- Chilean Culture
- Moving to Chile
- Weather in Santiago
The majestic Andean Mountain Range can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. Due to its geographic location, Santiago is one of the few capital cities in the world which has easy access both to ski slopes -just 50 kms. away-, and beaches, 100 kms. away. It is in fact possible to visit the modern ski resorts as well as the famous beach resort of Viña del Mar or picturesque Valparaiso, Chile’s main port, in just one day. Numerous villages located in the countryside around Santiago invite the visitor to relax and enjoy the peace and tranquility of countrylife. Tourists may also visit the vineyards and try the delicious Chilean wines.
The Santa Lucia Hill in the city center is an important historic landmark. It was here, at the foot of this hill formerly known as the “Huelen”, that the Spanish Conquistador Pedro de Valdivia founded the city of Santiago on February 12th, 1541. He planned the city according to the traditional Spanish checkerboard layout which is still evident in the downtown area today. Today, the Plaza de Armas with its colorful gardens is very different to what it was many years ago but the buildings that surround it bring back many memories. The Metropolitan Cathedral, on the western side of the plaza, stands on the same spot where the first church in Santiago was once built; to the north are three important buildings: the Post Office, the National Museum of History and the Townhall of Santiago. In the days of the Republic, new central neighbourhoods -now traditional ones- were added on to the colonial Santiago of the 16th century. By the 1930s, modern Santiago, with its green areas and architecture had come into being. The growth and development which have taken place during the past years are evident in the facilities which the city offers the visitor.
New and comfortable hotels located both in the center and on the eastern side of the city have significantly increased Santiago’s capacity to accommodate visitors as well as providing special facilities for congresses and conventions. Together with the development of tourist infrastructure, gastronomy in Chile has also taken on a new lease of life, both as regards the quality and the quantity of restaurants.
DOWNTOWN, includes churches dating from the 17th and 18th centuries and buildings that were once the seat of important colonial institutions, as well as other important historic landmarks.
Santa Lucia Hill – National Library – Casa Colorada (Museum of Santiago) – Stock Exchange
Club de la Union Building La Moneda Palace (Government Headquarters) – Plaza de la Constitucion.
Plaza de Armas – Townhall of Santiago Real Audiencia Building (National Museum of History) Central Post Office Building
Royal Customs Building (Museum of pre-Columbian Art) – Former National Congress Building – Palace of Justice – Club de Septiembre, Diplomatic Academy
Manso de Velasco House
Santo Domingo Temple
Central Market-Mapocho Station
San Francisco Church, Paris-Londres Neighborhood, Catholic Univerty’s Main Campus, Vera Cruz Church
Traditional Neighborhoods includes a tour through streets dating from the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, mansion houses built by well-to-do families reveal the influence of European culture. Diego de Almagro Plaza, Church of the Holy Sacrament, Cousiño Palace, Republica and España Avenues and Dieciocho, Vergara and Cienfuegos Streets – Main Railway Station
Cultural and Artistic Santiago
A visit to the museums, art galleries and neighborhoods with intense cultural and artistic activity will give the visitor an insight into the culture and traditions of the country and its people.
A few suggestions:
Museums in Santiago:
Museo de Arte Colonial
of Pre-Columbian Art
of Fine Arts
of Santiago, “Casa Colorada“
of National History
“La Chascona,” House of the poet Pablo Neruda
of Natural History
Municipal Theater – Plaza Mulato Gil de Castro with its art galleries and antique stores.
Bellavista district – Park of Sculptures
Providencia district (art galleries, cinemas and theater halls) – Cultural Institute of Providencia.
Artisan Village of Los Graneros del Alba – Los Dominicos Church –
Cultural Institute of Las Condes – Cultural Institute of La Reina.
Interactive Museum Mirador
Green areas located throughout the different sectors give the city a fresh and natural touch.
Forestal Park, borders the south bank of the Mapocho River, west of Plaza Baquedano and has fine sculptures located throughout it.
Metropolitan Park in the San Cristobal Hill: includes a small zoo, swimming pools, picnic areas, restaurants and Enoteca. It can be visited by car or funicular (teleferique).
Santa Lucia Hill, in the heart of the city.
Balmaceda Park, in the Las Condes district.
Araucano Park, in the Las Condes district.
Intercomunal Park of La Reina.
O’Higgins Park, located in the district of Santiago. Amongst its attractions is “El Pueblito” which resembles a typical Chilean country village.
Quinta Normal Park: 40 acres located in west Santiago.
Shopping in Santiago
National and imported goods at reasonable prices are available in Santiago in some of the following areas:
Downtown, between Miraflores and Amunategui streets and Av. B. O’Higgins and Santo Domingo street.
Providencia Avenue, including chic boutiques on Suecia, General Holley, Los Leones, Ricardo Lyon streets.
Shopping Centers: Panoramico, Apumanque and Parque Arauco, in the eastern area.
Plaza Vespucio, in the southern area.
Santiago’s restaurants offer local cuisine based on seafood, fish, vegetables, and meat, as well as a variety of international specialities. Areas where most restaurants are located are:
El Bosque – Isidora Goyenechea area.
Providencia Suecia area
General Holley, also has elegant bars.
Paseo San Damián in Las Condes.
Santiago: The ideal city for incentive trips, meetings and congresses
Nowadays it is vital to have somewhere special where you can do business, arrange meetings and meet up with contacts. Santiago, like other cities in Chile -Viña del Mar, Arica, La Serena and Concepcio- combines all the ideal characteristics: a pleasant climate, beautiful surroundings and first-class tourist facilities. Most major multinational companies, whether European, North American or Japanese, have offices and/ or representatives in Santiago. They have chosen Chile as their South American operational base because of the efficient services offered here.
A modern communications network via satellite -International Direct Dialing telephone system, fax and telex-offers permanent contact with other countries. A good highway system and a regular transport service connects Santiago with the rest of the country and the world. The International Airport receives over 100 regular flights a week from 20 different international and two national airlines. Chile’s financial system is sophisticated and efficient, which explains why 22 foreign banks and 24 national banks operate in the country, supplying the corresponding facilities for financial operations. In Chile, those in charge of organizing conventions will find that the very best facilities and efficient backup systems are available to help them guarantee the success of every event.
Convention centers, numerous well-organized tourist facilities offering the efficient professional and friendly attention characteristic of the Chilean people, are determining factors when it comes to choosing the right meeting place. Due to its variety of tourist attractions, Chile is an ideal destination for incentive trips. As the main port of entry to the country, Santiago is the right place from which to start a visit, a fitting reward for hard work and professional achievement.
Santiago and outskirts
Valparaiso and Viña del Mar
An excellent highway about a hundred kilometers long leads to the coast through the valleys of Curacavi and Casablanca. The countryside is beautiful and there are several typical Chilean restaurants serving good local food along the way.
Viña del Mar, also known as the Garden City, has 300,000 inhabitants and is the country’s main beach resort. Located next to the Port of Valparaiso it has a good selection of hotels and a wide variety of restaurants, a Casino, cafes, discotheques and good shops. Visitors can go for a ride in a traditional horse-drawn “Victoria” and see the town with its well-kept gardens by the sea. The past and the present intermingle in this bustling tourist center.
Valparaiso, linked to Viña del Mar, is Chile’s main port and also the site of the Chilean Congress.
The magnificent view from the numerous hills surrounding the bay of Valparaiso has long been a source of inspiration for both Chilean and foreign artists. It is undoubtedly worth going for a stroll around the picturesque fishing coves or taking one of the old-fashioned elevators up to the hills of Valparaiso with their multicolored houses and mansions dating from last century. “La Sebastiana”, Pablo Neruda’s museum-cum-house, recently opened to the public, is located on one of these hills. His most important house museum, which is filled with his collections, is in Isla Negra, Just an hour from Valparaiso, or an hour and a half from Santiago. As one of the most important ports in the Pacific Ocean, Valparaiso receives ships from all over the world. Here, they unload their cargos and load up again with Chilean goods destined for international markets.
In the Maipo Valley, near the city of Santiago, lies one of the country’s most important winegrowing areas. This region combines the three ideal conditions know internationally as the “trilogy” necessary to produce good wine: climate – soil – vinestock.
Several vineyards are located in this area: The Concha y Toro vineyard in Pirque offers guided tours of the winery and the nearby village of Pirque with its beautiful countryside and mountain air and old haciendas with their stately manor houses. Other vineyards in the area open to the public are: Santa Rita, Santa Carolina and Cousiño Macul.
The ski resorts, which can be reached by bus or car, are located less that an hour’s drive from Santiago. Farellones – EI Colorado – La Parva and Valle Nevado are all situated on the slopes of the Andean mountains. From June to October these resorts, as well as others in Chile, are visited by both foreign and Chilean ski fanatics, because of the excellent slopes, good snow, nice weather and modern infrastructure.
