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Uruguay Expat Life
Expat Life in Uruguay - Our Stories & How You Can Join Us
Expat Life in Uruguay - Our Stories & How You Can Join Us

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Outstanding fares between Montevideo and NYC right now on Avianca. $602 round-trip, easy conx in Lima & San Salvador. Grabbed for US visit!

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Reminder: Tax Day (extended) for US-origin folks or any "US Person". If you haven't filed but should, get an extension form done online or printed and out to the Correo before they close. More details in our general-public post.

Folks from countries without global taxation - go ahead, laugh it up!

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"Happy" US Tax Day, fellow US-origin expats, immigrants to Uruguay from the US, and others who are "US persons" overseas. We all get an automatic, free, 2-month extension to file our US tax returns. Guess what? It ends at midnight.

Uruguay Expat Life does not give tax advice. In fact we slam as spam the majority of social media posters who contribute nothing but advertising posts about "Expat Tax Services" without ever engaging with our community. So this isn't advice, but it is a reminder.

If you must file a US tax return but can't complete it today, you need to file an IRS Form 4868 "Six month extension" that will get you an additional four months over the two you automatically got. Most easily, online via a normal US-based online tax preparation service like TaxAct, HR Block Online, or TurboTax.

Or download the form from, fill it out, and get it postmarked by Correo Uruguayo before they close today in about an hour or so. We suggest at least the "certificado" service which turns into trackable US Registered Mail, or the more-expensive but faster EMS service which turns into trackable US Priority Express overnight mail, upon clearing US Customs. Or FedEx, or UPS. Do not suggest DHL as DHL no longer operates their own delivery within the USA.

Remember, if you are a US Person you likely have to file a US tax return, even if you use the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion or even if you don't have income earned here in Uruguay. You may or may not have to pay, but you probably do have to file. Likewise for many credits, exclusions from healthcare non-coverage penalties, and likely many other reasons.

Again, not tax advice, not financial advice, not legal advice. A reminder of a deadline in an informational-only post.

(What did we do? e-filed via TaxAct. Direct debit from our US credit union.)

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Boston now only one connection away from Montevideo, Uruguay. Come visit!

Avianca now flies nonstop from Boston Logan International to their hub in Bogotá, Colombia. Bogotá to Montevideo nonstop service started recently, so now New Englanders can get to Uruguay with one simple connection, flying on a quality Latin American airline the whole way.

We at Uruguay Expat Life always recommend using one or more of Latin America's airlines when visiting (or moving to) Uruguay, for better service, more free amenities, easy connection at excellent easy-to-transit hubs in Central and South America, and that taste of Latin America right from the moment you board. (Or until you step off the plane in the USA.)

Unless your US origin/destination is driving distance to Miami, we never recommend the American Airlines nonstop, even though it's the "only US - Uruguay nonstop". (Old plane with un-renovated interior, no power nor at-seat entertainment; "typical" US airline service, luggage and food policies, and the Miami airport is a confusing and crowded mess.) From anywhere else, you have to connect somewhere - why not connect at one of the excellent hubs of the Southern part of the Americas?

For those still playing the "Frequent Flyer Program" game, Avianca (AV) is in Star Alliance and thus is a partner in United Airlines' Mileage Plus program so you can earn miles in UA's plan flying a paid ticket on AV, or you can redeem UA MP miles for available AV seats.

Another 1-connect choice? Also in Star, and thus a participant in United MP, is Panamanian airline Copa, another quality operation far nicer than United. (Despite similar-looking planes and logos due to Continental once owning Copa and Continental management dominant in United Continental Holdings, the company owning United.) Copa serves Boston and many US cities, via Panama; from there a nonstop to Montevideo.

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When the heck did US giant conglomerate Colgate-Palmolive take over Uruguay's home-grown toothpaste brand Pico Jenner?

Turns out, the answer is 2012:

But that takeover is little-known here in Uruguay, until the Colgate branding began popping up on Pico Jenner boxes just this past year. Including the one we just got at the local farmacia. We make a point of buying local and regional brands rather than giant global brand products, if there is a Uruguayan, or else a Mercosur, or else a Latin American brand, as part of supporting the economy where we choose to live. Turns out, buying that toothpaste was just buying another "American" brand, in the narrow US-centric definition of "American".

