COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Peru is a developing country with an expanding tourism sector. A wide variety of tourist facilities and services is available, with quality varying according to price and location. Read the Department of State Background Notes on Peru for additional information.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit Peru, please take the time to tell our Embassy or Consulate about your trip. If you check in, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency. Here’s the link to the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
Local embassy information is available below and at the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates.
U.S. Embassy Lima, Peru
Avenida Encalada, Block Seventeen
Surco, Monterrico, Lima
Emergency after-hours telephone: 51-1-618-2000
Appointments must be made through the online appointment system for most non-emergency passport and citizenship services. An individual appointment should be made for each family member seeking a service related to passports. To request emergency services from the Embassy, please call (51-1) 618-2000.
Note: The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Peru is 105. For life-threatening emergencies, citizens should contact the national emergency number.
The U.S. Consular Agency in Cusco may be reached at (51) 84-231-474 or in an emergency at (51) 984-621-369. The Consular Agency can provide information and assistance to U.S. citizen travelers who are victims of crime or need other assistance in Cusco. Walk-in services are available at Av. Pardo 845, Cusco from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A valid passport is required to enter and depart Peru. Tourists must also provide evidence of return or onward travel. Travelers to Peru will receive a card from Peruvian Immigration upon arrival stating the length of approved stay (usually 90 days). Extensions are not available, and overstays will result in fines. Visit the Embassy of Peru Website for the most current visa information. Peru does not require any immunizations for entry, although it recommends vaccination against Yellow Fever.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Peru.
Minor children with Peruvian citizenship traveling with one or neither legal parent or legal guardian are required to have authorization from the non-traveling parent/guardian(s). In Peru, the non-travelling parent/guardian(s) can complete this process at most public notaries or through travel authorization issued by a family court. In the United States, the non-travelling parent/guardian(s) must visit the nearest Peruvian Consulate and complete a Permiso Notarialde Viaje. Please be aware that these authorizations are valid for 30 days and one trip only.
If the minor child has only one legal parent or guardian, the travelling parent/guardian must present evidence of sole custody, as well as a completed Permiso Notarial de Viaje from a Peruvian notary.
Peruvian Immigration has changed the procedure for travelers exiting Peru with an emergency passport or a full-validity passport issued during their stay in Peru. In cases of passports that have been lost or stolen, the passenger will not have the entry stamp with which they entered Peru. In cases of newly issued passports, the entry stamp will be in the cancelled passport. Therefore travelers must “transfer” the entry stamp to their new passport before they are allowed to pass through Peruvian immigration. Previously, travelers were able to complete this process at the Jorge Chavez Airport in Lima. Now, travelers must take their new passports to Peruvian Immigration headquarters at Av. España 730, Breña, Lima, open weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in order to pay for and process the transfer. The current fee is approximately $8.00, or S/21.
Information about dual nationality and the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information sheet.
The government of Peru prohibits the exportation of archaeological artifacts, colonial art and some natural artifacts such as fossils. These restrictions include archaeological material from the pre-Hispanic cultures and certain ethnological materials from the colonial period of Peru, which are considered protected Peruvian cultural patrimony. U.S. law enforcement authorities can take action even after importation into the United States has occurred. For more information, contact the Ministerio de Cultura (Ministry of Culture; Spanish only). Travelers buying art should be aware that unscrupulous traders might try to sell them articles that cannot be exported from Peru. Peruvian customs authorities may seize such articles, and the traveler may be subject to criminal penalties.
Visitors who purchase reproductions of colonial or pre-colonial art should buy only from reputable dealers, and they should insist on documentation from Peru's 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 eventually may be returned to the purchaser, but only after the purchaser pays all storage and shipping charges.
Vendors in jungle cities and airports sell live animals and birds, as well as handicrafts made from insects, feathers, or other natural products. Under Peruvian law, it is illegal to remove certain flora and fauna items from their place of origin to another part of Peru or to export them to a foreign country. Travelers have been detained and arrested by the Ecology Police in Lima for carrying such items.