Also near Santiago, but 145 kilometers northeast is Portillo with its traditional hotel of international fame, overlooking the beautiful Del Inca Lagoon.
Santiago is located at 543 meters above sea level, in Chile’s central zone, 2,051 kms south of Arica, the country’s northernmost city and 3,141 kms. north of Punta Arenas, the southernmost city in the world. The Pacific Ocean is located 100 kilometers away and the Andean Mountain Range, 40 kms.
The warmest part of the year is ~3rd week of November through ~3rd week of March. During this time the average daily high runs between 26 °C and 29°C (approx. 80°F). The coolest part of the year runs from mid-May through mid-September and the average daily highs are 14°C to 17°C (approx. 60°F).
Annual rainfall occurs almost exclusively during the winter and averages 260 mm (10 inches)
Chile has a total population of about 13 million inhabitants of whom 5 million live in the capital city, Santiago
The official language spoken is Spanish. In tourist companies and organizations the higher echelons also speak English and/or French.
Winter : -4 hours GMT
Summer : -3 hours GMT
Comodoro Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport The airport is located 17 kms. from downtown Santiago. There is a bus (approx. USD $1.30) and taxi service (approx: USD $18) , which takes you to and from the airport.
There is a subway (Metro) that runs from east to west and north to south in the city as well as buses and taxis and Uber cars. The city is connected to the rest of the country by mean of:
Two Chilean airlines, Ladeco and Lan Chile run regular daily flights There are also companies that run air taxi services.
Buses run to any part of the country with on board services such as food, bar, video and telephone, etc. Bus terminals are located in: Buses Norte: Amunategui 920 (Tel. 6712141): Los Heroes: Roberto Pretot 21 (Tel 6969250); Santiago: Av. L. Bernardo O’Higgins 3800 (Tel. 7791385); Alameda: Av L Bernardo O’Higgins 3794 (Tel 7761 023)
Trains run from Santiago to the south of the country with final destination Puerto Montt. The main railway station (Estación Central) is located in Av. L. Bernardo O’Higgins 3322 (Tel. 68951 99)
MONEY EXCHANGE AND CREDIT CARDS
Money exchange can be done in banks, money exchange houses and main hotels Most major credit cards are accepted in shops, hotels and travel agencies Banks Banks are open Mondays to Fridays, from 9 am to 2pm Money Exchange Houses Money Exchange Houses have the same opening hours as shops.
Shops are open Mondays to Fridays, from 10 am to 8 pm and from 10 am to 2 pm on Saturdays. Shopping Centers open Mondays to Sundays. from 10am to 9pm.
Area code for Chile (56) Area code for Santiago (2) Public telephone and fax services are located throughout the city Consult Entel-Chile.
TOURIST INFORMATION SERNATUR (National Tourism Board)
Offices in the Airport and in Nro. 1550 Providencia. Tel. 2360531 Open: Mondays to Fridays 8.30 am to 6 30 pm and Saturdays from 9 am to 1 pm
International Airport Information
Tel. 6019709/6019001/ 6019554 Ladeco, Tel 6019445, Lan Chile, Tel. 6019165
Main Railway Station
Av L. Bernardo O’Higgins 3322 Reservations and information, Tel 68951 99/6895401 /68957 1 8 Tickets:
Av. L Bernardo O’Higgins 853 L 21 Tel 398247
Escuela Militar Subway Station, L 25 Tel 2282983 Monday to Fridays from 8 30 am to 1 pm. Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm
Chilean Telephone Company National and international calls Moneda 11 51
National Tolecommunications Company Huerfanos 1133 Tel. 6902612
National, international calls as well as Fax service Morande 147 Tel. 6968807
Loss of Tourist Card, International Police, Border Department. General Borgon o 1052, Tel 371292/6982211. Monday to Friday from 8 30 am to 12.15 noon and 3 to 6 30 pm -Renewal of Tourist Card Superintendence of Metropolitan Region. Moneda 1342, Tel 6725320 Monday to Friday from 9 am to 1 pm.
Ambulance: Tel. 2244422
Public Assistance: Tel. 342291-
Fire Department: Tel. 132
Police: Tel 133
In many ways the Chilean culture is more European in style than Latin American, due to the preponderance of European immigrants in Chile. Despite the apparent diversity of the population, however, Chileans have remained relatively homogenous. Immigrants coming to this land have been assimilated into the culture without prejudice and have accepted the predominance of the Spanish language, and the strong influence of Roman Catholicism. The geographical isolation of the country seems to have further insulated the people from global ethnic sparring.
The influence of the Roman Catholic Church is felt; abortion is illegal.
Although there are over one million Native American Indians in Chile, they live in the far reaches of the north and south. Their culture and customs are officially protected by the Indigenous Peoples Law.
There is general respect for the human rights of all Chilean citizens. Perceptions of human rights abuses generally date back to the military rule of the 1970s.
Chile has a well-trained work force with high productivity. Education is emphasized as a means to a better life, and the great majority of young people receive secondary education, many in technical and professional specialities. Chile has a large, well-educated middle class.
For centuries men have been the dominant partner in marriage and have been the bread-winners, even though the women have had considerable domestic influence. Today women are emerging into the workplace while maintaining the role of child-rearer.
Business and Social Customs:
Chileans revere relationships and their social behavior reflects their friendliness. The common greeting among friends and relatives is the abrazo, which consists of a hug and a handshake and sometimes embellished with a kiss on the right cheek for women. It is repeated when saying goodbye.
Foreigners, especially when meeting someone for the first time, should expect a handshake. Eye contact is considered good form, and Chileans, like other Latin Americans, tend to stand much closer to one another than in Europe and North America when conversing.
Common greetings are: “¿Qui’ubo?”/What’s up?”, “¿Como esta?/How are you?”, “Gusto de verte/Nice to see you.”
Chileans are not as title-conscious as many other Latin Americans, however, everyone uses titles, such as Señor, Señora and Señorita, and professional titles such as Doctor or Profesor. Elderly men and women are usually addressed as Don or Doña with their first names to show respect.
Women who are well-acquainted often greet each other with a kiss on the right cheek. When entering a room, a woman can expect that those present will rise and expect to shake her hand, but only if offered. Women usually remain seated.
Courtesy and respect are the guiding principles of good etiquette. Chileans expect correct posture and limited use of gestures and hand movement. Beckoning with the hand is considered bad form. Yawns should be stifled or covered by the hand.
Gestures likely to be misinterpreted are:
* making a fist and slapping it against the other hand
* turning the palm upward and spreading the fingers
* holding the hand as if holding a round object
* holding the fist upright, level with the head.
In Chile, as in other Latin American countries, it is customary to give a child the family names of both the father and the mother, although the father’s name is the official name. The first name is the paternal surname; the second is the maternal surname. The child may be addressed either way, using both names, or by using only the father’s name.
The mother, who retains her maiden name, in addition to her husband’s name, is also known officially by both names, although she may occasionally prefer to use only her husband’s name.
This habit of using two surnames can be confusing to a foreigner and will occasionally, when filling out official forms, require you to explain that you use only one surname.
Attitudes and values
Chileans appear to enjoy their work. They approach it with enthusiasum and energy, although family considerations may take precedence over “getting ahead” on the job. Weekends are sacrosanct for families, and overtime is rare.
In general, business customs are similar to those in European cities; that is, slightly more formal than in North America. Chilean businesspeople are usually well versed in international business and technology, well traveled, well-educated, and quite sophisticated.
Chilean business tends to be dominated by small cliques of company owners centered around business associations. At the individual level, Chilean companies are fairly rigid in their hierarchy. Few decisions are made outside the top levels of the organization.
Diplomacy is essential. Chileans dislike saying “no,” particularly in business dealings. Don’t try to force a “no”; it won’t win you friends–or business. On your part, say “no” diplomatically, so as not to compromise the face, dignidad, of your counterpart. In the workplace, confronting mistakes with direct, open discussion will not work in Chile; much more effective is criticism in private.
Hard-sell techniques are not appropriate; Chileans are conservative and honest and do not appreciate such tactics. Have patience if decision-making takes time and red tape surfaces.
Although English is spoken by much of the business community, a working knowledge of Spanish will be appreciated by your colleagues. Some knowledge of Spanish will give you an advantage and will be helpful in expanding business opportunities in Chile and throughout Latin America.
