How To Move To Chile - The Definitive Guide
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Apply For A Visa[back to top]
As an expat, whether you need a visa to Chile as well as how much you will need to pay for it depends on your nationality. Some countries’ citizens do not require a visa to enter Chile, while others must pay to obtain a permit. There are various visas in Chile issued to migrants depending on the purpose of their visit.
Reciprocal Visa Agreement
Expats from countries that hold a reciprocal agreement with Chile do not have to apply for visas. The national identity card from your country will be enough to grant you entry. Currently, anyone from Argentina, Peru, Brazil or Uruguay can enter Chile without a visa. In addition, any expat from Canada, New Zealand, UK, USA and South Africa will not require a visa to enter Chile. This visa agreement is valid only for a period of 90 days, after which you must apply for a temporary visa.
Anyone from a country that has no visa agreement with Chile will have to apply for a visa before or after arriving in Chile. The different types of visa are outlined below.
A tourist card, or tarjeta de turismo, is a temporary travel visa valid for a period of 90 days. Tourist cards are issued by airport immigration on arrival. Once you are issued with the card, ensure you keep it safe for the period you will be staying in the country. Should you lose the tourist card, ensure you replace it as soon as you can; definitely before your departure date.
Expats from America, Albania, Canada, Australia or Mexico will be charged for a tourist card. The fee is equivalent to what Chileans are charged when they obtain travel visas for those countries. The fee is only applicable if you are entering Chile through Santiago airport.
Extending Your Tourist Card
Migrants can extend their tourist cards in one of two ways. The first way is to travel out of Chile to a neighboring country and then return; you can even do this on the same day. Your tourist card will be stamped at immigration for an extended number of days.
This is the easiest way to extend your visa, although it has limitations. Using this method more than four times will get your card blacklisted by Chilean immigration. You then have to pay to get your card renewed.
The second way to renew your tourist card is doing it officially at a police station. This is a paid service that requires you to bring copies of your tourism card and passport. A fee of US$100 is charged for the new card to be processed. If you are in Santiago, you can visit any Extranjeria office to have the tourist card renewed. Be warned, however, that the queues for renewal tend to be long. Do yourself a favor and get there early!
Tourist visas are issued to expats from countries that do not have a reciprocal visa agreement with Chile. This includes any migrant from a country in Asia or Africa, and countries that were formerly in the Soviet Union. The tourist visa application can be picked from a Chilean embassy or consulate in your country. Alternatively, you can download and print the forms from the embassy or consulate website.
You also need to get a few documents in order before submitting your completed application form. The consulate or embassy will require the original and a copy of your passport, valid for the period you will be in Chile. You also must show proof of funds to finance your trip, as well as return ticket to your home country.
Some consulates or embassies will need to see an invitation letter from a resident in Chile or hotel reservations made before the trip. A fee will be charged to process the documents. How much you pay for visa processing depends whether you are applying for a single or multiple entry visa. Your country of origin also determines the fee.
Work Holiday Visas
Migrants who do not need temporary or permanent residency visas can apply for a work holiday visa. This is a tourist visa that grants you employment privileges while in Chile. A work holiday visa is valid for 12 months, and the visa holder can work for two employees within this period. It is up to you to decide if you will be permanently or temporary employed while in Chile.
Only expats from Canada, Australia and New Zealand are eligible for work holiday visas. These serve as a temporary residency visa valid for 12 months from when you enter Chile. Work holiday visas are applied at the Chilean embassy or consulate of your country.
Migrants wishing to apply for a work holiday visa must be between the ages of 18 to 31. For New Zealanders, this age limit extends to 35. You also must be in possession of a New Zealand, Canadian or Australian passport. You will need to present the original and a copy of your passport together with proof of your return ticket.
In addition, you will be asked for proof of medical cover and the finances that will support you while in Chile. All these documents are to be submitted together with four passport size photographs and US$150 paid as visa processing fee.
Work visas are issued to expats moving to Chile for the sole purpose of employment. You will need to produce an employment contract from your employer to be eligible. The work visa, or visa sujeto a contrato, is valid for two years and will be your legal permit to work in Chile. It also serves as a temporary residency visa.
If you are already in Chile, visit the ministry of foreign affairs in Santiago and ask for visa application papers. You may be asked to pay for a fee.
Ensure your Chilean employer submits a copy of your contract to the consulate when you apply for a work visa. Some consulates will ask for a copy of your degree certificate, a police report and a medical certificate. Lastly, you will produce your passport along with a copy of it, plus four passport size photos. A fee of US$150 will be charged to process the work visa.
