PERU

Peru Flag
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Peru is a developing country with a growing economy and an expanding tourism sector. A wide variety of tourist facilities and services is available, and quality varies according to price and location.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: U.S. citizens need a valid passport, but do not need a visa for tourist visits up to 90 days. Visitors for other purposes must obtain a visa. Business visitors should ascertain the tax and exit regulations which apply to the specific visa that they are granted. Further information regarding entry requirements is available from the Embassy of Peru, 1625 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Suite 605, Washington, D.C. 20036, tel. (202) 462-1084 or (202) 462-1085. The information is also available from Peruvian consulates in California, Florida, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Texas and Puerto Rico.

DRUG PENALTIES: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the foreign countries that they visit. From 1995-1997, there was a sharp increase in the number of U.S. citizens arrested for attempting to smuggle cocaine into the United States. As many as 30 U.S. citizens were detained in Peruvian jails on drug smuggling charges. Many of these U.S. citizens were recruited in the United States by drug traffickers who offered them free trips to Peru and the chance to earn quick cash. Potential travelers should view with extreme skepticism any offer of free travel to Peru. Anyone arrested on drug charges, regardless of nationality, suffers protracted pre-trial detention in poor prison conditions. Those convicted receive a stiff prison sentence and a heavy fine. Further information on prison conditions and the judicial system is available in the Department of State's Human Rights Report on Peru, available via the Internet at http://www.state.gov.

Travelers should be aware that some drugs and other products readily available over-the-counter or by prescription in Peru are illegal in the United States. In 1998, several travelers from Peru were jailed when found by U.S. Customs to be in possession of the prescription sedative Flumitrapezan, trade name Rohypnol, which is banned in the U.S. Although coca-leaf tea is a popular beverage and folk remedy for altitude sickness in Peru, possession of these tea bags, which are sold in most Peruvian supermarkets, is illegal in the United States.

MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical care is generally good in Lima and usually adequate in other major cities, but less so elsewhere. Urban private health care facilities are often better staffed and equipped than public or rural ones. Most local health care providers do not accept U.S. health insurance coverage and are likely to require cash payment for medical services. Many private facilities in Lima accept major U.S. credit cards. Medicare/Medicaid does not pay for medical services outside the United States. Supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage, including provisions for medical evacuation and other emergency services, is strongly recommended, especially for those planning to engage in adventure sports or hiking.

HEALTH RISKS: Visitors to high-altitude Andean destinations, such as the Cusco and Lake Titicaca areas should be aware of the potential dangers of altitude sickness, which can affect even persons in good physical condition. Travelers are encouraged to consult with their personal medical provider before undertaking high-altitude travel. In jungle areas east of the Andes, malaria is a serious problem. Cholera, yellow fever, hepatitis and other exotic and contagious diseases are also present. For additional health information such as vaccine recommendations and prevention information regarding traveling abroad, visitors should contact their medical practitioner or the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions international travelers hotline at 1- 877- FYI-TRIP (394-8747), or their toll-free CDC autofax at 1-888-CDC- FAXX (232-3299), or via the Internet at http://www.cdc.gov.

TERRORISM: The Peruvian government has effectively contained the two active terrorist groups, Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) and MRTA (Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement). However, both groups are still capable of terrorist actions, and were designated by the Secretary of State as "Foreign Terrorist Organizations" in October 1997, under 1996 anti- terrorism legislation. Although both groups have targeted U.S. interests in the past, there have been no serious attacks against U.S. interests since a July 1995 attack in which an employee of a U.S. mining company was murdered by Sendero Luminoso terrorists. Terrorist attacks have not occurred at traditional tourist destinations for several years. But Sendero Luminoso continues to operate in rural provinces of the Junin, Huanuco, San Martin, and Ayacucho departments. Among the most frequent incidents in 1998 were roadblocks, village raids, and armed confrontations between Sendero Luminoso columns and army or police patrols. None of these incidents occurred in areas normally visited by tourists. Mining prospectors, adventure travelers and others considering travel to remote areas of Peru are strongly advised to contact the U.S. Embassy for current security information.

U.S. EMBASSY TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS: The U.S. Embassy restricts travel of U.S. Government employees in several areas where terrorist groups and narcotics traffickers resort to violence, usually against local security forces and civilians. Overland travel in or near these areas is risky, particularly at night.

Private U.S. citizens may wish to take the following U.S. Embassy employee-restricted travel areas into account when planning travel to the interior of Peru:

ANCASH: The provinces of Pallasca, Corongo, and Sihuas only.

APURIMAC: All areas, except Abancay City by road from Cusco, and Andahuaylas by private or charter air only.

AYACUCHO: All areas, except Ayacucho and Huanta City, and the highway that joins them.

CAJAMARCA: Cajabamba and Jaen provinces, except the town of Jaen.

CUSCO: Only the Apurimac Valley area on the western edge of the department, bordering the Department of Ayacucho. The city of Cusco, Machu Picchu ruins and nearby tourist areas are not restricted.