The important thing to remember about business in Chile, as in most of Latin America, is that personal relationships are the key to success. Chileans seek a relationship, not just a business arrangement. They prefer dealing with individuals, not just with an impersonal organization. Be willing to devote the time required to develop these personal relationships and the trust that accompanies them. This entails a fair amount of time talking about yourself, your family, and your background. Even after a relationship has developed, expect to begin one-on-one meetings with some small talk about family or mutual friends.
An obvious outgrowth of this phenomenon is the importance of contacts. Being able to say “Mr. or Ms. so-and-so referred me to you” is far preferable than calling someone without a contact. Make every effort to develop a network-through embassies, business groups, or business associates-when you first arrive for either short trips or extended stays. In addition to helping with immediate business, a broad network of friends and contacts will be essential to understanding the intricacies of Chilean politics.
Chileans are social by nature, and almost all business relationships will invariably be social as well. Meetings outside the office are most often conducted over lunch–dinner being a more formal occasion. Business lunches normally run about two hours. If wives are invited to a meal, expect the occasion to be more social and business to be secondary.
Business entertaining is usually done in major hotels and restaurants; invitations to homes are not usually made until colleagues know each other quite well. When hosting a business lunch, allow your business associate to choose the place; when hosting a business dinner, it is customary to entertain at your hotel’s restaurant.
In a restaurant:
In addition to the restaurants at the major hotels, Santiago offers many other excellent restaurants including popular cafés. Chileans tend to eat large lunches; if you want something lighter try the local variation on the hamburger, the lomito, with a roast pork foundation, at a soda fountain.
Lunches are usually served between 1200 and 1500. Dinner usually does not begin before 2000. Many restaurants are closed Saturday afternoons and Sunday evenings; some are closed all day Sunday. Clubs and hotels remain open; however, clubs are closed on Mondays.
Although Chileans are rather formal, they do not “dress for dinner.”
Many restaurants are concentrated in Bellavista, El Bosque Norte, and in Providencia around the Los Leones metro stop and on Avenida Vitacura.
The Friday edition of El Mercurio has a guide with extensive and current restaurant listings and reviews.
Clubs and cafes:
The best quiet places suitable for after-business drinks are the lobby bars of the major hotels. For a bohemian atmosphere, try the various clubs and cafés in the Bellavista neighborhood.
INVITATION TO A CHILEAN HOME
If you are invited to a Chilean home, a gift of a bouquet of flowers for the hostess is appropriate. Arrive a few minutes late. When you arrive at the home, wait outside the door until you are invited in and greet the head of the household first.
Afternoon tea, sometimes referred to as onces, is a well established ritual in Chile. Beverages, small sandwiches, and cookies or cake are usually served around 1700-1800 hrs.
A casual, conversation-rich, social behavior is the norm at a Chilean dinner. Chileans use the continental style of eating with the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right. Both hands are kept above the table throughout the meal. It is considered impolite to ask for or accept second helpings of food.
Chilean wine, widely recognized as among the world’s best, is likely to be enjoyed with the meal, and is always poured with the right hand. A simple toast of “salud” is nearly always offered.
Feel free to compliment the hostess on the meal, and be sure to extend a thank you, either verbal or written.
Plan to stay for a brief period of conversation after the meal.
Conversation should avoid politics and religion and instead center on families, children, history and the arts. Easter Island is a very interesting subject for all.
Expect to be invited to weddings, baptisms, and parties by both your colleagues and employees. For employees, your attendance will be considered an honor.
It is important to choose an appropriate gift for your Chilean business associate or host–one that reflects your thoughtfulness. Gift-giving is a popular custom in all of Latin America and it is important to do it properly.
Foreign businesspeople should participate in the custom, but it is important that no gift is offered that could be construed as a bribe which is a major offense in the business community.
The most important characteristic of an appropriate gift is quality; the product, whatever it is, should be of a high standard. Appropriate business gifts include leather business items, pens, cigarette lighters, and fine whiskey. Suitable host and hostess gifts are flowers, candy, wine or bread.
Guidelines for giving gifts:
In general, follow these guidelines for gift giving etiquette in Chile:
* Do not go empty-handed to anyone’s home.
* Women should not give gifts to male colleagues; the gift could be misconstrued as a personal overture.
* Do not bring a business gift until a friendly relationship has been established.
* Gift giving should follow business, when the setting has become relaxed and less formal. Lunch is usually a good time.
* Tailor your gift to the recipient’s needs and tastes.
* If you plan a return visit, ask your Latin colleagues if there is something they would enjoy from your home country.
* Gifts for children are greatly appreciated.
A 10 percent service charge is usually added to checks in restaurants, and it is customary to tip an additional 10 percent. A tip of 20 percent is customary in bars where service has not been added to the bill.
Taxi drivers do not expect tips unless special services have been performed. Some service people, such as garbage collectors, doormen and deliverymen expect tips at holiday times: September 18 for the national holiday; and again at Christmas. Gas station attendants, movie theater ushers, and other service attendants will expect a 10 to 20 peso tip.
Generally Chileans are friendly, hospitable, and very interested in doing business with their foreign counterparts. They expect that you will return their interest and respect by showing courtesy and sincerity.
Personal visits are warmly welcomed and are helpful in establishing a long-lasting, profitable business relationship. Chileans share a Latin American appreciation for simpatía, a person’s conveyance of respect and personal warmth toward his or her associates. Small daily courtesies and polite formalities are favorably regarded.
It is extremely important to answer all correspondence promptly, preferably in Spanish. All written literature such as brochures and catalogs should also be in Spanish; weights and measures should be expressed in metric. Business cards should be bilingual. If you have a local contact, write that information on the back of the card.
Chileans take great pride in their personal appearance. Clothes are always neat, clean, and well pressed. Business dress is conservative. Tasteful suits of good quality are appropriate for both men and women; women should wear high-heeled shoes. Chilean women rarely wear slacks and Chilean men rarely wear a sport jacket for business however both modes of dress are becoming more acceptable. Slacks as worn by Chilean women are well tailored and elegantly accessorized. Women should wear a dress for evening functions, but formal dress is rarely needed.
A growing number of Chilean women hold key positions in Chilean politics and business; women are almost 30 percent of the labor force.
Chileans are generally much more polite toward foreign women than are men in other Latin American countries, but a certain amount of subconscious machismo still exists.
Women may find dealing with the business world more difficult than in Europe or North America and should pay attention to gestures and behaviors which could convey the wrong signals. For instance, invitations to dinner, or gifts given to male counterparts may be misconstrued as overtures of a personal nature.
Sexual overtures, some bordering on harassment, may occur in the office and should be dealt with firmly and openly. Never just ignore the overtures and hope they will not be repeated–it will only encourage further overtures. If invited for dinner or drinks by a Chilean male colleague, ask whether his wife or other members of the firm will be joining you as a subtle way of letting him know that you consider the invitation a business one rather than a social one.
Business visits may be scheduled throughout the year, however during the January-March summer vacation season Chileans take their summer vacations and it may be difficult to schedule appointments. Stores and factories commonly close for two weeks during the vacation season.
Try to make business appointments in advance, then confirm them as the date approaches. Be prompt; although social occasions may not begin at the hour indicated, business meetings nearly always do.
Business meetings are typically scheduled between 1000 and 1230 and 1430 and 1700. Lunch breaks usually begin at 1300 and last about one hour; a business lunch may last for two or three hours.
During the first meeting, it is appropriate to discuss your company and position. However, much of the conversation may not be business-related. A more socially-oriented conversation may precede business discussions. Topics might include travel, sports, family, or Chilean wines.
Make every effort to familiarize yourself with Chile and its history and traditions before you meet with your Chilean associates. Avoid references to politics, especially issues relating to human rights, until you know your colleague well and know that such a discussion would not be considered offensive. Concentrate on recent political and economic trends and popular local sports such as soccer.
Chileans are understandably proud of their recent economic success and enjoy discussing it. Chileans also appreciate giving practical advice on what to see and do and where to eat.
0900-1400, Monday through Friday
0900-1800, Monday through Friday
Some public services close at 1400.
0830/0900-1730/1800, Monday through Friday
Holidays and Festivals
Most Chilean holidays center around religious celebrations. As most people are Roman Catholic, the important observances are around Christmas and Easter. Christmas is celebrated in much the same way as it is in North America, but the activities are influenced by the summer weather. New Years Eve is celebrated everywhere, of particular interest is the outdoor festival in Valparaiso.
Independence Day (from Spain) is a national holiday which features picnics and folk dancing. On this day the public parks are filled with stands called Fondas, decorated with leaves. Empanadas or meat turnovers and chicha, drinks made of fermented grapes are served and guitar music accompanies the cueca, the national folk dance.
A national custom dictates the visiting of graves of relatives on November 1, All Saints Day.
A few Native American Indian observances still exist, including a traditional Mapuche celebration in Villarrica in February.
