Chile has two free trade zones: one in the northern port city of Iquique (Tarapacá Region) ZOFRI and the other in the far south port city of Punta Arenas (Magallanes Region) ZONAUSTRAL. They were created to encourage investment in the extreme north and south of the country and have special tax and other advantages for goods en route to points of sale in Chile or other destinations in the region.
Apart from the free trade zones, there are no regional differences relating to imports entering Chile via land, sea or air, and importers are not required to hold any special licences.
The authority for all customs-related matters in Chile is the National Customs Service (Servicio Nacional de Aduanas or SNA). The legal framework regulating the area of customs procedures is the Customs Ordinance or the Institutional Customs Law.
The rules differentiate between goods that have a free on-board value (FOB) of under or over US$1,000. For goods with a value of over US$1,000, the importer must hire the services of a local customs agent, who must be of Chilean nationality and accredited by the National Customs director. The importer, whether an individual or a company, must have a Chilean tax ID number (RUT), and fill in and physically submit several forms to the appropriate local customs office.
Under the UK-Chile Association Agreement which came into force in January 2021, most goods entering Chile from the UK are tariff free. Goods which do not fall under the agreement pay a general tariff of 6% on the Cost, Insurance, Freight (CIF) value, which is one of the lowest tariffs in Latin America. VAT at 19% must be paid on all goods entering Chile.
There are additional taxes on certain products, generally considered to be luxury goods, (such as gold and jewellery, alcohol, and tobacco), and on fuels. For a full listing of items and tariffs see here. There is also an additional tax of 3% on second hand goods.
Import taxes can be paid electronically or through authorised receivers once the import declaration has been accepted by customs authorities. 15 days are allowed for payment from the date that the entry declaration is received. Fines are levied for late payment. Imported goods should be transferred out of the customs warehouses before 90 days have expired, or they will be considered to be abandoned, and further fines may be applied.
For Phytosanitary Regulations, the governing body in Chile is The Agricultural and Livestock Service (SAG). It is responsible for enforcing Chile’s import regulations concerning alcoholic beverages, organic foods, animal and plant quarantine, animal products for human consumption, the grading and labelling of beef and some processed food products both for human and animal consumption including pet food, feed, and feed supplements.
SAG has different listings for the documentation requirements for agriculture, livestock, and forestry products.
Chile only approves the import of processed food products on a case-by-case basis. To bring in a product, the importer must obtain the permission of the Health Service Officer at the port of entry.
The commercial forms needed for importing are as follows:
● Entry declaration.
● Importer affidavit on the price of merchandise.
● Bill of Lading, Consignment Note and/or Airway Bill.
● Original commercial invoice,
● Endorsement of the original Bill of Lading on behalf of the customs agent to allow for the clearance of goods.
● Freight Insurance certificate (if not included in the commercial invoice).
● Expense claims including all expenses which are not included on the website.
● Permits, visas, certificates, or clearances when necessary.
● Packaging list for grouped merchandise or for merchandise packed in containers.
● Sanitary and phytosanitary certificate (for agricultural and food products).
● Import authorisation.
● Certificate of Origin – certifying the country of origin where the merchandise is produced.
Prohibited and Restricted Imports
The following list details goods that cannot be imported into Chile:
● Used Vehicles and motorcycles.
● Used and retreated tires.
● Asbestos in any shape or form.
● Illicit trafficking of narcotic and psychotropic substances (typifies the related crimes when there is no “due authorisation”).
● Pharmaceutical products that do not have a sanitary registration.
● Substances that deplete the ozone layer and/or equipment that may contain gases that affect the ozone layer, except for those authorised in the registry of importers of substances that deplete the ozone layer.
● Toxic Industrial waste.
● Possession, use, commercialisation, and importation unauthorised persons of tear-producing elements made from Orthochlorobenzalmalononitrile (CS) and Chloroacetophenone (CN), or any other chemical product whose purpose is destined to produce physiological effects in people.
● Manufacture, import, marketing, distribution, sale, delivery and use of fireworks, pyrotechnic articles and other devices of a similar nature.
● Radioactive materials or substances or equipment that generates ionising radiation (except the formally authorised).
Temporary Entry of Goods
Within its overall Customs rules and regulations there is a specific clause which allows finished or partly finished parts and components to enter Chile without paying tax. The goods must be correctly documented, and when assembled or completed must be re-exported under strict controls. Please see the following for guidance.
Packaging and Labelling
Products which have specific labelling requirements and legislation include:
Foods and beverages
All imported foods must meet the requirements specified in Chile’s Food Health Regulation known as the Reglamento Sanitario de los Alimentos (Decreto Supremo No 977/96, last modified in 2018). Imported products must bear labels in Spanish (or have a white sticker overlayed with the information in Spanish) showing the country of origin. It should list the specific name of the product, ingredients (including all additives), net weight or volume of contents in metric units, date of manufacture or packing, expiry date, product registration number (where applicable) and the name and address of the producer or importer.
The Health Ministry also requires all food products to possess a nutritional label listing the content values for calories, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. As of 2016, all foods deemed to have high quantities of calories, sodium, sugar and/or saturated fat, must carry a highly visible warning label on the front of the package. Furthermore these foods may not be sold or provided in schools and marketing them to children is tightly controlled Up-to date information on these requirements can be found at this link.
The Chilean regulatory authority responsible for the control of pharmaceutical products, including biologicals, and medical devices is the Public Health Institute (ISP), which is an autonomous public service overseen by the Ministry of Health (MINSAL).
In turn, the Ministry of Health is responsible for defining and controlling regulations which govern the import, clearance, export, production, and manufacturing, amongst others, of pharmaceutical products and medical devices. In Chile, only OTC medicines are authorised to conduct advertising and promotion activities to final consumers. These activities should be previously authorised by the Institute of National Health (ISP) and should be in line with what is stated in the product’s sanitary register. Advertising should only communicate the information contained in the patient leaflet. New legislation known as Ley de Farmacos II is shortly going to be incorporated which further restricts the promotional labelling on health products. Also see link
In August 2021 a new law came into force meaning any beverage having an alcoholic graduation equal to or above 0,5 degrees to include, in its container, box and/or packaging, a visible warning about the consequences of its harmful consumption e.g., they must contain a legend with phrases regarding the risks of excessive alcohol consumption, along with graphic signs especially intended for those segments of greater risk, such as pregnant women, minors, and drivers. Additionally, there are also limits to the times alcohol can be advertised on T.V. and radio which are enforced by the Ministry of Health.
All forms of advertising, promotion or sponsoring of tobacco and tobacco-derived products (including at points of sale) are prohibited. 100% of cigarette box space on both sides must display warnings on tobacco consumption. In September 2019, a new bill was sent to Parliament proposing to regulate e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products as tobacco products. Under this proposed bill, these next generation products would be regulated by the tobacco law enacted in 2013, resulting in a ban on advertising and promotion, on the sale to minors, on smoking or vaping in enclosed spaces and they would need to include health warnings as traditional cigarettes.
In 2002 the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) endorsed a standard prescribing uniform regulatory control of wood packaging material in use in international trade to reduce the risk of introduction and/or spread of quarantine pests associated with wood packaging material. The standard (ISPM-15) provides the basis for countries to adopt legislation requiring wood packaging material entering their country to be heat treated or fumigated and introduces a universal marking system for the identification of wood packaging meeting the treatment standard. In addition to compliance with ISPM-15, Chile requires that shipments with wood packaging material arriving at their ports be debarked or bark free.