Exporting goods to Chile. Recommendations and Customs Requirements

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Chile, with an area of 756,096 km2 and a population of 18,383,000, has an economy that is ranked at number 42 by GDP. Its GDP per capita in 2017 was 13,483 euros, which places the country in 53rd place in the world ranking of GDP per capita.

In terms of cross-border trade, Chile exported 62 billion dollars worth of goods in 2016, making it the 41st largest exporting country in the world. Copper is undoubtedly the main driver of Chilean exports, whether refined or as unprocessed ore.

Goods imported into Chile

With respect to imports, in 2016, the Chilean economy registered imports with a value of over 57 billion dollars, a figure that makes it the 44th largest importer in the world. The range of products that Chile receives from abroad is very varied. Among the most imported items are automobiles, parts and accessories for tractors, radiotelephony, broadcasting or television equipment, digital video recorders and cameras, computers, airplanes and/or helicopters, medicines and wheels.

These products come mainly from China, with 26%, the USA (14%), Japan (8.4%), and European countries such as Germany, Spain and the Netherlands, together with neighboring countries such as Brazil, Peru and Bolivia.

E-commerce, on the increase in the Chilean economy

According to data from Chile’s National Chamber of Commerce, e-commerce has gained momentum in recent years, growing 36.8% in the first half of this year and showing a positive trend from mid-2016 to date.

The main point of reference for this growth is online shopping using debit/credit cards, which has increased 7% since 2013. The service sector stands out strongly in this area, where a third of the payments are made digitally. As for the Retail sector, online sales increased by 42.6%, with a strong presence for the Supermarkets category.

Customs formalities when importing goods

The import of goods into Chile is, as occurs in the rest of the world, regulated by a series of international regulations and agreements that must be taken into account in trade operations with the country.  Depending on its nature, the product to be imported may be subject to control or authorization by some inspection service or by customs. It will be necessary to obtain this authorization beforehand, from the respective body, in the case of products that require it. 

Likewise, depending on the value of the goods, the customs clearance process may be carried out directly by the importer or it may be necessary to hire a customs agent. In the case of goods with no commercial value, that meet a series of requirements; and goods with a commercial value up to US$1,000, the clearance procedure may be carried out personally by the importer in a simplified manner. For goods with a commercial purpose and a value greater than US$1,000 FOB, the importer must hire a customs agent and present a number of documents, including:

  • Bill of lading and sea waybill or air waybill, demonstrating the consignee’s ownership of the goods.
  • Original commercial invoice that accredits the merchandise that is the object of purchase-sale and its values.
  • Affidavit from the importer on the price of the goods, form delivered by the customs agent.
  • Mandate simply consisting of the endorsement of the original bill of lading.

In the case of goods entering through the postal service, Customs Declaration CN22 or CN23 will be used for customs clearance, depending on the type of shipment, which will already include the description and value of the items. These documents are issued by the postal operator at origin with the information provided by the sender and presented for clearance at the destination by the local exchange bureau, together with postal transport documents CN37 or CN38.

Normally, in the case of postal shipments, the local exchange bureau performs the clearance procedures before Customs on behalf of the importer, through an agile and simplified procedure enabled for this type of shipment. If you need more information on the advantages of the postal service over other modes of shipping take a look at our post Advantages of the Postal Service for the Transport of E-commerce Goods.

As a general rule, imported goods are subject to payment of the ad valorem duty on their CIF value (cost of goods + insurance premium + freight value) and payment of VAT on their CIF value plus the ad valorem duty. In some cases, depending on the nature of the goods, special taxes or specific duties will be required (e.g. tobacco, alcohol, jewellery, wheat, fine skins, gold, platinum and ivory articles, etc.). 

Similarly, the entry of some goods into Chilean territory may be prohibited or restricted. Materials such as used vehicles, industrial waste, goods that are hazardous to human or animal health, pornographic material, among others, are among those restricted for import into Chile, according to current legislation. 

More information on applicable customs duties and taxes can be found in the guide prepared by Cacesa on Customs requirements for the import of postal goods into Latin America, along with the complete list of restricted and prohibited articles, and other requirements for the import of goods into these countries, including Chile. 

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