I finally have a visa to visit Peru!
March 2017 Update
Exciting News! The Peruvian government has signed a declaration waiving visa requirements for Indian nationals who hold certain visas. If you are an Indian citizen and hold a valid visa or residence permit for the US, UK, Australia, Canada, or a Schengen member state then you can enter Peru for 180 days per year without a Peruvian visa. Your visa should be valid for at least 6 months. This decree comes into force on 27th March 2017 so Indians with the right visas can travel visa free to Peru starting then. More information is available here (English) and here (Spanish – Official source). There is also an update from the Indian Embassy in Lima.
My prior struggle with the Peruvian visa
For those of you that have been following the comments on this site, you might have noticed that my struggles with the Peru embassy started about 5 months ago. I couldn’t get the Peru visa in India since I’d need to use it within 90 days. It’s not usually complicated to get this visa, but if you aren’t a resident of the country you’re applying in, then good luck!
We planned to visit Peru, and Machu Picchu during May this year. However, the lack of a peruvian visa foiled our plans. So here’s the story of how I finally managed to attain this elusive stamp!
During February, while we were in Brazil, Zara called up the Peru embassy in both Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Both were quite uncooperative and insisted that I must return to my home country (India..) and apply for my visa to visit Peru. We tried to explain that we had been traveling for many months, etc. but they were quite firm. We called more than once and they just ended up getting irritated at us and hanging up. So, oh well, we thought it ain’t gonna happen in Brazil, lets try somewhere else.
A month down the line, while we were in Quito, we visited the Peruvian consulate in town. Again, the guy there was absolutely adamant. He kept saying that I should go back to India and apply. We exclaimed incredulously “But we’re here, in Ecuador, in front of you, and you want us to go 10,000 miles away and come back ?!”. He went inside those big consulate doors and then came back with a lady. She sang the same tune and said that the only way they could give me a visa was if a Peruvian friend of mine got me an approval from Lima. WTF ? In a moment of pure cheekiness, I asked her to invite me. Obviously, that didn’t work out.
We had called the Peruvian embassy in Guayaquil and they said that they could process the visa but I would need to get a police clearance certificate from India! I asked my father to get me one but the police in India refused to give him a certificate. Well, they agreed initially only to later turn around and say, if he isn’t here we can’t give it. So then we decided to head to Chile and apply there.
By now it was June and we had missed our plans to visit Peru in May. However, Peru is great in August. So we decided to head to the Peruvian embassy in Santiago. Unfortunately we bumped into a rotund receptionist who really didn’t want to let us through. She said that we needed a letter from the Indian consulate in Santiago saying that I am a tourist in Chile and I want to visit Peru. As if my presence and passport weren’t enough.
Anyway, so I contacted the Indian consulate and asked if I can have such a letter. The man there assured me that they would do such a letter for me. By this time, we were traveling in Patagonia so I decided to set aside a week in Santiago during July for one last shot at the Peru visa. We had spoken to the Bolivian embassy and the visa was easy to get so we decided that if not Peru, we would head straight to Bolivia.
We arrived back in Santiago on the 18th of July. I visited the Indian embassy and in classic Indian style they told me ‘We don’t do letters like that, you need a police clearance certificate and it takes two weeks!’. WHAT ?! Not only that, there was this other idiot at the Indian embassy who decided that it’s a great idea to add fuel to other people’s fires. While I was trying to explain to the guy at the Indian embassy that all I really wanted was a letter, this other Guru decided to chime in with “Oh yeah you can only apply for any visa at your home country blah blah blah”. I told him “Guruji, I have applied for visas around the world so I’m certainly aware of what’s possible.” Mind you, Guruji was a visitor at the embassy and not embassy staff. Finally the verdict was that no such letter is possible and I would need a police clearance certificate that the embassy would get for me. So I paid $30 and I requested that they expedite the process since I was in Santiago for a week and this was really my sole purpose of being there.
Right after, we decided we would give the Peruvian embassy another shot on the same day. So we headed there and this time instead of the rotund receptionist, there was a young man in a suit talking on the phone. He was quite friendly and we asked him about visa requirements, etc. We explained that we’ve been traveling for a while and he even asked us about our time in Cuba. Finally, he said “No problem, just come and apply with your documents”. He didn’t mention any letter from the consulate.
We applied on Monday (with flight tickets and hotel reservations, and paid about $36) and sure enough, in 24 hours the Peru visa was ready! No letter from the Indian consulate required! The lady giving me the passport did say that it would be nice to have a letter but it’s not necessary. Also, they gave me a 60 day visa just incase :) (I had requested 30 days..)
I still went to the Indian embassy to collect the letter the same afternoon and instead of a police clearance certificate it finally ended up being just a regular letter stating that I was a tourist in Chile, planning to visit Peru. So they do apparently give such letters…
Finally after FIVE months of struggling for a Peru visa, I shall be heading to Peru in mid August.
I hope you’re ready Machu Picchu!