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US Consular Information Sheets and Travel Warnings for Peru

September 14, 1999

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

ENTRY AND DEPARTURE REQUIREMENTS: A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and depart Peru. Tourists must also provide evidence of return or onward travel. U.S. citizens do not need a visa for a tourist stay of 90 days or less. Visitors for other purposes must obtain a visa in advance. Business visitors should ascertain the tax and exit regulations which apply to the specific visa they are granted. U.S. citizens whose passports are lost or stolen in Peru must obtain a new passport and present it, together with a police report of the loss or theft, to the main immigration office in the capital city of Lima to obtain permission to depart. An airport tax must be paid in cash when departing Peru. There is also a small airport fee for domestic flights. For further information regarding entry and customs requirements, travelers should contact the Peruvian Embassy at 1625 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Suite 605, Washington, D.C. 20036; telephone (202)462-1084 or 462-1085; or the Peruvian Consulate in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Patterson (NJ), San Francisco, or San Juan.

ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR MINORS: Minors (under 18) who are citizens or residents of Peru and who are traveling alone, with one parent or with a third party must present a copy of their birth certificate and written authorization from the absent parent(s) or legal guardian, specifically granting permission to travel alone, with one parent or with a third party. When a parent is deceased, a notarized copy of the death certificate is required in lieu of the written authorization. If documents are prepared in the United States, the authorization and the birth certificate must be translated into Spanish, notarized, and authenticated by the Peruvian Embassy or a Peruvian consulate within the U.S. If documents are prepared in Peru, only notarization by a Peruvian notary is required. This requirement does not apply to children who enter the country with a U.S. passport as tourists, unless they hold dual U.S./Peruvian citizenship. 

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Peruvian law strictly prohibits the export of antiques and artifacts from pre-colonial civilizations. Travelers buying art should be aware that unscrupulous traders may try to sell articles to tourists which cannot be exported from Peru. Such articles may be seized by Peruvian customs authorities and the traveler may be subject to criminal penalties. Travelers who purchase reproductions of colonial or pre-colonial art should make such purchases only from reputable dealers and should insist that the seller supply documentation from Peruís National Institute of Culture (INC), showing that the object is a reproduction and may be exported. Peruvian customs authorities may retain articles lacking such documentation and forward them to INC for evaluation. If found to be reproductions, the objects are eventually returned to the purchaser, but storage and shipping charges are the responsibility of the purchaser.

The Peruvian Government 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. 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 and arrested by the Ecology Police in Lima for carrying such items. Please contact the Embassy of Peru in Washington, D.C. or one of Peruís consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.

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 http://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.

MEDICAL INFORMATION: 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.

Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars or more. Please check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your policy provides for medical evacuation from overseas. Doctors and hospitals in Peru do not accept U.S. medical insurance, even if your policy applies overseas. They normally expect immediate cash payment for health services, although many private facilities in Lima accept major U.S. credit cards. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States.

Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of Stateís Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.

SPECIFIC HEALTH RISKS: Visitors to high-altitude Andean destinations such as the Cusco (10,000 feet) and Lake Titicaca (13,000 feet) areas may need some time to adjust to the altitude, which can adversely affect blood pressure, digestion and energy level. 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.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299); or via their Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.

SAFETY AND SECURITY: 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. Sporadic, isolated incidents of Sendero violence occurred in 1999 in rural provinces of the Junin, Huanuco, San Martin, and Ayacucho Departments. Incidents in 1999 included 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 in Lima for current security information. 

A peace treaty ending the Peru/Ecuador border conflict was signed on October 26, 1998. Because of mines and unexploded ordnance left over from the conflict, crossing or approaching the Peru-Ecuador border anywhere except at official checkpoints is extremely dangerous. Travelers planning overland travel to the border area are encouraged to check with the U.S. Embassy for updated 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 news and consulting hotel personnel and tour guides. While these demonstrations are usually peaceful, as a general rule, it is best to avoid such crowds.

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, particularly at night, is risky.

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: Provinces of Pallasca, Corongo, and Sihuas only.

Apurimac: Province of Chinceros.

Ayacucho: Provinces of La Mar and Huanta (except Huanta City), and the highway that joins Huanta City to Ayacucho City. Overland travel from Ayacucho to San Francisco is prohibited.

