Passports & Visas
The websites listed provide downloadable passport applications as well as the current fees for processing passport applications. For an up-to-date, country-by-country listing of passport requirements around the world, go to the "Foreign Entry Requirement" Web page of the U.S. Department of State at http://travel.state.gov.
Citizens of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand need only a valid passport to enter Chile. Chile charges a reciprocity fee upon entry to citizens of the following countries: $131 for the U.S., $61 for Australians, $132 for Canadians, and $23 for Mexicans. Visitors from the U.K. and New Zealand do not pay a fee. The one-time fee is good for the life of a traveler's passport, and is charged when entering through the Santiago airport only. Travelers crossing over land do not pay this fee. You may pay this fee at the airport counter (to the left of Customs) with your credit card.
Before entering Chile, you'll need to fill out a tourist card that allows visitors to stay for 90 days. Do not lose this card, as you will need to present it to Customs when leaving the country. Also, many hotels waive Chile's 19% sales tax applied to rooms when the guest shows this card and pays with U.S. dollars or a credit card. The easiest (and free) way to renew your 90-day stay is to cross the border and return. For $100 (£67), tourist cards can be renewed for another 90 days at the Extranjería, Agustinas 1235, second floor, in Santiago (tel. 2/550-2400), open Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 2pm (be prepared for excruciatingly long lines), or at any Gobernación Provincial office in the provinces. The extension must be applied for 1 month before the visa's expiration date. Bring the original card, your passport, and photocopies of the two.
Contact the Chilean consulate closest to you for information about children under age 18 traveling alone, with one parent, or with a third party. Child abduction awareness is on the rise, and I've heard of Customs agents preventing parents traveling solo to or from Chile with children. Play it safe and travel with a written authorization by the absent parent(s) or legal guardian granting permission, which must be notarized by the consulate or a reputable notary.
Lost Documents -- If you lose your tourist card outside Santiago, any police station will direct you to the Extranjería police headquarters for that province (usually the nearest principal city). In Santiago, go to the Policía Internacional, Departamento Fronteras, General Borgoña 1052 (tel. 2/565-7893), open Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm.
If you lose your passport, you can get a passport replacement at your country's embassy. The embassy might require you to file a constancia with the police, but without Spanish skills, this can be difficult; call ahead and ask if this document can be waived. It is imperative that you carry a photocopy of your passport with you and another form of ID to facilitate the process.
Passports -- The websites listed provide downloadable passport applications as well as the current fees for processing applications. For an up-to-date, country-by-country listing of passport requirements around the world, go to the "International Travel" tab of the U.S. Department of State at http://travel.state.gov.
For Residents of Australia -- You can pick up an application from your local post office or any branch of Passports Australia, but you must schedule an interview at the passport office to present your application materials. Call the Australian Passport Information Service at tel. 131-232, or visit the government website at www.passports.gov.au.
For Residents of Canada -- Passport applications are available at travel agencies throughout Canada or from the central Passport Office, Dept. of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Ottawa, ON K1A 0G3 (tel. 800/567-6868; www.ppt.gc.ca). Note: Canadian children who travel must have their own passport. However, if you hold a valid Canadian passport issued before December 11, 2001, that bears the name of your child, the passport remains valid for you and your child until it expires.
For Residents of Ireland -- You can apply for a 10-year passport at the Passport Office, Setanta Centre, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2 (tel. 01/671-1633; www.irlgov.ie/iveagh). Those under age 18 and over 65 must apply for a 3-year passport. You can also apply at 1A South Mall, Cork (tel. 21/494-4700) or at most main post offices.
For Residents of New Zealand -- You can pick up a passport application at any New Zealand Passports Office or download it from the website. Contact the Passports Office at tel. 0800/225-050 in New Zealand or 04/474-8100, or log on to www.passports.govt.nz.
For Residents of the United Kingdom -- To pick up an application for a standard 10-year passport (5-yr. passport for children under 16), visit your nearest passport office, major post office, or travel agency; or contact the United Kingdom Passport Service at tel. 0870/521-0410 or search its website at www.ukpa.gov.uk.
For Residents of the United States -- Whether you're applying in person or by mail, you can download passport applications from the U.S. Department of State website at http://travel.state.gov. To find your regional passport office, either check the U.S. Department of State website or call the National Passport Information Center toll-free number (tel. 877/487-2778) for automated information.
What You Can Bring Into Chile -- Any travel-related merchandise brought into Chile, such as personal effects or clothing, is not taxed. Visitors entering Chile may also bring in no more than 400 cigarettes, 500 grams of pipe tobacco, or 50 cigars, and 2.5 liters of alcoholic beverages per adult (ages 18 and up).
What You Can Take Home from Chile --
U.S. Citizens -- Returning U.S. citizens who have been away for at least 48 hours are allowed to bring back once every 30 days $800 worth of merchandise duty-free. You will be charged a flat duty fee for the next $1,000 worth of purchases. Beyond that, any dollar amount is dutiable at whatever rates apply. On mailed gifts, the duty-free limit is $200. Be sure to have your receipts or purchases handy to expedite the declaration process. Note: If you owe duty, you are required to pay upon arrival in the United States by cash, personal check, government or traveler's check, or money order, and in some locations, by Visa or MasterCard.
To avoid having to pay duty on foreign-made personal items you owned before you left on your trip, bring along a bill of sale, insurance policy, jeweler's appraisal, or receipt. Or register items that can be readily identified by a permanently affixed serial number or marking -- think laptop computers, cameras, and CD players -- to avoid problems with Customs. Take the items to the nearest Customs office or register them with Customs at the airport from which you are departing. You will receive, at no cost, a Certificate of Registration, which allows duty-free entry for the life of the item. There is little chance that Customs will seriously question personal items, but it's better to be safe than sorry.
For specifics on what you can bring back and the corresponding fees, download the invaluable free pamphlet Know Before You Go online at www.cbp.gov. (Click on "Travel," and then click on "Know Before You Go! Online Brochure"). Or contact the U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20229 (tel. 877/287-8667), and request the pamphlet.
Canadian Citizens -- For a clear summary of Canadian rules, write for the booklet I Declare, issued by the Canada Border Services Agency (tel. 800/461-9999 in Canada, or 204/983-3500; www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca).
U.K. Citizens -- For information, contact HM Customs & Excise at tel. 0845/010-9000 (020/8929-0152 from outside the U.K.), or consult the website at www.hmce.gov.uk.
Australian Citizens -- A helpful brochure available from Australian consulates or Customs offices is Know Before You Go. For more information, call the Australian Customs Service at tel. 1300/363-263, or log on to www.customs.gov.au.
New Zealand Citizens -- Most questions are answered in a free pamphlet available at New Zealand consulates and Customs offices: New Zealand Customs Guide for Travellers, Notice no. 4. For more information, contact New Zealand Customs, The Customhouse, 17-21 Whitmore St., Box 2218, Wellington (tel. 04/473-6099 or 0800/428-786; www.customs.govt.nz).