Sharing is caring!

(Last Updated On: July 9, 2020)

2020 UPDATE
As of January 2020, US citizens are no longer required to obtain a visa for tourism travel to Bolivia! All you need upon arrival is a valid passport (+6 months out), proof of onward travel, and a hotel reservation. A welcomed change making it much easier for US citizens to visit Bolivia. I’m not bitter at all that I just barely missed this change. Nope, not at all.

In case you’re curious about all the HOOPS we had to jump through to gain entry to Bolivia, my original post detailing the old requirements is below. Still not bitter about it.


When it comes to countries in South America, Bolivia is a bit of a hidden gem. Especially for Americans; and that could be because the process to obtain a Bolivia visa for US citizens is not as easy as most other countries.

But I promise it’s 100% worth it.

Bolivia is a country that doesn’t always top the list of places to visit. Which means it’s less overrun by tourists, and has a more “pure” feel to it. There are pueblos and pueblitas that still live mostly off the grid. There’s wine country. There’s a wide array of different landscapes from lagoons to volcanoes. It’s really incredible!

Therefore, I would like to encourage everyone, but especially Americans, to give Bolivia a shot! You will be pleasantly surprised.

And to make the process for obtaining your Bolivian visa a bit easier, I have put together everything you need to know in this ultimate guide.


Options for obtaining a Bolivia visa for US citizens

When obtaining a Bolivia visa for US citizens, we have three options. Each option will require the same amount of documentation and effort (no getting around that, unfortunately). However, the overall method of each varies somewhat.

#1 – Bolivian Consulate in the US

If you plan far enough ahead (I didn’t), the safest bet is to obtain your Bolivian visa from a Bolivian consulate while still on US soil. This way you can embark on your travels with the peace of mind knowing everything is already taken care of.

There are five Bolivian consulate locations within the US (listed below), and each of these provide visa services to US citizens. You have two options to obtain your visa from one of these locations: 1) in person and 2) by mail. Obviously in person only works if you live close to one of these locations, but mail is an excellent option as well!

Just be sure to read through their website thoroughly, as the process can vary slightly from one location to another. And I would always recommend contacting them directly with any questions you may have. Better safe than sorry!

US Bolivian Consulate Locations

CityJurisdictionAddressPhoneHours
Miami, FLAL, FL, GA, KY, MS, SC, TNDoral Corporate Center 3750 NW 87th Ave Ste #240
Doral Fl 33178 
(305) 358-6303 Mon – Fri
9:00 a – 2:00 p
Houston, TXAR, CO, KS, LA, NE, NM, OK, TX2401 Fountain View Dr Ste #110
Houston, TX 77057
(832) 916-4200Mon – Fri
9:00 a – 4:00 p
New York, NYCT, DE, ME, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT800 2nd Ave Ste #430
New York, NY 10017
(212) 687-0530Mon – Fri
9:30 a – 2:00 p
Washington D.C.IL, IN, IA, MD, MN, MO, NC, OH, VA, WV, WI1825 Connecticut Ave N.W. Ste #200C
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 232-4827 / 4828Mon – Fri
9:00 a – 3:00 p
Los Angeles, CAAL, AR, CA, HI, ID, MT, NV, ND, OR, SD, UT, WA, WY3701 Wilshire Blvd Ste #1065 
Los Angeles, CA 90010
(213) 388-0475 / 0957Mon – Fri
9:00 a – 2:00 p

#2 – Bolivian Consulate outside of the US

If you’re planning to travel more extensively, this is a great option if you didn’t obtain your visa before leaving the US (like me).

My travel plans already included almost five weeks in Peru, and Cusco was already on my route. Luckily enough, there is a Bolivian consulate location right there in Cusco.

To avoid any potential issues at the border (more on that below), I decided to go ahead and spend a couple hours getting my visa while in Cusco. And I am so glad I did.

#3 – On arrival in Bolivia (border or airport)

This is a fairly common way of obtaining your visa, and it is often referred to as a “visa on arrival” or VOA.

