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Moving to Peru

Peru lies on the west coast of the South American continent and boasts not only a large portion of the Amazon rainforest, but also a staggeringly beautiful coastline, majestic mountainscapes and plenty of ancient ruins, including Machu Picchu, which attracts droves of visitors every year. Besides luring plenty of tourists, Peru, and its capital city of Lima in particular, has also become a popular expat destination of late.

Historically important as both the seat of the Inca Empire and the Spanish Empire in South America, Peru has a long and prestigious, if somewhat troubled, history. The population is a mixture of ethnicities and heritages, which makes for a diverse and colourful melting pot of languages, cuisines and cultures, including Chinese, Spanish and Amerindian, to name a few.

Expats moving to Lima can look forward to living in a grand old city with an eclectic skyline, characterised by impressive Spanish colonial architecture intermingled with functional concrete and sleek, contemporary glass skyscrapers. The fourth largest city in the Americas, this sprawling metropolis is home to almost 10 million people. In fact, a third of Peru’s population can be found here, including a sizeable multi-ethnic expat community who work in the many multinational companies based in Lima. The city is also a major financial centre in Latin America and generates over 50 percent of Peru’s GDP.

New arrivals to Lima and Peru will need to pick up some Peruvian Spanish to get by outside of international businesses. Although increasing numbers of young adults can speak English thanks to a globalised youth culture, the language is spoken very little for the most part. That said, jobs teaching English in Peru are available and attract plenty of young foreigners to the country.

Expats to Peru should remember that despite its strong economy and multinational influences, Peru is still a developing country. New arrivals should be prepared to deal with often insufficient utilities, a lack of decent public transport, a dysfunctional bureaucracy often mired in red tape, and corruption.

The cost of living in Peru is generally cheaper than in the US or Europe, especially for locally produced foodstuffs and services such as domestic help. However, new arrivals should be prepared to pay for decent accommodation and factor in the extra expenses of hiring taxis or buying a car, as public transport is usually avoided by expats.

Those moving with kids will be pleased to know that the public school system is of an excellent standard and expat parents will have a choice of top private and international schools.

Most expats who choose to relocate to Peru instantly fall in love with this corner of South America. And with warm and friendly locals, some of the most picturesque landscapes in the world, rich history and a good standard of living, it's no wonder why.


Fast facts

Population: About 32 million

Capital city: Lima 

Neighbouring countries: Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil

Geography: While a mostly mountainous country and with the Pacific Ocean to the west, Peru is extremely diverse in its geography. There are three natural zones: The Costa (coastal) region is a narrow coastal plain consisting of large tracts of desert broken by fertile valleys. The Andes are in the Sierra highlands, with peaks towering over 6,000m (20,000ft). The fertile Selva (jungle) area lies between the Andes and the borders with Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador. 

Political system: Presidential constitutional republic

Major religion: Roman Catholic 

Main languages: Spanish, Aymara, Quechua 

Money: The Peruvian Nuevo Sol (PEN) is divided into 100 céntimos.

Tipping: Some restaurants add a service charge of between five percent and 10 percent, but waiters can be offered an additional 10 percent for exceptional service. Taxi drivers are not tipped, but tour guides are.

Time: GMT-5 

Electricity: 220 volts, 60Hz. Two-pronged plugs with flat blades and plugs with two round prongs are used.

Internet domain: .pe

International dialling code: +51

Emergency contacts: 105 (police), 116 (fire), 117 (ambulance)

Transport and driving: Drive on the right-hand side

Weather in Peru

Peru’s varied terrain, which includes mountains, deserts and rainforests, means that the country also has a mixed climate across its different regions. The extreme altitude changes mean that one part of the country may be experiencing freezing cold temperatures, while the coastal regions are simultaneously experiencing hot, sunny weather. 

The Pacific coastal regions have an unusual dry desert climate and experience little rainfall. Lima, which is located a bit further inland, also has low rainfall. On the other hand, the mountainous and jungle regions experience heavy rains, particularly in the peak rainy season from January to March.

Lightweight clothing is generally needed in summer, but if visiting mountainous regions, warm, thermal clothing is required. Waterproof clothing is essential in the rainy regions.

