05 Marzo 2015

Of. de Postdoctorados

International Postdocs

About Visa

Generally, we begin the visa process roughly 60 days before arrival, although this depends a bit on where you will be planning to apply for the visa. Postdocs will need to get a VISA TEMPORARIA, this type of visa can last for up to one year, leads directly to a PERMANENT RESIDENCY visa. It allows one to be paid from multiple sources and also allows foreigners the flexibility to issue “boletas” (legal document representing a manner of payment) for any other institution other than the one who is contracting them. Because of this we do not accept any other type of visa.

In the moment you receive a postdoc position offer from PUC, we will send you all the information you need to start with your Visa application.

It is important you contact the Chilean consulate in the country you plan to apply for the visa.

After your fist year in Chile you will need to apply to a PERMANENT RESIDENCY, this type of visa will allow you to stay in Chile indefinitely in order to complete your project

The Postdoctoral Office of the faculty will be glad to help you go through immigration process

Additional information about visas at:


About Santiago

Santiago is a big city. The urban cluster of counties and neighborhoods (comunas) effectively associated to Greater Santiago amounts to about 6 million people (almost 40% of the national population).

One can find some write-ups on Santiago, its neighborhoods and the rest of Chile in the web page of the National Service of Tourism (http://www.sernatur.cl);

the “Chile Travel Guide Handbook”, at http://www.gochile.cl/Info/Hbook/basicdata.asp, contains an excellent summary of essential information about Chile.

You can also get some perspective from recently arrived people by asking our postdocs (check our web page, at http://www.astro.puc.cl:8080/astropuc/people).

As could be expected, Santiago has some problems typical of big cities. It is congested at rush hours, and it has some quite poor areas. On the other hand, it also has many nice neighborhoods, including parts of the city center. Moreover, it has a fair number of green areas and parks. Among the major towns in Latin America, Santiago is probably the safest. It has a modern metro system which efficiently connects most neighborhoods.

One of Santiago's main problems is its winter smog, which can become bothersome. The city sits in the middle of an extended valley between big mountains on the east and smaller hills on the north, west, and a few scattered ones in the south. The global pattern of air circulation on macro scales is not very efficient. This is not a problem in the summer, spring, and early fall. In winter, however, winds do not have the same daily pattern and are not as frequent and strong. Sometimes, the inversion layer gets too low, and the quality of the air gets bad because of air pollution. Typically, about 50% of the winter days are smoggy, and the city has found the need to restrict many activities a few days a year to prevent further worsening of the air quality (“pre-emergency status”). City management of pollution is much more effective than is commonly the case in most other cities in the world, and conditions have improved in the last years. All in all, there are fewer than 40 bad days per year, as far as air pollution goes. One can lessen the toll of these days by living on the East part of the city, which often has lower levels of polluted air due to its elevation. Air filters can also be very helpful. This shouldn't discourage one from coming here unless one has a serious condition in the upper air ways, or lungs, or very severe allergy problems. 


On the good side, Santiago has an extremely nice weather pattern in the spring, summer, and fall, probably most similar to Northern California or some places in Southern Europe. It is generally fairly dry, with nearly all rain concentrated in the winter months. During the summer months, weeks can easily go by without you noticing a single cloud in the sky. Early mornings tend to be cold, while the afternoons warm, with a swing of perhaps 15°C within the same day not uncommon. Maximum temperatures in the summer tend to be near 33°C, minimum temperatures in the winter rarely go below 0°C. It very rarely hails or snows in the city. This climate has meant that central heating is common only in the more modern buildings, whereas air conditioning remains relatively rare (and unnecessary) in most places. That being said, the IA’s offices are equipped with heating and air conditioning systems.


Santiago’s big expansion in terms of building, streets, metro system, and so on, started in the mid-eighties, so account was taken of “modern” requirements in terms of size of the streets, for example, which allows for fairly good traffic through most of the city, most of the time. The business district downtown, which is the historical old center of the city, is ill-equipped for modern traffic, like most historical centers throughout the world. Likewise, transportation conditions do deteriorate significantly during rush hours in the morning and late evening. Another good point about Santiago is that the average driver tends to be much better behaved and respectful of the traffic rules than the average driver in any other big city of Latin America; however, many Europeans and North Americans may still find the traffic somewhat more disorderly than at home, and are frequently annoyed by bus and taxi drivers, and also by the lack of adequate traffic signals.


