Welcome to the best guide on the internet on how to get Permanent Residency in Chile using the Retirement and Periodic Income visa.
When I was looking for advice on how to get this visa, I noticed that the information is out there, but it is scattered across multiple sites some of which say conflicting things! It’s hard to find anything definitive. So I have taken a lot of this information, mixed in a healthy dose of my own personal experience, and distilled it into this all-encompassing, punchy guide which will show you the EXACT STEPS you need to take to get Chilean permanent residency under your belt.
Anyone with enough patience and hard-headedness can get through this process on their own. However, if you are not very comfortable speaking Spanish, I highly recommend finding a competent Spanish speaker to guide you through the process, preferably one who has already gone through it themselves.
The Chilean temporary residency visa, in addition to allowing you an identity card and RUT, also grants permission to work in Chile. You can additionally apply for permission to work en tramite which means a piece of paper that technically allows you to work while you wait for approval of your visa. This costs 50% extra on top of the regular visa charges and probably isn’t worth it, as the wait usually doesn’t last longer than three months.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Only the titular of the visa is allowed to work. Dependents do not receive permission to work on a temporary residency visa.
This guide assumes you will be arriving in Santiago and doing everything from there. This is probably the easiest way to do it, I expect it might be possible to do it in other cities but it would certainly be more difficult.
It bears repeating that the rules and requirements are always subject to change and often applications are accepted or denied at the whim of one particular bureaucrat who may not even be familiar with the regulations himself. Such is the nature of Chilean government. Sometimes your application could be held up for no better reason than some bureaucrat who had an argument with his mother on the way out of his basement bedroom that morning, and it might take multiple trips to the Extranjería (map) to figure out what exactly is going on.
Having said that, according to my research the majority of applications are approved without any problems, if the proper procedure is followed and your paperwork is in order. The defining factor seems to be how capable the Chilean government considers you to be of supporting yourself financially in Chile during the temporary residency period.
The general outline of the process looks like this:
- Move to Chile on a tourist visa
- Apply for temporary residency from within the country
- Once this is granted, spend at least 185 days in Chile on this visa
- Apply for permanent residency inside of 90 days before the end of your one year temporary residency term
Sound complicated? Well it is. The Chilean process is fairly transparent and accessible compared to that of many countries, but applying for this visa is still a major undertaking. Let’s dive in to the process itself.
Important: Remember, most immigration staff do NOT speak English. If you speak fluent Spanish, that will help. If your Spanish is poor or non-existent acquiring this visa on your own will be a challenge and take many, many hours of hard, frustrating work.
If you’d like personal assistance with your application, feel free to contact me with your name and details and I’d be happy to help.
If you would prefer to tackle this process yourself, feel free to read on.
Step 1 – requirements
To apply for this visa, you must demonstrate a source of regular recurring income sufficient to support yourself and each of your dependent family members in order to live in Chile. It does not need to be a pension, it can be any acceptable source of periodic income such as employment contracts (in or outside of Chile), income from rent, social security, interest income and annuities.
So what is considered sufficient to support your expenses in Chile?
Well, the Chilean government does not publish the exact requirements anywhere. Through my research and personal experience, a good rule of thumb seems to be between US$ 500 to US$ 1000 per month for you and each of your dependants. This is the preferred form of proof, and you should provide evidence documenting these payments for at least the preceding three months to your initial application for temporary residency.
Then later when you apply for the upgrade to permanent residency, you will need to show some additional evidence that you supported yourself financially throughout the one year of temporary residency, and then finally during the time between applying for and receiving permanent resident status. So that’s about fifteen months all up.
Remember, your periodic income does not need to be all of the capital that supports you. You can have a small source of periodic income along with other savings and investments to prove you are able to support yourself.
Note: For my initial temporary residency application, I actually did not demonstrate any periodic income at all. Instead, I submitted a bank statement showing over $50,000 in savings, plus my Physics degree certificate and a personal statement explaining that I had mining experience and intended to use my degree and experience to work in the mining industry and support myself in this fashion. My application for temporary residency was granted extremely quickly (inside of one month). It seems the Chilean government is very welcoming towards technically qualified immigrants.
