Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Wednesday, 20 August 2014.   This advice contains new information under Safety and security: Crime (theft on intercity buses is common and assaults at gunpoint have also occurred). We continue to advise Australians to exercise a high degree of caution in Peru because of the significant levels of serious crime.

Peru overall

Areas bordering Ecuador in the regions of Loreto, Amazonas and Cajamarca

Areas bordering Colombia

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Peru because of the significant levels of serious crime. Pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
  • Isolated areas in the Southern Highlands including San Martin, Huanuco, Pasco, Junin, Ucayali, Huancavelica, Ayacucho and Apurimac, may still harbour members of the Shining Path terrorist movement. Australians should exercise vigilance in these areas.
  • We strongly advise you not to travel to the areas bordering Colombia due to narcotic trafficking and occasional incursions of armed guerrilla forces from Colombia into Peru’s remote areas.
  • We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the border area with Ecuador in the regions of Loreto, Amazonas (Cordillera del Condor) and Cajamarca, as landmines, in the process of being removed, still pose a security threat. Crossing the Peru-Ecuador border should be done at official checkpoints only.
  • If you have visited Peru in the last six days prior to your date of return to Australia, Australian Customs officials will ask you to present a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate on entry into Australia.
  • Drug trafficking is a serious crime in Peru and drug smugglers face long prison sentences.
  • Travellers who ascend to altitudes greater than 2500m are at risk of developing altitude sickness. Altitude sickness can be life threatening and can affect anyone, including the physically fit. Many areas of Peru, including Cuzco and Machu Picchu, Puno and the Colca Canyon and Lake Titicaca, are above 2500m. For more information, see the Health section.
  • The 20th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (Climate Change) is expected to take place in Lima from 3 to 14 December 2014. The availability of accommodation in Lima during the conference, particularly for tourists, is expected to be very limited.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
click on image to expand

Entry and exit

Although Australians do not need a tourist visa to visit Peru, all travellers are given an Andean immigration card upon arrival. This card must be presented prior to departure from Peru. Failure to produce this document may result in delays until a replacement card is obtained. If your passport is lost or stolen, a new card and a new entry stamp in the replacement passport must be processed at the Direccion General de Migraciones y Naturalizacion.

Australians entering Peru by land need to obtain an entrance stamp in their passport. If they fail to do so, Peruvian immigration officials could order them to return to the border to obtain the stamp before leaving Peru.

You should only cross or approach Peru's border with Ecuador, Bolivia or Chile at an official checkpoint. If you do not have an entry stamp for Peru from an official entry point in your passport, you may not be permitted to leave on your planned date of departure and instead could be fined.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Peru for the most up to date information.

Peru is listed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as endemic for yellow fever. Some airlines may require passengers to present a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate before being allowed to board flights out of the country. If in doubt, check with your airline.If you have visited Peru in the last six days prior to your date of return to Australia, Australian Customs officials will ask you to present a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate on entry into Australia.

If you are travelling to Peru through the United States of America, or if you are transiting Honolulu or another US point of entry, you are required to meet US entry/transit requirements. Make sure you check your visa requirements with the nearest US Embassy or Consulate well in advance of your travel. You should also read our travel advice for the United States of America.

Children (under 18 years of age) who are Australian/Peruvian dual nationals, Peruvian nationals or resident in Peru and are travelling alone or with one parent, in addition to the child's passport, may require a letter of consent from the non-travelling parent(s) and a copy of the child's birth certificate. Both documents should be translated into Spanish and notarised and certified by the Peruvian Embassy or Consulate in Australia.

Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

In the case of a lost or stolen passport on the same weekend that your flight departs, you may be required to remain in Peru until the following week in order to obtain a replacement passport, entry stamp and immigration card.

Safety and security

Areas bordering Colombia: We strongly advise you not to travel to the areas bordering Colombia due to narcotic trafficking and occasional incursions of armed guerrilla forces from Colombia into Peru’s remote areas. Narcotics traffickers reportedly operate in the border area between Peru and Colombia. This area is heavily patrolled and monitored by the Peruvian army to prevent the entry of armed guerrillas from Colombia.