Santiago is a city big enough to have all that you expect from urban life, while still preserving the charm of the suburban spaces in many neighborhoods, especially those in the eastern part of the city, towards the foothills of the Andes, where many of the professors and postdocs live. It is definitely a modern city, with abundant automatic teller machines, reliable cellular and broadband Internet providers, etc. and where most stores accept major credit (American Express less so) and debit cards. Santiago has plentiful options for eating, shopping and general entertainment. There are many typical and ethnic places for enjoying different types of cuisine. There are lots of bookstores (though books in English tend to be expensive), artisan/jewelry shops, libraries, theaters, movie theaters (including 3D), rock concert venues, and also an opera theater, an excellent philharmonic orchestra, and many groups of chamber music, which play all year round. In addition, the “modern times” have brought the all-American invention of the Shopping Mall (Chileans, with their characteristic accent, will often pronounce “chopping” mall, but don’t be scared away from the mall when you hear this!). There are four or five huge malls in town, with hundreds of stores (many of which will be familiar to the foreign visitor) and movie theaters and/or cineplexes in each.

There are many foreign communities in Chile (Spanish, German, English, Italian, French, Swiss, Croatian, Palestinian, Korean, etc.), which though generally well integrated into the Chilean society, do give it some variety. This is noticeable in particular with regard to the presence of many foreign-language (i.e., bilingual or trilingual) private schools generally covering the whole education from pre-kindergarten to the doorstep of university, “ethnic” social and sports clubs, churches (though the Catholic Church remains easily the largest and most influential one in Chile), and others. These communities tend to keep their language over 2-3 Chilean-born generations. 

Another good thing about the city is its closeness to the Andes, if you like skiing, hiking, or trekking. In the winter time, you will find 3 outstanding ski centers just one and a half-hour drive from Santiago. If you prefer the coast, there are several nice beaches along the Pacific Ocean, less than 2 hours away by bus or car, which make for good weekend outings. Furthermore, there are hundreds of good places for hiking in outlying areas around the city, as well as places to do motocross, mountain biking, and climbing. In the summer, trouts wait for their baits in the Southern lakes, both in the Chilean and the Argentinean sides of the Andes (which you can easily cross in the southern part of the continent). These places are just within a couple of hours by plane, or a one-day drive by car (most of the main roads being in very good condition). You can also make use of PUC's own recreational facilities, both on campus and at the San Carlos de Apoquindo area, located in a very pleasant part of town, towards the Andean foothills, about 40 min away from our campus by car. You do have to pay a hefty monthly fee to use the Apoquindo facilities though. 

Campus Life

The neighborhood around the Campus San Joaquín is neither very pretty nor perhaps very safe very late at night if one walks alone, although incidents nearby are very rare and usually connected with events like high stress football matches in the Colo-Colo stadium, located just 1 km away. The campus itself is quite safe and guarded 24 hours a day by personnel on mountain bikes. Every entrance is manned. You need an electronic key to gain access to the Institute building, and only authorized personnel, professors, postdocs and some students are given such keys. However, if you bring in your laptop to work, you are encouraged to use a security cable and lock your door when you leave your office. The bus stop and metro station are directly outside the main entrance, and it is very safe to take a bus or the subway (called Metro) even until quite late at night (but note that the Metro closes around 22h45). Furthermore, one can ask the guards to call a taxi to pick you up at the entrance. Regular cabs can also be waved down from the main entrance easily at any time of the day.

Some graduate students and postdocs (although basically no professors) live in the university neighborhood. However, access to our campus is very easy, whether by metro, bus or car, from basically any place in town.

{google_map}Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Macul{/google_map}

Living Expenses

In this section, prices are quoted in Chilean pesos if not specified otherwise. The current exchange rate available at http://si3.bcentral.cl/Indicadoressiete/secure/Indicadoresdiarios.aspx.

The cost of living is similar to the U.S. or Europe (though not as expensive as in California or New York, for instance, or some cities in Western Europe). Food and raw materials are generally cheaper (particularly bread, fruits, and vegetables), housing varies widely depending on neighborhood, clothing more expensive (by about a factor 1.5), and mechanical or electronic devices are also more expensive (typically between 20% and 50% more). If you plan on bringing any household appliances with you, note that the local system uses 220 V and 50 Hz. Transformers for 110-220 V can easily be purchased in Chile, although the required adapter plugs may be trickier to find—bring your own with you, if you can.