Information on U.S. regulations for the importation of plant and animal products is available from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 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. Travelers wishing to bring animals from the United States into Peru should consult the Peruvian Servicio Nacional de Sanidad Agraria (SENASA) at 51-1-313-3300. Information regarding current restrictions is available on the SENASA website (Spanish only).
Peruvian customs regulations require that many electronic items or items for commercial use be declared upon entering the country. Failure to make a full and accurate declaration can lead to arrest and incarceration or significant fines. Undeclared items, including personal laptop computers, may be seized and held.
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. The prescription sedative flumitrapezan (Rohypnol) is one such drug; others may come on the market at any time. 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.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: The Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) terrorist group remains active in Peru and has previously expressed an intention to target U.S. interests. Sporadic incidents of Shining Path violence, mainly against Peruvian security services, have occurred in the recent past in rural provinces within the Regions of Ayacucho, Cusco, Huancavelica, Huánuco, and Junín. Incidents have included attacks by large, heavily armed groups of Shining Path on Peruvian army and police patrols in remote areas, as well as kidnappings of Peruvian and foreign workers. Local community self-defense groups (“rondas campesinas”) may operate legally in some rural areas with minimal police presence; visitors are encouraged to cooperate with the rondas’ directions. 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.
Night-time road travel between towns or cities is generally prohibited for all U.S. Embassy employees due to the risk of robbery and unsafe road conditions. The only exception is nighttime travel on the Pan-Americana Highway. U.S. Embassy employees are permitted to travel at night on the Pan-Americana Highway south from Lima to Paracas or north from Lima to Huacho.
The U.S. Embassy restricts travel of U.S. government employees in Emergency Zones designated by the Government of Peru (where certain rights are restricted and the military may be in charge of providing security) and areas where terrorist groups or narcotics traffickers are known to operate or have recently resorted to violent actions. Overland travel in or near these areas, particularly at night, is risky. The Embassy also strongly recommends that, when traveling in areas near the Emergency Zones, U.S. citizens heighten their security awareness and implement additional security measures. The following list contains the current restricted zones:
Apurimac: Restricted: Provinces of Andahuaylas and Chincheros.
Permitted: Everywhere else.
Ayacucho: Restricted: Provinces of Huanta, and La Mar. Road travel from Ayacucho to San Francisco.
Permitted: Daylight road travel from Ayacucho City to the city of Huanta. Staying within the city limits of Huanta. Daylight road travel from Pisco to Ayacucho City.
Cusco: Restricted: The province of La Convención. The districts of Kimbiri, Pichari, Vilcabamba, and the Echarate.
Permitted: Everywhere else, including Machu Picchu area and the city of Cusco.
Huancavelica: Restricted: Provinces of Pampas, Churcampa, Acobamba and Tayacaja. In the province of Concepcion, travel east of the cities
of San Antonio de Ocopa and Santa Rosa (located northeast of Concepcion city). Travel to Huancavelica City.
Permitted: Daylight road travel from Pisco to Ayacucho City.Train travel from Lima to Huancayo. Daylight road travel from Lima to Huancayo.
Huánuco: Restricted: All zones; ground travel is permitted only with Deputy Chief of Mission authorization.
Permitted: Flying into and staying within the city limits of Huánuco and Tingo María.
Junín: Restricted: Provinces of Satipo and Concepción east of the Rio Mantaro. The District of Santo Domingo de Acobamba in the
Province of Huancayo.
Permitted: Daylight road travel from La Merced to Satipo.
Loreto: Restricted: 20-kilometer swath of territory contiguous to the Colombian border. Travel on the Putumayo River.
Permitted: Everywhere else.
San Martín: Restricted: Provinces of Tocache, Mariscal Caceres, Huallaga, and Bellavista. Ground travel is permitted only with Deputy
Chief of Mission authorization.
Permitted: Flying only into and remaining within the city limits of Tocache, Saposoa, Juanjui, and Bellavista.
Ucayali: Restricted: Provinces of Padre Abad and Coronel Portillo west of Pucallpa City and west of Ucayali River. Road travel from
Pucallpa to Aguaytia and all cities west of Aguaytia.
