Chile’s Customs Service’s Frequently Asked Questions

As a general principle, there is free import of merchandise; in other words, you may import any merchandise, except such as is forbidden by current legislation, e.g. second-hand vehicles and motorcycles, asbestos in any form, pornography, toxic industrial waste, among other things, and merchandise prohibited by the Ministry of Health, the Agricultural and Livestock Agency (SAG), and other government agencies.

Sometimes, the item to be imported, by its very nature, is subject to approval, permit, or control by some supervisory agency (SAG, Health Service, National Mobilization Department, Department of Frontiers and Limits, and others), which requires applying for the appropriate permit, approval, or authorization from the agency concerned.

What kinds of merchandise require approval, certification, or permit, and which is the controlling body?

All merchandise that under current legislation requires supervision by some government body prior to being imported.

The following items are listed as illustration.


1.- Armed Forces Mobilization Department (Dirección Nacional de Movilización de las Fuerzas Armadas (DNM FF AA)

Firearms, ammunition, explosives, and chemicals substances, inflammable and suffocating substances.

Written or audiovisual material related to the martial arts intended for teaching, without limitation, whoever or whatever the person, establishment or organization that performs the operation.

2.- Agriculture & Livestock Agency (Servicio Agrícola y Ganadero - SAG)

Vegetable products and merchandise hazardous to vegetables, animals, products, byproducts or offal of animal, fertilizers and pesticides, food products or by products of animal or vegetable origin.

3.-Ministry of Health

Food products of any description, Pharmaceuticals or food products for medical or cosmetic use, narcotics and psychotropic substances causing dependence, Waste and scrap containing batteries andaccumulators; zinc, lead, antimony, beryllium, cadmium, chrome waste, pharmaceutical or organic solvent waste. Substances that are toxic or otherwise hazardous to health.

4.-Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission (Comisión Chilena de Energía Nuclear)

Fertile, fissionable, or radioactive elements or materials, radioactive substances, equipment or instruments generating ionizing radiations.

5.- Fishery Under-Secretariat ( Subsecretaría de Pesca)

Hydro biological resources in whatever stage of development, including species of an ornamental nature

6.- Telecommunications Undersecretariat (Subsecretaría de Telecomunicaciones)

Radio communication equipment, authorization required before using transmission band.

7.-Ministry of Health, Saint John of God Hospital

Human remains or ashes from incineration of same, Ministerio de Salud, Hospital San Juan de Dios.

Wild fauna and flora protected under the CITES Agreement.

Administrative authority appointed under article IX of the Agreement.

The following may not be imported:

Second- hand vehicles (notwithstanding the franchises granted under prevailing provisions)
Second-hand motorcycles
Used and recapped tires
Asbestos in any form
Toxic industrial waste

Merchandise hazardous to animals, agriculture, or human health (e.g. some pesticides used in agriculture, toys and other items for children, containing toluene, adhesives made from volatile solvents, forbidden under decrees issued by the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture, and other government agencies.

According to the value of the item, there are two import processes:

(a) If the merchandise is not worth more than US$500 f.o.b., the importer may apply in person to the appropriate Customs office, following a simplified procedure.

(b) If the merchandise is worth more then US$500 f.o.b., the importer must hire a customs agent (see current list).

In the former case, the importer must submit the following documents:

Bill of lading,.whether the original document or one that replaces it, depending on the form of transport.

Notarized power of attorney from the owner or agent, in the event that the person applying is a third party.

Appropriate approvals or certificates (merchandise subject to control by SAG, Health Service, etc.

Passport or travel certificate issued by International Police when the item imported is part of travellers’ luggage.

Places and times to apply must be requested from the appropriate Customs office (see timetable)

In the latter case, where customs clearance of merchandise must be performed by a customs agent, the importer shall furnish such agent with all necessary documents for drawing up a customs entry application, which may be submitted via the Internet.

The necessary documents are of two kinds: those required for all imports and those required in certain cases only.

