Getting Legal Residency in Paraguay
When people think of moving to South America, very few think of Paraguay. Just for fun, we checked some computer search statistics this week and found that more than 300,000 people every month do an Internet search with the words, Where is Paraguay? Maybe that tells us why Paraguay is on the radar of so few people. A whole lot of people don’t even know where it is!
This might be good for you. It’s always best to be an early arrival before so many newcomers push the prices up as they have in Panama, Costa Rica, Chile, Uruguay and other points south.
We currently are in touch with several expats who have chosen Paraguay for their home, One of the expats who now lives part-time in Paraguay after living full-time in Uruguay for seven years, reports to us that “the only people who don’t like Paraguay are the ones who have never been there.” That report got our attention! We also found the process of residency and citizenship to be one of the most simple and straight forward.
We observe that different people choose different countries for different reasons. Some people look for a progressive, high-class environment, developed infrastructure, ambiance, and a high level of culture. These people are likely to choose Montevideo, Buenos Aires, or Santiago, Chile. Not that there are not outlying cities that offer similar. There are many cities in these countries that provide most of those things. But the larger cities offer more cultural opportunity.
On the other hand, people who like Paraguay report to us that the infrastructure is not great and it does not offer the same ambiance as certain other cities in South America. But they like the fact that you are, frankly, left alone. They feel they have more freedom. Nobody is breathing down their necks. They like the absence of so much regulation. Not saying that there is no regulation. But there is advantage to poorer countries because they have less money with which to finance what some people consider oppression of citizens. This is what people tell us they like about Paraguay, along with the current lower cost of living and affordable real estate.
Of course that is not all they like about the country. We all like great restaurants, safe environments, farm-fresh local food, interesting culture, friendly people, all of which are available in Paraguay. But we merely point out for you the basic differences that we see in what expats consider important. In all cases it is a trade-off. No country is perfect. Always we suggest that you visit a country personally before making your decision about whether that country is right for you.
If you decide to become a resident in Paraguay, here is what Mr. Santander tells us you must get before you leave your home country:
(1) Birth Certificate
(2) Marriage/Divorce Certificate
(3) Police Check. This must be less than six months old when submitted.
(4) Professional qualifications if planning to work
All of these must be authenticated at the Paraguay embassy in your home country before you leave. You will need to check with the embassy in your area to see if they want them translated. If the answer is yes, ask for the contact information for the certified translators that they prefer, and use them.
Note: If I were applying in Paraguay, I would also ask my bank in my home country for a letter of reference stating that I had been a client for a certain period and had handled my account responsibly. The reason I suggest this is that rules sometimes change overnight and this just covers that possibility.
When you arrive in Paraguay you will need the following. If you have an attorney, he will help you with these tasks.
(2) National police check
(3) Interpol Certificate
(4) Health check – This exam involves a blood test and a yellow fever inoculation
(5) You must deposit $5,000 USD or equivalent in a savings account in a Paraguay bank. You will need a letter from your Paraguay bank verifying this deposit.
(6) A photocopy of your passport and a copy of any visa that you needed to enter Paraguay.
All documents, including passport copies, will need to be translated into Spanish
One copy of these documents must be authenticated by an escribano. In South America an escribano is a type of attorney. Literally the word means notary. But a notary in South America is quite different from a notary in certain other countries. Although only one copy has to be authenticated, we suggest that you also have a backup copy authenticated.
In the escribano’s office you will sign a Declaration of Acceptance of Paraguayan law.
It takes about seven business days to prepare documents for submission. Once the documents are submitted, you may leave Paraguay. Barring problems with the documentation, Imigraciones will issue the residency carnet within 120 days at the latest.
When the carnet is issued, you must return to Paraguay to apply for the cedula. This must be done in person as it involves fingerprinting and official photographs. The cedula application process takes only a couple days and Imigraciones will issue the cedula in four weeks.
With a Limited Power of Attorney, your lawyer can monitor the progress of the application and deal with queries that may arise, saving you a journey. Your lawyer can also collect the cedula, should you need to leave Paraguay. Your lawyer can also keep the cedula for you till you return, or forward it to you via Fedex.
Here are a few caveats to consider: If you hold citizenship in one country, but have been residing in another, proof of address is necessary from the country you have been living in. Your driver’s license should be sufficient, and/or bank statements showing residency dates.
Next, the bank letter declaring that you have deposited $5,000 in savings is adequate for immigration. It is difficult to open a bank account in Paraguay. You need a cedula and, depending on the bank, you may need evidence of economic activities, such as work in Paraguay. Or you can open an HSBC account in another country, either ordinary or premier. This allows you to open or manage a premier HSBC account in Paraguay which has a minimum requirement of $50,000 USD balance to be maintained over the course of a year. We do not know if HSBC has a branch in the UK. You may also more easily open an account in one of Paraguay’s national bank branches.
You will be eligible to apply for citizenship in Paraguay in three years.
In light of our experience in applying for foreign residency and citizenship, we do suggest having a good attorney represent you. There is additional expense, but we think that it is worth it. An established attorney who is experienced in residency and citizenship issues knows the procedures and often has contacts in the immigrations office, which facilitates efficient completion of the process.
One member of my family has had two bad experiences with immigration issues and I have had one glitch in this area myself and if we can help you to avoid the same, it is our privilege.
If you do go to visit Paraguay, don’t forget to time your visit so as to attend the English-speakers lunch on Sundays in Asuncion. For current information you can go to www.totalparaguay.com in case the location or time has changed by the time that you arrive.
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