Can I Travel to Peru With a Criminal Record?

Arriving at Lima Airport
Arriving at Lima Airport. Tony Dunnell

Back in February 2013, the Government of Peru announced new measures to keep foreigners with criminal records from entering the country.

According to a report in La Republica, then Prime Minister Juan Jiménez Mayor stated that the new laws were aimed at keeping “undesirable” foreigners from entering Peru.

Elaborating, Jiménez went on to say that 

“In this way, foreign hitmen, as well as smugglers of various nationalities, illegal miners and other foreign citizens involved in activities typical of organized crime, may not enter the country.”

The new immigration laws regarding criminal records, therefore, seemed to target primarily foreigners with links to organized crime and/or associated activities such as smuggling and illegal mining.

At the same time, however, Jiménez stated very clearly that “Today, Peru may prevent the entry of a foreign person who has any kind of question about his conduct, either abroad or in the country.”

As is often the case with Peruvian laws, there remained a degree of uncertainty. Were the new measures put in place to deal with serious organized crime, or would Peru also begin denying entry to people with lesser criminal records?

Traveling to Peru With a Criminal Record

If you have been convicted of a serious crime such as drug trafficking, rape or murder, you can reasonably expect to be denied entry into Peru. The same is true if you have a criminal record linked with the activities mentioned earlier: organized crime, smuggling, illegal mining or contract killings.

However, Peru is certainly not denying entry to every foreign visitor with a criminal record. In most cases, especially with foreigners entering Peru on a simple Tarjeta Andina entry/exit card, the border officials don’t even run a background check on new arrivals, making it almost impossible to enforce a total ban on foreigners with criminal records.

If you need to apply for an actual visa before you travel to Peru, then you will probably have to declare your criminal record if you have one. Even so, there’s a good chance that slight misdemeanors will be ignored and your visa will be granted.

In general, it does not seem like Peru is actively trying to deny (or even wants to deny) access to all foreigners with criminal records.

If you have a criminal record due to a summary offense, it’s unlikely that you’ll be denied entry into Peru. Whenever possible, however, try to seek advice from your embassy in Peru, especially if you have any doubts or a more serious criminal record.