Arguably the principal claimant to the “Switzerland of the Americas” Crown, just pipping Costa Rica to the post, Uruguay is a small, understated nation at first glance. With great inspection, what you will see is a success story of socioeconomic policy over a timescale of just over a century which has made the most of the country’s manageable borders and population in order to roll out some of the most consistently liberal and inclusive policies in the whole region. The country boasts comprehensive healthcare, fantastic infrastructure and competitive salaries to boot. As well as being a welcoming and comfortable place for its proud citizens, Uruguay is an ideal place to settle a business. 

Ideally cradled between the powerful arms of Argentina and Brazil, it is a perfect place to launch products into these colossal from the comfort of Montevideo’s gorgeous beaches and boutique cafés. Uruguay has also emerged as a leader in service-based sectors, redefining boundaries along the way on what innovation and sustainability can achieve. This article will walk you through how to land in Uruguay as a businessman or woman and gain residency.

Visas in Uruguay

Uruguay offers different types of VISAs to foreign citizens, including the following: 
a) Temporary residency
b) Mercosur residency
c) Definitive legal residency
d) Residence for retired foreigner or pensioner

Obtaining the permanent legal resident VISA is an administrative process that is performed before the National Immigration Office (Oficina Nacional de Migración) when a foreigner wishes to reside temporarily or permanently in Uruguay. The process is different – it is more agile- especially if you’re a  member of Mercosur. 

The residence permit will allow you to legally work in Uruguay. Permanent residency can only be granted in Uruguay to those who live in the country and can show that they have spent time in the country (exceeding 2 years) This is known as ‘intent to reside’. During the processing time, it is recommended to spend at least six months within the country. The processing time runs at about 12-18 months. Once the application is submitted, you are allowed to spend an indefinite amount of time in the country, regardless of whether or not residency status has been granted.

Uruguay has very immigration-friendly policies, and people can enter the country on a tourist visa, and they are generally able to convert this into a work or business visa if they meet the requirements. 

General Visa Requirements in Uruguay

Obtain Residency in Uruguay

Uruguay has a bustling services sector

You’ll have to apply in person at the Dirección Nacional de Migración in Montevideo. The general requirements for either type of application are as follows:

  • One passport-size photo
  • Photocopies and the original of the identity card
  • The exact date on which the individual entered the country
  • A health certificate issued by the Health Department of Uruguay
  • A police clearance certificate from your country of origin
  • A birth and/or marriage certificate
  • The entry/departure card
  • An original and copy of your passport
  • Certify livelihood requirements vary according to the activities performed
  • Accredit intention to stay in the country

All foreign documents must be apostilled and translated into Spanish (Uruguay’s national language). It might also help to know some Spanish yourself if you are looking to relocate or to have an immigration lawyer who can help translate and assist with your immigration. 

Visa Processing Application 

The Procedure starts online, the requested information is added, the appointment is scheduled and a fee is paid. The web system confirms the start of the procedure and two transaction numbers, a) GUID identifier, by means of which the citizen can access the monitoring portal and identify its procedure and, b) the Simple Processing Identifier, by which its procedure can be identified in its inbox through the ID number.

Then it must be presented at the National Immigration Office on the day and time scheduled at the beginning of the application. They will be communicated through the contact email once the document has been issued.

Once the corresponding documentation is registered, you must go to the National Directorate of Civil Identification (Dirección Nacional de Identificación Civil) for the processing of the Uruguayan Identity Card (DNI O CI), which will be granted transitory until the definitive approval.

Obtain Residency in Uruguay

A fiery sunset is seen from the business and political capital of Uruguay, Montevideo

Final Steps in the Process

Finally and after having been notified by mail of the obtainment of the definitive legal residence, it is necessary to register the birth certificate (Certificado de Nacimiento) apostilled in the Civil Registry (Registro Civil), prior to the processing thereof in the National Civil Identification Office. The necessary documentation includes the following:

  1. Document with which you entered the country (normally your passport.
  2. Health Card issued in Uruguay.
  3. Criminal Record Certificate (from the country of origin and where he resided for the last 5 years), duly legalized and translated if applicable, the certificate can be processed in Uruguay in case of not having it.
  4. Birth certificate and/or marriage (Temporary Mercosur Residences and in the case of underage).
  5. Livelihoods (Temporary Mercosur Residence is excepted).

All documents must be apostilled or legalized by the corresponding Uruguayan Consulate and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Uruguay (Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores en Uruguay)

From the beginning of the procedure, it takes approximately one year until the definitive legal residence can be obtained, with the issuance of a migratory certificate to be presented to the National Directorate of Civil Identification in order to process the ID as a legal resident, which is renewed every 3 years.

To start the process you must do it personally. Then, through a power of attorney certified by a notary public, you can authorize a third person (normally a local lawyer) to perform all the necessary steps.

How do I get involved?

If the prospect of living and working in Uruguay has tickled your fancy, you are undoubtedly going to need some guidance in getting your residency, as well as to incorporate your Uruguayan company. Biz Latin Hub is the ideal team to support you through these somewhat complicated processes, having helped hundreds of clients in over 12 Latin America Jurisdictions. Our talented legal and accounting team will be able to answer any questions you send their way via [email protected]

For more information on doing business Latin America, check out the video below: