Now that interesting question is something that I am often asked.Gun Ownership Allowed Although gun legislation is more restrictive in Chile than in the USA, for the most part, it is possible to own a gun and use it for self-defense. Concealed carry is also possible but very unlikely for most people. Fewer than 200 people have a concealed carry permit in all of Chile. The same is true with regard to getting a permit to own a silencer or a machine gun: possible but difficult. Home gun permits are relatively “easy” to get however. You can register two handguns per person in your household. After that, you have to get a sportsman’s license and you can register up to six more guns: rifles, shotguns or pistols. A sportsman’s license requires one to join and be an active member of a gun club, which typically costs US$400 to join and another USD$400 per year. To go through the entire process from importing the gun, to registering the gun, to buying ammunition for the gun you will have to deal with the local police (carabineros
), the army (to test the gun), and customs. Reloading equipment for any kind of ammunition can also be brought in and must be registered, but in order to do so one must join a gun club and be an active member.
Note that gun shop owners in Santiago and their employees are beleaguered by false and misleading or incorrect information when if comes to foreign residents owning guns. Some will tell you that you must be a resident of Chile for three or five years. Others will say that a person must be a permanent resident (rather than just a temporary resident with a retirement or contract visa for instance). They will even add that you need a letter from the ambassador of your home country embassy which certifies that you are an upstanding citizen. You will probably be told that reloading ammunition is illegal or that only shotgun shells can be reloaded legally. These statements are all false. Yet the employees or owners you speak to will be very sure of themselves and sound convincing. They will even try to tell you that the law has changed in recent years. Do not believe them. Go to the cops and get the approval you need from them. The great majority of the hoops you have to jump through will be done in downtown Santiago: Calle Vidaurre 1456 (Autoridad Fiscalizadora 028 de los Carabineros) and Calle Vidaurre 1456 (Departamento Control de Armas y Explosivos). Try calling Suboficial Jiménez on his cell phone at +56-9-92253387 if you have questions (and can speak Spanish). Start there before listening to any gibberish from ignorant (albeit friendly) gun shop folks. If you bring your guns through the airport, you will have to declare them and leave them with customs (aduana) until you go through the paperwork process. The same thing will happen at the port so make sure you can easily pull your guns and reloading equipment out of the container.
Guns cost double or even triple the relative price in the USA when purchased in Chile. So it might make some sense to import your own gun. Expensive or high-end makes can cost five times as much as they do in the USA, making them attractive to import. Accordingly, I would recommend bringing down an expensive gun (or two) to justify the taxes and other import costs. For instance, you might bring an H&K pistol, although some H&K models are now available in Chile, just as are Sig Saur pistols. Or go really big and bring a Desert Eagle. Be sure to bring several filled clips (with your favorite rounds, e.g., nylon tipped hollow points) and accessories too. You will need to know theexact number of rounds, clips and other accessories you have in the case when you fill out the forms. Standard pistol calibers in Chile are .38, .45, .357, 9mm, and .40 and .44 can also be found. If you try to bring in a non-standard caliber, you might have a problem and the bureaucrats might even reject your application. All might be fine, too, just be aware of the potential risk if you try to bring in, for example, a Desert Eagle .50 cal. revolver.
Basic Import Procedure To bring your gun, just put it in a lockable case and pack it in your suitcase. However, you must first have a residency visa and a carnét (national ID card), a.k.a. Cédula de Identidad Extranjeros. You get this after you apply for your visa in Chile (we can help you with this process: see www.chile-consulting.cl
for details). Remember that you are only allowed to have two handguns in Chile for home defense. If you are a hunter or sportsman (target shooter) you can have eight guns: pistols, shotguns and rifles. If you qualify as a collector you can obtain special permission to have many more guns, but you will not be allowed to purchase ammunition for them. As noted earlier, guns, ammunition and equipment can also be packed into your container. Here is the rest of the procedure:
1. Upon arrival at the airport, declare to aduana (customs) that you have a pistol, shotgun, rifle, ammunition or reloading equipment packed in your suitcase (or in your container at the port). Use a low value since you will have to pay a tax on what you declare (note: US$300 and under is generally duty free from the USA so long as you have or can make up a receipt with an American address on it, and the receipt says that the gun was “made in the United States of America”—otherwise the tax will be 25% of the receipt’s value or the value you declare, unless the customs agents think the declaration is too low in which case they will assign a value). They will take it and give you a receipt with the serial number on it. Be sure to lock the case. Keep the receipt. Be sure to complete the importation process in a timely manner since your gun is subject to being destroyed by aduana officials after 90 days. Note: If you are bringing the gun down for a friend (yes, you can do that), you will be required to fill out the form with the customs agent (which becomes your receipt) with your information on the front side. Just be sure to include your friend’s name and national ID (RUT) number on the backside. That way your friend will be able to get it from customs himself and deal with the tramite.