Find A Job[back to top]
Chile’s economy is ranked fifth in South America, making the country a favorable place for migrants to work. As an expat, it is easy to get work in Chile provided you have the right documentation. Here’s a guide to what to consider when looking for employment in Chile.
Looking For Expat Jobs
Many expats coming to work in Chile fill up positions in the service sector. Teaching and language jobs are among the top of the list for expat job seekers. Chile is also undergoing an economic reconstruction, where the government is shifting its focus from mining and export of minerals to the establishment of business enterprises.
International beverage companies such as Coco Cola and Nestle have opened branches in Chile. Silicon Valley giants including Intel, Microsoft and IBM also have offices in the country. For expats working in any of these international companies, it is easier to transition to Chile as an employee applying for a transfer. Such international companies will also be willing to employ foreigners who present a unique set of skills and talent that will be beneficial to the company.
Large businesses in Chile also advertise for new positions on their official websites. Check with these websites for their daily job listings and apply online. A third option is to search for vacancies in local newspapers. Popular newspapers that frequently advertise new jobs include Mercurio Paper and El Rastro. The latter is a bi-weekly release which includes new job listings in every copy.
In Chile, it is also important to form a network of business connections or pitutos. This is because some employers who do not wish to advertise publicly for positions will rely on recommendations through business connections. Having the right connections can therefore help you transition to a new job faster and even advance your career.
Expats seeking employment in Chile can also search official job sites. There are five top employment websites in Chile where expats can look for placements, which are chile.xpatjobs.com, zonajobs.cl, trabajando.cl, laborum.cl and startupchile.org. Here you will find job listings from parastatals, international companies and private businesses looking for new employees.
Applying For Jobs In Chile
Migrants can only work in Chile if they have a legal work permit. You can apply for this permit before or after arriving in Chile. The ministry of foreign affairs and ministry of the interior are the two offices that are able to provide work permits to expats.
Work Permit Requirements
Expats looking to apply for a work permit must first present a contract agreement signed by their employer. With a valid contract, you can proceed to apply for a labor contract visa. This contract visa is temporary, and will serve while you wait for your work permit to be approved.
Work permits can be obtained from the ministry of foreign affairs or the ministry of the interior. Expats apply for work permits at the ministry of foreign affairs consulate if they are yet to travel to Chile. Those already in Chile will have to get the same permit from the ministry of the interior. The application procedures and documents required will vary, depending on several factors including the consulate where the visa is applied for.
At the ministry of foreign affairs, you will be required to submit three original copies of your employment contract. The three documents should be signed by your employer, a public lawyer, and the ministry of justice and foreign affairs. A copy of your resume will be required along with an original copy of your university degree legally prepared by the consulate.
You also need to submit six recently taken passport photographs with your passport number written on the back. Some consulate may ask for fewer photos. Expats are also required to submit an affidavit of support, proving they can and will be supporting anyone dependent on them while in Chile. If you have a family, the consulate will ask for a photocopy of your marriage certificate and the birth certificates of your children. All these documents should be submitted together with the visa application form for verification and approval by the consulate.
Expats already living or studying in Chile can get a work permit from the ministry of the interior. The application process is like the process at the ministry of foreign affairs, and requires the migrant to submit several documentations for processing. A work visa application form must be filled in and submitted with four passport photos of the applicant and those of their dependents. The applicant should write their passport number and those of their dependents on the reverse of the photos.
Expats moving with their family will be required to submit a copy of marriage certificates and birth certificates of their children. The applicant must also sign a declaration of support to their dependents while in Chile. Finally, the expat will also be required to submit three original work contracts signed by their employer in Chile. If the expat is working for an international company with a branch in Chile, the documents must then be signed by the Chilean branches of international companies.
Once the visa application is approved, the expat is expected to be in Chile within 90 days. When they arrive in the country, they will also have 30 days to apply for a Chilean ID card. One must also register with the office of international police before they start working.
Work visas are valid for a period of two years, after which they must be renewed. Expats can then extend their work visas for an additional two years, or convert their visa to permanent residency.
Chile remains a favorable place to work because of their favorable income tax rates. International employees working in Chile are not taxed on any income they earn from abroad. Expats working with Chilean employees are subject to income tax that does not exceed 40 percent of their gross earnings. However, migrants should be aware that the taxation system in Chile is constantly undergoing amendments. Therefore, it is important to keep abreast of current income tax rates and plan your finances accordingly.
Rent Property[back to top]
Whether you’re planning to retire in style or want to work abroad, Chile is a great place to live. Whereabouts you decide to settle in Chile has a significant impact on the quality of your life in the country. If you are looking for luxurious city life or laid back serene environment, Chile has the bests of both worlds.