Step 2 – assembling the necessary documentation in your home country
Before you leave your home country you must gather all the requisite documentation. This is not as simple as it sounds.
Here is the official list of required documentation to be submitted with the visa application.
If you wanted to, you could try your luck submitting your application with just the documentation listed there. However, I recommend giving the Extranjería as much paperwork as you can. Chilean bureaucrats love documents and they especially love official-looking stamps and bindings. The more supporting documentation you can submit, the most likely your application is to be approved.
Here is a comprehensive list of everything you should have:
Copies of documents from your home country that must go through a full legalisation/notarisation chain (see below):
- Degree certificates
- Degree transcripts
- Birth certificate
- Marriage license (if applicable)
All of the above documents must have an explanation/summary describing the content in Spanish. Sample translations can be found at the end of this post.
This translation should be printed (NOT hand-written) onto a small piece of paper and glued onto the original copy wherever there is space with a gluestick. This way, any copies made of the original will show the translation as well.
Additional copies that need only to be notarised in Chile:
- Cover letter explaining what you intend to do and how you intend to support yourself financially in Chile. This must be in English with a full Spanish translation (a sample cover letter can be found at the end of the post).
- Photocopy of every single page in your passport
- Bank statements/financial proof of recurring income
- Photocopy of your latest “tarjeta de turismo”
Additional documents that don’t need to be notarised by anybody:
- Application form
- Three 3x2cm photographs with your full name and passport number included.
The legalization chain
The copies of your degree certificates and transcripts, marriage license(s) and birth certificate will need to go through a full legalization chain in order to be recognized as valid in Chile. I also went through this process with my bank statements just to be sure, but later found that this wasn’t necessary.
Chile is not a party to the Hague convention on document signatures, so foreign documents must be properly legalized to be accepted in Chile. An apostille certificate is not acceptable in most cases in Chile, as it is a legal instrument normally recognized only by signatory countries to the Hague convention.
To legalize a document for use in Chile, the document must at the minimum complete the following chain of legal certifications:
1. The chain of authority of the originating signer of the document must be established. For example, birth certificate must have an attached certification that the office that issued it is authorized to issue birth certificates, and that office above it is authorized, all the way to either the State Department or Foreign Ministry (or local equivalent) .
2. The Chilean Consulate or Embassy responsible for the territory or country where the document was originally produced must then certify that document is in fact compliant with the traditions of that foreign country.
3. The Foreign Ministry of Chile must then certify that document is authorized for use in Chile.
The key point is that the documents must be certified as valid by the Chilean consulate in your home country, then affirmed again by the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores in Chile (map). This is the legal bridge that connects the two countries.
You should research the process for legalizing documents with the Chilean consulate in your home country. This information will probably be readily available by calling them or visiting their website.
It is VERY IMPORTANT you get your documents certified in good time before you leave the country as you often need to be present in person at the notary lawyer. Do NOT do what I did and leave only one week before your flight to legalize everything, or you will be running around like your ass is on fire trying to sort everything out.
The chain will differ depending on your home country. I have included information for citizens of the UK and US.
If in doubt, the best policy is always to call the Chilean consulate in your country and ask them exactly what you need to do in order to make sure your documents will be legal in Chile.
Note that in the U.S. and possibly other countries where there are multiple consulate offices, you must talk to the particular Chilean consulate that pertains to your local jurisdiction.
Information for UK citizens
- Make legalized copies of relevant documents with a Notary Lawyer, who certifies the copies (note: Birth Certificates do not need to be notarized and instead can be sent directly to the FCO)
- Send copies to Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), who certifies the notary
- Send documents to Chilean Consulate, who certify the FCO
- Bring documents to Chile and get them legalized at the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores. This certifies the Chilean Consulate from your home country, and verifies that your document copies are now legal instruments in Chile.
