramatically with age.
7. Does the insurer allow for any doctor or consultant or hospital within the plan? Are there any restrictions in this respect? Most international plans do not place restrictions on either hospitals or doctors, but almost all demand that their help lines are called first, prior to approval of any inpatient care.
8. Does the insurer provide for the direct settlement of bills presented by hospitals worldwide, regardless of location (or do you have to pay first)?
9. What are the insurers procedures for outpatient claims? Do these require any pre-authorization or if stated in the plan can you just pay and claim? How long before you get money back from the insurer? 14 days? 28 days?.
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Rent Or Buy Property
If you are thinking about moving to Argentina, your first step should be to choose which area you would like to reside in. The most popular areas amongst expats include Buenos Aires, Mendoza and Bariloche.
Property prices in these areas vary, but due to their popularity, you will often find that rentals operate with great flexibility. Many accommodation options operate with daily, weekly or monthly rental charges.
You can expect to pay between 550 USD and 850 USD per month for a (furnished) two-bedroom apartment, and between 900 USD and 3,000 USD per month for a (furnished) three- to four-bedroom house.
If you are looking to rent a property long-term, you may need to produce a guarantee. The guarantee must be made by somebody who lives in Argentina, owns property and is willing to co-sign the lease for you. If you are new to the country, then it may be difficult to find someone willing to provide this. However, if you are able to pay a year’s rent upfront, this can often work in place of the guarantee.
If you are unable to pay 12 months’ rent upfront, there are still numerous accommodation options for you to choose from. For example, you could rent a unit in an apart-hotel, or stay in a hostel that has fully-equipped private apartments onsite.
It is important to note that, if you are planning on renting an unfurnished apartment, the law stipulates that it cannot be rented for less than two years, so be sure to choose a place you are willing to commit to for a long period of time.
You will also find an abundance of properties advertised locally in estate agent windows, on the properties themselves, and in local newspapers.
If you are looking to buy property in Argentina as a foreign national, you can do so without restrictions. However, at present, there is still a lack of local mortgage products available for foreign nationals.
Nonetheless, outside of this, the only thing you must do prior to purchasing is seek out a CDI (tax ID) number from the government. If you are a non-resident, you will also need to appoint an Argentinean representative, known as a Notary Public (Escribano), to pay the property tax on your behalf.
It is important to note that you may face issues that restrict the transfer of foreign currency when buying property. This is because, due to the Argentine Peso being an unstable currency, middle and high-end real estate in Argentina is always sold in USD. This means that you may face additional fees when purchasing property, as withdrawals of money from the bank are taxed.
As a result, it is possible to lose 1% to 2% of your money when transferring funds between currencies. Transferring the funds is something you can do yourself, or you can opt to use a private broker – this usually costs around 2%.
Once you have sorted out the above, the process of purchasing property in Argentina is not difficult, and it will take around 55 days to complete.
The first step, once your offer has been accepted, is to place a non-refundable down payment – this is known as the boleto. This is held by the real estate agent, and is usually around 30% of the property’s purchase price. It acts as a security payment to protect the buyer and the seller. If the buyer pulls out of the transaction, the down payment is not refunded. If the seller pulls out of the transaction, they will have to pay the buyer double the amount of the boleto.
The purchase process lasts between one and two months, and during this time all surveys and inspections should be completed. The closing of the transaction is known as the escritura, and is the date when all payments are settled and the transfer deed is officially signed.
It is important to note that the residential transaction costs in Argentina can be very high, and taxes across Argentina can vary. However, typically, taxes when purchasing property are based on percentages of property prices.
Outside of the property’s sale price, costs you can expect to see include:
• Real estate agent’s fee: 3% to 4% (+ 21% VAT) – this is paid by the buyer
• Value added tax (VAT): between 4% and 10%
• Stamp duty: 3.6% – this is split evenly between the buyer and the seller
• Notary fee: 1% to 1.5% – this is paid by the buyer
• Registration fee: 0.2% – this is paid by the buyer
• Transfer tax: 1.5% – this is paid by the seller
Move Your Belongings
Consider if you want (or are able) to transport your belongings yourself or whether you will need the services of a removals company that deals with international moves. Unless you are travelling very light, or making a fairly short move by road, you will probably need professional help to ship your possessions. Ask for quotes from several companies first, ensuring that they visit your home to carry out a survey of your requirements. It may be worth paying extra for the removals firm to pack your possessions for you, particularly if they are going to be transported to a distant country and need special protection for the long journey. Make sure you bring to their attention anything fragile or precious that needs particularly careful wrapping and packing.