Capital City: Santiago
Official Language: Spanish
Area: 756,950 sq. km/292,135 sq. mi
Population: 15 million
Religion: Roman Catholic (80%)
Currency: Peso (Ch$)
Time Difference: EST +1 hr., GMT -4 hrs.;
daylight savings time observed September to mid-March
Weights and Measures: Chile uses the metric system of weights and measures.
Preparing for Your Move
Your Assignment Abroad
Congratulations on your new assignment to Chile! If you have not previously had the experience of living abroad, you will soon discover that there is much to be gained from being in a culture that differs from your own. You will discover new customs and have opportunities to develop new interests and friends. You will meet people who may be very different from yourself in some ways and surprisingly similar in others. Some cultures will be considerably more different from your own than others. Coming to understand them and appreciate what they have to offer may require more time and effort on your part. But the reward is usually well worth the investment. Few people who have lived abroad for any length of time have not been enriched by the experience. Most return home with new perspectives not only on the countries in which they lived but also on their own.
Anticipation of living in another country can, however, easily be overshadowed by the pressures of preparing for the move. The arrangements that must be made are often much more involved and time-consuming than for a domestic move. Suitable housing and, for families with children, schools must be found. Homes may have to be rented for the period that the family will be overseas, or even sold. Household goods must be prepared for shipment or, if not suitable for the new home or country, stored. Proper travel and other documentation must be secured, and many mundane matters attended to if the move is to be as problem-free as you would want it to be.
Along with such practical considerations involved in moving come emotional ones. Leaving friends and familiar surroundings is almost always difficult, especially for families with younger children. An accompanying spouse may have a fulfilling career or community involvement at home, making the move psychologically stressful as well as physically demanding. It may also mean a financial loss should the spouse have to give up a position and not be able, as a foreigner, to take a comparable job in the new country. It is natural for the family, with the possible exception of the member being relocated, to feel lost for a time and to experience “culture shock.”
This report will address these and other considerations common to almost all moves abroad before discussing in depth the culture, living conditions, and other aspects of Chile. The purpose is to facilitate your preparations by answering the questions that arise for all families embarking upon an international move, helping to make your stay abroad as enjoyable and rewarding as possible.
The end of an overseas assignment may also involve some culture shock, but in reverse. Most families, even if they have enjoyed every minute of their stay abroad, look forward to going home. They may, however, find that they miss some aspects of their life in another country more than they had expected. Further, “home” may not quite fit the nostalgic picture they have carried in their minds for perhaps several years. The familiar house may seem a bit cramped if they enjoyed more expansive accommodations abroad, perhaps with servants. Old friends or neighbors may have moved away, or the neighborhood changed in ways that complicate readjustment.
Some families return to the home country but not the same city. The new area may at first appear almost as strange as the new country was. As was the case upon arrival there, it will be necessary to establish new social relationships. Children must again adjust to a changed school environment.
A period of post-homecoming letdown is thus natural. There are ways to make it less depressing and prolonged. If the timing of the move home permits, a family might take a vacation en route to a destination they particularly want to visit, either overseas or in the home country. This break in a possibly tiring journey can make the transition from the life being left to the one being resumed less abrupt and dislocating. The family returns more refreshed to begin anew the process of settling-in. It can also help to think of the return home as another move to a new country, to expect things to be different. The reality will come as less of a shock. Make a special effort to encourage children to participate in activities. It may not be easy at first, but in the longer run their experience abroad will be a valuable asset to them.
And always keep in mind that this too will pass-and probably much more rapidly than did the culture shock experience upon arriving overseas.
THE EXPATRIATE FAMILY
Management surveys indicate that the primary cause for failure of an overseas assignment is family and/or spousal dissatisfaction.
The adjustments a family must make for an overseas assignment can be traumatic. If the assignment is to a country where the language and the culture may be the same or similar, the adjustment may be fairly smooth. But if the family moves to a country with an unfamiliar culture and a different language, problems may arise.
For the spouse who leaves regularly for an office, the adjustment is fairly simple. He or she is usually working in an environment with peers and has a sense that the foreign assignment represents a career opportunity. There is also the daily companionship of associates and the pressure of a task to accomplish.
For the spouse at home, life can be more difficult. After the initial excitement of moving into a new home and becoming acquainted with the neighborhood, loneliness can set in. New situations create new problems. Communication with household help may be difficult, and misunderstandings may be frequent. Shopping for food and household goods can be confusing with different packaging and unfamiliar currency. If he or she does not understand the language, the feeling of displacement and isolation increases.
Like many “at home” spouses, he or she formerly may have had a job; now there are few available jobs for expat spouses. Relinquishing the former position has meant a significant loss in self-esteem, not to mention a decline in family income.
Children may feel out of place in their new school and suffer the anxiety of starting all over as the “new kid.”
Suddenly, the children and the spouse at home are aware of all the things missing-the companionship of family and old friends, the familiar house and neighborhood, favorite foods and TV programs, or even something as simple as the comforting sound of their native language.
It is important for companies and families to be aware of and to address these issues of loneliness and emotional dislocation both before and during the overseas assignment. Consulting with others who have been on similar overseas assignments may be helpful in preparing for the initial stress of relocating.
An important issue that must be addressed by dual-career couples is the effect of an overseas assignment on the other spouse’s career. Opportunities for employment in the new country may be extremely limited, and couples need to be satisfied that interruption of one spouse’s career and the possible consequences are agreeable to both partners.
Spousal employment can often be difficult, if not impossible, to obtain in a foreign country. Most countries protect their resident labor force with strict regulations and tedious procedures for alien employment. Some countries may allow employment only in positions where adequate numbers of native workers are not available.
It would be ideal to arrange employment in the new country with your current employer or with the employer of your spouse before you depart. If these options are not available, contact professional associations and specialized employment agencies that offer job-search assistance abroad. There are also a number of publications that discuss employment abroad, either in general or in specific countries; your corporate human resources department or a comprehensive public library might provide these sources.
An excellent source of information on overseas employment is the International Employment Hotline; available by subscription, each monthly Hotline lists current openings abroad. For more information, contact:
International Employment Hotline
Finding job opportunities:
There are several avenues that can be pursued to find employment in a new country if permitted by local regulations. Contact local branches of home country businesses, register with appropriate professional associations or employment agencies, check help-wanted advertisements in newspapers, network with friends and acquaintances, and contact expatriate groups such as FOCUS-Foreigners’ Community Service. Originally established in the U.K. and now active in several countries, FOCUS is a non-profit resource center run by and for members. It provides a number of services including a newsletter, job listings and referrals, educational seminars, professional workshops, and regular networking meetings. For information, contact:
FOCUS Information Services
Brussels Tel: 32-02-646-6530
Geneva Tel: 41-022-774-1639
London Tel: 44-171-937-0050
Paris Tel: 33-10-45-667-550
Documents and Paperwork:
One of the first things you’ll need to do in preparing for your move is to secure the necessary travel documents and complete other paperwork that may be required for prolonged stays abroad. At the top of the list are a passport for every member of the family and, in most cases, visas.
A passport is essentially an identity document issued by governments to their citizens for travel outside the home country. A passport is an official verification of the nationality of the holder and, with a few exceptions, is required to enter another country.
A visa is an authorization by the government of another country permitting a foreigner to enter that country for a specified purpose and period of time. It is usually stamped in the passport of the visitor, although in some instances may be on a separate paper. It may authorize only one visit to the country or multiple entries. Most countries of North America and Europe no longer require visas for tourist and even some business visits of limited duration, typically up to 90 days.
An expatriate and spouse, sometimes accompanied by one or more children, usually will make a least one preliminary trip to the country of assignment to look for housing and arrange for school. A tourist visa, or often none at all, suffices for such a “scouting” visit. But not for the actual move to the new home abroad. All countries require that foreigners taking up residence or doing business within their borders for an extended period obtain appropriate visas. When inquiring about visas, make sure you specify that you are relocating to the country.
Misunderstandings can result in the wrong type of visa and real problems.
In addition to passports and visas, paperwork associated with a move abroad typically includes residence and work permits, authorizations to import household belongings and cars, and health certificates for accompanying pets. Employers may be able to provide assistance, or in some circumstances even take full responsibility for obtaining work or other permits where the local government requires they supply full documentation for an employee.
An employed spouse who wishes to continue working while abroad should make sure that the employer is informed and that she or he is not designated as a dependent on the work permit or other documentation of the person being relocated. This could make it difficult or impossible to work in the new country, even if a job had been offered and accepted before departure. The spouse intending to work requires individual working papers. Check with a host country consulate to determine if spousal employment is permitted.