Just like Coca-Cola taking over Peru's Inka Cola (and rebranding it as Inca Cola), this is disturbing. More local and regional brands lost, less of the profit remaining in the local, regional, continental economy.

Also, this Uruguayan-brand toothpaste is no longer made in Uruguay, it is made in the Mercosur nation next door, Argentina. Still regional, but jobs lost in Uruguay.

It's fine to "Buy USA" when you're in USA. But the reverse should be true when you're not. There are fewer companies left that aren't part of either some giant USA-based or European-based conglomerate. In an economic sense, it is a re-colonization.

What's next, Salus water being sold to Pepsi or Coca-Cola? (Hope not, but other local and regional drink companies have been.)

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Frente Amplio government backs down on its "no cash for gas" rule. As of May 1, fuel stations can take cash 8am-8pm.

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Our main website is finally back! You know what else is back? The full FOUR percent instant rebate of the value-added tax! That went away Aug 1, 2015, dropping to 3%, then only 2% on Aug 1, 2016. But it's back at 4%. Debit only.

Learn more at our newly-revived (though temporarily uninspiring but faster and mobile-ready layout), Uruguay Expat Life website, the hub of our Uruguay Expat Life & Uruguay For Me site network. Then make sure you have at least one good, inexpensive debit card. Or even 3 or 4! If you have a US domicile for tax and account purposes, we have several suggestions in the article. Including, but not only, the one in the picture.

Plus either or both of a free Scotiabank* Tienda Inglesa Puntos Visa Debit / pesos-only savings, and a not-too-painful BROU savings with Maestro Debit. The 4% rebate works on all of those, Uruguayan or foreign.

* For the love of sanity don't go to a Scotiabank to open it, go to the Tienda Inglesa store near you. How many times have we posted that advice? Nobody ever listens! And mandatory "Mark and Lisa own a few shares of Bank of Nova Scotia" disclosure. Not the reason we recommend it.

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Pro-tip for US folks visiting Uruguay: <=> Unless your US location is South Florida, the American Airlines nonstop is a bad choice. Maybe the worst choice. Yet so many people default to that as the "best choice", or hear that from other "Uruguay social media" groups (never from us!). You have to connect somewhere else to get to that American fight in Miami, right? It's likely that one of the US gateways from one of the three big quality Latin American airlines may be closer to you. Those are, Avianca, Copa, and Latam Airlines.

The article by our friend, Karen the "Guru'guay" of the Guru'guay website, gives the same advice, though she uses the (very old) name of Latam, "Lan Chile". LAN stopped branding its 5 separate country airlines as "LAN countryname" nearly a decade ago, though operationally or if you are an Air Traffic Control monitoring nerd, they are all still separate airlines (Lan Chile, Lan Peru - the only two you'll deal with on Uruguay flights, plus Lan Ecuador, Lan Argentina, and Lan Colombia. Now, along with Tam of Brazil, the branding is all "Latam".)

Karen also touches on travel from Europe, because she's Welsh. Again, avoid American Airlines, and due to the utter insanity of the USA being just about the only country with no concept of "international transit", we recommend avoiding the USA entirely when connecting to outside the USA, even for US citizens like ourselves! Why go through US immigration, US baggage reclaim, US customs, US baggage re-check, US TSA, when all you are doing is flying on to Canada, UK, Spain, or wherever? Much better either to use the nonstops/directs (tag-flight to Buenos Aires) of Iberia, Air Europa (both to Madrid) or Air France (to Paris) and connect onward with their network of partners, or again Latam, Avianca, or Copa to their global hubs and thence to Europe, Asia, Africa, Australasia, or the non-US North America.

Between those three high-quality airlines, they cover major US departure locations, with their own planes, from: NYC-JFK, Chicago, Washington Dulles, Boston, Miami, Orlando, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and likely more. Plus, your trip to Latin America, begins with Latin American flair! As well as better in-cabin service, better food, sometimes a better baggage allowance, and many other improvements over sullen and worn American Airlines.

You will be connecting, either once, or at most twice, to get to Montevideo, Uruguay. But again, unless you live in driving distance of Miami International, you are connecting at least once, and possibly twice, to get to the "nonstop" Uruguay American Airlines flights. At an airport, Miami, that is widely known as very hard to deal with, long lines, old, and having not very good service.

