Peru’s banking system underwent privatisation during the 1990s and expats have a number of options when it comes to managing finances. The country has a modern banking system that is regulated by the Central Reserve Bank of Peru.
Money in Peru
The official currency is the Sol (PEN), which is divided into 100 céntimos. The currency is represented with the symbol S/.
- Notes: PEN 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200.
- Coins: PEN 1, 2 and 5 and 5, 10, 20 and 50 céntimos.
US dollars are widely accepted in Peru, but the exchange rate on these is usually poor. Day-to-day transactions may also be difficult to make in US dollars, as many small shops are only used to trading in soles.
Banking in Peru
Expats will find that banking in Peru is relatively easy. Both local and international banks operate in the country and most Peruvian banks offer modern facilities and services.
Expats should be aware that there have been some issues with counterfeit foreign currency in the country, particularly US dollars, so when exchanging money, it’s best to do so at a legitimate establishment.
Banking hours vary, with most branches open between 9am to 1pm and 3pm to 6pm Monday to Saturday. Some banks are also open on Sunday for a limited number of hours.
Opening a bank account
Foreigners can open a bank account in the local currency or in some foreign currencies, including dollars. In order to open a Peruvian bank account, expats need to provide their passport and have a foreign residence card. Proof of address and proof of income may also be required.
Peruvian bank charges can be quite high and most banks charge for every transaction, so it’s best to shop around and compare rates when deciding which bank to open an account with.
Peru has modern banking facilities, including cellphone and internet banking services, allowing expats to avoid wasting time in long bank queues.
ATMs in Peru
ATMs are available across the country. Foreign bank cards are not always accepted in ATMs, so it’s best to check before trying to draw cash.
Rural Peru remains a largely cash-based society and credit cards aren't a typical means of payment. That said, credit cards are accepted in major shops, restaurants and hotels in Peruvian cities.
Taxes in Peru
Peruvian residents pay tax on a progressive scale on their worldwide income, while non-residents are only taxed on income earned in Peru. For tax purposes, a resident is someone who has lived in Peru for at least 183 days in a 12-month period; the days don’t have to be consecutive.