Costs of Owning a Vehicle in Bolivia
Several website visitors have asked about the costs of owning a car in Bolivia, whether there are taxes to pay, what the requirements are for obtaining a driver's license, issues regarding insurance, etc.
There is a yearly vehicle tax here in Bolivia. It's not very expensive but depends on the make and model of your car. Some people pay as little as $10 a year for older cars. Others pay up to about $100, but it really does vary depending on your vehicle. The tax is paid to the municipal government each year and each major city has an office for this (or subcontracts a company to take in this type of revenue).
You do also have to get a Bolivian driver's license. If you come to Bolivia with an international driving permit (usually about $15-25 at your local AAA), plus your state driver's license, you can usually get a Bolivian driver's license a lot easier because they can see you already know how to drive - sometimes they even let you skip the driving classes. The cost for obtaining a Bolivian driver's license is much higher than in the US (over $100) and the DL lasts for 5 years. Taking driving classes is probably a good idea even if you know how to drive because driving in Bolivia is quite an unusual experience. Traffic is chaos in most major cities as people tend to completely disregard traffic laws.
Alternatively, you can get an international driving permit from the Automóvil Club Boliviano (the equivalent of the AAA in Bolivia). Most major cities in Bolivia have one. You can find the information from the ACB in Santa Cruz here, where you'll also find information on motorcycle driving permits.
You also have to have insurance. In addition to any private car insurance you choose to purchase, you are required by law to minimally have the SOAT which is a basic insurance that covers only minor liabilities. Still, by law every vehicle has to have the SOAT sticker on it. The cost for the SOAT is minimal (usually under $100 a year).
There is also a yearly inspection sticker you have to have on your car window (which costs under $20 in most major cities).
If you purchase a car in Bolivia the prices are pretty much the same as in the US. A lot of people think they will be a lot more expensive but they aren't since they are usually imported directly from Japan, Brazil and other countries.
If you plan to bring a vehicle to Bolivia, you should be aware that your vehicle cannot be more than 5 years old. For environmental reasons, this new law was passed in 2009. Here's some more information on importing vehicles.
In Santa Cruz, Expat Services can help. If you feel that you'll need help getting any or all of these documents please feel free to contact Expat Services using the secure form on this page.
You must also take into consideration regular vehicle maintenance costs, and the cost of spare or replacement parts, but those are difficult to
average because they depend so much on the make and model of your vehicle and literally cover thousands of parts. However, on the whole, spare parts are about as expensive as in the US, but the labor costs are much lower.