Overland Chile Travel

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[edit] Visiting Chile

Chile is a very beautiful and safe country, and is very much enjoyed by Overlanders. The borders are easy, safety is not a concern and there is a lot to see and do. Distances are huge so expect to travel many miles. The amazing mountains of the south, where it can be very cold give you forests, amazing lakes, glaciers and active volcanoes. The middle is warmer with forest and wine plantations. The north is more like desert and dry and hot. Amazing beaches. The sea life is abundant and the salt lakes of Atacama are very picturesque.

[edit] Entering Chile with a Car or Motorbike

Correct as of: November 2013

[edit] Required Paperwork

[edit] Process at border

(For people, see Chile Visa and Passport requirements at the World Travel Guide)

  • The owner of the vehicle gains entry at Immigration (Migración), including a stamp in their Passport.
  • The owner must show the new passport stamp and original vehicle registration to Customs (Aduana).
  • The owner is issued a temporary import permit for the vehicle.

Mind you that if you cross from Argentina in the south of Chilli, you are not allowed to carry fresh meat , diary, even eggs. So consume them beforehand. You could hide them, but some border officials know where to look so better not take the chance.

[edit] Cost of entry


[edit] Permitted length of stay

The same as the owner, commonly 90 days.

[edit] Extension of stay

It is possible to extend your stay by visiting the aduana in Chile, or emailing them. But make sure that you extend it before the original permit runs out.

[edit] Storing a vehicle and temporarily leaving the country

In Chile it is possible to store a vehicle and to leave the country without it, as long as you are back before the permitted length of stay for car and owner runs out.

[edit] Exiting with a vehicle

  • The registered owner presents the temporary import paper to customs.
  • The registered owner is stamped out of Chile at immigration.

[edit] Driving in Chile

[edit] Insurance requirements

Insurance is mandatory in Chile, and Police will most likely ask to see it at some point. It's common to buy a policy that covers multiple countries in South America.

[edit] Cost of insurance

The obligatory SOAT costs about $11,000.00 CLP per year for a Chilean car - unsure whether it's different for a foreign car. 6 months may be the minimum period one can purchase SOAT.

For extended insurance, there is a Mercosur car insurance that covers most of the Mercosur countries. It costs $30.00 USD per month. It's the most basic type, covering only the car and people who are in a collision caused by the insured.

[edit] Where to purchase insurance

We purchased it at a Terpel petro station, which had a small insurance office attached. Falabella wouldn't sell insurance to foreigners when we tried in 2013.

[edit] Driving license

Technically an International Driving Permit is required.
In reality, showing a license from anywhere in the world seems to be good enough.

[edit] Driving side of road

As recently as 2014, some Right hand drive vehicles have been denied entry, specifically at Southern border crossings and when shipping into Chile. Technically, this law is illegal, but a few overlanders have been denied entry, and there isn't really anything you can do. RHD vehicles proceed with caution.

[edit] Mandatory items in vehicle


[edit] Roads

[edit] General Road quality

Roads in Chile are of excellent quality. All major highways are paved, marked with lines and well signed. Local roads could be excellent too, however always watch for possible potholes which at times are not so infrequent in Los Lagos area. Watch for loose or herded domestic animals on the roads.

[edit] Road signs

Signs are very frequent and common, even on primitive roads.

[edit] Toll roads

The number of tolls from Santiago to Puerto Montt is about 10 on Ruta 5 (Panamericana). As of November 2013 a toll charge for a passenger car was $4.20 USD on most toll points. Farther south from Santiago the toll drops a bit to $4.00 USD, then $2.00 USD, and at Puerto Montt toll point it's $1.00 USD. Also, there are Exit tolls which are normally about $1.00 USD. Do not discard Ruta 5 toll receipt before you exit it; sometimes they will not charge toll for exiting because your Ruta 5 toll receipt could be accepted as payment as you may not have driven a long distance from the previous Ruta 5 toll. Try to have always exact change.

In Santiago, the toll roads are much faster. Traffic is quite awful. Here is how to pay for the toll roads:

1) Day passes - Use the roads, then pay later. Payment within 3 days of usage is cheaper. Not sure where to pay though, Copec perhaps - anyone to add? - Buy a day pass at the gas station, Copec, then use the roads. It costs roughly $5,000.00 CLP to $6,000.00 CLP per day. - See more here from the official guys.

2) Tag (electronic beeper) - not sure if this works for non-Chilean cars - Buy a tag at one of the offices. There is one in the metro underground area of estacion Universidad de Chile. For a Chilean car, they needed our RUT and passport only. - It's cheaper than the day passes, but quite a bit of hassle to get it. Get it if you will drive around Santiago for many days. - See more here from the official guys.

[edit] Vehicle Ferries

Naviera Austral operates many ferries to help travelers get South into the Carretera Austral. They have a helpful office in Puerto Montt [1] A ferry transfer from mainland to Chiloé Island or back costs 10500 pesos (21 USD) one way. You pay the fee on the ferry upon entering. You cannot pay for a round trip. The crossing takes some 30 min.

