Exporting to Uruguay | A Trade & Export Guide

LAC Team


Updated: October 14, 2021

It is our honest belief that far too few people realize how lucrative Uruguay can be for export. Be it that you want to support a local company or develop a business of your own, Uruguay can be a great place for financial investments. However, to take full advantage of Uruguay’s economy, you need to know the basics of it and be familiar with procedures regarding exportation.

Latin American Cargo is here to help you with all your international shipping needs and to share with you all vital information about exporting to Uruguay.

Business opportunities to consider when exporting to Uruguay

A closer look at Uruguay will show you that it has one of South America’s best economies. Here you will find law-abiding citizens, a low corruption rate, and properly functioning government institutions. Therefore, it should come as little surprise that Uruguay’s economy is relatively healthy and in stages of increasing development. Uruguay’s strategic location is further helped by a sound trade policy and a substantial economic development plan. In 2011, the Uruguay government approved a PPP (Public-Private Partnership) law, which immensely helped in bringing in foreign investment mostly related to infrastructure.

So, with such a healthy economy established, where should you start your process of exporting to Uruguay? Well, there are a couple of areas where we feel that you will get the most significant return on investment:

  • Chemicals – Be it for cleaning or agriculture, Uruguay has a definite need for both production and import of industrial chemicals.
  • Information TechnologyUruguay has a developing IT sector, but it is still not in the same range as in developed nations. As it is with most South American countries, this area is growing rapidly. If you want to make use of the early stages of its development, consider exploring the IT sector.
  • Agri-Tech – Uruguay is one of the most important food exporting countries in the region. Agriculture products represent almost 80% of the total of goods exported by Uruguay. Its agro-industrial sector is expected to require large amounts of material and machinery to face the global demand, representing strong opportunities for importers and exporters.
  • Medical equipment and suppliesThis can be especially lucrative if you plan on exporting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Top exports to Uruguay

Willing to find out what to export to Uruguay? In 2019, Uruguay imported 8.3 billion US$ worth of goods, mostly from the following countries: Brazil, China, US, Argentina and Mexico. Among the top exports to Uruguay are:

  1. Mineral fuels including oil and ore: US$1.1 billion (13.2% of total imports)
  2. Machinery including broadcasting equipment and computers: $776.4 million (9.3%)
  3. Cars, delivery trucks, construction vehicles, and parts: $775 million (9.3%)
  4. Electrical machinery and industrial equipment: $663.3 million (8%)
  5. Plastics, plastic articles and rubber: $444.4 million (5.3%)
  6. Other chemical goods including pesticides: $274.7 million (3.3%)
  7. Pharmaceuticals equipment & medicaments: $255.5 million (3.1%)
  8. Meat, fisheries and cereals: $240.7 million (2.9%)
  9. Fertilizers, organic and chemical: $234.6 million (2.8%)
  10. Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: $185.9 million (2.2%)

Challenges to consider when exporting to Uruguay

While Uruguay has a relatively open trade policy, there are particular challenges that you will need to consider. In recent years, the government has increased import taxes in order to yield higher overall revenue. This is especially true for products coming from non-MERCOSUR countries. Here you have tariffs that can go as high as 25% for certain products (usually for dairy products, canned goods, and vehicles).

Over the past decade, Uruguay’s government has done its best to make exporting to Uruguay as straightforward as possible. However, there are a couple of things you need to be aware of:

  • Licensing requirements for importsCertain products like sugar, textiles, or motor vehicles require non-automatic import licensing. So, you will need to ensure that you have the proper license (this procedure usually lasts between 60 and 90 days) before you import.
  • Safety measures for agricultural products – While there are no quarantine measures for agricultural products, you will have to work with government sanitation agencies if you are to import them. In most cases, you will need sanitary and phytosanitary certificates, depending on the country you are exporting from.

Import restrictions and prohibitions

If you plan on exporting goods to Uruguay,  there are some restrictions you should be aware of.
The following items have a permanent import ban in Uruguay:

  • Paint with an excess of lead.
  • Organochlorine-based insecticides.
  • Potassium bromate for food.
  • Used cars.
  • Asbestos or products containing asbestos.
  • Certain insecticides-herbicides.

An important thing to note is that Uruguay is not part of the WTO, which means that it has its own system for item prohibition. Therefore, we advise you to study it carefully before you start exporting to Uruguay.

Export to Uruguay: Customs clearance

In order to legally import products into Uruguay, you either need to be a commercial or industrial company, or you need to be listed in the registry of importers. To start the import procedure, you will need to use an agent to handle your customs entries.

Imports requirements and documentation

The documents you will need as a foreign exporter to Uruguay are:

  • Commercial invoice.
  • Transportation documents.
  • Certificate of origin.

Depending on the type of products (according to the HS Code), you may require additional documents and certificates, which you should look into with your Freight Forwarder.

 You also need to be aware of labels and marking requirements for all imported products. All marking and labeling requirements are controlled by the Laboratorio Tecnológico del Uruguay (LATU, Uruguay’s Technical Laboratory), the Ministry of Public Health, and Intendencia municipal offices.
Spanish language must be used on all labeling. The following information must be provided:

  • Main ingredients or components of the product
  • Country of origin
  • Expiration date
  • Net weight
  • Cooking instructions (in case of food products)
  • The full name and address of the Uruguayan importer

Modes of transportation to and within Uruguay

The easiest way to transport goods to Uruguay is either via air or sea freight. Montevideo is the only viable airport and seaport for mass import, especially if you plan on handling it on a regular basis. Uruguay’s road traffic system is relatively reliable, but we still suggest that you research it carefully before you use this mode of transportation.

Finding the right freight forwarding company to help you export to Uruguay will make the process much more comfortable and efficient. And once you consider the potential language barrier, you will quickly realize how important it is to partner with a specialized freight forwarder to help you export to Uruguay.

Export to Uruguay now!

By now, it should be evident that to ship goods to Uruguay, you will need to consider some conditions and requirements, but no more than you would for any other country in South America. So, if you want to make use of Uruguay’s thriving economy, finding the right freight forwarding partner should be your first step in the process.

In case you ever decide to move  to Uruguay, we suggest that you consider contacting a moving expert to guide you accordingly. Keep in mind  that preparing in advance is the only way to relocate stress-free to a foreign country.



Related Articles

Don't just take our word for it

Learn from the experiences of those who matter most: our customers