A VOA means that upon arrival you will need to visit a visa counter, apply and pay for a visa, before continuing on through immigration.

If granted, the visa will be pasted into your passport on the spot. If not granted, you will be left to figure out other arrangements at the border (this actually happened to someone on my bus when crossing from Peru into Bolivia).


Why you should get your Bolivian visa ahead of time

Could you wait and get your Bolivian visa upon arrival to the country? Sure, that is one of the options. Plenty do and cross into Bolivia without issue.

But if you’re anything like me, the anxiety of what could go wrong and strand you at the border was too much to handle. By getting your visa ahead of time, you can save some sleepless nights and potential headaches.

No need for pristine dollar bills

Border agents are well-known for being super critical of the condition of the cash paid when entering the country. Go to trusty google and you will find plenty of horror stories. Stories where travelers were stuck at the border because their cash wasn’t being accepted for a minor imperfection or ink mark.

Have you ever taken a good look at your cash? It is nearly impossible to find bills without ink marks, tears, or excessive aging. I even tried going to a bank to get new bills…and they didn’t have any brand new bills.

Therefore, I would much rather live on the safe side. When you take the border agents out of the equation, you remove this requirement as well, and sleep a little easier.

Save your sanity

Going through immigration and customs in any country comes with a certain level of inherent uneasiness:
– Where’s my passport?
– What questions are they going to ask me?
– What if I’m not granted access?
– Where’s my passport again? (even though you just checked)

This occurs even when I’m going to a country with favorable policies for American citizens. Now magnify that by 1,000 when visiting a country with less favorable policies.

That’s why I think it’s best to just save your sanity. Come to Bolivia already armed with a fancy visa sticker in your passport, and avoid any potential issues at immigration.


The requirements to obtain a Bolivia visa for US citizens

Fair warning – there’s a lot! You will need to do some advanced preparation to get everything in order, there’s no way around that. But these are the items you will absolutely need to obtain your Bolivia visa.

Valid passport

This really goes without saying – you are leaving the country, so you will need a valid passport. What may not be as obvious is that your passport will also need to be valid for six months after your arrival to Bolivia.

This is because many countries don’t want to risk someone overstaying their passport’s validity. Please also be sure you have plenty of blank pages!

NEEDED
US passport valid for six months after your arrival to Bolivia, with at least two blank pages for customs to stamp.

Proof of financial solvency

This one made me a little uneasy, as it was the first time I had to prove “financial solvency” for immigration purposes. Basically they want to make sure you won’t wind up overstaying your visa because you don’t have the money to leave.

The most common way is to provide a bank statement (checking or savings) showing the balance you have. I’ve also heard of others providing a credit card statement showing they have credit available. However, not everywhere in Bolivia accepts credit cards, so I thought bank statement was the safer bet.

You’ll want to make sure it’s a recent bank statement, not something from months ago. And you can black out some of the numbers in your account so they don’t have the full details (I only left the last four numbers visible).

NEEDED
One printed copy and an electronic copy (500 kb max) for the online application.

Accommodation information

You don’t have to provide details for your entire trip. You may be jumping from place to place, or not have every stay worked out yet – that’s totally ok. But they do want to know where you’re starting.

Therefore, you’ll need to print out the reservation details for your first stay (even if it’s only the first night). Ensure it includes the name, address, phone number, dates of your stay, and includes your name as the person on the reservation.

NEEDED
One printed copy and an electronic copy (500 kb max) for the online application.

Detailed Bolivia itinerary

This is pretty easy, and honestly there’s no way they could check it to ensure accuracy. But you’ll need to type up a word document with your planned itinerary in Bolivia.

Include details like where you will be visiting, and the dates you will be there. Make sure these dates align with the rest of the information you are providing.

NEEDED
One printed copy and an electronic copy (500 kb max) for the online application.

