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Latest travel advice for Peru including safety and security, entry requirements, travel warnings and health

2014-08-06T12:15:10+01:00: Latest update: Safety & security and Entry requirements section - lone young female travellers; valid entry and exit stamps

Demonstrations are common in Peru and can turn violent quickly. See Local travel

Around 56,000 British nationals visit Peru every year. Most visits are trouble free.

Drug trafficking is a serious crime and drug smugglers face long terms of imprisonment. See Local Laws and Customs

There may be a higher risk to your safety in areas where there is organised crime and terrorism linked to the production of drugs. See Local travel

There are serious risks involved in flying over the Nazca Lines. See Nazca Lines

There’s risk of robbery by bogus taxi drivers, especially to and from the airports and at bus terminals. See Crime

Driving standards are poor. Crashes resulting in death and injury occur frequently. See Road travel

There is a general threat from terrorism. See Terrorism

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

Safety and security

Crime

Street crime, including muggings and thefts, is a significant problem in Lima, Cusco, Arequipa and other major cities. Be vigilant in public places and when withdrawing cash from ATMs. Avoid walking alone in quiet areas or at night.

There have been a number of cases of rape, mostly in the Cusco and Arequipa areas. Take particular care at bus terminals and in taxis. Be alert to the use of ‘date rape’ and other drugs. Buy your own drinks and keep sight of them at all times. If you’re in a bar and don’t feel well, try to seek help from people you know. Unscrupulous tour agents have targeted lone young female travellers in the Cusco area.

Tourists have been targeted and robbed by bogus taxi drivers. Use a taxi registered at the bus terminal or book one from a reputable company. If you hail a taxi on the street make a note of the registration number before getting in. Be wary of taxi drivers offering cheaper than normal fares, which is often a lure for a robbery. If you have luggage, don’t take a station wagon cab where your luggage can be seen. It attracts robbers who use mobile phones to advise accomplices to hold up the cab. Never leave your luggage in the cab with the driver behind the wheel.

Provincial and Inter-city buses are sometimes held up and the passengers robbed. Passport theft is also common on inter-city buses. Keep your passport with you at all times during your bus journey and take particular care of valuables if you travel on a bus at night.
 
Be particularly careful when arriving at Lima’s Jorge Chavez International Airport. Bogus taxi drivers and thieves pretending to be tour operators sometimes approach arriving passengers. If you take a taxi, use one of the three official companies located at desks directly outside the arrival halls. Further details are on the  Lima Airport Partner website. When you travel back to the airport, book transport form a reputable company. Don’t use a street taxi.

Local travel

Local protests sometimes disrupt road, rail and air travel. Protests in Puno can result in the closure of the border crossing with Bolivia. Seek local advice before you set off.

The website of the Peruvian Ministry of Tourism has useful information for tourists and visitors in English, and the local tourist Information and Assistance service - telephone +51 1 574 8000 (24 hours a day) can handle enquiries in English. On the Ministry of Tourism website you will also find information about the government offices that help tourists around the country.

Drugs, organised crime and terrorism are inextricably linked. There is a higher risk to your safety in regions where there is intensive coca cultivation and processing, including the Alto Huallaga, Aguaytia, Apurimac-Ene and Mantaro (VRAEM) river basins. Activity by the “Shining Path” terrorist group has been reported along the trekking route to Espiritu Pampa in Cusco region. Seek local advice about dangerous areas.

A state of emergency gives the armed forces responsibility for law and order alongside the police. Some civil rights are suspended. If you do decide to visit any area under a state of emergency you should follow instructions given to you by military, police or other officials.

A state of emergency for security reasons is in force in the following areas: Huanta and La Mar provinces in the Department of Ayacucho; Kimbiri, Pichari and Vilcabamba districts in La Convencion province in the Department of Cusco (Cusco city and Machu Picchu are not affected); Tayacaja province in the Department of Huancavelica; Satipo province, Andamarca and Comas districts, (Concepcion province) and Santo Domingo de Acobamba and Pariahuanca districts (Huancayo province) in the Department of Junin; the districts of Cholon in Maranon province, the province of Leoncio Prado and the district of Monzon in the province of Huamalies, all in the department of Huanuco; the province of Tocache in the department of San Martin; and the province of Padre Abad in the department of Ucayali.

