Chile travel guide
A narrow slither of land wedged between the Pacific and the Andes, Chile stands as a nation apart in South America – both literally and figuratively. The mountains cut the country off from Argentina and Bolivia to the east, while the expansive Atacama Desert separates it from Peru to the north. And to the south, beyond the country’s infamous Cape Horn headland, lies nothing but ocean and Antarctica. But far from being a curse, this isolation has created a very special destination indeed.
Whether you fancy road-tripping the endless Carretera Austral, climbing the peaks of Torres del Paine National Park or surfing the brutal waves of Punta de Lobos in Pichilemu, Chile is deserving of its reputation as one of the world’s best destinations for adventure tourism. It’s not just for thrill-seekers, though. From its incredible night skies and Mapuche Indian heritage to its vibrant arts scene and vertiginous vineyards, this is a country that caters for travellers of all hues. The Chileans themselves, meanwhile, tend to be warm and open, so absorbing what the country has to offer is generally a joy.
The country hasn’t always had it easy, of course, and the tribulations of the Pinochet era can be explored in the dynamic capital, Santiago. The city’s buzzing boulevards and arty neighbourhoods feel a million miles away from Chile’s more famous attractions, and this in itself tells you how broad the country’s offering is – this is a land that not only includes vast swathes of Patagonian wilderness and the glacier-threaded waterways of Tierra del Fuego, but also incorporates the remote, statue-studded landmass of Easter Island.
Whether you’re seeking solitude as a leisurely backpacker or taking on the big sights in unbridled luxury, consider yourself warned – once you’ve experienced the myriad attractions Chile has to offer, you may find other destinations fall somewhat short.
756,102 sq km (291,932 sq miles).
18,131,850 (UN estimate 2016).
24 per sq km.
President Gabriel Boric since 2022.
Before you travel, check the ‘Entry requirements’ section for Chile’s current entry restrictions and requirements. These may change with little warning. Monitor this advice for the latest updates and stay in contact with your travel provider.
If you plan to pass through another country to return to the UK, check the travel advice for the country you’re transiting.
It is more important than ever to get travel insurance and check it provides sufficient cover. See the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) guidance on foreign travel insurance.
If you have enquiries about your current UK visa, please see the guidance for UK visa holders
If you need an Emergency Travel Document, check how to apply
Street demonstrations, protests and strikes are common across all of Chile, Santiago in particular. Although most are peaceful, they can turn violent. If protests take place, you should follow the instructions and advice of the local authorities, remain vigilant, monitor developments via official sources and avoid protests and demonstrations areas. Under Chilean law, foreign nationals visiting or living in Chile could be deported for involvement in protests and demonstrations. See Local laws and customs
Opportunistic street crime can be a problem in towns and cities, and in areas popular with tourists including airports, bus stations and ports. Take care of your personal belongings at all times and be aware of your surroundings. Carry a photocopy of your passport and keep the original document in a safe place. See Crime.
Terrorist attacks in Chile can’t be ruled out. See Terrorism
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.
If you need to contact the emergency services, call 131 for an ambulance, 132 for the fire brigade and 133 for police.
The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.
Coronavirus travel health
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Chile on the TravelHealthPro website.
See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you plan to leave Chile, make sure you have not overstayed on your Chilean visa – this could affect your departure.
Entry and borders
See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Chile.
Travelling from and returning to the UK
Check what you must do to travel abroad and return to England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
If you plan to pass through another country to return to the UK, check the travel advice for the country you’re transiting.
You should contact local authorities for information on testing facilities (in Spanish, under the ‘Laboratories PCR SARS-CoV-2’ tab).
Be prepared for your plans to change
No travel is risk-free during COVID-19. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.
Plan ahead and make sure you:
- can access money
- understand what your insurance will cover
- can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned
Travel in Chile
The Chilean government provides coronavirus-related information on the Official COVID-19 Government website.
The government has updated restrictions in Chile and created a new system based on three different ‘alert level phases’: Alert Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3. These phases correlate with Low, Medium and High Sanitary impact. Rules regarding entry into and within the country change depending on the current alert level in the comuna (municipality) and country. Chile is currently in Alert Level 1.
Public places and services
You must wear a facemask inside all medical facilities such as clinics, hospitals and laboratories etc.
Masks are recommended in public transport of all kinds.
Healthcare in Chile
If you present COVID-19 symptoms while in Chile, you should review the following website Gob.cl - Tengo Covid and call the Health Ministry’s COVID-19 hotline on 800 371 900. For further advice and information you can call the general Health Ministry’s COVID-19 hotline on 600 360 7777 (Spanish only), and check the Ministry of Health (Ministerio de Salud) website.
