Uruguay citizenship: How to get, how long it takes & who can apply

An award-winning relocation expert advises you how to navigate the Uruguay citizenship process and the requirements for it.
By Clara for Guru’Guay
Uruguay citizenship: How to get, how long it takes & who can apply
Last updated on May 29, 2024

Dealing with bureaucracy when applying for Uruguay citizenship can look daunting at first. We talked with Laura Canepa of Mobility LC, an award winning relocation specialist, to help you easily navigate the Uruguay citizenship process and get your Uruguay passport.

This information is taken from a longer interview. We recommend you watch it for full details.

Requirements for Uruguay citizenship

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Proof of nationality such as your birth certificate in the Uruguay format (ie registered with Uruguayan authorities) or your Uruguay Resident ID
  • Proof of residency as certified by the Uruguayan immigration office for at least three years for married couples and “familias constituidas” (this could be a single parent, or a couple formally living together) and at least five years for single applicants
  • Proof of involvement and integration within Uruguayan society such as having a job or being part of a sports club, school reports in the case of children
  • Proof of identity and testimonies from two witnesses confirming your identity
  • Proof of economic sustenance or income, such as bank statements to show you have the means to get by
  • Basic Spanish, enough to be able to have a fairly fluid conversation with the interviewer, understand the information being requested, and explain yourself thoroughly when asked questions regarding your stay in the country, family history and intentions.

The Uruguay citizenship interviews

The personal interview Two civil servants from the Corte Electoral (the Ministry in charge of elections) spend approximately an hour and a half with you. One asks the questions while the other takes notes. When the interview is done, a written statement is shown to you regarding the information you provided. Applicants must read and confirm that the information recorded is what they said during the interview and that everything was understood correctly by the civil servants, especially dates.

The witness interviews After this solo interview, your two witnesses are called for interview. Applicants are not present. The witnesses can be friends or acquaintances. They cannot be your relatives, employers or employees, your lawyer or notary, members of public enforcement, the army, or civil servants working in the court. They need to have a valid Uruguayan voting document (called a Credencial Cívica) and must be over 25 years of age.

“The idea of your witnesses is to really testify that you are the person that you say you are,” says Laura in the interview. “And that they know you and that you’re a good addition to the community and to the country, that you are a good new citizen.” In an earlier interview on getting Uruguay residency, Laura recommends making friends actively as soon as you move to Uruguay if you are considering applying for citizenship, given the personal nature of the questions asked in the witness interview.

The Uruguay citizenship timeline

The process begins the very day of your arrival, given that you must be in the country for three years for married couples and families or five years for single applicants to apply for citizenship. Applicants should not be absent from Uruguay for longer than six months per year (though Laura mentions cases where her clients have been successfully applying for exceptions). Otherwise, the count for the time living in the country restarts.

The average successful citizenship application is taking just over one year at the time of writing.

Uruguay passport

Once you become a legal citizen rather than a resident, you can apply for a Uruguay passport with your new Uruguayan ID. The passport itself is issued for three years the first time, and after renewal it is valid for ten years. Although you will be a legal citizen for life, your ID is valid for ten years, so remember to renew it.

BEWARE One thing to be aware of, is that based on current Uruguayan law (and the Uruguayan constitution) while you have been awarded citizenship you are still a national of your country of birth.

So on your Uruguayan passport your nationality will continue to figure as of the country where you were born.

This means that when using the Uruguayan passport abroad, problems can arise with immigration offices and border controls potentially demanding to see visas or other permits required for someone from your country of birth.

Laura explains in the interview that Uruguay is one of the few countries in the world that makes this distinction between citizenship and nationality and talks about her perspectives regarding future changes to the law to avoid this issue for new citizens.

Guru’Guay thanks Laura Cánepa, a Residency, Relocation, Immigration Advisor and Manager for Mobility LC, an international migration services firm based in Uruguay for generously sharing her time and expertise.

Photo credits: Bruno Sosa

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