Driving Tips, Rules & Regulations in Chile

Getting around by car in Chile isn’t too complicated. Most cities will feel like rush hour all the time, but once you’re in the less populated areas things are a lot less stressful.

Chileans drive on the right side of the road and do overtaking on the left. As a practice, the vehicles on the right side have the right of way. Although drivers of 18 years old can drive in Chile, you need to be 21 years old or above to be able to rent a car. You’re going to need your driver’s license, passport, and a credit card. These documents must be kept in hand at all times. Rental rates are pretty typical and similar to the US.

Most of the regulations are pretty common, though. You will need a driver’s license, either local or international, as long as it’s valid. Seat belts are mandatory for both the driver and the passengers. Should you be involved in an accident, you will be subjected to a mandatory blood alcohol test, so avoid being exposed to alcohol if you plan to drive a lot.

It is also illegal to use a mobile phone without a hands-free kit, as well as use headphones and smoking while driving. You also need to keep your car’s documents with you in case you get asked for them. Otherwise the authorities will consider the car as stolen, which could get you arrested. It is, however, important to stress that attempting to bribe an official in case you get pulled over will get you into a lot of trouble particularly in Chile. In these cases, your chances of being let off are better by simply admitting your mistakes and saying that you’ll be more careful next time. The driving culture there is pretty tolerable, but it’s best to steer clear of mini-buses, as they have a tendency to drive unpredictably. While most of big cities have good roads, those found in the others are not always in good shape, especially after Chile suffered an earthquake in 2010.

Patience is very important on the road, especially if you find yourself caught in the 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM rush hours. Bring lots of water and always allot some spare time for travelling between destinations, as delays caused by traffic will most likely happen. It’s also important to fuel up whenever you can because gas stations can be far from each other. Fortunately, gas prices in Chile are cheaper than the ones in Europe, though a bit more expensive than the US. As for getting around, it’s better to stay safe and get a comprehensive road map, which is available in most local auto clubs.

The speed limit for highways is 120 km/h and in most urban areas, 60 km/h.

Some roads with have tolls, but you won’t have to bother with them if you have tags since most of them are electronic. Otherwise, keep spare change with you.

Lastly, most of the parking spots on the road are narrow, so if you get yourself a smaller vehicle, you won’t have problems with parking and getting around Chile in general.

Summary

Most cities will feel like rush hour all the time.
Chileans drive on the right side of the road and do overtaking on the left.
Seat belts are mandatory for both the driver and the passengers.
Should you be involved in an accident, you will be subjected to a mandatory blood alcohol test.
It is also illegal to use a mobile phone, headphones and smoking while driving.
You must keep your car’s documents with you in case you get asked for them.
The speed limit for highways is 120 km/h and in most urban areas, 60 km/h.

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