How to Navigate Santiago Chile Airport & Customs

This morning a kayaking traveler asked, “When I arrive to Santiago do I need a visa?” Instead of an email response I decided to prep a blog. For our arriving Chile travelers this data rich blog is designed to help you know what to expect and how to navigate Santiago (SCL) Chile Airport customs, baggage, claim, varying floors and levels, cafes, parking, UBER and taxis, check ins, and everything we could think of to prepare travelers.

Before You Fly

A. Bags and Security Plans

Map of Chile and Pucon1. Carry-on Plan. Plan as if you lost all of your bags except your carry-on. Toiletries, change of clothes, cameras, phone, laptop, documents… Prep for HOT months (JAN to MAR). When you get off that plane it is going to be HOT. Have shorts and tee shirt ready to change into especially if Santiago is your final destination
2. Locks on Your Bags. We have seen folks have cameras stolen out of their baggage before baggage claim. A simple and cheap TSA approved lock is enough to prevent baggage workers from stealing. If nothing else zip ties would require an illegal knife or scissors.
3. Prep for Baggage Delays. Don’t worry. Chile is excellent at delivering bags to our destination 90% of time within 24 hours.

Take photos of your bags and label well prior to boarding. Bag photos are awesome for recovery identification.

Pucon Kayak Retreat Address:  KM 10 Camino Caburgua; Pucon.

USE our CHILE number (NOT the US number). +56-9-3388-6197

LOST BAGGAGE. MUST REPORT loss baggage claim with your airline. Take photos of baggage claim slips and contacts.

Airlines are great about delivering bags to the retreat property. Or other times the retreat may send a driver to pickup delayed bags.

4. Got Your Documents.

PASSPORT. PASSPORT. PASSPORT.  Take photos.

Photo or copy of important addresses and phone numbers for help with translations.

5. Communication Contacts. It’s vital that you can communicate with the retreat. Please notify at every step of your travel success or challenges as they occur. Eg. “Dave and Tammy got our bags at Santiago and all good so far.”

David Hughes, Whatsapp is KING. +56-9-8833-6197, Facebook Messenger (find David on FB and this can serve as a form of communication), email – David@puconkayakretreat.com

Rick Bravo (Second point of contact). +56-9-8894-6656. 

6. Cash and ATM Cards. 

Banks and Casa de Cambios (house of change) will reject ripped, torn, written on and damaged bills. Bring crisp perfect bills for exchange.

ATM machines known as automaticos are everywhere. Notify your bank of your Chile travel and research any international fees.

B. Santiago (SCL) Departing the Plane to Exiting Airport

1. Customs Line and Visa. PASSPORT. PASSPORT. PASSPORT. 

Depart plane and follow the people to customs lines and check points. There are bathrooms along the way to brush your teeth and possibly change into shorts and tee shirts for those exiting airport in Santiago hot months climate.

Customs issues a free 90 day tourist visa upon arrival (no pre-applications required). If you stay longer than 90 days you will either have to depart Chile or request a visa extension.

Have destination address and contact printed for your “Vacation.”

2. Walk to Baggage Claim. 

If you feel you are ahead of your baggage arrival to carousel this might be a good time to change cash at the “Casa Cambio”.

Grab a free baggage cart and goto your baggage carousel.

Walk from baggage carousel to X-Ray machines.

3. Exit Baggage Claim Area – Enter Public Chaos Zone. As you exit the security of the baggage claim area you may be walking into an extremely crowded area of taxi drivers and public people awaiting friends and arrivals.

Are you exiting airport in Santiago? If so, then you should have a predetermined meeting point with your transportation that is away from the chaotic area.

Are you reboarding a connecting flight? As you exit baggage claim turn RIGHT and go direct to the elevators en route to Floor 3.

NO ONE helps you with your bags.

Exit third floor (international flights zone) and follow signs to “National Flights”. Enjoy a short walk.

4. Connecting Flights. OKay, you made it to the third floor with your large cart of bags and gear. 

National or International Flights. You’re most likely connecting to Temuco. With the new airport there is a new hike to the National flights. Exit 3rd floor and look for the “Nacional Salidas.” When I asked they helped me right away. It’s a solid 150 meters walk to the domestic National departures. See the sign in photo above. 

Long Lay-overs. Check-ins are often only 90 to 120 minutes prior to flight. If you have a long layover always check in ASAP. Recommend you find a cafe or safe piece of floor real estate to relax. Inside of the airport is a multiple factor more secure than outside.

If you need to sleep then tie your bags together or to you or sleep with them under your head. Whatever it takes to make certain no one slips bags out from under you. Set your alarm.

Cafes are great for working in… you’ll need a converter.

First floor has a secure custodial services where you can pay for store bags for hours or days.

