Do I need a special permit to drive in Chile?
Chilean Driving Regulations
Visitors can drive with a valid U.S. license for the duration of their tourist permit (usually 90 days). Renting a car is also possible although insurance may not be available in some forms for drivers without a Chilean or international driver’s license.
Dual nationals and U.S. citizens residing in Chile should have a Chilean driver’s license to legally drive in the country. An application for a Chilean driver’s license must be filed at the motor vehicle department in the municipal building of your home district.
General requirements for a Chilean driver’s license are the following:
- Applicant age 18 or older.
- Chilean Identification Card.
- School record to demonstrate that applicant has 8th grade education or higher.
- Successful completion of the written and practical driving tests, and medical evaluation.
If you have U.S. school records, they must be authenticataed by a Chilean Consul in the U.S. to be acceptable for official use in Chile. Keep in mind that U.S. consular officials are not authorized to authenticate U.S. issued documents for use overseas. See our notarial services page for more information.
Obligatory Insurance for Personal Accidents (SOAP)
Law number 18490 mandates owners of motorized vehicles to have insurance coverage in the event of death or bodily injury as direct consequence of accidents in which the insured vehicle participates. It will also cover the expenses if you are a pedestrian or the passenger of a public motorized transportation service, but will not cover any damages to the vehicle.
This insurance is called SOAP (Seguro Obligatorio de Accidentes Personales) and it must be purchased once a year when paying for the corresponding vehicle registration.
If you are the victim of an accident report it to Carabineros (Chilean police) as soon as possible. Provide the complete name of the injured or deceased person, the license (plate number) of the vehicle, and the date, time and place of the accident. The police report is required to file the claim for compensation with the insurance company.
Keep all the receipts for the expenses (hospital, medicines, funeral, etc) you may have as direct consequence of the accident. Although this mandatory insurance can cover an important amount of medical and/or funeral expenses, it may not cover all of them. Depending on the nature of the incident the law establishes different amounts of compensation.
Learn more about SOAP and how it can protect you in case of an accident in the Chilean Securities and Insurance Superintendence website.