Uruguay, a small South American country of European heritage, has been known for decades as a beacon of stability and safety. And, in recent times, it has been increasingly attracting Americans and Europeans seeking new alternatives for safe investments, residency and citizenship.

What makes Uruguay stand out?

For starters, it is the country with the highest GDP per capita in Latin America; it has a broad middle-class, modern infrastructure and solid institutions. Foreign and local investors receive equal treatment, private property is strongly respected and there are no restrictions on the movement of capital in and out of the country.

Transparency International has consistently rated Uruguay as the least corrupt country in Latin America throughout the years. The Economist Intelligence Unit rates Uruguay as the most democratic country in the continent. And the World Justice Project rates the country at the top of the list in terms of rule of law.

Uruguay’s advantages can be summarized in:

  • A solid and predictable legal system.
  • Political and economic stability.
  • Social stability, thanks to the existence of a middle class, relatively low levels of poverty and the lowest ratio of income disparity in Latin America.
  • Low rates of corruption.
  • An open economy, with free flow of capital (inward and outward) and free convertibility of currency.
  • Equal treatment to local and foreign investors, guaranteed by law.
  • A solid banking system.
  • Generous tax incentives to investment projects, large and small.
  • A dozen free trade zones, from which hundreds of global companies operate with offshore customers, tax-free.

So, what does Uruguay offer? Among the many attractions that the country offers, most expats seek:

  • An easy Residency, Citizenship and Second Passport program.
  • Farmland investments.
  • Real estate, either as an investment or a place to live in.

Easy Residency, Citizenship and Second Passport

Uruguay has a stated policy of welcoming foreign nationals who wish to 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 some simple requirements permanent resident status is always granted.

The documents that are required are: the applicant’s birth certificate, a clean police record (which, for US citizens can be requested in Uruguay itself, at the local Intrepol office) and proof of some source of income to support oneself.

Uruguay allows dual and triple citizenship. And the country’s passport is a very reputable one. So, if, after residency, one also wishes to obtain Uruguayan citizenship (and a second passport), the applicant needs to wait three years (if married), or five years (if single). This period starts to run from the moment one first arrived in Uruguay to file for residency, and the person needs to spend six months out of each of those 3/5 years in the country to obtain citizenship.

The formal requirements to obtain citizenship are simple: two witnesses who can attest to the applicant’s connection to the country, documents that show activity in the country (such as visits to a doctor or a dentist, payment of social security taxes on an employee, a work contract or ownership of a business).

Andersen Tax & Legal is Uruguay’s member of Andersen Global, an international association of member firms comprised of legal and tax professionals worldwide.