Find A Job
The economy of this South American country has been continuing to grow in recent years, with a steadily increasing GDP, resulting in some exciting opportunities for more adventurous expats seeking employment abroad. If you already work for a company which has offices in Peru, you have the option of exploring secondment, but if not, you may wish to look at some of the international companies currently contributing to Peru’s development.
The capital of Lima is becoming a financial hub, with a number of large international banks having set up shop here, but there are a wide range of sectors, including education, mining, tourism and ecotourism (since Peru has a diverse habitat, including rainforests), manufacturing and petroleum.
The Peruvian authorities encourage local companies to take on Peruvian staff in preference to foreign personnel, so you may find that your options are more restricted to overseas employers. The bureaucratic process of applying for a work visa can be lengthy and rather complex, but your employer should also act as your sponsor and their legal department should assist you with the minutiae of the process.
You will need a work permit in order to work legally in the country. You will be able to enter the country without a visa for up to 3 months if you are from the EU or the USA, plus Australia and New Zealand. Otherwise, if you are not from South America itself or one of the above states, you will need a visa, but check with your local Peruvian consulate to see if Peru has reciprocal visa arrangements with your home nation.
Many expats come into Peru on a tourist or business visa and use their 3 months’ leeway to find a job. If this is the route that you select, and if you are successful in finding employment, you will then need to contact the Peruvian general directorate of immigration and naturalization (Dirección General de Migraciones y naturalización del Perú) in Lima and apply for a “permiso para firmar contratos” (permission to sign contracts) and then a work visa. You will not be able to sign an employment contract without this special permission, but the process has recently been digitized and you can do it online. Once you have signed the actual contact, you must then send it to the Ministry of Labor for approval.
You will then need to submit the following documentation to apply for a work visa:
• a F-004 application form
• your passport
• your work contract (approved as above)
• a processing receipt from the Banco de la Nacion
• a receipt from the Banco de la Nacion for processing your resident visa
• Peruvian tax authority (SUNAT) registration including RUC (the tax number) demonstrating that your employer is active
• company registration and name of their legal representative
• police clearance (Ficha de canje internacional) – this usually has to be within the last 3 months and you may need to get this directly from Interpol
• confirmation of your appointment with the Migraciones (you will have to go to their office in person and may need more than one appointment)
You will also need to pay a fee.
Your permit is likely to be valid for up to 3 years, but you may be able to extend it. Note that, due to local employment legislation, you will not be able to work for a Peruvian company that already has a set quota of overseas personnel.
English language teaching is still a very popular way of finding employment in the region and if you have a TEFL certificate and preferably a university degree, you should not find it too difficult to locate employment in a private language school or college.
It is advisable to speak basic Spanish, especially if you are considering working in tourism or hospitality.
Peru has a long working week of 48 hours and overtime is not capped (it is usually paid at 1.25% x your usual rate of pay). Most companies have an 8 hour day and you may find yourself having to work 6 days a week. Opening hours vary (shops open from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. but other businesses tend to work 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
Peru has recently substantially overhauled its employment legislation, conferring more rights on employees.
There are 10 public holidays per year. You will have 30 days of annual leave each year but can request that this be split into different periods.
Maternity leave used to be very restricted but you can now take a 98 day paid maternity leave. Fathers can apply for paternity leave, too.
Your spouse can work but will have to apply separately for a work visa. Note that you need to be legally married for your partner to count as a dependent in this country.
You can make speculative approaches to companies, although note that there may be obstacles with finding employment with a local company rather than an international provider.
There are a number of jobs boards online and you may also like to consult the vacancy pages of the local press if you are already on the ground in Peru. Recruitment agencies are also an option.
Applying For A Job
A one page standard CV/resume is acceptable but it is recommended that you have this translated into Spanish.
The Peruvian constitution states that no person shall be discriminated against on the basis of origin, race, sex, language, opinion, economic status, or any other distinguishing feature. Be aware of your legal rights before you go into an interview.
Qualifications And Training
Your qualifications should be apostilled or legalized in your home country by the Peruvian consulate and then by the Peruvian Foreign Ministry.
Apply For A Visa/Permit
Peru is an exciting and popular destination both for tourists and potential expats. The Peruvian economy has been continuing to grow in recent years, resulting in some exciting opportunities for those seeking employment abroad. Whether or not you will need a visa to visit Peru depends on why you are travelling there, how long you plan to stay, and your nationality. You can read about your options below.
If you are British and entering Peru as a tourist, you will not initially need a visa, and you will be able to stay there for at least 90 days. If you are coming into the country overland from elsewhere, make sure that immigration puts the correct stamp in your passport. Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of six months from the date you enter Peru.
The Peruvian immigration authorities list countries that do not need a visa for tourist purposes. Included in this list are members of the European Union (EU), the United States of America (USA) and Australia.
The maximum stay in Peru on a tourist visa is 183 days (per year).
You are likely not to need a tourist visa if you are entering Peru for a short-stay as a tourist. The country does, however, have a long list of visa types, including visas for journalism, for religious purposes and so forth, as well as the more standard long-term stay visas. We will look at work permits under a separate heading below, but some long-term stay options include:
Rentista visa: Peru’s retirement visa. To qualify for this, you must prove that you have a permanent monthly income of $1,000 (plus $500 for each dependent). This visa is indefinite and does not need to be renewed annually.