Huaraz Region of the Cordillera Blanca Mountains

Several hikers have died and others have had to be rescued after serious accidents in the Huaraz region of the Cordillera Blanca Mountains, where Peru’s highest peaks are located. Most rescues are carried out on foot because helicopters can’t fly to the areas where hikers are stranded. Contact iperu offices in Huaraz (telephone: +51 (43) 428812) before you set off.

Inca trail

If you’re hiking on the Inca Trail go with a guided group. To protect the trail there is a government fee and restrictions on numbers. During the high season (June–August) you should make reservations with a travel agency well in advance. Always register when entering national parks and be particularly careful in steep or slippery areas which are unfenced or unmarked. Several climbers have died or suffered serious injuries after falling while climbing Huayna Picchu, a peak near Machu Picchu. Only very basic medical assistance is available at Machu Picchu.

Lake Titicaca

Travel in groups when walking along the banks of Lake Titicaca. There have been incidents of armed robberies against travellers walking on their own. Take care at all times and contact the local tourist information centre for advice about known safe zones. Local authorities advise against travelling alone at night in the Desaguadero area on the Peru-Bolivia border at the southern end of Lake Titicaca.

Nazca Lines

There are serious risks involved in flying over the Nazca Lines. There have been a number of fatal accidents and emergencies particularly involving planes operating from the Maria Reiche airport. Subsequent investigations showed that aircraft safety and maintenance standards were not being implemented. Though some improvements to operating practices have been made, problems continue to be reported.

Spiritual cleansing

Shamans and other individuals offer ‘spiritual cleansing’ to tourists, especially in the Amazon area and Cusco. This service is not regulated and there have been serious illness and deaths following such ceremonies.

Sand buggies 

There have been deaths and injuries involving recreational sand buggies, particularly in the sand dunes around Ica and Lake Huacachina. These buggies are unregulated and the drivers and agencies take no responsibility for the welfare of passengers.

River rafting and boating

Check that the company you use is well established and make sure your insurance covers you for all the activities you want to undertake. The weather can impact on white-water rafting and boating conditions.

Road travel

You can drive for up to 6 months using a UK driving licence and up to 1 year with an International Driving Permit. Carry your passport with you at all times when driving.

Take particular care if you are driving close to places where protests are taking place. Don’t attempt to pass blockades.

Driving standards in Peru are poor. Stop signs and traffic lights are often ignored. Fatal crashes occur frequently. Drivers don’t always show concern for pedestrians.

Bus crashes are common, especially at night. Only use reputable transport companies, and where possible avoid overnight travel, especially in mountainous and remote regions. Cruz del Sur, Ormeno and Oltursa bus companies operate with two crews, but accidents still occur. Always wear a seat belt.

The Peruvian Ministry of Transportation publishes a list in Spanish of the intercity bus companies with the highest rate of traffic accidents resulting in fatalities and serious injuries.

Terrorism

There is a general threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by foreigners.

The internal terrorism of the 1980s and 1990s has largely ended, but remnants of the Shining Path terrorist movement are still active in some of the main coca growing areas in central Peru (Alto Huallaga, Aguaytia and Apurimac-Ene VRAE river basins).

Local laws and customs

More than 30 British nationals are currently in prison in Peru for drugs offences. Drug smugglers face long terms of imprisonment and conditions in Peruvian prisons are unpleasant. Pack your luggage yourself and keep it with you at all times. Don’t carry anything through customs for anybody else. Don’t take coca leaves or coca tea out of the country. It’s illegal to import these items into the UK.

Sex with minors (anyone under 18 is considered a minor in Peru) is illegal. Offenders will face long term jail sentences.

