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Border Crossing - Santa Rosa, Chile to Peru

A picture of the customs and immigration building at the Santa Rosa border crossing between Chile and Peru.

Crossing Date: 31 October 2023
Direction: Chile to Peru
Altitude: 0m
Vehicle: UK-registered motorcycle
People: 1
Total time: 1 hour
Rating: 4/5 (Smooth)

Santa Rosa is the main border crossing between Chile and Peru, connecting the cities of Arica (Chile) and Tacna (Peru). Border functions for both countries are now housed in a single building, and commercial vehicles use a different area, so crossing is fairly straightforward.

The Process

At Santa Rosa, you complete an initial check-in at a central window, before going through a fairly standard process: exiting Chile for immigration purposes, cancelling the Chilean Temporary Import Permit (TIP) for your vehicle, getting stamped into Peru, and obtaining a Peruvian TIP.

Although all the border functions for both countries are housed in the same location, you need to go to multiple doors in different ends of the building to move through the steps. The doors/windows are numbered:

  1. Chile PDI (Immigration Police) - exiting Chile
  2. Peruvian Immigration (ImigraciĆ³n) - entering Peru
  3. Chile Service Nacional de Aduana (Customs) - cancelling the Chilean TIP for your vehicle
  4. Peru Aduana (Customs) - obtaining a Peruvian TIP for your vehicle

Once you've been through all four windows and have your paperwork in order, you proceed to the Peruvian Aduana (Customs) checkpoint, where vehicles are searched.

Once Customs gives you the green light, you continue to a final checkpoint where paperwork is given one last check before you enter Peru.

How it Went for Me

Overall, the process was fairly smooth. There is no information to tell you where to start, so I parked my motorcycle and headed towards the building. A uniformed official seemed to notice my hesitation and directed me into a door in the centre of the building. Here I was asked to show my passport and complete a small form with some personal information. The official then explained (in Spanish) the four steps and locations to complete the formalities. At this point, I noticed that these were numbered, although not super clearly.

At the left end of the building was step 1, Chilean PDI. There was a large line, but for some reason I was directed to another window and stamped out of Chile immediately. About two minutes tops.

Next, a walk to the other (right) end of the building for step 2, Peruvian Immigration. No line here, so I was processed and stamped immediately.

Step 3 involved walking to a toll-booth style counter, separate to the main building, where the Chilean TIP was cancelled. I was directed there by the first official, but it was also clearly marked as number 3.

The final window was another small booth nearby, where the Peruvian TIP was created. The officials clearly don't see too many UK vehicle registration documents, so it took a bit of time for them to extract the necessary details for the TIP.

Passport and paperwork all in order, I returned to the bike and rode a short distance to the Peruvian Customs checkpoint. It was all a bit chaotic. One guy parked his car, blocking the road while he went and sorted his paperwork. Once he'd moved, cars seemed to come out of nowhere all wanting to enter the Customs area first, creating a bit of a traffic jam.

In the Customs area, the officers were busy searching the first two cars in the line. As I approached, I was directed to an empty lane nearby. As has happened before, the tightly packed luggage seemed to be very much in the 'too hard' basket for the Customs official. Another cursory look in the panniers and I was told to be on my way. It was hard not to have a little sympathy for the people in the cars nearby who were having their vehicles and luggage searched very thoroughly. But hey, biker life right?

A short ride ahead was the final checkpoint where I handed over the initial check-in form I'd been given. No questions or any interaction. Just hand the form over and you're on your way. Welcome to Peru!

Overall, a fairly smooth process with not too much waiting around. Initial lack of clarity about where to start would be my only real complaint.

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