Uruguay is a top destination choice for those looking for a quiet life off the beaten path, but with amenities that have come to be expected from the more developed world. It has a strong services sector and a fiscally healthy economy in addition to its Latin American charm. Those who choose to relocate there may wish to also work in the country, and it’s easier to work there as an expat than it is in many other countries, thanks to the fact that any resident can work legally.
Anyone with a permanent or temporary visa may work in Uruguay. If you are going to Uruguay with the intention of working, you can actually arrive, apply for your residency, and then wait in the country indefinitely – staying as long as you want – and get a feel for the life there and what kind of job you’d like to have. This is different from most countries, for which you’d have to already have a job locked in for this type of visa or for a work permit. You can avoid all of the hassle of needing a specific type of work visa or permit to work in Uruguay if you so choose.
If you are applying for temporary residency, however, you can choose to apply for a work type of visa. They are generally valid for four years, or for the duration of the employment contract, depending on your circumstances. There are seven categories of temporary visas, and each one represents a different type of work. You can apply for temporary residency as a scientist, teacher, technician, etc. These exist for many types of specialists.
When applying for any of these types of temporary visas for the purpose of work in Uruguay, you’ll need certain documentation. You will be expected to apply in person at the Uruguay consulate for a residence visa, but your employer will need to supply a legal work contract or a letter of commitment (notarized) and information about the company, the salary, and the terms of employment.
Starting a Business
Uruguay is very attractive to foreign entrepreneurs thanks to its steadily growing economy, stable government, and good commercial infrastructure. If you wish to start a business in Uruguay, you’ll likely need to have permanent residency status already. From that point, costs and requirements associated with starting a business can be quite low and pretty simple. However, it is known that taxes can be quite high. The general population doesn’t have a lot of expendable income either, so running a business could be difficult in this country unless you are headed for the agricultural or forestry sector. You might be surprised how much this country’s economy is reliant on these two industries.
Business types are as follows: corporation (Sociedad Anónima – SA), limited liability company (Sociedad de Responsabilidad Limitada – SRL), general partnership (Sociedad Colectiva), limited partnership (Sociedad en Comandita), joint venture, a branch of a foreign company, sole proprietorship (Unipersonal), and Free Trade Zone corporations. Foreign investors usually choose a corporation or a branch to set up a business in Uruguay. Unlike in many other countries, there aren’t any restrictions on the number of foreigners to citizens in either managing, owning, or working in your company.
The first step is to choose and register a name for your business, which is standard procedure in most countries. Next, you’ll be required to open a bank account and pay the required fees for that, deposit your initial capital to get started, and provide notarized bylaws with signatures of the business owners. Finally, you’ll need to register the business at a local Empresa en el Dia and pay any applicable fees associated with incorporating your business.
While tourism is a growing industry in Uruguay, most of the economy is heavily reliant on agricultural exports. Consider getting involved in this industry or in forestry to find the best opportunities. Otherwise, the services sector is where most of the jobs are.
- Unemployment Rate: 7.76%
- Minimum Wage: 50 UYU per hour, or 10,000 UYU per month ($352.30 USD)
- Major Industries:
- Agriculture, Cement, Fishing, Meat Processing, Oil Refining, Tanning and Leather Goods, Tourism, Wool, and Textiles
- Labor Force:
- Agriculture (13%)
- Industry (14%)
- Services (73%)
As in most other countries, it will be easiest to find work if you are bringing a special skill set to the table. With wages in Uruguay being particularly low compared to those of many developed nations, you would likely want to work simply to supplement a recurring income (like a pension) or to stay busy.
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