You are not allowed to take any archaeological artefacts from the country without the proper authority.

The sale of souvenirs made with any animal parts, including condor feathers, is illegal. These feathers are often sold in tourist markets in Cusco.

You should carry identification with you at all times. You can carry a photocopy of the relevant pages of your passport and keep the original document in a safe place.

Homosexuality is legal in Peru but social attitudes are generally conservative. Any outward display of homosexual behaviour is likely to be frowned upon. Same-sex partnerships are not formally recognised.

You should avoid taking photographs of anything of a military nature.

Entry requirements

Visas

The Peruvian authorities have confirmed they will accept British passports extended by 12 months by British Embassies and Consulates under additional measures put in place in mid-2014.

British nationals don’t need a visa to travel if the purpose of the visit is tourism. On arrival, you are normally given permission to stay for up to 6 months.

If you are travelling for any other purpose, check entry clearance requirements with the  Peruvian Consulate-General in London.

Business visitors entering Peru on a business visa will need to complete a form from the Peruvian tax authority SUNAT on departure. You can get this form from the Peruvian Consulate in London before travelling, or at Lima airport on arrival. Your passport must contain an entry stamp otherwise you will be refused permission to leave. Double check the period of time you have been granted. If you overstay, you can be held in detention until a fine is paid. Keep the immigration paper given to you on arrival in a safe place, as you will need to show this on departure.

If you enter Peru overland from Ecuador, make sure your passport is stamped with a Peruvian entry stamp at the local immigration office. Most people crossing the border with Ecuador enter Peru through Aguas Verdes (Tumbes region) - you may need to ask for directions to the immigration office. Immigration authorities in Peru will instruct you to return to the border with Ecuador if your passport does not contain a valid entry stamp.

If you enter Peru from Bolivia by bus or taxi, make sure your passport is stamped with a Peruvian entry stamp at the immigration office in Desaguadero (Puno region). Immigration authorities in Peru will instruct you to return to the border with Bolivia if your passport does not contain a valid entry stamp.

Immigration authorities may also not let you leave Peru without a valid exit stamp from the last country you visited (and a valid entry stamp into Peru). They may instruct you to return to the border to get your passport stamped or to apply for an expulsion order. The expulsion order will ban you from returning to Peru.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. No additional period of validity beyond this is required.

The Peruvian authorities have confirmed they will accept British passports extended by 12 months by British Embassies and Consulates under additional measures put in place in mid-2014.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Peru. Your ETD should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. No additional period of validity beyond this is required.

Customs

British nationals have experienced problems when trying to enter the country with more than one laptop. You should familiarise yourself with Peruvian immigration or customs procedures before you enter the country. For further details contact the Peruvian Consulate in London.  

If you are returning to the UK via Europe, be aware that the customs authorities in European airports frequently confiscate duty free alcohol and other liquids purchased at the duty free shops in Lima airport from passengers in transit.  

Travelling with children

Children under the age of 18 years travelling on a British passport who have resident status in Peru need written permission (Autorización de Viaje Notarial) from the non accompanying parent(s) to leave the country. This permission is obtained by a notary public in Peru. The letter must mention the proposed destination, the purpose of the trip, the date of departure and the return date. If unable to obtain a notarial permission, the child will need a judicial written permission (Autorización de Viaje Judicial) issued by a judge. Children who have tourist status do not need these permissions, however, the Immigration Officer is free to request them in circumstances considered suspicious by the Immigration Authorities. For further information, contact the Peruvian Consulate in London or the Peruvian Immigration Directorate.

Health

Contact your GP around 8 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre, and useful information about healthcare abroad, including a country-by-country guide of reciprocal health care agreements with the UK, is available from NHS Choices

Yellow fever is endemic in certain areas. Diarrhoea caused by contaminated food or water is common and is potentially serious. See NaTHNaC’s Food and Water Hygiene page.

