Uruguay: Why Uruguay?

Last Updated: 31 January 2017
Article by Mark Teuten


If all you know about Uruguay is Luis Suarez, the (in)famous footballer, then this article is for you. If you do not even know who Luis Suarez is, then hopefully it is still for you.

Over the course of 2017, we'll write about a range of specific legal areas in Uruguay. But in this first article, we'll take the opportunity to provide a general introduction to Uruguay itself.

We hope this series of articles will be of interest to anybody who is looking at South America to start up a business, is looking at investment opportunities in general, or is seeking to start a new life abroad.

While many have found opportunities for success in Uruguay, it will not suit everybody. The hope is these articles will encourage you to check it out further. And perhaps for others, it will help them realize that this is not the country for them.

We know in some places, Uruguay is referred to as the "Switzerland of South America." But we would say at the outset that Uruguay is nothing at all like Switzerland. We do however have some good points that even Switzerland does not!


So, to answer a common first question: where is Uruguay? We are a small country between Brasil and Argentina on the Atlantic coast of South America.

However, "small" is a relative term. Uruguay's land area is the same size as the UK. But instead of having a population of around 65 million, we have only 3 million. That means there is a lot of open space and not so many traffic jams.

The climate is also less difficult than the UK. Summers average between 25-30C (77-86F). Winter temperatures range between 8-12C (48-55F).

In Uruguay, we do not get earthquakes, hurricanes or tsunamis. It's a peaceful food-producing country far away from the world's current hot spots. The biggest danger to your health here is bad driving.

The countryside consists of mostly fertile farmland and rolling hills.

The coastline is a string of sandy beaches all the way up to the border with Brasil. During the summer, these beaches and their seaside resorts are very popular with Argentinians and Brasilians – and are becoming increasingly popular with Europeans.

A view of the beach and lighthouse at Jose Ignacio, Maldonado.

Photo courtesy of: viajeuruguay.com

Political system and the economy:

Uruguay has a long history of democracy, which sets it apart from most other countries in the region. It has also always been stable economically and never defaulted on its government debt – even when the IMF advised us to do so.

There really is a separation of powers here between the Executive, the Legislature, and the Judiciary.

We are confident in saying as well that there is no discrimination in the treatment of foreigners - either in law or, more importantly, in practice.

That doesn't mean everything is efficient. This is still South America. But it does mean that if you get a poor service, you can be confident that a native Uruguayan will be receiving the same poor service!

As to the politics, there are elections every five years for a President, and a two-house legislature.

The present government is a socialist-oriented one, called the "Frente Amplio", but whilst it is left wing, it is not loony left. The country has done rather well in the 12 years since they first came to power.

The current President is Dr. Tabare Vazquez, whose main claim to fame is that he is a practicing oncologist.

The previous president, Pepe Mujica, was well known around the world as being the "poorest" President because he gave away a large part of his presidential salary. You can agree or disagree with his policies, but he certainly does not appear to have used the role for his personal gain.

Pres. Dr Tabare Vazquez
Photo courtesy of: Presidencia de la Republica

Ex-President Jose (Pepe) Mujica
Photo courtesy of: The Clinic Online


There is free public education up to 18, although standards in the public sector have unfortunately fallen. As a result Montevideo is full of private schools, many of them bilingual. Most these schools teach English, but there are also German, Italian and French schools. There is also a free public University (UDELAR) and several private ones.


Likewise there is a free public healthcare system, but whilst the standard of healthcare of such is good, the accompanying services are very poor. Most people opt for private insurance, using one of the several schemes available e.g. Blue Cross, or go direct to one of the hospital schemes. Writing as a Brit, I have to say that the best hospital here is without doubt the British Hospital!


As a conclusion, I would say that the quality of life here is very high. Family is still important – the nuclear society still exists here.

Montevideo itself has over half the population of the country but it is still relatively easy to get around. Most things are just around the corner – shops, banks and even friends.

For a relatively small city there are lots of theatres and special productions of classical music and opera. Finally, if you want more you can just cross over to Buenos Aires in Argentina, which is only 30 minutes by plane or 3 hours by ferry.

So that is a basic introduction to the country itself, which will hopefully give you some insight and will not have put you off already!

Moving on then to the legal regime we will be writing in the following months about the following specific areas: Immigration, Taxes (both corporate and individual), buying real estate and the different sorts of properties available (there are no restrictions on purchases by foreigners), starting a business, using Uruguay as a point of entry for Latin America, labour regulations, banking, wills and estate planning, duty free zones and some analysis of different businesses which have been successful in Uruguay over the last few years.

Hope you will be reading us next month!

An aerial view of the World Trade Center towers in Montevideo, with the River Plate in the background. Photo courtesy of: viajeuruguay.com

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.