Documents required for all imports of a commercial nature include the following:

Original bill of lading, waybill, or air waybill, in proof of agent´s title to the merchandise
Original commercial invoice itemizing the merchandise sold and its prices
Importer´s affidavit on merchandise prices, on a form supplied by the customs agent
Authority granted by endorsing the original bill of lading

Documents required in certain cases only include the following:

Certificate of origin, in the event that the import is eligible for preferential tariff pursuant to a Trade Agreement Packing list, if appropriate; compulsory in the case of merchandise in containers Certificate of insurance, when the cost of premium is not shown on the commercial invoice List of expenses, when not included in the commercial invoice Permits, visas, certificates, or approvals, as appropriate (merchandise subject to control by SAG, Servicio de Salud, Dirección General de Movilización Nacional, etc.)

As a general rule, imports are subject to payment of duty ad valorem (6%) on c.i.f. value (cost of merchandise + insurance premium + cost of freight for transport) and payment of VAT (19%) on c.i.f. value plus duty ad valorem.

CIF USD$1,000.00
Duty ad valorem (6% on USD1,000) USD$60.00
VAT (19% on USD1,060) USD$201.40

Special taxes apply in certain cases, depending on the nature of the merchandise, calculated on the same tax base (c.i.f. + duty ad valorem) (e.g. luxury automobiles, luxury goods, alcoholic beverages, fuels, etc.), In other cases, items are subject to specific duties, in ranges established on a case-by-case basis (e.g. wheat, sugar). When import of used items is allowed, an extra charge on c.i.f. value applies in addition to applicable taxes according to the kind of items involved. In the case of merchandise originating in a country with which Chile has executed a trade agreement, the duty ad valorem may be removed or reduced by a certain percentage.

What items are subject to additional taxes?

Additional taxes apply to certain items according to their nature, including, among others: Gold, platinum, or ivory items
Jewels, natural or synthetic precious stones
Fine carpets and tapestries
Fine furs
Canned caviar and caviar substitutes
Air or compressed-gas weapons
The above are considered luxury items and in addition to duty ad valorem and VAT are subject to an additional tax amounting to 15% on c.i.f. + duty ad valorem.
Pyrotechnical items (fireworks) are also subject to additional taxes, amounting to 50% on c.i.f. + duty ad valorem.
Luxury vehicles (see question)
Alcoholic beverages (see question)
Tobacco (see question)

What additional taxes apply to alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages?
In addition to duty ad valorem and VAT, the following additional taxes apply, according to item

Mineral water, artificial beverages, and syrups 13%
Wines, champagne, cider, and beer 15%
Spirits, pisco, whisky, brandy, distilled spirits, including liqueur-like or aromatic wines similar to vermouth 27%
The tax base for calculating additional tax is c.i.f. + customs duties

CIF USD$1,000.00
Duty ad valorem (6% on c.i.f.) USD$60.00
Additional tax (27% on USD 1,060.00) USD$286.20
VAT (19% on USD 1,060) USD$201.40
(duty ad valorem + VAT + additional tax)
What is the tax on tobacco and how is it calculated?
The following taxes apply to tobacco imports, according to variety.



Processed tobacco

Tax base: sale price to the public

Calculation process:

1) Determine tax base in USD, using the following formula:

A = total packages
B = Price per package declared by importer to Servicio de Impuestos Internos (Internal revenue Service) by affidavit

100 packages to CH$1,000 ea.
100 x 1,000 = CH$100,000
100,000 ÷ 559.66 = USD$178.88 (CH$559.66 rate of exchange February 2005)

2) Determine amount of tax:
USD$178.68x64% = USD$107.92

3) Determine taxable base for VAT (c.i.f. + duty ad valorem + additional tax)

CIF USD$2,000
Duty ad valorem (6%) USD$120.00
Additional duty USD$107.92
2,227.92 x 19% = USD$423.30
VAT 19% USD$423.30

4) Total taxes applicable to imports

CIF USD$2,000
Duty ad valorem (6%) USD$120.00
Additional tax (60.4%) USD$197.90
VAT (19%) USD$423.30