It is important to find out exactly what documents are going to be necessary and to begin assembling them as soon as you know that you will be making a move abroad. It is advisable to check back with the consulate periodically to be sure your information is up to date. Documentation regulations may change on short notice.
IN CASE OF LOSS OR THEFT OF PASSPORT
In the event a passport is lost or stolen, the nearest consulate or embassy as well as the local police should be notified immediately. To speed the replacement process, photocopies of the first page containing descriptive data should be made and kept in a secure place.
Visas are issued by consulates, located in your home country, of the country to be visited. If that country is a large one, it will usually have consulates in a number of major cities in your home country. Each consulate will be responsible for a larger area. For example, a foreign government may have a consulate located in Boston which would handle all of that government’s consular activities in the New England states. A consulate in Atlanta would be responsible for the southeastern states, and so on for every region of the U.S. A small country will have fewer consulates in the host country, perhaps only a consular section attached to the embassy in the capital.
RECORDS AND PERSONAL PAPERS
In addition to passports and visas, other types of documentation may be required during your stay abroad in establishing identity, applying for permits and licenses, verifying legal arrangements, paying taxes, and fulfilling other obligations required by your own government or that of the host country. It is advisable to have multiple copies made to take with you. Do not pack them away with belongings being shipped. Keep them with you in the event they may be needed while traveling or during the settling-in period.
* Descriptive data page of each family member’s passport
* Birth certificates of each family member
* Marriage certificate
* National driver’s license
* Passport-size photographs of each family member
* Certificates of citizenship for naturalized individuals
* Adoption papers
* Divorce and child custody papers
* Medical insurance coverage
* Medical records, where appropriate
* Dental records
* Property insurance records, especially for autos
* Income tax records for several previous years
* Power of attorney
* Lease or rental agreement for housing in the new country
In addition, it can be useful to have additional copies of employment contracts or at least a letter from the relocating businessperson’s employer outlining terms of the overseas assignment such as length of stay, salary, housing arrangements, and other pertinent considerations. Even though the employer may already have secured the necessary permits and approvals, having such documentation at hand may answer any questions that arise in dealing with local host country authorities.
Documents Required for Chile:
A valid passport is required for entry into Chile.
If you make a preliminary visit, to find housing and to visit schools, you will need a tourist visa. Short-term visitors are issued a tourist card, usually by the airline carrier, at the port of entry. It is valid for 90 days and must be surrendered when exiting Chile. A thirty day extension is sometimes granted.
Temporary or work visa
Those planning to stay for longer than 90 days and those planning to work in Chile must secure a one-year, renewable work or temporary resident visa within thirty days of arrival. This process is begun by registering with the International Police and supplying two photographs bearing the subject’s name and proof of financial solvency. All married applicants who plan to work must supply a marriage certificate.
There is no fee. The temporary resident visa is renewable in Chile, but the process of renewal can be lengthy. If an extension is needed, make application at least 60 days in advance with the International Police at:
Anyone planning scientific, technical, or mountaineering activites in regions classified as frontier areas, except for portions of Antarctica claimed by Chile, must obtain authorization from the Chilean government at least 90 days before commencement of activities.
Granted for a maximum of two years, a contract visa requires the presentation of a contract for a specific job which requires specific qualifications. It must be notarized and signed by both employer and employee or his representative in Chile. The visa may be renewed in Chile, but expires upon the completion of the contract.
Making application for visas:
All applications for visas require:
* a valid passport
* a health certificate which includes evidence of an HIV/HTLV test for AIDS/HIV disease
* a police certificate from the applicant’s local police department stating that the applicant has no record of arrest
* four passport photos
* the appropriate fee
Visa applications can be obtained in person from any Chilean consular office. Applications may be submitted by mail or in person, but one must appear in person to complete the procedure. Allow about one week for processing. Applications for visa renewal should be submitted to the Foreigners Office of the Ministry of the Interior at least 60 days prior to the expiration of the visa. Allow approximately 90 days for the renewal process.
Every person in Chile is required to carry a Carnet de Identidad or Chilean Identification Card, which can be obtained at the Chilean Passport Bureau for a small fee.
The Chilean identification card must be carried with you at all times. It contains your full name, thumbprint, and an identification number. Married women may be asked for their mothers’ maiden names for identification documents.
You must apply for the carnet within 30 days of arrival or within 30 days of the date on your visa. Obtain the carnet from the Servicio de Registro Civil e Identificación. Take passport-sized photos and your documents with you and be prepared for long lines. If you speak Spanish or can take someone with you who does, the process will be easier. You will be finger-printed and should receive your carnet in about a week. For additional information contact the:
Chilean Passport Bureau
OTHER DOCUMENTS REQUIRED IN CHILE
Once in Chile, the holder of any form of residence visa must register as a resident foreigner within 30 days of entry. Register with the international police; a registration document or Cédula de Identidad para Extranjeros, which proves that you are registered, will be issued.
A RUT Number, which is identification for tax purposes, can be obtained from the tax office, Servicio de Impuestos Internos, nearest your residence. Present all documents that verify you status in Chile. You will be issued a number on a temporary piece of paper. The official card will be sent by mail.
Your ID number and your RUT number are not the same. For most matters, you should supply the ID number.
A certificate or Certificado de Cumplimiento Tributario para Extranjeros, is proof of payment of all domestic tax due; it is required if you plan to leave Chile and you are a permanent or temporary resident under contract. It is obtained from your nearest tax office. Telephone for information on the necessary documents and procedures.
Salvoconducto, an exit permit, is necessary to leave Chile unless you are traveling on a tourist card. It is obtained from the International Police; you will need to present all your documents to obtain this permit.
Reingreso, a reentry permit, is needed to reenter Chile and retain your legal, working, or residential status. It is issued in two forms-simple and multiple-allowing either one trip or several trips, and is obtained from the Intendencia Regional Metropolitana. You will need to present all your documents to obtain this permit.
SOURCES AND RESOURCES
The consular office of your host country’s embassy is the best place to start when determining what types of documents, including visas, permits and registration requirements, you’ll need to relocate. Consulates can often provide information and advice on many other aspects of your move as well.
The governments of the U.S., Canada and the U.K. issue regularly-updated advisories on travel safety in other countries. Available by telephone, the recorded advisories provide detailed current information on political disturbances, armed conflicts, collapse of law and order, attacks on foreigners, serious outbreaks of disease, natural disasters such as earthquakes and destructive storms, and any other developments that may make travel to specified countries hazardous or to be avoided entirely. The advisories can be obtained from special emergency offices, passport and travel agencies, and consulates abroad.
Travel advisories for Chile:
There are no travel advisories issued for Chile, but the U.S. Department of State advises its citizens to exercise caution, in response to sporadic bombings and other violent acts directed against business facilities and other institutions identified with the United States. Civil disorder is rare, but political or economic demonstrations can become contentious and travelers are advised to avoid them.
It is important to register with your embassy as soon as possible after arrival so that you can be notified of any changes in status, or reached in an emergency.
As even the most cursory scanning of headlines will show, some parts of the world are safer than others. In some countries, petty crime-or worse-is endemic and it may be advisable to take special care to avoid becoming a victim. Even in less-threatening locations, common-sense precautions should be observed.
Pickpockets flourish in all big cities, and foreigners are especially vulnerable. Do not wear expensive jewelry in public. Carry as little cash as possible, and not in easily accessible pockets. Be alert to jostling in crowds. Do not use your cellphone on a crowded street, it can be snatched right out of your hand. Women should carry shoulder bags, tucked under the arm, and keep a firm grip on the strap. Passports and cellphones are major targets for theft. Be extremely careful about putting one down on a desk or counter, even for a moment. Be wary of vendors and unknown persons approaching you for any reason on the street. Avoid narrow alleys and poorly lit streets. Be sure your car is securely locked when you leave it, and do not leave any items in it that can be seen from outside. A gas tank lock may also be a good idea, in view of the high prices charged for gasoline in much of the world.
Women should be especially alert when traveling alone. They can be tempting targets for thieves. As noted, they should keep a firm grip on purses, preferably keeping nothing of real value in the most exposed parts. They should be constantly aware of people around them. A pickpocket trick is to slit the underside of a bag with a knife or razor. It is done so swiftly, often in a crowd, that the victim may not be aware of the loss until the thief is long gone. Beware of being jostled, distracting your attention long enough for a thief to do his thing. When staying alone in hotels, request a room close to an elevator to minimize the risk of having to walk any distance in deserted corridors. Room windows should be checked to be sure they can be securely locked and cannot easily be reached from street level. The same for balconies and balcony doors.
