Thankfully, we all know this story has a happy ending, because we did make it to Peru! Yay! But we almost didn’t. We wanted to share this story with you because, even as experienced travelers, sometimes we make mistakes, and this time it almost cost us our trip, and we hope there’s something you can take away from this to make sure you never do.
So, let’s start on the day of our departure. My husband and I are getting ready, we get everything packed, prepared, and ready to go! We even left a little early to ensure that we had plenty of time to drive from Miami to Ft. Lauderdale, where we were departing from. We park, get inside, pay for our bags (oversized fees), get in line to drop our checked bags, and everything is going smoothly. Yes!
We hand over our identification documents to the airline attendant and we’re just chatting about the trip, how excited we are, and what movies we have downloaded for the flight. And THEN…the airline attendant asked for my husband’s visa.
“Visa? What? I haven’t seen anything about needing a Visa to enter Peru.” We were in disbelief, and our heads were suddenly spinning with questions. How could we have missed this? Are you sure?
So let me back up for a minute. My husband is a citizen of El Salvador, but a legal resident of the U.S. He has lived here in Florida since he was 6 months old. (I know, I know, you’re all wondering why he hasn’t applied for his citizenship yet. I don’t have a good answer for you, haha, but after this, it’s definitely happening.)
At this point, the flight attendant told us to just wait a minute, she called over a couple others, and is double checking everything in the system. Then she confirms it, Yes, he needs a visa if he is carrying an El Salvadorian Passport, and our hearts sank.
Peru is basically considered an Open Door country. But El Salvador is one of 4 Central American countries that requires a Visa for entrance into Peru.
Of course we start thinking, What can we do? Can we get a visa today? What documentation is required? We were researching where the Peruvian Consulate is, if there is an expedited service that could help us, anything & everything to see if we will be able to get on our flight!
Unfortunately, the consulate was already closed for the day, applying online was not an option, and everything we could find told us that it would be 5-7 business days MINIMUM to get a tourist visa for Peru. (Insert all the tear emojis here – it wasn’t pretty). We had to cancel our flight.
Ashley & Chris, who were traveling with us, and meeting us in Lima, left on their flight from Tampa about an hour or so before us, so they were already in the air and we couldn’t even let them know that we weren’t on the way. Ugh, that drive home from the Ft. Lauderdale airport was THE WORST.
After a very disappointing drive home, we rolled our freshly packed bags into the house, but Josh said not to unpack just yet. He wanted to give it another try. He looked up all of the requirements for the Visa Application and the location of the Peruvian Consulate. Although the requirements said that an appointment for visas needed to be scheduled, and we weren’t able to schedule ahead, He said even if there was a 1% chance we could get the visa tomorrow, we should try.
So we came up with our game plan to get all of the required paperwork together that night, which included:
- Form DGC 005
- Valid passport (with 6 months until expiration, and 1 empty page for visa).
- Copy of round trip ticket to Peru (ticket, electronic ticket or reservation).
- Hotel reservation, tourist package reservation or invitation letter legalized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Peru (any of these documents).
- Two (2) passport-size photographs in colors.
- Proof of economic solvency: recent copy of your bank account statements from last quarter showing constant income and positive balance.
- Payment of the corresponding consular fee (this payment is not refundable or transferable).
- Pass a personal interview scheduled by the Peruvian consulate (citation method varies depending on the country where the procedure is performed).
Yikes, well that list presented a couple new issues. We had canceled our flight, and would need to book another one for tomorrow, knowing that we had a slim-to-none chance of ACTUALLY obtaining a Visa. And we weren’t able to schedule an interview. Ay, yi yi.
Fortunately, I was able to find and book our flights through Priceline which gave us the option of 24 hour cancellation with no fees, which was great because we had already lost about 25% to cancellation fees from our first flight, and the rest was refunded as an airline credit. So we weren’t too fond of the thought of possibly spending more money on cancellation fees.
We spent the rest of our night gathering the rest of the paperwork, and tracking down a 24 Hour Pharmacy that would print the Passport Photos for us, and the next morning we were up at the crack of dawn, headed to the Peruvian Consulate to be the first ones in line, and we were.
As each of the consulate employees arrived, we greeted them with a smile and a warm “Buenos Dias!” We were hoping they would all be in a good mood today since we knew that technically, they could just tell us that we need to schedule an appointment, and send us on our way.
When the doors finally opened and we went inside, we explained our situation, showed them all of our completed documentation, and much to our surprise, they assigned us a number to be reviewed! And then we waited. They called us up to the desk several times to answer questions, or clarify details, but then just asked us to sit again. Finally, they called us to the desk one final time, asked for a signature and our payment for the visa. Our eyes lit up and we asked, was he being approved for the visa today?? and they said, “Yes”.
Wow! We were elated! We left the consulate, updated Chris & Ashley with the good news, drove home, packed up our bags, and were headed back to the airport. We couldn’t believe it! What a relief. What a surprise. What a LESSON for us.
If you are like us, and hadn’t encountered this kind of issue before or maybe aren’t aware of the requirements for international travel, here are some tips:
- Entry & Exit regulations change. So even if you have visited a country before without any visa requirements, always check the current regulations for the country you are visiting prior to booking your travel.
- Don’t forget to check the requirements for your passport expiration date. Although your passport may be valid for the date of your travel, some countries require your passport expiration date to be at least 6 months out from the date of your travel into the country.
- If you are a US citizen you can get information on the requirements of the country you are traveling to, as well as other helpful information about country security and more by visiting: https://travel.state.gov/ > International Travel > Country Information (as pictured below) and searching in the box on the left hand side for your destination. If you are not a US citizen, be sure to check the most recent information on your country’s official travel/tourism website. Do NOT rely on information you find online on other blogs, travel agencies, or other non-official websites as this could be outdated.
We hope something in this story was helpful to you, or you can at least smile, shake your head and relate to the sense of humanness of it all. Hah!
Dani lives in Miami with her husband Josh & two pups, Kona & Simon. Creatively driven, heavily caffeinated, a little weird & a self-proclaimed hobbyist, she loves travel, food, art, design, photography, dance, sewing, knitting, gardening, hiking, writing, & finding more things to love..