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This article was first written in 2018 as a follow-up to Mark Teuten’s article on how to get residency in Uruguay. A few readers raised the question as to why bother even applying for permanent residence.

After all, in Uruguay, non-visa country nationals can live here freely provided they leave the country for at least one day every six months. 

The pandemic of course made it absolutely obvious WHY getting residency was important. Uruguay closed the borders to pretty much everyone except citizens and residents—who could continue to come and go freely once flights were available—for nineteen long months.

Even non-resident property owners had to wait out the pandemic elsewhere, eventually allowed in on a special exemption (which involved getting together a bunch of paperwork) just before the borders fully opened towards the end of 2021.

So while the value of Uruguay residency is clear to all, it’s still worth going back to remind ourselves of the other reasons for having official status in Uruguay. 

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This is a valid question. I myself lived in Uruguay for over three years without residency, even after getting a job and married, just to avoid the paperwork and the general hassle involved.

For many people however there are good reasons for getting permanent residence status. Some of these include:

1. To ensure you have the right to live in Uruguay in the event that there are changes in visa requirements in the future.

2. The security to know that you can return and live here whenever you want – the bolt hole option.

3. For those who already need a visa, to ensure that they can come and go without having to go through the time consuming and expensive process of getting a new visa every time – and also the risk that it will not be given.

4. To ensure that you use any real estate you may have bought. No point in buying a nice vacation property if you can’t use it! 

5. As a necessary step in the process of getting a second passport.

6. If you are already living here, then as a means of bringing in household possessions without paying tax.

The above do not pretend to be a definitive list, although these are the most important in my experience. As stated above, I did not apply for permanent residence until after three years here. That was the situation 28 years ago and the law has not changed in the meantime.

Of course, that does not mean that it will not change at some time in the future. Indeed I would be inclined to think that looking to the future, Uruguay’s immigration laws are likely to get less flexible than they are at present, which would validate applying for permanent residence status sooner rather than later.

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Mark Teuten is a British lawyer based in Montevideo since the 1990s. He has law degrees from both the UK and Uruguay. He can help you with your residency applications, setting up a registered company and other legal matters. Guru’Guay has recommended him to our readers who have praised his trustworthiness, clarity, prompt communication even over great distances and careful advice regarding courses of action.

This article is for information purposes only. Please consult with a lawyer as to your particular circumstances.

Photo: Bureaucracy by Christian Schnettelker

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