Our scope of services includes all those required by individuals and companies moving to Uruguay, whether on a permanent or temporary basis. In addition, being part of a large law firm, we provide all the necessary legal, contractual, and notarial services that one could require.

Our firm also has a Tax & Accounting division, with broad experience advising foreign nationals on tax obligations, tax deductions, tax reporting to other countries, and filing for Tax Resident status, when desired.

Our Real Estate practice has the largest department of its kind in the market, with a team of bilingual conveyance attorneys, assisting individuals purchasing properties to obtain a clean title. We also provide guidance and information on places to live and help clients find real estate options that meet their needs, relying on a handfulo of realtors that work exclusively as buyer’s agents.

Please click below on each link, for information on each of our services:

Permanent Legal Residency

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 (“paper residency”).

During the approximately six to twelve months that it takes to obtain permanent residency, you need to show “intent to reside” in the country, meaning that you should spend most of that period in Uruguay (although not the whole time, and you may enter and exit the country as you wish). If you only spend just above half the time in the country during the application process, you must show that you intend to reside in Uruguay through additional means (an activity; if married, that your spouse is also in Uruguay; that your children under 18 are in a local school, etc.).

Once you become a permanent resident, there is no longer a requirement to spend time in the country; you will lose your resident status only if you stay abroad 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 you need to spend at least six months out of each of those 3/5 years in the country to obtain citizenship (besides other formal requirements which mainly consist of gathering paperwork during the period, to prove your connection with the country).

The required documents to apply for Permanent Residency are:
  • A.Birth Certificate: For those who don’t keep their birth certificate, there is a useful online service to obtain it: vitalcheck.com (this service is only available in the US).
  • 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: To prove that one has a clean police record, he or she must obtain a police certificate from the country of birth, from the country which issued the applicant’s passport (if different from the country of birth) and from those countries where he/she resided. If you used different names after the age of 18, you need to obtain police records with ALL your different names/alias. US citizens may request the police record in Uruguay (at the local Interpol office), or request it from the FBI in the US and bring it to Uruguay, duly apostilled.

The police record cannot be more than six months old on the date you file it with Uruguay’s immigration authority.

  • 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.
    In addition, you have to prove that the income is actually received in Uruguay, so it’s convenient to open a bank account in the country, which is easy, and can be done in a day, at some banks. If you do not have an account in Uruguay, it is important to be in the country two days before the residency filing date, to allow for time to open an account. In Chapter 5, below, we specify what is required to open a bank account. .

  • The Proof of Income document cannot be more than six months old on the date you file it with Uruguay’s immigration authority.

  • E.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.

Documents “a”, “b”, “c” and “d” 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 (eg Canada), the documents need to be stamped at the competent Uruguayan consulate (the consulate in the country where the document was issued).

We suggest that you scan and send us the documents by email before traveling to Uruguay, so we can verify that they are correctly worded, dated and stamped.

Once you are ready to travel, we’ll set up an appointment with the immigration authority, to file your documents. If you come from the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan or Latin America, you don´t need a visa. Simply enter as a tourist.

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.

Permanent Resident status is usually granted within six to twelve months (on 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.

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.
  • We’ll help you identify the competent authority to apostille your documents (or, alternatively, contact the competent Uruguayan consulate, if 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.

To get started, send us an email to info@fs.com.uy and we’ll send you a more detailed explanation as well as a quote according to the number of applicants within your family.



Temporary Residency & Work Permits

Besides Permanent Legal Residency, Uruguay offers Temporary Residency, and simple Work Permits, an option usually chosen by employees moving into the country to work for a company’s branch in the country for a limited period of time, or for a specific short-term project.

The requirements for Temporary Residency are simpler than those for Permanent Residency:
  • A.Birth Certificate: For those who don’t keep their birth certificate, there is a useful online service to obtain it: vitalcheck.com (this service is only available in the US).
  • B.Police record: To prove that one has a clean police record, he or she must obtain a police certificate from the country of birth, from the country which issued the applicant’s passport (if different from the country of birth) and from those countries where he/she resided. If you used different names after the age of 18, you need to obtain police records with ALL your different names/alias.
  • C.Proof of Income – Work Contract: The Proof of Income (PoI) requirement is fulfilled by providing the work contract from the employer.
  • D.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.


Expedited Residency for South Americans

Since October 2015, citizens from neighboring South American countries have an expedited way to obtain Permanent Legal Residency in Uruguay.

