In general terms, Chileans are characterized by being supportive, welcoming, and friendly. They also tend to be formal in their business dealings.
Chileans enjoy the opportunity to meet in person with U.S. business visitors. Following a first or second meeting, it is common that Chileans may invite the U.S. visitor for dinner at their home and meet to meet their family. Chileans often vacation during the summer months of January and February; therefore, it is necessary to confirm in advance when planning to travel for business during those months. Business travelers should also be cognizant of scheduling meetings during longer school breaks is in mid-July and in mid-September.
U.S. business representatives will find that business practices in Chile and the United States are very similar. The Chilean business day is usually 9:00 a.m.to 6:00 p.m. Lunch breaks are usually around 1:00 p.m. Two-hour business lunches are common and may extend if necessary. Although social occasions do not always begin at the indicated time, business meetings start at the agreed time. It is advisable to consider that the capital city of Santiago, as every large city, often faces traffic congestion, and additional driving-time may be needed to navigate the congestion. Most Chilean businesspeople are well-educated professionals who travel internationally. However, not all speak English, and foreigners will often find the ability to speak Spanish very useful, if not an absolute must. Product marketing or company promotional literature in Spanish remains to an important marketing tool, regardless of whether the company information can be found in the web. Business cards are nearly always exchanged at the beginning of any meeting or during a reception. Company-branded souvenirs, office items such as pens, or USB drives are gifts that are commonly exchanged as a token of appreciation from the visitor or host.
Appearance is an important part of Chilean business. However, because of teleworking, businesspeople have changed some of their conservative habits and replaced the formal attire with more informal clothing. Dress code for formal meetings is suit and tie for men and dress or business suit for women.
Younger generations had already introduced less formal business attire, which has become the normal business attire for everyday.in every sector and throughout the country. After the pandemic, virtual meetings have become very common and Chilean businesspeople are accustomed now to have an introductory virtual meeting to discuss potential business before the U.S. company representatives travel to Chile.
The State Department most recent Travel Advisory for Chile was updated in July 2023. Visitors are advised to refer to the State Department’s website for the latest information on traveling to Chile. Travelers should enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive alerts. The U.S. Embassy in Chile lists all travel advisories and links to emergency services on the website.
The State Department most recent Travel Advisory for Chile was updated in July 2023. Visitors are advised to refer to the
U.S. citizens entering Chile must have a valid passport in good condition, valid for the period of your stay. U.S. citizens traveling to Chile on a tourist passport for recreation, tourism, business, or academic conferences do not need to obtain a visa prior to their arrival in Chile. Chilean immigration will issue a Tourist Card for a stay of up to 90 days. An extension of stay for another 90 days is possible upon payment of a $100 extension fee at the Chilean Immigration Office. The Tourist Card must be presented and surrendered upon departure. Failure to submit this card upon departure may result in delays until a replacement is obtained. If lost or stolen, the Tourist Card must be replaced by the International Police (website is in Spanish only) at their nearest headquarters or at the international airport prior to departure.
If you have stayed in Chile for more than the allowed time, you will not be allowed to leave the country without paying a fine. This fine cannot be paid at the airport or any border crossing, so you must pay it before attempting to depart Chile. To pay the fine prior to your departure, you should go to the Departamento de Extranjería and make an autodenuncia, or complaint, against yourself in the Sanciones (sanctions) office. Upon doing this, you will be told how much the fine will be, and, once you pay it, you will be able to depart the country. If you attempt to depart Chile without paying the fine, your passport will be confiscated by the airport police, and they will give you directions on how to pay the fine. This process involves going to multiple Chilean government offices to first find out how much the fine is, to pay the fine, show that you have paid the fine so that you can get a document indicating your passport should be returned, and finally to retrieve your passport. The entire process may take from several days to three weeks.
U.S. citizens who intend to work, live, or study in Chile long-term must apply in advance for a Chilean visa. You can inquire with the closest Chilean Consulate for further information.
The Government of Chile requires U.S. Government travelers on official business to enter the country with a diplomatic or official passport and a valid Chilean visa. Visas must be obtained at a Chilean Embassy or Consulate before traveling to or through Chile. Official travelers attempting entry on tourist passports will be denied entry, detained, and returned to the point of origin at personal expense. U.S. Government officials should only use their tourist passports to enter Chile while here on personal tourism.
Ensure that you have appropriate documentation to enter Chile. The U.S. Embassy cannot secure entry on your behalf if you arrive without a valid U.S. passport, with a passport that is damaged or mutilated, or if you arrive without a visa when one is required.
For up-to-date information on Chilean visa requirements, visit the website of the Embassy of Chile in Washington, D.C.
U.S. Companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States are advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process. Visa applicants should go to the following link(s): https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas.html
Chile’s currency is the Chilean peso (CLP). Bank notes are in denominations of 1,000; 2,000; 5,000; and 20,000. Coins are in denominations of 10, 50, 100, and 500.
Foreign currency may be exchanged at the airport, banks, most hotels, and foreign exchange agencies in large Chilean cities. A passport or Chilean identification is required when exchanging travelers’ checks and is often required when exchanging large sums of cash. Rates vary by location and banks charge a commission.
Use of credit cards is very common in Santiago, and they can be used almost everywhere instead of cash. If you’re planning on visiting small towns however, you will probably need to use cash. There are also many ATM machines available throughout the city and country. Check with your bank to see what the international withdrawal charges are and if they have any agreements with Chilean banks for lower or no fees. If you are using ATMs in Chile and you are traveling to remote locations, it is advisable to withdraw money in the bigger cities as small towns may not have multiple ATMs and some very small towns may not have any. Additionally, if you are traveling during a long weekend or the holiday season it is advisable to withdraw cash early, as the ATMs may run out of money and will not be refilled until after the holiday.