Permanent resident visa: This provides indefinite residence in the country. Once approved, this visa must be renewed every five years. It is also possible to apply for citizenship and a second passport at this point. You can apply for permanent residence once you have been resident in the country for over three years.
Each visa application costs PEN 107.50 (US$32) to process. You must pay this to the Banco de la Nación (National Bank). Regardless of the type of visa you are applying for, you will need to provide:
• A receipt from the Banco de la Nación, showing proof of your processing fee payment
• A legible copy of your current passport or another travel document
The visa application process can take up to 30 days.
The Peruvian authorities encourage local companies to take on Peruvian staff in preference to foreign personnel, so you may find more opportunities for work with overseas employers. The bureaucratic process of applying for a work visa can be lengthy and rather complex, but your employer should also act as your sponsor and their legal department should assist you with the minutiae of the process.
You will need a work permit in order to work legally in the country. You will be able to enter Peru without a visa for up to three months if you are from the EU, the USA, Australia or New Zealand. Otherwise, unless you are from South America itself, you may need a visa. Check with your local Peruvian consulate to see whether Peru has reciprocal visa arrangements with your home nation.
Many expats come into Peru on a tourist or business visa and use their three months’ leeway to find a job. If you decide to do this and are successful in finding employment, you will then need to contact the Peruvian General Directorate of Immigration and Naturalisation (Dirección General de Migraciones y Naturalización del Perú) in Lima and apply for a permission to sign contracts (permiso para firmar contratos) and then a work visa. You will not be able to sign an employment contract without this special permission, but the process has recently been digitised, so you can do it online. Once you have signed the actual contact, you must then send it to the Ministry of Labour for approval.
Once you have done this, you will need to submit the following documentation to apply for a work visa:
• An F-004 application form
• Your passport
• Your work contract (approved as above)
• A processing receipt from the Banco de la Nacion
• A receipt from the Banco de la Nacion for processing your resident visa
• Peruvian tax authority (SUNAT) registration, including RUC (the tax number) demonstrating that your employer is active
• Company registration and the name of their legal representative
• Police clearance (Ficha de canje internacional) – this usually has to be dated within the last three months and you may need to get it directly from Interpol
• Confirmation of your appointment with the Migraciones – you will have to go to their office in person and may need more than one appointment
You will need to pay a fee.
Your permit is likely to be valid for up to three years, but you may be able to extend it. Note that, due to local employment legislation, you will not be able to work for a Peruvian company that already has a set quota of overseas personnel.
You can also apply for a business visa by submitting the following:
• Application form
• Valid passport
• Round trip ticket
• Letter from the company sponsoring the business trip, indicating the purpose of the visit to Peru, the length of the stay, and assurance that you will be travelling with sufficient funds to last the duration of the trip
• Proof of legal residency in the country from which you are applying
• Passport photos
• Application fee
Get Health Insurance
Many expats take out private medical insurance, even if this is not a requirement of residence, because healthcare is expensive in their destination country or because certain treatments and procedures are not available.
When taking out health insurance, be sure to check factors such as the annual and lifetime policy limits, whether there are any exclusions which are likely to affect you, whether you are limited to treatment from specific types of healthcare providers, and whether the policy covers emergency evacuation for medical treatment.
Too frequently, potential buyers of health insurance look only for the lowest cost of premiums before really considering the specific benefits and areas of cover they may actually need. Some plans are cheaper for a reason. Often they include large voluntary deductibles on any claim you might make in the future and may severely cap the benefits received under the plan. Clients should define their needs first, establish the particular area of cover they need, then determine their annual healthcare insurance budget. Only then should they look to premium comparisons, last of all.
Do not buy a plan without studying the policy wording carefully. If in doubt, ask, and only when completely satisfied complete all application forms fully, to the best of your ability.
Important questions to ask the insurance provider:
1. Does the plan allow for cooling off periods, cancellation and then repayment of premium in full?
2. Does the plan offer “Moratorium” or is it “Full underwriting” and do you need to have a medical examination before joining?
3. Does the insurer offer a 24 hour help line, 7 days a week, available from anywhere in the world (freephone)? Most insurers now offer this facility.
4. Are pre-existing conditions excluded when joining and if so, for how long are such conditions excluded?
5. Are all and any nationalities accepted or are there restrictions which apply to local nationals? Some insurers will only take expatriates abroad and not local nationals into an overseas plan.
6. Does the plan allow you to continue cover unbroken through your lifetime? In most cases insurers will continue to offer existing clients cover year on year, irrespective of age or claims history, although premium rates charged can increase dramatically with age.
7. Does the insurer allow for any doctor or consultant or hospital within the plan? Are there any restrictions in this respect? Most international plans do not place restrictions on either hospitals or doctors, but almost all demand that their help lines are called first, prior to approval of any inpatient care.
8. Does the insurer provide for the direct settlement of bills presented by hospitals worldwide, regardless of location (or do you have to pay first)?
9. What are the insurers procedures for outpatient claims? Do these require any pre-authorization or if stated in the plan can you just pay and claim? How long before you get money back from the insurer? 14 days? 28 days?.