Before agreeing to a quotation, ensure that you are fully aware of exactly what is covered in the price, and that the service to be provided meets all of your requirements. For example, does the service include both packing and unpacking of your household effects? What about disassembling and reassembling of furniture? If you are planning to put anything into storage in your destination country while you find accommodation, does the price include final delivery and unpacking at your home, or will you need to arrange collection of the items? Obtain a firm estimate of the likely arrival date of your items and obtain contact details for any agents that will be dealing with the removal in your destination country. Ensure that the removals company is aware in advance of any practical considerations such as the lack of an elevator to your apartment, or likely parking problems.
If using a removals company, you may be required to take out their insurance cover for your possessions. Whether or not this is the case, ensure that you have adequate insurance for anything of actual or sentimental value that could get lost or damaged during the move. Take the time to accurately complete or check an inventory of your possessions to be moved, as this will form the basis for any insurance claim for losses or damages. Find out if insurance is included in the price quoted by the removals company, or whether you are required to pay extra for this.
The removals company should arrange any customs and importation documents on your behalf, but if you are arranging the move independently you will need to find out what documents are required and what import duties and taxes are payable (and whether you are eligible for exemption from these).
Make sure that you set aside the important documents you will need for the journey, such as passports and air tickets, and keep these easily accessible in your hand luggage.
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Register For Healthcare
QUICK LINK: Argentina health insurance
Argentina has a three-tier health insurance system consisting of both private and public health cover and a large semi-public health insurance sector. The country has a high standard of healthcare, although this can vary between urban and rural areas, and if you decide to access the private sector, you will find this to be considerably cheaper than the USA. As an employed expat, you will be able to register with the national scheme, which is run by the government and trade unions and is outsourced to different providers, who are competitively priced and are not legally allowed to exclude pre-existing conditions. The healthcare and health insurance systems are very fragmented, however, and measures to streamline both systems are being discussed.
Emergency healthcare is free for everyone and there is also a public scheme which covers around 30% of the Argentinian population, with some charges for medication. As an expat you will be entitled to access this but it is advisable not to rely on it.
If you are employed in Argentina, you will be registered with the semi-public national scheme, the Obras Sociales Nacionales (OSN). This is actually an umbrella term for 300 schemes, which are run by trade unions across the country. Currently, 70% of these OSNs have fewer than 30,000 beneficiaries, and 80% have fewer than 100,000: these schemes are notably inefficient due to their high administrative costs. In addition, insurance experts report that their risk pools are too unstable to deal well with high-cost events.
If you are working in Argentina, registration with one of these schemes is mandatory and you will be required to pay a monthly contribution into this. You will then be able to access public healthcare services. Healthcare itself is run by the Ministry of Health (MSAL). Which insurance provider you are registered with will depend on your sector of employment.
Payroll contributions are collected by the Federal Administration of Public Revenues: this allocates approximately 80%–90% of funds back to the OSN. To compensate for any potential health inequities due to the disparities in earnings for each of the OSNs, there is a redistribution fund (Fondo Solidario de Redistribución / FSR), which is composed of 10%–20% of each payroll contribution and which transfers money from the wealthier OSNs to the poorer ones.
The quality of healthcare in Argentina does vary between rural and urban providers and you may find that the quality of healthcare is significantly better in urban areas than in the countryside. Doctors in rural areas may ask for cash payments upfront for treatment.
You will need to take your ID card with you to medical appointments.
Your employer will need to register you with one of the OSNs. If you are self employed, it is advisable to contact the Ministry of Health directly as they will be able to advise you depending on your sector.
If you are registered with one of the OSNs, your dependents should also be covered by the scheme.
You should expect to pay 17% of your gross salary as social security tax, which includes health insurance. Your payroll contribution for health insurance specifically will be 3%. Employers will also need to make a contribution of 6% for health insurance.
