is an annual report produced in conjunction with the Regional Security Office
at the U.S. Embassy in Lima. OSAC encourages travelers to use
this report to gain baseline knowledge of security conditions in Peru. For
more in-depth information, 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
The current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at the date of this report’s publication assesses
Peru at Level 2, indicating travelers should exercise increased
caution. 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. Department of State has assessed Lima as being a CRITICAL-threat location for crime
directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests. According to the Peruvian National Police (PNP), crime
increased 13% in 2019. Foreign residents and visitors may be more
vulnerable to crime, as criminals perceive them to be wealthier and
more likely to carry large amounts of cash and other valuables on
their person. However, this uptick in crime has affected Peruvians and
foreigners alike. The most common types of crime in Lima and many parts of the
country include armed robbery, assault, burglary, and petty theft. Crimes can
turn violent quickly, and often escalate when a victim attempts to
resist. Review OSAC’s reports, All That You Should
In Lima, there is a continuing trend of armed assailants robbing
individuals between the airport and their hotel, often following the individual
directly from the airport. This type of crime usually happens late night or
early morning, and occurs en route to or upon arrival at the hotel, or while in
the lobby checking into the hotel.
Another trend in Lima, according to police and local media
reports, involves armed assailants riding on motorcycles in pairs targeting
individuals that display valuables. In many cases, these criminals look for
vehicles stopped in traffic with visible handbags or electronics such as cell
phones. The assailants snatch items through open windows, or smash windows and
grab the valuables, then quickly flee on the motorcycle.
Vehicular vandalism and theft occur throughout Peru. Criminals
steal spare parts and sell them on the black market. Park vehicles
in well-lighted areas, preferably in a paid parking lot.
currency is a concern. Peru has more circulating counterfeit U.S. currency than
any other country in the world. Criminals also target individuals
that withdraw money from ATMs; many banks offer withdrawal insurance. Criminals
have inserted skim readers on ATMs to obtain bank / credit card
information, allowing them to clone cards and make unauthorized withdrawals. Credit
cards are in wide use in Lima, with official identification
usually required for any transaction. In restaurants, it is common for the
waiter to bring a remote scanner to the table to pay the bill. Review OSAC’s reports, The Overseas Traveler’s
Guide to ATM Skimmers & Fraud and Taking Credit.
There have been some instances of drugging in bars and
clubs for the purpose of robbery. Pay careful attention to drinks being
poured, and do not leave a drink unattended. Review OSAC’s report, Shaken:
The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad.
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. Crime targeting these areas has risen over the past
year. 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
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 prepare 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:
- Most districts in the provinces of La Mar and Huanta.
- Several districts in the province of La Convención,
especially those areas adjacent to the Apurimac River.
- Many districts within the provinces
of Churcampa and Tayacaja.
- Districts within the provinces of Satipo, Concepción, and Huancayo.
Peruvian law requires all persons to carry one form of valid photo
identification. Avoid carrying original passports whenever
possible; lock them in a hotel safe or another secure location
and carry a photocopy of the data/biographic page, the page containing the
visa, and a copy of the Peruvian immigration form received at the port of
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
Review OSAC’s Report, Security
in Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.
Road Safety and Road Conditions
Drivers often ignore traffic laws and authorities rarely enforce
them, creating dangerous conditions for drivers and pedestrians. Seat belts are
mandatory for driver and front-seat passengers in a private vehicle. It is
against the law to talk on a cellular phone while driving, and violators may receive
fines. When driving in urban areas, taxis and buses often block lanes impeding
traffic. Drivers often do not use turn signals. Vehicles frequently turn from
the middle through traffic lanes. While driving outside major cities and on the
Pan-American Highway, you must have your headlights on.
Roads often lack proper maintenance and may lack crash barriers,
guardrails, signs, and streetlights. Fog is common on coastal and mountain
highways, making conditions more treacherous. Slow-moving buses and trucks
frequently stop in the middle of the road unexpectedly. Traveling in a group is preferable to solo travel. Have extra spare
tires, parts, and fuel when traveling in remote areas, where distances between
service areas are long.
Due to poor infrastructure and some criminal activity, travel by
road at night is especially hazardous. The U.S. Embassy travel
policy prohibits nighttime road travel outside of cities, except for on
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 charge higher
prices, but are generally safer.
If a traffic officer signals you to stop, you must stop. Traffic
officers must wear uniforms and identification cards that include their last
name on their chest. Traffic officers may not retain your personal identification
or vehicle documents. Under no circumstances should you offer or agree to pay
money to traffic officers.
If you are involved in an accident, you must contact local police
and remain at the scene without moving your vehicle until authorities arrive. Authorities
strictly enforce this rule; moving a vehicle or leaving the scene of an
accident may constitute an admission of guilt under Peruvian law.
especially in the mountains, are unpaved and narrow with sudden drop-offs.
Landslides occur frequently during the rainy season; occasional landslides
have also affected urban areas such as the Costa Verde in Lima. Review
OSAC’s reports, Road Safety Abroad,
Driving Overseas: Best
Practices, and Evasive Driving
Techniques; and read the State Department’s webpage on driving
and road safety abroad.
Public Transportation Conditions
Many buses are overcrowded, poorly maintained, and lack safety
features such as seat belts. Bus
accidents resulting in multiple deaths and injuries are common due to routes
along narrow, winding roads without a shoulder and steep drop-offs. Accidents
are common due to excessive speed, poor bus maintenance, poor road conditions,
and driver fatigue.
