You’ve already planned your dream Peruvian vacation and visions of Machu Picchu have been dancing in your head. But, as the departure date approaches, your excitement is paired with some pre-travel nerves. We aim to calm those with this everything-you-need-to-know about Lima airport guide.
Get through Lima’s airport like a pro
Making your way through Lima’s airport can be intimidating, particularly if you don’t speak Spanish. To help you master Lima’s Jorge Chavez International Airport, we’ve compiled the information you need to know to make it through like a pro and get onto more important business—like enjoying your vacation!
The Jorge Chávez International Airport in Lima is located in the district of Callao, 7 miles (11 km) from the center of Lima and about 14 miles (22 km) from the most important districts. The airport has become an increasingly important hub for the larger South American and Southern Pacific regions, having served a total of 22.1 million passengers that registered around 192 thousand flights served—including domestic ones—in 2018.
Logistics & Infrastructure
A detailed timetable of arriving and departing flights can be found both online and at the main check-in area.
The airport is open 24/7, although many of its facilities only run during regular office hours. Most international flights arrive late at night, between 8:00 and 11:00 p.m. (GMT -5) and hence this turns out to be the busiest time for transiting through customs and immigration.
Whether you are in transit or if Lima is your final destination, the airport offers facilities typical of a large international airport, including a handful of good restaurants and shops to make your stay comfortable. The numerous bathrooms throughout the airport are comfortable, clean, and family-friendly. There are also a couple of business lounges available for frequent flyers, and some of them are accessible to everyone upon paying a fee.
There are an abundance of dining options in Lima airport. Just before the boarding and security areas, you will find a food court with recognized fast food franchises such as Papa John´s, Starbucks, and even the popular Peruvian La Lucha Sangucheria. There are also great sit down restaurants located within the terminal serving up Peruvian and International cuisine, such as beloved La Bonbonniere, La Nacional, Paprika, and TGI Fridays.
You can also find a good number of ATMs if you need some cash (whether US$ or local soles), handicraft shops (including fine alpaca and silver stores), and a large duty-free area where you can find perfume, cosmetics, liquors, chocolate, and other products.
All visitors are granted 30 minutes in two 15-minute intervals of free Wi-Fi. Lima Airport Partners, the operators of Jorge Chavez International Airport, have also announced that sometimes in 2019 this allotment will be upgraded to 1 hour of free Wi-Fi, broken into two 30 minute intervals. Keep in mind that it may not be the strongest and most reliable connection.
Additionally, there is an option to pay per hour by credit card, plus a few restaurants and cafes provide free Wi-Fi with purchase.
The airport operators are continually working to improve the Wi-Fi, and even have the goal of free unlimited Wi-Fi by 2021.
The Costa del Sol is a lovely 4 star hotel that offers standard rooms and suites as well as a 24-hour restaurant featuring local delicacies, spa, sauna, indoor pool, and ample meeting rooms. This hotel is ideal if you are arriving late at night and are leaving early next morning, without enough time to commute to Miraflores or other districts. You are likely to find your stay a bit noisy, but the hotel does everything to guarantee a pleasant overnight if you keep in mind you are in fact staying at an airport.
Holiday Inn also has a lovely 3 star hotel just across the street from the airport, with complimentary shuttles running every 30 minutes. The updated hotel offers 179 spacious rooms with soundproof windows to ensure a great rest in between flights. There is also a restaurant and bar on site.
It should generally not take you more than 1 hour to leave the airport, from the time your plane lands to when you exit customs. However, on occasion, several flights land around the same time that can result in delays. This, partnered with insufficient customs staff and delays in the luggage pickup area, may result in it taking you as long as 2 hours to move through all the checkpoints from the plane until finding your transfer.
IMMIGRATION & CUSTOMS
The first checkpoint is migration and passport control. Peru does not require a visa for most countries, although there are a handful of exceptions and it is better if you double check at your local consulate, on Visa HQ or the official website. Your passport does need to be valid for at least 6 months from the end date of your trip.
Tourists from most countries are admitted for 90 days in Peru—a period that can be extended up to a maximum of 180 days (if needed) after paying a fee at the Office of Immigration and Naturalization.
A customs slip will be given to you during your arriving flight. If you are not declaring anything, you will not need to fill this slip out. Items to declare include, but are not limited to, large quantities of cash, fresh meat and produce, commercial merchandise, weapons, etc. Only one custom slip per family is required.