Open A Bank Account
In 2001, Argentina was hit with an economic crisis that made headlines worldwide. The country’s financial sector was hit hard, leading to the closure of several banks and financial institutions. In addition, the country’s currency significantly lost value. All this meant that Argentina could not keep up with its financial obligations. This nation, which was considered to have a solid economy during the 1990s, ended up in an extreme financial emergency in 2001.
By 2002 and 2003, numerous foreign-owned banks moved their operations from the nation and into neighboring countries. Just a few foreign-owned banks chose to remain in Argentina. In May 2003, Nestor Kirchner was elected President of Argentina, and the Argentinean economy has recouped under his tenure. However, the general population remains cautious about taking long term loans. The expenses of managing an account and rates in Argentina are moderately high compared to other countries.
Banks in Argentina open from 10am until 3pm, although operating hours will vary depending on the location and the season. Banks remain closed on Saturdays and Sundays. Most banks have ATMs that are accessible 24 hours a day. In addition, some provide internet banking, meaning you can save significant amounts of money on bank fees by transacting online.
Money transfer in Argentina usually occurs without any difficulty. Internet banking is definitely an advantage for expats who have to transfer money between their home bank accounts and Argentinean bank accounts. Other means of money transfer often take longer to complete.
The use of foreign exchange bureaus is an option often considered by expats. Cash exchange offices use specialists from all over the world. Their main advantage is that they don’t require a ledger to complete. In addition, cash exchange can occur quickly and seamlessly; in just ten minutes, you’re done. Sadly, commissions tend be on the higher side. However, cash exchange can be helpful during emergencies.
Many mortgage applications have not been successful since the global economic meltdown. Nevertheless, financial institutions have slowly been approving home loans for individuals and businesses. Today, getting a loan is not easy, especially for expats. The base net salary required is around AR$1500 per month. Expats have to work for at least a year in Argentina to be eligible for a home loan.
Home loans are offered for new build and older houses, as well as for redesigning or expanding homes. Banks may offer up to 80 percent financing for new homes, provided the cost of the property does not surpass AR$250,000. In addition, they may offer 75 percent financing for purchasing or upgrading used homes, providing the cost of the property does not exceed AR$250,000.
You can be eligible for 100 percent financing if you want to redesign or upgrade properties worth less than AR$50,000. Expats can also be eligible for financing if they need a loan to complete the construction of their homes, provided the owner can provide at least 65 percent of the cost. The repayment period for a home loan varies depending on the loan amount and type.
The official currency of Argentina is the peso (AR$). A peso consists of 100 centavos. Peso notes are available in various denominations including AR$ 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100. Denominations for coins include 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 centavos and 1 peso. Be watchful when receiving change after buying items, especially in Buenos Aires, as there is a significant amount of fake currency circulation, some of which are difficult to distinguish from genuine cash. Look at the watermark and the metal-shaded strip on the bills to determine whether your Argentinean notes are genuine.
There are a few approaches for changing currency from your home country into Argentinean cash. Banks offer great exchange rates and are often viewed as the most reliable options for currency exchange. However, their short operating hours tend to be limiting. Another alternative are trade stalls, which are found in the traveler zones. Better trade rates can be found here. You can also exchange your currency once you arrive at the airport to help you move around.
There are no specific rules for opening an account in Argentina. Each bank seems to have its own set of rules and requirements for opening one. In addition, banks have differing rules and regulations for opening savings as opposed to current accounts. Many expats use current accounts for daily expenses and savings accounts for saving money and earning interest. Expats are required to provide various documents when opening bank accounts in Argentina. These documents include:
• Unique identification document in duplicate
• Verification of residence
The unique identification document or CUIL is a number given to each worker once they begin to legally work in Argentina. Other documents that you need to set up a bank account include CUIT and CDI. Some banks may require one or all of the documents to open bank accounts for expats.
The two main currencies used in Argentinean bank accounts are Argentina pesos (AR$) and U.S. Dollars ($). The costs of operating these bank accounts vary. Some expats prefer to open both savings and checking accounts.
