Europeans are increasingly choosing Uruguay as a country of immigration. In the first six months of this year, 52,277 Union citizens applied for a residence permit in the smallest Spanish-speaking country in South America.
On the other hand, from the beginning of the pandemic until now, Argentines have accounted for 60 percent of the residence permits requested to settle in Uruguay.
In 2021, 14,926 procedures were initiated to obtain Uruguayan citizenship. This is more than forty per day and an increase of 44 percent compared to 2020.
Among the settlements favored by Europeans are Maldonado, Punta del Este and other areas such as José Ignacio and Garzón.
According to El Observador, the new immigrants come mainly from Germany, Belgium, France, Holland, Italy, Sweden, England, Switzerland, Spain, Poland, and the Czech Republic.
According to Francesca Magno, immigration law specialist and current head of the Residency and Immigration Department at “Andersen Uruguay,” this phenomenon is due to the tax benefits offered by the government, the ease of adaptation to society, and the quality of life in Uruguay, among other factors.
Among the immigrants who come to the country, there is a particular profile, that of those who want to retire from professional life and find peace of mind.
According to Magno, Uruguay is “spectacular” for this group: “There is an excellent quality of life – among other things, a wide cultural and gastronomic offer – an excellent level of health and many opportunities for investment with tax benefits.”
Given the increasing popularity of remote work, many Europeans have chosen to move to Uruguay while continuing their work, as they find in this country a good educational offer for their children.
The director of the Admissions Office of the International University in Punta del Este affirmed that there had been an increase in the arrival of students from Belarus, Germany, Russia, and Spain in recent months.
HOW TO BECOME A RESIDENT OF URUGUAY
Make sure you start getting everything together before you travel:
- Birth certificate – must be apostilled/legalized* in your country of birth. Once you arrive in Uruguay, get it translated by an official Uruguayan public translator. Any other translation won’t be accepted.
- Marriage certificate – It must be apostilled/legalized in the country where the marriage occurred. As above, once in Uruguay, go to an official public translator to get the translation.
- Criminal records – Before you arrive, apply for certificates from the police in your country of birth and any other country where you’ve lived for the last five years, establishing that you have no prior criminal record. These also have to be apostilled/legalized and translated.UPDATE The criminal record report must be a maximum of 6 months old when it is filed. This is a more relevant factor in light of the current delay in getting an appointment – see below. USA nationals do not need to get a criminal record report as they can get one from Interpol in Montevideo.
- Income – You’ll need to show evidence of a minimum monthly income, the source of that income (such as your retirement pension, the rental of property in Uruguay or abroad), and that the income is being paid into an Uruguayan bank account. A ballpark figure for a minimum income for a single person could be around 1,500 USD. An Uruguayan public notary will need to certify it.
- A passport-style photo
- A vaccination certificate that the Uruguayan Ministry of Public Health recognizes. Adults must have had the MMR and a current tetanus shot. You can get vaccinated in many local hospitals if you have not had these or cannot prove it. Children must have the same vaccinations as Uruguayan children. Note that is absolutely essential to file this certificate at the initial interview. See all vaccine requirements
- Health card (carné de salud) You get this in Uruguay. Most private hospitals and clinics provide medical cards. At a private clinic, you make an appointment, and the process takes about 15 minutes and costs around 70 USD. The state provides health cards for free (go to the Ministerio de Salud Pública, Durazno 1242, Montevideo) but you can expect to spend a long time waiting around in rather run-down surroundings (and don’t expect anyone to speak English).
Note: The documentation required by Mercosur nationals is different from the above.
Without going into detail, this can involve getting the country authority to confirm that this is an original document or copy of one and then going to the nearest Uruguayan consulate for them to confirm that the stamp from the country authority is indeed what it says it is.
The most important residence requirement of all when immigrating to Uruguay
The Uruguayan immigration office (Migraciones) applies the criteria of “intent to reside permanently” to all applicants.
And they actively examine immigration records. If they see that a person has come into Uruguay, filed for residence, and then immediately left and has not come back, or has filed but is out of the country most of the time and not really living in Uruguay, then they will reject the application.
How does the residency application process work, and how long does it take?
You can book an appointment to file for residency in advance. At the time of writing, appointments are being given for four months.
To get a head start, you can apply without all the documents mentioned, as long as you have them ready within a few months. The minimum documentation to apply is the passport, vaccination certificate, and photo.
Once you’ve applied for a residence, you’ll receive a temporary Uruguayan ID card known as a cedula.
Assuming that you can file all the necessary papers within a few months of the original filing and you meet the requirement to actually live in the country–with only temporary short-term absences–, then you may receive the application for permanent residence within around one year (though this may vary).
Residency applicants for nationals who need a visa to enter Uruguay
If you are from a country where you need a (tourist) visa to get into Uruguay, you should know that getting your visa is probably the hardest part of the process.
Professional firms are not allowed to act as sponsors for visitors, making it hard to find a sponsor unless you have personal contacts.
Usually, a sponsor needs to be an Uruguayan national who is prepared to go to the immigration office and sign a sworn declaration that they will be responsible for the person while they are in the country and will ensure they leave.
However, always check the actual requirements for a tourist visa at your nearest Uruguayan consulate. They may vary.
Should you apply for residency yourself or get a professional to do it for you?
Getting permanent residence status in Uruguay is not hard in terms of the general requirements, especially if we compare it to other countries. But it is heavy on red tape.
The process takes place in Spanish; if you speak nothing or very little, you must attend appointments with an interpreter.
If you speak little or no Spanish or don’t have much time or live far from the immigration office, a professional adviser will make the immigration process much less painful and generally faster.
At times the authorities make life difficult for applicants. For instance, calling them in for very minor matters. That is not a problem for a professional firm dealing with several client applicants.
But for a private individual who may live a long way from the immigration office, that can be a waste of time and money.