Chile’s Borders Are Reopening To Some Visitors

Filed Under: Travel

A few days ago I wrote about how Chile was planning on reopening to visitors next week. Well, there’s an update on that, as the country won’t be opening quite in the way that was initially announced, and it could impact anyone who has a trip planned in the next few weeks.

As always, entry restrictions for countries are constantly changing, which is one of the many risks of planning international travel right now.

Chile will once again welcome some visitors

Chile closed its borders back in March, and hasn’t allowed tourism since. That will finally be changing. Initially the plan was that as of November 23, 2020, Chile would once again welcome visitors with testing:

  • You need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken less than 72 hours before arrival in Chile (this is a tight timeline, since it has to be within 72 hours of arrival, rather than within 72 hours of departing for Chile); those without proof will need to quarantine for 14 days
  • You need to provide an affidavit saying that you don’t have any coronavirus symptoms
  • You must enter the country via Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport in Santiago (SCL)

However, it now appears the country has backtracked at least a bit. The US Embassy in Chile notes that:

  • Between November 23 and December 7, 2020, non-resident foreigners who have been in a high risk countries (including the United States) in the past 14 days will have to complete a mandatory 14 day quarantine
  • Only after December 7, 2020, will non-resident foreigners entering Chile from high risk countries be allowed to skip the 14 day quarantine
  • All non-resident foreigners entering Chile will be subjected to a 14 day “period of vigilance,” whereby they’ll have to report their location and health conditions daily to the Health Ministry through a system that will be implemented in the coming days

So yeah, unfortunately those coming from high risk countries won’t be able to visit without a quarantine for the first 14 days that Chile is reopening to tourists. The fact that this policy was implemented after the initial announcement also makes me think that this could quite easily be pushed back.

Coronavirus in Chile

Chile has a population of just under 19 million. The country has seen a total of 528,000 coronavirus cases, and around 14,700 deaths. Chile is now pretty consistently down to below 2,000 cases per day.

Just for some context, Chile’s population is slightly smaller than Florida’s, and Florida has seen a total of 871,000 coronavirus cases and a total of around 17,400 deaths.

So Chile hasn’t exactly done great with coronavirus, but it’s also not the worst country out there in that regard.

One big benefit of traveling to Chile

If you are planning to travel in the coming months, Chile might not be a terrible place to consider (assuming you’re allowed in). I say that in the sense that we’re entering winter here in many parts of the world, which makes outdoor activities and outdoor dining challenging. If you’re going to travel, you’re much better going to a place where you can keep your distance and dine outdoors.

With Santiago being in the Southern Hemisphere, summer is about to start down there, so the weather should be great. There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, eat outside, etc.

As I always caution, just remember the general risks and complications of traveling internationally nowadays (beyond the risk of coronavirus as such):

  • Border restrictions are constantly changing (as we’re seeing here)
  • Airlines are frequently adjusting schedules due to the uncertain times
  • There’s the risk of having to quarantine at your own expense, in some cases even if you don’t have coronavirus (like if you were in close contact to someone who got it)
  • Your health insurance may not be valid abroad, and travel insurance may not cover coronavirus-related expenses

Anyway, these aren’t challenges that can’t be overcome, but it’s worth thinking carefully before planning international travel.

Bottom line

Chile will be reopening to visitors from low risk countries as of November 23, 2020. The country will primarily require a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival. The negative PCR test is a pretty standard requirement for travel at this point, though just keep in mind that the test needs to be within 72 hours of arrival in Chile, rather than within 72 hours of departure to the country.

However, the country will only allow those from high risk countries (including the US) without a quarantine as of December 7, 2020, and personally I wouldn’t be surprised to see that timeline pushed back.

Is anyone considering a trip to Chile?

  1. In Portugal now, just sitting here planning a 4 month trip to South American starting next month.

    Was sad that Chile/Uruguay and Argentina looked to be closed. (everything else is open)
    So, this is super.

    Added to the list, we’ll hit it next month or early January.
    Nice timing on this article, thank you!

  2. I had planned a trip there last April that was obviously canceled. Been debating on when it’s smart to rebook that trip. Thinking it’s still too soon.

  3. This is the first “X country is opening for Americans” I’ll consider actually going. Maybe a lil February trip if things don’t get any worse.

  4. Chile has faced a referendum about changing the Constitution last month, after a year long protest… I don’t recommend traveling there anytime soon… Only God knows what will happen with the new constitution and if the politicians will hear the people

  5. I have a trip to SCL in April coming up. I’m not exactly fascinated by their interpretation of 72 hours, since here in Switzerland it still takes at least 48 hours to process a PCR test … and the private laboratories are significantly worse …

  6. I have booked a trip to Santiago for February as there is a travel corridor (just means you don’t have to quarantine upon arrival when you get back home into the UK).

    I am hoping these measures are still in place for when I travel. I wouldn’t be too bothered if I had to cancel my trip as I used air miles to purchase it. Here’s hoping!

  7. @Matt. To my knowledge , Peru IS open to US travelers now. Latam has started with daily flights from Miami and NYC and LAX soon. I have a Christmas trip planned to see family and flight will connect in SCL in return. Does anyone know if Chile will allow passenger transfer without a negative PCR test ?

  8. I’m still not flying overseas until I get the vaccine. I can’t put anyone in my household at risk for non-essential travel.

