Road Conditions and Safety: Traffic fatalities are among the most common causes of death in Uruguay. According to the World Health Organization, Uruguay?s rate of traffic deaths per 100,000 people is 16.6, nearly 50 percent higher than that of the United States. According to the Uruguayan National Road Safety Unit, motorcyclists and bicyclists account for 70 percent of transit-related fatalities.
Illumination, pavement markings, and road surfaces for secondary roads can be poor. Several of the main highways are particularly accident-ridden because of heavy tourist traffic speed-related accidents including: Route 1 (between Montevideo and Colonia), the Ruta Interbalnearia (between Montevideo and Punta del Este), Route 9 to the east (that leads to Punta del Diablo, La Paloma, La Pedrera, and Cabo Polonia), and Route 2 (between Rosario and Fray Bentos). The frequency of road accidents rises during the summer beach season (December to March), Carnaval (mid-to-late February), and Easter week.
If you are in an accident involving injury, stay in place until a police officer arrives. The insurance company will generally respond to the scene as well. Some major roads are centrally monitored via live camera feeds and emergency response may arrive quickly. You should contact 911 immediately to report an emergency, and notify your rental company if in a rental car.
Uruguayan law requires your vehicle to be equipped with a specific road safety kit (hazard cones, flares, reflective vest, fire extinguisher, etc.), which you can find at most grocery stores or gas stations. Rental vehicles should have these basic kits.
Dial 911 in an emergency. For emergency roadside assistance, call the Automobile Club of Uruguay at 1707 or "Car Up" at 2628-1555. Even if you are not a member, tourists can use this fee-based service.
- You may drive using your foreign driver?s license in Uruguay. If you plan to obtain a Uruguayan driver?s license, you must apostille your U.S. driver?s license in the state that issued your driver?s license, as the U.S. Embassy cannot provide consular certificates attesting to the validity of a U.S.-issued driver?s license.
- Driving is on the right-hand side of the road.
- Seat belts are mandatory.
- Headlights must be on at all times, day and night.
- Children under 12 years must ride in the back seat.
- Drivers must keep a first-aid kit in the car, which can be purchased at local grocery stores or gas stations.
- Motorcyclists must wear helmets and reflective vests.
- The use of cellular phones, as well as texting, while driving is prohibited. Drinking ?mate? (a popular, hot beverage in Uruguay) while driving is also prohibited.
- Right turns at red lights are prohibited.
- Drivers approaching an intersection from the right generally have the right of way, but this right is not always respected.
- Drivers already in traffic circles generally have the right of way.
- Flashing high beams indicates intent to pass or to continue through unmarked intersections.
- Drivers often ignore lane markers, change lanes and make turns without signaling, ignore speed limits and disregard traffic signs.
- Motorists may make frequent and sudden stops on any road, especially when driving along Montevideo?s riverfront (Rambla).
- Motorcyclists often drive the wrong way down one-way streets, use sidewalks to avoid lengthier routes, or drive between vehicles when traffic is stopped.
- If you plan to drive, use caution and drive defensively.
- Cycling outside the capital or small towns is hazardous due to a scarcity of bike paths, narrow road shoulders, and unsafe driving practices.
Public Transportation: Ride sharing services are monitored to ensure that they comply with safety standards at least equal to those applied to the taxi system. Taxis can be hailed from the street, by phone (141), or by using one of several apps. Most taxis do not have functioning seat belts in the back seat. Public buses can be crowded, and patrons are sometimes targeted by pickpockets and bag snatchers. The public bus system utilizes pre-determined routes and is generally dependable.
Regular labor strikes can halt public transportation with minimal advance notice. Travelers should have alternative plans, such as ride sharing apps, or consider hiring a private executive car (remise). All of these options are usually reliable during mass shutdowns of public transportation.
Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Uruguay, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Uruguay?s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA?s safety assessment page.
Medical care facilities in Uruguay are considered adequate and most are comparable to U.S. standards. The responsiveness of emergency, personal ambulance service is generally within U.S. standards; however there may be service delays if questions about health insurance coverage arise. Ambulances are staffed with a medical doctor, enabling advanced treatment/care en route to the local hospital.