Checking In. Once you find your airline counter and check-in you can further relax as your big bags are now in the security of the airport.

5. Exiting Santiago Airport. This mainly applies to our Claro and some institution programs such as Tahoe Expedition Academy and CMC.

PKR representative will be placed at the point where you exit baggage claim to help navigate or there will be a predefined meeting location.

C. Temuco (ZCO) Arirvals to Pucon 

1. Temuco (ZCO) Arrivals. Congratulations. You are 90 minutes away from arriving to a small easy to navigate four gate airport amongst the land of volcanos.

Follow lines to baggage carousel.

Got Transfer with PKR. Be looking around and out the windows for your pickup transport. Our drivers are trained to be outside of the window unless otherwise specified.

2. Temuco to Pucon Transfer Services. Without peak season traffic the drive to Pucon is 80 minutes. During peak season it can be much more.

As you exit the baggage claim area look just 60 feet to your right to see along the window wall a long counter of transfer services.

TransferAraucania.cl with a minimum of 4 passengers will Sprinter transfer you to Pucon for 14,000 pesos. Or about $USD15. You may pay for the remaining unfilled seats if there are not the mandatory 4 passengers.

Most often the transfer service delivers folks to the Grand Pucon Hotel or a destination within Pucon.

Pre-arrange a Pucon pickup with the retreat. Or you can hire an UBER or taxi to deliver you to the Pucon Kayak Retreat just 10 KM outside of Pucon.

  • Taxi, Uber, or bus to Pucon. We don’t recommend bussing with all of your bags from Grand Hotel Pucon as the walk to bus station is too much for your bags. Ubers seem to be the favorite of guests as there is a reliable app and security of defined pricing.

Got questions.

Feel free to email or call anytime. We are here to help.

david@puconkayakretreat.com or +1-828-788-5135

KEEP KAYAKING.

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Chile Mobility Pass Start to Finish

Updated November 18, 2021

Resource link, “Protected Borders Plan DEC 1”.

This week Chile announced yet more reductions in travel restrictions for travelers commencing December 1, 2021. This blog is a series of updates outlining both government travel requirements and a collection of travel experiences from our guests.

Chile Ministry of Health (Ministerio de Salud) November 15 Announcement

TESTING AND ISOLATION

1)
 They should not perform isolation or an examination for the detection of coronavirus (PCR or antigen) when entering the country who have a booster dose applied in the last 6 months prior to travel and that is registered in their Pass Mobility.

2) Those who have their Mobility Pass, but do not have their booster dose , must be tested at the point of entry and perform isolation until their result (if they have a connection to another city in the country, they will be able to continue their trip to their destination and wait for the PCR result at declared destination).

3) All those people who do not have their vaccines validated (non-resident foreigners who enter with an exceptional requirement considered by Decree 102 ) , regardless of their nationality, must be tested and isolated . The quarantine extends for five days even if the result of the test for detection of coronavirus is negative.

Breaking Down the Aforementioned Three Points 

1) This is a huge improvement for international travelers and the announcement all in the Chile travel industry have been hoping to read. This means those with a mobility pass and “booster” (we can only assume that means vaccines too) can (post DEC 1, 2021) travel direct to their Chile destination without the requirement of quarantine or PCR test results.

2) This too is great news and a huge travel improvement over the previous restrictions. Even if you don’t have you your “booster” you will receive your PCR test and isolate until results. The big improvement is allowance for connection to destination city without quarantine previously in Santiago. Every traveler we have spoken to has received their Santiago arrival PCR results in approximately 9 to 12 hours.

David Hughes Mobility Pass Directions from Oct 19 Travel

Updated October 19, 2021 post my (David Hughes) Raleigh Durham, NC flight to Santiago Chile. This is an account of Chile’s mobility pass from start to finish. The steps to secure the mobility pass appear to be the new international travel standard. Once documents are secure the Chile entrance systems are efficient and streamline.

OCT 1 Travel Changes.  Chile announces on October 1 foreigners may enter Chile with mobility pass, travel affidavit, 5-day quarantine, and no public transport to quarantine location (you can arrange private transport);

NOV 1 Travel Changes. Chile announces on November 1 foreigners may replace the 5-day quarantine with negative PCR results taken within Chile. In other words, until you receive negative PCR results you will either be en route to quarantine or in quarantine. My October 15 arrival observed that international travelers were given a PCR test upon arrival. PCR results arrived approximately 9 hours later to the personal data mobility pass online system. Meaning, had this been post NOV 1 I’d be free to travel now (OCT 20) due to my negative PCR results. There are also private PCR test locations at the airport Holiday Inn advertising PCR results in four hours or less. It appears, but not confirmed, Chile is invested to PCR test all international arrivals and expedite results to both protect covid borders and permit for safe travel expediency.