Passport copies

You only need to include the main ID page of your passport. Make sure your copies are clear, and don’t cut off any of the information. They’ll need to see all pertinent details like your name, passport #, DOB, etc.

I played it safe and had multiple copies, just in case. However, only one was ultimately needed or used throughout the process.

NEEDED
One printed copy and an electronic copy (500 kb max) for the online application.

Passport photos

You have a couple options for this.

You can take the pictures yourself. But you’ll need to ensure the picture is clear, taken from an appropriate distance, and you are standing against a plain white background. Then square up the photo, ensuring the length and width are the same, and you’re all set.

I didn’t have the ability to take a photo on a plain white background at the time. So, I went to Walgreen’s and had new, official passport photos taken. Then I took a picture of the picture (with my phone) for a digital copy.

NEEDED
One JPG electronic file (150 kb max) for the online application.

Bolivia visa fee

The fee to obtain a Bolivia visa for US citizens is $160. Definitely not cheap.

Remember – if you are planning to attempt to obtain your Bolivian visa on arrival, you will need to ensure your bills are in pristine condition. The border agents will not accept them if they are torn, marked on, or look excessively old.

If you are applying for a visa at a Bolivian consulate, you don’t need to worry about this.

NEEDED
$160 in cash – the condition of your bills will depend on the method you are choosing to apply for / obtain your visa.

Additional items you Might need

These items may or may not be required. It all depends on your situation, and potentially even the agent you deal with.

I was prepared with both, just in case. However, neither were requested when obtaining my visa, or upon entry into Bolivia.

Proof of onward travel

This could be a booked flight back to your home city. Or a bus itinerary taking you to your next country. Basically any proof that shows you have booked plans to leave the country of Bolivia.

Again, they’re just looking to ensure to the best of their ability, that you aren’t planning to overstay your visa. However, I have heard of others booking a refundable option, simply for the proof, then canceling once they have cleared customs.

POTENTIALLY NEEDED
Evidence (printed or electronic) of onward travel, in case they ask for it. If electronic, be sure you have it easily accessible (i.e., already saved) on your phone/device, just in case you don’t have service to pull it up live at the border.

Yellow fever vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by mosquito bites found mainly in tropical and subtropical regions of Africa and South America. And this disease is a risk in certain parts of Bolivia – mainly in the north where there’s rainforest.

If you are planning to visit the rainforest in Bolivia, proof of your yellow fever vaccination (frequently referred to as a “yellow card”) will be required for entry. Additionally, if you are traveling from another country with yellow fever risk, you may be required to show proof as well.

POTENTIALLY NEEDED
Your vaccination “yellow card,” filled out and signed by the doctor’s office you obtained your vaccination from.

Submitting the Bolivia visa application form (pdf) online

No matter which method of obtaining your visa you choose, you will need to complete the application form. This is because the end result of the application form is a “sworn statement” that you will sign and turn in to obtain your visa.

You can either print this form and fill everything in manually, or you can submit the form online, print the sworn statement, and take it with you. I think this is the best method (again, prepare in advance for greater chance of success!), so I have detailed the process below.

Register

The first step of the process requires that you register your email address. Upon registering, a code will be sent to the email address you provided. Find the email, get your code, and head back to the website where you will input that code to access the online application.

Complete the 5-step application process

The application is split up into five individual steps. Each step contains a lot of information you would typically expect – your name, DOB, nationality, passport information, etc. Nothing too crazy.

However, there are a few pieces of information that are worth calling out:

Step 1 – Make sure you select the correct type of visa for your application. As Americans, we have our own category – tourist visa for United States and Puerto Rico.

Step 3 – I spent way too much time trying to figure out the correct place for my “main destination in Bolivia” – just select other and move on with it. Also, make sure the number of days you put here matches the itinerary you documented!

Step 4 – The emergency contact information is interesting, because they have space for an address, but no phone number. What are they gonna do, write my mom to tell her there’s an issue and I’ve been detained at customs??