Information for US citizens
In short, the process looks like this:
Local notary –> State Secretary of State –> Federal department of State –> Chilean consulate
There is a department of legalization at the US State department that can handle the rounds through the various US bureaucratic steps for you.
Once the document is in Chile, the Consulate signature needs to be authorized by the foreign ministry in Santiago.
So, for example, to certify a Diploma for use in Chile:
- Make a copy of your Diploma.
- Send it to the Registrars office at your university for them to notarize it
- Tell the Registrars that they need to send the Notarized diploma to the Secretary of State (of the state of your university) to place an apostille on the diploma.
- Receive notarized and apostilled diploma.
- Send the diploma to the consulate that pertains to your university* to get the notarization and apostilization “certified.” Tell them you need it for processing a visa here in Chile.
- Take it to the foreign ministry (Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores) in Santiago for a final notarization stamp.
*I.e. If you live in California, but got your degree in Illinois, send your documents to the consulate in in Chicago. You can find the consulate pertaining to your local jurisdiction using this map.
Step 3 – arrival in Chile and preparing your application
Once you have done everything you need to do with your documentation in your home country, hop on a plane and get your ass to Chile! You may need to pay a fee upon arrival, see the tourist visa section for details.
Once you have arrived safely and found a place to stay, the next step is to prepare the paperwork for your application.
You should first follow the steps in the previous section and get your foreign document copies legalized for use within Chile at the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores. This is free and literally takes five seconds of stamping.
Once you have these documents ready, take the following exhaustive list to a Chilean notary public to have certified copies made:
- Degree certificates
- Degree transcripts
- Birth certificate
- Marriage license (if applicable)
- Cover letter explaining what you intend to do and how you intend to support yourself financially in Chile. This must be in English with a full Spanish translation.
- Your passport (you need notarized copies of every single page – the notary will love you for this)
- Bank statements/financial proof of recurring income
- Your latest “tarjeta de turismo”
This will produce a huge stack of papers. Luckily, notary publics in Chile charge by the copy and they do not cost very much, I paid CLP$ 250 per sheet, which is about US$ 0.50.
Once you have all the above copies, you also need to download and fill out the application form. Instructions on filling it out are included (albeit in Spanish). You may also download an English version here, but I recommend submitting the Spanish version. This form should be filled out in block capitals and black ink. If you make a mistake, throw it away and start again. It isn’t worth risking your whole application for a few seconds of extra effort.
The fields should be fairly self-explanatory, but I will go through them here anyway with translations:
0. N° CEDULA DE IDENTIDAD – you should fill this in if you already obtained a RUT and ID card from the SII office. If you don’t know what these things are, you can safely leave the box blank.
1. IDENTIFICACION DEL SOLICITANTE
- PRIMER APELLIDO – your surname
- SEGUNDO APELLIDO – your second surname (in Chile it is common for people to take both their mother and their father’s surnames. You can safely leave this box blank if you only have one).
- NOMBRES – your first name(s)
- SEXO – sex
- FECHA DE NACIMIENTO – date of birth
- ESTADO CIVIL – married, single etc
- PAIS DE NACIMIENTO – country of birth
- NACIONALIDED ACTUAL – current nationality
- TIPO PASAPORTE O DOCUMENTO DE IDENTIDAD – if you are using a passport (hint: you are) then just write ‘PASAPORTE’ here
- N° DE DOCUMENTO DE IDENTIDAD – your passport number
- PAIS ORTOGANTE PASAPORTE O DOCUMENTO DE IDENTIDAD – issuing country for your passport
- TIENE VINCULO – this only applies if are marrying a Chilean or have dependent children or parents who are resident in Chile. I’m assuming this is not the case for you, so tick the no box here and leave the rest blank.
- NOMBRE COMPLETO DEL PADRE – your father’s name
- NACIONALIDAD DE ORIGEN – your father’s country of birth
- NACIONALIDED ACTUAL – your father’s current country of residence
- NOMBRE COMPLETO DE LA MADRE – your mother’s name
- NACIONALIDAD DE ORIGEN – your mother’s country of birth
- NACIONALIDED ACTUAL – your mother’s current country of residence.
