Getting Here & Airport

Santiago International Airport is called:
Arturo Merino Benitez

Santiago International Airport Location

The airport is located about 30km from the centre of Santiago and the drive time takes about 30min via modern automatic-pay toll roads, except for the toll required when departing the airport. All rental cars will have on the interior of the car windscreen a small device that is automatically charged when passing under infrared beams at set intervals on the highway. Outside of this area tolls need to be paid in cash. The first toll that needs paying is at the exit of the airport, so make sure you have some Chilean currency.

The airport comprises of one, large and very spacious terminal divided one end for international flights and the other for domestic flights. It is clean and full of shops and cafes “air side” – in other words after passing through immigration to leave the country, but there are some cafes and restaurants in the check-in side too.

There is still a problem, however, when two or more international flights arrive close to one another as the immigration facilities cannot cope with the massive surge of arrivals, so be prepared for delays especially in high-season months.

International Arrivals

Upon arrival you will need to pass through immigration, possibly pay a reciprocity tax (see below), pass through the Chilean agricultural and food control (SAG) and pass through Chilean customs. Note: We suggest you check directly with the airport for an up-to-date list of what the legal entry requirements are. Our information below is only accurate at time of press and may have changed.

Reciprocity Tax

Passengers with Australian, Canadian, American and Mexican passports have to pay a reciprocity tax before passing through immigration.

This tax is applied to countries that charge Chilean nationals a fee to process their entry visas, hence the term “reciprocal tax”. It is advisable to check before coming to Chile if, because of your nationality, you have to pay this tax and ENSURE that you have the cash on your person upon arrival. Enquiries can be directed to the Cash Desk + 56 – 2 – 6901063 and look at the web site:

Reciprocity Tax Approx Rates charged per person
Australia USD 30
Canada USD 136
United States USD 100
México USD 15

Upon arrival to Chile, through ANY border control point, you will be given a little form to fill out and is usually given to you on board your incoming flight. This form is a Tourist Visa and is VERY important. Keep it with you until you leave the country and surrender it to immigration. If you loose this document it will delay your departure and make it rather difficult and tiresome as new paperwork will need to be raised and questions will be asked as to why you do not have the original.

Hotel Accommodation Avoiding VAT Requirements

If you are a foreigner NOT residing in Chile, in other words you HAVE the entry tourist visa, then you will NOT be charged VAT (IVA) by hotels for accommodation. However, to qualify for this exemption you MUST present a valid passport AND your entry tourist visa at check-in.

You are NOT permitted to import the following items when entering Chile: Fruits, seeds, cheese, meat, vegetables or non-processed animal products, fire arms, munitions, explosives or illegal drugs. NOTE: Luggage is x-rayed upon entry and sniffer dogs check out luggage too. Check out the web site:

Passengers are entitled to enter, free of customs duties and taxes, all merchandise that represents their luggage. Luggage is understood to include:

Travel necessities (suitcases, bags, and personal effects), clothing, adornments, electrical toilet appliances, articles for personal use (alarm clock, camera, typewriter, portable calculator) that are used and appropriate for the normal use of the person importing or exporting them and which are not for sale. Objects for use exclusively for their profession or trade, provided they are used, portable, manual, of simple manufacture, that do not need to be installed for their normal use and relate to the traveller’s profession or trade.

Up to a volume not exceeding 400 cigarettes, 500 grams of pipe tobacco, 50 cigars and 2.5 litres of alcoholic drink per adult person (over 18 years old).
· House furniture.
· Household goods, crockery, linen goods and paintings.
· Musical instruments.
· Electrical or electronic goods, spares and appliances.
· Office installation.

Agricultural and Livestock Service (SAG)

The following should be declared on entering the country as these are NOT permitted:
· Milk, butter, cream and cheese.
· Fresh fruit and vegetables.
· Meats of any kind, cured meats and sausages.
· Seeds, grains, dry, desiccated or dehydrated fruits.
· Fruit, ornamental or forestry plants of parts thereof: twigs, cuttings, bulbs, etc.
· Flowers, dried flowers and garden plants. Soil.
· Word or bark.
· Insects, snails, etc. Bacteria and fungus for scientific research purposes. Bees, honey and bees wax. Animal semen, biological and veterinary pharmaceutical products.
· Small animals and pets (dogs, cats, etc.). Birds.
· Live species and their products or by products, prepared from wild fauna.

Important to bear in mind:

You will be asked to sign a sworn statement regarding the above. Making a sworn declaration that is not true constitutes a crime and can be punished by a prison sentence of between 61 days and 3 years. Refusal to make the declaration may be punished by a fine too. Check out the web site:


There are a number of taxi companies offering taxis from the airport as well as mini-bus transfers to take people to their hotels or homes and larger buses to take people to bus terminals. These days it is reasonably well controlled, but there are still often situations when numerous taxi men will hassle the arriving passenger vying for his or her business and this can be quite disturbing. The best bet is to either have a pre-arranged transfer or head for the “Taxi Official” desk and deal with them.

International Departures

The boarding area is located on the third level of the International Terminal.
On entering International Police, the passenger will be asked for their identification documents (identity card or passport), stamped TOURIST visa (depending on the country of origin) and the boarding card.
Those leaving Chile and intending to return, and who are carrying articles of value, should pass by the Customs office, located just to the right after the security control, to make a declaration of temporary export of the objects which are intended to be returned.

Airport Departure Tax

Airport departure tax, if not included in your ticket, is approx:

Domestic flights (less than 270km) Ch$3.509
Domestic flights (more than 270km) Ch$4.607
International flights (less than 500km) Ch$4.607
International flights (more than 500km) USD26
Check out the web site:

Souvenirs (Typical items)

Lapis Lazuli : A blue stone very popular in jewellery.

Pewter : Many original items are made out of this metal.

Alpaca Knitwear

Soft Woollen Sweaters

Mapuche Ceramics