Step 5 – This is where you attach the electronic documentation you’ve prepared. As long as you’ve sized everything as I’ve noted above, this should be smooth sailing.

Print and sign the sworn statement

The sworn statement is the end result of the application process. It assigns your application a reference number, and includes personal details like your picture, name, nationality, etc.

You will need to print this document (and save for your own records) to provide along with the rest of the documentation required for your visa. At the bottom, there is a spot for signatures – one for you, and one for the consular authority.

If you’re mailing in your documentation, you will naturally want to sign this form before doing so.

If you are visiting a Bolivian consulate in person, or attempting a visa on arrival, I suggest waiting to sign in front of the agent you work with. That way there can be no questions that you are the one who signed the document.

An example of the "sworn statement for visa application" you receive when getting a bolivia visa as a US citizen
This is what the Sworn Statement will look like

Visiting the Bolivian Consulate in Cusco Peru

As stated above, the Bolivian consulate in Cusco, Peru is where I obtained my visa for Bolivia. Because I came well prepared, the overall process was simple and straightforward. In total, I was in and out of there in approximately one hour.

You can find the Bolivian consulate at Oswaldo Baca 101, Cusco 08003, Peru. They are closed on the weekends (Saturday and Sunday), but are open every day of the week from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm.

We simply took an Uber from our Airbnb, and he dropped us off at the front door. You could also take a taxi or public transportation, if your Spanish language skills allow.

My Experience

I arrived to the Bolivian consulate in Cusco around noon to ensure I got there before lunch time (1:00 typically in Peru), in case they close the office for a lunch break.

Upon arrival, the consular asked a couple questions (he spoke great English), and took my passport and prepared documentation.

Paying the Visa fee

He then handed me a small slip of paper with a banking account number on it, and gave instructions to visit a bank nearby to deposit the money for the visa fee.

Next, I walked approximately 2-3 blocks to the bank. Then, queued up for the teller who processed these transactions, and gave her the slip of paper and required funds when it was my turn.

She didn’t scrutinize the bills at all, which was a BIG relief. The teller simply counted them out to make sure it was the correct amount, and gave me a receipt for the transaction.

Documentation and getting my visa sticker

With the receipt as proof of the deposit in hand, I headed back to the office. The consular was busy helping someone in front of us, so I had a short wait of approximately 10 minutes.

Once it was my turn, I gave him the receipt for the deposit. Then he arranged and double checked the paperwork I provided to ensure all was in order. He entered information into his computer, wrote on our documentation, etc. Basically did his part that I didn’t pay much attention to.

There were a couple documents that I had to sign, including the sworn statement I waited to sign in his presence. He then affixed my visa into my passport, stamped with his official seal, and signed to authenticate it.

And that was it. I am now proud owner of my Bolivia visa for US citizens! He even did a little “welcome to Bolivia” spiel that I found quite endearing.


Validity period of Bolivia visa for US citizens

Once you go through all this work and obtain your Bolivian visa, you can sit back and relax…for 10 whole years! That’s because the visa we obtain allows us up to 90 total days in Bolivia over a period of 10 years.

You can split these days up into multiple trips, or you can stay for one long trip in Bolivia. The choice is yours.

And, if you love Bolivia so much that you want to spend more than 90 days in 10 years…it’s possible that you can. You would just have to reapply, and pay another fee to do so.


When entering Bolivia

Now that you’ve obtained your Bolivian visa in advance, you can relax for this step! You will arrive to immigration armed with your passport, and your already obtained Bolivian visa.

I’ve heard that you could be asked to provide proof of onward travel at this point. However, that was not the case for me. A quick entry stamp and I was on my way.


Final Thoughts

I will admit the process to obtain a Bolivia visa for US citizens isn’t easy. However, it also wasn’t quite as bad as I anticipated.

Yes, it was a lot of paperwork to obtain and organize. Yes, the fee is certainly quite high. But with a little preparation you will be on your way to Bolivia in no time!


Like this? Pin it!

Sharing is caring!