Most businesses accept major credit cards used in other countries including Visa and MasterCard. These cards can be issued by various organizations; there are few restriction associated with the issuing institution. Other credit cards that can be used in some businesses in Argentina include Diners and American Express. However, not all businesses accept these cards.
Debit cards issued by international financial institutions are also accepted by most businesses in Argentina. These cards work through the ATM systems of Banelco and Link in Argentina. There are no costs associated with applying for a debit card. Different cards might be accessible with extra charges.
Platinum cards in Argentina can be used to make payments in general stores, drug stores, eateries, service stations, and clothes stores.
There are many ways of sending money from one country to another. As always, expats can save themselves a lot of trouble and expense if they do a little research and shop around for the best deal.
International Bank Transfers
For most expats, currency transfer involves transferring small to medium sized amounts regularly from an existing bank account back home into a new overseas bank account in the local currency. These may be pension payments, benefits, or any other form of income.
Your home bank will usually be glad to oblige. You can set up facilities with them “on demand” whereby you fax or call them on the phone, provide a secret code or two, tell them the amount in question, and they will transfer it to your new bank, automatically converting it into the relevant local currency. Some banks also allow you to make international payments online. Whatever method you choose, transfers normally take between 3-7 days although 1-2 day transfers are often available but be prepared to pay more for these.
You can also set up regular transactions that are processed automatically on a fixed day of each month. Many state pensions and benefits can be paid directly into your new bank abroad without going through your home bank at all. Some private pension organisations may also offer the same facility.
When you first set up a transfer of funds abroad, the sending bank or institution will ask you for various codes that identify the destination bank. Often they will ask for IBAN (International Bank Account Number), BIC (Bank Identifier Code) or SWIFT codes but don?t panic – your new bank will give these to you and they may even already be listed in your new chequebook or bank statements.
As far as charges are concerned, you will probably be required to pay a flat fee per transaction. Additionally a percentage fee is often charged for the currency conversion itself. You may also find that your receiving bank charges you for receiving the transfer. Charges vary by bank but can quickly add up – ask your bank(s) for an indication of the fees involved.
As a general rule, transferring larger sums less frequently usually works out cheaper than transferring smaller amounts more often. However, if you need to transfer regular amounts of at least a few hundred pounds/dollars or need to make a larger one-off payment (e.g. for a house purchase) you should consider the services of a currency broker.
Cash Machine/ATM Withdrawals
Thanks to modern technology, most people abroad can go to a cash machine/ATM and withdraw local currency funds directly from their home bank account. This is a useful option to have for expats but exercise caution – many banks make hefty charges for using this type of facility. You may also find that withdrawal limits are in place (as a security measure) even if you significant funds in your account back home.
You can also use VISA or Mastercard credit cards to obtain cash in this fashion and if you pay the amount off quickly and avoid interest charges then fine – but once again credit card charges for cash withdrawals can be high. Check the rates carefully.
Currency brokers (also called foreign exchange brokers) offer significant advantages over traditional banks. Firstly, brokers will often be able to offer you a better rate than your bank. Secondly, the entire process is more transparent – many banks require you to accept the exchange rate available on the day they process your transaction, whatever and whenever that may be, but a specialist broker will offer greater flexibility, even allowing you to specify the rate you want in advance.
Currency brokers are smaller companies than major banks so always check their background carefully. Ask existing expats for their own experiences and recommendations before choosing a firm to handle your own foreign exchange requirements.
A good broker will discuss all the options with you and enable you to make the best decision for your circumstances. Using a broker will typically off the following advantages:
1) Currency brokers generally provide superior exchange rates to the high street banks. The currency brokers have access to the interbank rate and do not have the high costs that the banks have. This means that they can usually offer better exchange rates.
2) Use of a free Market Watch/Order Service: This allows you to tell your currency broker your target or budget exchange rate and they will ring you if that exchange rate level is reached. As the rate moves every few seconds, currency brokers can act as your eyes and ears on the market.
3) Ability to fix the exchange rate in advance using a Forward Contract. If you know you need to convert/move funds in the future but don?t yet have the money you can reserve a rate in advance using a Forward Contract. During this period, you are exposed to exchange rate movements and therefore, a forward contract is ideal if, for example, you have agreed to buy a house and want to fix the rate now but will not be making payment for a couple of months.