HUANCAVELICA: All areas, except the town of Huancavelica by train from Huancayo.

HUANUCO: All areas, except the towns of Huanuco by highway from Cerro de Pasco, and Tingo Maria by air. Highway travel on all the roads from Tingo Maria is dangerous.

JUNIN: The Satipo and Chanchamayo provinces, except the towns of La Merced and San Ramon, and the highway that joins them with Tarma.

LA LIBERTAD: Bolivar, Sanchez Carrion, Otuzco and Pataz provinces.

PASCO: Oxapampa Province, except by air to the towns of Puerto Bermudez and Ciudad Constitucion.

PIURA: Huancabamba Province.

SAN MARTIN: All rural areas. Travel by air is permitted to the towns of Tarapoto, Juanjui, Lamas, Saposoa, Rioja and Moyobamba.

UCAYALI: Padre Abad Province and the road between Pucallpa and Aguaytia at night.

This list is under continuous review. U.S. Embassy restricted travel areas do not necessarily correspond to Peruvian government-designated emergency zones, which still encompass about one-fifth of the country, including most of metropolitan Lima. Certain constitutional rights are suspended in these emergency zones, granting police and military security forces extraordinary powers to detain and hold people. For updated information on U.S. Embassy restricted travel areas, please contact the U.S. Embassy in Lima.

SECURITY AND Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: While violent crime is a major problem, especially in Lima, Peru is relatively safe outside the above-listed areas for the group tourist who takes appropriate precautions and does not stray from organized tour groups. The risk of street crime in downtown Lima and suburban areas frequented by tourists is high. Street crime is also prevalent in tourist cities in the interior, including Cusco, Arequipa, Puno and Juliaca. Pickpockets are common in crowded market areas. Robberies of travelers' luggage and belongings, particularly U.S. passports, are common at Lima's Jorge Chavez International Airport. Travelers arriving in the early morning after all-night flights are particularly vulnerable to airport thefts. Violent crimes, including car-jacking, assault, and armed robbery, are common in Lima. In late 1997 and the first eight months of 1998, short- term armed kidnappings, in which criminals seek to obtain funds from the victim's bank accounts via automatic teller machines, were a frequent occurrence. Police have recently had some success in arresting members of kidnap gangs. Armed assaults of passengers who hail taxis on the street occur regularly. The U.S. Embassy encourages its personnel to use only telephone-dispatched radio taxis, which are considered safer.

Outside Lima, "choke and grab" attacks against tourists occur in Cusco, particularly near the train station and on the Plaza de Armas (Main Square), and in Arequipa. Resistance to violent crime often provokes greater violence, while those who do not resist usually do not suffer serious physical harm. Travel in groups and with experienced guides during daylight hours is safer.

Inca trail hikers are significantly safer, if they are part of a guided group trail hike. A Western European hiker on the trail with her spouse was shot to death in 1997 during a robbery at a designated campsite. Visitors should always register when entering national parks. Hikers should exercise extreme caution in steep or slippery areas, which are neither fenced nor marked. A number of people have died after falling while climbing Huayna Picchu, a peak near Machu Picchu. Travelers to all remote areas should check with local authorities about geographic, climatic and security conditions. Adventure travelers should be aware that rescue capabilities are limited. In mid-1998, three foreign hikers died and several others had to be rescued in the Huaraz Region of the Cordillera Blanca when they became ill or suffered injuries in falls. Most rescues are carried out on foot because helicopters cannot fly to the high-altitude areas where hikers are stranded. An experienced American kayaker drowned in an unexplored river in July 1998; his companions had to travel three days by river before reaching a police station to report the drowning. All those engaged in mountain climbing, river rafting or other travel in remote areas should leave detailed written plans and a timetable with a friend and with local authorities in the region, and should carry waterproof identification and emergency contact information.

Political demonstrations occur sporadically in urban areas. Demonstrations can cause serious traffic disruption, but are usually announced in advance. Visitors are encouraged to keep informed by following the local press, radio and TV news, and by consulting local hosts, hotel personnel, or tour guides. While these demonstrations are usually peaceful, as a general rule, it is best to avoid such crowds.

A global and definitive peace agreement was signed on October 26, 1998, to end the border conflict between Peru and Ecuador, which had led to hostilities in the past. A demilitarized area will likely remain in effect until the border demarcation process is completed, although the border between the two countries is open. Crossing or approaching the Peru-Ecuador border anywhere except at official checkpoints is extremely dangerous and not advisable. Travelers planning overland travel to the border area are encouraged to check with the U.S. Embassy in Lima for updated information.

Visitors to Peru should immediately report any criminal activity against them to the nearest police station or tourism police office, and to the U.S. Embassy in Lima or the Consular Agent in Cusco. Immediate action may result in detaining the thieves and recovering stolen property.

The number for the tourist police in Lima is (51-1) 225-8698 or 225- 8699, or fax 476-7708. There are tourist police offices in 15 cities in the interior, including all major tourist destinations such as Cusco, Arequipa, and Puno.

