Peruvian tourist visa
August 27, 2009 5:55 AM   Subscribe

I forgot to get a tourist visa before applying for my 4 month visit to Peru and the airline made me buy a return ticket which falls within those 90 days of the visa-less visit. If I leave the country and return, can I still use my original return ticket? (better to read the extended explanation)

So, I stupidly arrived at the airport with my return ticket to Peru -- 4 months there, all things told. However, it turns out that for stays of over 3 months, a visa is necessary. "No problem", I told the check-in clerk, I was planning on entering Chile anyway. She said that since she cannot prove my intent to enter those countries, I must buy another ticket to the US for a period within those initial 90 days. To make a long story short, she sold me a ticket I don't want from Lima to Boston. Well, at least I don't risk deportation.

My question: Is it ok if I forget about that new ticket I had to buy, use the original one (i.e. stay 4 months), but leave and re-enter Peru in those initial three months? As far as I understand it, that would be fine because I wouldn't have broken any laws regarding the need for a visa (not having stayed three consecutive months).

Or should I just play it safe and waste a few days in Lima and apply for a 4 months visa?

FWIW I also have German citizenship and could get my German passport FEDEX'd here, but I don't think that matters...

Sure would appreciate your thoughts on this!
posted by mateuslee to Travel & Transportation around Peru (5 answers total)
I think you're right. When you come back into Peru from Chile, your passport will be stamped for another 90 day stay. The border guard probably won't even notice that you had recently been in Peru. You'll be fine. Even if you don't (for whatever reason) get the full 90 days, you'll at least re-enter for long enough to make an necessary visa applications then.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:07 AM on August 27, 2009

As a Peruvian with an American husband and several friends from abroad, I tell you yes, it is perfectly safe to get out of the country and come back again so the visa period re-starts. It's a pity they made you buy a ticket, what a scam! Anyway, try and change the date for that ticket or see if you can renegotiate in order to get a ticket for next year, or to a different country, or a small refund!

Anyway, you have many possibilites, from bus trips from Puno to Bolivia (very cheap, and you can go to Puno from Cuzco, by bus), to Chile (if you plan to go to the capital it's sort of expensive, by plane) or even Brazil. which is very cheap, by bus. Make sure you have some spare money if you cross borders on land, but be firm and DO NOT be fooled by policemen who ask you for money, if you give them some, they will think you have even more to give, and you'll never get them off your back! Just tell them to sod off (politely but directly) and go on with your life. Even better if you stick with someone because they are intimidated with groups. Do not accept any kind of package (people like to smuggle everything from blankets to drugs, which means definite Peru (not pretty!). MAKE SURE your passport gets stamped both ways! If they don't be firm and tell them to stamp it.

I don't advice doing the German passport thing, it would complicate things even more. Keep in mind that most Peruvian policemen, I am sorry to say, are into getting money out of any situation, specially from unsuspecting people (Peruvian people know how to deal with them). Don't ever get violent or too aggressive though, because all they have to do is say they found a bag of dope in your pocket, and you're doomed. I'm sure they would tell you there is a special tax for people with two passports, or they would make you wait for 8 hours just for the fun of it, etc. Just try and befriend someone on your way, and be firm, but nice.

moreover, know that every body does it! All of my friends did it, because they wanted to spend more than 3 months in Peru. It's a very well known practice, really, so don't worry about it at all. Most people go to Argentina or Brazil, but as long as you get out, the count starts again.
posted by Tarumba at 7:53 AM on August 27, 2009

The airlines do that because if you are denied entry, they have to take you back, and no one pays them for that. At least that is how it was explained to me when I was arguing with the woman at the ticket counter. In my case, I had residency at the destination, but she did not want to accept the paper note I had been issued to prove that.

Leaving over land and returning should be perfectly fine. The ticket was just to make the airline employee happy, Peru doesn't care how you leave.

It's strange, but I have noticed that this problem seems to come up more at certain airports. In Lisbon, just saying you are leaving overland is good enough. In London I think they would make you buy a return ticket even if you were standing there with the president of the destination country. San Francisco is easy, New Jersey is difficult.
posted by Nothing at 8:35 AM on August 27, 2009

I cant be sure this is comparable but it might provide some insight into the situation... in Chile there is a similar situation in which you cannot overstay a 3 month tourist visa and therefore are supposed to be able to show that you will be leaving the country within those 3 months (meaning a return or onward ticket). Even though its highly unlikely that anybody at the Chilean airport would notice/care/etc, in the event that they did, they could send you back to the US on the airline's expense, for that reason the airlines sometimes make you buy that ticket at the airport before getting on the plane, to cover them.

Anyway, if the situation is the same, its a bummer they made you buy a return ticket instead of an onward one i.e. lima to La Paz or something. Nobody at the border stamping your passport is going to have any idea about your flights, every time you cross the boarder just make sure your stamps and that little important slip of paper is in order and say that you will be staying a short time.
Was your flight refundable? Could you cancel it and save up airline credit?

Also because I mentioned Chile and you were planning to travel there, don't worry you can enter and exit by land without having to prove anything about your length of stay.

So to answer your questions, I think you could easily and legally forget about that early new flight, and sending a second passport would not be necessary. Its surprising how informal border crossings by land are compared to at the airport. If you're worried, call in Lima before going in for the visa and they'll probably agree that you wont actually need it. Good luck
posted by nzydarkxj at 8:50 AM on August 27, 2009

Thanks guys. I'm going to go ahead with this plan. Sure apreciate your thoughts!
posted by mateuslee at 11:58 AM on August 27, 2009

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