If you test positive for COVID-19 in Chile before returning to the UK
If you receive a positive COVID-19 test in country, you should seek medical assistance by contacting either a public or private doctor to advise you on treatment and self-isolation measures, in private accommodation or a hotel of your choice.
For contact details for English speaking doctors and providers, view our medical list. Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health.
View Health for further details on healthcare in Chile.
For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.
If you need urgent consular assistance, you can contact the British Embassy on +56223704100, pressing one for English and then follow the instructions.
There have been reports of people being robbed by bogus and unlicensed taxi drivers, including airport taxis. You should use official and/or pre-booked taxis and ask taxi drivers for proof of reservation.
There have been incidents involving people being followed from Santiago International Airport to their destinations and then robbed, sometimes at gunpoint. The British Embassy has noted an increase in ‘car-jacking’ and general crime in and around Santiago, especially in affluent areas and cases of armed carjackers targeting high-end vehicles on highways. Be aware of your surroundings in and around the airport, when driving and on arrival at your destination. If being robbed, hand over your cash and valuables without resistance. The local authorities recommend that in the event of a carjacking it is best to raise your hands and exit the car to avoid violence.
There have been reports of criminals targeting vehicles entering/exiting private residences, in affluent areas, while the gates are opening/closing. Keep vehicle doors locked and windows closed and wait for the gates to fully close before exiting your vehicle.
There have been a number of incidents, mainly in Santiago, where British nationals have been victims of theft of items, including passports, while checking in or checking out in hotel lobbies. Be extremely careful with your possessions when arriving or leaving your place of accommodation.
There have been a number of incidents in major cities where those driving rental cars have been victims of crime. The perpetrators puncture the car’s tyres surreptitiously (often while at traffic lights) and then target the vehicle when the occupants notice the flat tyre. Often the victims do not notice the theft is taking place as an accomplice will distract the victim, while another steals valuables from the vehicle. Remain vigilant and keep your valuables secure. Other tactics include the interception of locking cars when drivers remotely activate the lock. Always double check that your car is locked.
Pick pocketing and muggings are common in many cities throughout Chile, particularly around affluent or well-known tourist sites including airports, bus stations, ports and popular areas visited by foreigners. Pay particular attention to your belongings in popular foreign cafes and restaurants. In restaurants, never hang your handbag over the chair or leave your mobile phone on the table.
There have been numerous reports of stolen passports and other valuable items at bus stations. Please take care of your belongings at all times when boarding a bus.
There have been reports of violent muggings in areas popular with tourists in Santiago and Valparaiso. The British Embassy is aware of an increase in the use of weapons, such as pistols and knives. These muggings can take place during the day and in plain sight of others. Be vigilant in public, particularly if you are in places popular among tourists or near official buildings. Avoid carrying large amounts of money, your passport (a photocopy is sufficient if needed), wearing valuable watches or jewellery or using your mobile phone while walking on the streets. You should not resist any attempted theft. Avoid putting any valuables in the storage compartments of buses and coaches, especially interregional transport - keep them with you at all times.
Book a taxi in advance rather than hailing one from the street, especially late at night. Keep in groups and avoid walking alone late at night.
There have been a few reports of people being given ‘spiked’ drinks in nightclubs and bars, particularly in the Suecia and Bellavista areas of Santiago. These can leave the victim open to theft or assault.
Leave your passport and other valuables in a safe place and carry a photocopy of the details page of your passport with you at all times.
Landmine accidents mainly affect livestock and local people crossing borders at unauthorised points. Most minefields are near the borders with Peru and Bolivia in the extreme north of Chile (regions XV, I and II) and Argentina in the south (region XII). Although most minefields are clearly marked, some signs and fences are old and damaged, and may be hard to spot. In some cases, minefields are laid right up to the edge of highways. Check with local authorities before travelling to more rural areas, stick to clearly marked roads and observe all warning signs.
If travelling to national parks in Chile you are advised that open fires (outside permitted camping areas) are strictly forbidden. Local authorities may revoke tourist permits from anyone caught starting a fire within a Chilean National Park and ask them to leave Chile voluntarily within 72 hours or face deportation. Additionally, if the open fire results in a larger forest fire, there may also be criminal penalties and fines.
If you plan to go exploring or mountaineering, notify the local authorities before you set off. For further information on mountaineering, contact the Federación de Andinismo de Chile, Almirante Simpson 77, Santiago, Chile, Telephone: (56 2) 2220888. For any other type of exploring, contact the Chilean Embassy in London, to see if permits are required. There are good rescue facilities in Chile. You may be charged for the service they provide.
