FAQs about Peace Corps in Peru
- 1 How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Peru?
- 2 What is the electric current in Peru?
- 3 How much money should I bring?
- 4 When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
- 5 Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
- 6 Do I need an international driver’s license?
- 7 What should I bring as gifts for Peruvian friends and my host family?
- 8 Where will my site assignment be when I finish training, and how isolated will I be?
- 9 How can my family contact me in an emergency?
- 10 Can I call home from Peru?
- 11 Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
- 12 How can people send things to me in Peru?
How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Peru?
You will most likely be flying American Airlines or Delta Airlines to Peru. The baggage size and weight limits change from time to time. Currently, passengers are allowed to check two bags with each weighing up to 50 pounds and with certain size restrictions. Passengers are also allowed one carry-on bag, plus a purse, briefcase, or laptop. We strongly advise you to check current limits on the airline’s website once you know the carrier you will be taking to Peru. You will be responsible for any excess-baggage charges.
Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take pets, weapons, explosives, radio transmitters, or motorized vehicles to their overseas assignments. Do not pack flammable materials or other items restricted by the airlines or the Department of Homeland Security. It is best not to pack aerosol containers.
You will be passing through Peruvian customs upon your arrival. While all normal personal items are acceptable, there are limits on the number of certain electronic items that may be brought to the country. For example, a Volunteer may bring in only one laptop.
What is the electric current in Peru?
The current is 220 volts. Electrical appliances that utilize 110 volts require a transformer.
How much money should I bring?
Volunteers are expected to live at the same level as the people in their community. You will be given a settling-in allowance and a monthly living allowance, which are adequate to cover all your expenses. Similarly during training, you will be provided with a “walk-around” allowance, to cover all expenses. Trainees may, however, wish to bring a small amount of cash, perhaps $50 to $100, with them to Peru for initial or extra expenses. Dollars are easily exchanged into Peruvian currency virtually anywhere in Peru.
From time to time, Volunteers may wish to have additional money for vacation travel or other special occasions. Cash can be obtained from ATM machines throughout Peru and South America. Credit cards and traveler’s checks are widely accepted (note that some Volunteers report that American Express traveler’s checks are more readily accepted than other brands).
When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
You are encouraged to use your vacation time to travel in Peru and other South American countries. Each Volunteer accrues two vacation days per month of service (excluding training). Leave may normally not be taken during training, the first three months of service (an important time for developing good relationships with Peruvians in your community), or the last three months of service (when you will be completing your projects). Travel outside Peru may normally not be taken during the first six months of service. Family and friends are welcome to visit you after you have been at your site for six months and as long as their stay does not interfere with your work. Extended stays at your site are not encouraged and should be discussed with your associate Peace Corps director in advance. The Peace Corps cannot provide your visitors with visa, medical, or travel assistance.
Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
The Peace Corps does not provide insurance coverage for personal effects. You are encouraged to purchase personal property insurance before you leave the United States. If you wish, you may contact your own insurance company; additionally, the Peace Corps will provide you with insurance application forms, and we encourage you to consider them carefully. Volunteers should not take valuable items overseas. Jewelry and expensive watches, radios, cameras, and electronic equipment are subject to loss, theft, and breakage, and satisfactory maintenance and repair services may not be available. It is advisable to bring inexpensive items, or to purchase them once in Peru.
Do I need an international driver’s license?
No. Volunteers in Peru are prohibited from operating motorized vehicles.
What should I bring as gifts for Peruvian friends and my host family?
This is not a requirement, but a simple token of friendship is a nice gesture. Knick-nacks for the house are usually appropriate gifts—framed pictures or photos, books, calendars of American scenes, or souvenirs from your area.
Where will my site assignment be when I finish training, and how isolated will I be?
Peace Corps trainees are not assigned to their permanent sites until the seventh or eighth week of pre-service training.
This gives Peace Corps staff the opportunity to assess each trainee’s skill set prior to assigning sites. You will have the opportunity to provide input on your site preferences, but Peace Corps cannot guarantee placement where you might like to be. The final decision will be based on the best match between your skills and community needs, and may be in a major city, a mid-sized town, a small town, or a rural village. Even if assigned to a small town or rural village, you will be within three or four hours by bus from a city or large town, and will likely be within an hour by foot or ground transportation from another Volunteer’s site.
How can my family contact me in an emergency?
The Peace Corps Office of Special Services (OSS) provides assistance in handling emergencies affecting trainees and Volunteers. Before leaving the United States, instruct your family to notify OSS immediately if an emergency arises, such as the serious illness or death of a family member. During normal business hours, the number for the Office of Special Services is 202.692.1470. It can also be reached through Peace Corps’ toll-free number at: 800.424.8580, extension 1470. After normal business hours, and on weekends and holidays, the OSS duty officer can be reached at 202.638.2574.
For nonemergency questions, your family can get information from the country desk staff at the Peace Corps. The desk staff can be reached at 202.692.2515, 2516, or 2525. Or they can be reached through the toll-free number: 800.424.8580, extensions 2515, 2516, or 2525.
Can I call home from Peru?
International phone service to and from Peru is good in major cities. Volunteers have the option of purchasing cell phones which can call to the states, and can also receive phone calls from the states free of charge. Volunteers in smaller communities will typically have access to a community telephone, through which international calls may be made and received. Most Volunteers also have cellular phones. There are reasonably priced local and international calling cards are available in Peru.
Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
While you may or may not have Internet access at your site, there are numerous, affordable Internet locations throughout the country. Most Volunteers bring laptops and find that they come in handy. However, if you bring your laptop, the Peace Corps strongly encourages you to insure it.
How can people send things to me in Peru?
We do not recommend that people mail packages, money, airline tickets, or other valuable items to Volunteers. Customs duties may exceed the value of the items sent, and packages often disappear in transit. The modern supermarkets and well-stocked stores in Lima and other cities have anything you will need. Should family or friends need to send you something, we strongly recommend that the package be under half a kilo (1.1 pounds), with a declared value of under $100, and mailed in a padded envelope. Once you are at your site, all mail, including packages, should be sent to your regional mailbox. We strongly discourage people sending you items via courier services (e.g., DHL or FedEx), as both the sender and the receiver must often pay fees. If your friends or family want to send you something for a special occasion, it would be best for them to deposit the money into your account in the U.S. You can then access the funds from an ATM machine and purchase something special in Peru.