As of late, obtaining residencies for North Americans and Europeans in Uruguay has been taking longer than it used to, with some reporting waiting times of more than two years. However, if you are a citizen of a country with a full or associate MERCOSUR membership (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, or Peru) there is a quicker and easier alternative - a temporary 2-year residency.
The longest part of the process is waiting for the first audience where you will present your paperwork. After that it usually takes one to two months for the application to be completed. Also, you don´t need to present a means of support, like North Americans and Europeans do, which allows you to search for a job after you have obtained residency.
The steps for citizens of MERCOSUR countries to obtain a two-year temporary residency in Uruguay are as follows:
1) You need to present yourself to the Immigration Authority (Migraciones, Misiones 1513, Montevideo between 9:00 and 17:00 hours) to apply for an audience to initiate your residency. This is longest waiting period: the audience may be set as far as 4 or 5 months away. They also will inform you about the papers that you need to present at the audience, which are:
- Certificate of birth, legalized (more about the legalization later)
- Your current ID (passport or other legal ID) or a Nationality certificate issued by your consulate in Uruguay
- If you are over 18, Criminal Records of your country and countries where you have resided in the last 5 years (Antecedentes penales). This can be obtained at the Consulate of each country.
- Health certificate for residency
- For minors a parental authorization to obtain residency in Uruguay
- 2 wallet size pictures
- Exact date of entry to Uruguay (you will have to verbally disclose when and where you entered the country)
- Cost of the residency: 2,10 UR (Unidad reajustable, in 2012 about 1200Uruguayan pesos or 55 US dollars)
2) Legalization of documents: You need to legalize your birth certificate in your home country. This can be done through a third party; you do not need to do this in person.
Note: In the case of people from Argentina, you or the person acting on your behalf (who does not need a specific authorization) can present the original birth certificate at the Ministry of External Affairs (Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, Arenales 821, Buenos Aires, between 8:00 to 14:00 hours) for a first legalization. Once this is done, you have to take the certificate to the Uruguayan Consulate in Buenos Aires (Ayacucho 1616, Buenos Aires) for further stamps.
3) Paperwork in Uruguay:
- You need to present the birth certificate that was legalized by the Ministry of External Affairs and Consulate of Uruguay in your own home country to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, Colonia 1206 corner of Cuareim, between 9:00 to 14:00 hours) for further legalization which is performed while you wait.
- Once this is done, you present everything at the Registrations Office (Registro Civil Seccion Extranjeros, Uruguay 753 corner of Rio Branco, at end of the hall to the right).
- I recommend you make photocopies of everything. They retain the original papers to be inscribed in their books, which takes about 30 work days. Once this is done you have to present yourself again at the Registrations Office where you will be issued a certificate of inscription, which you need to present at the immigrations audience.
- You also need to apply for the Carnet de Salud apto residencia, or Residency Health Bill. There are many types of Health Bills so be sure to apply for the one that is specific for residency purposes. Note: You can apply at SEMM (Blvd. Artigas 1331, previous appointment necessary) or SUAT (Clinica del Estadio Tribuna America Acceso 3, previous appointment necessary). You will need to present yourself with a certificate of tetanus vaccination, 10 hours of fasting and a sample of first morning urine. If you are a woman over 21 you also need a PAP test (tests performed within the last two-and-a-half years are considered valid) and if you are over 40, a mammogram as well (tests performed within the last 18 months are considered valid). The exam consists of a blood tests, a urine test, a general health exam, a vision test, and a dental examination.
4) With the paperwork prepared, you are ready to present yourself for the immigrations audience. I recommend bringing photocopies of everything (except the Health Bill of which they retain the original) and the two pictures.
Your index fingerprints will be electronically taken – the last step. Now, your residency application is complete and the official process is underway.
Once the temporary residency has been granted, you will be notified. The next step is to apply for the Uruguayan identification card called a “cedula”, which is valid for two years, the duration of the temporary residency.
This abbreviated residency process has the bonus of allowing citizens of the aforementioned countries to try living in Uruguay without having to go through the long regular residency process.
If you find that you like living in Uruguay and want to stay, then 90 days before the expiration of the temporary residency you can apply, again at the Immigrations Office, for the regular residency. This may take two or more years to be granted. Meanwhile, your status will be “Residencia en tramite” or “residency in process”.
Important: if you need to leave the country before the temporary (or definitive) residency is granted, you will need to apply for a travel permit at the Immigrations Office. Cost of this is currently 505 Uruguayan pesos (around 25 US dollars) for each trip and there is no limit as to how many trips you can apply for. Also you do not need to specify a travel date, as it will be valid for a trip performed within a year.
About the author: I am an Argentine lawyer having gone through this process myself a few months ago.