With its sensational national parks, beguiling cities, rich Indigenous culture and dramatic landscapes – ranging from towering Andean mountains and high-altitude lakes to shimmering salt flats and dense Amazonian rainforests – Bolivia is a magnet for travelers from across the globe.
Deciding to visit is easy, but the logistics of getting into the country can be a little trickier. Here’s our handy guide to the entry requirements for Bolivia, including information on tourist visas, how to extend your stay, and how to apply to work or study in the country.
Which nationalities need a visa for Bolivia?
Here’s the good news – Bolivia’s entry requirements are simple and pain-free for most visitors. Many nationalities don’t require a tourist visa; instead, you'll get a free entry stamp valid for a 30-day stay on arrival at any of Bolivia's international airports or land border crossings. US citizens are required to apply for a visa.
The list of countries granted visa-free entry includes the UK, most EU and European Economic Area countries, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and much of South America. Contact your local embassy or consulate for more information.
Citizens of the US (and some other countries) need to apply for a visa
Citizens of the US need a pricey tourist visa to visit Bolivia. Visas cost US$160, but they allow holders to stay for up to 90 days per year, and they're valid for 10 years.
In theory, these visas are available on arrival, and can be paid for in either US dollars or bolivianos (the Bolivian currency), but some airlines will refuse to let you board your flight unless you already have a tourist visa.
It’s always advisable to get a visa in advance. You can apply online via the Bolivian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website or at the Bolivian embassy in Washington DC (or via your local Bolivian embassy or consulate).
Travelers from China, India and Taiwan have to pay for a 30-day visa on arrival in Bolivia (up to US$160), while citizens of some Asian, African and Middle Eastern countries need to get "official permission" from Bolivia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs before traveling. Contact your local Bolivian embassy or consulate for more information.
Additional regulations for entering Bolivia
Whether you require a tourist visa or not, your passport must be valid for six months beyond the date of entry into Bolivia. Visitors under the age of 18 traveling without their parents will need written parental consent authorized by their local Bolivian embassy or consulate.
You may also be asked to prove you have sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay in Bolivia – showing a credit or debit card will normally suffice. Avoid displaying any cash, as this could prompt a request for a bribe.
Carry your identity documents while in Bolivia
Officially, travelers should carry their passport and tourist visa with them at all times while traveling in Bolivia. The safest policy is to carry photocopies, rather than the originals – petty theft is common, and losing your passport will open up a whole world of hassle.
The exception to this rule is when you’re passing close to any of Bolivia's land borders. The authorities are skittish about illegal border crossings and you should keep your real passport and visa on your person at all times, even if you’re not actually crossing over into a neighboring country.
Health restrictions for Bolivia
If you’re traveling into Bolivia from a country with endemic yellow fever – such as Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay and Peru – you may need to show a yellow fever vaccination certificate on arrival. You may also be asked for a yellow fever vaccination certificate when traveling to areas of Bolivia below 2500m (8200ft) in altitude, including the Amazon Basin.
Watch out for "administration fees" at land borders
Officials at remote border crossings may ask you for an unofficial "administration fee" – essentially a small bribe – to process your entry into the country. There's no legal basis for this, but it's hard to avoid. In general, the easiest policy is simply to pay the "fee" and go.
How to extend your stay in Bolivia
If you want to stay in Bolivia for longer than the standard 30 days, just head to the immigration office in the nearest large city at least a week before it expires.
You can extend your entry stamp for an additional 30-60 days for free by visiting the office in person, but the maximum time travelers are permitted to stay in Bolivia in any given year is 90 days.
Don’t overstay – if you do, you’ll face a fine at the airport, border crossing or immigration office, and there will be a mountain of bureaucracy to deal with. You may also be barred from re-entry in future.
Working and studying in Bolivia
If you want to work or study in Bolivia, you must apply for a special class of visa and meet a complex range of criteria. Applying usually involves support from an employer or educational establishment in Bolivia. Contact your local Bolivian embassy or consulate to find out more about how to make an application.