Savings from currency brokers can vary from between 1 and 4 per cent on the exchange rate alone, and specialists do not typically charge any fees for transmitting the funds abroad, unlike banks which often levy expensive fees or charges. If you are emigrating and transferring a large sum of money – such as the proceeds of a property – a foreign exchange company could potentially save you thousands.
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Learn The Language
If you are moving to Argentina, you will need to consider the ease with which you are able to communicate. Spanish is the official language of Argentina, being spoken by almost everyone in the country, although there are also some large second language groups, notably Italian and German, Portuguese due to proximity with Brazil, and many other minority languages – even a small enclave in Patagonia speaking Welsh!
Argentina is the largest Spanish-speaking nation in the world, and has a population of 45 million, 90% of whom live in urban areas.
Tourism is a major contributor to the economy, with roughly six million visitors per year, which makes it the most popular South American tourist destination.
There is also a large expat community, with around half choosing to live in or near Buenos Aires, the capital. One of the best ways an expat can begin to integrate and feel more comfortable in any new country is by learning the local language, at least to a point where daily transactions can be achieved in the native tongue. Locals may well hear your accent, and some will probably try to respond in English if they speak it, but the fact that you are trying can go a long way to getting a smile of acceptance.
If you are intending to travel outside the major urban areas, you will find that the level of English language comprehension is more limited, even though it is widely taught in schools, and you may well encounter difficulties communicating unless you have at least some basic Spanish phrases and a good phrase book.
Argentina is a very large country, and there are at least six regional dialects to be considered, with a wide variation in pronunciation and some different vocabulary. Argentinian Spanish is also different in a number of ways – particularly in the use of vos rather than tu, which can be difficult to grasp even for those who already have some facility in Spanish. It also has a strong Italian influence, and there is then a huge amount of slang to be considered, unique to Argentina and its culture.
There are a number of good international schools in Argentina to help you reach your required level of fluency in Spanish. These can be found on the internet and either applied to in advance of arrival, or when you are settled in your chosen destination.
To achieve a foundation in the Spanish language before you go, or indeed to consolidate it when you arrive, there are a large number of courses available on the internet – some of which are free up to a certain level. A simple search will give you a wide choice.
Linguistic experts generally recommend an immersive learning experience as the quickest way to attain fluency in any language, and immersive courses can be found locally in all major Argentinian cities.
In daily life, you will be constantly exposed to the Spanish language, and whilst you may find it daunting to begin with, a little persistence and practice will rapidly improve your ability to communicate effectively. If you are planning to go out to Argentina as a couple, it can be a good idea to make a pact to speak in Spanish together during your time out of class. Immersing yourself in Spanish language television and newspapers is also highly productive.
You may also find that English is used in the workplace in a few international companies, such as IT, banking, airlines and tourism, but it would be unwise to count on this. Jobs are more frequently advertised as bilingual.
If you wish to work in Argentina, one extremely popular employment sector is in teaching English. Note that it is always easier to get work in international education if you have a university degree and a certificate in either TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages).
Several international schools offer language teaching posts, usually on six-month or yearly contracts. These are available to anyone with a Bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certificate. TEFL courses are available in Buenos Aires, with offers of potential jobs at the end of your course. However, relevant experience will generally give you more choice and higher pay.
Most language teaching jobs would be in the capital, Buenos Aires. Depending on your lifestyle, rates of pay may not be sufficient to allow you to stay permanently, but for a working holiday, it can be fun and rewarding.
If you intend to teach English in Argentina, it is preferable if you have experience in teaching schemes such as the Cambridge English exams or IELTS (International English Language Testing System): the English test for study, migration or work. Some teaching experience in the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) will also be helpful. This assesses analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills in written English for use in admission to graduate management programs, such as the MBA.
You may also find teaching work more easily if you are experienced in teaching English for particular sectors, such as tourism and hospitality. You are most likely, however, to find work in either public schools or private international institutions. You should be paid more in the private educational sector.
There may also be some demand for translation or interpretation services between Spanish and English, for instance in translating newspaper articles into English, if you have a high level of proficiency.