The process is conducted at a different government entity: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The only requirements are:
  • A.Birth Certificate:
  • B.Police record: To prove that one has a clean police record, he or she must obtain a police certificate from the country of birth, from the country which issued the applicant’s passport (if different from the country of birth) and from those countries where he/she resided. If you used different names after the age of 18, you need to obtain police records with ALL your different names/alias.

The Permanent Resident permit is granted within two months of filing the documents for review.



Tax Advice for Foreign Nationals

Foreign nationals who move to Uruguay need not worry about being subjected to taxes on their worldwide income, regardless of whether they already pay taxes elsewhere, as it occurs in many other countries.

Firstly, those who decide to spend more than 183 days per year in Uruguay (thus, becoming tax residents) will have a five-year tax holiday during which they will not pay income tax on any type of foreign income.
The five-year period starts running the year after one became a tax resident in Uruguay.
So, for example, if you become a tax resident in January 2018, you will not pay any income tax in Uruguay, on any type of foreign income, until 2024.

After the five years are up, if you are still a tax resident of Uruguay, then you would pay a 12% income tax on two types of foreign income: interest and dividends. Any other type of income is untaxed: capital gains, pensions or retirement income, lease income, etc.

Now, if you already pay income tax elsewhere (on that interest or on those dividends generated abroad), Uruguay does not tax you again (if you pay 12% or more, abroad). This is called the non-double taxation rule: Uruguay makes sure that you do not pay taxes twice.

If you pay somewhere else, Uruguay does not tax you again.
There is no need for a treaty for this. Uruguay has chosen to unilaterally recognize any payment in any country (without the need for a treaty) when it comes to ensuring that you are not taxed twice.



Tax Residency

Filing for tax residency (which one can do so after spending 183 days in Uruguay in a calendar year) requires the assistance of a tax accountant.

Our firm’s Tax & Accounting division assists nationals from several countries every year in filing the documents to obtain the Tax Resident certificate from the Uruguayan Tax Authority.



Citizenship and Second Passport

The citizenship application is filed before Uruguay’s “Electoral Court” (EC), and usually within six months citizenship is granted and, as a result, a full passport is issued.

The requirements are straightforward, and they seek proof of the applicant’s connection to the country over the three or five years:
  • A.Proof of Age and Nationality: One proves this with a birth certificate. An official copy of the one yused for the residency procedure is valid.
  • B.Proof of Entrance into the Country: This is a certificate that the National Migration Office (NMO) issues, stating that you are a Uruguayan Permanent Resident.
  • C.Proof of Residence and social insertion: You must prove that you have resided in Uruguay and that you are part of the community you live in. To achieve this, you should be able to show some of the following documents (this list shows some common examples):
    • Document from the Social Security Administration (BPS) related to any business activity or to employees you have in the country.
    • Medical Records: two certificates prepared by two different doctors and/or dentists stating dates when you visited them, in country.
    • Evidence of a job or pension in Uruguay.
    • Bank statements showing visits or withdrawals inside the country.
    • Deeds proving the ownership of a property in Uruguay.
    • Rental agreements.
  • D.Proof of Identity: You must present two witnesses who can attest to who you are (the two witnesses must be Uruguayan citizens, at least 25 years old and they must have known you for more than 3/5 years). The witnesses cannot be relatives, employees or employers.
  • E.Proof of economic support: You can use the proof of income used for the residency application or assets that you use to support yourself.
When assisting you, we’ll work side by side with you along the way and make sure that you are supported in every step:
  • We’ll escort you to your visit to the Electoral Court and ensure that you file your case properly.
  • We’ll obtain a copy of your birth certificate from the Civil Registry.
  • We’ll obtain your entry certificate at the National Migration Office.
  • We’ll help you decide the best way to prove your residency and social insertion and prepare the documents for the application.
  • We’ll make an appointment for you to obtain the Uruguayan passport and escort you to pick it up.


Real Estate Conveyance

Fischer & Schickendantz has Uruguay’s leading real estate acquisition advisory team, composed of a team of bilingual conveyance attorneys (known in Uruguay as escribanos).

We assist hundreds of foreign nationals and companies every year in properly structuring property purchases, conducting title searches, due diligence on the target properties, and ultimately ensuring the obtaining of a clean title.