Medical treatment can be expensive and is not always available in some parts of the country. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

Parts of Peru (including Cusco, Puno and the Colca Canyon) are at high altitude.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial one of the following numbers: 225 4040 (Lima - Alerta Med); 467 4861 (Lima - Clave 5); 437 7071 (Lima Clave - Medical); 265 8783 (Lima - Cruz Roja); 241 1911(Lima - Plan Vital); 332 6720 (Lima - Serivimedic) and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Natural disasters

Earthquakes

Peru is in an active earthquake zone and there are frequent tremors. If in a building when an earthquake strikes keep away from the windows and make your way to the safe zones marked in most buildings with an ‘S’ sign. If you are outside keep away from buildings and other areas where objects, like trees or power lines, could fall.

To learn more about what to do before, during and after an earthquake, see the website of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Although tsunamis are rare in Peru higher tides are often experienced after an earthquake. See the Peruvian Directorate of Hydrography and Navigation website for information.

Flooding and landslides

The rainy season in Peru runs from November to April. It can rain heavily in the Andes. During the rainy season land, rock and mudslides can cause disruption to road and rail travel in mountain and jungle areas, including Cusco and the way to Machu Picchu, and the north of Peru. River levels are also higher. Take care when travelling in these areas during the rainy season and check the latest conditions with your tour operator. Monitor local media for updates on travel information before starting your journey.

Money

When using an ATM, try to do so during business hours inside a bank, supermarket or large commercial building. Be particularly vigilant before and after using an ATM on the street, especially at night. Some ATMs don’t automatically release your card when you receive your money. You may have to push a button to release your card.

Not all shops, restaurants, bars and hotels accept credit cards and it is worth checking whether they do before ordering anything. Keep credit and debit card receipts.

Western Union is represented in Peru, with bureaux in all main cities. If you need more cash this is a quick, reliable way of receiving money from abroad.

Be alert to the possibility of being passed counterfeit US dollars or local currency, especially from street money changers.

Contact FCO Travel Advice Team

This email service only offers information and advice for British nationals planning to travel abroad.

If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the consular assistance team on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).

If you’re abroad and need emergency help, please contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

If you have a question about this travel advice, you can email us at TravelAdvicePublicEnquiries@fco.gov.uk

Before you send an email, make sure you have read the travel advice for the country you’re travelling to, and the guidance on how the FCO puts travel advice together.

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  • British Embassy Lima

    Title:British Embassy Lima
    Email:belima@fco.gov.uk
    Address:

    Torre Parque Mar (22nd Floor)
    Avenida José Larco, 1301
    Miraflores
    Lima
    Peru

    Contact: Main enquiries: +51 1 617 3000
    Fax: +51 1 617 3100
    Visiting:Visa section opening times: From Monday to Friday from 8:00 to 12:00
    Passport collection times: From Monday to Friday from 12:00 to 12:30

    For any emergency involving a British citizen during holidays or out-of-office-hours, please contact (51-1) 6173000 and your call will be properly re-directed.
    Services:Emergency Travel Documents service (Assistance Services)
    Transferring funds for prisoners / for financial assistance service (Assistance Services)
    Lost or Stolen Passports (Assistance Services)
    Registrations of Marriage and Civil Partnerships (Documentary Services)
    Births and Deaths registration service (Documentary Services)
    Service of Process (Documentary Services)
    Notarial services (Documentary Services)
    Issue certificate of no impediment (Documentary Services)
    Citizenship Ceremony service (Documentary Services)
    Legalisation Service (Other Services)
  • UK Trade & Investment Peru

    Title:UK Trade & Investment Peru
    Email:UKTI.Lima@fco.gov.uk
    Address:

    British Embassy
    Torre Parque Mar (22nd Floor)
    Avenida Jose Larco
    Miraflores
    1301
    Peru

    Contact: Enquiries: +511 617 3000
    Visiting:
    Services:Registrations of Marriage and Civil Partnerships (Documentary Services)
    Citizenship Ceremony service (Documentary Services)
    Legalisation Service (Other Services)

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