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Uruguay Visa, Residency, and Citizenship Information

A split image with a Uruguayan passport on the left and a visa stamp on the right.

Visas And Residency In Uruguay

U.S. citizens may enter Uruguay without a visa and remain in the country as a tourist for a maximum of 90 days per trip. If you wish to stay longer than 90 days, you need to seek permission to remain in the country.

Uruguay offers a number of advantages as a place of residency and as a tax domicile. Foreign residents have the same rights as Uruguayan citizens and Uruguay does not tax worldwide income. The process for obtaining residency is fairly straightforward, with low qualifying thresholds.

The first thing to know about obtaining residency in Uruguay is that you initiate the process after you’ve arrived in the country, rather than at an overseas consulate. This is not the case in many countries and makes it much easier for you. You can come to Uruguay as a tourist and decide to stay. To start the residency process, you submit a request to Immigration, stating your intent to remain in Uruguay for the purpose of becoming a resident. This request should be approved in about two weeks, and the request alone allows you to overstay your tourist visa entry. You must be in the country legally at the time of request.

Once your request is approved, you’ll need to obtain a police background check, get a medical exam, and provide evidence of your required income. At this time, you must have an income of at least US$500 per month. After you’ve turned everything in, you’ll be able to obtain a temporary national ID card known as a cédula. This cédula will entitle you to most everything that’s available to residents and citizens. When your final approval is granted, your cédula will be renewed to show that you are a resident. You can come and go freely, and no annual registration is required.

The most common type of residency visa is the rentista (a rentista is someone who has income from outside Uruguay). Another popular type of visa is the foreign retiree’s visa available under Law 16.340. The advantage of this visa is that you can get a non-citizen Uruguayan passport after obtaining residency, without the usual wait time. In addition to these two visas, others are available for business owners, independent entrepreneurs, employees, and religious workers.

Residency in Uruguay can lead to a second passport and dual citizenship in this country after three to five years of residency, but there is a language test requirement in which you must prove that you speak Spanish.

Citizenship in Uruguay

Five years after filing for residency in Uruguay, you are eligible to apply for citizenship. This time requirement drops to three years for families applying together.

One important distinction is that the five or three years are counted from when you filed for residency and not from when you were approved. In order to be approved, you shouldn’t be out of the country for more than six straight months during your time as a resident, which you will need to renew every three years.

In order to receive residency status, you must be able to show proof of sufficient income to support yourself in Uruguay. Yes, this is a vague definition, which means the authorities are left with a lot of discrepancy in who they accept or decline.

You can apply for pensionado status six months after being approved for residency if you invest US$100,000 in real estate or Uruguay treasuries (which you must hold for 10 years to maintain your status) and have US$1,500 in income per month. One interesting difference in Uruguay that isn’t seen in the other countries in this article is that you will receive a passport once approved as a pensionado resident. But don’t be confused: You are not a citizen, and your passport is not a regular passport. You can use it to enter and exit Uruguay, but other countries will only accept it on error of their border guards who don’t recognize that it is not a citizen’s passport.

You’ll need to pass an oral interview in Spanish dealing with Uruguay culture and history, but the questions—and answers—are known in advance. And, best of all, a Uruguay passport gives you visa-free access to nearly 140 countries.

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