The varied landscapes in Chile are appealing and stretch from the southern coasts all the way to the Atacama in the North. Summer and winter are enjoyable in Chile with the beaches of Vina del Mar and the snowy Andes. The climate makes Chile one of the best countries for property development and investment.
Santiago is the capital and business hub and attracts most expats. It is the most obvious choice for those looking for work or the fast city life. Away from this lively city, there are other attractive places where you can settle. Valparaiso is a coastal city loved by tourists and expats because of the rich infusion of culture and the lower property prices. Those looking for great food, wine and beautiful surroundings can look for properties in either city.
The Chilean rental market has something that will accommodate and appeal to various tastes and types of people. Chilean real estate is affordable. The country’s entry into the organization cooperation and development in 2010 has strengthened the economic and living standards of the country. While the recession of 2009 has affected the country, the government remained committed to enhancing the domestic market and housing projects.
There are various choices of rental accommodation that vary in quality and aesthetics. Students are well catered for in the Chilean housing market, since housing options for the other residents are also available to them. Some universities in Chile offer home stay arrangements for short-term students. The students are placed in a home with a family as a way to enhance cultural experience during their stay.
Real estate agents are an option if you want to avoid the hassle of doing the legwork. Alternatively, you can agree with a family or resident to share a rented space at a lower rate. The average rental costs in Santiago can be slightly higher than those in the other areas. You can get a furnished one-bedroom apartment for between $370 and $507 and a two bedroom for $470 to $805. Rental prices in cities like Vina del Mar and Valparaiso may offer great deals on rental apartments at reduced costs. However, the popularity of resorts in Valparaiso can cause a change in price especially during the peak season.
Organizing accommodation from abroad can be difficult, as few Chileans speak English. If you are good at Spanish or you have a contact person, then it can be easier to arrange. If you are searching for a house from abroad, remember that the website you use for property search might misrepresent details such as exact location. To make things easier, stay in a hotel for a few days when you get to Chile so that you can search from within the country.
Research suitable neighborhoods that suit your education, work and travel needs. This will make it more convenient to conduct a property search. Some websites can help you narrow down your search according to your budget and location.
Before you sign a rental contract, consider the convenience of the location. Is it near your work place? Does it have social amenities? Does it meet your budget? Another factor to consider is whether you are looking for a furnished or unfurnished apartment. Furnished apartments eliminate the need for buying expensive furniture. However, unfurnished apartments offer you the opportunity to customize your home according to your needs.
Due to the inclusion of tax in furnished rentals, a property owner may use this as an opportunity to hike the rent. However, do bear in mind that buying furniture for an unfurnished place can be expensive, and you will then have to find a way to get rid of that furniture when you move on. If you are good at negotiation, you can have a few essential or sentimental household items added to the furnished apartment. Before finalizing the lease agreement, ensure you have a satisfactory furnishing itinerary.
Rental contracts vary in length and are usually negotiable with the property owner. Availability of rental units vary depending on location, with holiday destinations having more short-term leases that range in price depending on the season. Santiago is a business hub, meaning long-term contracts for international workers are available there. Property owners may ask for a longer lease for unfurnished properties. Make sure you do the necessary research and are ready for negotiation in Spanish. If you do not know Spanish, enlist a third party to help you in the negotiation.
Utility payments in most cases are not inclusive in rental contracts. They tend to be expensive, since the country does not have cheap energy reserves. Even though Chile generates 40 percent of its power through hydroelectric schemes, this is not enough, so there is a need to import other sources of energy. The costs of imported sources of energy mean that water, electricity and heat are costly. The type and location of a rental property will also have an impact on how much you need to spend on utility bills. It is possible to incur higher heating charges in the southern parts of Chile during winter compared to other areas. The provision of water and electricity are carried out by privately owned firms. Anti-monopoly regulations ensure that various companies cater to the needs of the residents, which means you can hopefully choose a supplier within your region that fits your budget.
With most rental agreement, deposits are standard, with a month’s rent required. You may need a Chilean guarantor to co-sign and validate your contract on your behalf. You will need someone who understands the language so that you know exactly what you are agreeing to. If you do not have a third party, you can ask a lawyer to carefully explain to you the stipulations of the contract.
Buy Property[back to top]
Chile is a beautiful country and a great property investment destination. As expected, there are legal obligations you need to meet before you can buy property in the country. Many expats living in Chile will decide to rent for the first year before they start considering purchasing property. Due to the climate extremes, it might take a while to select the best place for you to live. In the north, the climate is desert-like, with Mediterranean climate in central Chile, while the far south has a cool and damp climate.