 
 

Embassy contacts for Peru

Peruvian Embassies

  • Peruvian Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 833 9860

  • Peruvian Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 20 7235 1917

  • Peruvian Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 233 2721

  • Peruvian Embassy, Canberra, Australia: +61 2 6273 7351

  • Peruvian Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 440 1030

  • Peruvian Consulate, Dublin, Ireland: +353 86 241 7649

  • Peruvian Embassy, Santiago, Chile (also responsible for New Zealand): +56 2 2339 2600


Foreign Embassies in Peru

  • United States Embassy, Lima: +51 1 618 2000

  • British Embassy, Lima: +51 1 617 3000

  • Canadian Embassy, Lima: +51 1 319 3200

  • Australian Embassy, Lima: +51 1 630 0500

  • South African Embassy, Lima: +51 1 612 4848

  • Irish Honorary Consulate, Lima: +51 1 222 5252

  • New Zealand Honorary Consulate, Lima: +51 1 627 7778

Public Holidays in Peru

 

2021

2022

New Year's Day

1 January

1 January

Maundy Thursday

1 April

14 April

Good Friday

2 April

15 April

Labour Day

1 May

1 May

St Peter and Paul's Day

29 June

29 June

Independence Day

28 July

28 July

Santa Rosa de Lima Day

30 August

30 August

Battle of Angamos Day

8 October

8 October

All Saints Day

1 November

1 November

Immaculate Conception Day

8 December

8 December

Christmas Day

25 December

25 December

Safety in Peru

Relative to other countries in Latin America, safety in Peru is not a major concern. Nevertheless, there are a few safety issues that expats need to be aware of, as crime do occur in both rural and urban areas, and civil unrest can cause disruptions.


Crime in Peru

Crime is a problem in the main cities, including Lima, Cusco and Arequipa. Petty crimes, such as mugging and pickpocketing, occur frequently in crowded tourist areas and on public transport, while more serious crimes, such as robberies, also occur frequently in these cities. 

There have also been some issues with unregistered taxi drivers taking advantage of unsuspecting foreigners. It’s best to order a taxi ahead of time over the phone rather than hail one directly off the street.


Protests in Peru

Protests are common in Peruvian cities and towns and can be quite disruptive, particularly to transport. It’s not uncommon for protest action to carry on for days or weeks, so it’s best to keep abreast of developments. Although they are mostly peaceful, it’s best to avoid any demonstrations. 


The Shining Path in Peru

The Shining Path is a domestic insurgent group operating within Peru. The organisation is involved in illicit narcotics trading, mostly in the Ayacucho department, and has carried out a few terrorist attacks since they first began their insurgency in the early 1980s. The government has waged an ongoing campaign against the group, which has been weakened in recent years. While the organisation was a lot more active a decade ago, they do still carry out occasional raids and attacks on small villages. It’s unlikely that expats will be affected by Shining Path terrorist activities, but areas in which they are known to operate are best avoided.

Working in Peru

Peru has experienced strong economic growth in recent years and there are a number of opportunities for expats seeking work in Peru.

The mining industry is a big attraction for skilled foreigners who want to work in Peru. Opportunities also exist in the country's other main sectors of agriculture, fisheries, gas and petroleum exploitation and manufacturing. Tourism is another large contributor to the economy and a source of employment in Peru for foreigners, as is teaching English. 

Lima, the capital city, is the centre of business, and where most foreigners end up basing themselves in Peru. However, there are also opportunities within rural areas and smaller towns where tourism is popular.

All foreigners working in Peru are required to have a relevant work permit. Those moving to Peru as part of a corporate relocation will likely have a work permit organised through their employer.


Finding a job in Peru

Many foreigners are transferred to Peru as part of a corporate relocation within their existing company. For those arriving in the country and looking for work, the internet is a good place to start. Online job portals and social networking sites such as LinkedIn are of great benefit to job seekers, as are company websites, which often post vacancies under their career tab. It's also worth checking local newspapers for job listings.


Job market in Peru

It is not always easy for expats to find work within a Peruvian company as precedence is often given to locals. There are also some restrictions for employing foreigners. Expats therefore often find themselves working in Peru for a foreign-owned company, or are transferred there as part of a corporate relocation. Others seek out part-time employment or look for work teaching English. The latter is increasing in demand, particularly in Lima where locals are keen to learn the language for business dealings, or for their children.


