How to obtain Residency, Citizenship and a Second Passport

1. Introduction

Uruguay has a stated policy of welcoming foreign nationals who wish to come and live in the country. There is no immigration quota, nor does Uruguay´s immigration authority discretionally reject applications. It is not required that the applicant invest in the country, either. As long as the applicant meets the requirements listed below permanent resident status is always granted.

An important thing to bear in mind is that Uruguay will issue permanent residency to applicants who can actually show that they spend time in the country, as opposed to simply filing for residency and leaving without returning. During the 12 to 18 months that it takes to obtain residency after you apply, you should at least be able to spend a total of six months in Uruguay per year. The six months do not have to be in one stretch of time and you may freely leave and re-enter Uruguay (and, naturally, you may stay indefinitely). Once you become a permanent resident, there is no longer a stay requirement and you will lose your resident status only if you stay out of the country for more than three years.

If, after residency, you also wish to obtain Uruguayan citizenship (and a second passport), you need to wait three years (if married), or five years (if single). This period starts to run from the moment you first arrived in Uruguay to file for residency, and –to be able to obtain citizenship- you need to spend at least six months out of each of those 3/5 years in the country (besides other formal requirements which mainly consist of gathering paperwork that prove your connection with the country).

2. Requirements

The required documents to apply for Permanent Residency are:

a) Birth Certificate

b) Marriage certificate: This is optional. The advantage of filing a marriage certificate is that it enables only one of the spouses to have to prove an income source (see “d”, below).

c) Police record

d) Proof of Income: The Proof of Income (PoI) requirement is fulfilled by proving that you have a steady stream of income to support yourself (and your family, if applicable). The amount of income you declare has to be consistent with your lifestyle. The PoI may be proven in a number of ways: a pension, dividends, rental income, or a work contract with a company in Uruguay, among others.

Note: We review the source of income with you, to ensure that it is acceptable for immigration purposes. A simple bank statement will not suffice as PoI, since it does not prove a steady stream of income. Thus, the prior verification that the documents you submit are correct is of great importance.

e) Tetanus vaccination

f) Medical check-up: A brief and simple medical checkup is required, from one of several authorized private clinics in Uruguay. This exam is fast, and it is not a screening test.

g) Proof of address: Uruguay requires that applicants have an actual address in Uruguay (a property, owned or rented). To meet the address requirement you have to provide a proof of residency issued by the police precinct nearest to your home. This takes only some minutes and you just need to show up at the police station in person with your passport and two witnesses who can simply verify that you live at the address you declare.

3. Stamping your documents before you submit them

Documents “a”, “b”, “c” and “d” (from the list in the previous chapter) need to be Apostilled in your home country (if your country is part of the Apostille Treaty: the United States, for example, is part of it). An Apostille is a simple stamp, which you obtain locally, at a state office.

If your documents come from a country that is NOT part of the Apostille Treaty (such as Canada, for example), the documents need to be stamped at the competent Uruguayan consulate (the consulate in the country where the document was issued). The stamping procedure is called “legalization” and all consulates are familiar with it. After you identify the competent Uruguayan consulate, call them and explain that you will send documents for legalization. They will ask you to send the documents, a check/money order for the legalization fee, and a self-addressed stamped envelope to return the documents to you.

4. The application process

Once you have gathered the necessary documents, our firm will assist you in notarizing them, translating them, and making the appointment at the immigration authority (NMO), to file them.

After you file your application at the NMO, your file will go through several stages. We´ll monitor the process, and provide answers to the NMO on routine questions they sometimes have on your Proof of Income (PoI). The NMO may request an update on the PoI halfway through the process, to make sure that you still have means to support yourself.

The NMO may also request a brief interview with the applicant, to confirm information on the documents that have been filed. We’ll escort you to the interview, if it occurs

Permanent Resident status is usually granted within 12 to 18 months (average). In the meantime, you will be a “Temporary Resident”, with a Uruguayan National Identification Card (“cédula de identidad”) from the beginning, and as such, you may stay in the country indefinitely (or come and go), and even bring your household goods import tax free.

After you obtain Permanent Resident status, you are issued the definitive identification card.

5. The advantages of obtaining Permanent Resident status

The advantages of obtaining permanent resident status are, mainly:

  • Once you have your permanent residency, you’ll be able to apply for citizenship (and a Uruguayan passport) in 3 years (if married), or in 5 years (for single applicants). Time starts to count from the day you first arrived in Uruguay to file for Permanent Residency, regardless of when Permanent Resident status was actually granted.
  • You will be able to stay in Uruguay indefinitely (from the moment you file your application).
  • You will be able to bring your personal belongings and household goods duty free.
  • You’ll obtain a National Identification Document, called "Cedula de Identidad", and local health insurance.
  • You’ll have easier travel requirements among MERCOSUR countries.

6. Our services

Our firm’s bilingual associates will work side by side with you along the way and make sure that you are assisted in every step:

  • We´ll secure your NMO appointment date and escort you on the application date, to file your documents.
  • We’ll help you contact the competent Uruguayan consulate (if necessary/applicable).
  • We’ll determine which is the best source of income to use, and will help you draft the supporting documents so they have the correct wording that the NMO requires.
  • Our notaries will produce the sworn certificates that the NMO requires for your proof of income and your address, based on the documents you send us.
  • We´ll have your documents translated by our in-house certified translators; and then stamped at the Foreign Ministry in Montevideo.
  • We’ll register your birth certificate (and marriage certificate, if applicable) at the National Registry so you can have your “cédula” issued.
  • We’ll escort you to the Interpol appointment to get your police record (for U.S. citizens), and we’ll book and escort you to your medical check-up in Uruguay.
  • We’ll connect you with experienced movers and work with them to make sure your belongings arrive properly.
  • One of our qualified associates will be present with you at the filing, and at the interview (to translate and assist you).
  • As your application moves within the NMO, we´ll submit the updates that are usually requested during the process, on your proof of income, and closely monitor your file.
  • We´ll assist you in obtaining your first temporary national ID (“cedula”).
  • We´ll assist you in renewing your temporary national ID a year later if necessary.
  • At the end of the process, we will assist you in obtaining your definitive cédula.
  • We´ll assist you in obtaining a driver´s license.
  • We´ll assist you with your application for citizenship and a second passport, once the necessary time (three or five years) has elapsed.**

7. Finding the right place to live in and realtors who can help you

Most people that move to Uruguay pick one of the following places and types of homes to live in:

  • Montevideo: condos in the coastline neighborhoods of Pocitos or Punta Carretas or in the Old City; houses in residential Carrasco.
  • Punta del Este: beachfront condos or houses.
  • Piriapolis, Atlantida or Rocha: houses near or on the coastline.
  • Colonia: colonial houses.
  • Farms which are distributed throughout the whole country.

We’ll be pleased to recommend appropriate realtors in each of these areas, so you can explore the different alternatives and get the right help finding your home.

In addition, our firm’s conveyance attorneys (escribanos) will assist in the required due diligence on the property, to ensure you obtain a clean title. Visit www.fs.com.uy to download our information on the property purchase process in Uruguay.