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, a security film that
prevents windows from shattering if struck. 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
U.S. Department of State has assessed Lima as being a MEDIUM-threat location for terrorism directed at or affecting
official U.S. government interests. Terrorism in Peru
is now uncommon; however, remnants of the Sendero Luminoso (Shining
Path) terrorist group are active in the VRAEM, a particularly remote region
that is a known safe haven for narcotraffickers. In 2019, Sendero Luminoso
successfully targeted Peruvian security 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
U.S. Department of State has assessed Lima as being a MEDIUM-threat location for political violence directed at or
affecting official U.S. government interests. Protests
are common throughout Peru, but are usually peaceful. Protesters may
block roads and sometimes burn tires, throw rocks, and damage property. Police occasionally
use tear gas to maintain public order if protests get out of control, but
they usually use restraint. Review OSAC’s report, Surviving a Protest.
There is little anti-U.S. sentiment in Peru; however, certain
sectors of Peruvian society, including illegal coca growers, resent U.S.
Earthquakes are commonplace. Several devastating
earthquakes have occurred throughout Peru’s history. Strong recent earthquakes
have caused casualties and infrastructure damage. In
May 2019, an 8.0-magnitude earthquake struck the Loreto region, causing one
fatality in the Cajamarca region and 11 injuries, as well as isolated power
outages and some 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
A 2017 presidential decree prohibits all forms of
discrimination and hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender
identity. There are no legal
restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events
in Peru. Review the State Department’s webpage on security for LGBTI+
Peru suffers high rates of gender-based violence. Half of Peruvian women between the ages of 15-49 have
faced some sort of violence. Enforcement
remains weak, partially due to a deep-rooted patriarchal culture. In 2019, authorities reported 166 femicide cases --
the highest number in the past decade. Senior Peruvian government
officials view this issue as a priority, and are a taking stronger position to
protect vulnerable populations. Review
the State Department’s webpage on security for female
Peruvian law prohibits discrimination against persons with
physical and mental 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 has made
little effort to ensure access to public buildings and areas. Sidewalks (if they
exist) are uneven and rarely have ramps at intersections. Pedestrian crossings
are infrequent, and motorists almost never give pedestrians the right of way.
Buses and taxis do not have special accommodations for disabled persons. Review
the State Department’s webpage on security for travelers
Narcotics production and trafficking continues to be a problem;
Peru is one of the world’s 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 Peruvian 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.
The Peruvian National Police (PNP) has nationwide
jurisdiction. The force is modernizing, but officers often lack
the training and resources for full effectiveness. 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; however, there
are conflicting reports regarding their effectiveness.
There is little government presence in many remote areas of the
Andes and Amazon basin. Illicit activities, such as illegal mining and logging,
and coca production, are common. Drug trafficking and other criminal activity,
combined with poor infrastructure, limit the capability and effectiveness of
Peruvian law enforcement in this area. The U.S. government has limited ability
to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens along the Colombian border and
in the VRAEM, as U.S. government personnel are restricted from traveling in
Foreign victims of a crime should contact the Policía de
Turismo (tourism police) whenever possible. Found in major tourist
areas, they 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;
Emergency medical service is generally
reliable in Peru. The U.S. Embassy health unit recommends using private
ambulance services whenever possible. The quality of medical facilities varies
from location to location. Providers almost never accept U.S. health insurance;
for this reason, patients must provide cash or credit card to receive
popular tourist destinations, such as Cusco/Machu Picchu, Arequipa/Colca
Canyon, Kuelap/Chachapoyas, Puno/Lake Titicaca, are at high altitudes. Altitude
illness affects many people who are in otherwise good health, sometimes
severely. Do not underestimate its potential effects. Its onset can be rapid,
and may be life threatening if untreated. Learn about it before you go, and ask
your doctor whether high altitude may adversely affect any pre-existing
condition. Physical training or fitness has no impact on altitude
sickness susceptibility. Refer to OSAC’s report, Traveling in High Altitude.
National Police High Mountain Rescue Unit ("USAM"): +51-1-575-4696/4698/1555;
contact information for available medical services and available air ambulance
services on the U.S. Embassy/Consulate website. The
U.S. Department of State strongly recommends purchasing international health
insurance before traveling internationally. Review the State Departments
webpage on insurance
Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance
The following diseases are present in some parts of Peru: Dengue; Diarrheal
disease; Guillain-Barré Syndrome; Hepatitis A and B; Leishmaniasis; Malaria; Rabies;
Tuberculosis; Yellow fever; and Zika. The CDC offers additional information on
vaccines and health guidance for Peru.
OSAC’s reports, The Healthy Way,
Medication, I’m Drinking What in My
Water?, Shaken: The Don’ts of
Alcohol Abroad, Health 101: How to Prepare for Travel, and Fire Safety Abroad.
OSAC Country Council Information
There is an active OSAC Country Council in Lima that encourages all eligible companies to join. For further information, contact OSAC’s Latin America Team.
U.S. Embassy Contact Information
Avenida La Encalada cdra. 17 s/n Surco, Lima 33
Security Office: (51-1) 618-2308
Marine Guard (24 Hours): (51-1) 618-2001
you travel, consider the following resources:
OSAC Risk Matrix
OSAC Travelers Toolkit
Department Traveler’s Checklist
Smart Traveler Enrollment Program