Traveling with minors can be a sticky situation in Bolivia if you haven’t prepared in advance. The laws are very strict and there are certain documents and/or permits that may be required of you when you travel with children.
Bolivia is divided into nine departments (like states or provinces) and there are laws not only concerning travel into and out of Bolivia, but also about travel within the country if you plan to cross from one department into another. If you fly you will obviously show your documents at the airport, but if you drive or take a bus, be prepared to be stopped at one of the many “trancas” (combination tollbooths/checkpoints) you must cross through at the border of each province.
You will be required to show all documents that prove you own or have rented the vehicle you are driving, and all documents proving you are the parent(s) of all children in your vehicle, or traveling with you on the bus. If you travel with someone else’s children who have been entrusted into your care, there are special permits you will have to get prior to traveling, otherwise you could be accused of child abduction.
This is also important if you are one of the minor’s parents traveling without the other parent. You need an authorization signed by the other parent to prove you have their permission to travel with your children. This applies not only to when you leave Bolivia for another country, but also as you cross from one department into another. Many foreigners are not aware of this and after hours of driving, they are not allowed to cross at the checkpoints and must turn back (or worse, they may be apprehended until the situation is cleared up and the other parent is notified).
For minors that live with only one parent, that parent will have to show that the other parent is absent, deceased, or otherwise not at all involved in the child’s life (meaning you truly cannot locate them), and therefore that they are completely unavailable to sign travel authorizations. In this case, you are usually required to get a permit to travel with the minor which will have to be signed by two witnesses who swear you are a single parent.
If you are traveling with an
there are many more requirements and legal issues to be aware of, so inform yourself fully about this to avoid having problems while you travel or live in Bolivia.
Note: If your child was born in Bolivia and holds dual citizenship with Bolivia and both parents are foreigners, the law will usually apply in equal measure to both parents. But if and one of the child’s parents is Bolivian, the Bolivian parent can prohibit you from traveling outside the country with your child much more easily, and Bolivian law will give them preference in most cases, especially if you are a woman and the Bolivian parent is the father. I am not qualified to interpret Bolivian law. This is merely a first-hand observation I have made based on the experiences of several close friends, so do not consider it legal advice in any way. Simply consider yourself forewarned.
The US Department of State has posted this on the travel section of their website:
ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR MINORS: In an effort to prevent international child abduction, the Bolivian Government has initiated procedures at entry/exit points. Minors (under 18) who are citizens or residents of Bolivia and who are traveling alone, with one parent or with a third party, must present a copy of their birth certificate and written authorization from the absent parent(s) or legal guardian, specifically granting permission to travel alone, with one parent or with a third party.
When a parent is deceased, a notarized copy of the death certificate is required in lieu of the written authorization. If documents are prepared in the United States, the authorization and the birth certificate must be translated into Spanish, notarized, and authenticated by the Bolivian Embassy or a Bolivian consulate within the United States.
If documents are prepared in Bolivia, only notarization by a Bolivian notary is required. Using these documents, a travel permit may be obtained from the Juzgado del Menor. This requirement does not apply to children who enter the country with a U.S. passport as tourists, unless they hold dual U.S./Bolivian citizenship or have been in Bolivia for more than 90 consecutive days.
THIS INFORMATION WAS PUBLISHED ON THE WEBSITE OF BOLIVIA'S (now defunct) NATIONAL AIRLINE, LLOYD AEREO BOLIVIANO (LAB AIRLINES). LOOK:
All children under the age of 18 who travel overseas and are not accompanied by their parents or are traveling with only one parent (the father or mother) must have a travel permit requested from the Juzgado del Menor and processed before the Juez de la Niñez y Adolescencia. For travel within Bolivia, this is not necessary.
Travel outside the country must be expressly authorized by the Juez de la Niñez y Adolescencia under the following circumstances:
• When the child or adolescent is traveling with only one of the parents, express authorization must be obtained from the other parent. In the absence of the other parent, the Judge will require two witnesses (who live in the location where the permit is being requested) to sign as guarantors.
• When the child or adolescent is traveling without his/her parents, authorization must be obtained from both parents. See above point if one of the parents is absent.
• Children under the age of 18, who are of Bolivian nationality, must process the corresponding authorization. This includes males who can show proof of Military Service and single mothers.
• In the case of orphans or adopted children, the tutors or the institution responsible for them must provide authorization to travel through the Juez de la Niñez y Adolescencia.
• Should both parents be traveling with the child no authorization is required. Presentation of proof of identity for both parents and the children is sufficient.
Foreign children are subject to two considerations:
• If the child resides in Bolivia, he/she is subject to Bolivian Law and must fulfill the same requirements as nationals.
• If the child does not reside in Bolivia and remains in the country less than 90 days, no travel permit will be required to leave the country.
Adult passengers accompanying children:
• One adult may accompany a maximum of two infants and must comply with the regulations established for traveling with minors.
Groups of minors:
• LLoyd Aereo Boliviano will only accept groups of children between the ages of 5 and 12 if they are accompanied by adult chaperones who travel with the group and are responsible for the minors.
• Adult chaperones may not accompany groups larger than 10 minors. There must be one chaperone for every 10 minors.
• Children over 12 years of age may not fly as unaccompanied minors. They will be transported as adult passengers and the parents or tutors are responsible for any travel permits required, as well as risks involved.
• Children under 5 years of age may not fly as accompanied minors. All children under 5 must be accompanied by a tutor or one of our passenger crew (which implies an additional cost).
THIS INFORMATION IS PUBLISHED ON THE WEBSITE OF BOLIVIA'S LARGEST NATIONAL AIRLINE, AEROSUR. TAKE A LOOK:
According to Bolivian law, all minors traveling must have authorization from their parents or tutors, in addition to carrying a special travel permit which will be required from:
* All children under 12 years of age not accompanied who leave their department of residence for any other destination within Bolivia.
* All children under 18 years of age who leave the country unaccompanied by their parents or tutors or accompanied by only one parent.
* It is important to review and ensure your passport is not expired. Passports are processed at the Immigration offices in the capital cities of each of Bolivia's departments.
* Travel visas are issued by the embassies of each country, located in the city of La Paz. Review your visa to ensure it has not expired.
* Passengers who, for any reason, are in transit through the United States must have a travel visa from that country.
* To avoid problems you should get an international yellow fever shot 10 days prior to your trip.
Passengers in transit through Bolivia going to a country that requires a yellow fever shot must carry a certificate proving they've received the yellow fever shot.
A Word of Caution
Not only do national and international laws about traveling with minors change frequently, individual airline regulations do too. So take this information as generally informative but before you travel, be 100% sure to check with your airline or travel agent.