Uruguay Visa
for
Retirement



The Uruguay Visa

There is no specific Uruguay visa for retirement. Permanent residency is not difficult for anyone to obtain in this country but conditions and processes are not lax compared with other places. There is also a flexible time element that is peculiar to applications in Uruguay. It is necessary to submit applications for permanent residency in person from within the country.


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The initial visa may take anywhere from six to twenty-four months for it to be issued. Temporary permanent residence is granted upon acceptance of the application. A “cedula de identidad” or identity document may then be requested. Possession of this document gives a person virtually all of the rights of a permanent resident. For examples a bank account can be opened and a driving license obtained.

Once an application has been accepted there is no doubt that a temporary and, subsequently, a final permanent residence visa will be issued. Fluency in Spanish is the only barrier an applicant may face in submitting an application. It is not compulsory to speak Spanish to file an application but government employees are not required to speak any other language. For this and other reasons (local knowledge of Government departments and practices, timing, ancillary service provision – translation etc) the employment of a local lawyer will be useful and convenient. A list of local lawyers is given at this site.

The Dirección Nacional de Migración (DNM) is the government department concerned with immigration matters relevant to permanent resident status. It is worth noting that Uruguay expects that applicants for permanent resident do, in fact, intend to reside in the country. “Paper residency” is frowned upon. During the period that it takes to obtain permanent residency well over half of that time should be spent in Uruguay. There is no restriction on leaving the country and applicants may come and go as necessary. After attaining permanent residency there is no longer any need to remain in the country save for the fact that residential status will be lost if there is an absence of three or more years. If insufficient time is spent in Uruguay during the time taken to settle the application the DNM may require further evidence of the intention to reside in the country.

Uruguayan Coat of Arms

Although citizenship may not be the primary objective of a retiree it is necessary to have spent at least six months of every qualifying year in the country. Usually it necessary to have been a permanent resident for five years before an application for citizenship can be submitted. The period is reduced to three years for married applicants.

There is a faster path to obtaining a passport but the document comes without citizenship status. Extra qualifications in terms of capital invested in the country and income are also necessary. For citizenship the full three or five year term still applies.

Documents Required for the Uruguay Visa

For those familiar with investigations into obtaining residence visas, or any visa, the familiar set of personal documents is required for an application for the Uruguay visa will be known. There may be more stringent authentication requirements for this country. This has become easier now that Uruguay accepts apostille certificates. It is also the case that the National Migration Office (NMO) is flexible in the timing of submission of documents to complete an application. Documents should be obtained and authenticated/legalized as is appropriate and possible before traveling to Uruguay to make the application for a residence visa.

The employment of an attorney should have been arranged on a previous “Golden Rule” (Take no irrevocable step without first visiting the country at least once.) visit to the country. It will then be possible to scan and e-mail documents to the lawyer to ensure that they are correct and complete. Good timing for the application visit can thus be achieved. Visitors visas are usually not necessary but if one is needed then application can be made at any embassy or consulate.

The list is:-

  1. Birth Certificate
  2. Marriage Certificate (If necessary)
  3. Police Record
  4. Proof of Income
  5. Medical Examination
  6. Proof of Address.

Items (1) – (4) need to be apostilled in the home country or stamped by the Uruguayan Consulate in the country where the document was issued. This latter process is known as “legalization”. Official translations into Spanish will also be necessary.

A Police Clearance Certificate is necessary from the home country or, if different, from the country which issued the applicant’s passport and from countries in which the applicant has resided. This is not necessary for U.S. applicants because the appropriate clearance can be obtained from the local Interpol Office in Montevideo.

Proof of income is more difficult because the Uruguayan Government prefers income sources from other governments. Thus U.S. Social Security income and government pensions from other places are the sources most readily accepted. Non-residents may open bank accounts in Uruguay. Proof of payment of the qualifying income to an Uruguayan bank is also needed. It is necessary to have the proof of income document prepared by a local conveyance attorney on the basis of the documents supplied by the applicant.

The necessary income to qualify as a bona fide applicant is not as certain as in some countries. The amount has to be sufficient to maintain oneself in the manner which may be thought fit by the NMO. Presumably a young, married, person with dependent children who enjoys sport and an active social life would need more income than a single retiree of sober and quiet habits. This amount has varied according to a number of sources from as little as $US500 to $US1000 per month. The former amount is probably now out of date.

An official amount of $US1500 per month has been mentioned but this is connection with Act 16,340. This is a special enactment which entitles those who apply for its benefits to import a car duty free and to obtain immediately a Uruguayan passport. As stated above the passport does not carry with it citizenship which must await the usual 3/5 years as a resident before it is conferred. This Act also requires a capital deposit.

The NMO may require repeated proof of income statements as the approval process continues and an interview with the applicant may be required.

The medical examination can be carried out in Uruguay. It is a simple procedure and is not a screening test of any kind.

The proof of address is simply a statement by the applicant. It is necessary to have an address in the country. An hotel address will be sufficient if that is all that is available when filing the documents.

To complete the documents required when filing the application for  the Uruguay visa a valid passport and two passport sized photographs are necessary. A couple must present all documents at (1) - (3) for each person. Also the birth certificates duly authenticated for any dependent children.

The Process for Obtaining the Uruguay Visa

Although the authentication requirements for documents may seem complex and even pedantic the application process for the Uruguay visa is simple, flexible, user-friendly and without time pressure. All that is needed to lodge an application at the NMO is a passport and two passport sized photographs. All other documents not available at the time of initial application can be presented over the succeeding 90 days.

After application the NMO issues a document which allows the temporary identity card (cedula de identidad) to be provided in about a week by the National Civil Identification Office. As a temporary resident with a cedula de identidad it is possible to stay in the country indefinitely and to come and go as necessary. Personal effects may be imported duty free, a driving license can be obtained and a bank account opened if this has not already been done.

It is possible that a second temporary national ID may be required depending on the time taken to issue the temporary visa. After six to twelve months permanent resident status is granted and the definitive identity card is issued.

The time-line for qualifying for citizenship runs from the date of initial entry into the country to make the residency application for the Uruguay visa. A citizenship application must be filed in person at the Electoral Court with appropriate documentation. Since, for retirees, citizenship is not often a priority issue full details are not pursued here. The processing time is usually about four months. Uruguay has no objection to dual citizenship.

General Comments

The experiences of those who have obtained the Uruguay visa and migrated to the country tend to give a “flavour” of the application processes. Some BBC reports, although now dated, put a positive spin on moving to Uruguay. Reports by members of the public are more likely to be subjective rather than objective but they do provide some balance with respect to other "official reports". The “TotalUruguay" site provides a “question, search and answer approach to many subjects. International Living provides information on a great range of subjects about Uruguay most of which are positive especially with respect to obtaining the Uruguay visa. The Expat.com site also provides a range of experiences. Others have specific reasons for not advocating retirement to Uruguay.

Quite clearly nowhere is perfect and one place cannot suit everybody.


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