OCT 20 Update. Chile government not only checked on my quarantine status they gave me a followup PCR test right at the retreat.

Chile Entrance Requirements

Travelers visiting Chile will require two online forms to enter: The Mobility Pass and the Travel Affidavit.  Get these two requirements right and you will be freely traveling in Chile upon your arrival. For better explanation read, Chile Government Travel Directions Resource

Step 1. Complete the Chile Mobility Pass, or  https://chile.gob.cl/chile/en/ingreso-a-chile-desde-el-exterior

Mobility Pass Requirements. proof of vaccination, passport, contact and travel data.

Mobility Pass Status. You will receive an immediate confirmation email. It took 16 days before Chile sent an email confirming my Temporary Mobility Pass. I printed this email for my documents, but they should have you in the system. Once the 5-day quarantine or negative PCR results are fulfilled you are free to travel with updated mobility pass.

TIPs. Give yourself at least 3 weeks in advance of your flight date to apply for the Mobility Pass. I’ve heard of one international traveler that did not get their mobility pass prior to traveling to Chile. Chile sent them back to US. You are not allowed to apply for the mobility pass more than 45 days in advance of travel. I recommend 30 to 45 days even though I applied with only 24 days advance.

System Bugs. The system has a few bugs. For example, for where I got my vaccine I had to type in UNITED STATES OF AMERICA as the scroll down option would not work. United States may be listed as USA, Estados Unidos, United States or any variation and located randomly in the list of countries. Also, calendars seem to hae bugs. I had to type in date of vaccine as day-month-year or 29-07-2021 as calendar selection did not work. Process should have taken three minutes, but took about fifteen with the bugs.

Step 2. Complete the “Affidavit of Travelers” at www.c19.cl.

The travel affidavit uploads more documents into your connected online mobility pass. Affidavit of Travelers should be completed within 72 hours of your actual flight.

  1. Negative PCR test within 72 hours of boarding. I got my Walgreens PCR test 70 hours prior to flight to give more time for results. Results received within 24 hours, and appear to be much faster than last year;
  2. Travel Medical Insurance with minimum $30,000 of covid aka medical coverage. Make certain your plan states “covid” and associated coverage more than $30,000. Recommend adding trip cancellation and lost, stolen or damaged baggage to your insurance policy;
  3. Upload passport and contact info;
  4. Declared Domicile for 5-Day Quarantine or negative PCR results. Once you secure either your quarantine or negative PCR results (post NOV 1) your tempory mobility pass will change to permit (free to travel) status.

Upon completing the travel affidavit you will receive an email with a colored QR code. This is your ticket into Chile and the trackable link to your personal online Mobility Pass file. I took a photo and kept a copy of the email and QR code with my important docs: PCR results and proof of covid insurance. Which are now accessible via the QR code.

Airline Check In 

I checked in with Delta Airlines where Delta checked for proof of covid travel insurance negative PCR test, and travel afidavit. Flights were less than half full. All good so far.

Chile Arrival

Like always follow the lines. Chile starts with a solid covid defense system.

Moility Pass Check Station. There were possibly a hundred covid check stations and the process moved fast. Present your documents: QR code email (pase movilidad), covid insurance, passport, stay data and PCR results. They have all of your documents online and quickly scan your QR code. Then they match or even update any changes. For example, my Chilean insurance did not pass so I had to purchase insurance online. Then they updated my records right there. They were very helpful. You wireceive an exit card and depar for the next line.

PCR Test Stations. Next your mobility pass ID (USA+passport#) signs you up for a PCR test to be recorded to your mobility pass. My negative PCR results arrived approximately 9 hours later.

Chile Customs. Customs were as normal with questions such as location, reason for travel… and finally my passport stamp.

Now Offering Remote Work & Kayaker Stays Solutions with fiber optics internet.

David@puconkayakretreat.com or call +1-828-788-5135 to learn more.

Following section was written in September prior to NOV 1 changes.

What about those cheap Chile airfares? 

It’s true. Airfares appear to be low-cost. A quick Raleigh to Santiago flight search proved to be around $750 round trip and $450 one-way. Here are a few helpful tips.

  • Temuco (ZCO) or Santiago (SCL)? Often, you can save your airfare rates by buying two separate tickets SCL and ZCO. Keep in mind if you separate the airfares you will have to check in a second time upon arriving to Santiago and that may cost extra in second flight baggage fees.
  • Avoid Santiago numbers. We recommend flying direct to Temuco and arranging transport to Pucon.

Got questions.

Feel free to email or call anytime. We are here to help.

david@puconkayakretreat.com or +1-828-788-5135

Article by David Hughes. September 21, 2021.

KEEP KAYAKING.

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