Work culture in Peru

Peruvians are hardworking people, but family is also important and work commitments will generally not interfere with family time. Peruvians also have a highly relaxed attitude to time and it’s not unusual for meetings to start late.

Although many city-dwelling Peruvians can speak English, Spanish is the official language of Peru and the main language of business. Expats who can speak Spanish may find it easier to find work and also to adjust to working life in Peru. Quechua, an indigenous Indian language, is the other official language of Peru and widely spoken in rural areas. 

Doing Business in Peru

Peru has one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America, and indeed the world, over the last decade or so. The country has encouraged foreign investment, and expats doing business in Peru are generally made to feel welcome.

With rich deposits of copper, silver, gold, lead and zinc, mining is an important contributor to Peru’s economy. Other important sectors include agriculture, fishery, gas and petroleum exploitation and manufacturing (mostly of textiles). The capital, Lima, is the centre of commerce, and is where most foreigners do business in Peru.

Peru’s strategic location in South America alongside a stable democracy and strong economic growth all contribute to a positive environment in which to do business. This has been highlighted in its positive ranking in international business surveys. In the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Survey for 2020, Peru was ranked 76th out of 190 countries surveyed. The country ranked well in getting credit (37th) but lagged in areas such as trading across borders (102nd) and starting a business (133rd), which may discourage some entrepreneurs. 


Fast facts 

Business hours

The business week is Monday to Friday. Business hours are from 9am to 5pm, with an hour lunch break.

Business language

Spanish is the main language of business in Peru. While English may be understood in large corporate enterprises in Lima, it is not widely spoken or understood within the public sector.

Greetings

Men and women in business circles will usually greet each other with a handshake. Friends and close associates may greet each other with a light kiss on each cheek.

Dress

Business dress in Peru is formal and conservative, with business suits being the usual attire.

Gifts

Gifts are not expected in business circles, but it is common practice to give a gift if invited to a Peruvian home. Flowers, liquor or chocolates are a good option; avoid giving knives or scissors, as these may be interpreted as a severing of the relationship.

Gender equality

Peru is still a traditional, macho culture with traditional gender roles. While there are opportunities for women within the corporate arena, salaries tend to be lower.


Business culture in Peru

As with most Latin American countries, building strong relationships and trust is essential when working in Peru. It’s important to network, as Peruvians prefer to do business with trusted associates and often who you know goes a long way to securing good work opportunities.

Management style

The business culture in Peru is formal. Business structures are hierarchical, with decision making done from the top. There is very little consultation with those in lower positions. Those in authority are respected for being experienced and knowledgeable. When doing business in Peru it’s therefore important to ensure that the real decision makers are met with in order to avoid delays and miscommunications.

Communication style

Communication style in Peru is more indirect, so it may be difficult to decipher what someone is actually saying. Saving face is important to Peruvians, and they generally try to avoid causing offence or confrontation. When conversing, a Peruvian may appear to agree with what is being said, even if they don’t necessarily agree. 

Peruvians are generally quite open and it’s not unusual to stand close together and also to touch each other on the shoulder or hands while talking.

Business relationships

Networking is very important when it comes to doing business in Peru and it’s often a case of who you know when it comes to making decisions on who to deal with. Building interpersonal relationships is essential as Peruvians prefer to do business with those they know and trust, so much time may be spent getting to know an associate before any real business is dealt with. In line with this, business meetings will usually start with small talk about matters such as family or football before any real business is dealt with.


Dos and don’ts of doing business in Peru

  • Do make small talk when starting a meeting, but avoid topics such as politics and religion

  • Do be punctual for meetings, but don’t expect that the Peruvian counterparts will be on time; it’s not unusual for meetings to begin late

  • Do try to learn some Spanish, especially if dealing with those within the public sector, as English is not widely spoken outside of city business circles

Cost of Living in Peru

Relative to other countries in Latin America, the cost of living in Peru is average. Living in the city, particularly in Lima, is more expensive than in rural areas, and the range of services and quality of produce also varies depending on the region.