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Rent Or Buy Property
The majority of apartments that are available to rent in Peru are unfurnished, which typically means that they also come without kitchen appliances. The advertised monthly rental cost may not always include utilities, such as electricity, hot water and the internet. Furnished apartment options tend to be a lot more expensive. That being said, bargaining is commonplace throughout Peru, and it may be possible to negotiate your rental price with your landlord. You can also agree on a deposit that both of you are both happy with. The exact deposit will vary, but generally speaking, you can expect to pay the equivalent of up to two months’ rent. You will also usually have to pay one month of rent in advance.
There are two types of tenancy contracts in Peru: time-limited and indefinite. A time-limited contract most typically runs up to a maximum of 10 years, or, in some specific circumstances, up to six years. An indefinite contract has no maximum period. When you wish to terminate a rental contract, you will need to give the specified amount of notice, which you and your landlord should have agreed upon at the beginning of the contract.
Finding a property to rent can be quite challenging, as there is a shortage in suitable rental accommodation in Peru. This is why many expats choose to save themselves time and stress by using a real estate agent. You can also find rental advertisements in local publications and newspapers, but a basic level of Spanish will be required in order to understand them.
You can also search for a rental online. Some popular websites include:
According to data website Numbeo, the average monthly cost of a one-bedroom city centre apartment in Peru is roughly S/.1,460.67 in the local currency of Nuevo Sol (equivalent to £347.70 or $429.92). An apartment of the same size in a more suburban area would cost you around S/.905.86 (£215.63 or $266.63). For a three-bedroom city centre apartment, you could expect a typical monthly rental cost of around S/.2,817.62 (£670.70 or $829.32), while its suburban counterpart would cost approximately S/.1,841.66 (£438.39 or $542.06).
There are very few restrictions imposed upon foreigners in the real estate market. Both residents and non-residents alike are able to purchase property in Peru. Investment in Peruvian real estate generally does not require any government approval, with the exception of properties in close proximity to either Peru’s borders or any government installations or military bases.
Unless you speak Spanish to a good level, it is highly recommended that you use a credible real estate agent throughout the buying process. An agent will be able to guide you through all of the local nuances and laws, and they can help to make the process run as smoothly as possible. It is also worth paying for an independent surveyor to look over the property for any structural issues.
In general, the entire process is very similar to that in many other countries. Once you find a property that you like, you view it, get it looked over by your surveyor, get your agent to conduct all the necessary background checks, and then you place an offer.
To ensure that the title is clean, a Property Registry Certificate must be obtained from the property registry. This will confirm the property’s existence and ascertain all the necessary background information and details, such as if it is free of mortgage, debt, liens, or any other issues. The registration fee is levied at 0.81% of the property value.
Transfer of the property title must be done via public deed. The notary will prepare the SPA (Sale Purchase Agreement) or minuta for registration and to be converted to a public deed. Notaries are legally obliged to report the transfer they register to the tax authorities. All deeds must be handwritten and kept in the notary’s registry. Notary fees are levied at 0.1% to 0.25% of the property value, and transfer tax is generally levied at 3%.
There are general restrictions on property (and land) purchases. It is therefore a good idea to speak to a legal adviser. One particular term that should set alarm bells ringing is “covenant”, as this signifies various restrictions on the land or property that dictate how you can and cannot use it.
There are no restrictions on foreigners buying property in Peru, but obtaining a mortgage may be difficult. You will not be able to obtain a mortgage without having a Peruvian bank account, and you will not be able to open a Peruvian bank account unless you have a DNI (a national ID card only given to Citizens) or a Carnet de Extrangeria (essentially a residence visa). In addition to these prerequisites, you will need a permiso para firmar contratos stamp in your passport. You will need to get this stamp from the Migraciones Office in Lima, and it is only valid for a period of up to 30 days, after which you will need to extend or renew it at the Immigration Office again. You will also find that the interest rates may be a lot higher than those in the United States.
Move Your Belongings
Consider if you want (or are able) to transport your belongings yourself or whether you will need the services of a removals company that deals with international moves. Unless you are travelling very light, or making a fairly short move by road, you will probably need professional help to ship your possessions. Ask for quotes from several companies first, ensuring that they visit your home to carry out a survey of your requirements. It may be worth paying extra for the removals firm to pack your possessions for you, particularly if they are going to be transported to a distant country and need special protection for the long journey. Make sure you bring to their attention anything fragile or precious that needs particularly careful wrapping and packing.
Before agreeing to a quotation, ensure that you are fully aware of exactly what is covered in the price, and that the service to be provided meets all of your requirements. For example, does the service include both packing and unpacking of your household effects? What about disassembling and reassembling of furniture? If you are planning to put anything into storage in your destination country while you find accommodation, does the price include final delivery and unpacking at your home, or will you need to arrange collection of the items? Obtain a firm estimate of the likely arrival date of your items and obtain contact details for any agents that will be dealing with the removal in your destination country. Ensure that the removals company is aware in advance of any practical considerations such as the lack of an elevator to your apartment, or likely parking problems.
If using a removals company, you may be required to take out their insurance cover for your possessions. Whether or not this is the case, ensure that you have adequate insurance for anything of actual or sentimental value that could get lost or damaged during the move. Take the time to accurately complete or check an inventory of your possessions to be moved, as this will form the basis for any insurance claim for losses or damages. Find out if insurance is included in the price quoted by the removals company, or whether you are required to pay extra for this.
The removals company should arrange any customs and importation documents on your behalf, but if you are arranging the move independently you will need to find out what documents are required and what import duties and taxes are payable (and whether you are eligible for exemption from these).