Huancavelica: Provinces of Huancavelica, Castrovirreyna and Huaytara.

Huanuco: All areas except the city of Huanuco by highway from Cerro de Pasco. All highways leading into Tingo Maria from Huanuco (south), Monzon (west), Aguaytia (east) and Uchiza (north) are prohibited.

Junin: Provinces of Satipo and Chanchamayo, except the cities of La Merced and San Ramon by road from Lima.

La Libertad: Provinces of Bolivar, Sanchez Carrion, and Pataz.

Pasco: Province of Oxapampa, except Puerto Bermudez and Ciudad Constitucion by air.

Piura: Province of Huancabamba.

San Martin: Provinces of Huallaga, Mariscal Caceres, Bellavista and Tocache, except the cities of Juan Jui, Bellavista and Saposoa by air.

Ucayali: Province of Padre Abad and the western section of Coronel Portillo (between Pucallpa City and the border with the Province of Padre Abad. The highway between Aguaytia and Tingo Maria is prohibited.

This list is under continuous review. U.S. Embassy "restricted travel areas" do not necessarily correspond to Peruvian government-designated "emergency zones." 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.

CRIME INFORMATION: 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 carjacking, assault, and armed robbery, are common in Lima. Short-term armed kidnappings, in which criminals seek to obtain funds from the victims' bank accounts via automatic teller machines, occur regularly in Lima. Strict 1998 legislation that permits violent criminals, including armed gangs and kidnappers, to be tried in military courts has had some deterrent effect on such crimes. 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.

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, 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 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 abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. 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. U.S. citizens can refer to the Department of Stateís pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. This publication and others, such as Tips for Travelers to Central and South America, are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402; via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs; or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that countryís laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Peruvian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.

Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Peru are stric,t and convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences and heavy fines. U.S. citizens who are tempted to smuggle illegal drugs from Peru to the U.S. should be aware that Peruvian police are efficient at detecting such smugglers at Limaís international airport and at land border crossings. Since 1995, more than 35 U.S. citizens have been convicted of narcotics trafficking in Peru. Many of these U.S. citizens were recruited in the U.S. by drug traffickers who offered 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. 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. 

OTHER LEGAL ISSUES: 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.

ADVENTURE TRAVEL SAFETY: Inca trail hikers are significantly safer if they are part of a guided group trail hike. 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 recent years, several hikers have died and others have had to be rescued after serious accidents in the Huaraz region of the Cordillera Blanca mountains, where Peruís highest peaks are located. Most rescues are carried out on foot because helicopters cannot fly to the high-altitude areas where hikers are stranded. There have been several drownings of rafters and other boaters, including an experienced U.S. kayaker who drowned in an unexplored river in 1998. Travelers who participate 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.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Peru is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor

Road travel at night is dangerous due to poor road markings and frequent unmarked road hazards. 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 distances between service areas are great. Fog is common on coastal and mountain highways, and the resulting poor visibility frequently causes accidents. Highway truck and bus accidents resulting in multiple deaths and injuries are common, and are frequently attributed to excessive speed, poor bus maintenance, and driver fatigue. For further information, travelers may wish to contact their nearest automobile club, or the Associacion Automotriz del Peru, 299 Avenida Dos de Mayo, San Isidro, Lima, Peru, telephone (51-1) 440-0495.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Peruís Civil Aviation Authority as Category 1 - in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Peruís 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 FAAís Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.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 DOD at 618-256-4801.

Peruvian civil aviation authorities have no statutory oversight authority for the safety of military aviation. 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. The new domestic airline TANS is owned and operated by the Peruvian military, but it is subject to civilian civil aviation authority safety standards.

Y2K INFORMATION: As a consequence of the so-called Y2K ďbug,Ē on or about January 1, 2000, some automated systems throughout the world may experience problems, including unpredictable system malfunctions. In countries that are not prepared, the Y2K problem could affect financial services, utilities, health services, telecommunications, energy, transportation and other vital services. U.S. citizens who are traveling to any country during this time period should be aware of the potential for the disruption of normal medical services. Travelers with special medical needs should consult with their personal physician and take appropriate precautions. While travelers do not necessarily need to alter their travel plans, being informed and prepared for possible disruptions is prudent.