Areas bordering Ecuador in the regions of Loreto, Amazonas and Cajamarca: We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the border area with Ecuador in the regions of Loreto, Amazonas (Cordillera del Condor) and Cajamarca, as landmines, in the process of being removed, still pose a security threat. Crossing the Peru-Ecuador border should be done at official checkpoints only.

Terrorism

Isolated areas in the Southern Highlands including San Martin, Huanuco, Pasco, Junin, Ucayali, Huancavelica, Ayacucho and Apurimac, may still harbour members of the Shining Path terrorist movement. Australians should maintain a high level of vigilance in these areas.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin for more information on terrorism and our General advice to Australian travellers for tips on staying safe overseas.

Civil unrest/political tension

Demonstrations and protests, often in response to local labour or social issues, occur regularly throughout Peru. You should avoid demonstrations, protests and political gatherings as they may turn violent.

National or regional strikes can be called in Peru at short notice and can cause disruption to domestic air travel, public transport and road networks.

States of emergency can be called by local authorities in response to unrest or crime. A state of emergency gives the armed forces responsibility for law and order and some civil rights are suspended. If you travel to an area where a state of emergency is in place, you should follow the instructions of local authorities.

The cities of Puno and Arequipa are prone to civil unrest. Travel in and around these areas can be disrupted without notice as roads are occasionally blocked by protestors.

In the past, protestors have caused disruption to Juliaca airport, Cuzco airport and the rail services to Machu Picchu. You should maintain contact with your airline or tour operator before travelling and monitor local media reports for up to date information.

Crime

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Peru because of the significant levels of serious crime. Pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.

Violent crime, including sexual assault, armed robbery, muggings and car-jacking, occurs frequently in Peru, particularly in the cities of Lima, Cusco and Arequipa.

Travellers walking alone after dark, especially when leaving bars or nightclubs, have been targeted by criminals. The spiking of food and drinks does occur. You should be cautious if offered such items and you should never leave your drink or food unattended.

Petty theft, including pick-pocketing and bag snatching, also occurs frequently in Peru, particularly in public areas by well-dressed people, including in hotels, conference centres, internet cafes and restaurants. You should remain vigilant in crowded public places. We advise you to exchange money in banks, exchange bureaus or in your hotel. You should avoid changing money in the street because of the risk of robbery and receiving counterfeit notes. Exercise caution and be aware of your personal security before and after using ATMs on the street. We advise you not to display expensive watches, jewellery and other valuables. A minimal amount of cash and credit cards should be carried.

'Express kidnappings', where victims are forced to withdraw funds from ATMs to secure their release, have occurred.

Travellers using unlicensed taxi operators have become victims of serious crimes, including robbery, assault and rape, particularly in Lima, Arequipa and Cusco. You should arrange transport at taxi counters within the international terminal when arriving at Lima's international airport and seek assistance from staff at hotels, hostels, restaurants or places of entertainment to book a licensed taxi. The name and contact details of the taxi company should be recorded.

Travellers in vehicles should ensure their belongings are secured and out of sight and that car windows are closed, particularly when travelling to and from the airports. This is particularly the case when stopped at traffic lights on Avenida de la Marina and Avenida Elmer Faucett near Lima’s Jorge Chavez International Airport, where vehicle windows are frequently smashed and items snatched from passengers or from the rear of vehicles.

River pirates operate on tributaries of the Amazon with the last major incident in 2009. You should ask your tour company about the security arrangements they have in place.

Theft on intercity buses, including buses on the Lima, Ica, Nazca and Cusco routes is common and often occurs when passengers are asleep or distracted. You should avoid placing luggage or other personal belongings on overhead racks or under your seats. Assaults and robberies at gunpoint have also occurred on intercity buses.

Travel by road outside major cities after dark is dangerous due to the risk of criminal activity which has often involved the use of bogus roadblocks or check points.

Ayahuasca: Ayahuasca tourism, in which shamans “guide” visitors through psychedelic rituals, is a burgeoning industry in the jungle regions of Ecuador and Peru. While this is not illegal, there is no way to thoroughly vet Ayahuasca tour operators, and if you choose to participate, please be aware of the potential security and health risks involved. Some participants have been seriously assaulted and robbed. Victims report a range of experiences, from being alert but unable to maintain control of their surroundings, to total amnesia.