The U.S. Government does not pay medical bills, and U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Travelers on cruise ships with stops in Uruguay are strongly urged to verify their overseas health insurance coverage. Most health care providers in Uruguay accept cash and credit card payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
Carry prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor?s prescription. There is no restriction on types of medication that can be imported for personal use. Some medications may not be available in Uruguay, so bring a sufficient supply for your stay.
While rare, the Uruguayan summer can bring about an increase in diarrheal illness and mosquito-borne diseases, so the use of insect repellent is advisable.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are no special vaccination requirements for Uruguay.
Further health information:
Local laws and Special Circumstances
Criminal Penalties: While in Uruguay you are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.
Customs Requirements: Uruguay’s Customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation or exportation of certain items. These include precious jewels, gold, firearms, pornography, inflammable articles, acids, prohibited drugs, plants, seeds, and foodstuffs as well as antiquities and business equipment. Uruguayan Customs also prohibits the importation of subversive materials aimed at overthrowing the government or promoting anarchy, genocide, or other globally condemned practices. Contact the Embassy of Uruguay in Washington, D.C., or one of Uruguay’s consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.
Tourists are permitted to import personal effects, including jewelry, cameras, computers, sporting goods, etc., free of duty or taxes. Travelers bringing commercial goods into Uruguay must declare them to customs officers at the port of entry or face possible detention or seizure of the goods and criminal charges. Please see our customs webpage for more information.
Marijuana Policy: Recent changes in legislation allow Uruguayan citizens and permanent residents of Uruguay to purchase limited amounts of marijuana at government-approved pharmacies, join a registered marijuana club, or grow a limited amount of marijuana for personal use. Please note it remains illegal for tourists and other foreign visitors in Uruguay to purchase and consume marijuana. Anyone who purchases or consumes marijuana, and who does not fit into a legal category of use, may be arrested and prosecuted under Uruguayan law.
Faith-Based Travelers: Faith-based travel includes a wide variety of activities, including pilgrimages, service projects, missionary work, and cruises, among others. See the following webpages for details:
- Faith-Based Travel Information
- International Religious Freedom Report ? see country reports
- Human Rights Report ? see country reports
- Hajj and Umrah Fact Sheet for Travelers
- Best Practices for Volunteering Abroad
LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on adult, same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Uruguay. See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Uruguayan law prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities, but the government does not effectively enforce these provisions. Transportation services are generally not equipped for access by persons with disabilities. Sidewalks and crosswalks are often in need of maintenance and/or accessibility ramps and can present challenges to persons with disabilities.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Safety and Security
Crime: The volume of crimes against persons and property, to include homicides, continues to increase throughout Uruguay. Street crime, including armed robberies, theft and carjackings occur in tourist centers within Montevideo with large numbers of tourists, such as Ciudad Vieja, the Rambla, and the neighborhood around the U.S. Embassy. Even upscale residential neighborhoods, such as Punta Carretas, Pocitos, and Carrasco are not immune to criminal activity. Maintain situational awareness and practice good personal security at all times while traveling throughout Uruguay as criminals typically seek out victims in vulnerable situations.
Thefts, burglaries, armed robberies, assaults, and other violent crimes are common throughout Uruguay. Criminals tend to conduct surveillance on potential targets including ATMs, residences, restaurants, vehicles, and individuals prior to committing robberies. Criminals regularly travel in pairs on motorcycles to approach unsuspecting victims with a weapon and demand personal belongings before fleeing. They attempt to catch victims off-guard by driving slowly next to their vehicles and waiting for them to get out of their car to rob them. Other times, they break car windows to steal valuables from vehicles that are parked or stuck in traffic.
Be vigilant when using ATMs, especially during non-daylight hours. Criminals frequently use gas-induced explosive devices to steal from ATMs.