Tourists may register complaints on a 24-hour hotline, provided by INDECOPI (National Institute for the Defense of Competition and the Protection of Intellectual Property). In Lima, callers can telephone 224-7888 or 224-8600. Outside Lima, callers should dial the prefix (01), then these numbers, or call the toll-free number 0-800-42579 from any private phone (the 800 number is not available from public phones). The INDECOPI hotline will assist in contacting police to report a crime, but it is intended primarily to deal with non-emergency situations, such as poor service from a travel agency or guide, lost property, or unfair charges.

The loss or theft of a U.S. passport abroad should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. In Peru, after a replacement passport is issued, travelers need to visit a Peruvian Immigration office to obtain a new entry stamp in the passport, in order to depart the country. While in Peru, travelers are encouraged to leave their passports in a hotel safe or other secure location, and to carry a photocopy of the passport data and photo pages. Useful information on guarding valuables and protecting personal security while traveling abroad is provided in the Department of State's pamphlet, "A Safe Trip Abroad." This publication, as well as others such as "Tips for Travelers to Central and South America," is available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.

OTHER INFORMATION: Private adoptions are not legal in Peru. Current information on Peruvian adoption procedures and the immigrant visa application process for orphans is available from the Immigrant Visa Unit of the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy and from the Office of Childrens Issues, Room 4800, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C. 20520, telephone (202) 647-2688.

Civil marriage in Peru of U.S. citizen non-residents to Peruvians is difficult, and documentary requirements vary by location. The Peruvian potential spouse should check carefully with the municipality where the marriage will take place to determine what documents are required. The U.S. Embassy does not authenticate U.S. civil documents for local use. All U.S. documents must be translated and authenticated by a Peruvian consular officer in the United States.

The government of Peru has strengthened legislation to protect the country's biodiversity, making the export of many flora and fauna items from their place of origin to another part of Peru or to a foreign country illegal. Travelers should be aware that vendors in jungle cities and airports sell live animals and birds, as well as handicrafts made from insects, feathers, or other natural products, which are illegal to export from their place of origin. Travelers have been detained or arrested by the Ecology Police in Lima for carrying such items. Information on U.S. regulations for importation of plant and animal products is available from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture via the Internet at www.aphis.usda.gov. Travelers bringing animals to the United States may also wish to consult with U.S. Customs, or the Fish and Wildlife Service of the U.S. Department of Interior.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Peru's civil aviation authority as category 1--in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Peru's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the United States at telephone 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr.iasa.htm. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the Pentagon at telephone (703) 697-7288.

Travelers should be aware that Peruvian civil aviation authorities have no statutory oversight authority for the safety of military aviation, and that military aircraft are occasionally leased for civilian use, usually in an emergency situation or for charter flights contracted by private companies for their employees and dependents. Two crashes of Peruvian Air Force (FAP) planes flying civilian passengers, in March and May 1998, left 101 civilians dead and more than 50 injured.

ROAD CONDITIONS: Road travelers should not drive at night due to poor road markings and frequent unmarked road hazards such as potholes, sudden lane ends, construction, unlit parked or stalled vehicles, etc. Drivers should not travel alone on rural roads, even in daylight. Convoy travel is preferable. Spare tires, parts and fuel are needed when traveling in remote areas, where great distances exist between service areas. Trucks and buses pose particular danger due to excessive speed, poor maintenance, and other dangerous driving habits, such as passing on narrow mountain roads or in poor visibility due to fog, common on coastal and mountain highways. More than 3,000 people died and more than 27,000 were injured in traffic accidents in Peru in 1997. Highway bus accidents resulting in multiple deaths and injuries are common, and they are frequently attributed to excessive speed, poor bus maintenance, and driver fatigue. For further information, travelers may contact their nearest automobile club, or the Asociacion Automotriz del Peru, 299 Avenida Dos de Mayo, San Isidro, Lima, Peru, telephone (51-1) 440-0495.

REGISTRATION/U.S. EMBASSY AND CONSULAR LOCATIONS: U.S. citizens should register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Lima, where updated information on travel conditions and security in Peru is available. The Consular Section is open for American citizen services, including registration, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon weekdays, excluding U.S. and Peruvian holidays. Registrations for temporary visitors are also accepted by fax at (51-1) 434-3065 or 434-3037. The U.S. Embassy is located in Monterrico, a suburb of Lima, at Avenida La Encalada, Block Seventeen, telephone numbers (51-1) 434-3000 during business hours (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.), or (51-1) 434-3032 for emergencies during non- business hours. Information on consular services and other Embassy information can also be found on the U.S. Embassy's website at http://www.rcp.net.pe/usa. Please note that this website provides information, but does not yet have interactive capability to respond to specific inquiries. The U.S. Consular Agency in Cusco is located at Avenida Tullumayo 125, telephone (51-8) 24-51-02, fax (51-8) 23-35-41, Internet address: usconagt@qenco.rcp.net.pe.

This replaces the Consular Information Sheet for Peru dated September 12, 1997 to update information on security, terrorism, health and safety, road conditions, aviation safety, and other information.

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