In the past, you would also receive a Tarjeta Andina de Migracion (TAM), or Andean Migration Card—however, this document is now issued digitally, so there is nothing required on your end. Be sure all necessary paperwork is filled in before reaching passport control.
Luggage claim lines are located after passing through passport control, and they are numerated with a screen indicating the flight they are serving.
After picking up your luggage, you should head towards customs, which is also the exit gate right before the arrival area. If you have nothing to declare, you can simply proceed through the gate. If you have something to declare, be sure to provide your form to the customs officer so they can scan your luggage. Whether you do or do not have something to declare, bags may be randomly searched upon exit.
Once you have passed through customs, you will move onto the arrival area. This is probably the most confusing part of the entire process of leaving the airport. Depending on the time of the day, you are likely to find hundreds of people waiting for their relatives and friends as well as a good number of taxi drivers and travel agency representatives doing the same with their passengers.
If you have a transfer arranged (which is highly recommended, especially if it is your first time in Peru), your driver will be waiting for you holding a sign with your name on it alongside the name of your travel agency.
On the other hand, if you do not have a pick-up arranged, you will find a few private transportation options, although the airport does not offer shared rides and shuttles. Official taxis are recommended, since taxis outside the airport are informal (although cheaper) and do not have the best track record when it comes to safety. It is probably in your best interest to approach one of the booths within the arrival area and inform them about your plans.
There are also car rental options if you feel adventurous enough to drive in Lima (your foreign driver’s license is typically good for driving in Lima during the length of your stay). After sorting out the transportation, you will be off to start your Peruvian adventure.
Exchange or withdraw some money upon arrival for your first day and/or night in Lima. US$ are accepted in most restaurants and shops, and exchange rates are often better in Miraflores and other districts. Cellphone rental is available at the airport, but note that you can buy SIM cards from most cellphone providers for cheap. Your phone will need to be fully paid off and unlocked by your cellphone provider in order to use a Peru SIM card.
On the way back to the airport—whether it is for your international flight back home or your domestic flight to another destination in Peru—Jorge Chávez International will be easy to navigate if you follow some very basic Lima airport guide tips:
- International flights require you to arrive 3 hours ahead of your departure time while domestic flights only require 2 hours.
- In estimating your departure time from your hotel, take into consideration traffic in Lima tends to get pretty busy between 6:30 and 9:00 a.m. and 4:30 and 8:00 p.m. These are considered rush hours and would typically imply from 1 hour to 2 hour cab rides pretty much from anywhere in Lima to the airport.
- The check-in area is the same for both domestic and international flights. Peak times for checking-in are often very early in the morning and late at night. You are likely to spend about one hour in checking-in and dropping-off your luggage (even if you have previously checked-in online). After security, you will pass through customs.
- Be sure to report at your gate at least 45 minutes before your actual departure time in order to avoid any problems.
- All in all, you will likely have about 30-60 minutes to explore the duty free area and other airport services after your check-in, before you need to be at your gate. No matter what your boarding pass says, be sure to double check the flight schedule screens and reconfirm your gate and boarding time.
- All airport fees are now included in your ticket for your international flights so you should not pay anything additional. Some domestic flights however do require you to pay a TUUA fee of US $11.53-$30.43.
At a glance
Local Time: (GMT -5:00)
Busiest Times: 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.; 7:30 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
ATMs: BCP, BBVA Continental, Scotiabank, Globalnet. All accept most international cards (surcharge and overhead fees may vary, typically between $5-8 USD per transaction).
Shops: Most shops and restaurants in Lima airport are 24/7.
Money Exchange: Available, but exchange rates are generally better in the city. Check latest exchange rate.
Favorite Restaurants: Before security check: La Lucha Sangucheria. After security check: La Bonbonniere.
International franchises: Dunkin Donuts, KFC, McDonald’s, Papa John’s, Starbucks, and TGI Fridays
Disabled facilities: Statement from the Lima Airport Website: The airport is designed to provide appropriate facilities for all users, in compliance with National Construction Regulations-Architectural Adaptation for Disabled People and the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). Along these lines, the airport’s elevators, payphones, parking lot, toilets, access ramps, etc. have been specially adapted to this end. Do be sure to request assistance, services, and wheelchairs in advance.
Storage service: Yes, located on the first floor next to the international arrivals area. The attention is 24 hours.
Transportation: Taxis and Car Rental. Credit cards are accepted.
Former guide with Peru for Less and now professor of Latin American and Latino/a Studies at a college in the United States, Javier contributes his endless knowledge of Peru’s past and present.