Chile’s Entry Requirements Gone Awry

No one said traveling during a pandemic would be easy, and international travel, especially, requires jumping through some extra hoops to get to your destination. Those extra hoops can be a real bitch sometimes. Chile is the 4th country I’ve traveled to during the pandemic, and by far, the entry requirements were the most difficult to tolerate. I’m relaying my experience, as a warning, in case anyone else plans on visiting Chile right now.

Prior to Flight

As any traveler knows, pre-flight preparations are important, and right now, there are usually a few extra steps, like a covid test, an entry application and traveler’s health insurance. As of Jan 2022, here are the steps that Chile requires:

  • Negative PCR test, taken 72 hours before boarding of the last flight.
  • Completed “Traveler’s Affidavit” form, to be filled out online and up to 48 hours before boarding. URL: www.c19.cl
  • Traveler’s medical insurance with a minimum coverage of USD 30,000, that includes coverage for any expenses arising from Covid-19. We bought “Safe Travels Explorer” from https://www.trawickinternational.com/
  • A “Mobility Pass”. This is a certification of your Covid-19 vaccinations. URL: mevacuno.gob.cl

At the Airport

After debarking the plane at Santiago de Chile, the real pain began. Chile requires a PCR test upon arrival. Personally, any country that requires this, from now on, is a country I will not visit. Full stop.

Imagine, you’ve been traveling since noon the day before, sleeping sporadically on the airplane overnight for 7+ hours, you’re dehydrated, tired and dirty. Now, you finally get to stretch your legs in the airport terminal, and you hit a queue, and it is so long; you see no end to it. You send a scout ahead to see what’s in store, and the picture is bleak. Here is a list of the lines we stood in:

  • Queue to exchange an inspection of your entry documents and passport for a plastic card.
  • Queue for a chance to use a kiosk to enter your passport number and get a paper ticket.
  • Queue to show your paper ticket and get a room assignment for the PCR test.
  • Go to the room and suffer through a throat-nasal swabbing. Cry a little because your nerves are shot to hell. The paper ticket gets stamped.
  • Queue to show that you have a passport and paper ticket. Hand over the plastic card.
  • Queue for border control, where you show your passport, airline boarding passes and entry documents. Get a well-deserved stamp in the passport.
  • Find luggage standing around somewhere in baggage claim, since in the three hours this all took, your luggage had a party, got drunk and crashed on the floor waiting for you.
  • Queue for passing your very drunk luggage through an x-ray machine. Apparently, the personnel couldn’t find time to do that in those tortuous three hours of waiting in hell.

The worst part of all, is that you are trapped. There is no opting out. You just got off a plane, and you cannot enter the country without going through this. No one came through the line to give us information, water or cookies. They did not care about how we felt. It was the biggest clusterfuck I’ve ever experienced, pardon my French.

After the Airport Releases you from Bondage

The freedom I felt after stepping out of that airport was priceless. The obligations are far from over though.

  • You must keep quarantined until you receive your negative PCR. They say they will email you with results, but they don’t. You will find results here: mevacuno.gob.cl  I saw my results the next morning. They may have come earlier, while I was waiting for that non-existent email.
  • You need to install the C19AutoReporter app on your phone, so you can log in every day and tell them that you have no symptoms of any kind what-so-ever. There are 15+ questions to go through, and you must do this every day for 10 days.
The C19 AutoReporter App

Not a big deal, but annoying after what they already put us through, with no apology.

Around Town

Chile has handled the pandemic like a pro, for sure. You can see that in how compliant everyone is about mask wearing and measures. I like that. It feels freeing, actually. I no longer have to worry if my mask is strong enough to protect me, because literally everyone is wearing one too. With a 92% vaccination rate, I certainly feel safer here than the U.S.  Here are the daily requirements:

  • Wear a mask in any indoor public space, and in the cities, masks are required outdoors, as well. Seems reasonable.
  • Keep passport and mobility pass with you at all times, to show for entry inside businesses and public transportation.

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I commend Chile for their covid measures, for sure. A pandemic isn’t something to take lightly. I do protest the treatment we had at the airport though. It was sheer torture, sending nerves that were already stretched to breaking point, a step further. They should not allow this to happen under any circumstances. A little PR would have gone a long way, in my opinion.

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