According to Mercer's 2020 Cost of Living report, Lima is ranked 112th out of 209 cities, making it a mid-range city in terms of the cost of living for expats.


Cost of accommodation in Peru

The cost of accommodation in Peru is variable, with apartments being more expensive in the larger cities. Lima has the most expensive accommodation, particularly in areas such as Miraflores, Barranco and San Isidro.

Accommodation is likely to be an expat’s greatest expense when living in Peru. If moving there as part of a corporate relocation, it’s a good idea to factor accommodation costs into any contract negotiations.


Cost of education in Peru

Public schools in Peru are free, but education at a private or international school is expensive. Those expats who'd like to send their children to an international school in Peru should factor this significant expense into their budget, and if moving to the country as part of a corporate relocation package, they should make provisions for this in their contract.


Cost of food in Peru

Food is relatively well priced in Peru. Food at local fresh produce markets is generally cheaper than in supermarkets and it’s often possible to bargain on the prices. However, the quality of products may vary.


Cost of transport in Peru

The cost of transport in Peru is quite low and it’s relatively cheap to travel around the country using public transport. The running costs of a vehicle can be expensive owing to high import costs.


Cost of living in Peru chart 

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Lima in September 2020.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

PEN 1,830

One-bedroom apartment outside city centre

PEN 1,160

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

PEN 3,240

Three-bedroom apartment outside city centre

PEN 2,190

Food and drink

Milk (1 litre)

PEN 4.40

Eggs (dozen)

PEN 5.95

Loaf of bread (white)

PEN 5.83

Rice (1kg)

PEN 3.63

Chicken breasts (1kg)

PEN 17

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

PEN 17.75

Utilities

Monthly internet (uncapped ADSL or cable)

PEN 117

Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

PEN 62

Monthly utilities for standard household (electricity, water etc.)

PEN 262

Eating out and entertainment

Three-course meal for two at mid-range restaurant

PEN 80

Big Mac Meal

PEN 16

Cappuccino

PEN 8.50

Coca-Cola (330ml)

PEN 2.80

Beer (local)

PEN 8

Transport

Taxi/km

PEN 5

City bus

PEN 2

Petrol per litre

PEN 3.80

Culture Shock in Peru

Peru has a rich heritage as a result of a melting pot of ethnicities and many historical influences including those of ancient Amerindian and Spanish cultures. The country has historically been an important political and cultural centre of Latin America as the seat of both the Inca and the Spanish empires in the region.

Expats are unlikely to experience severe culture shock in Peru. Peruvians, in general, are reserved, peaceful and warm and welcoming to foreigners. Mestizos (those of Amerindian and European ancestry) form the majority of the population, with smaller groups of Amerindians (mostly Quechua and Aymaras), and those of European, Asian (mostly Chinese and Japanese) and African ancestry.


Language barrier in Peru

Spanish and the indigenous language of Quechua are the two official languages of Peru. Spanish is the most popular language, while numerous indigenous languages are also spoken in more rural areas. Expats will find that learning Spanish is essential for integrating into life in this Latin American country. While some Peruvians in the corporate sphere in Peruvian cities such as Lima and the tourist city of Cusco may speak English, the average Peruvian will not speak the language.


Food and drinks in Peru

Cuisine in Peru is a fascinating blend of indigenous and Spanish flavours, alongside other influences from the country’s Chinese, European and African populations.

Potatoes, corn, legumes, quinoa and a local chilli pepper (uchu) are the staples of Peruvian dishes. Expats will find an incredible variety of potatoes and corn in every shape and colour imaginable.

Thanks to Peru’s long coastline, fish and shellfish are popular. One of the country’s most famous dishes is ceviche, which is raw fish marinated in lemon juice. Expats may be surprised to learn that guinea pig (cuy) is a staple meat enjoyed by Peruvians. It’s usually served fried or baked as part of a casserole.

There are a few interesting local beverages to enjoy. Chicha morada is a drink made from purple maize and flavoured with cloves, cinnamon and sugar, and served cold. Pisco, a type of brandy, is the traditional drink of Peru. It’s used to make pisco sour, a delicious cocktail of pisco mixed with lime juice, egg white and sugar.


