Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

  • Reviewed: 17 January 2019, 11:11 NZDT
  • Still current at: 15 October 2019

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Exercise increased caution

Exercise increased caution in Chile due to the potential for violent civil unrest.

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Civil unrest
Protests and demonstrations occur regularly in Chile, particularly in central Santiago and other major cities. Dates of national significance such as 11 September (anniversary of military coup), 29 March (anniversary of the Young Combatant) and 1 May (Workers’ Day) may be a focus for protesters and are often marked by demonstrations. Police may use tear gas and/or water cannons to disperse demonstrations.

New Zealanders in Chile are advised to avoid all protests and demonstrations as even those intended to be peaceful have the potential to turn violent with little warning. We recommend monitoring local media for information on upcoming or expected demonstrations. New Zealanders who are in an area affected by demonstrations or violence should leave the immediate vicinity and follow any instructions issued by the local authorities. 

Small-scale bomb attacks and bomb threats occur from time to time in Santiago. These incidents are generally associated with domestic anarchist groups.  They can occur any time of day and in some cases, have caused serious injuries. On 4 January 2019, an explosion at a bus stop in Santiago injured five people. Targets may include banks, churches, ATMs, public buildings and public transport facilities.

There are high rates of petty crime and property theft in Chile, particularly in urban areas frequented by tourists and foreigners. New Zealanders should be cautious of mugging, pickpocketing, and drink spiking. A common tactic in tourist areas is for thieves to throw mustard or a similar substance on victims and then offer to help clean it off, while an accomplice steals their possessions.

Taxis should be booked in advance by phone, especially late at night, rather than hailed on the street. Confirm you have the correct taxi before entering the vehicle. 

New Zealanders are advised to take particular care with their belongings, including passports, and maintain awareness of their environment in public places like restaurants, on buses or at bus stations. The risk of crime increases after dark. Keep your passport in a safe place and only carry a photocopy for identification purposes. Extra caution with belongings is strongly advised on all public transport, including long distance buses. 

Political tensions
There is an ongoing conflict between members of an indigenous group and government authorities in Araucania in southern Chile. This has occasionally resulted in  politically-motivated violence. Foreigners have not been directly targeted.

We recommend you exercise particular caution if travelling to this region, seek local advice and make amendments to your travel routes if necessary. 

Landmine fields are a danger in remote areas of the northern regions of Arica-Parinacota, Tarapaca and Antofagasta in the north and in the southern regions of Magallanes and Antártica, near the border with Argentina. Many landmines are located in border areas.

Although most of these areas are clearly marked and are being demined, some signs and fences are old and damaged, and may be difficult to spot. Travellers should check with local authorities before travelling to these areas, not enter restricted areas, stick to clearly marked roads, use official border crossings only, and observe all warning signs.

Natural Disasters
Chile is located in an active seismic zone and the most common natural disasters are earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Other less frequent emergencies include flooding, forest fires, mudslides and tsunamis. 

Chile has a number of active volcanoes, several of which pose  a continued risk of eruption. Ashfall from previous eruptions has caused major disruption to air travel in the region.

New Zealanders should monitor local media reports and follow any restrictions and instructions issued by the local authorities. Chilean civil defence authorities use a series of colour codes to convey the public level of threat involved in any emergency event. Information and current alerts (in Spanish) are available on Chile’s National Emergency Office website.

General travel advice
New Zealanders travelling or living in Chile should have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place that includes provision for medical evacuation by air. 

Authorisation from the Chilean government should be sought at least 90 days prior to your travel for mountaineering or scientific activities in ‘frontier’ regions.

New Zealanders in Chile are encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Travel tips

The New Zealand Embassy Santiago, Chile

Street Address Isidora Goyenechea 3000, 12th Floor, Las Condes, Santiago, Chile Telephone +56 2 2616 3000 Fax +56 2 2951 6138 Email Web Site Hours Mon-Fri 0845-1300, 1400-1715 hrs

See our regional advice for Central/South America

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New Zealand Embassy Chile

Street Address
Isidora Goyenechea 3000, 12th Floor, Las Condes, Santiago, Chile

Telephone: +56 2 2616 3000

Fax: +56 2 2951 6138



Hours: Mon-Fri 0845-1300, 1400-1715 hrs

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