Peru is working with the international community to minimize any impact as a result of Y2K and appears to be generally prepared to deal with the Y2K problem. The World Bank has rated Peru among the best-prepared countries in Latin America to face Y2K computer problems. It appears that there is a low risk of potential Y2K disruptions in key sectors, with the exception of the health sector. The telecommunications, financial and water and sewage sectors are expected to be Y2K compliant by late fall. Peruís public hospitals and clinics are vulnerable to Y2K disruptions, and the government lacks the budget to fix or replace vulnerable medical equipment. Problems with machines relying upon time sensitive chips in the health care sector (such as dialysis machines) are possible. Limited disruptions are also possible in the energy sector. U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Peru in late 1999 or early 2000 should be aware of potential difficulties.

It is difficult to predict the severity or duration of Y2K-related disruptions. U.S. citizens in Peru should take practical precautions, anticipate the potential for disruption to their daily activities, and be prepared to cope with the impact of such disruptions. Information about personal preparedness and Y2K is available in the Department of State worldwide Public Announcement of July 26, 1999, which is accessible on the Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/y2kca.html.

Aviation and Y2K: The U.S. Department of Transportation is heading an international year 2000 civil aviation evaluation process to review information on Y2K readiness in aviation based on reports to the International Civil Aviation Organization and other available sources. The Federal Aviation Administration is working with the industry and its international partners to encourage sharing of Y2K readiness and contingency planning information so that air carriers will be able to make appropriate decisions. Please consult your airline about contingency plans in the event of unforeseen Y2K-related delays, cancellations, or disruptions. Please see the Department of Transportation Y2K home page at http://www.dot.gov/fly2k for updated information on Y2K and aviation issues.

As January 1, 2000, draws nearer, we will provide updated information available to us about important Y2K issues in Peru on the Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/y2kca.htmll. Please monitor the home page of the U.S. Embassy in Lima at http://rcp.net.pe/usa for additional updates. More information is available at the Peruvian government Y2K website at http://www.inei.gob.pe/pia2000.

CHILDRENíS ISSUES: In Peru, international adoptions are strictly regulated. An adoptive child must be abandoned by the birth parents and placed with a government-approved agency before he or she can be adopted internationally, unless the adoptive parent has Peruvian nationality or is a Peruvian resident. Current information on Peruvian adoption procedures and the immigrant visa application process for orphans is available from the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy. Information on the pre-adoption requirements and the I-600 orphan petition process is available from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (USINS) office at the U.S. Embassy. For more information on international adoption of children, international parental child abduction, and international child support enforcement issues, please refer to the Department of Stateís Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/childrenís_issues.html or telephone (202) 736-7000.

REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: U.S. citizens living in or visiting Peru are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Lima and obtain updated information on travel and security in Peru. The Consular Section is open for citizen services, including registration, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon weekdays, excluding U.S. and Peruvian holidays. The U.S. Embassy is located in Monterrico, a suburb of Lima, at Avenida la Encalada, Block Seventeen; telephone (51-1) 434-3000 during business hours (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.), or (51-1) 434-3032 for after-hours emergencies; fax (51-1) 434-3065 or 434-3037; Internet website - http://www.rcp.net.pe/usa, or in Spanish at http://www.usia.gov/espanol. These websites provide information but do not yet have interactive capability to respond to specific inquiries. The U.S. Consular Agency in Cusco is located in the Binational Center (Instituto Cultural Peruana Norte Americano, ICPNA) at Avenida Tullumayo 125; telephone (51-8) 24-51-02; fax (51-8) 23-35-41; Internet address icpnacus@telser.com.pe. The Consular Agency can provide information and assistance to U.S. citizen travelers who are victims of crime or need other assistance, but replacement U.S. passports must be issued at the U.S. Embassy in Lima.


This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated November 5, 1998, to update sections on entry and departure requirements, customs regulations, medical information, safety and security, crime information, criminal penalties, legal issues, traffic safety and road conditions, adventure travel safety, aviation safety oversight, Y2K information, childrenís issues, and registration/Embassy location.

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