Import regulations and customs duties
Chile applies the free market economy. All citizens of the country are allowed to carry out imports.
Despite this liberal regime of import, some licenses are required for the goods which value exceeds USD 3,500. The licenses are generally automatically granted by the Central Bank of Chile. The importer has to handle an " Informe de Importacion " form, that should go through any commercial bank. This license is mainly used for statistical purposes.
However, some products are more watched over than others, especially pharmaceuticals or farm products. Indeed, these products are subject to an authorisation of the Ministry of Agriculture. Some very strict standards totally prevent the import of beef. The import of second-hand vehicles is forbidden (with the exception of ambulances, armoured vehicles, and mobile homes coaches).
Chile applies the Harmonised Customs System. The customs duties are calculated Ad valorem on the CIF value. Since the 1st January of 2003, the general tariff rate has been 6% on most products, one of the lowest in Latin America. However, Chilean customs reserve the right to apply some minimum prices for the valuation of imports (it can be the case concerning certain farm products such as wheat, edible oils and sugar, for instance).
Chile signed a certain number of trade agreements, especially with Canada, Mexico and some of the members of the ALADI. Duties for most items between these countries are at 0 %. On the top of that, Chile is an associate member of Mercosur and is currently negotiating with Bolivia and the USA. Finally, Chile signed on November 18, 2002 a Free trade agreement with the European Union that ntered into force on an interim basis on 1 February 2003, leading to a reduction of customs duties.
A surcharge is applied on luxury goods imports. New cars fall into this category. Vehicles having an engine capacity exceeding 1,500 cm3 are taxed at the rate of 85% of the CIF value (over USD 15,000 ).
As a luxury good, jewellery is taxed at 50% of the customs cleared value. There is also an internal tax on spirits. It differs depending on the products, and is at a lower rate for local products (25% on Pisco against 50% for Whiskey and 40% for Cognac).
Since the beginning of the 90s, Chile has been firmly standing in favour of freedom of trade and is very favourable to foreign investments.
The Business to Consumer (B to C) market
The large-scale distribution, which, until recently, used to address only to the upper classes of the population, tends to expand its business in order to reach customers not only in Santiago but in other provinces as well. Big chains such as Carrefour or Wallmart, which are world leaders, have been established in Chile for a few years.
The Business to Business (B to B) market
The Chilean market offers good business perspectives for capital goods and the necessary infrastructures for industry and communications. The participation in Trade Fairs, which brings together importers, wholesalers and distributors, is recommended. Most of those events are supervised by the FISA. Chile is famous for being an ideal business partner and you can benefit from clear and precise rules with this country.
Transportation of goods
The road network consists in 79,239 km of road, out of which only 12,300 km are tarred. The main roads are: the Pan-American road (road n°5), which crosses the country from North to South, connecting the Peruvian border with Puerto Montt, the Transandean road (road n° 60), which connects Valparaiso with the Argentine city of Mendoza. The extreme South of the country is only accessible by road coming from Argentina. The Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications co-ordinates the modernisation of the Chilean road network policy.
The length of the railway network in service is 4,300 km. The current state of railways is definitely not among the best (lack of equipment, obsolete equipment), but the government announced its intention to greatly invest in this sector, and more particularly concerning infrastructure and rolling stock. In 1997, privatisation of the infrastructure and service on the Santiago-Puerto Montt section started.
Chile possesses a very developed system of sea transport, with more than 60 public and private ports and a big part of the national and international traffic transits through them. Among the most important ports, we can point out the San Antonio, Valparaiso, San Vincente, Antofagasta, Iquique, Arica and Talcahuano ports. In the years to come, Chile wishes to stand as a privileged access door for Mercosur towards the Pacific Asian area, with the creation of transversal axis connecting the Pacific with the Atlantic Ocean.
There are 9 international airports, the main one being Santiago. Lanchile and Ladeco are leaders on the local market of air transportation.
The organisation controlling the system of certification and accreditation on quality control and normalisation is "el Instituto Nacional de Normalización" (INN). Usually the degree of application of the standards is not very high and varies according to the sectors. The existing standards mainly applicable to construction, food, fuels, safety, wood and electricity sectors.
Patents and brands
The body in charge of protecting patents and trademarks in Chile is the Departamento de Propiedad Industrial in Santiago.
Chile signed the Agreement of Paris for the protection of industrial property, as well as the agreement establishing the World Intellectual property Organisation (WIPO). Patents that were obtained in other countries are valid in Chile until expiration of their normal date of validity.
Texts currently applying to patents/brands
||Date entered into law
||Period of validity
maximum 16 years
Last modified in
2006 - ongoing update
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