Uruguay is not only liberal and forward thinking but it also has one of the best and most accessible residency programs in the world. It even comes with a five year foreign-sourced income tax exemption. In this article I explain how to apply.
Uruguay, officially the Eastern Republic of Uruguay, is located in South America and is sandwiched between Brazil and Argentina. It has been inhabited by Europeans for hundreds of years, most of whom came from Spain and Italy. It enjoys a temperate climate with an annual average of 17C and little rainfall. Most of the country is flat which is both a blessing in that it allows for highly productive farming and a curse in that it is rather boring. That being said, Uruguay boast some of the best beaches in the region. The currency is the Peso (UYU) and the timezone is GMT-3, ideal for those doing business with Europe and the Americas. In recent years, the country has experienced rapid growth and now ranks first in the region in democracy, lack of corruption and eGov services. It also ranks highly in press freedom and economic equality.
The residency program
Uruguay is one of the most welcoming countries in the world, in fact, residency applications are very rarely denied. All that is needed to qualify is a steady source of income, a clean criminal record and your physical presence in the country while the application is being processed (half of the 6 to 12 months). Your source of steady income can be from employment, dividends, a pension, rental income etc. You can also mix multiple income sources, for example: a pension + a regular dividend income. There is no set minimum but over 1500$US / month is recommended.
The application process is as follow
1. Obtain an up-to-date list of all required documents from a local immigration attorney.
2. Gather the documents and have them apostilled in your home country.
3. Send them to your immigration attorney for translation and processing.
4. Travel to Uruguay and submit your application, a temporary ID card is issued at that stage enabling you to remain in the country.
5. Open a local bank account and get your local medical card.
6. Within 90 days your immigration attorney will file all the necessary documentation with the government on your behalf allowing for your application to proceed.
Usually, it takes six to twelve months for an application to be approved and permanent residency to be granted. During that time, you are expected to remain physically in the country. Short trips abroad are allowed.
As a permanent resident, you will be able to remain in Uruguay indefinitely, take up local employment, obtain local health insurance and traveling in the region will become easier. You will also become eligible to apply for naturalization after five years spent in the country, three if you are married. The Uruguayan passport is well respected and grants visa-free travel to over 134 countries. It will also grant freedom of movement to every UNASUR member-states once implementation has been completed.
Uruguay as part of a larger tax strategy
A fact unknown by most is that Uruguay doesn’t tax new residents on their foreign-sourced income for up to five years. This is very useful as five years is the exact amount of time one has to wait before becoming eligible to apply for naturalization and a passport. In effect, this makes the Uruguayan residency / passport ideal for those following the five flag theory. Also important to note, Uruguay doesn’t tax income that has already been taxed abroad (double taxation) regardless of whether a double taxation treaty exist or not.
Immigration expert – Fischer & Schickendantz
Fischer & Schickendantz is one of Uruguay’s leading law firms. The firm has the country’s largest Residency and Immigration practice, and the leading Real Estate practice, with a vast team of bilingual conveyance attorneys, assisting individuals purchasing properties, developing real estate and structuring farmland purchases and operations. fs.com.uy