How to obtain Peruvian citizenship

How to obtain Peruvian citizenship

Since 2016, Peruvian citizens may travel to the European Union’s Schengen area without having to apply for visa. With a Peruvian passport, you can currently travel visa-free to 138 countries which makes Peru rank 21 on the Passport Index. That’s not at all bad and combined with Peru’s pretty stable economy, it has led to an increased interest in obtaining Peruvian citizenship. We notice this even here at Digital Nomads Peru when people read our articles about how to become a resident as CEO of your company or by obtaining a rentista visa and ask about the requirements for citizenship in Peru.

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All you need to know about how to get a Peruvian passport

My name is Sergio Vargas and I’m an immigration and taxes lawyer in Lima, Peru. In the following article, I’ll give you a summary of the most important things you need to know if you aim to apply for citizenship. I wrote this article in the form of questions and answers, using the questions which people most commonly ask me when they contact my office for information about the possibilities to get a Peruvian passport. 

On a scale from 1 - 10, how difficult is it to obtain Peruvian citizenship? (1 = very easy, 10 = very difficult)

I would give it an 8. It’s a long process.
You need to have basic knowledge of the country’s history, geography, politics and current affairs and will have an interview with the national superintendent. 
Apart from that, you need to prove an annual income of at least 42,500 soles (app. USD 12,670) and will need to present several documents which have to be apostilled and translated. 
Last not least, applying for Peruvian citizenship is only possible after you’ve legally lived in the country for at least two years. 

Which advantages does a Peruvian passport have?

In my opinion, the advantages for a foreigner who would like to become a Peruvian citizen are the following: 
1. You will never again have to worry about visa extensions or other official appointments which are necessary to maintain your residency in Peru. 
2. You are no longer part of the foreigner quota of a company, be it your own or one that employed you. 
3. You can travel to many countries with a Peruvian passport, including the European Union. 
4. A Peruvian passport makes it easier for you to live in many other South American countries, especially the member states of the Comunidad Andina. 
5. Applying for a visa for family members is easier as they will likely qualify as a “familiar de residente”. 
6. You can work for governmental institutions without any restrictions. 

Is it possible to "buy" a passport by investing a large amount of money in Peru?

There’s no legal way to do this. It’s important to remember that a passport is simply a travel document. However, you can’t get it without becoming a citizen of Peru and this is only possible after living legally in the country for two years and then apply for the citizenship. 
There’s just one exception: You were born abroad but have a Peruvian father or mother. In that case, you can apply for a Peruvian passport as soon as you are of full age. This has to be done at RENIEC in Peru or at a Peruvian Consulate abroad. 

What is the normal procedure if someone wishes to apply for Peruvian citizenship?

We need to distinguish between two ways to acquire Peruvian nationality: 
1. by marriage (after 2 years of marriage and 2 years of living legally in Peru)
2. by naturalization (after 2 years of living legally in Peru + annual income of at least USD 12,670)
In this article, we’re talking about citizenship by naturalization which is the most common way for foreigners who are interested in a Peruvian passport. 
Here are the requirements listed by the Peruvian government: 
1. Write an application addressed to the President of Peru
2. You need to be at least 18 years old, have completed 2 years of legal residence in Peru and have spent at least 183 days/year in the country unless you were granted a special permission by Migraciones. 
3. Birth certificate with apostille or legalized by either a Peruvian consulate or the Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 
4. Present your carné de extranjería with proof of having paid the annual foreigner fee and proof of legal residence and photocopy of your passport. 
5. Hand in all required documents and proof of income
6. Interpol Certificate 
7. Declaration about health condition, home address and having no previous convictions in Peru or elsewhere 
8. Pass the exam with questions about Peru

What are the requirements as far as the candidate's criminal record, financial background, professional background, language skills and knowledge of Peruvian history and culture are concerned?

Criminal Record: You can only apply for Peruvian citizenship if you have a totally clean criminal record, inside and outside Peru. You need to present the certificate issued by Interpol and make a statement under oath 
Professional background:  It’s not necessary to have a university degree. You just need to prove that you have the required income of USD 12,670/year. Compared to international standards, it is not much. However, if we take into account that the average yearly income in Peru is only USD 4500 it looks a bit different. 
Spanish skills:  You need at least an intermediate level of Spanish because the interview will be conducted in Spanish. However, after having lived in Peru for two years, it should be possible to have a level that is acceptable for the interview. Well, and I think that it is important to be able to communicate in Spanish if you are interested in being part of the Peruvian community. Language skills are generally a requirement when it comes to obtaining citizenship. There are many options to learn Spanish online, you can already start taking lessons before you move to Peru. Have a look at italki and try to find a Peruvian teacher who will also be able to teach you something about the culture and history of the country. 
Knowledge about Peru: You will need to know the most important facts about Peruvian history, geography, economy and current affairs. At NVC Abogados, we assist our clients by indicating what exactly they will need to study to pass the exam. 

