Living in Uruguay: Planning your move

The essentials to start living in Uruguay—residency, applying for an ID, bringing personal belongings and healthcare.
By Karen A Higgs
Last updated on June 27, 2024
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Most people interested in living in Uruguay are looking for a simpler life and change of pace in a stable society. Whether you are retiring, seeking to open a business in a stable South American economy or plan to move to Uruguay with your family here’s some baseline content you need. And don’t miss our series of interviews with moving to Uruguay relocation experts talking about residency, citizenship, banking, property and more.

Most people thinking of living in Uruguay who have a regular income (more below of what that can be) can meet Uruguay residency requirements. Uruguay does not have an immigration quota and the residency process is very clear. If you comply with the requirements, your residency will be granted.

Residency in Uruguay

Watch our new videos from 2024 on getting residency in Uruguay and the benefits

Applying for residency in Uruguay (embedded above)

The benefits of getting Uruguay residency

To apply, you’ll need a few essential documents: your current passport, recent passport-sized photos, and a document confirming your clean legal history. Additionally, your birth certificate and evidence of financial stability are required. For those married, a marriage certificate is also necessary. Remember, all these papers need an apostille certification. Lastly don’t forget your health card and up-to-date vaccination records to complete your application.

An apostille attests the authenticity of a certain document. If you have a document, like a birth certificate from the USA, and you get it apostilled, it becomes officially recognised in Uruguay. Typically, the apostille is obtained from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the document’s country of origin, although the exact process may vary depending on the country.

Apostilles as a form of authentication issued to documents are only available for use in countries that participate in the Hague Convention of 1961, if your country is not a signatory of this Convention, you get your documents legalised in your country of origin at the Uruguayan consulate there.

Income requirements to live in Uruguay

Securing residency in Uruguay is straightforward when it comes to income requirements. You must demonstrate your financial stability through a proof of regular, monthly income. This could include an employment contract, pension statements, foreign rental lease agreements, or company dividends. The purpose isn’t for taxation; rather, Uruguay wants to know that newcomers can maintain their standard of living without financial stress.

The baseline financial requirement aligns with Uruguay’s minimum wage, currently set at approximately 20.000 Uruguayan pesos. However, given that Uruguay’s cost of living is relatively high, the government advises a monthly income exceeding 1.500 USD for individuals. For couples, the recommended combined income is about 2.500 USD per month.

Getting your Uruguayan ID

With the right documentation, you can receive a provisional Uruguayan ID (known as a cédula in Spanish), on the same day as your interview at the National Migration Office. The next step involves a visit to the National Direction of Identification (DNIC), where a photo and fingerprints are taken to finalise the ID process.

Appointments for the ID can be arranged online by uploading the necessary documents to the government’s official residency webpage, making a payment, and selecting an available date. The National Migration Office has headquarters in the Old City in Montevideo, and many branches nationwide, offering flexibility for applicants touring the country, with options to visit offices in tourist spots like Punta del Este or Colonia.

To streamline the process, ask to schedule appointments at both the National Migration Office and the DNIC for the same day. Then you can obtain your provisional cédula immediately.

A definitive cédula is issued once residency is confirmed.

Watch this video from 2024 to find out current waiting times and how to make your process as fast as possible.

For residents-in-process, travelling outside Uruguay requires a re-entry permit to be able to travel to and from the country. Frequent travellers should request a permit to cover multiple entries over a year. You get the permit through the National Migration Office, either personally or via a legal representative.

Healthcare and vaccines in Uruguay

Uruguay has a comprehensive healthcare system with various options tailored to different needs. Business owners and employees in Uruguay can enrol in the national healthcare system, FONASA, which offers access to a selection of private healthcare providers, known as mutualistas. Children are included in their parents’ health plan till the age of 21.

If you are not eligible for FONASA, there are numerous, solid private health insurance options. As a foreigner who has not paid into the system, it’s fair to only use the public health system (ASSE) as a last resort. 

Vaccination requirements for residency in Uruguay are straightforward. Adults born before 1967 need diphtheria and tetanus vaccines, while those born after require DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough) and MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccines. Children under 18 must have all vaccinations mandated for Uruguayan children so that they can attend school, ensuring the community’s health and safety.

Bringing your belongings to Uruguay

New residents have the opportunity to import their personal belongings duty-free. The key timeframe for this advantage is a six-month window that begins when you are considered to have settled in the country—not when residency is officially granted. Given that circumstances may change—residency procedures can extend or unforeseen events—consider hiring a moving company. That way you ensure compliance within the six-month period.

We’ve been hearing foreigners complain it’s impossible to get Uruguay residency

That makes us think that they didn’t use a specialist. It may be tempting to save money, but as someone who took four years (yes, four) to get my residency—because I speak Spanish and (foolishly) decided to do it alone—we recommend a number of companies that can help you get your residency in one year or even faster.

Watch them here and learn who they are and why we selected them to work with you.

Photo by Juan Antúnez on Unsplash
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