Why not leave from the airport closer to home (or your US vacation destination), and make one or two easy connections in (depending on airline), Lima, Peru (some LAN-part-of-Latam and some Avianca flights); Santiago, Chile (most LAN-part-of-Latam flights); San Salvador, El Salvador (some Avianca flights from their Taca legacy), Bogota, Colombia (some Avianca flights and a few Copa flights; Panama City, Panama (most Copa flights), or Sao Paolo, Brazil (most Tam-part-of-Latam flights)?

You do not need a visa for any of those, not even Brazil, if merely connecting. All those airports are easy to connect through, and have good shopping and food options if you are there for a long connection. You never go through local immigration and customs when connecting, at at Panama and El Salvador when traveling FROM the USA, you do not even go through any additional "transit security" (you do, per US-only regulations, on the flight back TO the USA.) At Lima, Bogota, Santiago, and Sao Paolo, you go through a quick security check, but normally no shoe-removal nor computer-removal hassles, and they you are near your departure gate. At Panama and San Salvador, it's just like changing planes at a US airport but with better food options!

We've flown all these routes on all three of those airlines, or all 5 if you count Avianca's Taca and Latam's Tam as the operationally-separate airlines they were until about 2 years ago. We can highly recommend any and all of them. Our most recent trips were Mark Mercer taking Copa on a Montevideo-Miami roundtrip with one easy connection in Panama, for family/business visits, and a month later both Mark and Lisa taking LATAM/TAM on a one-connection Montevideo-Orlando via Sao Paolo, for an extended stay at our North-central Florida location, within driving distance of Orlando. Both far nicer trips than if we'd used the "convenience" of unreliable American. With good food, lots of entertainment, power for our tablets, seatback films, and reliable baggage service.

Taking the "convenient" American Airlines nonstop is not only often not convenient, it's also highly unreliable. That flight has very bad dispatch reliability. Just this week we heard yet another horror story of repeated maintenance delays on American's very old, B-767 subfleet they use on the Miami-Montevideo route. One of us has personally experienced multi-day cancellation horrors. And even if the flight does go out, you are on an ancient plane with a 1970s-style interior with no seatback entertainment or power, only a projection screen for one movie or TV show at the front of the cabin.

In the past year, this has become even easier, because both Latam and Avianca have added nonstop Montevideo-Lima service, making the "just one more flight to get to my real US destination" possible from their big Lima hubs. Latam's TAM already serves Miami, NYC, Orlando, and possibly DC nonstop, and has a nonstop from Montevideo to Sao Paolo from where those US nonstops depart. Latam's LAN has extended their various true non-stop options from their Santiago hub, now that they are flying many more range-capable 787s, so some flights that once had a same-plane, stay-onboard 1.5 hour stop in Lima are now truly direct from Santiago. And Latam has several nonstops daily from Montevideo to both their Santiago and Sao Paolo hubs, as well as the newer once-daily Lima nonstop. You have a lot of great one-connection choices to the eastern, central, and western USA while never dealing with American Airlines.

Make your trip easier, and more fun, and likely more reliably on-time: Choose a non-US airline and experience Latin American service from the start!

Got Miles? For frequent-flyer program/scheme addicts, despite those being far less beneficial and generous than years past: Latam is part of the oneworld global alliance shared with Qantas, British Airways, Iberia, American Airlines, etc., as well as independently a partner with one of the US's better "non-alliance, many-partners" airlines, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan. Avianca and Copa are both part of the global Star Alliance of United, Air Canada, Lufthansa Group's several airlines, ANA, and many more.

So you can still earn miles/kms/points in your favorite program, get some status recognition for early boarding, preferred-rebooking, and if higher-level, lounge access and extra baggage allowance, while still not having to fly a sub-standard US-based airline. If you will be flying here regularly, you might want to consider switching to one of the "native" programs, as Copa's ConnectMiles, Avianca's LifeMiles, and Latam's LanPass all have some good benefits, and then credit your less-frequent United, American fight to them (as appropriate). That's what ew did a few years ago, where Copa ConnectMiles is now our main Star Alliance FF program.

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Our "Uruguay For Me" consults on Plansify ended, because owner Derek Earl Baron closed Plansify. Our new service soon!
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