How to get permanent residency in Chile

Dateline: Santiago, Chile

Chile has emerged as a haven for expats looking to relocate to a welcoming environment. It provides one of the cheapest, most accessible and easy to maintain residencies in the world.

For those who spend time skipping around South America, a Chilean permanent residency and eventually a passport will increase your freedom of movement in the Americas dramatically, and will even ease entry to the US.

Half-year requirement

Getting the permanent residence in the first place isn’t all that complicated – just a little time-consuming.

Several documents are required, and the rules are strict about requiring 185 days in the country before you can be considered for permanent residency.

Spanish is the lingua franca here, and a good level of it will be necessary if you want to take on the residency process without the help of a translator or lawyer, in other words, without added expense.

The toughest part of the process could be the travel. Compared to other major capital cities in the world such as New York, Paris or Hong Kong, getting to the capital city of Santiago is a commitment, a long haul flight that is distanced from major hubs (aside from Buenos Aires or Sao Paulo).

Residency permit

Many countries have strict rules when it comes to maintaining a residence permit, including staying in the country for at least half the year, every year. For many in today’s day and age of global travel, the idea of being stuck somewhere for that long is neither practical nor even possible.

In Chile, however, once you have permanent residency you only need to step foot on Chilean territory one day each year to maintain it. It’s as simple as that.

Let’s say you are not able to fly down this year. You can send a letter to your nearest Chilean representation to justify your absence.

Although it sounds just as easy as skipping class in secondary school, only certain reasons will be accepted, such as dire illness, and there is a limit to how many times you can ask to be relieved of the requirement before you risk losing residency.

Chile is a magnificent country that can easily serve as your primary base in the Americas, as long as you drop by once in a while.


Andrew Henderson
Last updated: Dec 28, 2019 at 6:03AM


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  1. Brent

    One issue I have with investing in real estate in Chile is that they have a currently elected Socialist president, which worries me the direction the country will take in regards to private property rights.

    • QBall

      Yes, Michelle Bachelet is a Socialist puke, but she’s not an idiot.

      Before the recent worldwide plunge in gas prices, the Chilean government actually LOWERED the gasoline tax by about 35 cents/gallon, in response to a lagging economy caused by a drop in the price of copper, Chile’s principal export. How many years has it been since the U.S. Government made such a common-sense decision on taxes?

      Also, the last time Chile elected a Socialist who actually WAS an idiot (Salvador Allende in 1970), they were rewarded with a violent coup followed by 17 years of a right-wing military dictatorship.

      Michelle Bachelet may be a Socialist, but she knows what the consequences will be if she goes flying off the rails to the left, as Chile’s economic elite, police and military are all hard-core right wingers.

      • Joe

        Her capital gains tax proposal, as well as other tax increase proposals, chased off a lot of good investment money though. Several capital investors stepped back from deals. I sat in one meeting last year where a few stated clearly that they would wait to see what happens next before investing another dime in Chile.

        • QBall

          Yes, you’re right about her capital gains tax proposal. Nearly everyone in the business community in Chile was/is pretty ticked off over that.

          That said, I don’t see where simply owning property in Chile could be considered overly risky (in fact, I’d buy property in Chile before I’d own anything in the U.S..). It’s not the 1960s any more, so there aren’t a bunch of KGB operatives running all over Chile sowing the seeds of Marxism, expropriating farms, etc.

          • Joe

            I couldn’t agree more on owning property. The Marxists make themselves heard, but not nearly so badly as the fascists in US Inc. Still not full-time in Chile, but working on it…. and planning on owning property. 🙂

  2. BiggBo

    Oscar Jesionek, where are some of the places you would recomend getting that second pasport from without a long wait ?

  3. Mohamed Jassat

    So I guess without the 185 days it would be impossible to obtain permanent residency ?

  4. Zakaria Khan

    I am a businessman and I want to move Chile to establish business there. Please advise me.

  5. Nathan Brown

    But don’t a lot of Permanent Residences have better rules;
    – New Zealands almost indefinite PR
    – UK’s PR requiring a visit once every two years
    – Phillipines being indefinite

  6. Jerry sawhney

    I am a student always facinated with south America countries want to live there and study.
    As well as use the opportunity to get a permanent residency there. Either in chile or Argentina. Is it able to get permanent residency after studying Spanish language for 2 years or not.
    Or i have to take a diploma course to eligible for permanent residency.


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