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Bolivia

Bolivia
Plurinational State of Bolivia
Exercise normal precautions in Bolivia.

Exercise normal precautions in Bolivia.

Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.

If you decide to travel to Bolivia:

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Embassy Messages
Alerts
Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:


Six months (as of entry date into the country)

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:


One page per stamp

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:


Yes

VACCINATIONS:


Yellow Fever

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:


$10,000

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:


$10,000

ALL /
ALL /
Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy La Paz

Avenida Arce 2780
La Paz, Bolivia
Telephone:
+(591) (2) 216-8000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(591) (2) 216-8000
Fax: +(591) (2) 216-8111
Hours: Monday to Thursday: 08:00 – 17:30 and Friday: 08:00 – 12:00 (except U.S. and local holidays)
Email: 

Consulates

United States Consular Agency, Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Radial Castilla S/N (In front of Santo Tomas School soccer
field). Between 3er Anillo Interno y 3er Anillo Externo
Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Telephone: +(591) (2) 216-8000 
Emergency after-hours telephone: +(591) 2-216-8000
Fax: +(591) (3) 351-3478
Email: ConsularSantaCruz@state.gov
Hours: Monday and Tuesday: 08:00 – 15:00
Wednesday and Thursday: 8:30 – 15:00, and
Friday: 09:00 – 12:00  (except U.S. and local holidays)

Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Bolivia for information on U.S. – Bolivia relations.

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

You need a valid passport for at least six months after entry, and a valid Bolivian visa.

  • With a visitor visa, you may stay for a maximum of 90 days per calendar year.
  • If you plan to work, study, volunteer, or conduct business in Bolivia, you must apply for a separate visa (Specific Purpose Visa).
  • Make sure you obtain entry and exit stamps from the Bolivian authorities every time you enter or exit Bolivia.
  • There are limited flights within Bolivia and to neighboring countries. Flight delays and cancellations are common.
  • Minors with Bolivian citizenship must obtain authorization from the non-traveling parent or parents at a Bolivian Embassy or Consulate to exit Bolivia. All other minors remaining in Bolivia for more than 90 days, regardless of citizenship, must obtain the same authorization. See the U.S. Embassy’s website for more information.

Dual Nationality: Upon entering and/or exiting Bolivia, U.S.-Bolivian citizens may be required to show a valid Bolivian identity document, such as a Bolivian cedula de identidad.

HIV Restrictions: The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to, or foreign residents of Bolivia.

Find information on dual nationality, prevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our website.

Safety and Security

Protests, strikes, roadblocks, and other civic actions are common. While protest actions generally begin peacefully, they have the potential to become violent.

When traveling or living in Bolivia, you should:

  • Avoid roadblocks or public demonstrations.
  • Take into consideration the possibility of flight disruptions.
  • Take extra food, water, and warm clothing on road trips.  Roadblocks may occur without warning and could strand you for several days.
  • Monitor Bolivian media and the U.S. Embassy website for updates.

Chapare and Yungas Regions: Organized criminal groups near Coroico and Carnavi cities in Yungas have committed carjackings, resulting in significant harm to foreign citizens. Additionally, government authorities have used force in past confrontations with residents over coca eradication, and pro-coca groups may attempt to target U.S. interests.  Contact the Embassy's Consular Section before traveling to these regions.

Crime: Pick pocketing, assaults following ATM withdrawals, and car theft are common.

  • Express kidnappings, in which tourists are robbed and then forced to withdraw money from ATMs, are common in La Paz.  Use only radio taxis and don’t travel alone, particularly if you’re under the influence of alcohol or it’s late at night.
  • Avoid Coronilla Hill in Cochabamba, next to the main bus terminal, due to high incidences of crime.
  • Use caution if you plan to travel from Copacabana to La Paz by bus. Arrive during daylight hours, verify the final destination, and buy tickets directly at the bus terminal. 
  • Be cautious of anyone introducing themselves as a policeman or even a fellow tourist. Organized criminal groups sometimes pose as police with the intent to rob foreigners.
  • Thefts of bags, wallets, and backpacks are a problem, especially in tourist areas. Thieves distract victims by spraying water on their neck or placing a disagreeable substance on the bag, and trick them into giving up the bag.

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Victims of Crime:

U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault should first contact the U.S. Embassy. 

Report crimes to the local police at 110 and contact the U.S. Embassy at (591) (2) 216-8246. After working hours: 216-8500. The National Tourism Police provides free assistance, in English, to tourists. Contact the La Paz office at 800-14-0081. Contact the Cochabamba office at (591) (4) 450-3880.  In the city of Santa Cruz contact Interpol at (591) 3-800-14-0099.

Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.

For further information:

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Bolivian authorities are generally required to press official charges within 24 hours of arrest, and to release a detainee within 48 hours if no formal charges are brought. However, investigative and pre-trial periods may drag on indefinitely.

In the case you are arrested in Bolivia, the U.S. Embassy cannot:

  • Obtain your release from custody
  • Provide legal counsel or representation
  • Provide financial assistance
  • Select an attorney
  • Request preferential treatment from Bolivian authorities.

The embassy can:

  • Provide a list of attorneys
  • Visit you in detention
  • Observe your condition
  • Assist with contacting friends and family for support.

