16 January 2009

On Moving to Argentina Part 2, Residency requirements

Before my move I contacted the Argentine consulate in Chicago for advice and the necessary forms. Luckily the father of the lady I talked with was a huge fan of my company so she was very very helpful. Since it has been more than 4 years since my move to Argentina I am sure some things have changed. Also I am retired which meant slightly different requirements for a residency visa than others (workers, students, etc.). I would suggest contacting a local Argentine consulate (there are many in the US) and getting the requirements from them.

Suffice it to say I ended up with a lot of paperwork, all translated into spanish. Make sure you keep a copy for yourself because what you send in will not be returned. When the paperwork was done I went to Chicago for a short interview, get my fingerprints taken and have a temporary residency visa put in my passport. Hint: if your passport is about to expire or does not have many years left on it get a new US passport so that your visa will be good for 10 years otherwise there are many headaches involved in getting the visa put into a new passport.

Once approved the consulate will give you 2 packs of papers (as I recall). One of them is to be given to Immigration at the airport when you land. They know what it is and will take care of everything regarding it.


This document is essential for living in Argentina. Yes, you can get by without it but believe me it is a lot better to have it than not. After two days of resting in Rosario I went to start the process of getting my DNI. The people in Rosario were helpful but, of course, there were problems with my paperwork. Translations were not done in Argentina and I needed to have them re-done. I got them re-translated and went back. Very good they said but now this is not correct, etc. Total bureaucratic mierda. One day I visited my friends at the my company's factory and said I couldn't believe how hard this was. The head of Human Resources heard me and asked me to bring my papers to him. He made a couple of calls and the next week I went to BA, accompanied by a lawyer, and in one day I had my DNI (actually it was all done in one day but I had to return 2 weeks later to pick up the document).

RULE #1 ... In Argentina it is all about who you know! I know this is the same in many places but never underestimate this rule.

With my DNI I can now (in theory) travel to any Mercosur country (without my passport). It did work that way when I went to Chile but I have my doubts about Brasil. I can (in theory) open a bank account. I can get a drivers license, etc.

In my previous post I remarked that my actual move and my meetings with the consulate gave me a false sense of security. My search for my DNI provided a much better insight into living in Argentina. This brings up another rule.

RULE #2 ... Be prepared, things move much more slowly! There is nothing inherently wrong with this, a slower lifestyle is why I moved here but when you have more than 50 years of dealing with a, more or less, streamlined bureaucracy it will take some getting used to.


  1. As far as I know, you can remove those scary "in theory" from your thoughts -- you can travel from Argentina to any bordering country and you only need to show your DNI at customs. As for the bank account, I'm not sure, but I'd guess you can open a basic checking account with your DNI and nothing else.

  2. I am a US citizen, permanent resident (but not citizen) of Argentina living in BsAs, and I think some of your information (and Pablo's comment) is incorrect. First of all, unless you are an Argentine citizen, you still need a PASSPORT to get in and out of Argentina and any neighboring countries --- the DNI alone won't suffice. Maybe they let you get away with going into Chile at some small border crossing, but technically you still need to show a passport unless you are an Argentine citizen (your DNI is different from the DNI of an Argentine citizen --- it is clearly labeled as a foreigner DNI). And if you fly to Chile, as a US citizen, you will still have to pay the visa fee of more than US $100.

    BTW, even if you had Argentine citizenship, as a US citizen, you would still be bound by US law. Which would mean that you could not at this point travel to Cuba without special permission (hopefully Obama will change that). An Argentine passport doesn't open doors that your US passport insists must be kept closed --- the fact that you can get away with something doesn't mean that it's legal.

    Concerning the driver's license, yes, you should be able to get one if you have a valid US drivers license and you take the written test, etc. (no driving test required, at least not in BsAs). However, the expiration date of the license will be the same as the expiration date of your visa. Only when you get a permanent-residence visa will you have the same driver's license expiration limits as an Argentine.