Money and valuables

Peru has an extensive and modern banking network operating in major cities. ATM facilities are widely available, however you should be aware of your personal security when using ATMs on the street.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. Use a waterproof satchel to protect your travel documents and passport, particularly when hiking in the Andes or rafting on the Amazon. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

If your passport is lost or stolen while you are in Peru, you should also contact the Australian Embassy in Lima. Provided you complete the relevant application forms and pay the required fees, the Embassy may issue a limited validity emergency passport within 48 hours, sufficient to return to Australia or allow time to access documentation to apply for a full validity passport.

In the case of a lost or stolen passport, you will need to have your Peruvian entry stamp replaced for a fee to enable departure from the country. This should be done from 8:00am to 12:00pm, Monday to Friday, at the Peruvian Immigration Office located in the Lima suburb of Breņa at Avenida Espana 734. The border crossings from Puno in Peru to Bolivia do not offer this service, however, the Immigration Office in Puno (phone +51 51 357 103) can be contacted for assistance. Other Immigration Office locations can be found on the Superintendencia Nacional de Migraciones website.

Review the general advice to Australian travellers for further information on being safe and prepared abroad.

Local travel

Driving in Peru can be hazardous due to poorly maintained roads and vehicles, aggressive driving practices and inadequate road lighting. Fatal traffic accidents, particularly those involving intercity buses, are common. The use of reputable transport and bus companies may reduce risks when travelling by road in Peru. 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 (“Ranking De Empresas De Transporte Interprovincial”).

For further advice, see our road travel page.

Australians have died as a result of accidents in adventure activities in Peru. The safety standards you might expect of transport and tour operators, including adventure activities such as rafting and diving, are not always met. Sufficient life jackets and adequate safety equipment may not be provided and recommended maintenance standards and safety precautions may not be observed. Check operators' credentials and safety equipment beforehand, seek advice from local authorities on weather conditions and ensure your travel insurance policy covers your planned activities. Don’t be afraid to ask about or insist on minimal safety requirements with tour operators.

We recommend hikers on the Inca Trail use an experienced guide. The Inca Trail closes in February every year for regular maintenance work though some companies still operate treks in the area. Weather conditions should be closely monitored as heavy rainfall can make parts of the Inca Trail impassable and dangerous.

The 20th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (Climate Change) is expected to take place in Lima from 3 to 14 December 2014. The availability of accommodation in Lima during the conference, particularly for tourists, is expected to be very limited.

Areas bordering Colombia: We strongly advise you not to travel to the areas bordering Colombia due to narcotic trafficking and occasional incursions of armed guerrilla forces from Colombia into Peru’s remote areas. Narcotics traffickers reportedly operate in the border area between Peru and Colombia. This area is heavily patrolled and monitored by the Peruvian army to prevent the entry of armed guerrillas from Colombia.

Areas bordering Ecuador in the regions of Loreto, Amazonas and Cajamarca: We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the border area with Ecuador in the regions of Loreto, Amazonas (Cordillera del Condor) and Cajamarca, as landmines, in the process of being removed, still pose a security threat. Crossing the Peru-Ecuador border should be done at official checkpoints only.

Airline safety

Light aircraft and helicopter flights may be hazardous due to a variety of conditions in Peru, including changeable weather and harsh geography.

Travellers making reservations for scenic flights over the Nazca Lines should ensure their airline company is licensed and has a good safety record.

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Peru.

Please also refer to our air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.

Laws

Prior to travelling to Peru you should familiarise yourself with local laws and their impact on your individual personal circumstances. Legal and administrative processes in Peru can differ from those in Australia. Court proceedings may be lengthy and complex. Local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.

Peruvian law requires people to carry photo identification at all times. If you prefer not to carry your passport, a notarised copy of the photo and visa page is acceptable. Notarised copies can be issued by the Australian Embassy in Lima, see the Where to Get Help section for details.

Australian travellers are reminded to show respect when visiting cultural, historical and sacred sites. Travellers are subject to local laws and inappropriate and/or indecent behaviour could lead to arrest. Australians have been detained for indecent behaviour.