There are many bilingual jobs advertised in different employment sectors, especially in Buenos Aires. These would generally require a good level of Spanish, but can sometimes be secured before you go.
Choose A School
Argentina is a very large South American country with a Spanish-speaking population of some 45 million, and millions of children in education. It boasts a diversified economy, and is highly urbanized (more than 95% of the population live in metropolitan areas), and invests heavily in the entire education system, which is well thought of in South America.
State education in Argentina is paid for through the tax system, and under the ultimate control of the Ministry of Education, it is provided free of charge for all ages up to and including undergraduate university study. Despite this long-standing free provision, there are a considerable number of fee-paying private educational institutions at all levels, but even these are frequently subsidised by the government, particularly for younger children. There are also a large number of international schools where multilingualism is encouraged, but generally at least some of the classes are given in English.
Education is seen politically as central to the continued development of the country and its citizens. The Argentinian education system is held to be one of the best in South America. One consequence of this political emphasis is that Argentina has an adult literacy rate of about 99%.
If you are lucky enough to be coming to Argentina, you will find its cities vibrant and colourful, and its hinterlands varied. However, the education system is of course a little different from the UK or US systems. All lessons in state schools will be conducted in Spanish. Some private schools, especially in Buenos Aires, do offer a bilingual curriculum (Spanish in the morning, English in the afternoon).
Whilst tuition is free, books and supplies are generally expected to be paid for by the family, and you need to be aware that there is no established student loan system for those who may wish to go beyond undergraduate studies.
State provisions are divided into five levels.
Pre-school provision (including the compulsory ‘inicial’ final year) varies considerably from district to district, and needs to be researched locally. There are roughly 17,000 such institutions throughout the country.
Primary (primaria) and secondary (secundaria) education is compulsory for all children, and is provided for in over 45,000 schools, and the number of years at each level is divided into two systems, dependent on regional rules – either seven and five years, or six and six years.
Tertiary education (superior), for those who wish to continue their studies, is taken at any one of the 1,850 national vocational colleges, or of the 85 national universities.
The curriculum at all levels is set by the government, with the express aim of offering a consistent high standard of education throughout the country, so much so such that there is surprisingly little variance in what is actually taught, between public and private schools. A second and often a third language is taught in almost all schools. English has become more popular as the second language in Argentina, but many other languages are taught too, further stressing the importance the Argentine education authorities place on multiculturalism and international affairs.
Roughly a quarter of Argentinian children are enrolled in private schools, the majority of which are run by the Catholic Church, and you may wish to factor this in to your choices.
Private schools may have almost the same curriculum, but they are not dependent on government funding for extra activities and extra classes, which makes them a popular choice for expat families. Fees vary considerably, and need to be checked locally.
Additionally, there are many international schools (somewhat confusingly referred to in Argentina as colleges), generally running on US or European curricula, with a few having also originally been set up by various branches of the Church. About a third of these international schools offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP), with compulsory subjects, – English, Maths, Biology, Spanish and IT, and a number of elective subjects. This qualification (IB) is widely recognized throughout the world by further education institutions, for those wanting to go on and attend foreign universities.
In Buenos Aires particularly, these international schools are very popular with expats, and it will be necessary to contact your chosen school as soon as possible to secure a place for your child. Fees are also very expensive, which may need to be factored in to contract negotiations with your employer.
Further education in Argentina is free up to undergraduate level at state universities, but fees must be paid at private universities. There are 30,000 US or European students in Argentina at any one time, and double that number from other parts of South America.
The Universidad de Buenos Aires is considered one of the best in South America, ranking in the top 100 worldwide in several subjects, including law, sociology, anatomy and physiology. The Universidad Nacional de Rosario is also ranked as one of the best institutions in South America, and there are many other universities in some of the smaller cities for those who may not want the non-stop metro lifestyle around the capital.
The Universidad Austral and the Universidad Catolica Argentina are private Catholic universities also ranking highly in South America for education standards.
Some students choose to continue their higher education elsewhere. In general, the Argentinian education system is well set up for their academic achievements to be recognised, and to enable them to fit in wherever they go in the world.