You can drive a car using a UK driving licence, but only for 3 months after arriving in Chile. You must have your passport and proof of your tourist status. You can find more information about this here.
If you hire a car, take out adequate insurance coverage including windscreen damage, which can be expensive.
If you are a resident in Chile, you must get a Chilean driving licence from the nearest ‘municipalidad’. You can find further information about the process on the Chilean Transport Ministry website (in English).
You cannot arrange car insurance if driving in Easter Island. In case of an accident or any damage to your vehicle, you will have to pay for the repairs yourself. Main roads in Chile are surfaced, but you may need a four-wheel drive vehicle in the countryside. Be prepared for a range of driving conditions, from snow and ice to hot sandy deserts. Toll roads are increasingly common. Between June and September, winter weather sometimes temporarily closes the Chile-Argentina border crossing high up in the Andes, including the main Los Libertadores crossing between Santiago and Mendoza.
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) can’t offer advice on the safety of individual airlines, but the International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list does not necessarily mean that it is unsafe.
A list of recent incidents and accidents can be found on the website of the Aviation Safety network.
There remains a risk of violent protest in Santiago and other Chilean cities, particularly on Friday afternoons/evenings.
Even peaceful protests can become violent. The largest protests usually take place in central Santiago. Police can use tear gas and water cannons against protesters. Other public demonstrations, often led by students or indigenous rights defenders, can occur around Chile. You should avoid all demonstrations.
Nationwide protests also often take place on 11 September (anniversary of the military coup), 29 March (‘day of the young combatant’) and 1 May (Workers’ Day).
Under Chilean law, foreign nationals visiting or living in Chile could be deported for any involvement or promotion of violent acts that could disturb local social order or the system of government.
In the Araucanía Region, especially around Temuco, civil unrest continues including attacks against security forces, property, people, vehicles and industrial equipment by groups of demonstrators. Caution should be exercised when travelling within the Araucanía Region. A state of emergency has been declared in the provinces of Biobío, Arauco, Cautín and Malleco owing to a significant increase in violent incidents. The state of emergency continues until further notice. Over this period, the military have been deployed to assist regional police activity.
You should follow the instructions of local authorities.
Terrorist attacks in Chile can’t be ruled out. Attacks, although unlikely, could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners.
UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.
There are occasional acts of domestic terrorism by anarchist groups, mostly in Santiago, including the use of small explosive devices. Groups mainly target banks (ATMs) and public transport. Keep bags with you at all times, and report any suspicious behaviour or unattended packages to local authorities. Since early April 2020, there has been an increase in attacks against security forces in the Araucania region, particularly around Ruta 5. You should exercise caution and follow the instructions of local authorities.
There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
Consumption and possession of drugs is illegal and can lead to prison sentences.
Consumption of alcoholic beverages is forbidden in streets, roads, squares, promenades and other places of public use.
Homosexuality is legal in Chile and is increasingly widely accepted socially, although much of Chilean society is conservative. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
If you have a health condition, or you are pregnant, you may need specialist healthcare abroad. Check whether your destination country can provide the healthcare you may need and ensure you have appropriate travel insurance for unexpected medical evacuation or local treatment.
See the Coronavirus travel health and Healthcare sections in the Coronavirus page for COVID-19 health information.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.
General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page.
Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).
Local medical care
The Chilean authorities have confirmed some cases of Dengue fever in Easter Island. You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
Altitude sickness is a risk in parts of Chile. More information about altitude sickness is available from TravelHealthPro.
There are good health facilities in Santiago and other major cities, but private clinics and hospitals are expensive. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
There is only one hospital on Easter Island and its facilities are limited. Those suffering from serious illnesses or injuries are taken by air ambulance to mainland Chile for treatment. Make sure your travel insurance covers this.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 131 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
This page has information on travelling to Chile.
This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Chile set and enforce entry rules. The British Embassy cannot intervene on Chilean entry rules. If you’re unsure how Chile’s entry requirements apply to you, contact its UK embassy, high commission or consulate.
All travellers should familiarise themselves with the entry rules for Chile before travel.
If you are a British passport holder visiting Chile for less than 90 days, you do not need a visa. Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. No additional period of validity beyond this is required.
All restrictions or entry requirements around COVID-19 have been lifted. There is no need to present negative PCR test results, COVID-19 vaccination certificates or to be subject to COVID-19 testing upon arrival.