[edit] Bribery in Chile

Bribery is not common in Chile, though it does happen. Do not assume a Police officer is trying to bribe you, as he may take offense, making the situation worse.
See the bribery tips page for advice.

[edit] Checkpoints

There are no Check Points (at least between Santiago and Chiloé) where the police stop you just to check your papers. There are control stations, traffic random monitoring points or road patrols. Carabineros de Chile control stations do not happen as often as toll points. There are advance sings on the right side of the road warning that the Carabineros control station will be in 500 meters. In the middle of the road there will be a shield shaped sign with two crossed rifles on green backdrop. On those control points there could be a police car with a speed radar. Normally, carabineros do not hide to radar you but once I did see a green police car right behind the hill top. Carabineros control stations at local roads are rare but highway patrols can be seen here and there. While cruising, the police vehicles have their roof top red lights flashing but this is just to let you know they are there, it’s not that they are on an emergency call.

[edit] Traveling with pets

List the entry requirements and anything else required to travel with a pet.

[edit] Gas and Diesel price in Chile

Last updated: November 2013

Currency and unit to display:

Gasoline Grade Price
Regular - 93 octane $811.00 CLP per Liter
Super - 95 octane $817.00 CLP per Liter
Premium - 97 octane $823.00 CLP per Liter
Diesel Ultra $661.00 CLP per Liter
Diesel  ??

[edit] Gas and Diesel Availability / Frequency

Gasoline shortages are not common, and gas stations are frequent, except in the extreme South and North of the country.

[edit] Gas and Diesel Quality

Gasoline and Diesel are generally thought of as high quality, and very high octane gasoline for performance cars is usually available.

[edit] Safety and Security Considerations

[edit] Driving at night

Driving at night is not typically thought of as a problem.

[edit] Vehicle parking

Parking vehicles on the street towns during the day and at night is typically OK. Find a secure parking lot in the biggest cities.

[edit] Special driving considerations


[edit] Security advisories and information

[edit] Camping in Chile

Camping is becomming more common in Chile, and as such campgrounds can usually be found in touristy areas. Many Overlanders road-side camp in the remote parts of Chile.
Price for organized campsites is Unknown.

In Santiago, the Hostel International on 151 Cienfuegos, centrally located near metro station Los Heroes, has a big parking lot with no height or width issues for most overlanding vehicles.

[edit] Camping guide books

List and link to books specifically for camping.

[edit] Drinking water

Tap water in almost all of Chile is safe to drink. Ask a local to be certain.

[edit] Navigation

[edit] Paper maps

Very high quality road maps of Chile can be purchased in gas stations and book stores throughout the country.

[edit] GPS Maps of Chile

  • Open Street Map: Appears to have good coverage.[2]
  • Garmin: "Most urban areas with intertown roads".[3]
  • TomTom: Amount of coverage not listed. [4]
  • Proyecto Mapear has great coverage and version 10.0 also includes Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia and Paraguay [5]

[edit] GPS co-ordinates for camping, propane, gas, repairs, etc. in Chile

[edit] Special Overland Travel interests

  • The extreme southern end of the Carretera Austral (Route 7) is highly regarded among Overlanders and well worth the drive. The road is a dead end at Villa O’Higgins, the extreme Southern end. It is possible to buy extremely expensive gas here, but don't count on it being there. It's necessary to catch a ferry to get all the way to the end, these ferries run year-round.

[edit] Guide Books

[edit] Vehicle Maintenance

[edit] Dealers

4x4s / Trucks


[edit] Local Garages

Add known good mechanics here.

[edit] Buy or sell a car or motorbike in Chile

Foreigners can purchase and register vehicles in Chile, and drive them to any country they choose without limits.
Here is a blog entry giving advice about buying a vehicle in Chile in 2013 to drive North. kiwi-panamericana.com:Buying a car in Chile

The process is long and difficult, but it can be done. A few things to note:

  • If you have a camper or any type of vehicle you can sleep in, when you enter Chile try to get the vehicle type listed as "Camper" on the temporary import papers. This will make it much easier to sell, legally, anywhere in the country.
  • Chile has special "Tax Free Zones" (Zona Franca) (Region XII) (Puerto Natales is a good example) that have different importation laws that the rest of the country. A resident of those zones can legally import a vehicle that is less than 10 years old, though they will have to use a customs agent, deal with a lot of paperwork, pay heavy taxes and fees and the vehicle will be restricted in where in can go within Chile. You will need to find a resident of one of the tax free zones willing to go through the paperwork and expense and sell your vehicle to them. Due to the cost and difficulty, do not expect to receive a large amount for your vehicle.[6] Some people claim to be able to get around the not more than 10 years old rule.

[edit] References

  1. Naviera Austral
  2. OpenStreetMap Chile
  3. City Navigator® South America NT
  4. TomTom Map availability
  5. Proyecto Mapear
  6. Chile Forum - Can I sell my Canadian car in a Zona Franca?

[edit] Helpful External links

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