Expats tend to invest in properties located in Santiago, Vina del Mar and Valparaiso, which are found in the central, temperate region. As you head to the Argentina border, you can find ski resorts. The coast has beautiful beaches, though the water might be a little cold for some people. When it comes to property rights, expats are as protected in the same way as locals. However, migrants are restricted from buying property in the border areas, although it is unlikely that you would want to stay in such areas.
The purchase process is quite straightforward, though it would be beneficial if you are fluent in Spanish or have a Chilean friend who can help you in the process. Property consultants are an option that can save you time and money.
With a tourist visa, you can buy property in Chile. However, to finalize the process you will need an RUT number. Obtaining one of these is quite easy. An RUT number is a taxpayer ID that works in a similar manner as the US social security number. You don’t need to be living in the country to get one of these numbers. All you have to do is to go to the local servicio de impuestos internos office with your passport, a completed form, and current address details.
You will be issued a temporary RUT number while you wait for the permanent card. Using this number, you can complete transactions and even purchase property. You need to ensure that your permanent card is sent to the correct address, as it can be hard to arrange redelivery of your card if you are no longer at the address you gave while applying for the card.
Real estate agents in Chile are unregulated, meaning anyone can become an agent. Therefore, expats need to be aware of what to expect from estate agents. Real estate agents are representatives of the property seller. However, their commission is paid by both the buyer and seller. Commission ranges from 1.5 to 3 percent, which is negotiable, especially if the agent did not do much to help you find the property.
In Chile, it is common for properties to be listed with various agencies, and for the agent not to know the identity of the seller until they get a buyer. Real estate agents vary from large companies to local individuals who know about the area. Contact one who is based in the area you would like to live.
Keep in mind that an agent should not conduct title search or draft contracts. That is the job of a qualified attorney. Some agents may use unethical sales techniques to force you into buying a home that does not meet your requirements. Do not hire a lawyer that the seller or agent suggests. To avoid conflicts of interest during the buying transaction, go for an independent lawyer.
It is possible to buy property without being in Chile, though to get your ideal home it is essential to be there. There are many expats in the country looking for property. Helpfully, there are several websites and magazines dedicated to helping potential buyers. You can quickly locate properties at Vina del Mar, Santiago and Valparaiso. You can identify property through land registry office notices, newspapers, real estate websites, or notary office boards.
Once you have located the home you want, you need to notify the agent so that you can view the house. You will be given an ordena de visit, which is a confirmation of the commission of the agent and the property you intend to visit. You must ensure that all legal details are taken care of before purchasing the property. Your attorney will do a title search to confirm the ownership history. A title search helps to determine whether there are problems in areas such as water rights, zoning, colonization laws and building permits.
You will need the registration information for the current title on the property for a title search to take place. Other important details include the county of registration, year of registration and registration number. As soon as you have gathered this information, you can ask for a certificate of valid ownership from the county registry office. This document will be used to do a title search.
Once you or the attorney make an offer on the property and the seller agrees, you will be required to sign the contracts. The attorney will then draft the contact for you since this has to be presented in a particular format. Both parties will need to sign it at the notary’s office. Once signed, the document becomes public record and is archived by the notary. However, a few more steps need to be completed before you can fully own the property.
Once the contract is signed, you need to register a copy of the formal agreement at the real estate land registry. You will need to have a stamp from the land registry, a number assigned to the index book, the property archive year, and the registration number. Once you have registered with the land register, you will receive a certificate that proves you are the legal owner of the property.
The costs related to negotiations and contracts are shared, but the other fees such as title search and registration of the agreement are done by the buyer. The taxes paid on a property are decided by the government after an assessment of the property. The rate is set by the Chilean tax office. Remember, the value of your property determines the tax and not the market value of the property. Taxes are usually around 0.5 percent of the market value of the property. Urban properties worth less than $14,655,788 are not subject to property taxes. This rule applies to all buildings within urban areas.
Register For Healthcare[back to top]
QUICK LINK: Chile health insurance
Chile has one of the best healthcare systems in South America. Expats have access to both public and private healthcare institutions. However, there are some regulations to be observed by expats seeking health service in Chile.
Chile’s health service system is ranked 33 out of 190 countries by the World Health Organization, meaning migrants traveling or moving to Chile should not be worried about getting quality health care. Most of the advanced health institutions are located in the big cities like Santiago. The rural part of Chile also has a couple of clinics that will attend to general medical needs.