    In your blog advice, it's worth stating whether you have a permanent-residence visa or a temporary-residence visa. Your DNI will indicate which it is (even if the visa stamp is in your passport). I assume you have a temporary visa. You will likely find it difficult, if not impossible, to get a credit card or buy something that requires a contract (a cell phone with an abono, instead of just tarjetas). The Central Bank monitors credit cards and imposes restrictions on the banks concerning the issuing of credit cards. To get a credit card, you need to already be in the AFIP system somehow, by paying taxes either as a self-employed person or as someone who earns a salary. Basically you need to establish a tax history or a credit history here before you can get a credit card (US creditworthiness is irrelevant).

    You can open a bank account with your passport and DNI once you have a CDI or CUIT or whatever that tax number is --- the CUIT should have your entire DNI number embedded in it, if not you should change it at your AFIP office so that it matches your DNI. You should NOT get a checking account (and it might be harder to get one, anyway). Just get a regular savings account and then get a free debit card.

    You were very lucky to get the DNI so quickly.

  3. Thanks for the comment. I do have permanent residency here, and it is stamped as such in my DNI for Extranjeros (the lovely pink paper). For my Drivers License I had to take eye, written, and driving (although the instructor told me after 1 block I could stop because I was so good, jaja). I completely agree with you that I have grave doubts about visiting other Mercosur countries with just my Extranjero DNI, but I did do it at the border crossing near Mendoza. With my permanent residency DNI I have opened up a bank account (cuenta corriente) and they gave me an Argentine VISA credit card when I opened it. Buying a cel without a DNI is impossible. These at least have been my experiences. I am expecially grateful for your comments about travel to Brazil, Chile, etc. I am in agreement.

  4. Thanks for the helpful info, I am currently in the process of gathering up my own paperwork for permanent residency. I am in complete agreement with Rules 1 & 2 and have to add Rule 3 - Argentina does not always follow the same rules. Everyone seems to have different experiences (probably due in some part to Rule 1) and rules can change.

    Glad to have info on getting a license, but 2 wrecks outside my window woke me up this morning and I think I'll put that one off for a while. ;)

  5. Are there any vaccinations required for an expat living in Argentina? Also, are children required to be vaccinated ? Also, is homeschooling allowed? I would appreciate a quick response please. Thanks in advance.

  6. Just for the record, I also am an Argentine permanent resident and was able to travel to Paraguay with DNI only without problems. I´m going to uruguay in a couple of weeks and I believe it is the same requirement. I was wondering if an Argentine Passport really is necessary to be able to return to the US after having been in the country for more than 8 months. I waited in line 4 hours to get a passport and the lady told me I couldn´t get one. Not so sure If I believe her...

  7. Hi everyone!! I just got married to my Argentine girlfriend and I'm in the process of getting my Permanent Residency...Do I also get my D.N.I. at the time I turn in my Residency paperwork?? Thanks in advance!!!

  8. My sister has been looking for apartments for rent in buenos aires, she wants to improve her spanish there
    I'll show this, she may be interested I think

  9. I got married in October, 2010, and got my permanent residency in January, 2011. I had been living here as a temporary resident prior to that for 3 years. I went two weeks ago (June 3) to get my DNI...its done for foreigners now at the immigration department, and was told it should be here (delivered to my home) in about 3 weeks. Much easier than before. Took less that one hour in the office. Paid 40 pesos at Banco de la Nation. Now to get my drivers license!!

  10. Does anyone know brand names or whether one can buy molasses in this country?

  11. I also have my permanent residence, and get it done in just few days....but yes, supported by a specialist. I've decided to avoid burocracy pain and paperwork, and contracted an immigration advisor. Yes, few more dollars, but a fast solution at a fare cost. I was fighting with paperwork till I decided to contact Pablo, recommended by another expat in an expats forum. He resolve our papers in 2 weeks. If someone likes to contact him, I have only an email info@immigrationsupport.com.ar , good luck for everyone! Richard.

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  13. Authorized Immigration Consultants, Registered Immigration Consultancy, Canada Immigration Consultants In Hyderabad, Immigration Consultants In Hyderabad, Canada Immigration, Australia Immigration, Permanent Resident Visa, Student Visa Consultants offered by Akkam. For more information visit http://www.akkam.in

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