Does Peru accept double nationality? In which cases would the applicant be required to give up the citizenship of his country of origin?

Yes, Peru accepts double nationality by law. That means that Peru would never force you to give up the citizenship of your country of origin. However, if you’d like to keep your first citizenship, it’s your duty to make sure that your country of origin allows it. Every country has different laws and regulations. 

Who does typically apply for Peruvian citizenship?

Generally speaking, there are two groups of people who apply for Peruvian citizenship. 
The first group consists of people who have already been residing in Peru for a long time and feel as part of the Peruvian society. They are tired of constantly having to deal with bureaucratic issues because they are foreigners. 
  The second group consists of people who hold passports which require them to apply for a tourist visa when they want to visit Europe and many other countries. Or they are seen as a potential threat just because of their nationality, as it happened in 2018 when the United States suddenly stop issuing tourist visas for citizens of countries like Pakistan or Syria. 
There’s a passport ranking which tells you which passports are the strongest, meaning that you can visit a lot of countries without having to apply for a tourist visa before entering the country. Your passport also defines how long you can stay in a certain country. For example, a Peruvian passport enables you to become a resident in Bolivia, Ecuador or Colombia as those 4 countries are part of the Comunidad Andina. A Peruvian passport will also make it easy for you to reside in one of the Mercosur countries (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile). 

How do you as a lawyer help people with the process?

Although it’s not necessary to hire a lawyer if you want to apply for Peruvian citizenship, we can help you prepare everything and make sure that you meet all requirements. For example, it happens again and again that people spent less than 183 days/year in Peru when applying for their passport. This results in immediate rejection. 

If you decide to work with a lawyer, we will help you acquire the necessary and correct documents to prove your income, make sure that your birth certificate is translated by a qualified translator as well as preparing all the numerous letters and sworn declarations which are needed to finish the process successfully. 

The whole process takes one year and is finally handled by the Peruvian president. According to the Peruvian Constitution, he’s the only person with the legal power to grant someone the right to become a Peruvian citizen. 

Sometimes, it takes less than one year but that’s the length of time stated by the immigration laws. 

It also happens that the process is delayed because certain legal aspects need to be clarified or a document is missing. The deadlines to respond to such requests by the authorities use to be pretty short (normally 5 days) and if you don’t respond in time, everything will be cancelled and you’ll have to start all over again. All notifications and requests for missing documents are sent by email. 

It often happens that your home address is checked to make sure that you really live there as it’s not uncommon that people forget to update their address when they move. If the immigration authorities discover it, your application will be denied. I’ve just recently seen a case of an American lady from Cusco where exactly this happened. 

How long does the process take and how are the chances that the application is successful if all requirements are met?

The whole process from handing in all your documents and being granted Peruvian citizenship takes one year. 
If your documents are in order, if you’ve spent the required time in Peru and if you’ve passed the interview and the exam, then there will be no problem. 
It’s key to hand in all documents as required and translated to Spanish so that there’s no need for the Peruvian authorities to re-check and extend the process. 
At NVC Abogados, we make sure that there won’t be any delays because something is missing or not correct so that a successful application is guaranteed. 

What are the differences between permanent residency and citizenship?

A permanent resident is a person who has lived in Peru for 3 years or longer. He meets all the requirements to be considered an immigrant. He has the right to live in Peru as long as he wants to but he’s not a Peruvian citizen but still a foreigner. He doesn’t have the right to obtain a Peruvian ID card (DNI) or a Peruvian passport. 
Peruvian citizenship comes with rights and duties. Once you have it, you’ll be treated as if you were born in Peru. You have the duty and the right to vote (in Peru, it’s obligatory) and you may also be elected. 

Need help with your process to obtain residency and citizenship in Peru?

If you would like to discuss your personal situation and options in detail, please book a consultation with Sergio. Or fill out the form below to contact Sergio Vargas of NVC Abogados directly. However, please make sure that you’ve read and understood the information in the article above. Please don’t ask questions which are answered here. Thank you. 

Sergio Vargas
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1 Comment
  1. I have a Peruvian parent and got my DNI card within a morning at the Peruvian Consulate as soon as they changed the law regarding overage (18 plus) children. Cost around 20 dollars for a birth certificate and processing because the law states I am ‘Peruvian by Birth’.

    Mr. Vargas states that it is easy for Peruvians to be able to reside in any of the ‘Comunidad Andina’ countries. How does it work? Do you need to apply for a visa beforehand (like a Mercosur visa) or do you just turn up with your Comunidad Andina passport and national DNI?

    Great website by the way!

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