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Temporary establishment of foreign companies in Uruguay

When a company has a vision of continuity and establishing itself in Uruguay, they typically choose to establish as a branch or create a subsidiary, and hire either partially or entirely Uruguayan personnel. But when it's for a brief period, the approach tends to be direct by the foreign company, often utilizing their own foreign workers.

This sometimes leads to a massive influx of foreign workers (and their families) to take on managerial positions or perform technical and specific tasks. This also prompts numerous queries from companies and workers that we aim to address.

Should the foreign company register with the Tax Authorities?

It depends. As a general rule, a foreign company arriving in Uruguay to carry out an activity for a short period (less than 6 months) should register with our country's tax authorities as a "foreign company with temporary or incidental activity." This registration is a straightforward process that can be done before commencing activities or at the outset. However, it's always advisable to do it with as much anticipation as possible since the company will need to provide certain information and documentation. It's important to note that, as these documents come from abroad, they must be legalized or apostilled (and if they are in another language, they must be translated into Spanish in Uruguay) to be valid in our country, which takes some time.

However, in practice, this registration can often be waived. For example, if the foreign company conducting temporary activities in Uruguay invoices its services to a Uruguayan company, in which case the latter will act as a withholding agent and tax payment will be made through it. Additionally, to waive this registration, it would be essential for foreign workers to be part of the Uruguayan company's workforce (either through temporary relocation or directly if agreed upon by the contracting parties). Otherwise, registration as a company with temporary or incidental activity will still be required for the foreign company to have its own workforce.

What requirements must foreign workers meet?

Foreign workers have several options for legally working in the country, depending on the length of their stay. For temporary jobs (up to 180 days), workers must always obtain the "provisional identity sheet."

How is the Provisional Identity Sheet (HPI) processed?

It's a process consisting of two stages, before two different agencies. The first stage is carried out before the worker enters the country and is conducted at the National Migration Directorate, which authorizes the worker to operate in the country. The second stage requires the worker to be present in the country to process and obtain the HPI from the National Directorate of Civil Identification.

To initiate the first stage, a letterhead from the company employing the worker must be submitted, which should include: the company and worker's data, the period during which the worker will work in Uruguay, and the position they will hold. If the temporary transfer system is chosen, this must be clearly specified. Additionally, a notarized certificate confirming the company's complete existence and a legible copy of the worker's passport and/or identification document (if they are citizens of a MERCOSUR country) and the company representative who signs the letterhead must be submitted.

Is it necessary to process a visa?

Depending on the nationality and/or country of origin of the worker's passport, in some cases, it may be necessary to process a visa before entering Uruguay. In such cases, the visa is requested at the Uruguayan Consulate in the worker's country. If there is no Consulate, it is requested at the nearest Uruguayan Embassy.

Should contributions to Social Security in Uruguay be made?

Uruguay has signed international agreements with some countries that allow foreign workers performing tasks in Uruguay to request temporary transfer, thus avoiding making contributions to social security in Uruguay.

With the temporary transfer system, double contributions to social security are avoided, and recognition of time worked in Uruguay in the foreign worker's country of origin is permitted. However, this temporary transfer regime only applies when provided for in a social security agreement between Uruguay and the worker's country of residence.

Additionally, this temporary transfer regime can only be used for a specific period, established in the international agreements themselves. To request temporary transfer, the foreign company of the worker must submit the request to the social security agency of their country of origin, at least 45 days in advance of their arrival in Uruguay. Once temporary transfer is authorized, the company registered in Uruguay must temporarily incorporate the foreign worker into its workforce, paying only a premium so that the worker is covered in case of work-related accidents and professional illnesses.


As can be seen, Uruguayan legislation provides adequate solutions for the temporary establishment of foreign companies in Uruguay. It's crucial that foreign companies wishing to carry out these types of temporary activities receive advice well in advance so that the installation process is as smooth as possible. At our firm, we have experience in facilitating agile results for foreign companies in these processes.


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