If you are driving, you will need cash for tolls. Some rental car companies will have some toll road coverage in Santiago but very few do elsewhere.
Some hotels offer currency exchange at favorable rates. Hotels are also a potential source of information for the closest casa de cambio (currency exchange) with the best rates. There are many casas de cambio within the country, and one is usually located inside each shopping mall.
Chile’s capital, Santiago, has a well-developed telecommunications infrastructure. Domestic and international calls work well, and rates are generally competitive. There are also several mobile operators present, including Entel, Movistar, Claro, Virgin, and WOM. Visitors are advised to check with their U.S. carrier to see if their phone can make international calls from Chile.
Wi-Fi “hot spots” are common in Santiago. In rural parts of Chile, the telecommunications infrastructure is less reliable, but still available in many areas. It is advisable to check with the hotel or local individuals about data and cell phone reliability and availability in the area where you plan to travel.
Chile’s standard voltage is 220 V and 50 Hz. You will need a voltage converter to use U.S. appliances. The power sockets are the typical Southern European (Italy) rounded two prong plus, type C&L.
Chile is well connected via air service to the United States and countries throughout Latin America. In Chile, the primary point of entry is the Santiago International Airport.
Currently, travel between Chile and the United States exceeds pre-pandemic levels. According to U.S. airlines, most of their flights are fully booked. Airlines that fly between Chile and the United States include American Airlines Delta and United Airlines, offering non-stop flights between Santiago and Miami, Dalles, Atlanta and Houston.
Domestic air service within Chile is well developed and offered primarily by LATAM, Sky Airlines, and Jet Smart. Given the local geographic distances between cities, fights between Santiago and most cities in Chile are frequent.
The rail system is less developed but there is a good central train line that runs between Santiago and Chillan. As for public transportation, the city of Santiago has a vast subway network. the fare for the subway and public buses can only be paid using a contactless card that must be recharged with funds in subway stations and other ‘top-up’ outlets. Ride-share services are available in the main cities of the country, and in recent years shared bikes and scooters have also proliferated.
Primary roads in Chile are good. The main highways are toll roads and are in good condition. Toll roads within the Santiago Metropolitan are paid electronically. Increasing amounts of toll roads outside the metropolitan region may be paid electronically but some toll roads continue to only accept cash payments. Secondary roads, especially outside of Santiago, are sometimes in poor condition. Gravel and dirt roads are common in rural areas.
Spanish is the official language of Chile. Among the business community, there exists varying levels of English language capability. To operate in Chile, U.S. businesspeople should speak Spanish or identify a local partner who can speak both English and Spanish. More information about partner-matching assistance is available on the U.S. Commercial Service website.
Chile has both public and private healthcare service providers. Some of the private clinics in Santiago are well equipped and operate at the level of service providers in the United States and Europe. Clinical Alemana is accredited by the Joint Commission International. Travelers to Chile are advised to check with their health insurance providers to determine coverage levels in Chile. For more information on medical issues in Chile, refer to the Health section of the Department of State’s Chile International Travel Information.
Local Time, Business Hours, and Holidays
Chile, located in the Southern Hemisphere, experiences seasons that are opposite to those in the United States. Consequently, when the United States observes daylight savings time, Chile adheres to standard time. Chile’s geographical location in the southern hemisphere means that it observes daylight savings time during its summer months. As a result, during the northern summer, Chile shares the same time zone as Eastern Daylight Time. However, for a brief period in the transitional weeks between fall and spring, Chile is one hour ahead of Eastern Standard (or Daylight) Time.
Following is a list of holidays observed by the U.S. Embassy in Chile in 2024. The Embassy will be closed to the public on these dates. Businesses may also be closed on public Chilean holidays noted below.
January 1 – Monday
New Year’s Celebration (Observed)
Chile / USA
January 15 – Monday
Martin L. King’s Birthday
February 19 – Monday
March 29 – Friday
May 1 - Wednesday
May 21 -Tuesday
May 27 – Monday
June 19 - Wednesday
June 20 - Thursday
Native Peoples National Day
July 4 – Thursday
July 16 - Tuesday
Virgen del carmen
August 15 - Thursday
September 2 – Monday
September 18 - Wednesday
September 19 - Thursday
September 20 - Friday
Additional Independence Day holiday
October 14 – Monday
October 31 - Thursday
National Day of Evangelical and Protestant Churches
November 1 – Friday
All Saints Day
November 11 - Monday
November 28 – Thursday
December 25 - Wednesday
There are four Chilean holidays that occur on weekends: Easter Saturday (Saturday, March 30), Saint Peter and Saint Paul (Saturday, June 29), Columbus Day (Saturday, October 12). and Immaculate Conception (Sunday, December 8). The government of Chile may announce that these holidays may be observed on weekdays and businesses may be closed.
Temporary Entry of Materials and Personal Belongings
Under the terms of the U.S. - Chile FTA, Chile will permit duty-free temporary admission of professional equipment necessary for carrying out the business activity of a U.S. businessperson who qualified for temporary entry under Chilean law.
Chile accepts ATA carnets, which is an international customs document issued by 70 countries. It is presented when entering a country with merchandise or equipment that will be re-exported within 12 months. Upon presentation, the Carnet permits the equipment or merchandise to clear customs without the payment of duties and taxes. Payment is not necessary because the carnet guarantees that the merchandise or equipment will be re-exported within a year. The use of a Carnet is a way of temporarily importing into foreign countries without payment of duties and taxes. Carnets also serve as the U.S. registration of goods so that the goods can re-enter the U.S. without payment of duties and taxes. Chile will accept carnets for these categories of goods for exhibitions and fairs, professional equipment, and commercial samples.
For temporary entry of food samples, see the Temporary Entry under the Customs, Regulation and Standards section of this report.