CHILE

Chile Flag
Country Description: Chile has a stable government and a strong economy. Civil disorder is rare. Facilities for tourism vary according to price and area. The capital city is Santiago.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: A passport is required. U.S. citizens do not need a visa for a stay of up to three months. Dependent children under age 18 (including the children of divorced parents) traveling alone, with one parent, or in someone else's custody, are required by the Chilean International Police to present a notarized document certifying both parents are in agreement with their travel. The document must be notarized before a Chilean notary or Chilean consular officer. At the international port-of-entry, a "processing fee collected under reciprocity" of $45 (U.S.) is levied on U.S. citizens. The fee is payable in dollars or in local currency and in exact change only. The traveler's receipt is valid for multiple entries during the validity of their passport. Travelers considering scientific, technical, or mountaineering activities in areas classified as frontier areas are required to obtain authorization from the Chilean government at least 90 days prior to the beginning of the expedition. The portions of Antarctica claimed by Chile are exempt from these pre-approval requirements. Officials at the Torres del Paine National Park require mountain climbers to present an authorization granted by the Frontiers and Border Department, obtainable at the Chilean Embassy or Chilean consulates throughout the United States.

For current information concerning entry and customs requirements, travelers may contact the Chilean Embassy at 1732 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036, tel. (202) 785-1746, or the Chilean consulates in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Miami, Honolulu, Chicago, New Orleans, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Charleston, Dallas, Houston, and Salt Lake City.

Medical Facilities: Medical care is good but may not meet U.S. standards. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. Supplemental medical insurance which includes specific overseas coverage, including provisions for medical evacuation, is highly recommended, as in-country medical evacuations from outlying areas to Santiago cost $2,000 (U.S.) or more. Costs for international medical evacuations begin at about $10,000 (U.S.) and can be as high as $90,000 (U.S.), depending on the remoteness of the area in question. For travelers to the Antarctic and/or Easter Island, additional insurance to cover the cost of air evacuation specifically from those remote regions is strongly recommended. In the event of illness, injury, or even death, the cost of evacuation from the Antarctic region to Santiago alone can exceed $50,000 (U.S.).

All of Santiago is affected by a high index of pollution, which appears as a heavy smog in the winter and dust in the summer. The most severe pollution occurs from May to October. For further information, travelers may contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers hotline at 1-888-232-3228, or their autofax service at 1-888-232-3299, or their Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Visitors should be aware of the criminal environment in Santiago. Street crime, endemic to many South American cities, is a problem in the metropolitan area in general and specifically in downtown Santiago. One should be particularly alert while walking in the downtown area, especially in the late afternoon and after dark, or on weekends, even in well-traveled areas. In Santiago and other large Chilean cities, thieves thrive on rush hour crowding on the street and aboard public transportation. Crime is also prevalent at crowded tourist locations, at metro (subway) stations, and on trains and buses. Police sources also report that robbery is on the rise in taxis. Persons wearing expensive-looking jewelry or carrying luggage or cameras are favorite targets for pickpockets and purse snatchers. Bags and briefcases are stolen from chairs in restaurants and outdoor cafes. Outside Santiago, robberies and assaults have occurred most frequently in the Vina del Mar and Valparaiso area, which becomes increasingly crowded during the height of the Chilean summer season (December through February).

The loss or theft of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Useful information on personal security and guarding valuables while traveling abroad is provided in the Department of State pamphlet, "A Safe Trip Abroad," available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402. Available from the same address is the State Department publication, "Tips for Travelers to Central and South America."

Terrorist Activities: There have been no violent acts committed against U.S. business facilities or institutions in 1996, 1997 or early 1998, except for two incidents in which molotov cocktails were thrown at Mormon churches. Traditionally, September 11-18 is an active period for terrorists and general public disorder. Visitors in the Santiago area during this period should actively seek information regarding planned demonstrations.

Drug Penalties: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. Penalties in Chile for possession and trafficking in illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences and fines.

Other Information: There are credible reports that land mines may pose a danger to hikers in remote sections of several popular national reserves and parks near northern border areas, including Lauca and Llullaillaco National Parks, Salar de Surire National Monument, and Los Flamencos National Reserve. Visitors should check with park authorities before entering less-traveled areas and observe all warning signs.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: Although major roads in Chile are generally in good condition, secondary roads are sometimes poorly maintained and/or lighted. Traffic jams during peak hours in downtown Santiago and other neighboring areas are common. Taxis are plentiful and inexpensive. Driving under the influence of alcohol in Chile is severely penalized and can lead to incarceration if the driver is involved in an accident. Additional road condition and safety information may be obtained from the Chilean Automobile Association, Avenida Vitacura 8620, Santiago, tel (56-2) 212-5702. The National Tourist Bureau, Sernatur, is located at Avenida Providencia 1550; Santiago, tel (56-2) 236-1420 or (56-2) 236-1416.

The U.S. Embassy also advises visitors to Chile that, according to local law, they must have an international driver's license in order to drive. Although car rental firms rent to clients with no international driver's license, several persons driving with only a U.S. license have been detained by the police for prolonged periods.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Chile's civil aviation authority as Category 1 - in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Chile's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa.htm. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the Pentagon at (703) 697-7288.

Embassy Location/Registration: U.S. citizens are encouraged to register and to obtain updated security information at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Santiago. The Embassy is located at Avenida Andres Bello 2800, Santiago, tel (56-2) 232-2600 or via the Embassy home page at http://www.rdc.cl/usemb.

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