Make sure that you set aside the important documents you will need for the journey, such as passports and air tickets, and keep these easily accessible in your hand luggage.
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Register For Healthcare
QUICK LINK: Peru health insurance
The ministry of health in Peru has a national health service, EsSalud, which allows residents to access health care services for free. The service will only treat national citizens who are registered. Employers contribute to a health care insurance fund, whilst those without work can access services without paying contributions.
The waiting times for treatment can be long, and some of the facilities are fairly basic. Quality all depends on the location within this vast and sometimes physically challenging country.
Private healthcare is faster and of a generally better quality than that available within the public sector. Many expats will not be eligible to access state services and must use the private medical industry. Charges for medical and dental treatment are low compared to the UK and US. However, outside of Lima and Cusco, it will become increasingly hard to access complex medical treatment the further away you go.
Private health insurance is a good investment for anyone moving to Peru for work or adventure. If you have a serious accident or need an operation, the number of procedures you need over a length of time means all charges will mount up into a large bill. Hospitals usually require a cash deposit on arrival and full payment before departure. Insurance takes the worry away, as it limits how much you will be expected to pay at a time when you will be too sick to actively earn an income. Make sure you choose an insurance provider who will pay for your treatment in Peru and has confirmed this in writing.
A lot of hospitals and clinics employ doctors who speak English. If they don’t, a translator can usually be found.
If you see a doctor as an outpatient, you will often be given a prescription to take to a pharmacist, or asked to take samples to the nearest laboratory for testing.
The natural environment in Peru can be harmful to health, both in terms of the native animals and disease carrying insects, and the ever present threat from criminals. In cities and the wild, you should never travel alone. Be wary of who and what is around you, and avoid remote areas unless accompanied by knowledgeable and trustworthy local people.
A number of poisonous snakes and spiders can give bites that cause serious injury and even death. Sometimes people are not aware they have been bitten before their limbs swell or they suffer other symptoms. In the national park, jaguars and pumas will attack if threatened. The blood-sucking sandfly and mosquitos are carriers of a whole myriad of diseases.
Peru has wild and remote areas covering significant amounts of the terrain, including the mountain peaks of the Andes and the dense tropical rainforest in the Amazon basin. If you are in a remote area, there will be few medical facilities available, and any services that are available will be basic. Your phone and internet signals may be intermittent or absent. You cannot expect helicopters and rescue teams to appear promptly, or even at all in some locations. Hiking and climbing accidents occur frequently, and it can take many hours to be reached if you need to be rescued, even once the alarm has been raised. Make sure you leave written detailed instructions about your travelling plans with friends and relatives who can be relied upon to take action if you do not return.
If you are visiting the Andes, you may be affected by altitude sickness. Even healthy people can be affected, but if you have an existing medical condition, make sure you know the risks and symptoms. The consequences of altitude sickness can become serious within a short amount of time. Many people like to acclimatize near the coast for a week before venturing to the high altitudes of the Andes.
The powerful hallucinogen ayahuasca is offered on some tours in Peru. You may find articles praising the drug for its spiritual and medical benefits whilst ignoring its many risks. The drug is not regulated, and some tourists who have taken it have suffered physical side effects, psychological harm, robbery and sexual assault.
When travelling to Peru, comply with all local laws and customs. The police services and prisons do not meet the guidelines expected in the US and UK. Ask for the police or prison officials to notify your country’s embassy if you are arrested or detained.
Some of the laws and customs you should be aware of include:
• Carry a copy of your passport at all times (keep the original in a safe)
• LGBTQIA+ activity is legal, but society in Peru is generally conservative, so take care if you are an LGBTQIA+-identifying person
• Sexual activity with anyone under the age of 14 is strictly prohibited
• Don’t use or smuggle drugs
• Don’t be fooled into carrying items or bags which contain hidden drugs
• Don’t take cocoa leaves or cocoa tea out of the country
• Do not take any photographs of a military or security nature
• Official permission must be obtained before exporting historic artefacts
• Do not buy souvenirs of animal parts
• Do not buy condor wings, which are sold illegally
If you have a disability, Peru may be a challenging place to live. Under the law in Peru, no one is allowed to discriminate against people with physical or mental disabilities, and public spaces should be accessible to wheelchair users. In reality, there has not been much expenditure in either physical adaptation to the environment nor in training to change the attitudes of local people towards those with disabilities. Many public buildings and areas are still inaccessible to wheelchair users; private buildings, pavements and public transport even more so.
A number of life-threatening and serious diseases can be contracted in Peru. For the benefit of your health, as well as to avoid significant financial consequences for yourself and your family, you should always receive your vaccinations at least two months in advance of arriving in the country. The following vaccinations are recommended or necessary:
• Yellow fever
• Hepatitis A
Cholera is also prevalent in Peru, especially in large towns and cities.
Whilst malaria is not contracted within the coastal and Andean regions, it is a very real risk everywhere else in Peru. In addition to correctly taking the course of anti-malarial tablets, you should sleep under a close-meshed mosquito net and cover yourself in insect repellant as soon as dusk appears.
Zika can also be transmitted by mosquitos, or by exposure to the bodily fluids of a zika sufferer. The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the zika virus as a global public health emergency in 2016. A number of South American countries, including Peru, identified zika sufferers for the first time.
