Monthly Archives: September 2013

Close Encounters


What is your standard of personal space? There are close talkers and others who prefer a greater distance, a sort of range of acceptability. My guess is that most cultures would have this kind of spectrum. The interesting part is how different the appropriate range of nearness varies from culture to culture, as well as how we just don’t notice it until we go somewhere else. I’ve recently learned the term for this is called proxemics, a term coined in the 60’s built from “proximity”. I’m in the States right now getting my annual dose of family, friends and English and I’ve noticed I’ve adjusted myself to the Chilean paradigm. For most comfortable conversations in the US, we stand about an arm’s distance apart. This distance becomes greater between people who don’t know each other.

In Chile people are more comfortable being nearer to one another, which may explain why couples find it acceptable to smooch right next to me on public transportation – and by that I mean inches from my face sometimes. It’s normal for me to have maybe only a foot between my face and a friend’s at a party, or even someone I’ve only just met. I find it comfortable, because, well I guess I’ve just gotten used to it. Now I notice when I’m home I have to tell myself to increase the distance I have with another individual because I feel I may be making them uncomfortable. It’s fun and weird moving between two cultures and adjusting to the norms of each society. When I first get home I always say “excuse me” or “I’m sorry” in Spanish when I bump into someone. Once I make the language switch I have to remind myself to shake hands with new individuals and not automatically lean in for a Chilean right-side-of-the face double kiss. Then in a few weeks I’ll switch it all back to the much closer physical style of South America – for the most part seamlessly – and prep myself for the second summer of the year.

What’s it like where you live?


Tourist Visa Costs to Chile


For the citizens of many countries, there is no need to obtain a visa prior to entering Chile. The latest visa fee chart published in April of this year shows how much a visa costs if needed, how long a guest can stay and if there is a “reciprocity” charge. The PDF chart is in Spanish, but not too hard to navigate. If you can’t find your country, chances are it has a different spelling. The USA, for example, is found under “Estados Unidos de América” and therefore is found under the E titled countries. Here is an example:

Nacion copyEUA

In the top part it says Nación, which is pretty obviously Country (Nation). Moving to the right we see “Existen Relac. Diplom.” which means “is there a diplomatic relationship between the the said country and Chile”. For the USA, it says SI or YES. We’re going to skip over to the right where we find the Tourist Visa requirements which is marked as Req. VISTUR. In the case of the USA it says NO meaning no tourist visa needs to be obtained before entering the country. When your passport gets stamped at the airport, that is essentially a visa, but it does not require a preplanned meeting at the Chilean embassy in your home country. All the way to the right on this chart it says basically the same thing. “VISTUR requiere consulta – NO” meaning that no tourist visa meeting needs to be set up. Redundant. Anyhow, in between there we find Ar. US$ which refers to the cost. For a US citizen there is no official visa charge, but don’t get too excited yet. Then it says Pl. Máx. which means maximum length of stay. It is written in days. In this case we have 90 days as the limit, which is a fairly typical limit for many countries. VISTUR SIMPLE up top means just one trip, and VISTUR MULTIPL means multiple visits. How can you do multiple visits if the limit is 90 days? You make a border run. If you reach the 90 limit you must go to another country before returning. If you plan to visit Chile for awhile without being employed, work in your jaunts to Argentina, Peru or Bolivia in the middle.

So the part about not getting excited… well that refers to reciprocity, or “reciprocidad”. Essentially, if your home country – let’s stick with the USA example – charges a fee for Chileans to enter its borders (it does), then Chile will charge one for that nation’s citizens when coming into Chile. If you must pay this fee, it will say something like this:


In this case, US citizens entering on a tourist visa to Chile must pay 160 US dollars. They will put a sticker in your passport that shows you’ve paid the reciprocity fee, and it’s good for the DURATION of your passport. This means that if you enter and leave a number of times, you only pay once while your current passport is still valid. The price varies by country and as of this writing is only charged at the international airport in Santiago. This means that you are not subject to this charge if you arrive on a cruise ship or cross the border by bus. This is how the reciprocity fee is charged in most countries. I should add that Argentina recently made a change to their policy. Now any person who is subject to this fee (Australian, Canadian or US citizens) must pay it online before entering the country via any mode of travel. Here is their handy PDF guide to show you how to do it. The page was clearly translated with a machine. e.g. “Make your payment as closely as possible to the trip, so that it does not defeat.” Right on.

The section of the chart that I skipped over (ARANCEL VISA DE RESIDENCIA) deals with costs for work visas, which I’ll get into in another post.

Lastly, the US and Chile recently signed an agreement to drop visa requirements for Chileans visiting the US. This is supposed to begin sometime next year, at which time the reciprocity fee for US citizens should be eliminated as well. Hooray!