Quote of the moment

"I have to tell it again and again: I have no doctrine. I only point out something. I point out reality, I point out something in reality which has not or too little been seen. I take him who listens to me at his hand and lead him to the window. I push open the window and point outside. I have no doctrine, I carry on a dialogue." Martin Buber

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

If I knew then what I know now - Packing for Chile

Jorge, my husband, came home from Australia yesterday and it was Christmas all over. We now have a new crockpot and a heavy duty steam rug shampooer.  It took some suave and sophisticated negotiations  with customs but in the end they allowed him to bring in the shampooer. The beauty of these two items is they run on our Chilean 220 current. We now just need to find plug adaptors in order to put them to use.  A recent discussion question on a group I belong to on LinkedIn asked what are some things you should have brought with you to Chile and things you should have left behind? Given that Jorge, my husband just came back from Australia with new items not packed I share with you my response made:

Remember any electrical items brought from the U.S. will require either an adapter or transformer for 220 volt.  Items from Australia will only need a plug adapter. All items entering Chile are subject to inspection and customs duties by the aduana/customs agents. For the purpose of customs, value and CIF are used interchangeably. This is the value of the item at the moment it enters Chile. It consists of 1) the cost (value) of the contents, 2) insurance (if additional coverage was purchased) and 3) freight charges.

Personal Documents
  • Medical Records for all members of your family-including pets. 
  • Personal Documents   
  • Birth certificate for each family member (original) 
  • Copy of school records and transcripts for each family member,Original school diploma/university degree (These are even needed to join sporting clubs, obtaining your Chilean driver's license.)  
  • Current driver's license and international driver's license 
  • Fireproof box 
  • Guardianship documents 
  • Life insurance policy 
  • Marriage/divorce certificates (originals) 
  • Power of attorney 
  • Recent tax returns 
  • Social security card 
  • Trust documents 
  • Will (at least know where it is at home and make sure someone else knows) 
Financial Documents
  • List of all investments (with contact telephone numbers) 
  • List of bank accounts (with contact telephone numbers) 
  • List of safe deposit box contents 
  • Personal checks (bring extra checks and registers) 
  • Statements or records associated with your investments 
Residential Documents 
  • House insurance policy 
  • House rental agreements 
  • Loan agreements 
  • Maintenance, modification, and repair records 
Shipment Documents   
  • Contact telephone number for storage facility 
  • Inventory of appraised items and valuables 
  • Inventory of goods in storage 
  • Inventory of household goods shipped 
  • Moving and transit documents with contact telephone numbers 
  • Shipment of personal effects 

If you have large feet (women's sizes greater than 9) or are particularly large in height or girth (women's USA sizes greater than 10), you will have problems getting clothes off the rack, but they can be made to order. Many higher end USA stores have online services that will include customs costs and deliver directly to you in Chile (Macy'sInternationalNordstrom International- I have successfully ordered and received packages from Macy's shipped directly to my home. The costs are a bit higher, but still cheaper than the ticket home!)

Appliances (should be 220 volt) 

Most appliances are available but are a more expensive and quality varies. 
Bagless vacuum cleaner (e.g. Dysons). U.S. brands require transformers  
Rug shampooer (they do not exist here, so rugs are cleaned by hand, or with chemicals). U.S. models require transformers.  


Note: King size beds are different: King nacional 1.8m X 2.0m;  King super 2.0m X 2.0m; and you can purchase King Americano 1.93m X 2.0m (eastern king), but sheets for Americano are extremely difficult to find. 