  9. nice…but no thanks. Within 72 hours…so considering flight time, etc… I have 50-60 hours at best.

    As much as I want to go to Chile (again), this is just unreasonable. 96 hours is more reasonable. 1 week is great.

    Nevermind, I don’t want to go anywhere which requires a test.

    If I have an itch to go to South America…I’ll go to Brazil – no test. Heck..maybe even Bolivia. they allow 7 days…much more reasonable. But I don’t really want to bother with a test…

    Here’s looking at Turkey now….while it would be different months, it would still serve my purpose.

  10. just looking at AA flights from SEA-SCL….20 hours or so at least. So I have more like 50 hours or even less to get the test results. No dice.

  11. Or just maybe, people shouldn’t engage in non-essential travel right now? You know being that the US sets new records everyday with covid cases and hospitalizations and hospitals in some states are out of ICU beds? Sure lets send the covidiots to foreign countries that won’t have the medical system that can handle the influx. Selfish. Not to mention how smart these people will seem if they come down with covid in a foreign country.

  12. @reaper

    Just came back from Mexico. Got my sun.

    Aware of Costa Rica…went to a few places a long time ago. I could go to Liberia area someday. Was in Panama earlier this year.

    scenery in Brazil interests me more than CR though. Been to Brazil a few times…but it’s been 10+ years since the last time I think. I could go back to Iguazu…that would be fun.

  13. No, Chile is not a good place to consider travel right now. It is in the midst of the biggest wave of arson, looting, and other violence since the 1970s. The disruptions have taken place through the entire length of the country and you may have no warning of a new riot or other outbreak. To make matters worse, the COVID problems in the Patagonia region, particularly around Punta Arenas, have reached plague proportions and strict curfews have been applied. The country is still under a form of martial law since the army has been given responsibility to enforce the COVID restrictions and that can mean military inspections several times during a bus ride. You would do well to avoid advice from “travel promoting” sources and instead read the local media and government health agency information. For Punta Arenas and southern Patagonia, read La Prensa Austral for restrictions and notices on severity of the outbreaks and curfews. Chile is NOT a safe place for travel right now and unscrupulous measures are being taken to promote tourism by big-money interests and this is unnecessarily putting people at risk.

  14. @Fernando

    Thanks for the tips. Looking at La Prensa Austral now.

    Was in PA a few years ago – not for a cruise. Personally..don’t care about COVID re: my health per se. But obviously the measures taken / state of economy affect travel. Mostly want to go on the Carretera Austral…but more around Puerto Montt. Very remote places – camping.

    Not surprised about PA – weak sun there.

  15. I just checked with sources in Punta Arenas, as of 16 Nov 2020. Both Puerto Natales and Punta Arenas are under firm quarantine lockdown and military control for enforcement. With few exceptions, people cannot be out of their homes without a “salvoconducto” which is a “safe conduct pass” provided by the police (Carabineros). There has been a strict curfew from 8 pm to 5 am but I need to check to see if it has been changed to 10 pm as it was before the latest firm lockdown. These measures are because of the latest outbreak of the COVID infection. There is limited opening for groceries and pharmacies but often long lines outside because of strict occupancy restrictions enforced by soldiers. Restaurants are closed for sitdown service but some are providing delivery or takeout ( “para llevar”). Many (most?) lodging places are closed. Approved mask use is mandatory (that means only approved type masks and you can get in trouble for trying to use a bandana type mask as some Americans have tried in the past). The local health system has been characterized as “near collapse” and patients are being air-evacuated on special flights to hospitals in the Santiago area. Americans are not yet being allowed into the country but the government has announced that it intends to life that restriction, with conditions, and only through the Pudahuel-Santiago airport in the near future. Land crossings (borders) are supposedly still closed except for locals and essential commercial transport. Most bus services from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales were closed. One bus was running but only 3 times a week and permission from the health agency was required and subject to military enforcement (health documents checked by soldiers prior to boarding and at checkpoints along the way).

  16. Hi Ben – where do you see that the test needs to be done within 72 hours of arrival. The state department link you provided says the following

    Proof of a negative result from a PCR result from a test taken within 72 hours prior to departure; and

  17. Would be nice if the US just did what Australia and China did, basically making it extremely difficult for people who leave the country to return (Australia through limited flights, and China through policies). It would let all the idiots self-sort themselves out of the country.

  18. A Total Solar Eclipse is set for Dec 14, south of Santiago. I think the Dec 7 date for skipping quarantine is unlikely to change. 3 months ago the reopening date published at the Govt. website was Dec 11 IIRC.

  19. I m german and in Brazil right now to avoid the lockdown in cold Germany.
    I feel more safe here in Rio de Janeiro with summer coming up and lots of spaces than in Germany

  20. Chile is a nice country to visit but those who support Biden should be good boys and girls and get with the program. Don’t do things to spread Covid-19 or get it. Trump supporters should also do the same but Biden’s speechwriters write stuff that suggest he wants masks and semi-isolation.

  21. I had planed to go to Argentina from the United States for the eclipse, but they won’t open in time. Think it would be possible to fly into Villarrica, order food in, and then fly back out a few days later?
    In other words, once I’m there, I know I don’t go outside and around, but am I stuck there 14 days, or will I be able to fly out after the eclipse?

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