Our professionals understand the considerations that a foreign buyer should have regarding estate laws, tax implications, and ownership options. We walk every client through these issues, to ensure that their ownership goals are met in accordance with their home country’s regulation, when necessary.

We advise in the acquisition of residential and commercial real estate throughout all of Uruguay, from condominium units in cities such as Montevideo, Punta del Este and Colonia, to undeveloped beachfront in Rocha. In farmland purchases, we handle dozens of transactions annually, throughout all of Uruguay’s 19 provinces.

The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, and The New York Times, among others, have consistently pointed out our firm’s expertise and knowledge in real estate law, and regularly interview our partners as advisors to foreign buyers of properties in Uruguay. Please visit the http://www.fs.com.uy/press/ for a selection of news articles.

Fischer & Schickendantz is the law firm of choice for the world’s leading title insurers: First American Title Insurance Corp., Fidelity Title Insurance and Stewart Title Guaranty.



Real Estate: Finding the Right Home

Besides assisting buyers with the legal angles of purchasing property, our vast experience in the real estate market and our knowledge of the key players, allows us to provide guidance when choosing a home.

We’ll explain the differences in lifestyle between the main cities and areas of Uruguay, and between the favorite neighborhoods within the main cities. And we’ll introduce the proper buyer agents to meet clients’ needs.

Click here to see a presentation on the different regions and cities that Uruguay offers, and examples of properties in each. Uruguay’s Different Cities: Examples of Properties



Health Insurance & Schooling

One of the key things that newly arrived persons to the country request is a good health insurance program.

Uruguay’s main hospitals and health insurance companies offer options to foreign nationals (whether resident or not) of different ages. The programs vary, and our associates have years’ of experience advising on the best options that meet clients’ needs.

We walk clients through the options, the requirements and the costs; we take them to visit the hospitals, and we assist with the filling of forms and related paperwork.

Schooling is an important concern for those who have children. Our associates will recommend the different schools available, explain which ones have the best bilingual teaching methods, and show distances to and location of each.

As with health insurance options, our associates will assist in filling registration forms and paperwork, when needed.

Legal Support

Fischer & Schickendantz is recognized as one of Uruguay’s leading law firms by companies and individuals doing business and investing in Uruguay. With a multi-disciplinary team of lawyers, conveyance attorneys, MBAs, and tax accountants, Fischer & Schickendantz prizes its focus on providing a creative solutions to individuals and corporate leaders, both local and from overseas.

A full service law firm, Fischer & Schickendantz’s practice is divided into six core units: Corporate, Real Estate, Litigation, Tax & Incorporation, Immigration Law and Agribusiness.

The firm’s Corporate division serves some of the main companies in Uruguay, including the largest private investment venture in the country’s history an iron-ore mine and port, leading agribusiness enterprises and global construction companies engaged in Uruguay’s privatization and infrastructure projects.

Our Real Estate practice has the largest department of its kind in the market, with a vast team of bilingual conveyance attorneys, assisting businesses and individuals purchasing properties, developing commercial and residential real estate, and structuring farmland purchases and operations. Global publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, and The New York Times, have repeatedly singled out the firm’s expertise in this area and relied on us as a source on market trends and investment regulation.

Our Litigation division handles complex cases, involving local and cross-border issues, and among many recognitions, Fischer & Schickendantz’s litigation team obtained the first ruling by a Uruguayan court on international lis pendens in 2013, a leading case on behalf of a Fortune 100 corporation, and a significant landmark on behalf of foreign investment. Our arbitration experience extends beyond borders, with our main litigators having past and current multi-million dollar engagements in arbitration processes locally and in foreign venues, including London.

The firm’s Tax and Incorporation department manages hundreds of local and offshore corporations, advises foreign investors setting up operations in Uruguay’s dozen tax-free trade zones, and our partners regularly speak at global seminars, including the leading global Offhsore Investment Conference.

The firm boasts the country’s largest Residency and Immigration practice, to provide companies and individuals relocating to Uruguay a comprehensive service. This department is linked to some of the world’s largest service providers in the field, to ensure seamless assistance on corporate immigration cases.

Finally, Fischer & Schickendantz has a specialized Farmland Investment Advisory Unit www.uruguayfarms.com, dedicated to assisting investors in Uruguay’s thriving farmland sector: in agriculture, forestry, livestock and meat processing activities. Our team has helped set up agricultural enterprises of all sizes, and has been engaged by multinational companies to structure both the purchase and sale of land, not only handling the legal aspect, but also the search for targets.