Permitted: Flying into and remaining within the city limits of Pucallpa and Aguaytía. The province of Coronel Portillo east of the Ucayali River.
A number of assaults on rivers in the Amazon jungle have been reported in recent years. River pirates continue to operate on tributaries of the Amazon. Inca Trail hikers are significantly safer if they are part of a guided group trail hike.
Political demonstrations and labor-related strikes and marches regularly occur in urban and some rural areas. They can also cause serious disruptions to road, air, and rail transportation. Demonstrations are often—but not always—announced in advance. While these activities are usually peaceful, they can escalate into violent confrontations. As a general rule, it is best to avoid large crowds and demonstrations. Visitors are encouraged to keep informed by following the local news and consulting hotel personnel and tour guides.
The Peruvian government is working to remove mines and unexploded ordnance left over from the 1995 Peru/Ecuador border conflict, but crossing or approaching the Peru-Ecuador border anywhere except at official checkpoints can still be hazardous. The entire Peru/Colombia border area is very dangerous because of narcotics trafficking and the occasional incursions of armed guerrilla forces from Colombia into Peru’s remote areas. Although there are no mines on the Peruvian side of the Peru/Chile border, seasonal heavy rains occasionally wash unmarked and unexploded mines across the border from Chile into Peru.
The U.S. Embassy in Lima has put tours over the Nazca Lines in Nazca, Peru, off-limits to its direct-hire personnel if the flights originate out of Nazca’s Maria Reiche Airport, due to potential safety hazards of small commercial aircraft based at that airport. Air tours operating out of the Ica or Pisco airports are not off limits.
Stay up to date by:
CRIME: Of the approximately 350,000 U.S. citizens who visit Peru each year, a small but growing number have been victims of serious crimes. The information below is intended to raise awareness of the potential for crime and suggest measures visitors can take to avoid becoming a victim.
Violent Crime: Violent crime, including carjacking, assault, sexual assault, and armed robbery is common in Lima and other large cities. The Embassy is aware of reports of women being sexually assaulted in their place of lodging, or after their drinks were drugged while visiting bars or nightclubs. Women travelling alone should be especially careful to avoid situations in which they are vulnerable due to impaired judgment or isolation. Resistance to violent crime often provokes greater violence, while victims who do not resist usually do not suffer serious physical harm. "Express kidnappings," in which criminals kidnap victims and seek to obtain funds from their bank accounts via automatic teller machines, occur frequently.
In the recent past, there have been a number of cases of armed robbery, rape, other sexual assault, and attempted rape of U.S. citizens and other foreign tourists in Arequipa and in Cusco city, as well as in the outlying areas in the vicinity of various Incan ruins. These assaults have occurred both during daylight hours and at night.
Taxis and Road Crime: Passengers who hail taxis on the street have been assaulted and robbed. Street taxis are not well regulated and are often used as a front by criminals to rob unsuspecting victims. The Embassy’s Regional Security Officer recommends that all Embassy personnel use telephone-dispatched radio taxis or car services associated with major hotels and not hail taxis on the street.
In the city of Arequipa, express kidnappings have become such a problem that all U.S. government personnel are prohibited from hailing taxis off the street. U.S. government personnel there must utilize cabs from well-established dispatch taxi companies. The Embassy’s Regional Security Officer recommends that all U.S. citizens visiting Arequipa also use dispatch taxi companies.
Some crimes in the city of Cusco and in Arequipa have involved the drivers of rogue (or unregistered) taxis. Travelers should use only licensed, registered taxis such as those available from taxi stands in Cusco displaying a blue decal issued by the municipal government on the windshield of the vehicle. Visitors should not accept offers of transportation or guide services from individuals seeking clients on the streets. In recent years there have been several reports of U.S. citizens falling victim to so-called “express kidnappings” in Arequipa after taking taxis hailed on the street. On occasion, the victim was bound, beaten, and held for over 24 hours as the assailants attempted to empty cash from bank accounts with the victim’s stolen ATM card.