Public Versus Private Healthcare
Public healthcare institutions consist of government funded hospitals. All public hospitals in Chile are managed by the country’s national health insurance scheme, FONASA. This scheme is funded by taxpayer money, and ensures that citizens receive the best healthcare possible, including subsidized rates in select number of clinics.
Private health institutions, on the other hand, are comprised of privately run clinics. They are funded by insurance companies that are collectively managed by Instituciones de Salud Previsional or ISAPRE. The type of health insurance a patient holds will determine which private clinic they are referred to. Insurance is issued based on income, sex, age and family medical background, as well as any existing medical condition among other factors.
Generally, private clinics offer advanced medical care compared to public hospitals. Even within private clinics, you will find varying levels of healthcare services. Nevertheless, the level of treatment provided matches American or European standards.
Getting Treatment In Chile
Chileans and migrants are required to have health insurance to access public or private healthcare. Health insurance can only be provided if you hold a Chilean tax identification number. Expats who hold an international health insurance policy will also be allowed to receive medical care.
Expats with Chilean residency can apply for the same identification number granted to Chileans, the RUN. Expats without residency must apply for RUT, which is the tax ID card reserved for international workers. In addition, only expats with residency have access to both public and private healthcare. Expats with an RUT card can only seek medical attention in private clinics.
While seeking health service in Chile, it is important that you become familiar with the terms Hospital and Clinica. Medical centers labeled Hospital are likely to be government funded. In contrast, Clinicas are generally the private health centers managed by insurance companies. Medical cases are attended to in terms of urgency. A patient with severe respiratory problems will receive priority over those with a complaint like the flu.
Seeking A Doctor
All expats are required to carry a signed medical form, called a pagare, when visiting the hospital. This form is a guarantee that you are able to take care of relevant medical expenses. In addition, carry your RUT or RUN card before attending a doctor’s appointment. A passport with international health insurance details will suffice.
All payments are charged to a credit card once the patient receives medical care. Paying in cash or debit cards is acceptable, although not all clinics will accept such modes of payment. If your health insurance provider is not based in Chile, you are likely to be charged differently from the patient with Chilean insurance cover.
Ensure you retain all your medical bills, including doctor’s reports and recommendations. You will present these to your health insurance provider for reimbursement. Private care in Chile can be expensive if you opt to pay with cash. Therefore, it is better to plan for health insurance cover before traveling to the country.
Remember, most public hospitals have doctors who speak the local language only. English speaking medical practitioners can be found in city hospitals attended by migrant communities. Consult your fellow expats for recommendations of doctors who speak your language. You can also check with your foreign affairs consulate for a list of hospitals and doctors who speak English.
Pharmacies are the only businesses that sell over the counter medicines in Chile. You will not find a street shop or supermarket selling painkillers or antidepressants. Pharmacies in Chile are well stocked with all kinds of medication.
As an expat, it is a good idea to carry your own medication before travelling to Chile. This is important, especially if you are being treated for a condition that requires a specific type of drug. However, it should not be that difficult to find the same type of medication from a Chilean pharmacy. In fact, you may find some drugs in local Chilean drug stores that may not be available in your home country.
Ensure you carry a doctor’s prescription to present to the pharmacy attendant. Most pharmacy attendants are well trained and will be able to assist anyone who comes to them for help. If the local pharmacy attendant does not speak your language, get a translator or have a doctor write the prescription in the local language.
Those travelling to Chile are often advised to be vaccinated against Hepatitis A, tetanus-diphtheria, and typhoid. You can also be vaccinated against measles, rubella, and mumps to be on the safe side. If you are going to spend time around animals or near a forest, a rabies shot may be required. Find out from your foreign affairs consulate if there are updates on diseases outbreaks you need to be aware of.
Fortunately, tap water in Chile is safe for drinking. However, if you will be spending time in the rural areas, be sure to use bottled water until you become accustomed to the local water. When looking for food, consider eating from restaurants and cafes, where the food is hygienically prepared. This does not mean you should shy away from the local delicacies served by street vendors. Ensure your food is prepared on the spot and within sight before you are served.
In addition, be cautious about dairy products while in Chile, as the market is saturated with dairy companies. If living in the coastal towns, only eat seafood that is properly prepared in a hygienic environment.
Open A Bank Account[back to top]
Chileans use the peso as their national currency. This is abbreviated as CLP, and has the same symbol as the US dollar. Expats will need to understand how banking in Chile works whether they are moving to the country for work, study or leisure.
Money Denominations In Chile
Chilean money is divided into notes and coins. CLP notes are available in various denominations including 20,000, 10,000, 5,000, 2,000 and 1,000 notes. CLP coins are issued in denominations of 500, 100, 50, 10, 5, and 1 pesos. The 500 coin was established after the high inflation rate of the 90s.