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

In Bolivia, you may find products made with wild plants and animals. Many of these products could involve protected or endangered species, whose sale and export are illegal. Any protected species that is sold or transported, either live or transformed into food, medicinal beverages, leather, handcrafts, garments, etc., could be seized by Bolivian authorities. Some products, including live animals, require special permits when leaving Bolivia. Knowingly importing into the United States wildlife or plants that were taken from the wild or sold in violation of the laws of Bolivia (or any other country) violates U.S. law.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.

  • Under Bolivian law, suspects can be detained for up to 18 months without formal charges during an investigation, and the detention period could be extended beyond 18 months.
  • Legal cases often drag on for years.

Mountain Trekking and Climbing Safety: Many popular trekking routes in the Bolivian Andes are at 16,000 feet or higher. Regardless of medical history or physical fitness, you may experience significant health issues due to the high altitude. Exercise extreme caution when trekking or climbing in Bolivia.

  • Trekkers must have adequate clothing and equipment, not always available locally, and should be experienced mountain travelers.
  • Don’t trek alone. Join an organized group and/or use a reputable firm to obtain an experienced guide and porter.
  • If you develop a severe headache, weakness, vomiting, shortness of breath at rest, cough, chest tightness, or unsteadiness while climbing, descend to a lower altitude immediately, and consider seeking medical attention.
  • Trekkers and climbers should purchase insurance that covers emergency services such as medical evacuations.
  • Satellite communication and internet connectivity can be limited or non-existent. Inform family members of your plans and note that you may not be reachable for extended periods.

Authentication of Documents: The Embassy is prohibited from issuing apostilles or authenticating U.S. or Bolivian-issued documents, such as birth, marriage or death certificates, or driver’s licenses. For information on where to obtain an apostille on a U.S. document, please click here.

Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:

LGBTI Travelers: The Bolivian constitution prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events.

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance. Few buildings and streets are accessible by wheelchair. Sidewalks and ramps are often in disrepair. Most public transportation vehicles are ill-adapted.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: Bolivia has one of the highest domestic violence rates against women in South America. A very high percentage of women have experienced intimate partner violence. See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

Health

Bolivia is subject to extreme drought and shortage. During the dry season, many neighborhoods, particularly in La Paz, Potosi, Cochabamba, Santa Cruz, Chuquisaca, and Oruro, may not have regular running water.

Medical care in large cities is adequate, but of varying quality. Medical facilities are generally not equipped to handle serious medical conditions, and risk of infection is high.

  • Ambulance services are limited to non-existent.
  • Prescription and over-the-counter medications are widely available. However, many pharmacies only stock generic brands.
  • Much of Bolivia is 10,000 feet above sea level and higher. Consult your healthcare provider for recommendations concerning medication and high altitude tips.
  • Water treatment methods do not meet U.S. standards. Avoid consuming unfiltered tap water.
  • Sanitize all produce, and ensure all meat products are completely cooked, due to higher risks of salmonella or other contaminants.

Medical Tourism: Undergoing elective cosmetic procedures in Bolivia presents significant risks. The blood supply and regulation of doctors and medical services do not meet U.S. standards in many areas. Visit the CDC Medical Tourism page for more information.

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments.  See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.

The U.S. Embassy does not pay or provide loans for medical evacuations. We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

If traveling with prescription medication, verify with the Government of Bolivia the medication is legal in Bolivia. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.

The following diseases are prevalent:

  • Malaria
  • Dengue
  • Rabies
  • Yellow fever
  • Chikungunya
  • Zika

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety:  Use extreme caution when driving on roadways. Few highways have shoulders, fencing or barriers, and lane markings are minimal. Even when lanes are marked, it is common for drivers to disregard them.

  • Although La Paz, Santa Cruz, and Cochabamba are connected by highways, most roads in Bolivia are unpaved.
  • Four-wheel drive vehicles are recommended for trips outside major cities.
  • Travel during the rainy season (November-March) is difficult, as most routes have potholes, and roads and bridges may be washed out.
  • Other dangers include poor maintenance and overloaded vehicles, lack of lights on some vehicles, and intoxicated or overly tired drivers, including commercial bus and truck drivers.
  • Stop signs are rare, and drivers commonly disregard red lights, particularly at night.

Traffic Laws: Most drivers lack formal training. Maintain situational awareness on the roads and employ defensive driving skills.

  • Drivers do not normally yield to pedestrians.
  • If you are involved in a traffic accident, stay at the scene until local police arrive. Leaving the scene is illegal under Bolivian law. The police may assess a percentage of fault to you relative to their assessment of your responsibility for the incident.

Public Transportation: Although violent assaults on public transportation are rare, petty theft is common.

  • Avoid taking unlicensed taxis, and use radio taxis whenever possible.
  • The majority of intercity travel is by minibus, with varying levels of safety and service. Bus accidents are responsible for death and severe injuries. The old Yungas road is considered one of the most dangerous routes in the world.

See our Road Safety page for more information.

Aviation Safety Oversight:

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Bolivia’s Civil Aviation Authority to be in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Bolivia’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.

Last Updated: August 4, 2017
Travel Advisory Levels

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy La Paz
Avenida Arce 2780
La Paz, Bolivia
Telephone
+(591) (2) 216-8000
Emergency
+(591) (2) 216-8000
Fax
+(591) (2) 216-8111
Bolivia Map