Expat Ellie: Crossing borders in Peru (Part 1)


Being such a diverse and beautiful country, travelers often find themselves needing to cross the border in order to re-enter Peru and renew their tourist visa. As many have found out, it can be a slightly daunting prospect. Peru shares easily accessible borders with Chile, Bolivia and Ecuador; as a general guideline it is always best to cross the border with a bus company that will accompany you through the process and take you through each of the border crossings. This will help you to avoid being robbed or cheated by taxi drivers and ensure you cross the border with the minimum fuss possible.

Those entitled to an automatic tourist visa (citizens of USA, UK, Australia etc) are entitled to a 90 day or 180 day visa, so if you are planning to stay longer than three months simply explain this when you enter the country. This is generally not a problem, however be sure to ask for six months before they stamp your passport otherwise it will be too late to change.

Here are some tips and specific information in relation to the specific crossing:


This is the border crossing that is known as being one of the simplest and safest. Tacna is the closest city on the Peruvian side and it takes about an hour to get to Arica on the Chilean side. Transport options are a bus or a shared _colectivo_ (taxi). The shared taxi will cost S/.15-20 and the advantages of taking one is that you will be with other travelers and the drivers know exactly what the process is. The 24 hours required to stay out of the country has been known to be enforced in this border so it’s a good idea to spend the night in Arica; for a border town it is a pleasant enough place to spend the night, although you will notice that Chile is more expensive than Peru. Make sure you change your dollars to Chilean pesos as they are not as widely accepted as they are in Peru. To return the next day you can return in colectivo (with the same driver as the day before if you prefer) or bus; and don’t forget about the hour difference between Peru and Chile to make sure you don’t miss your ride.

_Ellie Ryan is an Aussie expat working and living in Peru and is not a lawyer nor legal advisor. She is the Founder of_ TEFL Zorritos, _a TEFL training institute which trains people to become English language teachers and places them in positions in Peru and abroad._Many foreigners to Peru find themselves coming close to the expiration of their tourist visa, and opt for a quick trip to Chile. Expat Ellie is here to guide you through the more adventurous renewal process.