Uruguay: Key Legal Issues When Moving To Uruguay

Last Updated: 15 August 2016
Article by Fischer & Schickendantz

Key Issues for Investors

Key Issues

  • Are my investments and money safe in Uruguay?
  • Can I take my money/dividends out at any time?
  • Should I be worried about currency risk?
  • Can I safely purchase a property?
  • Should I worry about taxes?
  • May I obtain residency and move my belongings easily?
  • May I work or do business in Uruguay without restrictions?
  • Is it easy to open a bank account?

Investment Advantages

  • Investor Friendly Country:

    • Foreign investors and local ones are treated equally
    • No limitations to ownership of property by foreigners *
    • No restrictions to enter/exit the country
  • Business rules are Investor Friendly:

    • No currency exchange controls or forced conversion
    • Foreign Currency can be used freely: Dollars, Euros, etc.
    • No restrictions or taxes when transferring funds in
    • No restrictions or taxes when transferring funds out

Investment Advantages

  • Solid Legal System:

    • Strong reputation for respect of contracts & private Property
    • Independent and reputable judiciary
    • Corruption is not an issue in Uruguay
  • Private Property rights are strongly protected:

    • Constitutional right, enforced
    • No history of expropriations
    • Title Insurance available

Ranking within Latin America

# 1 in Educational Index (Latin Business Chronicle)

# 2 in Economic Freedom (Heritage Foundation)

# 1 Democracy Index (Economist Intelligence Unit)

# 1 Quality of Life (Mercer)

# 1 Corruption Perception (Transparency International)

# 1 Rule of Law Index (World Justice Project)

Residency and Citizenship

Obtaining Uruguayan Residency

  • Easy process, with no need to invest in the country
  • Permanent Residency granted within 12 months of applying
  • After 3/5 years, one can apply for citizenship/passport
  • Steps to obtain residency:

    • First, gather all the necessary documents (abroad)
    • Then, enter Uruguay as a tourist
    • Within 90 days submit the application at the National Migration Office
  • Once the application is filed, the applicant may stay in the country indefinitely, as a "temporary resident"

What documents do I need?

  • Most documents are obtained abroad:

    1. Birth certificate
    2. Marriage certificate (optional)
    3. Police record from country of origin, country that issued passport and countries where the person has lived in the last five years (for U.S. citizens, the police record may be obtained in Uruguay, at the Interpol office in Montevideo, Uruguay)
    4. Documents proving that one has income to support him/herself
  • The documents must be "Apostilled" (a type of stamp)
  • Other requirements: in Uruguay (brief medical, pictures)

Proof of Income: Key Requirement

  • Residency applicants must prove that they have an income stream consistent with their living standard
  • There are many options to prove this:

    • Pension from abroad
    • Mutual fund or retirement fund income
    • Proceeds from the lease of a property (abroad or in Uruguay)
    • Dividends
    • Work contract in Uruguay
  • The document must be certified by a notary (a type of attorney), in Uruguay

Bringing Personal Belongings

  • What may I bring free of import taxes?

    • All my household belongings
  • When may I bring them?

    • When I submit my residency request, I'll ask for an authorization to bring my personal belongings, which I'll take to the Uruguayan Customs Authority
    • The goods have to be brought in before Permanent Residency is Granted
  • How do I bring my belongings?

    • By posting a bond with the Customs Authority. When Permanent Residency is granted, the bond is returned.

Bringing Personal Belongings

  • Who helps me bring my personal belongings?

    • A Customs Agent in Uruguay
    • My shipping agent in the country of origin
    • My attorney/the person handling my residency in Uruguay
    • (all three must coordinate actions)
  • What documents must I produce to bring my belongings?

    • A list of the goods must be stamped at the Uruguayan Consulate in the country of origin, before shipping them
    • The National Migration Office authorization for the Uruguayan Customs Authority
    • A special case, Law 16,340, allows to bring a car free of import duties, but has hurdles and is seldom used

Myths on Residency

  • Myth: I need to be a Permanent Resident in order to own property or to do business in Uruguay

    • Truth: No. Residency is not required to own property or do business in Uruguay
  • Myth: I can bring a car free of import duties

    • Truth: Yes, but only under Law 16,340 for pensioners, which requires that ownership of a property be held 10 years, and other requirements
  • Myth: Owning a property in Uruguay automatically qualifies me in order to obtain residency

    • Truth: No. The requirement is proof of some form of income, not ownership of assets

Tips on Residency

  • Send your immigration attorney copies of the documents you intend to submit, before travelling, so they can be verified and translated on time for the filing.
  • Work on the wording of your income proof document with your immigration attorney, to make sure it meets what is needed.
  • Send your immigration attorney and your customs agent the list of belongings you plan to bring, so they can verify whether the list is reasonable or not.
  • Open a bank account in Uruguay.

