Bolivian visas, best to not plan in advance

Sometimes it pays to go with the flow. Bolivia has made a point of requiring US citizens to obtain a visa and pay a US$135 visa fee in retaliation for similarly exorbitant US visa application fees. Nationals of many countries do not need visas or visas are free for them, a few are US$30. Most are single-entry and short-term but US citizens are given a 5-year multiple-entry visa (3 entries/year, not to exceed 90 days/year). It is fun to toggle through the list of Bolivia’s geopolitics on the website of the consular section of the embassy in Washington D.C. Embassy’s.

The visa requirements on the Washington D.C. website are pretty standard, but the Los Angeles Consulate adds in a yellow fever vaccination certificate, and the Spanish-only New York Consulate even wants a ‘police clearance certificate,’ whatever that is and good luck getting one (see onerous visa requirements for US visas at any US embassy website for the tit-for-tat).

Only Los Angeles mentions getting the visa on arrival and those who are concerned should print a screenshot:

WARNING: The Bolivian tourist Visa fee, for Citizens of the United States is:

· $ 135, when obtained in any Bolivian Consulate.

·  $ 135, when obtained upon arrival to any Bolivian international airport or at any checking point on border.

The US State Department provides similar guidance but of course that carries no weight with any government.

Uyuni Train Cemetery

Best to enter Bolivia by air or road (Train Cemetery, Uyuni)

The beauty of the visa on arrival, and The Rapid Traveler did this last month at La Paz’s El Atlo International Airport, is that the officials do not care about anything except 1) valid passport, 2) fill out the form and 3) pay the fee. Photo? No. Yellow fever vaccination certificate? No. Bank statements? No. etc, etc. Just pay the fee in crisp bills and you can be their best friend if you carry small denominations. Do not expect change for a US$100 note from anyone except other travelers. It is always best to carry the supporting documents, if you have them, just in case.

Visa requirements frequently shift, especially at various entry points of many countries. The best resources are other travelers at Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree and FlyerTalk. Just make sure the entries are current and substantiated.

Uyuni Laguna Verde

Green from arsenic (Laguna Verde, Uyuni)

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  • Scott

    Yellow fever vaccine requirement is strange as if you’re entering in LaPaz and say you’re staying in LaPaz it is not required.