Waiting to fly home from Lima Airport. Photo by Tony Dunnell.
If you overstay your officially allotted time in Peru, you’ll have to pay a fine when you leave the country. In theory, this is a straightforward process that can be handled when you exit Peru or in the days prior to leaving. But complications can arise, especially if you are leaving through one of the smaller overland border crossing points.
First you need to know how much time you’ve been given and how much time you can stay in Peru as a tourist. Officially, you are allowed a maximum of 183 days in Peru during a 365-day period. Typically, however, new arrivals are given 90 days, and in some cases 30 days. Always check in your passport to confirm how long you’ve been given. If necessary, you can later apply for a tourist visa extension, up to the maximum of 183 days (or thereabouts).
Overstaying Your Time in Peru
Some tourists overstay their officially allotted time in Peru. This can happen due to a simple miscalculation of time, due to some kind of unforeseen problem, or a conscious decision to overstay (understandably, some people want to spend more time in Peru), among things.
This is obviously best avoided, but in most cases you don’t need to worry about it too much. As long as you have enough money to pay the daily fine when you leave Peru, you shouldn’t have too many problems.
How Much Is The Peru Overstay Fine?
Any tourist overstaying their allotted time in Peru is subject to a daily fine (for each day overstayed) of 0.1% of the Unidad Impositiva Tributaria (UIT). The UIT for 2020 is S/ 4,300, according to the official SUNAT website.
So the daily overstay fine in Peru for 2020 is S/ 4.30, which is about US$1.25 for each day you’ve overstayed. That’s pretty lenient. For example, if you overstay for a week, you’ll pay about S/ 30 ($8.50), for a month about S/ 129 ($37) and so on.
Where to Pay the Overstay Fine
You can pay the fine at Lima Airport before you fly out of Peru. A border official will direct you to the appropriate booth to pay the fine. Once you’ve paid in soles or dollars, you’re free to go. It’s a good idea to get to the airport a little earlier than normal if you have to pay a fine.
Alternatively, you can pay at the main immigration office in Lima in advance (you might also be able to pay at other immigrations offices in Peru). You’ll need to take your passport (and maybe a photocopy or two of the main passport page, just in case) and a copy of your flight out of Peru or any other proof of onward travel. I’m not too sure how far in advance you can do this, but it’s probably best to go a day or two before you leave the country.
If you’re leaving Peru overland, through one of the large border crossing points, the process is similar. You’ll pay the border official as you leave.
It’s best to avoid the smaller border crossings out of Peru if you’ve overstayed as they might not be set up for paying the fine onsite. You might then find yourself having to go to a local Banco de la Nación to pay the fine, which could cause problems if you have a bus waiting for you (not only will you have to get to the bank, but banks in Peru often have depressingly long queues). If you have to pay at the Banco de la Nación, you might need photocopies of your passport. Once you’ve paid you’ll be given a receipt. Don’t lose it as you’ll need to give it to the border official.
What If You Can’t Pay the Peru Overstay Fine?
If you don’t have enough money to pay the overstay fine, you could officially be held in custody until someone pays it for you.
I’ve never actually heard of that happening. The last person I met who had overstayed in Peru – and he’d overstayed by at least two years – crossed over at one of the smaller border crossings between Peru and Ecuador. He had nowhere near enough money to pay. In the end, the border officials just let him leave the country without paying, presumably because that was the easiest option for them.
But I certainly don’t recommend trying that tactic. If you haven’t got enough money to pay the fine, the best option is to find a family member or friend to lend you the money. You really don’t want to be spending any time in custody in Peru.