Occasionally there are small outbreaks of bubonic and pneumonic plague in Peru. The fleas on rats bite humans, and if the illness is not quickly treated with antibiotics then it can mutate in the victim’s lungs. At that point the disease becomes airborne. The government moves in quickly to implement measures that will halt the spread of the disease as soon as an outbreak is identified.
If you need access to medicines, you will find them on sale cheaply in local pharmacies. These are known as farmacias or boticas. Even drugs such as antibiotics can be purchased without any restrictions, and you may find simple conditions can be treated by the pharmacist without recourse to a doctor. However, check the expiration dates carefully and bear in mind regulation standards of medicines will not reflect the stringent rules of the US and UK.
You will be at risk of developing diarrhea when in Peru. Clean water is not available except for bottled water, and in some areas refrigerators are rare. Expensive hotels will make great efforts to keep their guests safe and well, but food hygiene standards will not be as high elsewhere. Avoid uncooked foods including salads and fruit; even fruit juice drinks and ice cubes will probably contain unclean water. If you do suffer an upset stomach, the pharmacist will have a stock of electrolytic drinks to prevent dehydration. Should the condition not clear up within a week, the pharmacist will provide antibiotics.
The sun can cause damage to your eyes and skin no matter where you are, and the risk is increased in Peru because it is near to the equator. Don’t be fooled by the cold air and fog. Always wear high factor sun cream and good quality sunglasses. A wide brimmed hat also protects your head and eyes. Keep a bottle of clean water with you at all times.
Water services can be erratic in Peru, especially if you are staying somewhere cheap and basic. Shower water is sometimes heated by solar energy, which may limit the warmth and availability of hot showers. Meanwhile electric showers may have visible wires, so avoid fiddling about with the area around the shower head.
Along with the lack of clean drinking water, Peru suffers from poor sanitation facilities. Toilets may be primitive and dirty, although modern hotels and restaurants serving Western tourists will ensure their facilities meet customer expectations. Toilet paper in Peru is rougher and thinner than that available in the US and UK, and you may be charged for it when visiting restrooms. You may wish to carry a small pack of tissues around with you. You must not put toilet paper or wipes down the toilet bowl because it will block the pipes. You won’t find warning signs about this, especially in English, but you are expected to know the routine. A basket or bucket will normally be placed next to the toilet to collect paper. Have some change ready for restroom attendants, who earn little.
Sanitary protection is a fast growing business in Peru, but almost a fifth of the female population still does not use it. Often this is an issue of the sanitary towels not being available locally. Tampons are rarely available in any region of Peru, except in Lima.
The drinking water in Peru is only safe to drink once you have boiled it for between one and three minutes. Alternatively, use a specialist water filter. Most people just use bottled water, but only purchase this from reliable retailers. Check the bottles are sealed. Some vendors, especially along the roadside, fill empty plastic bottles with local water, which may give you diarrhea, typhoid or cholera. Similarly, avoid juice drinks and ice from these vendors.
Open A Bank Account
The currency in Peru is the Peruvian Nuevo Sol, which is divided into one hundred cents. You will see the 5 sol and 80 cents written as S/. 5.80.
Notes are issued in 10, 20 50, 100 and 200 sols, whilst coins are available as 1, 2 and 5 sols, and 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents.
The 1 and 5 cent coins are worth so little that many retailers will be irritated if you use them. Similarly, you may find it difficult to pay with large notes, such as the 100 sols note, for small purchases.
There is a big problem with counterfeit money in Peru. Design software, bonded paper, watermarks, intricate typography, security strips and several different types of ink are used by criminals to create millions of fake notes, including US $100 dollar notes. Some are for the domestic market, but most is sent abroad. The problem is so bad that the US security services set up long-term operations in Lima in 2013. There are plenty of remote locations available for counterfeit gangs to keep their noisy machinery running all night. Master counterfeiter Joel Quispe is even alleged to run his counterfeit operations from a prison cell, with the help of his family on the outside. Many shops and pharmacies keep hole punchers by the till, which they use to punch holes in counterfeit notes.
Tourists and newly-arrived expats will have problems identifying counterfeit money because they won’t be familiar with the look and feel of the currency. If in doubt, reject a coin or note and ask for another one, even if you are in the bank. If you are given a forged or damaged note or coin, it will be rejected when you later try to spend it.
ATM machines are widely available in cities and big towns, especially at bank branches and in modern shopping centres. The Cirrus and Maestro signs mean that your card will be accepted, although you may be charged to use the card, especially if the ATM belongs to a different bank. The card fee should be clearly displayed on the screen before the transaction is confirmed and finalized. Check that the machine does not have any alien devices on it which allow criminals to clone your card. You will be asked to enter your PIN code; make sure no one can see you do this.
Carrying large amounts of cash is a bad idea because of the high risk of petty theft. Some bus routes are targeted by armed gangs, but most people who have their wallets and bags stolen will be the victims of distraction techniques. A stranger drops coins all over the floor near you and you join the group helping to pick them up, or a group of people helpfully try to clear mud off your clothes, and the next thing you realise your wallet or bag has gone. Even if people nearby have seen exactly what happened, they may not shout out or alert you. If your credit card is stolen, try to get it cancelled before it is used.
If you need to carry large amounts of cash, keep a little in a purse or wallet and the rest in a concealed holder under your shirt. Keep your wallet in your front pocket, as back pockets are much easier to steal from.
