Drive Legally In Peru-The Expat Edition

updated September 16, 2020

To be able to drive legally in Peru is not hard

To be able to drive legally in Peru there are a couple things you can do. All of which I’ve learned either by trial and error or from reading the MTC and Touring websites. None of the ways to drive here are all that hard to do. While one way is a bit time consuming and has time sensitive dates. I personally have a CDL in both the United States and now here in Peru.

What Not To Do If You Plan To Drive Legally In Peru

If you’re in Peru on a tourist visa, the maximum time you can be granted by immigration will be 183 days. More often than not you’ll be granted far less time. Staying longer than 183 days requires residency, meaning you have no rights after 183 days. This also means driving after 183 days will be a violation of the laws, my advice is don’t do it.

Driving In Peru Without An International Driver’s Licenses

When I moved here to Peru I came with an international drivers license (IDL) in hand. I also found out very quickly the Peruvian National Police either refuse to respect an IDL granted by another country, or they have no idea what it is.

You can’t use the IDL as a form of identification. Moreover the police won’t ask for it. Only being allowed in the country a maximum of 183 days means, even though the IDL is “valid” for one year, the IDL won’t be valid in Peru after 183 days (remember you can’t be in Peru as a tourist over 183 days). No matter what, if you plan to stay over 183 day’s you should plan on getting a Peruvian driver’s license.

Staying Over 183 Days And Driving

Passport Photo
Staying over 183 days means not driving legally

Residency is required if you’re staying over 183 days. With residency Peruvian Law requires you to have a Peruvian Driver’s license to drive.

There is now one way and one way only to be able to drive legally in Peru. Ok really there are two ways.

  1. Obtain a Carne de extranjeria
  2. become a Peruvian Citizen

I’ve Got My Carne De Extranjeria, What’s Next?

If you have no experience driving in Peru you may well want to get what’s called “Permiso provisional para aprender a conducir”, or in English a learners Permit. to do that click here to find the actual decree and the requirements or here for information in English. This “Learners Permit” is valid for 6 month’s and can not be renewed. You’ll be required to have a person with you over 18 with a license 2 years or longer.

From there you have two options

First way would be to take the entire test just as a Peruvian would.

This means taking a driving course for around S/600, taking a physical and psychological exam for a combined total of about S/180 as well as a written test and finally the practical driving test. Beware that the entire driving part of the test is set to change in February 2021 and hopefully so will driving in Peru.

2. Do what’s called a “canje de licencia de conducir“. Basically you’ll provide a “certified” copy of your driving record. Which you will then have to have “Apostilled“. In the USA this is done by the Secretary of State in the state your license is from. Sorry guy’s I’m not too familiar with what people from the UK need to do, but it’s got to be very much the same just with a different government body providing the apostilled document.

At this point you’ll need to have all your documents translated by an authorized translator. Remember this part is time sensitive. None of the documents can be more than 30 days old. This is the address you can do the Canje Av Gral Trinidad Moran 698, Lince 15073

For people interested Touring in Lince offers a road assistance package. While it’s very limited in scope, one never knows what can happen. Key’s locked in the car, flat tire, in need of a tow or run out of gas sitting in traffic. Here’s their page (in Spanish)

I Have My Documents And Am Ready To Go, What’s Next?

This is the part you benefit from. You’re still required to take the “medical exam” including the psychological exam which cost around S/200 and written exam (another few soles). However, you will not be required (as of the date of this post) to do the driving part of the test nor the driving course.

I Don’t Speak Or Read Spanish

Haha well then. . . You’re screwed!

No seriously, no worries, that’s why you’re reading this blog post right now.

There are 3 ways you can do the written exam.

  1. Just go take the test and if you fail study up next time.
  2. Take the exam in English. I however strongly suggest you don’t. From my understanding the English version is written as if a 5 year old wrote it.
  3. Get a translator. Yes for the basic A1 (car license) you can have a translator help you with the test.

Where And How Can I Prepare For The Written Exam?

License Classes in Peru

You can Check out Simulacro MTC on Google Play! With the app you take this written test, in Spanish, over and over again for free until you understand the questions or remember the answers. You can also go here. Again take the test in Spanish and then review your answers. I strongly suggest you do the test in Spanish, you’re living in a Spanish Speaking country now and all the road sign are in Spanish, makes sense don’t it?

Can I Drive From The US To Peru?

Technically, you can. Logistically there are places along the way, that a drive to Peru is not advised. There are also tons of things to think about. In Peru for example, even if you’re just in transit with your vehicle to another country, you’ll need the required SOAT insurance. This however is the least of your worries. Every country you’ll travel through will have their own set of rules, then you’ll have the police stops, looking or bribes, bandits in other places and that’s while you’re awake. Add on needing to park the vehicle overnight and you’ll be lucky to have a shell left in the morning. Most People find they need to ship their vehicle to Colombia and continue from there.

Many of your problems will come from keeping yourself and your vehicle safe, and none of that will be cheap when it’s all added up. You will need to remember that (at least in Peru) the minimum wage right now (2020) is 950 soles a month or about $300 a month. If it takes you 2 months to do the drive you’re looking at roughly $10-$20 per night or more just for someone to keep an eye on your vehicle. And who even knows if they’ll be honest or will just help steal your car. So far none of this has anything to do with Customs (Aduanas),

Personally I love to drive, hence the fact I own a taxi business, and I speak a decent level of Spanish and I would still not even try to drive from the US to Peru In my opinion it’s a fools errand to try

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