Meeting and greeting in Peru

Peruvians are generally friendly and the usual greeting is a handshake. A kiss on the cheek is common among acquaintances, but not among strangers. Indigenous Peruvians are more reserved. It’s common for them not to greet each other and to also avoid direct eye contact.


Tips to overcome culture shock in Peru

Learning Spanish will go a long way to easing into life in Peru and interacting with the local population on a daily basis.

Indigenous Peruvians are generally quite reserved and even shy, so expats shouldn't take offence if they are not overly friendly or avoid engaging in conversation.

Always show respect for the indigenous people and their traditions. Avoid referring to them as indios; a more polite term is indigenas.

Accommodation in Peru

Accommodation in Peru is generally quite affordable and there is a variety of options for expats to choose from, depending on their lifestyle and budget. The range and quality of accommodation vary considerably depending on where one chooses to settle, with accommodation in Peruvian cities, particularly Lima, being way more expensive than in smaller towns. While apartments are the most common type of accommodation for city-dwelling expats, houses are often more popular in more rural areas.


Types of accommodation in Peru

The majority of expats in Peru live in one of the country’s cities and choose accommodation in the form of apartments. Houses are more difficult to find, but those wanting more space and a garden may find what they’re looking for if they’re prepared to pay for it. 

Apartments can be furnished, semi-furnished or unfurnished, with the latter being more common. Furnished apartments may include basic furniture and appliances, while unfurnished accommodation will likely not have any appliances and may not even have light fittings.

In general, expats should expect to pay more for accommodation that is closer to the city centre and near public transport routes.


Finding accommodation in Peru

Most local newspapers have listings of available accommodation to rent. It’s also possible to find accommodation online, through property portals and online versions of local newspapers.

There are many real-estate agents operating in Peru and they are a good source of information and assistance when it comes to finding accommodation.

Most landlords may not be able to speak English, so if viewing an apartment it’s best to take a trusted associate along or view the property with the estate agent.


Renting accommodation in Peru

A lease is normally signed for a year and a security deposit of up to three months’ rent may be required to secure the property. Utilities, such as water and electricity, are not always included in the rental price and will be an additional expense for the tenant’s account.

When renting property in Peru, expats should ensure that a proper, signed rental contract is in place and that the responsibilities of both the landlord and tenant are clearly defined, including an inventory and which utilities are included.


Factors to consider when house-hunting in Peru

Safety and security are important considerations when choosing accommodation in Peru. Crime is a concern in Peruvian cities, and house break-ins occur frequently. Expats should choose secure accommodation that preferably has 24/7 security and an alarm system; apartments on upper floors are also more secure.

Healthcare in Peru

There is both public and private healthcare in Peru, but expats usually prefer to make use of private healthcare, as public facilities are notoriously inadequate.

While the healthcare is generally good in Peruvian cities, few decent facilities are available in more rural areas.


Public healthcare in Peru

Public healthcare in Peru is generally poor and insufficient, largely due to a serious lack of funding. Public hospitals are subject to long waiting times, and those with minor health concerns often have to wait months for an appointment.

Basic healthcare is seriously lacking in rural areas, with small under-resourced clinics providing very basic services. It’s unlikely that staff in these facilities will be able to speak English, and any serious medical emergencies may require evacuation to a city with better facilities.


Private healthcare in Peru

Private healthcare facilities are available in Peru, particularly in Lima and Cusco. Private health facilities are generally better staffed and equipped than public facilities and are the preferred option for expats living in Peru. It’s important for expats to ensure that they have some form of private health insurance. If moving to Peru as part of a corporate relocation package, this should be considered when negotiating a contract.

Private healthcare in Peru is generally quite affordable, but doctors will often expect cash payment upfront, regardless of a patient’s medical aid. So when visiting a doctor, it’s important to confirm this ahead of time.


Hospitals in Lima

Clinica Anglo Americana

www.clinicaangloamericana.pe
Tel: 511 616 8989

Clinica San Borja

www.sanna.pe/clinicas/san-borja-lima
Tel: 511 475 3141

Clinica el Golf

www.sanna.pe/clinicas/el-golf-lima
Tel: 511 264 3300


Pharmacies in Peru

Pharmacies are plentiful in Peruvian cities and many are open 24/7. Some of the larger supermarkets, such as Santa Isabel, also have pharmacies, and staff in the larger cities are often able to speak English. Most medications are easily available over the counter.


