How To Avoid Lima Hotels Taxi Scams (2020)

Stop Being Scammed By Lima Hotels And Their Taxis

What do you know about Lima Hotels and their transportation? More specifically what do you know about their airport pick-up and drop offs? I’m going to guess most of you believe the Hotel is an honest place, with your best in mind. And that there’s no way a hotel in Peru would do anything dishonest.

With 2020 came Covid-19 and whether you’re a believer or not, Peru suffered the highest mortality rate in the world at one point. The last thing you want to do is find yourself in need of medical treatment here. Then find out your driver has the wrong insurance, wasn’t properly licensed or was driving a family car. Below we’re going to cover.

  • Licensing Requirements
  • License Plate Requirements
  • Insurance Requirements
  • Driver Education Requirements

The list above tops the requirements and most lima hotels do not comply with them.

Lima Hotel Transport Is Still Subject To Licensing Requirements

When it comes to you and your family’s safety, taking short cuts is the worst thing a business could do. I’m a North American who has successfully broken into the hotel/airport taxi business in Lima. I’ve done this by following Peru’s licensing requirements and know firsthand what is legal, and what is not when it comes to lima hotel taxis.

The information I’m about to provide are long held secrets among the Lima Hotels. Keep reading and stay safe while visiting Peru.

Not Everyone Can Drive A Taxi, But Does Your Hotel Care?

Peruvian Driver's License
Standard A1 Peruvian Driver's License

Drivers for the lima hotels are not all legally licensed. That should be enough to hear but I’m going to give you some more info right now.

Peru’s Driver licensing goes like this;

  • A1 Basic Car License
  • A2 Taxi (Basic Commercial Driver’s License)
  • A3 Heavy Trucks and Buses (Commercial Driver’s License)
  • A4 Hazardous Materials (Commercial Driver’s License)

Inside of each category there are other more specific levels and dictate which vehicle someone can drive. Bottom line is if the driver has an A1 License, the driver is not allowed to carry paying passengers.

Peru requires any “commercial driver” to have what’s called and A2 driver’s license. This would include hotel transporters, as they’re being paid to drive. Most of the lima hotels use drivers with an A1 license which does not qualify as a commercial driver’s license.

When you ask about the licensing they will tell you it’s “transporte privado”. Myself being a professional driver for over 20 years in the US and now here in Lima for 5 years, I know the difference between transporte privado and a commercial driver.

Transporte Privado Scam

Transporte privado or “Private transport”  is allowed in Peru. So let me define the term so you get a better understanding of what the lima hotels are offering you.

Private Transport in both the US and Peru is defined as: The private transport of workers.

So what does this mean in terms of lima hotels and their taxis. What it means is that right off the bat, the hotel is allowing just some guy with a car to transport you. And we haven’t even got into the other requirements.

Under the law private transport is allowed for “Workers”. This means a hotel can have drivers with an A1 license working “FOR THE HOTEL”. And that the hotel can use the driver to move “THEIR WORKERS” but not paying passengers.

The fact the hotel may be charging you directly does not change the facts. They oftentimes charge the client X amount and then pay the driver a much lower rate. If you’re asked to pay the driver directly, the driver will then pay the hotel. Either way, the hotel gets a large piece of the rate. And they both (the driver and hotel) will call it “Private Transport”  This is all done “off the books” as well. I know firsthand, I’ve dealt with hotels directly when I started this business. This is also one of the first red flags when you are looking for safe, reliable and punctual hotel transport in Lima.

The Phony Taxi With An All White License Plate Scam

Family Car License Plate
This is a typical family car license plate found in Peru.

If they do, they’re not a legal hotel taxi, period. If you’re already here at one of Lima’s hotels, take a walk outside and look at the license plate on the cars used by the hotel. They’re easy to spot, usually black and parked right in front or very close by. Most of the drivers will be dressed in a white shirt and black suit. And there’s even a few with the lower end Mercedes.

What you’re looking for is to see if the license plate is all white or if it has a yellow line across the top. The Yellow line on the top says, the car is a legal taxi, but is the driver a legal taxi driver? An all white License plate is not a legal transporter.

Taxi Insurance

As with any business a taxi whether or not is working for the hotel is required to have Taxi insurance. Here in Lima it’s called SOAT.

More specifically it’s called SOAT TAXI or SOAT PARTICULAR. The latter is for a family car and will not cover you in the event of an accident. The insurance is sold for very specific operations and the rates vary depending on the use of the vehicle. Many of the Lima hotel taxis will buy the SOAT PARTICULAR to save a few soles, all the while putting you at risk in the event of an accident.

Driver Education

The Lima Airport is located in the district of Callao. This district is making an effort to separate itself from Lima and creating it’s own laws regarding taxis.

Callao requires taxis to have a driver’s education course. this comes with a special document and is required by the now new governing body to get credential to work at the airport.

One sure fired way of identifying a legal taxi and driver is to look for the yellow line on top of the license plate and ask the driver for his Cartilla Informativa (AKA Credenciales). the driver won’t have the credential if he’s not a legal driver. 

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