Do’s and don’ts in Chile
Spanish is the official language and you will meet many Chileans who prefer to speak Spanish rather than English because they do not speak it well or even not at all. In case you do not speak Spanish, we recommend calling in an interpreter whenever you have an important business meeting.
You should discuss corporate strategies with the highest-ranking employees, because decisions are taken at that level. The rule of law is highly respected, which leads to low figures of corruption but more bureaucracy. Having the right contacts may help to speed up the process.
Chileans are relatively conservative and formal when it comes to clothing. When having a formal meeting, showing up punctually is appreciated. However, you should not be surprised to see that your Chilean business partners show up late. Chileans are known to be ‘social’ business partners and they will try their best to make you feel comfortable. Small talk at the start of a conversation is not unusual and often appreciated. Invest time in building and strengthening personal relations; family, friendship and career history are important aspects for your Chilean partners.
Lunchtime is between 13.00 and 15.00 while dinner is usually between 20:00 and 22:00. Lunch is an important moment for business meetings and can be relatively long. It is quite common to drink wine during a business lunch.
Does Chile have a lot of import restrictions?
‘Aduanas de Chile’ is the entity in charge of regulating import. This governmental authority requires submission of certain paperwork in order to successfully allow the entrance of goods into the country.
This governmental entity has a FAQ in Spanish.
Please click here to access this website.
In a section of their webpage, Aduanas explain which goods cannot be imported in Chile and those that need to have a special permission by the government in order to enter the country. According to the information provided by Aduanas de Chile, the following items cannot enter Chile for commercial purposes:
- Used vehicles
- Used motorbikes
- Used tires
- Industrial Waste products
- Products that are dangerous to animals, livestock, agriculture or human health (e.g.: pesticides for agricultural use, toys and other items for infant use that contain toluene or adhesives that are manufactured with volatile solvents). The Chilean Ministry of Health, along with the Ministry of Agriculture (and in some cases other governmental institutions) can decide which goods are unfit for import on sanitary grounds.
- Other miscellaneous merchandises that, according to current legislation, are prohibited to import.
There are other products that have to go through clearance in order to be imported into Chile. The types of products that have to pass an inspection before they can enter a Chilean port can be found in the table below, along with the respective government institutions responsible for executing product controls. A note to the reader: please bear in mind that this list of categories is not exhaustive and according to Aduanas de Chile, these are just examples.
What kind of import duties and taxes can we expect?
This subsection provides an overview of the duties and taxes that imports might face. It is important to remember that Chile has an association agreement with the EU, which facilitates trade substantially by allowing a 0% import tariff for many products that are exported by the EU.
While this is true for the great majority of products, it must be said that there are some exceptions to this rule. Alcohol, tobacco products and luxury items face taxes. Aduanas provides a list of products that require taxes to be paid.
The list of products that might have to pay additional taxes is:
- Gold, platinum and ivory articles
- Jewelry, natural or synthetic gemstones
- Fine carpets and textiles and other articles of a similar nature, as qualified by the Servicio de Impuestos Internos (Chile’s Internal Tax Revenue Service, SII)
- Fine furs, as qualified by the SII
- Conserved caviar and its substitutes
- Air weapons and compressed gas weapons, along with its accessories and projectiles, with exception to arms used for submarine hunting
- Pyrotechnic products, such as fireworks and firecrackers except the types for industrial, mining, agricultural or signaling use.
- Alcoholic beverages
A last note: the taxes on alcoholic beverages and tobacco depend on the type of the product. For example, beer, wine or champagne face a 15% tax rate while hard liquor imports are taxed at a 27% ad valorem rate. If you are interested in more detailed or specific information, please see the Chilean custom’s website.