Theft: Travelers should guard against the theft of luggage and other belongings, particularly U.S. passports, at the Lima airport. Passengers arriving at Lima’s Jorge Chavez International Airport should be cautious in making arrangements for ground transportation. Upon exiting the airport, travelers may be approached by persons seeming to know them, or who claim that a pre-arranged taxi has been sent to take them to their hotel. Some travelers have been charged exorbitant rates or been taken to marginal hotels in unsafe parts of town. Travelers who are not being met by a known party or by a reputable travel agent or hotel shuttle are advised to arrange for a taxi inside the airport. At least two taxi companies maintain counters inside the international arrival area (between immigration clearance and baggage claim). An additional two companies have agents at the information kiosk just before the exit from the passenger arrival area.
Travelers should not leave any valuables in sight or unattended in parked vehicles as these become inviting targets for thieves. Visitors should also ensure they secure purses and other personal belongings when in cafés and restaurants as street criminals are adept at surreptitiously removing items of value from purses or clothing slung over chairs.
Street Crime: Thieves often smash car windows at traffic lights to grab jewelry, purses, backpacks, or other visible items from a car. This type of assault is very common on main roads leading to and from Lima's Jorge Chavez International Airport, specifically along De la Marina and Faucett Avenues and Via de Evitamiento, but it can occur anywhere in congested traffic, particularly in downtown Lima. Travelers are encouraged to put all belongings, including purses, in the trunk of a car or taxi.
The threat of street crime is greatest in areas that attract large crowds, particularly crowds of tourists or wealthy Peruvians. A crowd allows a thief (or thieves, since petty thieves often operate in a group) the opportunity to select and approach the potential victim without attracting attention. Visitors should be especially careful when visiting tourist areas in Lima such as the Plaza de Armas (Government Square), the Plaza San Martin, Acho Bullring, Pachacamac, and any location in downtown Lima. Additionally, visitors to municipal markets as well as the Gamarra textile district of La Victoria should be extremely cautious. Street crime is also prevalent in cities in Peru's interior, including Cusco, Arequipa, Puno, and Juliaca. U.S. citizens traveling alone or in unescorted groups are more vulnerable to street crime.
Visitors are advised to keep cash and identification in their front pockets and to limit their cash on hand and unnecessary credit cards. Replacing items such as credit cards, U.S. driver’s licenses, and other identification while in Peru can be difficult and time-consuming. Handbags should not be carried, but if they are, they should be tucked into the crook of an arm or, if carrying a bag with a shoulder strap, do not allow the bag to hang freely, but keep a hand over the clasp. It is generally recommended that all jewelry be removed prior to going to a market or other crowded areas.
Visitors are advised not to carry their U.S. passports if they are not needed. If the police request identification, a copy of the passport is acceptable. A copy of the data page, the page with the Peruvian visa, and a copy of the page with the Peruvian entry stamp should be carried.
Tourists should be particularly cautious when visiting the Sacsayhuaman ruins outside Cusco. They should not travel alone, but rather in as large a group as possible. Visitors should also avoid these areas at dawn, dusk, or nighttime, since roving gangs are known to frequent these areas and prey on unsuspecting tourists. There have also been reports of tourists hiking near the ruins of Choquequirao being robbed by armed men who may be affiliated with politically motivated terrorist groups. U.S. citizen backpackers have also been victims of armed robbery while hiking on trails other than the Inca Trail.
Crime also occurs on roads, particularly at night and outside urban areas. Clandestine, impromptu roadblocks can appear on even major highways, where bus and automobile passengers are robbed. The risk is even greater on rural roads after dark. In addition, numerous U.S. citizens have reported the theft of passports, cameras, and other valuables on overnight bus rides, by thieves who take advantage of sleeping passengers or their stowed luggage in the cargo area underneath when opened during scheduled stops for passengers to disembark or enter the bus.
