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Working in Chile

As one of Latin America’s strongest economies, Chile has lots of opportunities for foreign investors and expats. Read our guide to find out all about working in Chile, from how to go about the job search to business etiquette and taxation.
Expats working in Chile benefit from the country's strong economy.

At a Glance:

  • Helped by multiple trade agreements with countries around the globe, Chile has one of South America’s strongest economies.
  • As a foreigner, securing employment in Chile can often be difficult due to the complex visa and work contract requirements. Persist though, life in Chile is definitely worth the wait!
  • A good understanding of Spanish is invaluable in the Chilean workplace and one that will definitely help you to gain the respect of your Chilean colleagues.
  • Expats living in Chile, who are considered residents and have a domicile in the country, have to pay income tax on their entire income, whether it be from Chilean or foreign sources.

Chile: Eager to Trade

Chile is considered one of South America’s most economically successful and stable nations, with its economy being largely dominated by foreign trade. It has a reputation for strong financial institutions; in fact, Chile has the strongest sovereign credit rating in South America, making it an attractive location for investors.  

Reforms undertaken in the early 1990s strengthened the country’s economic position, leading to a decade of impressive economic growth. More recently, however, economic growth has slowed, with the first two quarters of 2017 seeing meager growth levels, projected to reach 2% by the end of the year.

Chile prides itself on being the country with the most bilateral or regional trade agreements in the entire world. Currently, there are 25 such agreements between Chile and 65 different countries, including China, India, South Korea, Mexico, the US, and the EU. In 2010, Chile became the first South American country to join the OECD.

Looking for a Job? Phone a Friend

One of the best ways of finding a job is through pitutos, your connections to Chile’s business world. This is a common concept in a country where personal relationships are incredibly important. Even if you don’t know anybody yet, finding work in Chile is not impossible. Take a look at the job section of the Sunday edition of El Mercurio to get started.

However, even if you find a few job ads which sound exciting, you shouldn’t underestimate the persistence it takes to work in Chile. Many companies are hesitant to hire anybody who doesn’t have a valid work visa. However, you need a work contract to apply for a work visa in the first place, meaning the whole process can often be infuriating. Large, international companies may be your best bet: they often have their own lawyers and are familiar with the work permit application process for prospective employees.

At the Office: Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Expats who are looking to work in Chile should be aware that the country’s labor force works the sixth highest number of average annual hours of all OECD countries. In 2016, OECD revealed the average number of hours worked was 43 hours per week.

However, when it comes to answering emails or returning phone calls, people in Chile are often not the quickest to respond. Messages are often not acknowledged and your business partners may not get back to you unless there is a definitive reason to do so. Things move a little slower in Chile and you should make sure to check in with your business partners every now and then, to make sure everything is getting done on time.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Mathias Döringer

"Before moving to Santiago de Chile I joined the InterNations community and got useful hints regarding housing and business."

Emma Willems

"When I first came to Santiago de Chile I didn´t know one anyone. On InterNations I found many expat friends in the same situation."

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