If you are eligible for residency in Uruguay, you are eligible to retire to Uruguay. It’s important to highlight that at the outset. There are also no special requirements—and no special benefits—for retirees. So if you haven’t already, please read our article on ‘Living in Uruguay: Residency and moving’ before reading further.
In this interview, Karen A Higgs, founder of Guru’Guay, grills lawyer Francesca Magno who leads the residency team at Andersen, with questions from Guru’Guay readers exploring retirement. Readers want to know if they need to pay taxes on pensions, if overseas rental income is good for getting residency, if it’s easy to open a bank account, if 65 is too late to enroll in healthcare and one couple asks if they need to get married—after 21 years together—before retiring to Uruguay. Francesca assures them Uruguay is not out to change their lifestyle. So let’s dive in.
Watch the interview
This article is based on the interview and has been edited for brevity and clarity.
This question is related to the income requirement for residency. This person says, “I’m 64, live in Panama and have three apartments. I want to sell one and rent out the other two for income. And the income’s going to be for those two apartments about 1,500 US dollars per month.” So he asks, “can I apply and get residency with this setup?”
As we discussed in our previous interview on residency, there are no set income requirements and proof of income is reviewed case by case. But with this information, as rental income is accepted as a proof of income here in Uruguay, I would say yes.
What kind of documentation would they need to show?
The rental contract. It will be important that the contract stipulates the term of the lease because the proof of income will be valid for that time.
Does it need to be translated into Spanish?
We do that for our clients. If they were doing the process by themselves, the contract cannot be presented as is. It will need to go to a notary who will prepare a proof of income certificate. The notary will need that contract translated and apostilled. So, the notarial certificate is what is presented to the national migration office—not the original document from abroad.
Ah, the famous apostille that we went into in the previous video on residence and relocation.
Another question. This reader asks, “I’m about to retire in Italy. When I move to Uruguay, will I need pay tax on my foreign pension?”
As a resident receiving a pension from abroad, she will not have to pay tax on her pension. Being a legal resident is not linked to taxation. You will talk specifically about taxation in Uruguay and tax residency in other videos with Federico and Juan. But foreign pensions are not subject to taxation.
This reader is from the US and she asks, “how do I get my social security transferred from the US?”
When you present proof of income to authorities, you must explain where you’re going to receive it. So you have two options: either you access your pension from your home bank using an international debit card, or you open a bank account here in Uruguay.
And how easy is it to open a bank account?
It is very easy. The banks we work with ask for the person’s identity document—a passport, or your Uruguayan ID card. Usually you open an account before you start your residency process, so you’ll likely present your passport. They will ask for documentation proving the origin of the funds, a letter of reference from your bank abroad and a proof of address in Uruguay.
And the good news for somebody coming from the US is that it is standard for Uruguay banks to open accounts in pesos and in dollars as well. So they will get their income directly in dollars.
So this reader says, she can’t get to Uruguay until she’s over 65 and she’s worried she’s going to be too old to enroll in affordable healthcare. And so I was wondering if you could advise about her options.
As we already talked about in our interview on residency and relocation, Uruguay has very good healthcare, and there are several options. If she’s over 65 and she’s retiring here in Uruguay, she can apply for private health insurance. She should expect a medical checkup and to pay a higher premium depending on the healthcare institution.
We always recommend, whenever you’re thinking about coming here to retire, to talk about this with us at the very beginning so we can put you in contact with different institutions and you can consider your options.
Okay. The important cutoff point is up to 70 years old.
This couple has been together for 21 years, and they ask, “should we get married before retiring to Uruguay?”
Uruguay gives equal treatment to everyone—we don’t mind if you are married, single, divorced or whatever!
So it’s up to you basically. It could be very useful for your proof of income for your residency process. Why? Because if you present your marriage certificate, you only need to show one proof of income which, as a couple, you will use to support one another.
Something to mention, is that if you apply for residency as a married couple, your files will be “stuck together” i.e. you will have joint files. So your applications will move along together. On the flipside, they could also be delayed together.
So there are pros and cons.
And the last question, “once living in Uruguay as a retired foreigner,” Anne-Marie asks, “am I legally permitted to do any kind of paid work, such as classes or workshops?”
Her residency file will show that she’s retired from abroad. However, Uruguay gives equal treatment to nationals and foreigners regarding labour regulations. Once she’s in Uruguay, she is allowed to do paid work, with the proper paperwork in order. So, if she’s offering classes, she would have to register at the tax office as a sole trader, or unipersonal, and invoice for her services.