Moving to Paraguay

The South American nation of Paraguay currently has a population of 6.8 million. It is one of the major emerging markets in the continent with an annual growth rate of 2.5% as of the 2nd quarter of 2016, making it one of the most promising countries for expats looking to move to South America.

Aside from its recent progress, there are other things that draw expats to this country. Paraguay is called as Corazon de America or “Heart of America” mainly because of its central location, and also because Paraguayans are known to be some of the most hospitable and caring people in the region.

Paraguay takes pride in its exotic natural reserves and man-made dams that will surely captivate the hearts of expats. Even so, moving, living in Paraguay has its ups and downs, it’s better to come prepared before you move, so arm yourself with information and learn everything you should know when you’re moving to Paraguay.

Things you didn’t know

1. Paraguay is among the few countries in the world that require US citizens visits to get in

The US passport is one of the most powerful in the world. US citizens are able to enter some 160 territories without having to secure a visa. However, if you are a US citizen wishing of entering Paraguay for any purpose, you’re required to secure the necessary permit.

Non-resident visas

Certain foreign nationals may obtain a “visa en arribo” (visa on arrival) upon arrival by air at Silvio Pettirossi International Airport in the capital Asuncion. This multiple-entry visa, valid for 10 years, is available in the airport. The citizens who may apply for a visa en arribo are those from the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and China. If you’re not from these countries, you need to secure a visa in person at the nearest Paraguayan embassy or consulate. Learn more about the immigration requirements of Paraguay through their official website.

The requirements for a non-resident visa are as follows:

  1. Filled-out application forms
  2. Passport with at least six months validity
  3. A passport-size photo
  4. Flight itinerary
  5. For minors, a notarized travel authorization from the parent or guardian
  6. For official or business trip, a letter stating the purpose of the visit
  7. US$160 in cash or money order payable to the Embassy of Paraguay.

2.You may need to pack a three-month supply of prescription drugs before flying to Paraguay

The healthcare system in the country is still developing. It’s facing a serious shortage in public medical facilities, practitioners and medicines. Foreigners are strongly advised to obtain an International Health Insurance before travelling. Most foreign governments advise their citizens to get supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

Since it takes time for certain drugs and medicines to arrive in Paraguay, it’s also recommended that visitors pack supplies good for at least three months. Bring your prescription medicines in the original packaging accompanied with your doctor’s prescription. Don’t forget to get a vaccination against hepatitis A and B, typhoid, rabies, yellow fever and malaria. The prevalent diseases in Paraguay are diarrheal illness, zika virus, dengue fever and rabies.

3. Residents enjoy low-income tax

Do you know that Paraguayan residents enjoy one of the lowest income taxes in the world? The country observes a progressive tax system where taxes increase with income. The general personal income tax rate for residents earning an annual income equal or higher than 120 monthly minimum salaries is 10%; those earning below the 120 monthly minimum salary bracket pays an 8% personal income tax. This and the low cost of living in Paraguay make it very interesting for most expats to work in Paraguay or retire in the country.

Amazing facts about Paraguay

1. Their official language is Spanish, but it’s not their only official language, and you probably haven’t heard of the other one.

The official languages of Paraguay are Spanish and Paraguayan Guaraní. Paraguayan Guaraní is the indigenous language of the Guaraní Family, a group of languages from the indigenous people of South America known as the Tupi and the Guarani people. Unlike other South American countries, the indigenous Paraguayan Guaraní is still widely used in Paraguay. In fact, Guaraní is used by more than 90% of the population. So when you arrive, try to greet people good morning by saying “Mba'eichapa ndepyhareve?” It’s not easy, but it will be very much appreciated.

