Getting through the Santiago International Airport will be much easier, assuming you have all of your travel documents in order (Passport, Visa or Tourist Card).
You can avoid unnecessary delays and hassles at International Police, at the Baggage Claim and in Customs by following the pointers we have included. It really helps to know what to expect and where to go once you are in the airport.
My father-in-law wanted me to be sure to mention the Reciprocal Visa Fee for some first-time visitors (USA, Canada, Australia, and Mexico) to Chile.
Here are some photos of what you will see when you get into the Santiago International Airport. These are to help you get through smoothly and with the least hassle. Lots of folks wait in the huge line to get through the International Police only to find out they didn’t pay the tourist visa fee.
The first photo above, Immigrations Customs Airport Sign, is the sign you see when you get off your plane. It is pointing you to the Stairway/Immigration/Customs area, so you go in that direction. 🙂 So far so good.
The next photo, Stairs to Lobby, shows me in the white baseball hat descending the stairs. At the bottom of the stairs or escalator, you will enter a large lobby.
The next photo, Reciprocal Visa Fee Payment, shows you what you will see to your left when you get to the bottom of the stairs. That is where you pay your visa fee. You need to pay your visa fee first, before you get in the line to get through International Police.
If you know where to go as soon as you get to the bottom of the stairs you will save yourself some time and bypass lots of folks, because they will be wandering around trying to figure out what to do.
And then, after you pay your visa fee, they will staple the visa paperwork into your passport. Click here to see what the visa stamp and paperwork in your passport will look like.
After they have stapled the visa paperwork to your passport, you will then get in the line to go through the International Police, which will now be to your right, at the end of the large lobby area.
You just show your passport and your tourist card that you filled out on the flight and everything will be fine to get through the International Police. The Lobby and International Police photo seen below shows you what the lines can look like, especially if your flight gets in with several other flights at the same time.
After you get through the International Police you will bear to your left. You will come to the Baggage Claim (click here to see a photo) area, not a big area at all, but there are four carousels.
The carts to carry your baggage are free. Just take one that others aren’t using.
It is possible that they will have already started taking your luggage off the carousel before you get there, so look around beside the carousel if you don’t see it on the carousel. They do that because some folks delay getting through the International Police.
After you get your luggage, you will then proceed through customs, directly behind you from the luggage pickup. Make sure you go to the NON DECLARING area, which I think is marked by GREEN arrows or something. It is in English and Spanish. If you are traveling with just your personal items, like a laptop, you wouldn’t need to declare anything. You will hand them a declaration form that you are not bringing any fruits or vegetables, seeds, meat, etc.
They will probably have you put your bags and carryons through the xray machine, which you will follow, of course. There are a few men there doing that. Just keep an eye on your stuff if they want to open anything after it goes through the xray machine. There is a theft problem, so don’t have anything of any value in there. I have had them open stuff, but rarely. They are looking for electronics that people are importing, or food items.
On the other side of customs, you will exit either to the right or left into the waiting area lobby in the airport, with lots of taxi drivers and folks in your way. Just don’t let the taxi drivers carry you off.
Keep your wallet in your front pocket.
Welcome to Chile!