In local slang, the 1000 note is known as the luca. 100 pesos are known as gamba, while the 500-peso coin is known as quina. Knowing these terms will come in handy, especially when buying items on the street.
Banking In Chile
Banco Central de Chile is central bank of Chile. It dictates and controls the monetary policies carried out by all Chilean banks and financial institutions. Both local and international banks are concentrated in the major cities such as Santiago.
Other banks in Chile include Banco Estado, Santader Chile, Corp Banca, BCO, Scotabank, BBVA Chile and Banco de Chile. Many of these local banks also offer international financial services, especially to expats. International banks with branches in Chile include Banco do Brasil, Rabobank Chile, Banco de la Nacion Argentina, the Bank of Tokyo-Mistubishi and JP Morgan Chase bank. You can also find international online banks like TBA under the BCI bank.
All banks open from 9am to 2pm on weekdays. Some banks may extend their banking hours to 4pm, but only with special permission from the central bank. No bank is open during public holidays and on the 31st of December. However, ATMs can be accessed 24/7 and they are available in the big cities and in the rural towns.
Expat Bank Accounts
Unfortunately, banking policies in Chile discourage expats from opening local accounts. Where this is possible, the vetting process is very strict, and applications submitted can take a long time to approve. Migrants needing to use banking services while in Chile have other options to consider.
Expats require a Chilean residency card to open a local bank account. Passports are not allowed as a form of identification when opening an account. In addition, expats are required to have a tax number or RUT, which will also be their ID number.
A tax number is applied for separately from the residency card. You will be required to submit a F4415 tax admin form, together with proof of Chilean income. You may also be asked to make a minimum deposit to a local bank account pending the approval process. Lastly, only expats who have stayed in the country for at least two years can open accounts with local banks.
Banking Options For New Expats
Migrants still wishing to open local bank accounts have two options. They can open an RUT account or a fondos mutuos account. Both function as savings accounts, but differ in the privileges they offer.
An RUT account is a savings account that can also be used as a current account. Banco Estado is the official financial institution which provides RUT accounts for expats. Once the account is activated, the account owner is issued with an ATM card. You can use the card to make payments locally, check your account balance or make money transfers.
The maximum balance a migrant can have on an RUT account is CLP$3,000,000. The deposit limit for the same account is CLP$2,000,000 per month. The maximum withdrawal you can make at an ATM is CLP$200,000. Bear in mind that withdrawing large amounts using your ATM card will attract a commission of CLP$300 per transaction. You can avoid these high charges by withdrawing over the counter; this option also has the benefit of unlimited withdrawals.
A fondos mutuos account is a fixed savings account. The interest rate is static, and you can only withdraw from the account once the investment term matures. It is possible to withdraw before the maturity date; however, this will attract high penalties.
Migrants who do not wish to open a fondos mutuos or RUT account can ask their employers to pay them via an international account. This international account is usually one you hold in your home country. It is important to notify your bank that you will be using your account and all credit and debit cards while working in Chile. In addition, find out if you will be charged exorbitantly for international wire transfers. If so, then a last resort is being paid in cash.
Spending Money In Chile
Expats living in Chile should always opt to pay in cash, especially when visiting local shops. ATM cards can be used as debit cards to pay for transport, mobile phone charges or goods at a local store. Banker’s checks can also be used, though they must come from a Chilean bank. International checks can only be processed in their respective banks, while travelers’ checks have a poor exchange rate while in the country. Only consider bank checks as a last resort when making payments.
Foreigners looking to change currency can do so in exchange bureaus. There are plenty of exchange bureaus within the major cities with attractive rates. Interestingly, you will get the best rates if you change your money in a local bank.
International money transfer services are available in Chile. You can send money abroad via Western Union, Oanda, AFEX or Chile Express. AFEC and Chile Express are the most widely used services in the county. Note that exchange bureaus and banks only consider EUR, USD, and GBP as exchangeable currencies. Any other foreign currency will have to be changed in either of the three then finally converted to local currency.
As a rule of thumb, only exchange money when it is absolutely necessary. You will be happy to know that the US dollar is widely accepted as a mode of payment in many places in Chile. If you are traveling with less than US$10,000, changing money may not be necessary.
Learn The Language[back to top]
Spanish is the official language of Chile. However, the Spanish spoken by Chilean locals is a little different from elsewhere in the world. Speaking the language in Chile may seem daunting at first. However, with practice, the dialect becomes easier.