Penalties for possession of illegal drugs are severe and include lengthy imprisonment in local jails. Peru uses sophisticated technology and highly trained personnel for detecting the carriage of illegal drugs at Lima’s International Airport and throughout Peru. Australians visiting Peru have received lengthy jail sentences for drug offences.

Peruvian law prohibits the export of antiques and artefacts from pre-colonial civilizations. Reputable dealers sell reproductions and should provide documentation permitting export.

The Peruvian Government implements controls at departure points to prevent the exportation of handicrafts/goods of cultural or historical significance. Travellers interested in buying and exporting copies of these goods will need to obtain authorisation from the National Institute for Culture (INC) of Peru (Telephone: +51-1-226 4162).

Photography of military establishments, equipment and personnel, public water and electricity plants, police stations, harbours, mines and bridges is prohibited.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australian overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Information for dual nationals

Minors under the age of 18 years who have dual nationality must travel with both passports. Please see the Entry and Exit section for information about minors travelling alone or with only one parent.

Our Dual nationals page provides further information.

Health

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

Medical facilities are usually adequate in major cities but can be very limited elsewhere. Doctors and hospitals generally require up-front cash payment before commencing treatment, including for emergency care. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with appropriate facilities would be necessary. Medical evacuation costs could be considerable.

Travellers who ascend to altitudes greater than 2500m, particularly if the ascent is rapid, or who at higher altitudes make further rapid ascents, are at risk of developing altitude sickness. Altitude sickness can be life threatening and can affect anyone, including the physically fit. Those more at risk include people who have had altitude sickness before, who exercise or drink alcohol before adjusting (acclimatising) to the altitude, or who have health problems that affect breathing. If you plan to travel to high altitude areas, you should see your doctor prior to travel and get advice specific to you and your situation. Many areas of Peru, including Cuzco and Macchu Picchu, Puno and the Colca Canyon and Lake Titicaca, are above 2500m.

The mosquito-borne illnesses malaria, dengue fever and yellow fever, as well as other insect-borne diseases, occur in parts of the country. We encourage you to take prophylaxis against malaria where necessary and take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent at all times, wearing long, loose-fitting, light coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof. You should take extra precautions against dengue fever when travelling to, or in the area surrounding, Iquitos.

Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, tuberculosis and rabies) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We recommend you have vaccinations before travelling. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, and avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. You may need to seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Where to get help

Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurance provider in the first instance.

The Peruvian government operates Tourist Police offices in many tourist destinations. Tourists may register complaints or seek other assistance via the following 24-hour hotline (Indecopi): (511) 224 7777. English speaking operators are available. In addition, the Peruvian Government has “I-Peru” information offices in major airports and cities which provide assistance to tourists.

The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and can’t do to assist Australians overseas. For consular assistance, see contact details below:

Australian Embassy, Lima

Avenida La Paz 1049, 10th Floor
Miraflores, Lima, 18, Peru
Telephone: (+51 1) 630 0500
Facsimile: (+51 1) 630 0520
E-mail: consular.lima@dfat.gov.au
Web: www.peru.embassy.gov.au

See the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

If you are travelling to Peru, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency-whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the Embassy you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Peru has a variety of climates. In general, the rainy season is from November to May. Flooding and landslides are common in the Andes during this period and may disrupt transport services including rail and air services. Heavy rain can cause flooding and landslides in the Machu Picchu/Inca Trail/Aguas Calientes area. These can result in travel delays. You should follow the instructions of local authorities.

Peru is located in an active seismic region. In August 2007, an earthquake off the coast of Chincha, 161km south of Lima, killed more than 500 people. In April 2014, a major earthquake measuring 8.2 on the Richter scale struck off the coast of northern Chile, near the Peru/Chile border. A tsunami warning was in effect for Peru immediately after the quake.

Peru, as with all oceanic regions of the world, can experience tsunamis. In the Indian and Pacific Oceans, there is a more frequent occurrence of large, destructive tsunamis because of the many large earthquakes along major tectonic plate boundaries and ocean trenches. See the Tsunami Awareness brochure.

Information on natural disasters, including earthquakes and flooding, can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

Additional Resources

For additional general and economic information to assist travelling in this country, see the following links:



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.