Kitchen Equipment 

Note: Many ovens are much smaller than the typical U.S. oven. 
  • Oven thermometer (oven temperatures vary from settings, some ovens do not have temperature degree settings, but rather heat levels and this will help for easy calibration for U.S measures) 
  • Meat thermometer 
  • Crockpot- They do not exist in Chile (an adapter/converter will be needed if brought in from the USA) 
  • Kitchen island- There are very simply designed kitchen islands available in Chile made of wood (think similar to what you could find in Kmart, Target). However, because our kitchen doesn't have many drawers, we purchased a kitchen island that has a stainless top, fold out counter, two side cupboards,4 drawers, paper towel rack and towel racks on either end. This was purchased online prior to our pack out and left in its carton. We put it all together when we arrived.
Holiday Items 

Because they may be expressed or designed with some differences in items and colors than you are accustomed: 
  • Special event  gift wrapping paper, cards 
  • Special family/traditional holiday items 
  • Thanksgiving items 
Favorite Foods and Supplies 

It is advised that you always mark SÍ/YES" for the plant and animal origin question on your Customs form for ANY food items you carry no matter how innocuous and commercially sealed they may be. While this action will cause a minor delay in your passage through customs as the aduana inspect your food items, it is much better than having them discovered, confiscated and paying a hefty fine ($250 dollars per each item with even more forms to fill out at a greater cost in time). When bringing in foods be very alert to items banned from importation. The agriculture agents have specially trained dogs that superb in tracking all food items. Do NOT bring in any items with whole/chopped nuts in any form (trail mix, candy, that left over cookie from your airline's meal), cheese, and fruit.  Now many stores (especially Jumbo's ) have a wide variety of international items. The following are the items still not found that I miss:
  • Canned Pumpkin pie - essential for Thanksgiving (the squashes grown here do not have the same sugar content)
  • Paul Newman's salad dressings
  • Diet root beer (Jumbo does offer A&W Root Beer and Dr. Pepper)
  • Spices, condiments for specialty dishes
Baby Needs   

Baby foods here contain lots of sugar and salt. You may wish to make pureed foods from fresh items. Nanas (maids) are accustomed to adding sugar and salt to the food so be certain recipes are followed as you direct. 

Pet items and Supplies  

All pets must have a micro-chip ID implanted and be pest free and current in shots. Pet food and pet medicines are illegal to import. You may purchase Royal Canin, Eukanuba and other quality dog food at veterinary clinics. Purina foods is often found in the larger markets.  Items for mid-size to large dogs are difficult to locate with much having to be purchased online. Malls have boutiques for small dog items. Other items for your pet's health and care are found in veterinary clinics. At the Kennel Club of Chile expositions and dog shows you will be able to find many specialized dog products at their vendor tables. 

Furniture and decorator items

Decorative items and furniture are other items to consider packing in your shipment. Styles tend to lean towards modern, minimalist designs. Our tastes lean towards Mediterranean/traditional so we brought our sofa/side chair set, end tables, lamps with their fine decorator lamp shades. Lamp shades here are thin, single layered, paper or plastic. There are some fine chandeliers but they are exorbitant in cost. We clipped the plugs to our USA lamps and attached Chilean plugs. As there are no moving parts the switch-out worked just fine (and continues to work 3 1/2 years later). 

The furniture in Chile is made for tinier, smaller framed people. They tend to be lower to the ground and not really comfortable for long legged, large framed Americans/Europeans. The materials are also lighter. This accommodates hoisting the furniture up many flights of stairs. I brought my large decorator sofa and a solid very tall hall tree with mirror. Bringing these items up 16 flights because they did not fit in our elevator was cause for a near anxiety /heart attack.

Communication, internet and entertainment

  • It is far cheaper to bring in a computer and electronic devices from the USA. Be certain however that they are adapted for use in South America (see more about the DVD region codes). I ordered a Macintosh computer to include a Spanish keyboard to be delivered to the USA. Then brought it in.  However note that telephones may not function due to their systems lock. 
  • Netflex now offers movies to Chile but you may want to bring your old time favorites- they will need to be played on your USA DVD player (or one that has the capacity for dual regions)
  • We brought our Vonage phone equipment and maintain our VA phone number so we may make "local" phone calls back home. 
  • Others have purchased a Slingbox that is maintained by friends/family back home and is connected to their computers here. This way the keep up with all the sports events and catch their favorite shows without delays or Spanish dubbing. That being said many of the programs on cable tv are showen in English with Spanish subtitles or you simply set your TV SAP settings to English.
What other special items do you recommend bringing or wish you had brought?  Please feel free to add to the list!

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