The Oriental Republic of Uruguay is an attractive platform for undertaking investments in Latin America. Uruguay’s political and social stability, the soundness of its financial system and the importance of this country as a commercial centre of the Mercosur region, places it in a privileged position.
Uruguay as a regional financial center
Uruguay's banking system is a solid one, characterized by:
Lack of exchange controls, transfer of funds restrictions or profit remittance limits.
Strict banking secrecy.
An easy process for foreign nationals or companies to open bank accounts.
Uruguay's financial system is comprised of banks, financial houses, offshore banks and representative offices of foreign banks. All of the above types of institutions require the authorization to operate by Uruguay's Central Bank. The following is a list of the institutions that actually operate in Uruguay:
BANCO DE LA REPUBLICA ORIENTAL DEL URUGUAY Cerrito 351 1896 - 2428 1896 -1625
BANCO HIPOTECARIO DEL URUGUAY Fernández Crespo 1508 1911-2515 1911-4184
BANCO BANDES URUGUAY S.A. Sarandí 402 29160100 2916 0031
BANCO BILBAO VIZCAYA ARGENTARIA URUGUAY S.A. 25 De Mayo 401 29161444 29150095 29161675
BANCO DE LA NACION ARGENTINA Juan Carlos Gomez 1372 29160078 29164582
BANCO ITAU URUGUAY S.A. Zabala 1451/1463 29160127 29161739
BANCO SANTANDER S.A. Julio Herrera y Obes 1365 1747 1747
BANQUE HERITAGE (URUGUAY) S.A. Rincón 530 29160177 29160241
CITIBANK N.A. (SUCURSAL URUGUAY) Cerrito 455 29150374 1987 210
DISCOUNT BANK (LATIN AMERICA) S.A. Rincón 390 29164848 2916 0890
HSBC BANK (URUGUAY) S.A. Zabala 1403 29153395 29160125
LLOYDS TSB BANK PLC Zabala 1500 29161370 29161262
NUEVO BANCO COMERCIAL S.A. Misiones 1399, Montevideo 2916 0541 2915 3569
Banco Santander S.A.
Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria Uruguay S.A.
HSBC Bank (Uruguay) S.A.
Citibank N.A. Sucursal Uruguay.
Lloyds TSB Bank plc.
Banco Bandes Uruguay S.A.
Banco Itaú-BBA S.A. Sucursal Uruguay
Crédit Uruguay Banco S.A.
Nuevo Banco Comercial S.A.
Discount Bank (Latin America) S.A.
Banco Surinvest S.A.
Banco de la Nación Argentina
Banco de la República Oriental del Uruguay (BROU)
Banco Hipotecario del Uruguay (BHU)
OCA Casa Financiera S.A.
Hapoalim (Latin America) S.A.
Leumi (Latin America) S.A.
Exprinter (Uruguay) S.A.
Banco Patagonia (Uruguay) S.A. I.F.E.
Deutsche Bank S.A.-Banco Alemao (Uruguay) I.F.E.
Banca Privada d'Andorra (Uruguay) S.A. I.F.E.
Safra (Uruguay) S.A.
Merrill Lynch Bank (Uruguay) S.A.
Representative offices of foreign banks
Sud Bank & Trust Company Limited - Nassau
SG PRIVATE BANKING (SUISSE) S.A
UBS AG - Basilea y Zurich
HSBC Bank USA, National Association
Credit Suisse Schweizerische Kreditanstalt - Zurich
Banque Privée Edmond de Rothschild S.A. - Ginebra
Bank Of New York-Inter Maritime Bank - Ginebra
Man Investments AG - Suiza
Lloyds TSB Bank Plc - Sucursal Ginebra
Bank Leu AG - Zurich
Santander Bank & Trust Ltd.
BSI S.A. - Lugano
Crédit Agricole (Suisse) S.A.
Royal Bank of Canada de Montreal - Montreal
Coutts Bank von Ernst Ltd. (Zurich)
UEB United European Bank - Ginebra
Safra National Bank of New York - New York
Bank Hofmann AG de Zurich - Zurich
American Express Bank Limited - New York
BBVA (Suiza) S.A.
HSBC Private Bank (Suisse) S.A.
LGT Bank (Switzerland) Ltd.
LGT Bank in Liechtenstein Ltd.
Mizrahi Tefahot Bank Ltd.(Tel Aviv)
Uruguay is an important financial center within South America, as well as a favorable location to conduct business and trade in the continent. The country has, for decades, served as a base from which to conduct different types of commercial and financial operations involving countries in the region, especially Brazil and Argentina. This is done in the form of:
Utilization of Uruguay's solid, open and confidential banking system
Utilization of Uruguay's reliable offshore corporations
Utilization of Uruguay's Free Trade Zones to conduct trade of goods and services
These advantages are taken both by multinational companies and individuals.
Uruguay has free trade zones, from which any activity conducted with overseas parties is untaxed. To operate in a free zone, one must have a contract with the relevant free zone operator, and a special type of SA which can only conduct activity from a free zone.
Banking in Uruguay is easy. Non residents can open a bank account usually in a day. The requirements are an ID, the signature of the interested party, a proof of address and in some cases a bank reference letter and a local introduction.
Banking in Uruguay is protected by one of the world’s tightest banking secrecy regulations. Banks cannot share information with any party, including the government of Uruguay. The only exceptions are two: a) If a Family Court from Uruguay requests it in an alimony process; and b) If a Uruguayan Criminal Court requests it, backed by sufficient evidence of a crime. The criterion is effectively applied, since banking secrecy is a crucial competitive advantage of Uruguay’s banking system.
Uruguay’s Key Advantages
Uruguay offers many advantages to the foreign or offshore resident, thus its reputation as “the Switzerland of South America”
Funds can enter Uruguay freely, that is, no withholding taxes or government fees affect transfers of money into the country.
Funds can exit the country, free of any taxes, at any point. There are no waiting periods or permits to transfer money back out of the country.
One does not face currency risk, since funds in the country can (and usually do) stay in foreign currency (U.S. dollars and Euros being the main choice). Over three quarters of the funds that Uruguayan banks hold are in dollars.
One needn’t be a citizen, a resident, nor be physically present in Uruguay, in order to own property in the country, or have investments or funds in a bank account in the country.
Assets in Uruguay can be owned by any type of foreign vehicle, with no disadvantage. It’s common to see real estate owned by Panama, BVI or Delaware LLCs.