Public transportation in Santiago is cheap, with about 600 pesos for a one-way trip in either bus, subway (called Metro, consisting of five lines crossing much of Santiago), or a combination of both.  There is a Metro station, San Joaquín, just steps away from the main gate of the University, and from there you can easily get to most places in town where you might need to go. You are advised to get a “BIP!” Card, which is an electronic card that works for the Metro and buses. Buses and the Metro can be very full at rush hour, but many in the Institute use both buses and the subway regularly to come to work. In particular, Santiago's Metro trains are modern, fast, clean and safe. Taxis are also relatively cheap in Chile, compared to the U.S., Western Europe, and even other places in Latin America. Gasoline prices are around 800 Chilean pesos per liter.

Unfortunately, in the last year or two, it has become more difficult to find good apartments at good value, with the best places likely to rent the same day they are listed. A modern, well-located 1-bedroom (2-bedroom) apartment typically costs around 400,000 (500,000) CLP per month, excluding common expenses. Rent of a house with two bedrooms, two+1/2 restrooms, a service bedroom, and a nice garden on the outskirts of the city, down the pre-Andean hills, goes at about 600,000-700,000 CLP. Many available rental options can be found on the either in the classified section of the newspapers or online (see, e.g., www.corredoresintegrados.clwww.vivaqui.comwww.procasa.clwww.portalinmobiliario.cominmuebles.mercadolibre.cl) and to find out where exactly a given address is located, point your browser to www.mapcity.com. There are also apartment placement companies which can streamline the process significantly for the equivalent of one month’s rent.

A typical weekly purchase at the supermarket for 2 adults with a 3 year old kid is about 100,000 CLP. It would be cheaper if one bought less wine, frozen fish (fresh fish is cheaper), expensive meat cuts, etc. Shopping for fresh vegetables, meat, and fish at the various open markets around the city will generally yield better quality at better prices.

Internet is more expensive than in the U.S. or Europe, typically costs around 30,000 CLP for high-speed (broadband wireless) connection. There are several Internet providers in the city (such as Movistar, VTR or Telefonica), also offering phone line and cable TV, with many U.S. and European channels in addition to the Latin American ones, so one can watch TV in English, French, Italian, German, etc. Available channels include CNN (English and Spanish), BBC, RAI, Discovery, FilmZone, HBO, Cartoon Network, ESPN, FoxSport, etc. Such a triple pack (fast internet+telephone+TV) costs about 50,000 CLP. Note that you need to obtain your Chilean I.D. card (commonly referred to as RUT or carnet) before purchasing any such services. Request your RUT as soon as possible upon your arrival: It usually takes three weeks to just over a month before a foreign citizen's RUT is ready. You will also need your RUT to open a bank account. Below, we give 2 examples of itemized monthly expenses, first from the point of view of a professor with a family, and then from that of a single postdoc:

Example of monthly expenses for a four-person family, in Chilean pesos:

  • Rent (a nice, 5 small bedroom, 3 bathroom house with a small garden in a nice neighborhood, not very close to campus): 700,000;
  • A good private school for 1 child (public schools are free, but are often not as good as the private ones in Chile): 300,000 (the total range of possibilities goes at least a factor of two either way from this number);
  • Nursery school (mornings only) for 2-year old child: 200,000;
  • Various utility bills (phone, water, electricity, cable TV): about 80,000;
  • Nana (full-time monthly salary and benefits for a woman who does the cleaning, cooking, etc., and takes care of the children when they are not at school): 350,000 to 400,000. Hiring a “nana” is quite common and most people in the Institute do it to help with at least some of the cleaning at their homes;
  • Supermarket (food, etc.): about 400,000.
  • Rent (a modern, 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment in a fancy neighborhood, like Providencia or Las Condes, 20-30 mins by bus or metro to campus): 450,000 including common expenses;
  • Various utility bills (phone, water, electricity, gas, cable TV): about 60,000;
  • Supermarket (food, etc.): about 250,000;
  • Nana (weekly visits to clean up the house, iron clothes, etc.): about 80,000;
  • Social activities (drinks, clubs etc.): depends, of course, on how much you drink and go out. Typically, a Saturday night out with friends in a bar will cost about 20,000 pesos, including snacks and a few drinks. You will find that you can live without hardships and can easily afford weekend trips to the coast or the mountains. 

An example of monthly expenses for a postdoc who lives alone:

  • Rent (a modern, 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment in a fancy neighborhood, like Providencia or Las Condes, 20-30 mins by bus or metro to campus): 450,000 including common expenses;
  • Various utility bills (phone, water, electricity, gas, cable TV): about 60,000;
  • Supermarket (food, etc.): about 250,000;
  • Nana (weekly visits to clean up the house, iron clothes, etc.): about 80,000;
  • Social activities (drinks, clubs etc.): depends, of course, on how much you drink and go out. Typically, a Saturday night out with friends in a bar will cost about 20,000 pesos, including snacks and a few drinks. You will find that you can live without hardships and can easily afford weekend trips to the coast or the mountains. 

