Inside Lima Airport. Photo by Tony Dunnell.
Peruvian customs regulations make it reasonably clear what you can and can’t bring in to Peru.
The Superintendencia Nacional de Administración Tributaria, more commonly known as SUNAT, deals with all the fiddly tax stuff in Peru, including at customs. The information below is taken from its official regulations and is mostly straightforward.
If you have any further questions, feel free to ask in the comments section below.
What You Can Bring into Peru
The Basics (clothing, toiletries etc):
- Your own clothing and accessories for personal use
- Toiletries for personal use
- Medicines for personal use
- Any necessary medical aid or equipment for disabled travelers (e.g. wheelchair or crutches)
- Books, magazines and printed documents
- Your suitcases, bags and other containers holding your belongings
Electronics and Accessories:
- Two portable electric appliances for your hair (e.g. a hair dryer or hair straighteners)
- One electric shaver
- One radio, or one CD player, or one stereo system (portable and not be for professional use)
- Up to 20 CDs
- One portable DVD player
- One videogame console
- Two external hard drives
- Four memory cards for a digital camera, camcorder and/or videogame console
- Two USB memory sticks
- 10 DVD or videogame discs
- One handheld electronic calendar/organizer
- One laptop with power source (read more about bringing a laptop to Peru)
- Two cell phones
- One portable electronic calculator
Cameras and Film:
- Two photo cameras
- One camcorder, not for professional use
- Up to 10 rolls of photographic film
- Up to 10 videocassettes for a portable camcorder
Sports Gear and Musical Equipment:
- One unit or set of sporting goods for personal use (I believe this includes everything from surfboards to golf clubs to hang gliders and fishing equipment; see article 20 of Supreme Decree 182-2013-EF, Spanish only)
- One portable musical instrument
Cigarettes and Alcohol:
- Up to 20 packs of cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250 grams of rolling tobacco
- Up to three liters of liquor (with the exception of non-Peruvian pisco, see below)
- You can bring one pet into Peru, as long as it (and you) have all the appropriate papers etc.
- If you are carrying cash (in any currency) that exceeds US$10,000, you must declare it. It’s also “absolutely prohibited to enter or exit the country with amounts in excess of US$30,000 or its equivalent in another currency.”
- You can bring in other items for personal consumption or to be given as gifts up to a combined value not exceeding US$500. These items must not be used for commercial purposes.
A Note About Peruvian Customs Tax
Anything not covered by the customs regulations above should officially be declared (I’ll leave you to debate the ethics of not declaring that extra camera and second wind instrument…).
You’ll then have to pay a customs tax, which is a fee of 12% on customs value. How a customs official determines the value of an item — unless you have proof of its cost — is a mystery to me. Maybe they just Google it while you’re not looking? If you have a receipt, bring it with you to present if the customs valuation is too high.
If you go all Han Solo and don’t declare something, you risk paying a 50% penalty on the customs value of the item — on top of the standard tax — if caught.
Items Restricted by Peruvian Customs Regulations
Items restricted by Peruvian customs require the appropriate permission(s) to bring into Peru. Without permission, they’ll be confiscated and you’ll probably be fined. These items include, but are not limited to:
- Weapons and ammunition
- Cultural items (the kind of things Indiana Jones was always stealing from developing countries)
- Plants and plant products
- Agricultural pesticides
- Veterinary products
- Food for animals (I don’t know if this officially includes dog chews etc., but I always bring my dog a few treats from the U.K. when I fly back to Peru, and no problems so far)
Items Prohibited by Peruvian Customs Regulations
Three seemingly random things are completely prohibited by Peruvian customs. For the sake of all that is good, free and noble in Peru, you must not enter the country with any of these foul tools of Satan:
- Used clothing and footwear not considered part of your baggage
- Used spare parts
- Any beverages manufactured abroad that bear the name “Pisco”
Phew, that’s some dangerous stuff. If you’re caught bringing in used clothing, spare parts or non-Peruvian pisco (we’re watching you, Chile…), then the items will be seized and you’ll be banished to the Phantom Zone with General Zod.
The Peruvian Customs Regulations Form
When you enter Peru, you’ll be handed a Peruvian customs form to fill out if necessary. The current form is in two sections: Green and Red. The first (Green) is for people who have nothing to declare, in which case you simply exit through the green circuit gate.
The other (Red) section is for travelers who do have something to declare. In this case, you’ll have to fill out some details on the customs form and proceed to the red circuit. If you need help, you can ask at the customs desk.