A One-Way Ticket to Peru: Problems and Solutions
If you buy a one-way ticket to Peru, you could have problems entering the country. And it’s not the Peruvian border official or immigrations officer that will give you problems: If you are denied entry due to having no proof of onward travel, it will probably be your airline that does the dirty deed.
So what’s the deal with proof of onward travel? In theory, Peruvian immigrations could deny you entry into Peru for a number of reasons. If it then turned out you had no money to return to your place of departure, your airline could be liable for your safe return (and potentially face hefty fees for letting you arrive like this in the first place). That’s why the whole “proof of onward travel” thing becomes an issue, and why one-way tickets into Peru and other countries with similar regulations can, potentially, be problematic.
Realistically, however, the chances of anyone taking issue with your one-way ticket to Peru and then asking for proof of onward travel are slim.
Slim, but not impossible…
Solutions to the One-Way Ticket to Peru Problem
For your own peace of mind, it’s best to have some kind of proof of onward travel before you fly to Peru on a one-way ticket. Your airline doesn’t care if your onward ticket takes you back from where you just came — they just want to know you’ll be getting the hell out of Peru and that you have some kind of proof.
Remember, for immigrations purposes your ticket out of Peru should be within the maximum time allowed on the tarjeta andina tourist card, which is 183 days (for more on this read How Long Can You Stay in Peru as a Tourist?). It’s also possible that a border official will give you 90 days. So consider reserving your “disposable” proof of onward travel for a date no more than 60 days after entering Peru.
So, what kind of proof of onward travel can you use to get around the one-way ticket problem? Here are a few solutions:
Don’t bother with any proof of onward travel, but get to the airport nice and early with enough time to sort out any potential problems. If your airline demands proof of onward travel, you’ll at least have time to sort something out (purchase a cheap flight of bus ticket, see options below). If it doesn’t, great: Continue on your merry way.
Buy an additional plane ticket out of Peru (to wherever) with an airline that offers 100% flight cancellation refunds, then cancel the flight and receive your refund once you’ve entered Peru. Some airlines, including U.S. airline JetBlue, offer refundable tickets like these, but you normally need to cancel the flight within 24 hours to receive the refund — so plan accordingly and don’t forget!
You can also do this with some domestic airlines in Peru. For example, buy a ticket from Lima to Santiago, Chile with LAN, and either ditch the ticket entirely or try to get a full refund (check the ticket refund policies of the various domestic airlines to see what options you have). Again, in order to get a refund you’ll probably have to cancel the ticket within 24 or 48 hours of purchase.
Use a service like FlyOnward or Best Onward Ticket. FlyOnward lets you “rent” an onward ticket for as little as US$9.99, and Best Onward Ticket for $7.99, with the sole purpose of providing legitimate proof of onward travel. They basically buy refundable tickets on behalf of their customers, and then cancel the ticket purchase after a maximum period of 48 hours. I’ve never tried it myself, but it’s supposed to work well. I’ve read a few bad reviews of FlyOnward recently, so do a little research before you use the service, and consider using Best Onward instead.
Before you fly to Peru, buy a cheap bus ticket from Peru to a neighboring country. A bus reservation out of Peru is just as good as a flight, and obviously cheaper. You should be able to find bus tickets online from Lima to Guayaquil (Ecuador), Lima to Santiago (Chile) and Lima to La Paz (Bolivia).
The ticket price will obviously be cheaper if it’s from a city near the border — for example, Tacna (Peru) to Arica (Chile), but you might find it hard to buy such a ticket online.
Look for tickets on websites like redBus (formerly Busportal), the Cruz del Sur bus company website, and Peru Hop (Peru Hop has a $50 ticket from Puno to La Paz, Bolivia). Just make sure any bus ticket you buy online provides an official receipt and itinerary that clearly shows a ticket purchase that takes you out of Peru.
A One-Way Ticket to Peru: The Bottom Line
Unless you’re happy taking a slight risk, it makes sense to get some kind of proof of onward travel if you’re flying to Peru on a one-way ticket.
Flying to Peru can be stressful. You have to deal with unfamiliar processes like passing through Peruvian customs, figuring out how to get from Lima Airport to Miraflores (or any other district), dealing with the language barrier etc. etc. So having a plan in place to deal with any one-way plane ticket problems will take a weight of your shoulders.
Any of the above solutions will help. If you can find a cheap bus ticket from to Peru to a neighboring country for let’s say S/ 100 or less, then I think that’s a pretty good option.
