Country guides South & Central America
Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. There are various types of plugs in use, including ‘Schuko’ plugs, and the plugs commonly used in Australia.
The official language is Spanish.
The official currency of Uruguay is the Uruguayan Peso (UYU) but some tourist businesses, retailers and taxi drivers also accept US Dollars. The peso is divided into 100 centésimos and currency can be exchanged at banks and Money Exchange Shops, which offer similar exchange rates. ATMs are widespread in all but the smallest interior towns; most upmarket hotels, restaurants and shops accept credit cards.
Tipping is discretionary in Uruguay but a gratuity of between five and 10 percent of the bill is usually offered in restaurants. Passengers usually round up the bill for taxi drivers; guests ordinarily tip hotel porters about $1 per bag.
Hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccinations are recommended, and travellers are advised to take precautions against mosquito bites due to a high risk of dengue fever. Medical and dental treatment is expensive in Uruguay so comprehensive travel health insurance is strongly recommended. It's best to take sensible precautions regarding the consumption of food and water; visitors should stick to washed, peeled and well-cooked food, and bottled or purified water are better options than tap or well water.
Though visits to Uruguay are generally trouble free, street crime such as bag snatching, pick-pocketing and mugging does occur in Montevideo. Visitors should take care when withdrawing money from ATMs, and avoid carrying large amounts of cash or wearing expensive jewellery. The risk of terrorism is low.
Uruguay is a secular and progressive country where gay and lesbian visitors are most welcome. Indeed, Uruguay is widely considered the most LGBT-friendly destination in South America. Locals tend to stand close together when talking and it is considered rude to back away. Close acquaintances may greet with a kiss on the cheek, though a handshake is perfectly all right for introductions.
While gender equality is progressive in Uruguay, women may experience a fair amount of attention that can border on harassment at times. Visitors should avoid making critical comments about the country, or comparing it to Chile, Argentina, and Paraguay.
Uruguayans appreciate those who dress well, so a conservative yet stylish outfit will go a long way towards making a good first impression. Dark-coloured suits and light shirts are good options for men, while women should stick to business suits or elegant dresses.
Titles are important and it's best to address people by professional honorifics such as doctor where applicable. There is no specific ritual surrounding the exchanging of business cards, though it's courteous for foreigners to have one side translated into Spanish. Most businessmen speak English but it is good to suggest hiring of an interpreter as a sign of consideration. Foreigners should avoid hard selling and any sort of confrontation wherever possible, as locals respond far better to the soft sell.
Visitors to Uruguay do not need to pay customs duty on four cartons of cigarettes, six litres of distilled alcoholic beverages, 5kg of foodstuffs and goods up to US$500 if bought at the entry duty free shops. Certain foodstuffs, plants, narcotics, pornographic material and explosives are strictly prohibited. Live animals, endangered species, medication and large sums of money are restricted. Visitors should check with official government sources before bringing such items in to the country.
The international dialling code for Uruguay is +598. Visitors can purchase local SIM cards with reasonably priced data plans for unlocked phones; WiFi is widely available in cities and larger towns.
Passport & Visa
All visitors to Uruguay must hold an onward or return ticket and documents for their next destination. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months' validity remaining after the intended date of departure. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
US citizens require a valid passport, but a visa is not required for a stay of up to three months.
All British nationals require a valid passport for travel to Uruguay. A visa is not required for a stay of up to three months for all British passport holders.
Canadians require a valid passport, but no visa is required for a stay of up to three months.
Australians require a valid passport, but a visa is not required for a stay of up to three months.
South Africans require a valid passport, but a visa is not required for a stay of up to three months.
Irish nationals require a valid passport, but a visa is not required for a stay of up to three months.
New Zealand nationals require a valid passport, but no visa is required for a stay of up to three months.
Ministry of Tourism, Montevideo: www.turismo.gub.uy911 (General Emergency Hotline)
Embassies / consulates in other countries
Embassy of Uruguay, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 331 1313.
Embassy of Uruguay, London, United Kingdom (also responsible for Ireland): +44 20 7584 4200.
Embassy of Uruguay, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 234 2727.
Embassy of Uruguay, ACT, Australia (also responsible for New Zealand): +61 2 6273 9100.
Embassy of Uruguay, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 362 6522.
Embassies / consulates in Uruguay
United States Embassy, Montevideo: (+598) (2) 1770 2000.
British Embassy, Montevideo: +598 2 622 3630/3650.
Canadian Embassy, Montevideo: +598 2 902 2030.
Honorary Consul of Australia, Montevideo: +598 2 901 0743.
South African Embassy, Montevideo: +598 2 601 7591.
New Zealand Consulate, Montevideo: +598 2 916 0900.