Finally, never break the law yourself. Be aware of the local rules and observe them. Finding out what they are is usually simply a matter of inquiring at your consulate, checking with expatriate organizations, and talking with your neighbors and acquaintances. In most countries, penalties related to selling, using, or being caught with drugs of any kind are exceedingly stiff and jails are unsavory. In some countries, you can get in trouble for much less serious infractions, such as drinking alcohol or discarding a cigarette on a public street.
Crime in Chile:
Chile is a relatively safe country, but deals with some of the same problems as most other international cities, such as theft and drug-related crimes. Take the same safety precautions in Santiago that you would in many large cities; maintain a low profile. Avoid wearing expensive or expensive-looking jewelry, avoid handling large amounts of cash in public, and avoid carrying luggage or cameras that identify you as a tourist. Keep wallets and handbags well secured. Pickpockets and purse-snatchers do work the crowded streets, especially during rush hours, on public transportation, and in the crowded areas around Avdas. Ahumada and Huérfanos.
Following general precautions will insure your safety. Do not walk in downtown Santiago after dark or on weekends in the late afternoon. Even short walks are considered risky, and you are advised to take a taxi.Visit the San Cristóbal and Santa Lucía hills only during daylight hours and stay on the main paths.
Women alone may be subject to sexual overtures on the street. Ignore them completely. The company of another woman may help avoid them; try to sit next to another woman on public transportation.
Report a lost or stolen passport or carnet de identidad immediately to the local police and to your nearest embassy or consulate.
WHAT IF I GET SICK?
The possibility of becoming ill and requiring medical attention is one of the most common concerns in preparing for a move abroad. In most situations, there is no need for undue anxiety. Most relocation assignments are to developed countries where the quality of care and facilities is comparable to that at home. Even in less-developed areas, the location is likely to be a metropolitan area with adequately staffed hospitals or clinics, often maintained by and specializing in the treatment of the international community. Language differences can be a problem in some places, but in medicine, as other areas, English has become something of a common language for professionals speaking other languages as their native tongues. Doctors may well have trained in the U.S. or the U.K. Your embassy or consulate can provide lists of English-speaking doctors. Other expatriates who have already settled in also can help, easing concerns about the quality of health care you can expect to receive and advising on any idiosyncracies you should be aware of in advance.
In areas where medical resources may be limited or substandard, there are usually arrangements already in place for transporting expatriates who become seriously ill to facilities in other countries where appropriate care can be obtained. It is a good idea to check out emergency facilities before any need arises. Employers are usually fully informed in such situations and can provide guidance.
An ounce of prevention is often one of the best antidotes to overseas medical emergencies. Before leaving home, every member of the family should have a thorough checkup to detect any incipient health problems. This should be far enough in advance to permit any necessary treatment before departure. Follow-ups should be scheduled during home leaves. Dental care in particular can be substandard in many areas. Everyone should have a check-up and any work that appears advisable should be taken care of before departure.
Other self-help steps also can pay dividends. Take a small first aid kit with you as well as a medical reference book so that you can recognize and treat common ailments. Secure multiple copies of the medical records of each family member. The records will almost certainly be required by schools, and will ease the transition to a new physician.
Sources and resources:
Should a medical emergency arise, you need not be left to deal with it on your own. Embassies and consulates can assist in contacting medical professionals. There are also private organizations that specialize in assisting people residing or traveling abroad with telephone advice, referrals, and full-scale international evacuations through a worldwide network of medical personnel.
It is helpful to be informed in advance as to any endemic or short-term health problems in areas to which you may be traveling. Agencies of the expatriate’s own government regularly issue country-specific advisories available to citizens traveling or relocating abroad.
HEALTH CARE COVERAGE
It is important to determine well in advance whether your health care insurance provides adequate coverage abroad. Provisions vary widely. Private plans may stop at the water’s edge or restrict benefits available to policyholders overseas. U.K. nationals are covered by local programs similar to their own National Health Service (NHS) in countries of the European Union and members of the Commonwealth with which there are reciprocal-coverage agreements, but not in most other countries. Foreign residents of the U.K. usually have the same access to NHS services that nationals do. The coverage does not, however, similarly travel with the foreign residents to Europe, as it does with British nationals.
If, as a resident of a new country, you are to be remunerated in local currency on the same basis as if you were a national of that country, you may be eligible for local health care benefits, just as a national is. If payments for services are to be deposited by the employer directly into a bank account in your home country, you probably will not qualify. Regulations vary from country to country. If your employer does not already have full information on provisions for coverage, inquire at a consulate of your country of assignment.
Most businesspersons moving abroad find it advisable to take out supplemental policies, preferably including airlift coverage in the event of emergencies. Carry the policy identity card with you and keep a supply of claim forms readily available. Be prepared to pay for services yourself- sometimes the payment may be required up front, before treatment-as medical providers overseas generally will not take on the paperwork involved in billing the insurer. You will be reimbursed after submitting a claim with receipts. Expect delays.
Sources and resources
Your employer may provide medical coverage while abroad. If not, other expatriates, business colleagues, and international schools are all good resources for guidance in this area.
In addition, international firms specializing in supplemental or comprehensive overseas medical coverage may offer helpful information.
If any family member has a chronic or special health condition, it should be determined well before departure whether it can be adequately treated in the new country. Not only treatment but arrangements for accommodation and even tolerance of special conditions, especially physical disabilities, varies greatly from country to country. Schools, for example, may not accept students with learning problems, or offer inadequate programs. If a family member is under the care of a specialist at home, this individual may be able to provide information or references. Another source of information could be your country’s consulate in the destination country, which you may wish to contact in advance of your arrival.
If the problem is medical, obtain from your physician a statement listing the specific problems such as allergies and recommended treatments. Obtain from your pharmacist the generic names of required prescription drugs so that pharmacies abroad will be able to match them with local equivalents. Where such problems are a consideration in a move, it is essential to take complete medical records with you. If a family member has had major surgery, obtain a report from the doctor describing the operation and findings relevant to the patient’s condition and continuing care.
Anyone with serious allergies or reactions to certain drugs should have a bracelet listing the specific problems in the event of an accident or other situation requiring attention where the individual might be unable to communicate with medical personnel. In the U.S., bracelets can be obtained through Medic Alert, located in California. The conditions pertaining to the wearer are engraved on the bracelet. This can be in a language other than English if an accurate translation is provided. Bracelets engraved in local languages can also be obtained from Medic Alert affiliates in other countries.
PRESCRIPTIONS AND OTHER
As noted, you should have a listing of the generic names of any required drugs. It may also be advisable to take an adequate supply with you. A prescription readily available at home may not be so easy to acquire abroad. Inquire in advance as to availability. Any medications taken with you should be in the original labeled containers, especially those containing narcotic or habit-forming drugs, and you should have a signed and dated statement from the prescribing physician describing the health problem requiring the medication and the dosage. In addition, take a written prescription, which may be honored by your doctor abroad.
Common medications and over-the-counter (OTC) remedies may be difficult to find abroad. Sometimes only the brand name and packaging differ from the product you are used to. But you can’t depend upon it. Ingredients often vary from country to country, depending upon local regulation of nonprescription medications. Be aware that as a consequence of regulation differences, such medications may vary greatly in strength from what you may be accustomed to. Be cautious and seek the advice of compatriots before experimenting with an unknown product.
In addition, OTC remedies such as cold medicines and analgesics are not always sold in the places you might expect. In many countries, for example, they are available exclusively from chemists, or pharmacies. In others, they can be purchased in supermarkets or even at newsstands.
Anyone wearing eyeglasses should take a current prescription with them as well extra pairs of glasses or a supply of contact lenses.
DISEASES AND OTHER CONCERNS
Most business moves abroad do not expose assignees and their families to undue risk from unusual diseases. Even in countries where some of the more exotic maladies can be encountered, assignments are usually to major cities where water supplies and sanitary conditions, as well as facilities for treatment of the ailment, are much better than in the countryside. Basic precautions in respect to food, water, exposure to insects, contact with animals, and personal cleanliness minimize danger. Greater care should, of course, be taken when traveling in rural areas. You may want to consult a specialist in travel medicine if your destination country poses special problems.
Although there is growing awareness of the seriousness of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) epidemic, effective screening of blood supplies is as yet not widespread in developing countries. It is not logistically feasible to store an individual’s own blood against an eventual emergency or to have blood brought from the home country to an overseas location. In the event of an urgent need for a transfusion in areas where the safety of the blood supply is in question, health authorities suggest the use of a blood substitute known as plasma expanders and/or air evacuation home or to a developed country where precautions against HIV-contaminated blood are adequate.
