Exporting guide to

Uruguay

Overview

Uruguay has an open trade and investment regime, with limited use of non-tariff measures and few border restrictions. It is one of the founding members of the Mercosur trading bloc, alongside Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.

Trade statistics

£203.0 million total UK exports to Uruguay for the four quarters to the end of Q3 2023

(Source: ONS UK total trade: all countries, seasonally adjusted
Last updated: January 2024)

112th largest UK export market

(Source: ONS UK total trade: all countries, seasonally adjusted
Last updated: January 2024)

less than 0.1% of total UK exports for the four quarters to the end of Q3 2023

(Source: ONS UK total trade: all countries, seasonally adjusted
Last updated: January 2024)

Political and social stability

Uruguay is a country with a positive framework in terms of political, democratic and social stability and macroeconomic solidity. It has well-established institutions and performs well on all major transparency and ease of doing business indexes.

Business culture

Uruguay’s business culture is quite similar to the UK. For Uruguayans, relationships are most important. Looking for long-term commitment partnerships is a priority within one of the continent’s most reliable business communities. Moreover, English is widely spoken in Uruguay, especially by the business community.

Strategic location

Uruguay has positioned itself as a solid regional logistical 'hub', encompassing the characteristics of an international distribution platform. The country is known as the gateway to Mercosur specifically because of its great location and the development of free ports and airports as well as free trade zones policies.

Five reasons why you should export to Uruguay

Watch our video on You Tube setting out 5 reasons why you should consider exporting to Uruguay.

Top five UK goods exported to Uruguay , in the four quarters to the end of Q3 2023

Goods Value (£ million )
Medicinal & pharmaceutical products 35.8
Specialised machinery (capital) 13.7
Mechanical power generators (intermediate) 7.2
General industrial machinery (capital) 5.4
Toilet & cleansing preparations 4.6

Source: ONS Trade in goods: country-by-commodity exports
Last updated: February 2024
Download the latest trade and investment factsheet for Uruguay.

Top five UK services exported to Uruguay , in the four quarters to the end of Q2 2023

Service Value (£ million )
Other Business Services 15.0
Telecommunications, computer and information services 11.0
Transportation 9.0
Financial 8.0
Travel 7.0

Source: ONS UK trade in services: service type by partner country, non-seasonally adjusted
Last updated: January 2024
Download the latest trade and investment factsheet for Uruguay.

Uruguay: at a glance

Economic growth

4.9%

Actual figure (IMF, 2022)
The UK is 4.1% (IMF, 2022, actual figure)

GDP per capita

$16,792

Actual figure (IMF, 2015)
The UK is $45,085 (IMF, 2015, actual figure)

Currency

Uruguayan Peso

Business languages

Spanish, English

You may need a translator

Time zones

GMT -3

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Opportunities for exporters

Over 70 UK companies have a permanent presence in Uruguay. This includes several FTSE 100 companies like GSK, AstraZeneca, Diageo, HSBC, Unilever and Intertek, and a range of small and medium sized UK businesses. Companies representing British principals report that customers are keen to learn of new products and solutions coming from the UK.

Check for trade barriers

Trade barriers, such as tariffs or taxes, can raise costs, cause delays, or even stop you from exporting. Check for any issues that may impact your business when exporting.

See current trade barriers

See resolved trade barriers

Check duties and customs

Find information on how to export goods from the UK. View the duties, rules, restrictions, and the documents you need for your products.

See current duties and customs procedures

Doing business in Uruguay

Preparing to export

The state agencies responsible for the collection of taxes include:

  • the General Taxation Directorate (DGI)
  • the National Customs Directorate (DNA)
  • the Bank of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay (BROU)
  • the Social Security Bank (BPS) and other social security agencies

VAT

The standard VAT rate is 22% for most goods, but can be as little as 10% for certain goods and services.

Go to the DGI website (site in Spanish) for more information on general taxes.

Import duties

Uruguay applies Mercosur Common External Tariff (CET) on imports from non-member countries, which ranges from 0% to 35%. There are numerous sectorial and national exceptions to Mercosur’s CET. Most products imported from the UK fall into the 10% tax category. You should contact a customs clearance agency to assist you with the process.

Check the Ministry of Economy and Finance's website for more information on import duties and the tariff structure.

Regulations

Importers must be registered with the General Directorate For Taxation (DGI), Social Security Bank (BPS) and the State Insurance Bank (BSE).

Uruguayan customs works alongside government agencies that control the entry of merchandise into the country, according to the category. These institutions regulate permits, authorisation and certifications for imports.

When exporting to Uruguay, you must provide all transport documents, commercial invoices, and certificates of compliance relating to quality and sanitary measures.

Go to Uruguayan Customs website for more information on import and export regulations, as well as customs codes and tariffs.

Operating in Uruguay

When developing a strategy for entering this market you should consider:

  • visiting Uruguay
  • interviewing potential partners
  • appointing a representative or agent

Building business relationships and establishing financing terms are important for success in Uruguay.

Intellectual property

Intellectual property (IP) rights are territorial. Rights granted in the UK do not provide protection elsewhere. You should consider getting IP protection abroad if you want to trade overseas or sell to overseas customers via the internet.

In Uruguay, the Intellectual Property Network was created in 2008 with the aim of promoting intellectual property and facilitating the incorporation of value into the national production of goods and services through knowledge.

Uruguay is not part of the Patents Cooperation Treaty (PCT).

The National Directorate of Industrial Property is part of the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mining. It is responsible for the national registration of trademarks and patents.

Payment terms

Payment terms are usually 30, 60 and 90 days. Large corporations, including large retailers, usually negotiate or impose longer payment terms that can last up to 6 months.

Free trade zones (FTZs)

There are currently 11 FTZs in which commercialisation of goods and services is carried out within the country and with third countries. Companies can develop any business, industrial and service activity in these zones. Operations which may be performed within FTZs include a broad range of services (such as financial, trading, IT, BPO, shared services) and logistics (storage, handling, and classification of goods). UK companies GSK and AZ are already benefitting from this regime.

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