Health insurance in Peru

Public health insurance is available to Peruvian nationals through two systems, Segura Integral de Salud (SIS) and EsSalud. SIS is administered by the Peruvian Ministry of Health and is largely aimed towards those who are poverty-stricken and have no health coverage, while EsSalud is aimed at the working population and their families, providing healthcare within a specific network of EsSalud medical facilities.

A number of companies offer private health insurance to expats in Peru. However, many expats also have an international health insurance policy.


Health concerns in Peru

Altitude sickness is common for visitors to Peru and it’s best to take the necessary precautions. Symptoms include headache, nausea, lethargy and dizziness, and if experiencing any of these, expats should visit a healthcare professional.

There is some risk of malaria in rural areas of Peru, particularly in the jungle areas east of the Andes Mountains. Expats visiting these areas should ensure that they take the advised precautions.


Pre-travel vaccinations for Peru

The following vaccinations are recommended for Peru:

  • Hepatitis A

  • Hepatitis B

  • Yellow fever

  • Rabies

Expats should ensure that all their routine vaccinations are up to date. Please note that the above list is merely a guide, and expats should contact a healthcare professional before travelling to the country to confirm all required vaccinations for Peru.


Emergency services in Peru

Emergency services are seriously lacking in rural areas, but are available in the larger cities. For an ambulance expats can dial 117.

Education and Schools in Peru

Expats moving to Peru with children need not worry about their education. Not only is Peru’s public system considered to be among the best in Latin America, but there are also plenty of international schools in Peru to choose from. Owing to the language barrier, the latter is a popular choice with expats moving to this South American country.


Public schools in Peru

Peru’s public schooling system generally offers a good level of education. Schooling in Peru is compulsory for children from age six to 16, with public schooling free to all Peruvians. 

Public schools follow the local Peruvian curriculum, with instruction in Spanish. Some public schools in rural areas also have instruction in a local language such as Quechua.

The Peruvian education system is split into three levels: primary, secondary and technical/vocational education. Children in the primary and secondary levels follow a general curriculum and receive free education. After completing primary and secondary schooling, children then have the option of following an academic or technical route at the technical/vocational level. This is offered through technological institutions, most of which are private, but still overseen by the Ministry of Education.

The usual school week is from Monday to Friday, with the school day from around 8am to 2pm. The school year runs from March to December and is split into two semesters.


Private schools in Peru

There are many private schools in Peru. These schools follow the Peruvian curriculum. While the main language of instruction is Spanish, many private schools in Peru offer instruction in both Spanish and English, so they may be an option for expats living in Peru.

Private schools are not free and may charge high fees. Many schools are run through religious organisations, while others are cooperatively managed and financed by fees.


International schools in Peru

There are many international schools in Peru. Most of these schools are based in Lima, but there are also international schools in Arequipa. These schools offer a range of curricula, including the local Peruvian curriculum, the International Baccalaureate and a variety of foreign curricula.

Admission requirements for international schools in Peru vary, so it’s best to contact an individual school for further information. Below are some of the most popular international schools in Peru.

Casuarinas International College

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Ages: 3-18
Website: www.casuarinas.edu.pe

Colegio Franco Peruano

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: French
Ages: 3-18
Website: www.lfrancope.edu.pe

Colegio Franklin Delano Roosevelt (The American School of Lima)

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: American
Ages: 3-18
Website: www.amersol.edu.pe

Colegio Pestalozzi

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate (German/Spanish instruction)
Ages: 3-18
Website: www.pestalozzi.edu.pe

Hiram Bingham – The British International School of Lima

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Ages: 3-18
Website: www.hirambingham.edu.pe

International Christian School of Lima

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: American
Ages: 5-18
Website: www.icslima.org

San Silvestre School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: British and International Baccalaureate
Ages: 3-18
Website: www.sansilvestre.edu.pe

Transport and Driving in Peru

Getting around Peru is relatively easy and inexpensive. But owing to its varied and unique terrain of mountains, deserts and rain forests, travelling around the country can be an interesting and sometimes time-consuming experience.


