An article from Escape America Now associate writer Jennifer Bennet…

Santiago, Chile

Chile is a wonderful destination, if you’re ready to escape your dreary domestic routine in America. The capital city features Mediterranean-like weather conditions, with lots of sun, low humidity and comfortable temperature levels. There’s also plenty to do and see, as the country has both mountains and beaches within its borders. The cuisine is hearty and the people are welcoming too – all of which add up to a place where you can truly enjoy life (1).

However, an international move from the U.S. all the way down to Chile, comes with a long list of tasks. Chief among these are getting your belongings moved into the country – which means clearing them through customs. This is requires planning, preparation and knowledge. Otherwise, you could end up experiencing long delays or added fees, which you’d no doubt like to avoid. To help you in your move to far-flung Chile, here is a brief discussion of the information you’ll need to know.

Duties For Household Belongings

Mapocho River in Santiago, Chile

You may want to consider paring down your belongings, before moving to Chile. Not only can this save you a significant amount of money on your shipping costs – it will help you to avoid the import duties and taxes that Chilean customs may impose.

Duty Exemption For First $5,000 of Goods

That said, you’re permitted to import $5,000 USD of household belongings without paying any import duties and taxes (2). You’ll only have to pay a nominal tax, which is just 1% of the CIF value of your shipment – an extremely reasonable rate (3). This is assuming that you have either a Work Visa good for 12 months or more, or a temporary Residence Visa.

If you do not have either one of these documents, then you’ll be charged a 6% duty and a value-added tax (VAT) of 19% – and these rates are calculated based on the CIF value (4). An additional surcharge of 50% may be levied on your used belongings as well (5).

If you’re not already aware, CIF refers to the combined amount of the cost (or value) of your goods, the insurance and freight expenses. Chilean customs also has the authority to value your items, though they will take into account depreciation (6).

Additional Requirements For Exemption

This exemption for your first $5,000 worth of goods imported into Chile, is not a per shipment amount. No matter how many shipments you bring into the country, you’ll only receive a total exemption on $5,000 worth of goods.

You also must import your goods no later than 120 days after relocating to Chile, in order to be eligible for duty exemption (7).

Duty For Non-Exempt Goods

According to one source, for all belongings over this $5,000 value limit – you’ll  be charged 28% of the CIF value in duties and taxes (8). Whether VAT is added to this isn’t clear, so it’s best to confirm this information with Chilean customs. You should also speak with your international moving service, as an experienced company will have detailed and up-to-date knowledge about the importation process.

Regulations For Household Belongings

El Yeso Dam, Chile

Many international shipments use wood packaging material (like crates and pallets) to house, secure and protect your goods. If that’s the case for your shipment – these materials must be fumigated according to ISPM-15 standards. If you fail to do so, then the Agriculture Office in Chile could mandate that a comprehensive fumigation be carried out, before your goods can enter the country.

Though a valid visa or Work Permit is typically needed for importation, if your visa application is still being reviewed – then you may be able to have any under-bonded storage cleared at your home within Chile instead. This doesn’t appear to be a finalized importation, and this must be completed no later than 90 days (9).

Also, though you’re permitted to have an authorized agent act on your behalf to clear your goods through customs – you must already be in the country when this takes place. Customs agents have the authority to inspect your goods, and they choose to do so for most shipments entering Chile. Such examinations will result in both an added fee and a longer clearance time (typically a day at the most).

Additional SAG Inspection

The Agricultural Office in Chile (SAG) also performs inspections of all shipments that contain household belongings. If you’ve included prohibited goods in your shipment, then your case will be judged by the Customs Tribunal. They have the power to seize your prohibited goods. They can also fine you for your infraction, or even have you arrested (10).

Paperwork For Household Belongings

Building Mural in Santiago, Chile

Customs will need to see the appropriate paperwork, before your shipment will be cleared to enter Chile. This includes your passport, a Residence Visa good for at least 12 months and/or a Work Permit. You also need to provide your Original Bill of Lading or Air Waybill, which should detail how many cartons, boxes or items are included in your shipment. The gross weight should be listed on this document as well.

In order for your international shipping company to interact with customs on your behalf, you must provide a Power of Attorney. This grants them permission to do so, and this document must be notarized. An inventory that includes monetary values for your items is also required, and this can be written in Spanish or English (11). Separate inventory lists for each lift van must be provided, and a packing list may also be required (12).

Duties For Vehicles

San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

Unlike at least a portion of your household belongs, duty-free importation of your vehicle is not offered by Chile. You’ll have to pay all the typical duties and taxes, when bringing your vehicle into the country. The exact rate you’ll be charged isn’t clear. According to the reputable Association of International Movers, this will be 27% (though this may just be the rate for Chilean citizens returning to the country) (13). Other sources don’t specify a rate, only that duty exemption is not available (14).

Regulations For Vehicles

Valparaíso, Chile

In contrast to your shipment of household goods, you must be physically present at customs for the importation and clearance process. No used vehicles are permitted for foreigners, including motorcycles. In order to be eligible for importation, your vehicle must be new – and a limit of one vehicle is enforced by Chilean customs (15).

If you’ll be sending your household belongings in the same shipment, then your Original Bill of Lading is required to specify the owner of each. These documents should also have the value and weight of both your vehicle and your household goods in distinct sections. In order to avoid confusion or issues, it’s recommended that you have an Original Bill of Lading for your vehicle and another one for your household items (16).

Paperwork For Vehicles

Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

According to leading international vehicle transporter A1 Auto (as found on this page), you’ll need some specific documentation to clear your vehicle through customs. This includes your passport and Original Bill of Lading. You’ll also have to show a purchase receipt or invoice (the original not a copy), and provide proof of ownership (17). Paperwork that’s suitable likely includes the vehicle’s title and registration from the country of origin, and other sources also list these as necessary documents (18).

Chilean customs will also request your International Police Certificate and your Vehicle Identification Certificate. Both a valid tax receipt and a cost (or perhaps value) certificate are also required (19). You’ll also need to submit a description of your vehicle for customs agents (this must be notarized) (20). Other sources call this document a declaration, and it should include all technical items and the monetary value of the vehicle – though this paperwork may only be needed for used vehicles (21).

A United States driver’s license and international driver’s permit (which haven’t expired) are also mandatory. An Insurance Certificate (or possibly other documents) showing proof of insurance and which lists how much you’ve already paid in premiums is also required (22).




Found on Atlas Int’l “Importing Personal Property Into Chile” page.



Found on Atlas Int’l “Importing Personal Property Into Chile” page.





Found on Atlas Int’l “Importing Personal Property Into Chile” page.





Found on Atlas Int’l “Importing Personal Property Into Chile” page.


Found on Moverscom “Customs Regulations – Chile” page.


-Separate inventory lists for each lift van must be provided:

Atlas Int’l “Importing Personal Property Into Chile” page.

-A packing list may also be required:



Moverscom “Customs Regulations – Chile” page.


Atlas Int’l “Importing Personal Property Into Chile” page.


Moverscom “Customs Regulations – Chile” page.


Atlas Int’l “Importing Personal Property Into Chile” page.



Atlas Int’l “Importing Personal Property Into Chile” page.


Moverscom “Customs Regulations – Chile” page.



Moverscom “Customs Regulations – Chile” page.


Atlas Int’l “Importing Personal Property Into Chile” page.


-An Insurance Certificate is required:

Atlas Int’l “Importing Personal Property Into Chile” page.

-Only states that documents showing proof of insurance and the amount of your premium which you’ve paid are needed:

Moverscom “Customs Regulations – Chile” page.