Purchasing Property in Uruguay

Purchasing Property

  • The three most important questions to get started:

    • Who can purchase property?
    • How can property be purchased?
    • What can you purchase?
  • Answers: 3 A's

    • Anyone: There is no differential treatment, nor restrictions or impediments for foreign buyers of property.
    • Any way: individual(s), corporate vehicle (local/foreign).
    • Anything: No limitations (such as restrictions on borderline property, beachfront, etc.).

Structuring the Property Purchase

  • The purchase process requires the assistance by an "Escribano" (a conveyance attorney), appointed by the buyer.
  • The conveyance attorney's role:

    • Analyzes the ownership history and other details to ensure you buy a clean title
    • Drafts the reservation and the purchase document
    • Escrow agent for the deposit on the property
    • Records the purchase at the Property Registry
  • Proof of Ownership: Public Property Registry recording

The Purchase Process: Steps

1) The buyer selects a property, and agrees on the price

2) The buyer appoints a conveyance attorney who will draft the the reservation document ("Boleto de Reserva"):

  • Securing the purchase, by committing seller and buyer
  • Setting a penalty if either party breaches the commitment
  • Setting the amount that is deposited when signing the reservation (usually 10% of the price). The deposit is not handed to the seller: it stays with the buyer's appointed conveyance attorney
  • Allowing for a 30-60 day window to verify the deeds
  • Setting the closing date, on which the full price is paid and the property is transferred

3) After signing the "Boleto de Reserva", the conveyance attorney analyzes the title/deed and verifies information in Public Registries, tax situation, etc. to ensure the buyer obtains a clean title

4) The conveyance attorney then drafts the purchase document ("Escritura de Compraventa")

5) The purchase document is signed, the property is transferred, and the price is paid (*or the first installment, if it has more than one)

6) The deed is recorded in the Public Registry

Transaction Costs for the Buyer

  • Transaction Costs total approximately 8-9% in Uruguay:

    • Real Estate Agent Fee: 3% plus VAT (22%) = 3.66%
    • Conveyance Attorney Fee: 3% plus VAT (22%) = 3.66%
    • Deed Registration Stamp Duties ("Montepios"): 0.55%
    • Registry and Tax Certificates Stamp Duties: USD 700 on average
    • Property Transfer Tax: 2% of the Fiscal Value of the Property (which is usually substantially lower than the market value: 0.6% est.)
  • The Transaction Costs when selling are lower:

    • Real Estate Agent Fee: 3% plus VAT (22%) = 3.66%
    • Property Transfer Tax: 2% of the Fiscal Value of the Property (0.6% est.)

Tips and Suggestions - When Purchasing Property

  • Appoint a conveyance attorney from a respected law firm, who is bilingual and understands tax and estate laws, ownership through companies and laws in your country.
  • Leave a Power of Attorney with your appointed law firm so they may sign purchase documents on your behalf.
  • Decide on the best ownership structure.
  • Make bank arrangements for closing / determine who receives your funds in Uruguay to make the payment

Banking in Uruguay

Opening a Bank Account

  • Uruguay's Banking system is a solid one:

    • Few banks, all foreign-owned plus one government bank (BROU)
    • Banking Privacy Laws
    • No history of forced conversion or freezing of deposits
  • It's easy to open a bank account:

    • Foreign non-residents may open accounts in any currency

      • Note: Some banks do not open accounts to U.S. citizens
    • No special requirements for foreigners:

      • Two IDs (passport and driver's license)
      • Proof of Address (utilities bill), from your home country
      • Bank reference letter plus local reference, proof of income source

Taxes in Uruguay

Taxes: General Rules

  • No inheritance ("death") tax
  • Moderate business taxes if you start a local business (corporate income tax is a flat 25%)
  • Low property taxes
  • Uruguay only taxes certain types of foreign income (dividends and interest), at 12% ...
  • ...and makes sure you are not double taxed: if you already pay taxes on those types of income elsewhere, Uruguay does not tax you...
  • ...plus, during the first five years, you are not taxed at all

Taxes for a Property Owner

  • Taxes during ownership: Municipal and "School tax" (combined): 0.2- 0.5% (avg.)
  • Rental income tax: 12% (reduced to an effective 10.5%)
  • Capital gains tax (when reselling a property):

    • 12% of the gain if the property is owned personally
    • 12% if the property is owned by a foreign corporation
    • 25% if the property is owned by a local corporation


  • EASY
  • SAFE

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Fischer & Schickendantz
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Fischer & Schickendantz
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions