As the economic and political situation continues to deteriorate in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere, more and more people are starting to begin to understand the benefits of obtaining a second residence or second passport.
France and the US have been among the countries drawing the most attention for this recently, with citizens growing frustrated with the situation in their respective countries, looking for better options overseas.
It’s definitely a respectable endeavor, trying to create a better life for you and/or your loved ones by taking advantage of what other countries have to offer, but being a relatively new topic for most, there are still a lot of misunderstandings and poor etiquette being used in regards to obtaining second residences and passport. Working with foreigners down here in Chile, I see this on a pretty regular basis and thought it might be worthwhile to mention a few pointers.
One thing I hear people saying all the time is that they are coming or going to come to Chile to apply for permanent residency or a passport. In Chile, foreigners can’t apply for permanent residency right off the bat, they need to first have temporary residency or a work permit for a year or two. It’s possible to eventually receive a Chilean passport, but only after years of holding permanent residency.
To make analogy, imagine you’re looking for a job, but instead of walking into an office and saying: “Hi, I’m interested in working here”, you say “Hi, I’m interested in a paycheck”. The paycheck might be what you’re really after, but if you forget to mention the critical step in between, you’ll probably be shown the door much quicker than getting what you were originally after.
When you come to Chile and tell other expats, local Chileans (and especially immigration officials) that you want permanent residency in the country or a Chilean passport, don’t be surprised to get weird looks and an unpleasant attitude from people.
Even saying you came to Chile to get permanent residency sounds a little ridiculous. Remember, there’s a critical step you’re leaving out there. Why would a foreign government give you residency or citizenship in their country? Normally, it’s because you actually have ties to the country, such as you came there for work, to start a business, etc. When you use this kind of vocabulary, and even include this in your way of thinking, things normally go a lot smoother.
Actually, this raises another point about how common it is for people to look for less than legitimate work contracts here to get the residency ball rolling. They don’t actually want to work in Chile, but need a work contract to get the clock ticking. These aren’t always such horrible options, but often , money could be better spent by arranging your own work contract and actually doing something productive in the country.
Part of the reason why more people don’t do this is that there still really isn’t much of an industry here that assists foreigners with getting things started in the country, and most of those that exist currently charge exorbitant rates (in my humble opinion). For instance, there are relocation services that charge hundreds of dollars just to help you get a RUT number in Santiago.
Getting a RUT is relatively straightforward; however, it’s a lot easier if you have a Spanish speaker to help you fill out the form and show you which office to go to (you have to use the office that corresponds with the local address you will use on the form). It would normally be much cheaper to hire a personal translator for a few hours and have them show you around the city or help you with other things after you apply for the RUT.
There are lots of little tricks like this, from virtual offices for new companies, to creating your own work contract. Finding them can be challenging at first, but with local contacts and some time on the ground, it starts to become increasingly clear when it makes sense to hire services and when it makes sense to just do them yourself.
Darren has been living in Chile, has taken on many interesting projects, and is a great resource for anyone interested in living or investing there. You can connect with him at: www.darrenkaiser.com