Business Advisory, Labour, Mining Tagged

Sending Foreign Workers to Chile – Work Visa or a Work Permit?

Many foreign companies operating in Chile, start off quite small, and require support from their global offices. This is particularly true for companies whose solutions have a technology and/or technical component. It is common to see staff being sent to Chile to assist with commissioning, supervision, technical know-how, etc.

When sending staff to do work in Chile, our clients often ask us whether a work visa or simply a work permit is needed. There are different matters to consider – time frame, costs, the local companies requisites, process formalities, and documentation.

We have provided a brief overview to help companies understand the differences between the two.


Work Permit

If your worker is entering the country for a short period of time, less than 30 days, to provide specific technical services, then the ideal way to proceed is with a work permit.

The worker can simply enter the country with a tourist visa and then exchange it for a work permit. The process is quick, and the documentation needed is rather simple to obtain.

In terms of process, the work permit is applied for online once the worker has arrived. The work permit is granted in 24 to 48 hours, after payment of the government fee which is done also online.  Most will do this from their hotel once they arrive. 

This fee varies depending on your nationality, for example, if you are an Australian citizen, the fee is around USD$2000. However, for Americans or Canadians, it is only a third of that cost.

Once you obtain the work permit, you are allowed to provide services in Chile. Prior to exiting Chile, you will need to remember to exchange your work permit for your tourist visa so that you can exit the country.

In these cases, we generally assist our clients with the steps and documentation needed. Ideally, the process is completed as soon as the worker arrives so we can get them to the job site as quickly as possible.

Work Visa

On the other hand, if the service to be provided by the worker is for a period longer than 90 days, it is better to proceed with the Work Visa. In our experience, it is better to do this from your home country since it will be processed much faster than if you did it locally in Chile.

It would be recommendable that the worker would be hired by your local entity, and form part of the local team for the period that the worker is in the country.

In this case, the process to apply for the work permit is also an online proceeding, which requires a series of documentation and then the payment of a fee. The complete process takes around 2 to 3 months, so you need to take the timeframes into consideration.

Once the worker obtains the work visa, he is entitled to enter the country and provide labor services for the period indicated in the visa, and furthermore, he can obtain a Chilean identity card and the benefits of the social security system.


For short stays, a work permit is fast and easy to complete once the worker arrives in Chile. For longer stays, it is recommended that a work visa is applied for from the home country.

The work visa will allow the worker to come and go. It also gives the worker access to the Chilean identify card which can be useful for contracting local services such as phone, internet, etc. Something that is also useful when staying for an extended period.

In either case, Ax Legal works assists clients with deciding which is the best way for workers to enter the country. We also support clients with putting together the needed documentation and helping them through the online application process.

Ax Legal is an advisory firm that works with foreign companies in Latin America. Our team of legal and commercial advisors have a distinguished track record of helping foreign technology and services companies to grow and operate in Latin America. Over the years, we have worked with starts up, mid-size businesses, and publicly listed companies. The one common factor that connects are clients is that they are leaders in their field, providing innovative technologies and services to the industrial sectors.

To better understand how we can support you in the Region, please contact Cody Mcfarlane at