Diarrhea is by far the most common ailment associated with travel abroad. It is acquired from food or water contaminated with fecal matter and characterized by frequent unformed bowel movements, nausea, bloating, fever, and malaise. It is usually self-limiting, meaning that an episode persists for only a few days before the body develops an immunity against the offending bacteria. Relatively few cases persist longer than one week. Rarely is it life-threatening. But that does not make it any easier to endure.
A traditional and effective home remedy is boiled white rice, clear tea, toast, and time. In severe cases threatening dehydration, a prescription medication can restrict bowel activity. But physicians generally prefer letting nature take its course. In some countries, OTC remedies are available. Caution is strongly advised. They may contain a drug that can cause eye damage or other serious physical problems. Always get a doctor’s advice before taking any medication. Prevention, again, is more effective than trying to find a cure. Beware of cooked and especially uncooked foods that may have been improperly handled or stored. Especially risky are raw or undercooked meat and seafood, raw fruits and vegetables, and unpasturized dairy products. In areas of risk, stick to bottled water and beverages. Wine, beer, hot coffee and tea are also usually safe.
Malaria is a common problem in many areas. A number of prophylactic drugs are available but effectiveness is variable, depending upon specific strains endemic to an area, patterns of resistance, and adequate dosage. Use of mosquito repellents is still a recommended precaution against infection.
Health concerns and diseases in Chile:
The following information on the diseases most prevalent in Chile is excerpted from reports of the Traveler’s Health Section of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For detailed current information on these diseases and regular updates on regional health concerns, contact the CDC at:
CDC Voice or Fax Information Service
U.S. Tel: 1-404-332-4559
Website address: http://www.cdc.gov.
Regional reports can be accessed under the heading Traveler’s Health on the CDC home page: www.cdc.gov/travel/regions.htm.
The single greatest health concern in the city of Santiago is the quality of the air, accompanied by sharp changes in climate. Eye, nose, and throat problems are endemic; some people develop a chronic, lingering cough. Joggers may wish to consult with a physician before beginning a rigorous outdoor program.
Gastrointestinal ailments can be avoided by careful preparation of foods and limiting consumption of local water.
Although all of South America has recently experienced an increase in the incidence of Cholera, it is not as widespread in Chile as it is in some neighboring countries. Precautions should, nevertheless, be taken. Avoid uncooked vegetables and raw seafood.
A vaccine, which requires two injections, is available to provide limited immunity, but is usually not recommended to protect against such a rare disease.
Rabid animals are seen more frequently in Chile than in Europe and North America, and should be regarded as dangerous. Treat any scratch seriously and consider a pre-exposure vaccine.
Typhoid and Hepatitis A:
In rural areas where hygiene standards are not high, Typhoid and Hepatitis outbreaks do occur in Chile throughout the year. Recognize the danger and take the normal precautions with foods and water: eat only thoroughly-cooked food, peel all fruit, and drink only boiled water or bottled water and drinks. Be especially careful that mayonnaise has been kept properly refrigerated.
A Typhoid vaccination is recommended for those traveling in rural areas.
VACCINATIONS AND HEALTH REQUIREMENTS
The International Certificate of Vaccination, once as essential as a passport for travel abroad, is no longer widely used. Yellow fever is now the only disease against which vaccination is an effective protection that the World Health Organization (WHO) deems an international health threat. Some countries may require vaccination. North American and European countries generally do so only for direct travel to and from sub-Saharan Africa. Smallpox, which has been judged eradicated worldwide, and cholera have been removed from the WHO regulations in recent years.
Some countries may require long-term foreign residents to be certified as free of the AIDS virus. Consult the embassy or consulate of your destination country to determine whether there is such a requirement and if you can have your own doctor do a blood test before your departure. It may be that only the results of tests conducted in the destination country will be accepted. You can also contact your own embassy or consulate in the destination country for more specific information from a source on the scene concerning all vaccination and test requirements.
Even though not required for international travel, health authorities recommend that the routine immunizations for such childhood diseases as measles, mumps, rubella (MMR Vaccine), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTP Vaccine), and polio be current before relocating abroad. Viral hepatitis, or type A, is endemic in many developing countries. It is transmitted by contaminated food and water, and by direct person-to-person contact. Children are especially susceptible. Travelers to areas where it could be a health problem should discuss preventive measures with their physician.
Those traveling with children under two years of age to high-risk areas for diphtheria should consult a physician about the fourth dose of DTaP. Additional information can be found at www.cdc.gov/nip/announce/default.htm.
There are no vaccination requirements to enter Chile.
The normal childhood vaccinations of measles, mumps, rubella (MMR ), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTP), and polio should be up-to-date.
It is also wise to check vaccination requirements directly with the consular office of the host country’s embassy.
In addition, you should always consult your home country’s vaccination regulations for re-entry, on home leave or repatriation.
You may want to go over your affairs with an attorney before your move. At the very least, you will want to be sure that everything relating to ownership of property, loan liability, and legal obligations such as alimony and child support payments is in order. Changes in wills may also be advisable to take account of changed circumstances while living abroad. You will also want to check into the advisability of drawing up a second will in the new country according to its laws on inheritance to avoid any complications. This is essential should you buy property there. In some countries, an individual’s entire estate, including property in the home country, may be subject to local taxes and regulation if death occurs overseas.
You should also inquire as to property laws in the assignment country. Even if you don’t purchase housing, local regulations may affect belongings you take with you. The relocating employer may be able to provide this information.
Naturalized citizens should clarify their status before departure. They may not have the same standing in the new country as a native-born national of the home country would have. Sometimes two countries claim a person’s allegiance due to place of birth, parent’s citizenship, marriage, or other grounds that may be conflicting. Sometimes the individual holds dual citizenship in both countries. In either situation, it should be determined before the relocating individual sets foot in the new country what military, tax, legal, or other obligations he or she may be subject to. Some may be required to use the host country’s passport upon entering and leaving the country.
Other anticipated legal needs as well as relocation arrangements in general should be discussed with a lawyer, either the assignee’s or the company’s. The firm may already have legal representation in the assignment country, or it may have a working arrangement with an international firm with offices there. It is best to be represented by a firm that is familiar with the laws of the home country as well as those of the destination country.
PARTICIPATING IN ELECTIONS
Expatriates as a rule are encouraged by their home governments to participate in elections by absentee ballot while abroad. Registration and establishment of a voting address in the home country is required. This is best taken care of before departure. Absentee ballots must be requested from appropriate election authorities in the home country in advance of elections.
As previously discussed, adequate health care insurance is a necessity in moving abroad. In addition to existing company and other policies, which may or may not provide full coverage outside the home country, a supplementary travel-specific policy is usually recommended. This should include emergency airlift evacuation where warranted.
Medical insurance is only the beginning. Existing policies may need to be amended or new ones taken out to cover the belongings you will be taking with you and those you may leave in storage at home. There should also be provision for the period when you may be staying in a hotel or temporary housing. Arrangements appropriate to the situation similarly must be made for housing both at home and abroad, any other property you may own, and motor vehicles. Existing policies may be adequate for vehicles to be left in the home country, although you should check to be sure. It may be that in the changed situation due to the owner’s absence, changes need to be made. Vehicles that you will be taking with you or may purchase while abroad should be insured in your country of residence.
Determine precisely who is to arrange for insurance in each instance. The employer may assume some responsibility, especially for belongings being shipped to the new country. If so, find out if this is being done through the home office or an overseas agent and who to contact in the event of a problem. You will also want to know exactly what each policy covers, when coverage begins and when it ends, what the claims procedure is and what the deadlines are.
It might also be advisable to take out additional accidental death and injury coverage. Risks can be considerably higher outside the home country. This may be provided by the employer under a group policy. Studies show that heart attacks and accidental injury are the leading causes of death among international travelers.
Local third-party liability insurance is required on all cars. Most foreigners purchase collision coverage that is available both locally and through companies in their home countries. Local collision insurance rates are rather high. Check with your home insurance provider for your specific coverage before departure for Chile.
If you are going to be driving abroad, it is recommended that you get an International Driving Permit (IDP). Some countries allow a foreigner to drive on a valid national license. Others require an IDP in addition. In yet others, an IDP permits you to drive while in the process of acquiring a local license. An IDP is not itself a license but a certification of a national license in nine languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish). Should you be stopped for any reason, the IDP tells a police officer that you have a valid national license and that your credentials should be honored. It can save you hours of delay should you be involved in a traffic violation.
DRIVING IN CHILE
An international driver’s license is allowed for driving in Chile by tourists only, and must be secured in your home country. It is available through major automobile associations.
To be legal, temporary or permanent residents should have a Chilean national driving license. In reality, however, some foreigners do not go to the trouble of obtaining a Chilean license.