Fraud: Counterfeit U.S. currency is a growing and serious problem in Peru. In many areas of Lima, moneychangers openly change money on the street. These individuals should be avoided as they are a conduit for counterfeit currency, and in many cases, work together with pickpockets by pointing out potential victims. In addition, these individuals have frequently been the victims of violent robberies in which bystanders have been injured. There have also been several reported incidents of counterfeit currency being paid out as winnings by casinos, though the Embassy has not received reports of this happening at larger, well-known casinos.
Incidents of credit card fraud are on the rise, particularly the electronic “skimming” of credit card data. Travelers should keep their credit cards within their sight while making transactions.
Don't buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, you may also be breaking local law.
One increasingly common extortion technique is known as the “grandparent scam.” It involves calls placed by persons alleging to be attorneys, local law enforcement or U.S. government employees claiming that a person’s relative—nearly always a grandchild—has been in a car accident (or other ruse) in Peru and has been arrested/detained. Often the caller will put another person on the line purporting to be the grandchild, who claims he doesn’t sound like himself because he has a cold or has been crying. The caller asks for a large sum of money to be sent by Western Union to ensure the subject’s release and admonishes the relative not to speak to any other family members. If you receive a call like this, BEFORE YOU SEND ANY MONEY, contact family members to confirm the actual whereabouts of the supposedly detained grandchild. If it turns out he or she might actually have traveled to Peru, contact the State Department's Office of Overseas Citizens Services at 1-888-407-4747 or the U.S. Embassy in Lima for assistance. Further information on international financial scams is available on our website.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate (see the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates). We can:
Immediate action may result in the capture of the thieves and the recovery of stolen property. The U.S. Embassy in Lima can be reached at the following telephone number both during business hours, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and for after-hours emergencies: dial 618-2000 if calling from within Lima, and add the prefix 01 if calling from the provinces.
The telephone number for the tourist police in Lima is 51-1-423-3500 (Lima North) or 51-1-243-2190 (Lima South). There are also tourist police offices in 15 other cities, 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) by calling 51-1-224-7800 or 51-1-224-7777. Outside of Lima, callers should dial the prefix 01, then the aforementioned numbers, or call the toll-free number 0-800-44040 from any private telephone (the 800 number is not available from public payphones). The INDECOPI hotline will assist the caller in contacting the 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 local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Peru is 105. For tourist assistance and information, iPeru can be reached 24 hours a day at (01) 574-8000 or email if an immediate response is not needed.
Please see our information for victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Peru, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. In some places you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have a copy of your passport with you. In some places, it is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings. In some places driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. These criminal penalties will vary from country to country. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States, and you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Peru, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not wherever you go.
Based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, bilateral agreements with certain countries, and customary international law, if you are arrested in Peru, you have the option to request that the police, prison officials, or other authorities alert the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate of your arrest, and to have communications from you forwarded to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
Adventure Travel: To protect natural resources along the Inca Trail, the Peruvian government charges fees for hiking the trail and instituted limits on the numbers of hikers permitted on the trail. Hikers in peak season (June–August) are advised to make reservations for the Inca Trail well in advance via a travel agency. The Inca Trail is closed for maintenance each year for the month of February. Visitors should always register when entering national parks. Hikers should exercise extreme caution in steep or slippery areas, which are neither fenced nor marked. 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.
The historic site of Machu Picchu has a daily visitor limit of 2,500 guests. This limit is strictly enforced. The government of Peru recommends purchasing tickets in advance to avoid possible disappointment if the maximum has been reached for the day of an intended visit. The website of iPeru, Peru’s tourist information and assistance agency, has detailed information on how to obtain tickets. It is possible to reserve and pay online, although the website may be slow to load.
Adventure travelers should be aware that rescue capabilities are limited. Few rescue helicopters are in service, and cell phone service may be unavailable. U.S. citizens who plan to visit mountainous areas in Ancash province should contact the Peruvian National Police's High Mountain Rescue Unit ("USAM") at telephone 51-1-575-4696, 51-1-575-4698, 51-1-575-1555; fax 51-1-575-3036, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Some USAM officers read and/or speak English.