If you pay by credit card, you may be asked if you are paying by Mastercard or Visa, as some businesses have different machines for the different types of card. Never let your card out of your sight; the machine should be brought to you, or you can walk across to the machine. You will then be required to enter your PIN. If you are visiting from the US and don’t have a PIN, you will be asked to provide a signature and show the staff your passport. Make sure you keep the receipt and check it on your statement.
If you are going to live in Peru for any length of time and earn an income there, you will need to open a local bank account. The financial, insurance and pensions sector is well-developed, and now accounts for 3.8 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Bank branches are available in all cities and most towns. However, if you are living in a remote area, you may find your nearest bank is quite a distance away. If you bank with an international organization, they may agree to set up an account for you in Peru before you leave home.
If there are a number of bank branches available in your new area, compare the terms and conditions associated with the bank account. Many ask for a minimum balance to be maintained at all times; a fee could be applied if you fail to do this. Charges for services are normal and the rates vary, so some bank accounts will work cheaper for you than others. Government taxes are also applied to bank charges.
You will need to prove your identification and right to live in the country when opening the bank account. Citizens will use their DNI, and expats will be asked for their carné de extrajería, or foreign resident card. Passports do not confirm your legal right to stay in the country beyond the initial visitor’s stamp from when you entered Peru.
You will also be asked to provide an original copy of a recent utility bill, as proof of your address. The bank will want to know how much your income is and where it comes from, as a way to identify potential money launderers and to ensure you are a reasonable credit risk for the bank. Providing your contract of employment or pension statements will normally be adequate for this.
Whilst you will find English speaking bank staff in many city bank branches, any application forms and contracts that you sign will be in Spanish. Make sure you have a friend to translate, or have had a detailed discussion with the bank personnel. You cannot later claim not to have understood a contract you signed.
Paying bills by direct debit is normal, but each transaction will have a charge attached if this was set out in the contract you signed when opening the bank account.
If you wish to put some money in a Peruvian savings account, the same identity, residence and income tests as you took for your current account should be carried out, unless you have an existing account with the bank you are applying to. The interest rate on your savings will be set out in writing, although if this is a variable rate account then the amount you receive will vary. If the account has a fixed rate of interest, you may be also required to keep the funds in the account for a set time limit. If funds are withdrawn early, the amount of interest paid will be significantly reduced. The amount of notice you must give to withdraw funds will depend on the terms and conditions of the individual account, as set out in the contract.
It is possible to obtain loans and overdrafts from banks in Peru. However, these are generally given to people with good financial track records, and if you have only just arrived in the country, you won’t have one yet! Once you are well-established, your request will be considered carefully. Interest rates will be advertised, but they are generally applied on an individual basis, assessed against the applicant’s circumstances and level of risk.
If you violate the terms and conditions of your account, or go into an unauthorized bank overdraft, the bank has the right to impose charges in accordance with the contract you signed and to freeze or close your account.
Increasingly, online bank services allow you to maintain your bank account from home. There will be a number of security measures to keep the account safe. However, a good starting point is to never believe anyone who rings claiming to be from your bank. Tell the person ringing that you will call them back, then ring your bank from a different phone. Ring a number advertised on your bank card. If it was a genuine call, the bank will have your details on screen. If the call had been from scammers, you will have protected your money from theft.
The Peruvian tax year is in line with the calendar year. If you become resident in Peru and spend more than 183 days of a calendar year in the country, you will be due a tax bill the following year. You have three months beyond the end of the year to submit your tax return, or you will be fined. Married couples may submit a joint return.
If you are self-employed in Peru, or you do not have the tax deducted from source on all your income, you will have to complete annual tax returns. If your only source of income is the wage from your employer, it is likely that they will deduct the tax and pay it over on your behalf. Check your wage slips carefully each time you are paid.
Residents and non-residents are charged different amounts for earnings and capital gains tax, with much higher costs for non-residents. There are no inheritance taxes to pay. If you are in any doubt as to your tax position, the services of a reputable tax advisor will become a good investment.
There are many ways of sending money from one country to another. As always, expats can save themselves a lot of trouble and expense if they do a little research and shop around for the best deal.
International Bank Transfers
For most expats, currency transfer involves transferring small to medium sized amounts regularly from an existing bank account back home into a new overseas bank account in the local currency. These may be pension payments, benefits, or any other form of income.
Your home bank will usually be glad to oblige. You can set up facilities with them “on demand” whereby you fax or call them on the phone, provide a secret code or two, tell them the amount in question, and they will transfer it to your new bank, automatically converting it into the relevant local currency. Some banks also allow you to make international payments online. Whatever method you choose, transfers normally take between 3-7 days although 1-2 day transfers are often available but be prepared to pay more for these.
You can also set up regular transactions that are processed automatically on a fixed day of each month. Many state pensions and benefits can be paid directly into your new bank abroad without going through your home bank at all. Some private pension organisations may also offer the same facility.
When you first set up a transfer of funds abroad, the sending bank or institution will ask you for various codes that identify the destination bank. Often they will ask for IBAN (International Bank Account Number), BIC (Bank Identifier Code) or SWIFT codes but don?t panic – your new bank will give these to you and they may even already be listed in your new chequebook or bank statements.
As far as charges are concerned, you will probably be required to pay a flat fee per transaction. Additionally a percentage fee is often charged for the currency conversion itself. You may also find that your receiving bank charges you for receiving the transfer. Charges vary by bank but can quickly add up – ask your bank(s) for an indication of the fees involved.