2. Make a copy of both the receipt and your carnét (both sides).
3. Go to the registro civil (sort of like a city hall) for any comuna (city area), present your carnét, and get them to print for you what is called a “Certificado de Antecedents para Fines Especiales” (cost under $2) which basically shows that you have no criminal record or record of domestic violence.
4. Complete (in your word processor) TWO copies of the document called “Solicitud para Importar y Internar” un Arma. Click here to get a copy of the form online. It has to be filled out perfectly and printed. If you make an error, white out o crossing out words will not be accepted. You will have to go back another day to get it submitted. One of the forms you will need to get will be a psychiatric evaluation form that you must take to a Chilean psychiatrist to complete and stamp. Expect to pay US$30 to US$85 for the service.
5. Take the above documents to Calle Vidaurre 1456. They will collect around 37,500 pesos (US$80) per gun, or a little more if you are bringing in extra clips and rounds, and give you a copy of their stamped receipt along with a copy of the form you filled out above. They then send the package to be processed and you should get it back in 10-15 days. They will not call you when it is ready so be sure to get the local carabinero’s phone number (i.e., the guy who helps you) and call to see when you can pick it up. Make sure you make this carabinero your friend! Be patient and jolly. The person that the carabineros deal with is a (nice) woman named Veronica (02) 4413899 who will get your properly completed form processed. You can also call her regarding status.
6. When the document is finally ready, take the stamped form back to aduana (probably at the airport in Santiago or at the point where your container arrived) and pay them whatever tax they require (perhaps US$100 on a US$400 to US$800 gun). Almost certainly, you will be required to go there accompanied by the carabinero. NOTE: due to a USA free trade agreement, if you declare your gun is used and bought by a private party for $300 or less, there is ZERO tax (tariff). So you might want to remember that when you bring your gun into the country. Make sure it costs less than $301 on your declaration. However, also note that the charging of the tariff is arbitrary. If you do not have a receipt showing USA origin then they might charge you based on whatever they think the gun is worth. So it is best to fabricate (private party) a receipt or have a receipt from the gun dealer. They then will give you (actually the cop) your gun and accessories and you are on your way. By now you will have paid close to $70 to $160 in fees and transportation costs too, along with about 7-12 hours of your time. Apparently these free trade agreements are being improved and soon the USA will not have these limits and evidently there are no limits from guns made in Canada or European Union countries. Just do some research and be sure before you come with your gun.
7. You will have head back accompanied by the carabinero (police officer) who will then get the gun and take it to a testing (shooting) range run by the ejercito (army). The head of operations is named Luis, and you will want to make sure that Luis knows that you are giving authorization to the carabinero to pick up your gun for you. You leave it with them for about a week and they test it for a cost of about $9 plus time and transportation of another $25. Unless the gun is new, the authorities will want to ensure that the gun works property. Basically, you leave the receipt that the testing center guy gives you with the cop and give the cop 30,000 pesos in advance to pay for all the tramites and fees, including his ride back to pick up your gun for you. He will give you your change later.
8. After the police officer gets your gun for you, he will keep it in his office until you:
(a) pass the aforementioned psychiatric test and the psychiatrist fills out the form that the carabineros give you for this examination (don’t forget to ask for it from the carabinero! And make sure the shrink also fills out the section pertaining to your vision!),
(b) bring a photocopy of your carnet,
(c) pass a legal and technical knowledge test at the police station (see note below),
(d) pay a US$30 fee, around 13,000 pesos,
(e) get another “Certificado de Antecedents para Fines Especiales” (cost under $2) from the registro civil near you,
(f) and get any notary to give you a “Certificado de Residencia” verifying your address. You might have to bring a utility bill (e.g., gas, electricity, tollway) or your rental/mortgage contract or deed with your name and address on it, or possibly your employment contract. This sworn declaration is not a big deal to get but it will require some time and some small expense.
Note on the test at the police station: be careful, it is not easy. You will need to pass with 75% minimum and know the basic features of Chilean gun legislation and parts of the gun in Spanish, but if you fail you can take it again. Ask the carabinero for the little book Boletín de Instrucciones de los Carabineros de Chile to help you study the “law” in Chile. If you strike up a friendly relationship with the carabineros that attend to you, it is likely that they will help you when you take the test–at least to understand some vocabulary. Take a look at the friendly carabineros who were helping us with our inscripción (registration).
