Uruguay does not offer a fast track to citizenship through an investment or payment programme. Neither is it possible to get a passport without really living here for quite a long time. But if you are prepared to make that commitment it is easy to get. The one size fits all regime is set out in Article 75 of the Constitution.
- Anybody who has obtained permanent
residence status can apply for citizenship after three years if
they have other family members with them in Uruguay or after five
years if they are on their own. The time period for citizenship
starts to run when one begins to live in Uruguay, not from the time
permanent residence status is granted.
Also, note there is no minimum period during which one must have lived in the country during each year or over the whole three or five-year period. Instead, the citizenship applicant must demonstrate that Uruguay is their habitual residence.
- The applicant must show that he or she has capital invested or property in the country or that they have a profession or trade.
- An applicant must show that he or she has settled in the country and adapted to its culture. This requirement is somewhat vague but basically means showing that the person has made roots here. Any kind of documentation can be used to support this.
- A basic understanding of Spanish.
- Two Uruguayan witnesses who are not family members to confirm the person's identity, that he or she has adapted to life in Uruguay, are of good moral character and support democratic ideas.
- Applications for citizenship are made in person at the Electoral Court. At the time of applying, you file your supporting documents. In this same visit, you will be given a date for the interview, which will normally be in about one months' time.
- The interview is personal, and you must attend together with your two witnesses. The interview is very basic and consists of a few questions to confirm what you have done during your time in Uruguay.
- After the interview, it will take about six months to get a decision. If the application is accepted, you will get a certificate of citizenship and can then apply for a Uruguayan passport.
- It ensures your right to live in Uruguay and return at any time even after any length of absence - it is not revocable.
- It gives you the right to a Uruguayan passport without having to give up any other passport.
- After three years as a citizen, you are entitled to vote in Uruguayan elections.
- Not only do you have the right to vote, you have a legal obligation to vote and will be fined if you don't. The fine is not a lot, but it is a fine none the less.
- Uruguayan passports include a section
in the photo page called "Nationality". This will include
the person's country of birth since under Uruguayan law this is
what decides a person's nationality. So if you were born
in France, your nationality for Uruguayan purposes is French and
the Uruguayan passport will say "French" in the
There are some doubts as to whether this limits the value of the passport, since it is only an identity document and does not necessarily resolve a person's right to enter or live in a particular country.
- It is not possible to apply for citizenship for minors (under 18). The Electoral Court understands that even parents cannot apply for citizenship for their underage children.
Uruguayan citizenship, complete with a passport, is easy to get if you have lived in Uruguay for the necessary time. The passport can be quite useful as it provides visa-free access to the EU and in principle, makes it is easy to get a US visa. Uruguay is also on a shortlist of countries to be admitted to the US Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) scheme.
However, Uruguayan citizenship is not available without living in Uruguay for the required three to five years, and it may still have limitations as mentioned above.
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.