The tourist visa allows you to enter Bolivia simply to travel within the country for your enjoyment for a specified period of time. The tourist visa is one of the most difficult to provide information on because Bolivia does not require a tourist visa of citizens from every country. The Bolivian government has created three tourist visa categories or groups.
Citizens of the countries listed in Group 1 do not need a tourist visa to enter Bolivia. Citizens of the countries listed in Group 2
do need a tourist visa, but do not have to obtain it prior to travel. It will be issued to you as you arrive, either as you are crossing over a border point or when you arrive at the airport. Citizens of the countries listed in Group 3 are required to obtain a tourist visa from a Bolivian consulate prior to traveling to Bolivia and must show it to officials upon arrival.
These lists are modified periodically, because Bolivia's immigration law is based on the principle of "reciprocity". This means that Bolivia bases it's visa requirements on bilateral or multilateral agreements it has with your country or certain groups of countries in your region. These lists may sometimes also modified in a rather sudden manner depending on the Bolivian government's response to actions taken by your country's government, and your country may be moved to another list.
It is important, therefore, that you monitor the website of the Bolivian Immigration Service (known in Bolivia as Migración) and the Bolivian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (known in Bolivia as the Cancillería) for the latest information regarding visas for your country. The Migración website seems to be updated more often with the latest and most current information.
Per Bolivian law, as a tourist you may visit Bolivia for no more than 90 days per calendar year (each 365-day period). This maximum 90-day period applies to all tourists, even if you are not required to have a tourist visa to enter Bolivia. If you hope to remain in Bolivia for longer than 90 days, you are no longer considered a tourist and must choose a different type of visa, based on the specific purpose of your visit.
With a few exceptions and generally speaking, Bolivia will initially issue tourists a visa for 30 days. Once you are in Bolivia, you can renew your visa up to 2 times and up to the 90-day maximum allowed you per calendar year, simply by visiting a local Immigration office.
Immigration officers will issue a 30-day visa automatically if you are issued a visa upon arrival. Sometimes, if you point out to the immigration officer right away that you plan to remain in Bolivia for a longer period of time, they will issue you a 60-day or 90-day visa on the spot. However, if they don't, you can visit a local Immigration office a few days before your visa expiration date to renew it for another 30 days. You will pay for each 30-day renewal. How much you pay will depend on the agreements Bolivia has in place with your country. Because of this, there is no single, universal price for the Bolivia tourist visa.
For example, citizens of the United States (including Puerto Rico) who are in Group 3, are required to apply for a tourist visa at a Bolivian consulate in the U.S. prior to travel. However, due to the bilateral agreement Bolivia has with the United States, Americans are usually issued a 5-year visa (and sometimes even a 10-year visa). This allows you to visit Bolivia for a maximum of 90 days per calendar year for 5 consecutive years (or 10 consecutive years). In other words, you do not have to apply for a tourist visa each year. This is why tourist visas for U.S. citizens are so much more expensive than others.
Bolivian immigration officials sometimes take it upon themselves to make exceptions which by law, they are not actually supposed to make. For example, if a Group 3 tourist is misinformed and travels to Bolivia without having obtained the required tourist visa prior to arriving in Bolivia, Immigration officers may make an exception and issue you a tourist visa upon arrival (IF you can prove that you comply with all of the listed requirements for the tourist visa). However, it is risky to assume that because some officials make these types of exceptions, they will make them for everyone. Sadly, while we've heard that many Groups 3 foreigners have been issued tourist visas upon arrival, we've also heard just as many stories of foreigners who have been detained and forced to return to their countries (usually on the next flight out) without ever entering Bolivia. It is not possible for anyone to guarantee to you that Immigration officials will make an exception for you. It is better not to take this risk.
We've translated into English the actual text of the Bolivia tourist visa rules published on the website of Bolivia's Immigration Authority, which lists the exact requirements you must fulfill and steps you must take when you Apply for a Bolivia Tourist Visa. Please be aware that if you are from a country in Group 2 (visa issued upon arrival), you must still be sure that you fulfill these requirements even though the visa will be issued to you upon your arrival in Bolivia.
Laws about Bolivia visa requirements for tourists, and the pre-requisites for obtaining one, vary by country depending on your country of origin because Bolivia applies the "rule of reciprocity". Contact the Bolivian Consulate nearest you to be sure you understand the laws concerning Bolivia visas for citizens from your country prior to travel. The information on this page should be used only as a general guideline.
What if I didn't know I needed a tourist visa?
If you can prove that you fulfill all the requirements to obtain the tourist visa you may possibly, and exceptionally, be issued a tourist visa upon arrival.
