While most visitors will probably never need to pay the US embassy a visit, Peru can always throw you a curveball. So, what should you do if you need to go to the US embassy? We’ve got the answers.

Typically the main reason people end up at the embassy is for a new passport, usually because it was lost or stolen. Besides that, there are also notarial services which residents in Peru might need, but those cases are few and far between. And if you’ve been arrested (more likely your friend because I doubt the arrestee is reading this now), call 618-2000 immediately as a US consular officer will visit you and help you get legal representation.

It's a hard place to miss

It’s a hard place to miss

Where is the US Embassy in Lima?

The embassy is located on Avenida La Encalada, cuadra 17 (it’s so massive it doesn’t have its own number) in Surco. Every taxi driver knows where the US embassy is. It’s such a landmark that you can probably just ask for la embajada and get there. From Miraflores a taxi should charge no more than 20 soles.

You can bus it there from Miraflores by taking a white and brown bus that goes all the way down Benavides and up La Encalada. Just ask a bus if it goes by la embajada.

What to do if you lose your passport

Step one, calm down. Better? You’ll need to go to the local police station (called the comisaria) and report your passport lost or stolen. Make sure you go to the station that covers the district where the loss/robbery occurred, on the off chance it gets recovered. Tell them you want to poner una denuncia por robo/pérdida de mi pasaporte.

On that topic, it’s highly unlikely that your stuff will be found, but it does happen. I was robbed once and my passport was in my bag. Within a few days of reporting the robbery another police station called my work and told them they had found my bag. Turns out the idiot robbers chucked it into the street so as to leave it as evidence that I had committed a crime. Well, one look at my tall gringo frame made the cop laugh as I most definitely did not match the description of the perpetrators.

Another great change in the government is that now your first copy of the police report is free of charge and must be given to you. Don’t lose this, as you’ll need it.

Making an appointment with the US embassy

If you’re travelling within the next 3 days, rush over to the embassy without an appointment and they’ll straighten the situation out. You’ll need the copy of the police report, proof of citizenship and identity, as well as forms and $135. See this link for more details. If you don’t have these papers you may need someone to Fedex them down to you.  MAKE A COPY OF THE PHOTO PAGE OF YOUR PASSPORT BEFORE YOU COME! Better yet, take a photo of the photo page with your cell phone and email the photo to yourself so you always know where it is. This can seriously save your bacon.

Any other time you need to go to the embassy, get online and make an appointment. Usually slots are available in 3-7 days.

After you get your new passport you’ll need to go to the immigrations office on Avenida España in Breña to transfer your visa stamps to the new passport. You can’t leave the country without this, so it’s extremely important you get to the office as early as possible to avoid lines. The process itself is quick so long as you are in the front of the line.

What else can the US embassy do?

The US Embassy website has useful resources for travelers regarding medical services, tips for starting a business, and can handle any other type of document situation, such as registering the birth of your child in Peru, for instance. They can put an apostille seal on any federally issued document (not state issued things like birth certificates or diplomas).

You can also drop off voter registrations and ballots at the embassy for free shipping. And if you’re really in trouble, with no money to go back home and no one to help you out, the embassy can even loan you money, though this is reserved the most extreme cases.

Hopefully you won’t need to visit this castle of a building, but if you do, it’s good to know how to make the US embassy work for you.