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.

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”

Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). 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 & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd 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 or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

*** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.