Benefits and Resources


 As a member of Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University you will access to:

  • TUC Card: identification card as a member of Universidad Católica de Chile; this card incorporates access to the campus, BIP Card (Subway card) and a free bank account
  • Bank account (administrative charges free)
  • UC email account
  • Institute email account
  • Library access
  • Campus Wifi access
  • Gym access
  • Discounts in sports classes (see more http://deportes.uc.cl/Contenidos-del-Sitio/talleres)
  • Discounts in cultural activities 


Tax in Chile is the 10% of the month payment salary. In an annual declaration postdoc is able to ask for the refund of the total amount that he has declared during the previous year. More information about taxes available at www.sii.cl

Health Care

The agencies that provide health insurance are known by the generic name of ISAPRES. There are many of them, some with names that may sound familiar to you because they are the local counterparts of the same companies in the U.S. or Western Europe. You are entitled to choose whichever one you may want to be associated with, and PUC will address the monthly payments directly towards their account. The coverage provided is about U.S. standard in most areas, although it is way behind in terms of coverage of surgeon professional fees. Coverage of most medical services is typically around 80% of all incurred expenses. PUC employees, faculty, and postdocs are entitled to purchase supplemental health insurance, which normally covers 80% of the expenses that are not covered by the ISAPRES. Medication expenses are partially covered by the supplemental insurance as well, but not by the ISAPRES. Dentistry is not covered by either, but you can buy dentistry insurance. (There is also on-campus dentistry service, which you can use whenever needed and which is deducted directly from your monthly stipend.) The price of the standard plans covered by your benefits is around 80,000 per month, which might give you a scale of the amounts involved. The ISAPRES typically request a period of up to two months before coverage becomes effective (i.e., you sign up with them some time in month 1, and it is some time in month 2 that you start to be covered). For this reason, it will be advisable for you to purchase some type of travel insurance in your country of residence, before coming to Chile, in order to cover the first 3 months here, and help bridge the time before local coverage starts. Travel insurance is trivial to get abroad, but difficult to obtain after arrival. It can be bought at travel agencies, and sometimes even at airports. If you are coming from the U.S., you may want to consider purchasing COBRA coverage, so that you remain covered during the beginning of your tenure in Chile.

In case you do not have neither FONASA nor ISAPRE, PUC offers the Seguro de Salud Alumno de Postgrado UC (de Metlife), which is a private insurance, details about this insurance through Vicerrectoría de Investigación, http://investigacion.uc.cl/contacto

More information about ISAPRES available at: http://www.supersalud.gob.cl/568/w3-article-2528.html

Work Accident Insurance

All independant workers in Chile must pay their work accident insurance. This insurance covers all expenses related with work accident issues. More information:


Learnning Spanish

The Chilean national language is Spanish, spoken by everyone. People in Chile all study English at school for about 6 years, but in practice only some people in the middle to upper-class neighborhoods are able to communicate in a basic English; most people one encounters elsewhere cannot, with (rare) exceptions. At the university, of course, all professors and postdocs are fluent in English, and the students generally communicate in English (or are at least interested in improving their skills), though most of the teaching is done in Spanish. Astronomy talks (typically by foreign speakers) are in English. If you speak Spanish but have never been to Chile, don’t be surprised to find some local words and expressions which are not frequently used elsewhere in the Spanish-speaking world, such as “palta” (avocado), “poroto” (bean), “pololo/a” (boy/girlfriend), “al tiro” (right away), etc. Native speakers will also frequently drop the “s” from the middle or the end of a word. 

If you are interested in learning Spanish you can check Spanish courses with Catholic University:


More information you can contact programaespanol@uc.cl in english

If you want private teachers contact Postdoc Administrative Staff in the faculty

Emergency Information

For emergency information please read the UC Emergency Manual.


The Faculty is pleased to welcome postdoctoral fellows into the Universidad Católica de Chile community. The purpose of the Postdoctoral Office is to provide information and advice to postdoctoral fellows and to serve as a liaison between Postdoctoral fellowship, the funding source organizations and faculty members for administrative purposes

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Astronomy Institute, Office 215

Avenida Vicuña Mackena 4860, Macul

Santiago, Chile

M-W-Th: 9:00 - 17:30

Tu: 9:00 - 13:30

Fr: 9:00 - 13:00

Postdoc Team:

Karina Charris

Research Administrative Professional


Phone: (+56 2) 2354 7254