So you love Iquitos and you are thinking about buying a house or starting a business here. That’s great news. Now save your self a lot of money and trouble by studying the most valuable free article you have ever read. These lessons come directly from the school of hard knocks. I wish someone would have shared this information with me ten years ago.
Rule of law
You can not come here and do what ever you want to do, when ever you want to do it. Peru operates by rule of law. Before you start, learn the laws that apply to your project. Allow plenty of time. Peru ranks 5th in the volume of paper work required to do business. Be patient. Have a sense of humor. Every thing goes slow in Iquitos.
Handshake is worthless
A hand shake is a worthless way to close a deal. It means nothing in a court of law.
How to sign a legal contract
Your signature on a contract is as worthless as a handshake unless you have your residency Carńe de Extanjería or a Permiso de Firma visa. The Permiso de Firma visa is relatively easy. Get it at the immigration office on the 18th block of Caceres, Tele-235371. Open 8:00am-1:00pm and 2:00pm-4:15pm Monday thru Friday, Saturday till noon. Go in the morning for 2 soles by motocarro. You must take the form from Immigration to pay the fee for the Permiso de Firma at Banco de la Nación, located at the corner of Condamine and Yavari #484, open 8:00am-5:00pm, then back to Immigration where the form will be stamped. Only then will it be legal. That visa is only valid for 30 days. On the 31st day your signature will be legally worthless again.
Verify the title at the office of the Public Registrar
Before you purchase land, a house, or a used boat, bus, car, or motorcycle, go to the Registro Publico, on the 5th block of Arica, pay S/20 to S/30 for a title search. If it is anything except a clear, one owner title, don’t even make a down payment until the current owners sort it out. On the form you will receive from the Public Registrar is a section at the top that lists back taxes, and liens. You will assume responsibility for those debts if you purchase the property unless you make absolutely sure the current owners pay the debts before you make a payment.
No more than 50% payment up front
When you hire someone to perform a service, never pay more than half the amount up front until you get to know them very well. You will either have to pay the 50% up front for them to purchase what ever materials are necessary for the job, or better, you must go with them to purchase the supplies, and then pay 10% for the craftsman to live on while working on your project, then pay the balance on completion or delivery…When You Are Satisfied With The Finished Product. Never pay the full amount until you are satisfied with the quality of the work. If you pay the provider of your service 60% up front there is a 60% chance you will never see them again, 80% up front equals 80% chance of never seeing your worker again, 100% up front…you fill in the blank space where your money is gone, nothing gets done, and you are disappointed with humanity.
“But I trusted him”. Sorry
If you say, “But I trust him”, it’s probably too late, you lose.
Preferably no partner
You are not required to have a Peruvian partner. Don’t have one. If you can afford to carry out your plan on your own, don’t have a partner of any nationality. Hire good people instead.
One lawyer before, better than two lawyers after
If you must have a partner, it’s a good investment to hire the lawyer first to help you legally set up your partnership, so you won’t have to hire the lawyers after the partnership breaks up, when it will be much more expensive to have two lawyers working for years. Remember, one lawyer before, instead of two lawyers after. You can’t be too careful. Don’t trust the lawyer either. One Iquitos lawyer that speaks excellent English, has betrayed many gringos who were trying to accomplish their goals in Iquitos.
Facturas are very important
If you are starting a business, first your business name and address, then your constitution, then your bank account, then your tax number, (RUC) then your facturas. The process is much more complicated than that. What I want to get at is the importance of using facturas to save you money and trouble. The common boleta is a receipt to prove you purchased entertainment, groceries at the corner store, a beer or meal at a bar or restaurant, etc. Facturas are for businesspeople. Do not underestimate the importance of doing business with facturas. Don’t get ahead of yourself. You must have your business set up properly before you purchase anything for your business. Wait until you have jumped through all the hoops and your business is legal, then start operating using facturas as your accounting and tax deduction tool. No factura, no tax deduction.
Taxes and accountants
Taxes are payed every month, even if you don’t have an income yet. Check at SUNAT (Tax office) on the first block of Putumayo, to learn what day you must file your tax form. That date is determined by the last three digits of your RUC#. If you don’t file your “programa de declaracion telematica” on time, even if the amount owed is 0, you will have to pay a large fine. An accountant will save you money.
First, ask someone who has been there
Ask a few friendly gringo advisers that have experience. Don’t make the same mistakes we did.
Peruvian con artists
There are many well known con men whose only job is to separate you from your money. The list of their names and misdeeds are too long for this article, but I bet you can learn about them later in the comments below. If you have experience with these cheaters, share your story with us to help save our new friends a lot of money and trouble. Pay attention! You don’t have to learn the hard way like we did.
From my personal experience, the percentage of gringo scoundrels is larger than the percentage of the Peruvian scoundrels among the 450,000 population of Greater Iquitos. There are around 120 ex-pats in Iquitos. By my count, at least 12 can’t be trusted. Two of my trustworthy friends estimated 50%, 60 of the expat gringos in Iquitos can’t be trusted. Maybe I’m naive, but I’m sticking to at least 10%. Think about it, 1 out of every 10 expats is a scoundrel. Which 12? I suspect that question will be answered, but not in the body of this article.
Don’t loan money
Don’t loan money. You will never get it back. If you want to give money to help a person, that’s wonderful, but don’t call it a loan. A good test is to “loan” the recipient S/10 soles. When they ask for another “loan” you explain that you would like to loan them more but they haven’t payed back the original loan yet. You only lose $2.80 that way but S/5 soles would prove the same point and save you a $1.40.
Choose who to help
Someone’s mother or baby is always sick or dying. We all want to help. First, decide how many of the approximately 300,000 poor people living below the poverty level you can afford to personally help? Second, go to their home or the hospital to see with your own eyes and verify the emergency actually exists.
Use a condom
There are many wonderful people in Iquitos. Sort your girlfriends or boyfriends carefully, like everywhere. Use a condom! A romantic mistake will cost a lot of money and cause a lot of trouble. You don’t need that.
Human slot machines
My friend Dante made this observation, “Many Peruvians believe gringos are like slot machines in the casino, pull the handle and money comes rolling out.” Make sure you are not perceived as the neighborhood slot machine.
Are you sure you want the responsibility of a God-child?
Never accept the honor of being the God Mother or God Father. At best choose only one wonderful child.
How to make a small fortune
In case you are wondering how to make a small fortune in Iquitos, the only answer I know is to bring a large fortune.
A million dollars
Have you heard the one about the guy that came to Iquitos with a million dollars and isn’t leaving until he gets it back?
Trust but verify
I guarantee if you follow this advise you will save a lot of money and trouble. Trust…but verify.
If you think of any important advise that I missed, add it in the comments below. Thank you.
21 Tip To Save A Lot Of Money And Stay Out Of Trouble In Iquitos
Bill Grimes wrote this two part series to help you, Top Ten Tips To Save Some Money In Iquitos, and 21 Tips How To Save A Lot Of Money And Stay Out Of Trouble In Iquitos. Over 30 free tips from his own experience and the experiences of his friends and acquaintances. He has been heard to say, “I’m not talking hypothetical bull shit here on the Captain’s Blog. I’m talking real life in Iquitos. Wise up before it’s too late!”