2. ACTIVIDAD Y DIRECCION PARTICULAR
- NIVEL DE ESTUDIOS – High school, university etc
- PROFESION U OFICIO – Your profession
- ACTIVIDAD A REALIZAR EN CHILE – enter ’10-11’ in this box.
- DOMICILIO PARTICULAR EN CHILE – your address in Chile
- COMUNA – province
- CIUDAD – city
- TELEFONO RED FIJA – landline phone number (optional)
- TELEFONO CELULAR – cellphone number
- CORREO ELECTRONICO – email address
3. PARA EL DEPENDIENTE – fill out this section if this particular application is for a dependent. If not, leave this part blank.
- N° CEDULA DE IDENTIDAD O PASAPORTE – passport number of the dependent
- NOMBRE COMPLETO TITULAR – full name of dependent
- RELACION O PARENTESCO CON EL TITULAR – the relation of the dependent to the main holder
4. PARA EL TITULAR – fill out this section as opposed to the above if the application form is for the main holder
- N° DEPENDIENTES QUE LO ACOMPANAN – number of dependents accompanying the main holder
5. PERMISO DE RESIDENCIA
- TIPO DE VISA O RESIDENCIA ACTUAL – the type of visa you currently have: write ‘TURISMO’ here.
- AUTORIDAD OTORGANTE – the granting authority: look at your tarjeta de turismo and check the granting authority, then write that here. It is most likely ‘POLIN’.
- TITULAR/DEPENDIENTE – form is for the main holder or dependent?
- FECHA INICIO/FECHA TERMINO – start date/end date of your current visa.
6. NOMBRE VINCULO O INSTITUCION DONDE REALIZA ACTIVIDADES – name, RUT and telephone number of your Chilean ‘VINCULO’. If applying for the Jubilados o Rentista visa (hint: you are) then you can leave this section blank.
7. SANCIONES – put ‘NO’ here, unless you actually have been fined for illegal residence or work. I’d suggest not getting yourself into this position in the first place.
8. SOLICITUD DE BENEFICIO TEMPORARIA – you must sign the application (unless the form is for a minor, in which case signing is not necessary).
9. BENEFICIO SOLITADO – You are applying on a tourist visa, so tick ‘VISACION DE RESIDENTE POR PRIMERA VEZ’ then mark if the form is for a dependent or the main holder, and write ‘1 ANO’ in the PLAZO field.
10. SOLICITUD DE AUTORIZACION DE TRABAJO CON VISA EN TRAMITE – if you want to apply for permission to work while your visa is being processed, tick ‘SI’. This costs 50% of the total visa cost extra, unless you really do need it, mark ‘NO’ here.
11. DESEO RECIBIR INFORMACION… – supposedly the Extranjería will send you a text message when your application is done. If you’d like to try it, you can make ‘SI’ and put your phone number here. I never received anything from them.
12. NO LLENAR – don’t fill out anything here, this part is for the immigration authorities.
I would recommend photocopying your application form before sending it and keeping a copy for your own records.
One last thing you will need after filling out the application form is three 3x2cm photographs with your full name and passport number included. There are little stalls all around Santiago that can produce these photos, I used one downstairs in the shopping centre at the north-west corner of Ricardo Lyon and Providencia. Just tell the stall owner it is for the Extranjería and he will know what to do.
Step 4 – posting your application
Once you are doubly sure you have everything from the above list, compiled and verified, you need to take it to a post office and post it. Most post offices will be able to supply suitable packaging/boxes.
You must send the documents “carta certificado” to:
8 Correo Central,
Ref: Solicitud de Visa Temporaria, Primera Vez
With a “direccion remitente” (return address) listed on the envelope.
Important: KEEP a copy of the sending certificate, you may need it to prove you sent the application.