To learn more about our firm, we invite you to explore www.fs.com.uy, where you will be able to read about our main practice areas, see a list of representative clients, visit international press articles which distinguish our practice, contact our members, and acquire valuable information on doing business in Uruguay: on the right hand side of our site you’ll find a handful of presentations explaining the rules on some of the favored issues for foreign companies and individuals doing business in Uruguay.



Notarial Support

Many of the documents that must be submitted to the Immigration Authority require notarization. Fischer & Schickendantz has six in-house notaries, all of the bilingual and with experience in understanding foreign documents to be submitted at government offices in Uruguay.

In addition, our notaries prepare any kind of documents required by clients, including contracts, powers of attorney, wills and declarations.

They also handle, as required, title searches and purchase structuring of properties. Please see our description of this service in the Real Estate Conveyance chapter.



Translations

Fischer & Schickendantz has a team of in-house certified interpreters, to provide clients with any translation services that are required, whether this be translating documents for a Resident Permit application, or assisting in meetings or events.

The fact that our interpreters are in-house, and with years of experience translating legal documents ensures a smooth interaction with our associates handling Permanent Resident or Citizenship applications.



Moving household goods

If you are applying for Permanent Residency and you plan on bringing household goods into Uruguay, you qualify to bring them in tax-free.

Please make sure you indicate your intention to bring goods from the start, so we may request the relevant document enabling this to be done tax-free.

We work alongside the top moving agents with relocation experience and will be glad to make the proper introduction. It will be important to know what items you wish to bring from the start, so the agent can assess their value.

The agent will also explain what documents need to be brought and what requirements must be met, to allow for a smooth importation of the goods (usually, only an insurance bond, which is released after you obtain the resident status).

The moving agent will also be able to assist you in case you wish to bring pets or guns with you. Uruguay is very pet-friendly. As for guns, hunting of birds and wild boar are popular throughout the country.



Driver’s license

Foreign nationals who move to Uruguay are entitled to obtain a local driver’s license.

By bringing your existing drivers license from your home country, and filing some simple paperwork at the relevant Municipality, we assist in processing the request and issuance of a Uruguayan driver’s license.



Bank accounts

Uruguay has an open financial system. Banks open accounts for non-residents, and non-residents hold almost a quarter of bank deposits in Uruguay. Deposits can be held in local currency, US Dollars or Euros.

The banking system is solid, and is made up of a handful of banks (Uruguay rarely grants a bank license, and chooses to keep a limited number of solid, well-known banks).

The banks that operate in Uruguay are:
  • Banco de la República Oriental del Uruguay (BROU, or “Banco Republica”). This is the largest bank, government owned.
  • Itau (Brazil)
  • Scotiabank (Canada)
  • Santander (Spain)
  • BBVA (Spain)
  • HSBC (UK)
  • Heritage (Swiss)
  • Citibank (U.S.)
  • Banco de la Nacion Argentina (Argentina)
  • Bandes (local)
The required documents to open an account are:
  • A.Your passport and your spouse´s passport.
  • B.A second ID (a driver’s license, for example).
  • C.Proof of address: any utility bill from your home country.
  • D.Proof of income. This can be a social security document, a CPA letter stating your monthly income, proof of rental income, tax returns, etc.
  • E.One or two bank reference letters: a letter from the bank/s you operate with saying that you are a client in good standing and the number of years you have been a client with the bank who is issuing the letter.

In addition, the bank will require a brief personal visit, to sign the relevant forms, and will ask for an indication of the estimated funds that will come into the account, along with an explanation of their origin.

Please bear in mind that it is your obligation to comply with any applicable laws in your home country regarding disclosure of foreign bank accounts. You should consult an attorney in your home country, to ensure you understand current regulations and meet their requirements.



Vaults & Safety deposit boxes

In Uruguay’s main cities, banks and other types companies offer private vaults and safety deposit boxes of different sizes, at a reasonable cost.

Most banks have availability. Foreign exchange houses also offer them, even in places such as their branches at shopping malls. And, finally specialized companies that deal exclusively with safety deposit boxes also offer them.

Usually, the requirements to open a safety deposit box are a copy of one’s passport, a bank reference letter, and a professional reference letter.



Buying gold

The purchase and selling of gold inside Uruguay is allowed, and so is bringing gold into the country.

The largest foreign exchange houses usually offer coins and bars for purchase over the counter.