To obtain a Chilean license, go to the office of the Dirección del Tránsito in your municipality and take the following documents:
* Carnet de identidad
* Your passport
* A valid license from your own country
* Two passport-sized photos with your name, as it appears on your carnet, on the back.
If you wear glasses, be sure that you are wearing them in the photograph.
* Certificado de Antecedentes certifying that you have not had any previous traffic violations or serious accidents; this is available from the police.
* Cash–checks are not accepted.
You will be required to take sight and hearing tests, as well as a driving test in your own car, and a written test in Spanish. Once you have successfully passed these tests, you will be given a certificado de registro that must be taken to the Registro Nacional de Conductores to enter it in the National Register.
Banking regulations and procedures vary considerably throughout the world. Expatriates who have lived in a country where opening a checking or savings account is a simple matter may find that arranging personal banking abroad can be difficult, inconvenient, and time-consuming. And that once accomplished, the resulting services can leave much to be desired.
It is advisable to make banking arrangements well ahead of departure to ensure a smooth transition to your new location. Basic to determining the type of arrangements is the way in which the expatriate will be paid-in local currency in the country of assignment, in home country currency but in the country of assignment, or in home country currency in the home country. The last method, usually by direct deposit in the assignee’s bank at home, is the usual arrangement.
U.S. citizens should be aware that they must file annual reports with the Treasury Department if they hold or have an interest in a foreign bank account in the amount of $1,000 or more. The forms are usually sent out with the tax return mailings of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
BANKING ASSISTANCE ABROAD
There are several sources that may be able to provide information and assistance in banking abroad.
If the relocation is a corporate assignment, check with your employer’s human resources or finance department. The company may offer personal banking service as part of a relocation package, or it may provide personal banking access to commercial banks where corporate accounts are maintained.
Your local bank
Check with your current local bank, preferably with the international operations officer if there is one. The bank may offer special services for depositors residing abroad, or there may be a correspondent bank in your new location that could provide the necessary services. Even if not, your bank can help you in establishing an overseas banking connection by providing a letter of introduction and a general reference, guaranteeing your signature and checks written against your account at home which you may wish to maintain while abroad. There may be a charge for this service. You may also wish to arrange for automatic payment of some bills, such as utilities and real estate taxes for property you continue to own at home, that come due while you are abroad. You might also consider giving a lawyer limited power of attorney for this purpose while you are away.
Some major international banks offer specialized services for expatriates and frequent travelers. These may include automatic bill payments, international ATM access, credit cards, favorable wire transfer fees, foreign currency exchange, deposit and payroll services, and investment and savings plans.
BANKING IN CHILE
The banking industry in Chile provides the services with which you are familiar in your home country and allows for electronic communications and transfers to and from your home bank.
Your home bank may be very helpful in setting up your financial needs in Chile. Be sure to confirm the necessary PIN numbers and any other instructions before departure.
Setting up accounts
In order to open a local checking account, you will need several documents as follows.
* RUT or tax identification number
* Carnet de Identidad or ID card or passport
* Evidence of solvency in the form of a permanent job contract, salary slips, a letter from the employer, or a form indicating net worth
A recommendation from a current bank customer may dispense with some of the above requirements.
The period of time necessary to establish an account ranges from 2 to 10 days. Those under 21 years of age or unemployed will need authorization from a parent or working spouse to guarantee funds in the account. Overdrawing your account in Chile is illegal. There are no check guarantee arrangements. When paying by check, you are usually asked for your RUT and your telephone number.
A minimum balance in the account may avoid account maintenance charges; however, there is a government tax levied on each checkbook. In addition, there is an annual fee charged to obtain cash with teller cards, although the cards are issued at no cost by most banks and can be utilized nationwide at 24-hour ATMs.
Be particularly careful with your checkbook. It is used for many transactions, and unauthorized persons can use checks like cash. In case of theft, notify the police and your bank as soon as possible; they will advise you what specific actions to take.
To open a savings account, you will need to present only your personal data and RUT. Minimum deposits vary from bank to bank and may be opened either in Chilean pesos or U.S. dollars. Rates are quoted at a monthly rate for the Chilean peso and at an annual rate for the U.S. dollar.
There are savings institutions that often offer higher interest rates for time deposits, but these institutions are considered slightly less secure than banks.
Automatic electronic fund transfers
Most international banks offer automatic electronic funds transfer between international banks. Funds can be transferred via telex from Chile to another country. Most banks can arrange this service; the transfer typically takes 48 hours. Telex charges and bank commissions are incurred.
Leaving your home country does not mean that you are beyond the reach of its tax authorities. Any income realized from investments or other sources at home usually remains subject to tax. Earnings abroad may also be directly taxable in some circumstances. In most cases, however, expatriates pay taxes to the country of residence with which their home country usually has an agreement of exemption. This means that the expatriate’s payment to the host country is credited by the home country, so that the same income is not taxed twice.
PERSONAL INCOME TAXES IN CHILE
During the first three years of residence in Chile, foreigners are subject to tax only on their Chilean-source income. This period may be extended.
Foreigners are considered residents if they reside in Chile for more than six months in one calendar year, or for more than six months within two consecutive assessment years.
Thereafter, resident foreigners are taxed on all income, and tax rates, though falling, are high. In 1995 the top marginal rate was 48 percent on annual income exceeding US$75,000. This rate fell to 45 percent in 1996.
Taxable income includes all remuneration received under an employment contract, including entertainment expenses. Not taxable are family allowance payments, social security benefits established by law, severance payments, and board and lodging provided for the convenience of the employer.
Personal income tax rates are progressive and range from 0 percent to 45 percent levied on “tax units,” whose value changes monthly according to the consumer price index variation. This is expressed as a Monthly Taxable Unit (MTU) and is about Ch$20,673.
Taxable income rates, expressed in MTUs, are: under 10, no tax; 10-30, 5 percent; 30-50, 10 percent; 50-70, 15 percent; 70-90, 25 percent; 90-120, 35 percent; 120 and above, 45 percent.
Capital gains on sales of personal property not used in connection with a trade or business are exempt from taxation. Real estate, unless the transaction is considered habitual or has occurred within one year of acquiring the property, is also exempt from taxation. Those capital gains not exempt are taxed as ordinary income. Capital gains from stock or other investments, if not considered habitual, are taxed at a flat rate of 15 percent.
Social security tax is paid at the basic rate of 20 percent. Chile does exempt expatriates from paying into the social security fund if their own country’s social security system is similar to Chile’s.
Personal allowances and deductions are minimal. Spouses are taxed separately on their personal income, while married couples without separate incomes are taxed jointly.
Employers withhold taxes from the salaries of employees. In March of each year, taxpayers must submit to the SII/Servicio de Impuestos Internos, a detailed list of all taxes withheld. Yearly returns must be filed by April 30 of each year for income of the preceding calendar year. A single form is provided by the SII. All supporting documents should be retained by the taxpayer for possible future review.
Taxes are payable in local currency at the time the tax form is submitted.
Chile has not concluded treaties with the U.S., Canada, or the U.K. for the avoidance of double taxation.
There are no local income taxes.
OTHER TAXES IN CHILE
Chile imposes a VAT or Impuesto al Valor Agregado (IVA) of 18 percent on most goods and services.
Fuel and tobacco tax
Gasoline, diesel oil, cigarettes and cigars are all taxed at the time of purchase.
Used cars are subject to a 0.5 percent sales tax. Imported cars and locally assembled cars are subject to the customary 18 percent VAT tax, plus a sales tax which is a percentage of the customs value based on the size of the engine
Real estate tax
A two percent tax is assessed on the fiscal valuation of real estate each year on January 1st, and adjusted on July 1st, according to the increase in the Consumer Price Index. Real estate taxes are : in four installments: April, June, September, and November.
SOURCES AND RESOURCES
Many employers provide tax counseling and assistance to their expatriate employees, either in-house or through firms specializing in international tax matters.
Many international accounting firms offer tax consulting; it may be worthwhile to investigate such a service if your employer does not offer it.
In addition, citizens of the U.S., Canada and the U.K. can contact their respective governments for information on tax liability while expatriate.
Santiago boasts an ideal climate. The seasons are well defined, with hot summers (maximum 28ºC to 32ºC (82ºF to 90ºF) in Santiago, one of Chile’s warmest cities; fall and spring with cool, pleasant breezes; and short winters with low temperatures, only occasionally dipping below 0ºC (32ºF).
Winter daytime temperatures may reach 18ºC (64ºF) but usually hover around 14ºC (57ºF). Rainfall, generally restricted to the winter months, increases towards the south. Humidity is low, reducing the disagreeable effects of heat and cold.
Spring: September to December
Summer: December to March
Autumn: March to June
Winter: June to September
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