Figures released by the Uruguayan Immigration Office show that in 2012 over 5000 applications were filed for residence, but at the same time only 2400 applications were granted. This goes a long way to explaining why the time taken to obtain residence in Uruguay has shot up from 6 months only 2-3 years ago to around 24 months now.

Since 2008 the number of applications filed has increased from just over 2000 to over 5000 i.e. 150 %. At the same time the number of employees assigned to residency applications has increased by 0% and simultaneously those employees are examining applications  in a lot more detail and objecting to even the most minor defects in documents filed. This notwithstanding several statements from the President himself to the effect that he wants to encourage people to come to Uruguay and speed up and simplify the residence process. This message has clearly not got through to the immigration office to date.

Changes in requirements in 2012:

  • Uruguay acceded to the Hague Convention on the use of an Apostille at the end of 2012 and accordingly legalization is no longer necessary for documents coming from other countries which are also members of the Convention. This can represent a significant saving in time and money for many applicants.
  • Police reports are now required for the applicants country of birth and any other country they have lived in during the previous 5 years. Without this document/s an application will not even be received. If in doubt as to whether a police report will be needed, get one to avoid any further delays.
  • For ladies over 30 you can still use Pap and Mammogram tests carried out abroad, as long as they are not more than 1 year old and a translation into Spanish is now often needed.

Changes in the filing process

Due to the large increase in applications being filed though the central office, rules have now been brought in that applications must be filed in the department where applicants declare they are residing. In the case of people living in Punta del Este, for example, this means they have to file through the Maldonado office.

The Immigration Office was giving applicants appointments for 3 to 4 months in the future to formally file for residence. This delay was causing inconvenience to those who needed a cédula (the Uruguayan ID card) for work purposes or to register their children in a school, obtain health insurance etc. So now the Immigration Office has  a two stage filing process, as follows:

  • You go in without any prior appointment and say you want to file for residence. As long as you have your police records (max 6 months old) and copies of passport and photos, you will be given an Application No and with this you can apply for an ID card.  At this stage you change from being a tourist to being a “residente en tramite” – literally “resident applied for.”
  • Married couples with children must have first registered their birth and marriage certificate which currently takes around one month.
  • You will be given an appointment to come back at a later date (currently 6 months) to file the remaining documents – proof of income, health cards, proof of domicile.

Nationals from countries requiring a visa to enter Uruguay

  • Almost 1 year ago the Immigration Office stopped allowing professionals such as lawyers from acting as sponsors for those applying for a visa to enter Uruguay. As a result it has become a lot more complicated for many people to get a visa. You either have to find a non professional Uruguayan to act as a sponsor or obtain it direct from a Uruguayan consulate, which can depend on a wide variety of criteria to be applied by the individual consulate.
  • Our experience is that this requirement is making life particularly hard for applicants from the Indian sub-continent and Middle East countries.


Whilst applicants can expect a longer delay, if they have the basic documentation and the intent to reside there is no reason to suppose that they will not eventually get permanent resident status. In the meantime the change in practice means that it is now possible to at least file an application very shortly after arrival in the country and get an ID card.

And finally, we recap the things you will need to do in order to apply for residency and for later citizenship in Uruguay.

Residence And Citizenship Proceedings:

In order to obtain permanent residence we need to present the following documents at the Immigration Office (Dirección Nacional de Migraciones):

1)      Passport: We have to present the Original Document and a photocopy of the whole passport. The Immigration Office does not keep the passport during the proceedings, they just  need to compare it with the photocopy.

2)      Birth Certificate: It must be legalized by the Uruguayan Consulate in the country of birth, then it must be translated in our country by a Public Translator, and once again legalized at the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores. The cost of the legalization in our country is U$S 8 approx. The cost of the translation will depend on the length of the document.

3)      Marriage Certificate: It must be legalized at the Uruguayan Consulate in the country where the marriage took place, then it must be translated in our country by a Public Translator, and once again legalized at the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores. The cost of the legalization in our country is U$S 8 approx. The cost of the translation will depend on the length of the document.

4)      Two photos (Id type of photo)

5)      Health ID: This can be obtained from the Ministerio de Salud Pública  (Durazno 1242 Phone 900 29 51) free of charge or from most private hospitals and medical emergency services in Uruguay. The cost of obtaining a private certificate is around U$S70, but  is much preferable to using the public system.

6)      Criminal Records: It is necessary to obtain a certificate from the Police in the country of birth and country of prior residence in the previous 5 years, establishing that the person has no prior criminal record. This also has to be legalized by the Uruguayan Consulate and once the certificate is in our country, it has to be translated by a Public Translator and legalized at the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores. The cost of the legalization in our country is U$S 8.- The cost of the translation will depend on the length of the document.

7)      Income: It is necessary to show a minimum monthly income of U$S 650.-  and the source of that income (retirement pensions, rent). A Public Notary has to certificate the documentation that we will present. The fees of the notary will depend on what type of certificate he has to prepare.

8)      Date of entrance to our country – Tourist certificate given at the time of entrance.

You should be also aware that the Immigration Office is now applying a criteria of “intent to reside permanently” to all applicants. To that effect they are examining immigration records and if they note that a person has come in to Uruguay, filed for residence and then immediately left and not come back, or has filed for residence but most of the time is out of the country, and not really living in Uruguay, then the application will be rejected. The Immigration Office may well only grant residency for people who are really living here for the majority of the time.

The cost of the residence proceeding payable at the Immigration Office will be approx. U$S 50.

Our fees for standard residence proceedings are U$S 1500.-  plus 22% VAT for each person. In addition there will be the legalisation, translation and notarial fees referred to above, which are likely to be around U$S800, but are dependant on the length of the documents involved.

Please note that we can not provide a guarantee that residence will be granted, the Immigration Office always has discretion in this respect, so our fees will be payable whatever the outcome of the applications.

Residents are eligible for citizenship after three years if they have a family member who is a citizen of Uruguay, or five years if they do not.

Information for a U.S. citizen whose parent is Uruguayan

There is a special procedure, but the person will have to come to Uruguay to do the paperwork, which is as follows:

1.       Get a Uruguayan Id card. To get this, he or she needs to register his/her birth certificate (apostilled and translated) and that of her Uruguayan parent/s. She must do this personally.

2.       Apply to the Electoral Court to get a resolution recognizing her as a citizen. This takes about one month and again must be done personally. He/she needs to have: a Uruguayan ID card and birth certificates as per 1 above. And also needs to prove residence in Uruguay for at least 3 months preceding the application (proof of work, studies or other activity in the country).

3.       Once the resolution is issued they can apply for voting card and for a passport.

Bottom line, the procedure is much easier than for a normal “foreigner”, but the person must still come here for some time.

Mark Teuten

(Note: Uruguay has improved their application process somewhat. For further information go to Uruguay Improves the Residency Process)


Our thanks for this update go to Mark Teuten who is, himselfMark Teuten, Attorney, a long-time expat, having first come to Uruguay in 1990,  intending to stay for one year. He is still here 23 years later. He practiced law in England from 1987, then requalified in Uruguay in 2004 and set up his own firm the same year. Mark writes, “I married in 1991 and am still happily married to the same lady! We have 3 children, ages 18, 14 and 11.”

You may contact Dr. Teuten at:
Dr.Mark Teuten
Teuten Abogados
Juncal 1408, Oficina 702
CP 11000 Montevideo – Uruguay
Tel: + (598 2) 9088638
Fax: + (598 2) 9088640


(This is not a paid advertisement and we receive no remuneration for passing this information to you. We publish it solely for your information. We just hope it is helpful.)