As a general rule, transferring larger sums less frequently usually works out cheaper than transferring smaller amounts more often. However, if you need to transfer regular amounts of at least a few hundred pounds/dollars or need to make a larger one-off payment (e.g. for a house purchase) you should consider the services of a currency broker.
Cash Machine/ATM Withdrawals
Thanks to modern technology, most people abroad can go to a cash machine/ATM and withdraw local currency funds directly from their home bank account. This is a useful option to have for expats but exercise caution – many banks make hefty charges for using this type of facility. You may also find that withdrawal limits are in place (as a security measure) even if you significant funds in your account back home.
You can also use VISA or Mastercard credit cards to obtain cash in this fashion and if you pay the amount off quickly and avoid interest charges then fine – but once again credit card charges for cash withdrawals can be high. Check the rates carefully.
Currency brokers (also called foreign exchange brokers) offer significant advantages over traditional banks. Firstly, brokers will often be able to offer you a better rate than your bank. Secondly, the entire process is more transparent – many banks require you to accept the exchange rate available on the day they process your transaction, whatever and whenever that may be, but a specialist broker will offer greater flexibility, even allowing you to specify the rate you want in advance.
Currency brokers are smaller companies than major banks so always check their background carefully. Ask existing expats for their own experiences and recommendations before choosing a firm to handle your own foreign exchange requirements.
A good broker will discuss all the options with you and enable you to make the best decision for your circumstances. Using a broker will typically off the following advantages:
1) Currency brokers generally provide superior exchange rates to the high street banks. The currency brokers have access to the interbank rate and do not have the high costs that the banks have. This means that they can usually offer better exchange rates.
2) Use of a free Market Watch/Order Service: This allows you to tell your currency broker your target or budget exchange rate and they will ring you if that exchange rate level is reached. As the rate moves every few seconds, currency brokers can act as your eyes and ears on the market.
3) Ability to fix the exchange rate in advance using a Forward Contract. If you know you need to convert/move funds in the future but don?t yet have the money you can reserve a rate in advance using a Forward Contract. During this period, you are exposed to exchange rate movements and therefore, a forward contract is ideal if, for example, you have agreed to buy a house and want to fix the rate now but will not be making payment for a couple of months.
Savings from currency brokers can vary from between 1 and 4 per cent on the exchange rate alone, and specialists do not typically charge any fees for transmitting the funds abroad, unlike banks which often levy expensive fees or charges. If you are emigrating and transferring a large sum of money – such as the proceeds of a property – a foreign exchange company could potentially save you thousands.
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Learn The Language
If you are planning to live and work in Peru, you may be asking yourself how easy it will be for you to communicate in the workplace and on the street. Which languages are spoken in Peru, and can you get by in English? We will provide some answers below.
Over 80% of the Peruvian population speak Spanish and this is one of the official languages in the country. It is the most widely spoken, and used in media and in government communications, thus Spanish will be of most use to you as an expat relocating to Peru.
However, there are many indigenous languages in the country as well, including Quechua, the language of the old Incan empire which is still spoken by around 13% of the population, and Aymara, also spoken in Bolivia, which are co-official languages alongside Spanish, plus some Amazonian languages such as Asháninka and Aguaruna. People in the Amazon regions tend to be bilingual in their own tongues and in Spanish, whereas people in the cities tend to be monolingual in Spanish, but are a little more likely to have a few words of English, at least.
Peruvian Spanish is different to the version of the language that you will find in Spain, and in addition there are regional differences within Peru itself, for instance between the coast and the mountains. However, Peruvian Spanish is considered to be clearly spoken and relatively accentless, particularly in Cusco.
Although English is spoken in Peru, you will not find it widespread beyond large cities such as Lima and Cusco and tourist areas like Machu Picchu. If you are relocating to the country to work, it would be a good idea to learn Spanish, as you will find it helpful in commerce. According to the Education ‘First English Proficiency Index’, English proficiency in Peru is low, ranking a little higher than English proficiency in Ecuador and Colombia but lower than that in Argentina.
It is advised that you take a good phrasebook with you and do not rely on digital methods such as translation apps on your phone: more rural or mountainous areas of Peru may not have extensive wifi or mobile signal coverage. You can, however, get a head start in learning Spanish online: this is the fourth most widely spoken language in the world and you will find that there are a lot of digital resources available.
You may wish to take advantage of being located in Peru to learn Spanish. Lima, Cusco and Arequipa all have language schools. You will have plenty of choice, whether you are a complete beginner or an advanced speaker, and depending on whether you want to learn the language for social or business purposes. Some schools offer homestays. You can also sign up for one-to-one tuition.
If you are feeling adventurous, you can sign up for Spanish classes in more remote locations, such as the Amazonian rainforest, and combine your language learning with a cultural experience. Some organisations such as AMAUTA (a Spanish School in Cusco) combine Spanish tuition with volunteering, so you can engage in helping a community in addition to learning the language.
If you are an English language teacher, you may be considering teaching in the country. There is a demand for English, which is growing, and teaching is a popular form of work among expats. It is always easier to get work in international education if you have at least a certificate in either TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages).
