Chile Travel Advice
Security travel advice for Chile
How safe is Chile?
Threat level: Low-Medium
Chile is a country that is relatively safe and one of the safest countries in South America. The general travel advice for travellers to Chile is to remain cautious in busy tourist areas as these present the highest risk of petty crime and theft. Unexploded landmines are still present in some areas of the country and as such, it is recommended that you only use recognised border crossings into Peru, Bolivia and Argentina.
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There is a small risk of terrorist activity in Chile. Over 200 bombings have taken place in the country between 2005 and 2014 with many different groups claiming responsibility. The last terror incident was a subway bombing in Santiago in 2014, although no-one was killed, 14 people were injured. The Chilean Anarchist group, “the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire” claimed responsibility for this attack.
In January 2017, five people were injured by an armed attack on a caravan of vehicles carrying forest workers to the logging town of Curaquidico, in the southern region of the Bío Bío Province. Nobody has yet claimed responsibility for this attack.
Parts of Chile are known to be prone to earthquakes. In December 2016, the Los Lagos Region suffered a powerful 7.7 magnitude earthquake. It is advised to keep an eye on local news for warnings of imminent earthquakes.
Robberies, pick-pocketing and bag-snatches are common in most areas. Visitors should ensure they are aware of their surroundings at all times and that they do not wear expensive jewellery as this may draw attention to themselves. Carry only a photocopy of your passport and leave important documents in a safe in your accommodation.
Visitors should avoid walking around after dusk and to only use official taxis. Chile has a popular night-life scene where drug culture is present. Visitors should take care not to get involved with taking drugs as this can lead to arrest, detention and deportation.
Demonstrations take place in the country, most prominently in the areas of Huechuraba, Estacion Cen-tral, Ñuñoa, San Joaquin, Renca, La Pintana, Macul, often and on particular days such as:
- 11th September (anniversary of the military coup)
- 29th March (‘day of the young combatant’)
- 1st May (Workers’ Day)
Chile's International Relations
Chile has had a fraught past with land disputes involving Bolivia and Peru, which has stemmed from the “War of the Pacific”. To this day, there have been claims made in the International Courts to its lands. Chile has responded to this diplomatically and the disputes have settled down.
It is a member of many organisations such as the United Nations, Organisation of American States (OAS), Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Organisation for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD), International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank. It has developed over the years close ties with the United States of America and China with export and free trade agreements.
Travelling around Chile
Taxis are a generally safe method of transport and it is advised to use pre-arranged pre-booked services. You should not use unmetered taxis or agree a fare before departing if you do. If you are taking a taxi from the airport, use only airport-registered vehicles, which can be booked prior to travel or upon arrival.
Road travel in rural areas can be problematic. The roads are generally in poor condition and can in some areas be washed away after heavy rains. The standard of driving is erratic compared to European standards and care should be taken. When driving at night, you should be aware that not all drivers will use their lights and it is not uncommon to come across a vehicle broken down with no warning or hazard lights. As such, you should remain cautious and drive defensively at all times.
An International Driving Permit is not normally required to hire a car in Chile and you can use your UK/EU Member State or US license, but this could change in the future. You must carry your passport and entry card in the car at all times. You should take out good vehicle insurance as damage can be expensive.
Please be aware of landmine signs and take caution if these are seen. These are mainly observed near the border areas.
Earthquakes in Chile
Chile has a well-documented history of seismic activity, the 1960 Valdivia earthquake was the most powerful earthquake ever recorded, a Megathrust of 9.4-9.6 magnitude. This earthquake was part of a series of large earthquakes that struck Chile during the period between the 21st of May and 6th of June 1960; eight quakes in total over 7.0 were registered during this period.
The country regularly is struck by magnitude 3-5 earthquakes and these can trigger landslides. A high percentage of the earthquakes in Chile, like the 1960 earthquakes, occur off-shore and can also trigger tsunamis.
It is advised to shelter in hardened doorways, stairwells or under tables during an earthquake, leaving the building when it is safe to do so. Monitor local news and social media for updates and be aware of strong aftershocks and in coastal areas, the possibility of tsunamis.
Emergency services in Chile:
Police emergency: 133
Drug Squad: 135
Domestic Violence: 149
Children Violence: 147
Fire emergency: 132
Medical emergency: 131
Air Rescue: 138 (Busqueda y Salvamento Aereo)
Mountain Rescue: 131 (Rescate del montana)
Services Information: 139 (Traffic, Car breakdowns, Police Station addresses, etc.)
Religion: Christianity (Roman Catholic)
Time now in Santiago:
Consular information for Chile
U.S. Embassy Santiago
Av. Andrés Bello 2800,
Telephone: +56 2 2330 3000
British Embassy Santiago
Avda. El Bosque Norte 0125,
Telephone: +56 2 2370 4100
Visa requirements for Chile
Visitors to Chile from most countries do not require a visa for stays of up to 90 days. If you wish to stay longer than this, you should contact your nearest Chilean Embassy prior to departure. Further advice on visa requirements for Chile can be found here: Visa advice Chile
Upon arrival, immigration authorities will issue each traveller with a ‘Tarjeta de Turismo - Tourist Card.’ This is an A5-sized white form and is your entry card. You must present this document to the authorities when you leave the country, so make sure it is safe throughout your trip.
Healthcare and Immunisations
It is advised that visitors to Chile are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. It is further recommended that most travellers get Tetanus and Hepatitis A vaccinations. You should check with your local health professional prior to your departure if you are unsure.
The viral illness Dengue Fever is transmitted to humans by mosquito bites and is an issue in Chile. Although there is no vaccine, precautions such as sleeping with a mosquito net and wearing suitable clothes can prevent bites. More information on Dengue fever can be found here: Dengue Fever facts
Personal hygiene must be paramount, the local water supply avoided at all costs and bottled water inspected prior to consumption. A number of cases of bottled water being refilled with tap water and re-sold have come to our attention.