Domestic Electricity in Bolivia

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This information on electricity will apply to almost any city in Bolivia. What changes is the name of the power company that provides electricity to each city.

When you rent a home or apartment, the electricity is usually already connected in your landlord's name and is usually one of only three only basic services (including water and natural gas) that have already been set up and it may not be necessary for you to do so. You will simply take over the payments and this should be in your written contract.

The invoice you get each time you pay will be in their name.

If you should need these invoices for tax purposes, the government allows you to turn them in and deduct them even if they are not in your name because they understand it is a rental situation. However, if you buy or build your own home, the connection and invoicing must be in your name.

In addition, if you purchase a home it may already have a meter, but if it doesn’t, or if you build a home you will have to purchase a meter and contact the local electric company for connection.

The local electric company has several requirements before it will connect your meter or provide 'electricidad' to your home. The requirements to set up these basic services ('servicios básicos' or 'obras públicas') are different for residential purposes and for businesses (as are the prices). 'Electricidad' is still relatively inexpensive in Bolivia, but businesses are charged about 3 times as much as residences. You should contact the local company to ask what will be required of you in terms of paperwork or permits, but in general, you will need to show a copy of your rental contract, building permit, or even a prior water bill from the same home so the company can see the exact location, and you will also need to show your identification. There may be other requirements depending on your situation.

There are parts of the city (usually the outskirts that have not been fully developed and urbanized yet) where running water and electricity (and other basic services) are not yet available. Be aware of this BEFORE you rent or purchase a home or a piece of land you plan to eventually build on. This can be true even in places where homes have already been built so before you rent or buy, ASK about each and every one of the utilities, if they exist and are available, and how much is the estimated monthly cost for each one of the basic services you will be using.


Santa Cruz all electric appliances must be 220 (in the U.S. everything is 110). This is not true of every city in Bolivia (La Paz, for example, uses 110). Therefore, 110 appliances will either not be worth bringing with you, or you will have to purchase and rely on a lot of adaptors (which convert your appliances current from 110 to 220) when you get here. I don’t suggest using too many adaptors in your home or business here. The power grid tends to get overloaded. In addition, your home’s electric installation can get overloaded – and the laws regarding inspections of electrical installations during construction are lax.

There is only one electric company in Santa Cruz, called CRE (Cooperativa Rural de Electrificación). You will be sent an “aviso de cobranza” or “pre-invoice” indicating how much you owe. You monthly bill must be paid in full each month at the local CRE office, or any bank or credit union You can even pay it at some grocery stores in Santa Cruz. Your electtricity will be cut off if you are late paying your bills more than two months in a row.

CRE actively supports Hora del Planeta (Earth Hour). Find out what we can all do to save energy and promote awareness about global warming by turning our lights off for 1 hour!

Sound Overwhelming? Let us Help.

In Santa Cruz, BoliviaBella Expat Services offers a full utilities hook-up package including electricity, water, gas, Cable TV, phone and cellphone for a single price. We do your house hunting for you, help you apply for residency, open a bank account, get a drivers license and more. Click here to learn more about all the expat services we offer.

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