If you are moving to Bolivia and you plan to import your household goods, there are several very important things you need to know.
If you plan to reside in Bolivia you must not travel on a tourist visa. You will need what is called a Specific Purpose Visa (known in Spanish as a Visa de Objeto Determinado) from a Bolivian consulate in your country or region. This travel visa allows you to enter Bolivia specifically for the purpose of requesting residency. We highly recommend reading through all of the details of obtaining a specific purpose visa, and who must obtain one.
Bolivia has a program in place for Bolivians returning to Bolivia after living overseas, and for foreigners who are married to a Bolivian national (who would be considered as returning to Bolivia) whereby some of all of their household belongings may be imported into Bolivia tax free. It is called the Retorno a Bolivia (Return to Bolivia) program, by which Bolivians and/or their spouses who are returning to Bolivia after having lived overseas for a certain amount of time, can import a specific amount of household goods tax free. Bolivia is now allowing foreigners (even if not married to Bolivians) to also take part in this program, if they qualify.
In order to participate in this program, you must initially apply at a Bolivian consulate in your country or region. If you do not do so prior to traveling to Bolivia, you cannot take part in the program. See this very important page on importing household goods tax free for details.
Once you arrive in Bolivia (and once your household goods and belongings have also arrived), you will need to hire a Bolivian despachante de aduanas (this is a customs clearance agent) to clear your imported household goods from customs. The customs agent will require documentation from you in order to do this. The documentation you must bring with you is:
► Detailed packing list (lista de empaque), which must include every single item in your container. Anything not on this list may be considered contraband.
► Bill of lading (conocimiento de embarque para flete marítimo), a document which contains all the information about the container in which your goods will be arriving, as well as all the information about the ship the container that carried your container.
► Invoices for all new/unused items you import.
► Copy of Sworn Statement of Entry with Household Goods (called the Declaración Jurada de Ingreso con Menaje Doméstico) if you participated in the Return to Bolivia program.
With help from your customs agent you will sign a sworn statement declaring that the belongings are yours, you are importing them for your own use, and you have no intention of reselling them. It's important to know that the customs clearance process can take days, weeks or even months if the information on your documentation does not exactly match the items, descriptions, and quantities imported in your container.
If you do not participate in the Return to Bolivia program, taxes of approximately 10-15% will be assessed on the value of any used goods you imported, and on any new goods you import the tax bracket may be up to 39.5% their total value.
The rules for importing vehicles are different. See them here.
References for Download and Online
All of the information on our website pages regarding the importation of household goods and/or vehicles was compiled from conversations we held in person with Bolivian Customs officials, the official website of the Bolivian Customs Service, conversations by phone with Bolivian consulates in the United States, and information provided on the websites of the Bolivian Consulates in Houston, Texas and Washington, D.C. We do everything possible to keep the content of our website pages current and up-to-date. However, as changes may occur at any time, we strongly recommend you inform yourself at a Bolivian consulate overseas prior to moving to Bolivia. You may also wish to consult the following references:
Summary on the official website of the Bolivian Customs Service
Sworn Statement for Entry with Household Goods to Fill in Online
PDF Document with Instructions on How to Complete the Forms
Official Instructions for Participation in the Return to Bolivia Program
Bolivian Consulate in Washington, DC Official Instructions for Participation
Bolivian Consulate in Los Angeles, CA Official Instructions for Participation
Supreme Decree No. 0371 on importing household goods.
This page was last updated on 6 July 2015