How long can you stay in Peru as a tourist?

On March 27, 2017, Peru’s official national newspaper, El Peruano, published Legislative Decree No.1350. This contained a whole bunch of new regulations — 230 articles in total — aimed at clarifying and in some cases streamlining various elements of Peru’s immigration laws.

We always knew — way before these new regulations were published — that 183 days was the maximum amount of time allowed by the Tarjeta Andina (the simple entry/exit card given to tourists upon arrival in Peru).

But there were always grey areas. Was it 183 days per calendar year (Jan to Dec)? Or 183 days per 365 day period? Or could you simply exit Peru on your 183rd day and come straight back the next day (the classic border hop) for another 90 or even 183 days? Most of the time it depended on the mood of the border official who you had the luck — or misfortune — to deal with when crossing back into Peru.

Everyone kind of assumed (or at least hoped) that these new regulations would help clear up the issue of how long you can stay in Peru as a tourist. But, in typical fashion, the Peruvian officials did a good job of making things open to interpretation…

How Long Can You Stay in Peru as a Tourist According to the New Regulations?

Here’s what Article 77.2 of Legislative Decree No.1350 says in regards to the amount of time given to tourists in Peru:

77.2. El plazo de otorgamiento y de permanencia es de ciento ochenta y tres (183) días consecutivos o de periodos de días que sumados den un resultado de ciento ochenta y tres (183) días dentro de un año, contado desde su primer ingreso al territorio peruano. Estos plazos no son prorrogables.

77.2. The granted term of permanence is one hundred and eighty three (183) consecutive days or period of days that together give a result of one hundred and eighty three (183) days within a year, counted from the first entry into Peruvian territory. These periods are not extendable. [My translation]

That’s the official line. But the problem here is the lack of clarity as to whether it’s 183 days per calendar year or 183 days in any 365 day period.

Official Clarification of the Maximum Amount of Days in Peru

In an attempt to clear things up, I first sent a message to the official Superintendencia Nacional de Migraciones del Perú Facebook page. Within half an hour, I received the following clear response:

“A foreign national can stay in Peru as a tourist up to 183 days in a 365-day period.”

Good, that’s clear enough.

I then emailed some of the higher-ups at Migraciones, just to see if everyone was on the same page. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t receive a reply from most of them. But I did receive a response from Dr. Frieda Roxana del Aguila Tuesta, the general manager of Migraciones in Lima. Her response:

“No tiene nada que ver el mes o año, son 183 días de estadía de los 365 días que constituye un año.”

“It has nothing to do with the month or year, it is 183 days of the 365 days that constitute a year.” [My translation]

Dr. Del Aguila’s answer wasn’t quite as clear and conclusive as I was hoping for. But I take her response as meaning 183 days per 365-day period (not calendar year), since it has “nothing to do with the month or year” (and therefore must be any 365-day period).

Next…

The Legal View of 183 Days in Peru

To further clarify this whole 183-day issue, I contacted Sandro Monteblanco, a managing partner at Monteblanco & Associates, a law firm headquartered in Peru that specializes in immigration law (the firm also has an office on 11 Broadway, NYC, should you ever want stop in to say hi).

Here is my email exchange with Sr. Monteblanco:

Sandro Monteblanco: “The matter is simple yet the lack of proper understanding has led to a series of doubts and confusions. In fact, a similar question also surfaces a lot when they ask about the term “consecutive” as used in the law. Section 2 of the aforementioned article stipulates that 183 consecutive days are granted in a year’s time. The way this legislation is to be interpreted is that the 183 days that one is allotted as a maximum amount per year, is counted from the moment they gain entry into the country. That being said, if a person comes into Peru on April 10th, day 1 of their year begins on April 11th. This DOES NOT mean that if they came in on April 10th, 2017, that they have 7 months and 20 days left on their year. I hope I’ve explained myself accordingly, but if you have any other questions, feel free to ask away.”

New Peruvian: “It makes perfect sense. But just to help clarify things 100% for my readers, and to use your real-world example: If a person enters Peru on April 10, 2017, and leaves on Oct 10, 2017 (after 183 days), he will then have to be outside Peru for 183 days before re-entering. He cannot re-enter on January 1, 2018, simply because it’s the start of a new calendar year. That’s correct, yes?”

Sandro Monteblanco: “That is perfectly accurate. The take-home message for your readers Tony is that they cannot rely on a calendar year: their year begins the moment they set foot in Peru. We have had several clients get turned away at the port of entry because of this. This is something that cannot be winged anymore as people were accustomed to doing in the past; it’s not worth the aggravation, not to mention the expense involved.”

The Bottom Line

Sr. Monteblanco’s response clears things up. But will all Peruvian border officials enforce the new regulations in the same way? As ever, who the hell knows? Since the new regulations were passed, I’ve already spoken with people who have spent 183 days in Peru before exiting and successfully re-entering within two or three months.

But officially, you can only spend 183 days in Peru per 365-day period. If you try to re-enter Peru before spending sufficient time outside the country, you should expect to be denied entry.