Public transport in Peru

Buses

Buses offer a relatively cheap means of getting around Peru, but they’re often overcrowded and slow. A number of private companies offer services, and many of these companies operate their own bus stations. For long-distance buses, it’s possible to book tickets online or buy tickets directly from the bus company offices.

Trains

There are a number of train services, but they don’t offer a practical means of getting around Peru. Trains are mostly used by tourists who want to enjoy a scenic journey around the country. In particular, the most popular train route connects Cusco with the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu.


Taxis

Taxis are plentiful in Peruvian towns and cities. The taxi industry is not very well regulated though, and many private vehicles also operate as taxis. Few taxis are metered so it’s best to negotiate the fare before embarking on a journey.

There have been some issues with unregistered taxis taking advantage of unsuspecting foreigners, and even using taxis to carry out crimes, so one should be cautious when hailing a taxi from the street. It’s best to order a taxi ahead of time over the phone. This may be a more expensive option, but it also a safer one.

Colectivos are shared minibus taxis that operate along fixed routes in and between Peruvian towns and cities. These are often ageing vehicles and have a questionable safety record. These vehicles are often overcrowded and drivers have a reputation for driving erratically.

Some ride-hailing apps, such as Uber, are also available in Peru and are sometimes more convenient as they circumvent any possible language barriers and payment issues.


Driving in Peru

If living in a Peruvian city, it’s normally quite easy to get around using public transport and a private vehicle is not necessary. Nevertheless, many expats do choose to have a car, especially if they want to explore more of the country.

Roads are generally in poor condition and driving standards in Peru are bad. Traffic can be horrendous in the cities, especially in Lima, and accidents occur frequently.

Travelling at night can also be risky due to crime, especially in rural areas. Outside of the main cities and towns, many roads are unpaved and a four-wheel-drive vehicle may be necessary.


Air travel in Peru

Due to the country’s size and vast distances, it is often more convenient to fly between cities in Peru. Some towns are, in fact, only accessible by plane. 

Jorge Chavez International Airport, located just outside Lima, is the country’s main air hub. Several international carriers have regular services to and from Peru, while the main air carriers operating within the country include LAN, Star Peru and LC Peru.

Banking, Money and Taxes in Peru

Peru’s banking system underwent privatisation during the 1990s and expats have a number of options when it comes to banking in Peru. The country has a modern banking system which is regulated by the Central Reserve Bank of Peru.


Money in Peru

The official currency is the Nuevo Sol (PEN), which is divided into 100 céntimos. It is commonly referred to as Sol.

  • Notes: 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 PEN.

  • Coins: 1, 2 and 5 PEN and 5, 10, 20 and 50 céntimos.


Banking in Peru

Expats will find that banking in Peru is relatively easy. Both local and international banks operate in the country and most Peruvian banks offer modern facilities and services, including telephone and internet banking.

Expats should be aware that there have been some issues with counterfeit foreign currency in the country, particularly US dollars, so when exchanging money, it’s best to do so at a legitimate establishment.

Banking hours vary with most branches open from 10am to 8pm Monday to Friday. Most banks are also open on Saturdays. 

Opening a bank account

Foreigners are able to open a bank account in the local currency or in some foreign currencies, including dollars. In order to open a Peruvian bank account, expats need to provide their passport and have a foreign residence card. Proof of address and proof of income may also be required.

Peruvian bank charges can be quite high and most banks charge for every transaction, so it’s best to shop around when deciding which bank to open an account with.

ATMs in Peru

ATMs are available across the country. Foreign bank cards are not always accepted in ATMs so it’s best to check first if wanting to draw cash.

Credit cards

Peru remains a largely cash-based society and credit card payments remain relatively low. That said, credit cards are accepted in major shops, restaurants and hotels in Peruvian cities.


Taxes in Peru

Peruvian residents pay tax on a progressive scale on their world-wide income, while non-residents are only taxed on income earned in Peru. For tax purposes, a tax resident is someone who has lived in Peru for at least 183 days in a 12-month period, but the days don’t have to be consecutive.

The tax year in Peru runs from 1 January to 31 December.