Proof of travel insurance is no longer required to enter the country. However, insurance coverage for viruses, such as COVID-19 or influenza, is highly recommended for the duration of your stay in Chile.
Children and young people
If you travel with children under 18 years old, you must review the documents you will need to show upon entry on the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.
Children under 18 years old
Children under 18 years old (including non-resident foreigners) are not subject to any Covid-related entry requirements.
Special entry requirements to travel to Easter Island (Rapa Nui)
All travellers will have to comply with the following requirements to enter Easter Island (Rapa Nui):
- Complete a Single Entry Form (FUI).
- Return ticket.
- Reservation in a tourist service registered in SERNATUR or invitation letter from the Provincial Delegation.
In addition, all travellers will be subject to health monitoring for 5 days after entering the island.
If you’re transiting through Chile
Transiting through Chile on your way to another country without exiting the airport premises and without transiting to a domestic flight is permitted. Nevertheless, if you wish to exit the airport or if your transit comprises flying to another city within Chile, Chilean authorities will require you to meet all the current entry requirements.
Check your passport and travel documents before you travel
Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. No additional period of validity beyond this is required.
If you are a resident in Chile, your passport must be valid when entering the country.
Check with your travel provider to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
If you are a British passport holder visiting Chile for less than 90 days, you do not need a visa.
On arrival in Chile the immigration authorities will issue you with a ‘Tarjeta de Turismo - Tourist Card’, an A5 sized white form. You must keep this document on a safe place and present it to immigration when you leave the country. If you lose it, you should request a copy of the Tourist card on the PDI website choosing the option ‘Duplicado de Tarjeta de Turismo’, at the nearest PDI office or at the office at Santiago airport.
Please note that the official website for digital procedures for Chilean immigration is in the process of being changed as a result of the approval of the Regulation of Law No. 21.325 (‘El portal oficial de trámites digitales del Servicio de Migraciones se encuentra en proceso de cambio producto de la aprobación del Reglamento de la Ley N° 21.325’.) This change is likely to affect any visa extension or ‘Prorroga de Turismo’.
Closely review the Chilean Immigration Department (Extranjeria) website for any updates regarding visas. Telephone: 600 626 4222.
British-Chilean dual nationals must enter and leave Chile using their Chilean passport. Chilean entry and exit requirements for dual nationals may change without notice. For further information check with the nearest Chilean Embassy.
Travelling with children
Chile has strict requirements for the entry and exit of minors under the age of 18.
Children born in Chile require a Chilean passport to leave.
Children under 18 years old, who are leaving Chile alone, with only one parent/guardian, with friends or relatives, must get authorisation to travel from a Chilean notary (“notaría”) before travelling.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETD) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Chile. Your ETD must be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. Dual British/Chilean nationals must have a Chilean travel document (passport) to be allowed to depart - UK ETDs cannot substitute this requirement.
Chile is frequently affected by severe forest fires. These can be highly destructive and spread rapidly, causing National Park and road closures; this could affect your travel itinerary with short notice.
You should monitor local media for updates and follow the advice of local authorities. Avoid the areas they advise are at risk and follow evacuation procedures if instructed to by authorities.
For up to date information regarding locations and severity of forest fires, you can check the following websites: ONEMI - Oficina Nacional de Emergencias (Chilean National Emergencies Office) alerts, CONAF and FIRMS (Fire Information for Resource Management System).
Serious earthquakes are always a possibility in Chile. You should familiarise yourself with safety procedures in the event of an earthquake or tsunami, and take note of instructions in hotel rooms. Building regulations require new structures to take account of seismic risks. Safety measures are widely known and put into practice by national organisations and the local authorities.
A chain of volcanoes erupted in the Puyehue and Los Lagos region (500 miles south of Santiago) in June 2011 and are still active. There is a continuing risk of eruptions in Chaiten in southern Chile, Llaima in the Conguillo National Park and Lascar in northern Chile. The Copahue Volcano on the Argentina/Chile border also erupts periodically, causing local residents to be evacuated. If you’re travelling to these areas, monitor local media reports and follow the advice of the local authorities.
ATMs are widely available.
Credit cards are accepted in most large shops and hotels. Dollar travellers’ cheques are more widely accepted than travellers’ cheques in other currencies. It is possible to transfer money from the UK to Chile through Western Union.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the FCDO in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).
Foreign travel checklist
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
Refunds and cancellations
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Registering your travel details with us
We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.
Previous versions of FCDO travel advice
If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request.
If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry, or contact us on Twitter or Facebook. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.