Swimmers, surfers, rafters, and boaters should be aware of strong currents in the Pacific Ocean and fast-moving rivers. Seasonal rains can exacerbate the already dangerous conditions in Peru. Those considering white-water rafting should consult local authorities about recent weather and the impact on white-water rafting conditions. Be cautious in relying on those with a commercial interest in gauging conditions. Companies offering white-water rafting in Peru, their guides, and their equipment may not be held to the same standards as similar companies in the United States. Travelers are advised to seek advice from local residents before swimming in jungle lakes or rivers, where large reptiles or other dangerous creatures may live; caimans, resembling alligators, are found in most jungle areas of Peru. All adventure travelers should leave detailed written plans and a timetable with a friend and with local authorities in the region, and they should carry waterproof identification and emergency contact information. Due to cell phone and internet limitations in remote areas, communication with family and friends may not always be possible, and travelers should plan accordingly.
Travelers to all remote areas should check with local authorities about geographic, climatic, and security conditions.
Ayahuasca: Ayahuasca is an Amazonian psychotropic plant, generally brewed as a tea, that has traditionally been used for religious, ritual, and medicinal purposes by the indigenous peoples of the region. It is said to elicit intense modifications in thought processes, perception, and emotion. The psychoactive ingredient is Dimethyltryptamine(DMT), a drug classified as Schedule I in the United States under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, “substances in this schedule have no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse.”
Ayahuasca tourism, in which shamans “guide” visitors through psychedelic rituals, is a burgeoning industry in the jungle regions of Ecuador and Peru. There is no way to thoroughly vet ayahuasca tourism operators, and if you choose to participate, please be aware of the potential risks involved. Some participants have reported adverse experiences during the rituals, including being seriously assaulted and robbed. Victims report a range of scenarios, from being alert but unable to maintain control of their surroundings, to total amnesia. In 2012, a U.S. citizen died in Peru while under the influence of the drug.
Disaster Preparedness: Peru is an earthquake-prone country. U.S. citizens in areas affected by earthquakes can expect to experience temporary difficulty communicating with family and friends in the United States and in securing prompt onward overland transportation out of the affected areas. You are strongly encouraged to register your trip with the Embassy by enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)and to contact your family directly or, if unavailable, the U.S. Embassy following a significant disaster. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Accessibility: While in Peru, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what is available in the United States.Peruvian law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical and mental disabilities in employment, education, access to health care, or the provision of other state services. Peruvian law also provides for the protection, care, rehabilitation, security, and social inclusion of persons with disabilities, and mandates that public spaces be free of barriers and accessible to persons with disabilities. However, the government of Peru has devoted limited resources to enforcement and training, and little effort has been made to ensure access to public buildings and areas.
In general, access to buildings, pedestrian paths, and transportation is difficult for persons with disabilities. Few hotels are equipped for travelers with disabilities, and few restaurants, museums, and means of transportation make any special accommodations. However, with the growing tourism industry in Peru, an increasing number of businesses can be found that offer packages and facilities for travelers with special needs. Visitors are encouraged to research ahead of time to find out if they can be accommodated at the lodgings and tourist sites they intend to visit.
Medical Supply Donations: Philanthropic groups and individuals planning to enter Peru with medical supplies in quantities greater than for personal use are strongly advised to consult with a Peruvian consulate in the United States prior to arrival in Peru. Medical, dental and other kinds of charitable donations are subject to confiscation by Peruvian authorities for failure to comply with Peruvian regulations. Medical teams, non-profit organizations or visitors to Peru who plan to donate medical supplies, medicines or other similar items may wish to review Peruvian regulations governing such donations(Spanish only) or contact Agencia Peruana de Cooperacion Internacional (APCI) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at 51-1-319-3632 before proceeding. The U.S. Embassy cannot accept such items by mail, assist in evading customs requirements, or provide a broker to secure their release if they are held.
