The current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at the date of this report’s publication assesses Peru at Level 1, indicating travelers should exercise normal precautions. Do not travel to the Colombian border area in the Loreto Region due to crime, or the area in central Peru known as the Valley of the Rivers Apurimac, Ene, and Mantaro (VRAEM) due to crime and terrorism.
Overall Crime and Safety Situation
The U.S. Embassy in Lima does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The American Citizen Services Unit cannot recommend a particular individual service provider or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided. All statistics provided derive from local law enforcement or government authorities.
Review OSAC’s country-specific page for original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some of which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC password.
There is serious risk from crime in Lima. Armed robbery, assault, burglary, and petty theft are common in Lima and many parts of the country. Violence targeting foreigners is infrequent, and the rate of crime is level or decreasing in many areas, but everyone should exercise caution and maintain a heightened level of awareness in public.
Foreign visitors are vulnerable to crime; criminals may perceive them as carrying greater amounts of cash or other valuables, such as cameras, than the average Peruvian. While U.S. Embassy personnel and foreign residents normally reside in affluent areas with significant private security and local police presence, they are not immune. Residential burglaries are most common when houses are vacant, but thieves will also attempt to enter occupied residences via unsecured doors and windows, tricking domestic employees, or forcing access through residential perimeters.
In Lima, robberies are common along the routes from the airport to tourist hotels. Armed robbers occasionally target tourists with suitcases loading or unloading taxis at hotels; these are usually crimes of opportunity.
Vehicular vandalism and theft occurs throughout Lima. Criminals steal spare parts and sell them on the black market. Park in well-lighted areas, preferably in a paid parking lot.
Counterfeit currency is a concern in Peru; only change money in reputable banks and exchange locations that use currency machines that, in addition to counting the money, detect most counterfeit currency. Criminals also target some ATMs to get card information, which allows them to clone cards and make unauthorized withdrawals. It is best to use ATMs in open banks during business hours. For more information, review OSAC’s Report, The Overseas Traveler’s Guide to ATM Skimmers & Fraud.
Credit cards are widely used in Lima. The employee processing the transaction will normally ask the customer for ID. The card reader (and credit card) should be in the presence of the customer throughout the transaction.
There have been some instances of persons drugged in bars and clubs for the purpose of robbery. Pay careful attention to drinks as they are poured, and do not leave them unattended. For more information, review OSAC’s Report Shaken: The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad.
Many areas of Peru are very remote. Medical assistance or search and rescue services are often unavailable. Weather conditions, especially in mountainous areas, can change quickly. Fully prepared for low temperatures and wet weather before venturing into the wilderness. Jungle travel can be extremely hazardous without an experienced guide.
The Embassy maintains two restricted travel zones within Peru due to possible terrorist and/or significant criminal activity. These are the Valley of the Apurimac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers (VRAEM) and an area 20 km south of the Colombian border, except for travel on the Amazon River itself. The VRAEM consists of emergency zones as declared by the Government of Peru. There are virtually no facilities or tourist sites in these areas:
Restricted: Most districts in the provinces of La Mar and Huanta.
Restricted: Eight out of fourteen districts in the province of La Convención, especially those areas adjacent to the Apurimac River.
Restricted: Many districts within the provinces of Churcampa and Tayacaja.
Restricted: Districts within the provinces of Satipo, Concepción, and Huancayo.
Under Peruvian law, all persons must carry one form of valid photo identification. Avoid carrying original passports whenever possible; locked them in a hotel safe or another secure location and carry a photocopy of the data/biographic page, the page containing the visa (if needed), and a copy of the Peruvian immigration form received at the port of entry.
Several competent private security businesses operate in Peru, many of which offer a wide variety of services such as executive protection, private investigations, guard services for large events, armored car services, and physical security for work and residential locations. The Regional Security Office is available to discuss security concerns or to assist OSAC constituents.
For more information, review OSAC’s Report, Security in Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.
Road Safety and Road Conditions
Due to poor infrastructure and some criminal activity, traveling by road at night is especially hazardous. The Embassy travel policy prohibits nighttime road travel outside of cities, except for the Pan-American Highway north to Huacho and south to Paracas. The Embassy does allow personnel to take night buses along the entire Pan-American Highway, to Huaraz, on the route to Arequipa, and from Arequipa to Cusco. Private bus companies have higher prices and are generally safer.
Many roads, especially in the mountains, are unpaved and narrow with sudden drop-offs. Landslides occur frequently during the rainy season. For more information on self-driving, review OSAC’s Report Driving Overseas: Best Practices.
Public Transportation Conditions
The Embassy recommends using a trusted driver or taxi services that have stands in the airport. Before paying for a service, ask if the car has “lamina,” or security film, which prevents windows from shattering if struck by thieves. For taking taxis around Lima, the Embassy recommends using app-based taxi services, such as Uber or Taxi Satelital. Arranging a taxi service known to or contracted by hotels is another good option.
Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns
There is moderate risk from terrorism in Lima. Terrorism in Peru is now uncommon; remnants of the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) terrorist group are only active in the VRAEM (Valley of the Apurimac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers). In 2018, Sendero Luminoso successfully targeted Peruvian police and military forces in this area. International terrorism is always a concern, but there is little evidence of continued significant activity by known international terrorist groups.
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
There is moderate risk from civil unrest in Lima. Protests are common throughout Peru, but are usually peaceful. Occasionally, police use tear gas to maintain public order if protests get out of control, but they usually use restraint. Avoid protest activity.
There is little anti-U.S. sentiment in Peru; however, certain sectors of Peruvian society, including illegal coca growers, resent U.S. counternarcotic policies.
Earthquakes are commonplace; visitors should be prepared. Several devastating earthquakes have occurred throughout Peru’s history. Strong recent earthquakes have caused casualties and infrastructure damage.
Floods and landslides occur frequently during the rainy season, and may result in extended road closures. In 2017, heavy rains near the coast resulted in 62 deaths and 12,000 destroyed homes.
Personal Identity Concerns
Same-sex sexual activity is legal. A 2017 presidential decree prohibits all forms of discrimination and hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Narcotics production and trafficking continues to be a problem; Peru is one of the top two producers of cocaine. Peru exports the vast majority of the refined product, but the widespread production of cocaine in the VRAEM has contributed to a growing illegal drug presence in the cities.
Ayahuasca retreats, in which tourists use a traditional hallucinogen made from the Ayahuasca vine, are popular. Tourists have suffered severe medical problems, including brain damage, from Ayahuasca use. Unscrupulous purveyors of Ayahuasca may not be qualified in traditional preparation techniques. Tourists have reported sexual abuse while under the influence.
Peru’s national police force, the Policía Nacional del Perú (PNP), has nationwide jurisdiction. The PNP is modernizing, but officers often lack the training and resources for full effectiveness. Tourism police assist visitors in areas international travelers frequent. In general, police may be slow to respond and do not conduct effective investigations, although filing a police report after a theft may be useful for insurance purposes. Motorists report that some police ask for bribes during traffic stops.
In Lima and other towns, many municipalities supplement PNP presence through an unarmed security force known as Serenazgo.
Crime Victim Assistance
Foreign victims of a crime should contact the Policía de Turismo (tourism police) whenever possible. The tourism police, found in major tourist areas, are generally helpful and are more likely to speak English. These officers receive training on how to interact with tourists. If tourism police are not available, ask for the nearest police station (comisaría).
Lima Tourism Police: 460-1060; North Downtown: 423-3500; Central 105; Office: 332-3222
Police Stations in Lima
Emergency medical service is generally reliable in Peru. The U.S. Embassy health unit recommends the use of private ambulance services whenever possible; find telephone numbers for these services in local directories. The quality of medical facilities also varies from location to location. U.S. health insurance is almost never accepted; for this reason, patients must provide cash or credit card to receive treatment.
The following is a list of clinics, many of which have staff who are familiar with U.S. healthcare and speak some basic English:
Clínica Anglo American
Av. Salazar s/n, Cuadra 3, San Isidro
Clínica San Felipe
Av. Gregorio Escobdeo 650, Jesus Maria
Clínica San Borja
Av. Guardia Civil 337, San Borja
Clínica El Golf
Av. Aurelio Miro Quesada 1030, San Isidro
Clínica Anglo American Urgent Care Center
Av. La Fontana 362, La Molina
Clínica San Felipe Urgent Care Center
511-618-219-0000 ext. 718
Av. Javier Prado Este 4841, La Molina
Clínica Good Hope
Malecón Balta 956, Miraflores
Peruvian National Police High Mountain Rescue Unit ("USAM")
Tel: 51-1-575-4696, 51-1-575-4698, 51-1-575-1555
Lima, Cusco and Iquitos clinics and specialties: http://photos.state.gov/libraries/peru/5/resources/2012-10_doctor_list.pdf
Available Air Ambulance Services
For air medical evacuation services, consider purchasing private air medical evacuation (medevac) insurance before travel. Medevac costs can run into the tens of thousands of dollars without insurance. The Embassy can assist visitors with further information about available services. For more information, please refer to OSAC’s Report, “Medical Evacuation: A Primer.”
Strongly consider purchasing international health insurance before travel.
Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance
The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Peru.
OSAC Country Council Information
There is an active OSAC Country Council in Lima that encourages all eligible companies to join. For further information, contact the Regional Security Office of the U.S. Embassy at 511-618-2000 ext. 2308, or e-mail RSOLIMA@state.gov.
U.S. Embassy Location and Contact Information
U.S. Embassy Lima, Peru, Avenida La Encalada cdra. 17 s/n, Surco, Lima 33