About 95 percent of people in Chile speak fluent Spanish. The other five percent comprise of indigenous tribes such as the Mapuche, Quechuea, Aymara and Rapa Nui. Mapuche people are the largest indigenous community and their language, Mapudungun, is the second most widely spoken language in Chile. The Chilean government also try to ensure that the culture and language of indigenous communities are preserved.
Chilean SpanishGenerally, Spanish is derived from Latin, which itself is an amalgamation of several other languages. You will find traces of French, Portuguese, Romanian and Italian in the Spanish grammar. In addition, the Spanish vocabulary borrows heavily from languages such as Greek, German and Arabic.
Spoken Chilean Spanish is characterized by long words, sentences and pronunciation. Tenses in verbs can be expressed in multiple ways. Chileans are generally talkative people who enjoy hearty conversations. They love their language and will take every opportunity to throw in some unusual vocabulary just for fun.
As in many other languages, intonation plays an important part in Chilean Spanish. A simple sentence spoken with a smile will have a different meaning than if it was spoken in anger. Chilean people speak Spanish very quickly, meaning it may be difficult to keep up at first. However, with constant exposure and practice, the language becomes easier to master.
Chilean Spanish has a distinct accent that is different from the Spanish spoken in countries such as Venezuela or Argentina. A word like ‘tu’, meaning ‘you’, is replaced with ‘vos’. In day to day conversations, ‘tu’ will be used when speaking with an acquaintance while ‘vos’ is used when conversing with someone you are close to.
Letters like C and Z are pronounced as S. The letter D when used in between vowels is often silent, especially in past participle. You will discover many other disparities when comparing Chilean Spanish to Spanish from other countries. Therefore, it is better to learn the local language by daily interaction with Chilean people.
Learning Spanish In Chile
The fastest way to learn Chilean Spanish is by interacting with the local people. Chilean people are warm and enjoy engaging with other people. Daily interaction with locals will expose you to the language and its vocabulary more quickly than classes or books. The Chilean culture is vibrant, and provides an ample backdrop to learn the Chilean way of life.
Alternatively, you can also learn Spanish before moving to Chile. This will prepare you before you interact with Spanish speakers in Chile. Do remember that Chilean Spanish is different, so it may feel like you are learning the language all over again. Nevertheless, you will grasp the language faster than an expat who is starting from scratch.
Another way to learn speaking the language in Chile is by listening to local radio stations and watching local TV. Local print media in Spanish are also good sources of learning the language. The Chilean government also supports radio stations, TV channels and newspapers that operate in other indigenous languages. As a migrant, this provides an opportunity to familiarize yourself with all the languages spoken locally, especially if you will be moving around the country a lot.
If you live close to a native Spanish community, you can find a language exchange partner to help you with the language. Exchange students benefit from this arrangement when going to school in Chile or preparing to join the local job market. An expat working in Chile can make the same arrangement with one of their colleagues.
Ideally, you can enroll for Spanish classes while studying or working in Chile. There are plenty of language schools in modern cities like Santiago. Smaller towns outside big cities also have Spanish schools, although these may not be as advanced. Some Spanish schools also offer online classes, which may be useful if you have limited time for face to face classes. In addition, online classes allow you to learn at your own pace until you are confident in the local language.
Some expats also chose to get certified in the Spanish language before or after arriving in Chile. Diploma de Espanol Lengua Extranjera (DELE) is the international certificate awarded to non-Spanish speakers when they attain a certain level of fluency in Spanish. This Spanish fluency exam tests all aspects of the language such as speaking and reading skills as well as vocabulary and grammar.
Spanish is taught at two levels, A1 and A2. Anyone who achieves fluency in both levels is awarded the DELE certificate. In Chile, the DELE certification is facilitated by the Cervantes Institute. Cervantes learning centers are available in all major cities in Chile. You can locate a center near via the official Cervantes Institute websites.
Alternatively, there are Spanish teaching schools in Chile allowed to examine students on behalf of Cervantes. Exam papers are submitted to Cervantes officials, who award marks accordingly.
Speaking the language in Chile may be difficult at first. However, practice and consistent exposure to the dialect and way of life of Chileans will get you acquainted quickly. As a migrant moving to Chile for leisure, the chances are you will not require prior knowledge of the local language. Most educated Chileans do speak fluent English, while vendors in the streets know key haggling words.
On the other hand, if you are moving to Chile to work or study, learning Spanish will help you. For expat employees, find out if it is a requirement to learn Spanish for your job. Some employers favor those fluent in Spanish when considering promotions.
