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Border Crossing - Paso Integración Austral, Argentina to Chile

A photo of the sign outside the Chilean border crossing building at Paso Integracion Austral.

Crossing Date: 30 December 2023
Direction: Argentina to Chile
Altitude: 0m
Vehicle: UK-registered motorcycle
People: 1
Total time: 1.5 hours
Rating: 3/5 (A little chaotic)

Paso Integración Austral is a main border crossing between Argentinian and Chilean Patagonia. It's used by travellers on their way to Tiera del Fuego and commercial traffic heading to Punta Arenas, the largest town in the region. A such, it's fairly busy.

The Process

Travelling from Rio Gallegos, you arrive at the Argentinian facility, which is a large unmissable building. You can park out the front with a motorcycle. Inside you complete the formalities for exiting Argentina - immigration and cancelling the Argentinian temporary import permit (TIP) for the motorcycle. They also give you a small slip of paper which you get stamped by immigration and customs to show that you've completed those steps.

From there, you proceed about 900m down the road to the Chilean border post. This is also an unmissable large, modern building. Parking is managed by traffic wardens and you are directed to park in the appropriate area for your vehicle. If it's a busy day, you join the queue which will eventually deposit you at the first step of three in the Chilean process - entering Chile for immigration purposes. This is done with the Chilean Immigration Police (PDI) who will give you a small printed receipt with a QR code. This is required when you want to leave Chile (and also by some hotels to prove you're a legal foreigner) so keep it safe. A similar slip of paper is given to you for the Chilean stamps for immigration and customs. You then proceed to the next window to obtain a Chilean TIP for the motorcycle.

As with all Chilean land border crossings, there is a third step - making a declaration for Chilean Agricultural Customs. There is a paper form to do this, which you can pick up inside the border building. A better option is to do it online, either while you're waiting in line (there's free wifi available in both the Argentinian and Chilean buildings) or before you arrive. Once you've got your declaration completed, you can return to your vehicle and head to the final checkpoint. Here you show your completed declaration (paper or QR code) and stamped slip to the customs officer. Your vehicle may or may not be searched, at the discretion of the officer, and then you are sent on your way into Chile.

How it Went for Me

The ride from Rio Gallegos to the border is about 65km across a windswept expanse of flat terrain. The Argentinian border facility was fairly chaotic, with vehicles of all sorts parked everywhere and little information on where to go. I saw there were other motorcycles parked up near the building so also made my way there. It was clear where to go next, so I walked around the side of the building and there was a queue. This was for immigration, and it took around 20 minutes to get to the window. Once there, getting stamped out of Argentina was a matter of a minute or two. Next straight to the customs window, with very few people ahead, so a quick process to cancel the TIP.

From there, it wasn't clear where to go or what to do next. I returned to my bike and made my way through the chaos of cars and people to the vehicle point of the building. There weren't any officials obviously dealing with travellers so after a moment of looking around, I continued on to the Chilean building.

With the traffic wardens, things were quite a bit more organised on the Chilean side. I was directed to park next to some other motorcycles, and then headed indoors. There were two queues, stretching almost out of the building. It wasn't clear what each queue was for, and several people were confused. Eventually an official came and directed people to the left or right queue, depending on whether they were entering or exiting Chile. From there, it took about another 20 minutes to reach the first window (immigration) and start the process.

As with Argentina, once at the window the formalities were very quick. I'd also used my time in the line to complete the online customs declaration, so after obtaining the Chilean TIP, it returned to my bike. There was a line of cars for the exit, but as I approached, I was directed to ride to the front. The customs officer took my stamped paper slip and I showed the QR code for the online declaration. The officer was friendly, but rushed, so I was quickly waved on my way, sans search.

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