The whole process could take two months to complete the first time through. Subsequent importations and registrations will take as little as 30 days. Don’t complain about the tramite. Always be happy and friendly with them no matter how many times you have to come back to get your gun permit. Always have with you extra photocopies of your carnet. Once you bring in all these forms and payment, you will then be able to inscribir (register) the weapon. After about two days you should be able to take your gun home and have your padrón (license), which is what they call the police permit to have a gun for self-defense in your home. Once you have your padrón, you will have to take it to a key shop (booth) around town or a bookstore (librería) to have it laminated (cost around US$2). In order to legally carry your gun home, the carabineros will also give you a guía de libre tránsito that gives your permission to do so for a certain period of time (a few days). A small fee of less than US$10 is charged for these documents.
No matter what anyone tells you, do all these errands between 9am to 1pm (maybe 2pm) on successive days. Otherwise you will end up going to offices (mainly Calle Vidaurre 1456) when they are closed and have to come back.
Renewal of Registration In order to keep your gun registered, every five years you have to pass again the psychiatric test, pass a legal and technical knowledge test at the police station, and provide another “Certificado de Antecedents para Fines Especiales”.
Registering a Second Gun For personal defense, you are only allowed to have pistols. You can also use shotguns and rifles for self-defense if you have a sportsman’s license. If you want to bring in another pistol and register it the procedures above are exactly the same, except that you will not have to do the psychiatric exam or the technical knowledge examination with the carabineros if you have done them within the last five years. Apparently there are new rules which can require certain redundancy of tests and forms for each specific gun, rather than a general test or policy or form for all your guns. Be sure to check.
Shooting Range Test Certificate of Passing Make sure you also always keep the certificate from the banco prueba (shooting range testing facility) that your gun is in good working condition. The carabineros will give this to you after they pick up your gun for you. Make sure you pay the carabinero 20,000 pesos (US$40) to cover the shooting range fees and his taxi costs to pick up your gun from the shooting range. (The other choice is to get the gun yourself which would involve more expense since you also have to get the carabinero and bring him along.)
Moving Your Gun Around If you ever move, you have to notify the caribineros within 15 days of your new address by bringing them a copy of your carnet and a new “Certificado de Residencia.” You then also have to get a “Guía de Libre Transito” in order to legally carry the gun from your old residence to the new one. The same permission slip must be sought every time you carry your gun to a shooting range to practice. So going shooting costs extra in terms of delays and fees.
Shooting Someone If you shoot someone with a gun that it unregistered you will be charged with a felony even if you are acting in self-defense. If you shoot someone outside your home you still have a penalty even if the gun is registered. Evidently you are only supposed to shoot people with a pistol, even if you have a sportsman’s license with a shotgun in the house. Just bear that in mind in case you have a choice.
Gun Shops You can buy guns, supplies and cartridges on Avenida General Bulnes near Metro República (just west of downtown), which is full of competitors, or on Avenida Vitacura 3568 if you are in the Northeastern section of town. There are also loads of gun shops just south of Metro Moneda on (a) Paseo Bulnes, (b) Calle San Diego, and (c) Avenida Arturo Pratt. Check out this yellow pages listing
for gun shops in Santiago. Many shops are only open until 2pm. Pictured below a a number of gun shops along Paseo Bulnes near Metro Moneda.
How do the costs and hassle compare to buying a new or used gun in Chile? Guns are expensive in Chile and the variety is far more limited than in the USA. Therefore, the more unusual or expensive the gun the more worthwhile it is to go through the hassle. Most Chilean guns are either .38 caliber or 9mm. For comparison, a Beretta Cheetah 9mm
costs US$965 (with the current favorable exchange rate from dollar to peso) and a Glock 19 9mm
or a Glock 17 9mm
costs US$1,000. A Marlin .22
costs US$525. This shop
shows some similar pistols (Taurus, Glock) but does not list any prices, while this store
has the same models for about US$50 more than the first store above plus carries Smith and Wesson and Berreta guns. This store
was selling a CZ .308 rifle for US$875 in 2009. All guns sold in Chile come with warranties. So one can see that for run-of-the-mill .38 cal or 9mm guns, it might not be worth paying US$200+ to import them to Chile. Quality models of Heckler and Koch, Sig Saur, Desert Eagle, and some other handgun brands and high-end models, along with certain rifles or shotguns, are a different story however.
Ammunition By law, you cannot reload ammunition and you may only buy 100 rounds per year, per gun, and not have more than 300 rounds stored at your home. I have no idea how or even if there is any real effort to enforce such legislation. If you buy 100 rounds in December, you can get another 100 rounds in January. The limitations are thus according to calendar year. If you sell your gun, you have to make a report with all sorts of documents to the carabineros–prior to selling it. Pictured below is a box of rounds imported to Chile from the Czech Republic. Ever seen this brand?