Please see our Customs Information.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Medical care is generally good in Lima and usually adequate in other major cities, but it is less so elsewhere in Peru. Urban private health care facilities are often better staffed and equipped than public or rural ones. Public hospital facilities in Cusco, the prime tourist destination, are generally inadequate to handle serious medical conditions. Although some private hospital facilities in Cusco may be able to treat acute medical problems, in general the seriously ill traveler should return to Lima for further care as soon as is medically feasible.
Visitors to high-altitude Andean destinations such as Cusco (11,000 feet), Machu Picchu (8,000 feet), or Lake Titicaca (13,000 feet) should discuss the trip with their personal physician prior to departing the United States. Travel to high altitudes could pose a serious risk of illness, hospitalization, and even death, particularly if the traveler has a medical condition that affects blood circulation or breathing. Several U.S. citizens have died in Peru from medical conditions exacerbated by altitude. Tourists or business visitors, particularly those who suffer from cardiac-related problems or high blood pressure, who wish to travel to high-altitude areas in Peru should undergo a medical examination before traveling. New arrivals, even healthy and fit persons, will feel symptoms of hypoxia (lack of oxygen) at high-altitude, and most will need time to adjust to the altitude. Most people will have increased respiration and heart rate. Many will have headaches, difficulty sleeping, lack of appetite, minor gastric and intestinal upsets, and mood changes. To help prevent these complications, consult your personal physician, avoid alcohol and smoking for at least one week after arrival at high altitudes, and limit physical activity for the first 36 to 48 hours after arrival at high altitudes.
In jungle areas east of the Andes mountain range (cordillera), chloroquine-resistant malaria is a serious problem. Cholera, yellow fever, hepatitis, dengue fever, and other exotic and contagious diseases are also present. Yellow fever is endemic in certain areas of Peru; in general, those areas are located on the eastern side of the cordillera and at lower elevations in jungle areas. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Peruvian government recommend that travelers to Peru receive a yellow fever vaccination and carry documentation of the vaccination with them on their trip. Diarrhea caused by contaminated food or water is very common in Peru and is potentially serious. If suffering from persistent symptoms, seek medical attention. Local tap water in Peru is not considered potable. Only bottled or treated (disinfected) water should be used for drinking. Fruits and vegetables should be washed and/or disinfected with care, and meats and fish should be thoroughly cooked. Eggs, meat, unpasteurized cheese, and seafood are common sources of the bacteria that can cause travelers' diarrhea, and they should be properly prepared or avoided.
You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: You can’t assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It’s very important to find out BEFORE you leave whether or not your medical insurance will cover you overseas. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:
In many places, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctors’ and hospital visits in other countries. If your policy doesn’t go with you when you travel, it’s a very good idea to take out another one for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Peru, you 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.
Driving conditions in Peru are very different from those found in the United States and can be considerably more dangerous. Visitors are strongly encouraged to familiarize themselves with local law and driving customs before attempting to operate vehicles. Road travel at night is extremely 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. Inter-city bus travel is dangerous. Armed robbers, who force passengers off buses and steal their belongings, sometimes hold up inter-city buses at night. Bus accidents resulting in multiple deaths and injuries are common, and they are frequently attributed to excessive speed, poor bus maintenance, and driver fatigue. Because of these safety concerns, the U.S. Peace Corps in Peru restricts Peace Corps volunteers’ use of overnight inter-city buses and requires Peace Corps volunteers who make inter-city bus trips to use certain bus lines with good safety records. Current approved lines are Cruz del Sur, Linea, Movil Tours, CIAL, OLTURSA, Ormeño, TEPSA, and ITTSA. The Peruvian Ministry of Transportation also publishes a list in Spanish of the intercity bus companies with the highest rates of traffic accidents resulting in fatalities and serious injuries. For further information, travelers may contact their nearest automobile club, or (for information in Spanish) the Associacion Automotriz del Peru, 299 Avenida Dos de Mayo, San Isidro, Lima 27, Peru, telephone 51-1-440-0495.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Also, we suggest that you visit the website for the national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety in Peru (Spanish only).
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed Peru’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Peru’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
* * *
This replaces the Country Specific Information for Peru dated December 21, 2012, to update paragraphs on Threats to Safety and Security.