But whatever you decide, just make sure you have the onward flight or bus details with you before you try to board your flight to Peru. Print them out, or at least have them stored on a mobile device to show to anyone that asks.
As ever, if you have questions about the above information, leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
Hello, my parents are Legal Residents here in the US but they want to go back to Peru for a few months ( 5-6 months perhaps ) I was wondering as a Permanent Resident is that possible or would they get in trouble, also Roundtrips flights are too expensive so I was thinking of buying them a One Way ticket and before six months get them a Return ticket so that way is not hard for my pockets.
No one will check if they are coming with a one-way ticket. I think that the main issue is not to stay in Peru for longer than 5 months cuz that would get them in trouble with the US customs and borders enforcement. They can buy their return tox any time they like.
So it is save to go to Peru with a One way ticket for five months?
Hi, I was born in Peru but I am now an American Citizen only. My American wife and I want to live in Lima (I have family there) but I don’t want to go through the stress of trying to get our residence documentations here. Can we fly to Lima on a one-way ticket and tell Customs we plan to apply for permanent residence there? My passport states that I was born in Peru, but my wife was born in Germany and came to the States when she was 3 years old. She never went back. We’ll be selling everything therefore there will be no place to come back to. I also have a pension that covers for both my wife and I the minimum amount needed to live in Peru. Besides that, we have Social Security checks that surpass my pension amount.
Thank you for your advice,
We use https://www.onwardticketvisa.com .
Simple,fast and efficient. Response time is awesome.
It was very easy to communicate with them because they have a live chat available. They are very cheap price also .
I just wanted to share my very recent experience on this topic. I arrived in Lima yesterday from Miami with American Airlines and I will stay 4 month in south america (my next plane is from Santiago, Chile in february). At Miami airport I was asked why I don’t have a return ticket and that I needed a visa for my trip (with my french passport I don’t need a visa for a stay under 90 days). When I explain my situation, the guy from AA said that the best option is to at least have a bus ticket showing that I will leave the country, but he nonetheless let me go with my boarding pass. Immigration at Lima was easier, I was only asked how long I plan to stay and no questions asked about an onward ticket. I guess it really depends on the airline policy since as you said, if Peru doesn’t want me, the airline might need to take me back to where I was.
And thanks a lot for your site, it’s very useful !
Hi Ben. Thanks for sharing your experience! And glad to hear they let you into Peru. Have a good trip! Tony.
Very informative. Flying into Lima, Peru on Jan 8 from Canafa and flying back to Canada from Quito, Ecuador. Does this qualify as an onward ticket or does the ticket need to show leaving Peru.
Hi Gerry. I think officially the ticket needs to show onward travel out of Peru. But having a ticket booked out of Quito should — logically speaking — be sufficient. You could try contacting the airline you’ll be flying with to ask them, as it’s the airline that basically decides what happens. Thanks, Tony.
Hi tony,im michelle from philippines,and im planning to travel to peru this coming july just to visit the place and to be with my boyfriend also,he is from lima peru,and im planning to have a vacation in peru.do i need to have a returned ticket?because i have only one way ticket.thank you and good day
Hi Michelle. Officially it is best to have a return ticket. But if you read the article above, you’ll find some other options for getting around the problem. Thanks, Tony.
Hi, I will be traveling to Peru on resident visa. I am married with a Peruvian so my Visa is valid for one year. Do I need return ticket to show. I have never been to Peru before.
Hi Sunny. Officially, I guess you do still need proof of onward travel (out of Peru) as an airline could still insist on it. So you can try one of the options described above. Thanks, Tony.
this happened to me last november.. at london heathrow.. i had booked a one way ticket to peru via bagota..and was stopped and informed i needed a return ticket..fortunately i had received a credit card a few days earlier and i used that to book a ticket to la paz..i later got the money back through Avianca..but took nearly 2 months or more..luckily my flight was hours ahead..so i had time to sort it all out..had flown to ecuador 2017 and had no problm on one way…i am thinking the cheap bust ticket is my best bet… but is it certain this will be accepted , rather than a complete return to uk?
Hi Paul. I’m always a bit hesitant to say that things will work for certain, but there’s really no reason why a bus ticket out of the country shouldn’t work. I’ve never heard of anyone being specifically told that they need a return ticket to their country of departure, which would be a serious problem for a lot of travelers. So I’m pretty sure you’ll be fine with a bus ticket out of the country, but it’s always good to have a back-up option in case, as you know. Thanks, Tony.