The following Montevideo neighborhoods have higher crime rates, and official U.S. government personnel are recommended to avoid or limit travel to these areas:
- 40 Semanas
- Bella Italia
- Cerro Norte
- La Teja
- Malv?n Norte
- Tres Omb?es
- Villa Espa?ola
During the summer months (December-March), many cities in Uruguay experience an increase of petty street crime, residential burglaries, and robberies, especially in beach towns such as Punta del Este, La Barra, La Paloma, Cabo Polonio, La Pedrera, and Punta del Diablo. Criminals also target vehicles traveling to these and other popular destinations.
Police cars are clearly marked and equipped with cellular phones. While professional and well-trained, local police do not maintain a robust physical presence to deter criminal activity throughout Montevideo, which often results in a delayed response. Most police officers do not speak English.
Demonstrations: Demonstrations, some expressing anti-U.S. sentiment, regularly occur in Uruguay, particularly near the Legislative Palace, City Hall, Parque Batlle, Plaza Libertad, and the universities in Montevideo. Protests directed toward the U.S. government, usually small in size, can occur around the U.S. Embassy. U.S. citizens visiting or residing in Uruguay should avoid large gatherings or events where crowds congregate to demonstrate, protest, or cause damage as a byproduct of celebrating an event, such as after soccer matches.
Victims of Crime: Report crimes to the local police at 911 and contact the U.S. Embassy at (598) 1770-2000 or MontevideoACS@state.gov. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
- help you find appropriate medical care
- assist you in reporting a crime to the police
- contact relatives or friends with your written consent
- provide a list of local attorneys
- provide information on our victim?s compensation programs in the U.S.
- provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States or limited medical support in cases of destitution
- help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
- replace a stolen or lost passport
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the U.S. Embassy at (598) 1770-2000 or MontevideoACS@state.gov for assistance. If you are in immediate danger, call the police at 911.
Tourism: The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities do not commonly occur. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is typically available only in/near major cities. First responders are generally unable to access areas outside of major cities and to provide urgent medical treatment. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Entry exit Requirementsh
You do not need a visa for a visit of less than 90 days if you are traveling on a tourist passport. You must have a valid visa if you are traveling on a diplomatic or official passport Visit the Embassy of Uruguay website for the most current visa information.
There is an airport tax ?boarding fee? for departure. This fee is generally part of the airfare for international travel. Contact your travel agency or airline for more information. You may pay the fee at the airport with an international credit card or in U.S. dollars.
Travel with Minors: There are strict exit requirements for children under the age of 18 who remain in Uruguay for more than 365 days, regardless of citizenship or nationality. When a child remains in Uruguay for more than 365 days and is traveling with only one parent, traveling alone, or traveling with someone other than the parents, the minor child is required to have a Permiso de Menor (permission for a minor) issued by the Uruguayan National Immigration Directorate prior to departing Uruguay. If the minor child does not have a Permiso de Menor, the minor child will be prohibited from leaving Uruguay.
Instructions on obtaining a Permiso de Menor can be found on the Government of Uruguay?s website (Spanish only). The U.S. Embassy strongly advises all parents of minor children to be in possession of U.S. documentation needed to apply for a Permiso de Menor prior to initiating their travel to Uruguay. Please note that all U.S. documents used to apply for a Permiso de Menor must be apostilled by the U.S. state in which the document was issued to be considered valid by Uruguayan authorities. The process to apostille a document varies from state to state. Failing to apostille the necessary documents prior to entering Uruguay will delay the process of obtaining a Permiso de Menor. The Uruguayan government also requires documents to be translated into Spanish by a certified, Uruguayan translator (traductor p?blico).
The Permiso de Menor requirement does not apply to children assigned to Uruguay on official U.S. government orders who are traveling on diplomatic or official passports.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to, or foreign residents of, Uruguay.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
See the Department of State?s Fact Sheet on Uruguay for information on U.S. – Uruguay relations.
Travel Embassy and Consulate
Lauro Muller 1776
Telephone: +(598) 1770-2000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 1770-2000 or +(598) 1770-2000 (from the U.S.)
Fax: +(598) 1770-2040