Bolivia is filled with beautiful landscapes and endless adventures, and it’s a backpacker’s paradise with the cheap cost of living. However, obtaining a Bolivian visa for US citizens takes plenty of planning, preparation, and busy work. Luckily, the visa is good for 10 years, and you can be in the country for 90 days each calendar year.
You can get a Bolivian visa either at the border when you enter the country or at an embassy beforehand. Either way, the requirements are generally the same. The United States makes it difficult for Bolivian citizens to enter the country, so thanks to the rule of reciprocity, the Bolivian government returns the favor. In order to obtain a Bolivian visa, you are required to have 10 items when you apply. Here is a list of all the requirements.
1. Passport Valid for Six Months
Having a current passport may seem obvious, but make sure that it doesn’t expire for at least six months after you plan to leave Bolivia.
2. Completed and Signed Application Form (Sworn Statement)
Make sure that you fill out and sign the sworn statement application form. You can fill it out online and print it beforehand for convenience. The form can be found online here. If you are entering Bolivia by plane or bus, the company often supplies a copy of this form, but filling it out ahead of time can prevent confusion and headaches.
3. $160 in Perfect Bills
Getting into Bolivia is a little pricey, and you’ll need $160 in new, crisp bills. The border officials are very strict on this, so make sure the bills do not have folds, creases, or marks on them. We’re not sure why they have to be so perfect, but we don’t make the rules. Also, be sure to have the exact amount, as we read they’ll claim not to have change.
4. Two Passport-Sized Color Photos
This one is easy. Get a picture of yourself on a solid white background, scale it down to 2 inches by 2 inches, and be sure your face is about an inch in height.
5. Two Color Copies of Your Passport
Another easy one. Open your passport to the information page and make two color photocopies.
6. Proof of Onward Travel
You’ll need to have a printed ticket showing that you will be leaving the country. We are planning to head back into Peru after our time in Bolivia, so we booked a bus ticket that worked just fine. If you’re unsure of how long you’ll be there, you can book a refundable bus or plane ticket to use at the border and get reimbursed after you get in.
7. Travel Itinerary
We ended up making a pretty thorough itinerary (mostly made up). We also included our plans a little bit past leaving the country as proof to go along with our ticket of onward travel. You can easily print out an itinerary online and make a few changes to fit your trip dates.
8. Hotel Reservation or a Letter from a Current Resident
You’ll have to show where you are staying when you get into the country. Simply print out a hotel reservation for the first night or two of your stay. If you aren’t exactly sure, booking a refundable room is another way to do it. If you are planning to stay at a friend’s or relative’s house, you’ll need a letter from them giving approval. It must include their full name, address, and a copy of their ID or passport. This will also need to be signed by them.
9. Proof of Financial Solvency
To get a Bolivian visa for US citizens, you have to prove that you have enough money to get you through your trip, so you’ll need to print out a copy of your latest bank statement. It looks like they don’t have a minimum requirement, but we’ve also seen that you should have at least $50 per day of your stay just in case.
10. Proof of Entry into the Country
We didn’t see this requirement online, but when we applied at the embassy, they asked us for a copy of our bus ticket into the country. We’re not sure if you’ll need it, but better safe than sorry.
Getting a Bolivian Visa for US Citizens at the Embassy in Lima
We were staying in Peru for the few months before we headed to Bolivia, and we decided to get our visas in Lima to avoid any potential issues at the border. We went to the Bolivian embassy in San Isidro, which is open from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Make sure to get there early, as it seemed to get busier later in the morning. If you are in Peru, there are also embassies in Cusco, Puno, Tacna, and Ilo.
We went on a Friday morning and arrived shortly after 9 a.m. We handed our passports through the window outside and told the man we needed visas. He let us inside and pointed us in the right direction. There was only one person ahead of us, and it was our turn in just a few minutes.
The woman inside spoke very little English, but we made by with our Spanish. We passed through our packet of papers and passports. After a few minutes, we were given back documents and a slip of paper with a bank name and number on it. We walked four blocks to the nearby bank, waited in line, and gave the bank attendant our $160 and the slip of paper. He gave us back a receipt and we headed back to the embassy.
We gave the woman back our passports, packet, and the bank receipt. She told us everything was good and to return on Monday at 10 a.m. to retrieve our passports and visas. Monday?! We’d read that you could get the Bolivian visa the same day. But given that we didn’t have another option, we said ok and left for the weekend without our passports.
After making our way back to the embassy on Monday morning, we were let in without a problem. After giving our names, we had our passports and new visas in hand in no time. Overall, getting the visas at the embassy was pretty painless, and it’s definitely nice to have them beforehand to avoid any hassles at the border. See how smoothly getting into Bolivia went by checking out our post on crossing the border.
If you are planning to be in Bolivia for more than 30 days at a time, you’ll need to get your visa extended at an immigration office at the end of your first 30 days.
Do you have any crazy experiences trying to get a visa?