Santiago Travel Advice
Security travel advice for Santiago
How safe is Santiago?
Threat level: Low-Medium
Santiago, the capital city of Chile, is relatively safe and one of the safest cities in South America. The general travel advice for travellers to Santiago is to take standard safety precautions and be particularly vigilant in areas frequented by tourists and in public transport because of petty theft.
Santiago was in unrest in the period of October-November 2019 over a metro fare increase that sparked nationwide anti-government protests in Chile. Demonstrations are likely to continue, so monitor local news and avoid public gatherings.
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The risk of terrorist activities is small in Santiago. 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.
Robberies, pick-pocketing and bag-snatching are common in Santiago, especially in busy tourist areas and in transportation hubs. Certain areas of Santiago are also more notorious for petty crimes, including Plaza de Armas, Mercado Central, Cerro San Cristóbal, Las Condes, Vitacura and Providencia. 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. Only carry a small amount of cash with a photocopy of your passport and leave important documents with other valuables in the safe of your accommodation.
Muggings do occur in Santiago with thieves targeting drunk people outside nightclubs, particularly along Pío Nono in Bellavista, with foreigners being at a higher risk of an attack. If you are mugged, don’t resist and give the attackers what they want as the situation could turn violent very quickly.
Scammers also operate in Santiago, with reports of taxi drivers overcharging passengers and people being robbed after being distracted by a stranger offering his help because something was spilled over them, while an accomplice were taking advantage of this diversion to steal their valuables.
It is best to avoid Villa Francia, La Pintana and El Salto that are prone to street violence.
Visitors should avoid walking around after dusk, particularly around Barrio Brasil and Barrio Bellavista and should only use official taxis that are black with a yellow roof. Santiago 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. Don’t accept drinks from strangers and don’t leave your drink unattended as there have been reports of drink-spiking in bars and nightclubs in Suecia and Bellavista.
Demonstrations take place in Santiago most prominently in the city centre, including in Huechuraba, Estacion Central, 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)
Demonstrations can turn violent and should therefore be avoided by visitors.
For specific travel advice for Chile, please visit our web page: Chile Travel Advice for further details.
Travelling around Santiago
Santiago is well-served by public transport. The metro and Micro buses provide convenient ways to get around Santiago with the purchase of a Bip card.
Taxis are a generally safe method of transport in Santiago 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.
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 Santiago, 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.
Natural Disasters Santiago
Santiago is subject to earthquakes, flooding following heavy rain and air pollution during the winter season (from June to September) that can affect your eyes and breathing.
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.
Commercial Travel Risk Services
Intelligent Protection International Limited provides companies and organisations with Commercial Travel Risk Services designed to mitigate risks of staff when they travel for business. If you are interested in these services, please see: Commercial Travel Risk Services.
Emergency services in Santiago:
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.