Other languages that people speak in Paraguay:

  • Toba-Maskoy
  • Guana
  • Iyo'wujwa Chorote
  • Toba Qom
  • Chamacoco
  • Nivaclé
  • Aché
  • Lengua
  • Sanapaná
  • Pai Tavytera
  • Ayoreo
  • Ñandeva
  • Maka

2. Music is a big thing here

Paraguayans love music, in fact, their love of music goes back to their traditional culture, and their famous style of music called “Guarania” made popular in the 1920s by the musician Jose Asuncion Flores. Paraguayans are also very proud of their harp. The Paraguayan harp dated back to 1556 and was introduced to Paraguay by Jesuit priests who wished to evangelise the native Guaranis. It has then been altered to fit the national styles. It stands at about 1 and a half metres, with 36-37 strings. Classical and traditional folk music are usually enjoyed by Paraguayans, but they also have a special appreciation for Jazz.

Here are some of the best places to experience music in Paraguay:

3. Tea is also quite a big thing in this country

Drinking tea is part of the Paraguayans lives. The two most famous drinks in the country are maté and tereré. Maté is a hot herbal tea made of Yerba Mate leaves. The cold version of maté is tereré. Most Paraguayans you’ll see are carrying thermos bottles with hot water so they can have their tea wherever they go. If you want to live like a local, go and get your own thermos bottle for mate.

4. Paraguayans celebrate a lot of Christian holidays

Paraguay is dominantly a Christian nation. Nearly 90% of the population is Roman Catholic while 6% is part of other Christian groups. The remaining 4% of Paraguayans are members of indigenous sects or non-religious groups. Similar to other Christian nations, Paraguay celebrates a number of holidays, religious or not, and hold grand festivities. Here is the list of national holidays you should take note of:

Date Holiday
January 1 New Years Day
March 1 Day of Heroes
Thursday before Easter Sunday Holy Thursday
Friday before Easter Sunday Good Friday
Sunday between March 22 and April 25 Easter Sunday
May 1 Labour Day
May 14 Independence Day
June 12 Chaco Armistice Day
August 15 Founding of Asuncion
October 3 Boqueron Battle Victory Day
October 12 Columbus Day
December 8 Virgin of Caacupe
December 25 Christmas Day
December 31 Year-End Bank Holiday

How to live like a local in Paraguay

1. You may have to regulate your fast-food consumption

Similar to other South Americans, Paraguayans are not big fans of fast-food and manufactured food products. People prefer to buy fresh produce and cook their own meals. Typical dishes are composed of corn and beef. Paraguayans also love mandioca root (cassava), which is commonly served boiled. The common dishes in households are locro (a corn stew), sopa paraguaya (a rich corn flour and cheese bread) and mbaipy so'ó  (corn pudding with beef chunks). During special occasions, people feast on roasted beef or pig, asado and boiled mandioca. Enjoy your healthy meals with hot or cold yerba maté (Paraguayan tea).

2. Paraguayan families are closely knit

When you visit a Paraguayan household, expect to be introduced to a number of uncles, aunts, cousins, etc. Family is the centre of Paraguayan society, and an extended kin network is part of the culture. Kins are obliged to extend support to one another whether in financial or emotional support. In many cases, extended kins are mobilised to further another’s political ambitions. Ties by blood and affinity are not the only relations within a kin network. Paraguayans also greatly value god-parenthood established in baptisms, confirmations and marriages. A child’s godparents are regarded as second parents.

3. Paraguay has its own version of a caste system

The Paraguayan society is divided between the ultra-rich and the poor masses. A small group of people own most of the land and resources in the country while a majority of the population, especially those in rural areas, are impoverished. Aside from land ownership, other symbols of high economic and social status are a university degree and the ability to fluently converse in Spanish. Peasants and workers are expected to show respect esteem to their richer counterparts.

4. Greetings are based on persons’ social status

When greeting a Paraguayan, it’s important to consider your social statuses. In informal situations, upper-class men and women greet others within their social status with a kiss on each cheek. If you’re meeting someone of the other gender for the first time, it’s customary to give a light handshake accompanied by a nod and a smile. Regardless of social classes and gender, Paraguayan shake hands as a greeting in formal situations. Expect your Paraguayan peers to stand close to you during conversations. Don’t turn your back away from someone while they’re speaking as this is considered unacceptable. Wait for him/her to finish before taking your leave.


Moving Services in Paraguay