Thank you kindly for the great information you have provided as it is pertinent to my question for you. I plan to fly from the States to Peru on a one way in hopes of taking advantage of the exchange rate for a flight home. Is this possible to save money this way? It could afford me a couple more days if it is true. Say a round trip is $1000 if bought in the US, but maybe only $500 if only one way to Cuzco. If I followed your advice with a bus ticket to LaPaz and then wanted to purchase a return trip to the States from Peru, could I be looking at saving a couple of hundred US dollars by doing so? If I saved $200 and had that to spend in Peru, I could hopefully with the exchange rate extend my stay for a few days right?
Hi Chris. You won’t necessarily save any money by buying your flight back to the States in Peru. Sometimes it’s more expensive to buy a ticket from Peru to a different country than vice versa (when I look for tickets to go back to the UK, for example, the flights are often the same or more expensive than flying to Peru from the UK). And generally speaking, it’s a lot cheaper just to buy a return ticket than two one-ways. Does that answer your question? Let me know if it doesn’t. Thanks, Tony.
I will be flying into lima from mexico. I dont have a solid itinerary so i dont know which country i will be leaving from. Planning to ask for the full 90 days.
What do you recommend for the forward ticket requirement? Do some airlines prrzent more problem than others, or is it truly a game of chance?
Hi Renee. Any of the options discussed in this article should work. You just need to figure out which one fits best for you, and which one you feel is easiest to sort out (and costs less). I’ve heard that some airlines are stricter than others, but I’m not sure which, especially flying out of Mexico. And there will probably be a lot of chance involved. You could try contacting the airline(s) to find out what they say, just out of interest, and then take it from there. Thanks, Tony.
Hi, would a printed out PeruHop ticket ending in La Paz count?
Hi Andrea. That should be fine, as it clearly shows a confirmed itinerary that takes you out of Peru. You could ask PeruHop too, by email or their Facebook page, just to see what they say. Thanks, Tony.
Perfect many thanks!
Thanks for the information Tony! I will be flying to Peru from Malaysia and haven’t got my proof of onward travel yet. Will a ticket out of South America (any country) be good enough? I still don’t know which country I’ll be flying out from yet. Thanks in advance
Hi Venny. I think officially it needs to be a ticket out of the country you’re flying into (so Peru in this case). I guess you might be able to convince your airline (if they ask) that another country in South America is OK. If you have a flight booked out of another country, then your argument would probably be stronger than having a bus booked. Buy yeah, to be totally sure you should have proof of onward travel out of Peru. Thanks, Tony.
Good advice, Tony. Except that I would trust LAN/LATAM to refund my money about as far as I could throw one of their airplanes.
Well written, good info cheers.
Am heading over to try ayahuasca in Iquitos
any tips you have for me would be much appreciated.
Hi Raffa. What kind of tips are you looking for? If you want tips about ayahuasca, then definitely try to find a reliable local who can recommend a genuine shaman/curandero who isn’t part of the overly-commercialized ayahuasca industry in Iquitos. That would be my main tip. Let me know if you have more questions (email me using the contact form if you like). Cheers, Tony.
Life saver. Been so frustrating trying to follow my feet. They sure do make it difficult these days
This is such good information, thank you so much!!
Thanks Haley! Happy to help.
What about animals? i’m flying to Peru from Canada and I have my return ticket but my dog will be staying behind with my daughter. She’s volunteering in Peru. Will customs refuse the dog’s entry if i can’t show proof of onward travel for him?
Good information on your website.
Hi Carole. That’s a very good question! Assuming you have all the necessary paperwork for the dog, I don’t think you’ll have any problems. You might be asked about your plans for the dog, I guess, so it’s worth taking some details i.e. photocopy of your daughter’s passport, info about where she’s volunteering etc. etc. just in case. Just to be sure, it’s probably a good idea to contact your airline and ask their opinion. They might be able to give you a more concrete answer. Thanks, Tony.
Wish I would have read this before travelling. Got stuck at Vancouver, Canada, airport when Interjet wouldn’t let me board. Had one and a half hours to buy an expensive supposedly refundable ticket from Interjet back to Mexico City. Was refundable but only for Interjet credit, good for one year. Guess who I’ll be flying home with? Good information on this website. Thank you.
Hi Joseph, and thanks for sharing your experience. At least you can fly home with Interjet. Have fun in Peru!
Thanks for the article Tony !
I recommend as well https://onewayfly.com/en they offer vouchers for visas and onward tickets 🙂