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Uruguay Country Report

Country Risk Level

Medium

Overview

Executive Summary

President Luis Lacalle Pou from the centre-right National Party (Partido Nacional: PN) was inaugurated in March 2020, ending 15 years of left-wing Broad Front (Frente Amplio: FA) governments. Lacalle Pou formed a coalition with the Colorado Party (Partido Colorado: PC), Cabildo Abierto (CA), the Independent Party (Partido Independiente: PI), and the Party of the People (Partido de la Gente).Although the COVID-19 virus outbreak is under control (Uruguay is one of the countries with the fewest cases compared to its population), the government continues to implement measures to mitigate its economic impact, such as tax breaks and employment protection. IHS Markit forecasts 6.1% GDP contraction for 2020. In July, Congress approved a government-promoted urgency bill that effectively represents Lacalle Pou’s agenda for his five-year term (2020–25). This includes a fiscal-deficit rule, relaxing labour laws, such as those prohibiting the occupation of premises and roadblocks during strikes, and making changes to environmental institutions. The liberalisation of fuel imports, which are under the monopoly of state firm ANCAP, will be addressed separately, as it did not gather enough political support. The influential umbrella labour union Plenario Intersindical de Trabajadores-Convención Nacional Trabajadores (PIT-CNT) is likely to organise strikes lasting between 4 and 24 hours over pay claims and marches against changes to labour laws and some COVID-19-related measures they consider are not enough to protect workers. This is likely to involve hundreds of demonstrators staging peaceful marches in Montevideo city centre, likely disrupting traffic and public transport and delay work at government offices and banks. Nevertheless, the risk of violent confrontations is low.The government is adopting a tougher security strategy, including enhanced police deployment, as raising crime levels are a leading concern. After the number of murders reached a record high in 2018, they started to decline in 2019, reaching a murder rate of 11.1 per 100,000 inhabitants). Most are gang-related.

Operational Outlook

President Luis Lacalle Pou, who took office in March 2020, is likely to seek to increase foreign investment. However, his proposed changes to laws on salary negotiations and strike regulations increase labour unrest risks, particularly as the economy deteriorates amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Labour unions are traditionally closer to the now opposition Frente Amplio (Broad Front: FA), and have already criticized Lacalle Pou’s policies. Uruguay has a skilled workforce and high literacy rates. Transport infrastructure lags behind, however, the government has plans to upgrade the roads, railway grid, and ports.

Terrorism

Low

The risk of attacks targeting commercial or government property is low. Domestic acts of terrorism have been only minor and sporadic since the threat from the Tupamaro guerrilla organisation was eliminated in the mid-1970s. There is a low risk of isolated attacks on banks and embassies with low-powered explosives. During 2014 and 2015, there were several incidents of suspicious devices being found in the vicinity of the Israeli embassy in Montevideo, but these were not assessed as a major risk.

Crime

Crime levels in Uruguay rose in 2017 and peaked in 2018. Murders increased by 45.8% in 2018 compared with 2017, reaching a rate of 11.8 per 100,000 inhabitants, compared with 8.1 in 2017. However, there is a declining trend since 2019, with homicides declining by 22.3% in the first half of 2019 compared with same period in 2018. Murders are more frequent in the capital Montevideo and are mostly the result of gang violence. Rates for theft and muggings have been rising, posing moderate risks to foreign visitors and/or expatriates, mainly of opportunistic theft.

War Risks

The risk of interstate war is very low. There are no outstanding disputes with neighbouring countries. Uruguay’s military spending remains low, at approximately 1.3% of GDP. A dispute over a pulp mill on the Uruguayan side of the shared Uruguay River remains a point of contention with nearby Argentine populations. This can cause traffic disruption in the border area but is not associated with any credible risk of war.

Social Stability

Strikes, mainly led by public-sector workers, are frequent, but are generally peaceful. However, they have the capacity to paralyse transport, mainly in Montevideo, for 24 hours. There is likely to be some opposition from environmental groups to a new proposed pulp mill, but this is unlikely to derail the project.

Health Risk

Vaccines required to enter the country

No vaccinations are required to enter the country.

Vaccines recommended for all travelers

Routine vaccinations: Consult your doctor to ensure all routine vaccinations - such as for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, rubella, varicella, etc. - are up to date (include booster shots if necessary).

Vaccines recommended for most travelers

Hepatitis A: The vaccine is given in two doses, six months apart, and is nearly 100 percent effective. The WHO recommends the vaccine be integrated into national routine immunization schedules for children aged one year or older.

Typhoid fever: The typhoid fever vaccine can be administered via injection (administered in one dose) or orally (four doses). The vaccine is only 50-80 percent effective, so travelers to areas with a risk of exposure to typhoid fever, a bacterial disease, should also take hygienic precautions (e.g. drink only bottled water, avoid undercooked foods, wash hands regularly, etc.). Children can be given the shot beginning at two years of age (six for the oral vaccine).

Vaccines recommended for some travelers

Hepatitis B: The WHO recommends that all infants receive their first dose of vaccine as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours. The birth dose should be followed by two or three doses to complete the primary series. Routine booster doses are not routinely recommended for any age group.

Rabies: The rabies vaccination is typically only recommended for travel to remote areas and if the traveler will be at high risk of exposure (e.g. undertaking activities that will bring them into contact with dogs, cats, bats, or other mammals). The vaccination is administered in three doses over a three-to-four week period. Post exposure prophylaxis is also available and should be administered as soon as possible following contact with an animal suspected of being infected (e.g. bites and scratches).

Natural Risks

Flooding is relatively common in Uruguay, particularly along rivers and in coastal areas, and can occur year-round. Weather forecasts and alerts are published on the website of the Uruguayan Meteorological Institute

There is also a risk of wildfires in the summer (approximately December to March).

Transportation

Although road conditions are generally good, Uruguay nonetheless suffers from high rates of road accidents due to unsafe driving habits.

Metered taxis, car services ("remises"), public buses, and Uber are all generally safe. However, when taking a taxi it is advisable to call for one in advance or pick one up at a taxi stand instead of hailing one on the street to ensure the taxi is from a reputable company.

For long-distance travel, the country is served by a network of high-quality coach buses and ferries.

Uruguay has a zero tolerance policy regarding drinking and driving.

Practical Information

Climate

Uruguay has a temperate climate with mild winters (10°C to 16°C) and hot summers (21°C to 28°C). The country receives rain throughout the year.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +598
Emergency Services: 911

Electricity

Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Risk Level
Critical High Medium Low Minimal