21 Tips How To Save A Lot Of Money And Stay Out Of Trouble In Iquitos

by Captain Bill

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.

Gringo scoundrels

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!”

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jim King May 16, 2011 at 6:39 pm

Not only is a handshake worthless but a contract signed with a fingerprint is many times denied and results in a legal dispute that never ends. “””””””””””””As Bill said do it alone if possible but if you are starting a company that expects to have a substantial income you should have a SAC corporation which requires a $25,000 deposit in the bank to prove that the new company has capital and the money is returned in a few days after the company is fully registered.with a Peruvian or forgien Partner of 1% which limits your liability as a Inc in the US and allows for the profits to be sent out of the country.

How to sign a legal contract

You can obtain the temporary or buy permission to sign a contract property but you have no right to act as an operative of the company as officer or director until you have a DNI or a permanent residency. http://www.rgbavocats.com/eng/setting-up-a-company-in-peru.php
Verify the title at the office of the Public Registrar
The Public Registers office will stretch you out with observations of your documents until you want to commit suicide. Roll with it and play their game as a bribe only which they want for the supposed problem only opens the door to another bribe.

No more than 50% payment up front

Advance payments are a Peruvian phenomenon and do not but rarely result in anything.

“But I trusted him”. Sorry

But I trust him” is same as saying “I am stupid on the verge of insanity

Preferably no partner

If possible depending the type of business this is preferable..

One lawyer before, better than two lawyers after

Lawyers are hard to find. Imitation lawyers with all the credentials there are in quantity. Beware of any Peruvian that speaks English especially street hustlers and lawyers.

Facturas are very important

Facturas can only be given to a person or company that has a RUC or in English a tax ID number. As Bill said boletas (simple receipts) have little or no value. Also valid are Liquadaccion de compras under certain conditions and you need a good accountant of which fall in the category of lawyers.

Taxes and accountants

Normally the tax date every month is a different so be careful of this or here comes the fine.

First, ask someone who has been there

There is a long list of foreigners here that have made every mistake and will happily share the facts over a cold beer. The best I can offer is if you go to Ari Burger to eat , do nothing more than eat and do not believe anything said by all the new friends that set at your table and offer great business and deals.possible and will get you somehow.

Peruvian con artists

As Bill said this would take a book.

Gringo scoundrels

Normal Gringos normally do not come here to live, it is a mixture of adventurers , missionaries, and crazies and throw in some pedophiles and retires.. The adventurers have their office at various bars and restaurants, the missionaries are quite quiet as they have their own game receiving money from the US and the crazies are out to make a living no matter how.

Don’t loan money

I lost over $400,000 before I went thru the school and obtained my degree here. After many years I finally started to recover and in a few months all will be calm again. But I have to say it has been quite an experience and would probably do it again. I have been here 18 nyears with 6 years in Colombia and 8 years in West Africa but this place is VERY special.

Choose who to help

This is a real problem for good hearted foreigners. One time I was leaving the airport with a group that came to visit and they saw a group of kids that were in front of the taxi and they asked how can we help them. I said run over them and back up and do it again as they are glue sniffers and have holes in the brain and are a waste to society.

Use a condom

Sin city of the Amazon, be careful.

Human slot machines

Blue eyes and white skin have a high price here on all levels.

Are you sure you want the responsibility of a God-child?

My advice is don´t do it. Adopt a street dog they are much more loyal and and bring no problems.

How to make a small fortune

A lot of witnesses to this statement. Go slow or don’t go.

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?

He is in the cemetery.

Trust but verify

I have never been able to verify much but only with a small group that I have made into virtual Gringos over many years.

If you think of any important advise that I missed, add it in the comments below. Thank you.

If you want to come here to do business or live mix wit the Gringos for a couple of months and then START to move forward slowly.

2 Jim King May 16, 2011 at 6:57 pm

All of the above being said there is a lot of wonderful people in Iquitos and I consider it my home for the rest of my life. Plus the rum is cheap and the beer is cold.

3 Alan May 16, 2011 at 11:31 pm

Like Bill and Jim I love Iquitos and the beautiful people, Iquitos to me is the Garden of Eden. While I do not currently live there full-time, I also consider it my home. The 21 tips that Bill wrote and the comments from Jim are all to true, I can attest to that. I think it should be mandatory that all airlines handout Bill’s 21 tip list with Jim’s additions to ALL arriving Gringos, just like custom form. Read this or learn the hard way like I did. Thanks guys. P.S Really watch-out for the little English speaking Lawyer…don’t trust a word from him.

4 Caleb Whitaker May 19, 2011 at 5:54 am

Great article Bill.

Hey, do you know why they bury lawyers 12 feet deep in Iquitos? Because deep down, they’re really good guys.

5 HERNAN ARELLANO BAUTISTA January 13, 2012 at 6:53 pm

IT IS ABSOLUTLY RIGHT NORMAL GRINGOS DO NOT COME HERE TO LIVE, MY NAME IS HERNAN ARELLANO BAUTISTA AND MOST OF PEOPLE WHO WRITE MUST IDENTIFY THEMSELVES I AM LAWYER AND I´M NOT SURE IF MY ENGLISH IS EXCELLENTE; BUT I MUST SAY THAT DRUNKERS USSUALLY LIE AND MANIPULATE PEOPLE, I NEVER BETRAYED ANYBODY GOT MORE MONEY THAT NECESSARY AND AGREED, YES I AM GUILTY BUT I AM NOT A COWARD AND I FACE IT, REGARDING JIM AND ALAN THEY MUST NOT HIDE AND MUST DENOUNCE THE LAWYER THEY REFER TO, AFTER ALL YOU CAN BUY BIG THIEVES IN COURT AS ATARAMA AND DEL PIELAGO; ASK CAPTAIN BILL. REMEMBER WE MUST NOT BE COWARDS.
HERNAN ARELLANO BAUTISTA

6 HERNAN ARELLANO BAUTISTA January 13, 2012 at 6:57 pm

OK I´M SORRY IF I HURT SOMBODY; BUT I´M LIKE THAT, THAT IS WHY NOBODY WANTS A LAWYER AS ME; BUT I NEVER BETRAYED ANYBODY.

7 HERNAN ARELLANO BAUTISTA January 13, 2012 at 7:00 pm

MAYBE I´M WRONG, IF SO, I REALLY APOLIGIZE.
HERNAN ARELLANO

8 Henry Hawkins September 18, 2015 at 6:29 pm

Good article bill, very informative.
Thanks

9 Noah Hudson May 6, 2016 at 2:32 am

Thanks Bill, this is great!

10 Captain Bill May 6, 2016 at 10:04 am

Thanks for reading and commenting Noah.

Wishing you the best,
Bill

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: