Getting a Bolivian visa is a hassle in itself, especially for US citizens, and the government makes you jump through a number of hoops to get it. Luckily, once you have the visa, it is good for 30 days at a time for up to 90 days a year for 10 years. If you plan to be in Bolivia for more than a month at a time, you’ll need to extend your 30-day visa. Here’s everything you need to know about extending a Bolivian visa. For more information on how to get the visa itself, take a look at the checklist of the requirements needed.
What you Need to Extend your Visa
Compared to the requirements needed to get the visa in the first place, the requirements to get a 30-day extension are simple. You will only need five things:
- Your valid passport
- A photocopy of the information page of your passport
- Your TAM card (Andean Migration card) that you filled out at the border when entering Bolivia
- A photocopy of your TAM card
- A photocopy of your entry stamp into Bolivia
Now, don’t panic if you did not receive a TAM card when you crossed the border. We entered Bolivia two different times. The first time we received a card, but the second time we did not. If you didn’t get one at the border, don’t worry. Just explain that you did not receive one.
If you don’t have photocopies, there are plenty of places to get them. In La Paz, there are plenty of copy shops on Calle Loyaza, just a couple blocks from the immigration office. These shops often have signs that say “photocopias” or “impresiones.”
Where to Extend your Visa
If you need an extension, you can receive it in any of the major cities in Bolivia, but please note that you are not able to get a visa extension at any of the borders. The two most popular cities for extensions are Sucre and La Paz. You can also leave Bolivia for a few days and get a new 30-day visa when you cross the border back into the country.
You are only able to extend your visa in the final three days that it is valid. This means that it is important to plan your trip around these dates to ensure you are located in one of these cities at the end of each 30-day period. Give yourself at least a day or two to obtain an extension just in case there are any issues.
Extending a Bolivian Visa at the Immigration Office
We were staying in La Paz at the end of our first 30 days, so we renewed our visas there. The immigration office is located at 1433 Avenida Camacho, which is between the streets of Bueno and Loyaza. The office is a popular place, so it is important to get there early in the day to avoiding wasting your whole morning or afternoon.
In Sucre, the immigration office is located on Calle Bustillos, two and a half blocks from Plaza 25 de Mayo. We believe that there are also immigration offices in Santa Cruz and Cochabamba.
Getting Our Extension in La Paz
We got to the embassy a little before 9:00 a.m., and there was already a line well out the door. We lined up along the outside of the building and waited for about 40 minutes before we got inside.
Once we got inside, we headed to the right where there is a desk with an official behind it. When it was our turn, we said “Necesitamos extender nuestras visas, por favor”. He printed out a ticket for each of us with a letter and a number following it, then told us to wait our turn.
There were hundreds of people there, and a TV screen displayed ticket numbers and the desk to go to. We waited and waited for our numbers to show up, but after 45 minutes… nothing. We weren’t sure what to do, but then a man next to us asked where we were from. It turns out he lived in Ohio, but was from Bolivia.
He asked what we needed there, and after we told him, he told us that we shouldn’t be waiting with a ticket at all. He grabbed the attention of one of the officials walking around, and she guided us to the desk in the far right corner of the room. We presented our passports there, were signed in, and then were asked to wait in the back.
In just a few minutes, a man came out and we told him that we needed “treinta días más.” He took our passports and photocopies into a room with him. In less than five minutes, we had a 30-day extension stamp on our original entry stamp and TAM cards. They kept our photocopies.
If we hadn’t met the man from Ohio, there’s no telling how long we would have been waiting to see our number pop up on the screen. Getting a ticket and waiting in the queue might be the right way to do it, but if you are unsure, ask someone to clarify.
Things to Note
Tourists can stay in Bolivia for up to 90 days each calendar year. This means that your 30-day visa is able to be extended twice. When you receive a visa extension of 30 days, your entry stamp is now valid for 60 days from the day of your entry. This original stamp can be extended once more, resulting in a 90-day validity.
If you do overstay your visa, you will be forced to pay a fine for each day you overstayed. We’ve read that this fine can range from $1 to almost $3 per day, and this is often processed quickly. However, overstaying for months may cause issues and result in detainment and/or being banned from entering Bolivia for some time. Of course, we don’t recommend this approach.
Final Thoughts on Extending a Bolivian Visa
All in all, receiving a 30-day extension for our Bolivian visas was pretty simple. Visa requirements are different for each country, but it is likely that this process applies to many of you, especially if you received a 30-day stamp when you entered the country.
Do you have any stories or insights about extending your visa? Comment below!