It is also preferable if you have experience in teaching schemes such as the Cambridge English exams or IELTS (International English Language Testing System): the English test for study, migration or work. Some teaching experience in the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) will also be helpful. This assesses analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills in written English for use in admission to graduate management programs, such as the MBA.
You may find work more easily if you are experienced in teaching English for particular sectors, such as tourism and hospitality, or in summer schools. Peru is a major tourist destination in South America and there is a high demand for English for tourism among locals who want to work in that sector.
It will be helpful to have at least a Bachelor’s degree as most language schools prefer this, although it is not a formal requirement in Peru: basically, the rule of thumb is that the more qualifications you have, both in TEFL and in academic subjects, the easier you will find it to get work.
You will need to apply for a work visa. Salaries are in the region of US$500 – 750 per month but the cost of living is relatively low. However, it is fair to say that Peru is a place to teach more for the experience and the cultural exchange rather than with the aim of making a lot of money. Expat teachers report that Peru is an easy country in which to teach: the bureaucracy is relatively light and students are friendly. You are most likely to find work in private language schools; university jobs are rare. Most jobs are also likely to be in Lima, the capital of Peru, where there is most demand for English, including among the professional community.
Choose A School
The language of instruction in Peruvian schools is Spanish. However, local languages, such as Aymará or Quechua, may be the language of instruction in regional primary schools with Spanish offered as a second language.
The Peruvian Ministry of Education oversees educational policy, legislation and the curriculum. Local education authorities in the 25 regiones (states) administer ministry policies at primary and secondary level. A new higher education authority, the Superintendencia Nacional de Educación Superior Universitaria (SUNEDU, National Superintendency of University Higher Education) was established in 2015 to regulate quality control.
Education in Peru is divided into four stages:
• vocational and technical
The 12-year school system is divided into four stages:
• 1 year of compulsory pre-school education (educación inicial, age 5)
• 6 years of primary school (educación primaria, ages 6-11): up to 6 teaching hours per day and 30 hours a week
• 5 years of secondary school (educación secundaria, ages 12-16): 7 teaching hours per day, 35 hours a week
There are then two years of general secondary education, followed by three years of academic secondary (arts or science) or three years of technical secondary education.
For the first two years of secondary school, students follow a broad general educational curriculum consisting of standard subjects. In the final three years, students follow either a technical stream (colegios secundarios con variante técnica), or an academic stream. Both streams can lead to access to university study.
If students do not attend the upper secondary cycle, they can enrol in one of the centros de educación tecnico-productiva (CETPRO).
Students who graduate from secondary school receive the Certificado Oficial de Estudios de Educación Secundaria.
Public sector education is free of charge.
The academic school year starts at the beginning of March and runs through to November/ December (remember that Peru is in the Southern Hemisphere, hence the difference from American or European school years). If you are educating your child privately and they will be transitioning to a school in the Northern Hemisphere, you must discuss this with your chosen school as it can result in your child missing a semester: provision is made for this in most schools. The school week runs from Monday – Friday and the school day usually runs from 8 am – 2 pm.
Peruvian public education faces a number of challenges, particularly in remote Andean areas where schools may not be local, with limited student enrolment and retention rates. It has ranked at the bottom of the OECD PISA scale and subsequently came third in global terms: the country has some of the worst public education outcomes in the world. Educational infrastructure is poor and teaching quality is not up to Western standards. Some schools have closed, leading to overcrowding. GDP expenditure on education remains low in comparison to other South American countries.
Thus most expats resident in Peru choose to educate their children privately. Schools in the private sector will follow the national curriculum. However, you need to do some research into what ‘private’ actually means: the paucity of public education, market deregulation and a demographic expansion has led to a number of so-called low-cost private establishments and the market has been booming over the last decade, targeting lower income families. Provision can be relatively poor, though: infrastructure is still often not of the best, teacher turnover is high, and student performance outcomes often remain comparatively low. This sector has been described as a ‘stop gap’ between public education and properly organised private establishments. There have thus been calls for the state to regulate these private providers.
These schools will also use Spanish as the language of instruction and thus parents who are English-speaking and whose children struggle with Spanish may prefer to look elsewhere in the more expensive end of the private educational sector. There are a number of international schools in Lima and Arequipa particularly.
For example, Casuarinas International College teaches children from 3-18. It is co-educational and offers the International Baccalaureate. You will need to contact them directly for a schedule of fees.
The Colegio Franklin Delano Roosevelt (The American School of Lima) offers an American curriculum to children from the ages of 3-18. This will culminate in the US High School Equivalent Diploma, taught in English, but also the option of obtaining the IB DP Diploma. The school also offers the Official Peruvian Program (OPP), accredited by the Peruvian Ministry of Education and following the general regulations of the Peruvian Educational System. This leads to the awarding of an Official Peruvian Certificate of Studies and is aligned with the school’s IB curriculum. Fees range from US$14K-16K per annum.
You may find that you need to make one-off or regular payments such as capitalisation or enrolment fees. Enrolment policies will vary but you may be asked for previous school reports, a copy of your and your child’s passport, and your residence card (carnet de extranjeria). You may be able to pay in termly instalments. Check if there are any reductions for siblings, if you plan to send your children to the same school.
Most schools suggest that you make enquiries as early as possible once you know your arrival date, since spaces can be limited.
Peru has no legislation pertaining to homeschooling and you can go down this route if you wish. Note, however, that the practice is not common in this country and will not lead to any officially recognised diploma.