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If you are travelling to the south, bring warm clothes such as a hat, a scarf and jacket. Add a raincoat as well for the occasional rainfall. High altitude areas such as the Andes will be hot and sunny during the day, while the nights often become a little chilly. Carry some sunscreen, sunglasses, a jacket and hat to be comfortable throughout the season. Add some hiking boots as well if you will be exploring the hilly regions.
Ninety three percent of students are enrolled in public schools, with the remaining students opting for private schools. The education vouchers system is used in Sweden, Denmark and New Zealand, and was introduced in Chile in 1981 to grant all children access to education despite their financial background. The income of the parents using this system is not assessed when granting education vouchers, meaning the value of the vouchers is the same for all parents. There is stark inequality between poorer and rich families, which means affluent families can afford to top up their vouchers and give their children access to better education. This issue has been highlighted by UNESCO and the OECD. Public education is managed by the municipality, while private schools at times receive help from the government.
Children between up to five years old can join preschool for free, although this is not mandatory. The state funds preschools, and over 90 percent of children below the age of five attend these before proceeding to the primary level. Preschool has three cycles, divided into two segments:
- Sala CUNA for babies up to two years,
- Nivel medio for toddlers and transicion for ages four to six.
Chile has a wide range of preschools, although their quality does not necessarily match that of preschools in the US and Canada. Nursery schools are a way for parents to get free, supervised childcare. Preschools introduce children to the social environment of a school setting and help improve necessary skills of coordination. Children are also taught how to relate to other children and even do group activities. Children in preschool are taught writing, reading, and arithmetic, which prepares them for primary school.
After preschool, children attend primary school for eight years. Primary school has two cycles, each of which are divided into four years.
High school education lasts for four years and is where students plan their career paths, which might be technical-professional, artistic or scientific-humanist. Chilean students can receive specialized education to help them prepare for tests which allow them access to university. Although primary school education is free in the country, parents are expected to pay certain fees for high school education.
The state has special schools for children with special needs such as learning difficulties, disabilities, or psychological and behavioral problems. Some of these pupils are taught in special units within mixed schools, although there are also schools that are specifically dedicated to these children. In recent years, special needs students are being integrated into mainstream schools to get exposure. There are various schools for different needs.
The school year starts from March to December, with a two-week break for winter holiday in July and summer break from December to March. Enrollment takes place between July and August for the following year. The children of expats who hope to enroll in state schools are required by the ministry of education to pass an exam before they can enter either primary or high school. This exam is taken in March or July before the start of the school year. If you would like to home school your children, you need to register with the provencial department in March and June. This will allow those children to sit for the examenes libres later. Examenes libres are the exams that migrant children and those who have not studied in the Chilean system are expected to sit for before they can be enrolled into state schools.
Most schools in Chile have uniforms. However, wearing uniform is not compulsory, but rather a formality for differentiating between schools and university. The uniforms mostly consist of grey trousers, white shirts and navy blue jackets for boys, while girls wear grey dresses or skirts with white shirts, blue tights or trousers. Private schools also have their own distinct uniforms whose color and design is determined by the specific school.
The grading system uses numbers one to seven. One is the worst while seven is the best. To pass you need a minimum of four. Early levels of education have a letter grading system, which is as follows: MB (Muy Bueno) B (Bueno) S (sufficient) I (insufficient). For the university entry test level, scores range from 150 to 850 points, depending on the subject or university. Expat students are required to achieve certain minimum scores to be enrolled in universities in Chile. School operating hours vary with the school. Some run from eight in the morning to two in the afternoon, while others run until four in the evening. Lessons last for 45 minutes with lunch breaks. Students are free to carry lunch from their homes, eat school lunch, or go back home during lunchtime for meals.
The primary school curriculum teaches mathematics, foreign languages, indigenous language, history, natural sciences, art, technology, geography, social sciences, religion and physical education. In high school, the curriculum helps students obtain specialized training to prepare them for vocational or university training. The compulsory subjects in high schools include language and communication, science, geography, mathematics, history, social science, English, physical education, technology, philosophy, psychology, visual and musical arts.
High school tuition tends not to be more than 3500 pesos. However, in a government-subsidized school, there are no mandatory monthly fees, meaning parents have the right to refuse to pay. In non-subsidized schools, the price is constant for three years, with quarterly payments.
Higher education in Chile consists of universities and professional institutions. There are about 25 public universities and more than 30 private universities. The public universities are the ones that were formed before 1981 or came from older institutions. At university, there is a two-year foundation program where general education in bachillerato is done. The school year has semesters lasting from February to July and August to December, with a winter break and summer holiday.
Universities and technical schools charge enrolment and tuition fees. If you seek an education loan, the state acts as your guarantor. The government also gives student loans, but only to those in public universities.
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