If you go to this store
downtown (Paseo Bulnes 277, Metro La Moneda on Línea 1, south side of downtown
), you will save a fair amount compared to armerías in Vitacura or Las Condes on larger calibers (about US$25 for a box of 50 rounds of .45 or .357). Check out the selection of bullets they carry here
. You will have to bring along your padrón and carnet (with a photocopy) in order to buy rounds in Chile, and you will not be able to buy rounds for any caliber other than what is listed on your padrón. Many bullets sold in Chile are not copper-jacketed but feature an exposed, shiny lead tip. So don’t be surprised if you see them. Thus, it is best to make sure that you have great cartridges in your clips before you come. The carabineros will be especially intrigued by nylon-tipped and hollow point cartridges. You might even give them one as a gift!
Be careful about the ammunition you choose to bring into Chile. Hollow point bullets are illegal in Chile–and are termed mata policia (“cop killers”). However, if you do bring in some small quantity (less than 100 rounds) of hollow points, the carabinero might let you keep them anyway. He will admonish you that such bullets are illegal and are not to be used. Of course he knows full well that you might use them if he gives them to you! Nylon-tipped bullets, which are hollow underneath, seem to have no trouble getting through. So bring those ones instead if you can find them.
If you are a member of a gun range and have a sportsman’s license you can buy far more rounds per year (I believe it is ten to fifty times as many rounds). If you buy them at the shooting range they cost less than in the gun stores, and these rounds will presumably be used at the range making their regulation less strict. To join a gun range costs roughly 180,000 pesos (US$400) for one-time registration and 180,000 pesos (US$400) again per year, payable monthly. The main range is located 25 minutes north of Santiago and is open to members every weekend for as many hours as one cares to use the facility. It is used exclusively by the military during the week. One has to be invited by a member in order to join. The cost is high but being part of the range and getting the sportsman’s license has some important benefits: (1) one can register up to eight pistols, shotguns, and rifles, (2) one may transport his guns anywhere in Chile and also into Argentina without getting a (US$15) Guia de Libre Tránsito each time, (3) one can buy much more ammunition, usually at a lower cost, and (4) one will have a great shooting range to use, personal training, competitions, and contacts within the club for trading guns. So one will have to decide whether it is worth paying to join the club. Apparently, competing clubs all charge similar fees.
If you go to a gun shop (armería), a box of 50 shells or “bullets” (balas or tiros) will cost around US$25 to US$50, depending on the caliber, with .44 and .45 being the rarest and most expensive and 9mm and .38 being the cheapest (other than .22). That means ammunition costs at least double the price as it does in the USA. When few stores have the larger calibers in stock, the price will raise to US$40 per box, even in the cheaper part of town! As a matter of fact, you will be wishing for the happy days of walking into Wal-Mart and buying shells over the counter for a cheap price. The process is slightly more complicated in Chile. First of all, unless you eventually get a Sportsman’s gun license, you will be limited to purchasing only 100 rounds per year, per caliber (maximum of two), and you will only be allowed to legally store 300 rounds of each caliber. The store owners comply with the legislation and make sure that you have permission prior to buying your rounds.
The in-store procedure is as follows: (1) find a store that carries your size of ammunition, (2) pay for it, (3) get a form from the shop owner that has to be taken to the National Defense Ministry on Calle Vidaurre 1456 (near all the gun shops), which may close as early as 12:45p.m., (4) get the form stamped, paying a fee of 1,000 pesos (US$2) to do so, (5) return to the gun shop, give them the form, and get your bullets (balas). See, I told you that you would appreciate Wal-Mart! At least your purchase of rounds in Chile can be done in just 2 or 3 hours.
While most Americans will be nonplussed by Chilean gun and ammunition ownership requirements, and for good reason, consider again how many countries in the world will allow one to own an H&K .40 cal. with 300 rounds and a Sig Saur .357 magnum with 300 rounds? The answer is: “not many.” So be content with that fact. Chile is not perfect.
Consular Contact in the USA You might want to contact España Berríos at the Chilean consulate in Miami about bringing a gun (firstname.lastname@example.org). You might be more comfortable carrying an email from her in case someone in Chile questions you. But the information you have on this blog is certainly far more thorough and complete than any information she will have.
Note: Before going to the authorities to pass your test to register your guns in Chile, be sure to have your Evalución Psicofísica para Armas completed, signed and certified by a Chilean psychiatrist, and bring a photocopy of your carné (Chilean ID card) and a printout of the criminal record from the Registro Civil (called a certificado de antecedents para fines especiales). Then they will let you take the written exam (that should be studied for prior to going by reading this link:http://www.dgmn.cl/transparencia/nuevas/A%20CARTILLA%20FINAL.pdf).
Chile has a new sustainable community starting called Freedom Orchard
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. You can also join the thousands of other people who download the shows each month via the link provided on the ORN website
(recorded show updated every Monday morning). Be sure, too, to visit www.allaboutchile.com
for discussion and forums about the country.
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