Step 5 – waiting for confirmation
Now you get to play the waiting game. Firstly, you need to wait for confirmation that the Extranjeríahas received your application. This will arrive by post, but can take some time to arrive.
You can also check the status of your application at any time by going to the Extranjería with your passport, or by looking online at http://autoconsulta.extranjeria.gob.cl/. When logging in you will need to make sure you use the exact same details you used on your application form for the NOMBRE and APELLIDO fields.
If you see new documents on that site, make sure you download them straight away and keep a copy saved on your computer – they don’t stay online forever.
If you requested permission to work while your visa is ‘en tramite’ you will need to pay (cancelar) the charge now and present the receipt to the Extranjería. If not, you don’t need to do anything until your visa is approved.
Once your visa is approved, you may need to pay a charge depending on your country of origin (see here for a list of fees). The Extranjería will send you the appropriate documentation by post. You can pay the charge by taking the attached “Orden de Giro” to any commercial bank such as BancoEstado and paying in cash there.
Take the receipt from this payment along with your passport and other documentation to the Extranjería. Once you have done this, you will receive a sticker and stamp in your passport confirming your temporary residency status.
Note: If you are unsure of the status of your application, you can check at any time by taking your passport to the Extranjería, waiting in line and talking to one of the attendants. I recommend going before 9:30am.
Step 6 – PDI clearance and obtaining your cédula de identidad
Note: If you wait more than 30 days, it isn’t the end of the world, you just have to pay a small sancíon and listen to a grumpy bureaucrat moan at you for a while. Also, once you have registered at the PDI, this it the moment that the clock starts counting on your year-long temporary visa term.
Take your tarjeta de registro and passport to your nearest Servicio de Registro Civil y Identificación in order to obtain your ID card (Cédula de Identidad). See my post here for more details on how to obtain a Cédula once you have your visa stamp.
Sample document translations
“Nací <your name> en la ciudad de <your city of birth> en el <your date of birth in Spanish>. Los padres son: <your parents>.
“Nací Tom Cooper en la ciudad de Los Angeles en el 5 de Septiembre, del 1977. Los padres son: John Cooper, padre y Mary Cooper, madre.”
“Se otorgó el titulo de <degree title> el dia de <date of award>. <optional listing of your GPA>.
“Se otorgó el titulo de Batchelor of Science in Physics el día de 25 de Junio del 1998 con nota promedio de estudios 3,908 en una escala de 0 a 4. Magna Cum Laude.
“Se casaron (First, Middle and Last Name of man) con (First, Middle and Last Name of woman) en la ciudad de (name of city), (country name in Spanish, USA is EEUU), el (day) de (month in Spanish), de (year).”
“Se casaron Tom Albert Cooper con Alice Catherine Smith en la ciudad de Londres, Reino Unido, el 1 de Enero, de 2000.”
Se divorciaron (First, Middle and Last Name of man) y (First, Middle and Last Name of woman) en la ciudad de (name of city), (country name in Spanish, USA is EEUU), el (day) de (month in Spanish), de (year) en la corte (name of court), fallo no. (case number). A (Full name of parent with custody) se otorgó custodia plena de los hijos (list full names of each child).
Sample cover letter
Statement of the Financial Position of Tom Cooper
I have included statements from my bank accounts that indicate that I have assets in total of approximately $50,000 USD. With the income generated by investing the funds in my bank accounts, I have income that will support me during my stay in Chile.
When in Chile, I will earn income by starting a tutoring business to help students learn English and provide one-on-one classes. Also, with my work experience in the mining industry, I will provide these services as a consultant to Chilean companies.
Se incluyo las declaraciones del banco que indican que tengo activos mas de 50,000 USD. Con los ingresos ganado al invertir este dinero en el país, voy a ser capaz para mantenerme mientras vivo en Chile.
Además, en Chile, voy a empezar un negocio para enseñar Ingles. Con mi titulo en Física y mi experiencia en la industria minera, también voy a ser Consultor de las empresas Chilenas.
Tom P. Cooper Date