How long can I stay in Bolivia on a tourist visa? For however long your visa allows (if you've been issued a 30-day visa, then 30 days) but no more than 90 days per calendar year. No tourist from any country may stay in Bolivia longer than 90 days per calendar year. This is strictly enforced.
How long can I stay in Bolivia if I don't need a visa? Even if no tourist visa is required of citizens from your country, the 90-day per calendar year rule applies to all tourists. Your entry date will be stamped in your passport upon arrival.
Why is my visa for only 30 days, not 90 like other tourists? If you obtain your tourist visa upon arrival, most officials at borders and airports will stamp your passport for 30 days. If you plan to stay longer tell them before they stamp it. You may also extend your 30-day tourist visa up to 2 times for another 30 days each time, at the Bolivian Immigration Service.
What if I need to stay longer than 90 days? If you need to stay in Bolivia longer than 90 consecutive days, you may not enter on a tourist visa. You'll have to choose one of the other visa choices that suits your plans (volunteer, student, residency, etc.)
What if I overstay my 90-day tourist visa? Tourists from all three groups (including those who don't need a visa) will be fined Bs. 20 per day if they stay in Bolivia past the 90 days allowed per calendar year. Be prepared as you'll have to pay this in cash as you're leaving the country. (Also, be forewarned that while it may seem like a good idea to simply overstay your visa and pay the fine on your way home, it was meant as a punitive fine, not as a way to "extend" your visa. During the days that you are overstaying your visa, you are technically in the country illegally and exposing yourself to unnecessary risk as you will be subject to all Bolivian laws regarding illegal aliens and deportation).
If I was given a 30-day stamp and overstay it, will I be fined? If you need more than 30 days, you must request (and pay for) an extension at a local Immigration office. If you do not do so before your 30-day visa expires, you will be fined.
How many times per year can I enter Bolivia? Tourists may enter Bolivia up to three times per calendar year as long as they do not remain in Bolivia more than a total of 90 days per calendar year.
For visa purposes, what is meant by "calendar year"? The 365-day calendar validity period for your tourist visa will begin on the date of your arrival in Bolivia, not the date on which the visa was issued to you at a Bolivian consulate overseas (for those of you who are required to obtain one prior to arrival) and will end 365 days later. For example, if you are issued a visa on June 15th of this year, it will expire on June 14th of next year.
What if I don't enter Bolivia from my own country? In all cases, immigration law applies to your passport country (the country of your citizenship or nationality). This means that even if you are entering Bolivia from another country, the Bolivia visa requirements that apply to you are those of your country of citizenship.
What if there is no Bolivian consulate in my country? We spoke with officials at the Cancillería in Santa Cruz, Bolivia and were told that if there is no Bolivian consulate in your country, you are free to obtain your visa from a consulate in a country near to you. Some Bolivian consulates are assigned to a specific region, and not just one country.
Click here for a list of Bolivian Consulates and embassies in English-speaking countries. The website of Bolivia's Cancillería also offers a complete list of all current Bolivian Embassies and Consulates Overseas.
Can I work in Bolivia on a tourist visa? No. You cannot legally work in Bolivia if you enter with a tourist visa. You may do volunteer work, but if you are paid any amount of money for work done while traveling on a tourist visa, you are breaking the law.
If I have dual citizenship do I need a tourist visa? If you are part Bolivian and have dual citizenship, you will have to choose which nationality you will declare as you enter Bolivia. If you wish to enter as a Bolivian, you must travel with a valid Bolivian passport and "carnet de identidad" (Bolivian identification card) ensuring neither of them has expired. As a Bolivian, you do not need a tourist visa to enter the country. If you choose to declare your other nationality, you must travel with the passport of that country and the tourist visa rules that will apply to you will be those that apply to your other nationality.
If I enter on a tourist visa can I apply for residency? The answer to this question was "no" until just recently. Today, the Bolivian Immigration Service is making an exception to this rule for some foreigners, but not all. Each case is now reviewed on an individual basis. IF Migración officials determine they will make an exception for you, they will charge you a hefty fine to void your tourist visa and issue you a "specific purpose visa" (the visa you should have used to enter Bolivia if your plan was to apply for residency). The specific purpose visa costs US$85.00 per person when you apply for it before traveling to Bolivia. The fine to issue you one in Bolivia, and void your tourist visa, is roughly US$365.00 per person.
Click here for instructions on how to Apply for a Bolivia Tourist Visa.
If you have further questions regarding the tourist visa, you may post them in our Bolivia Visa Forum. This is a public forum. Other members of the public may or may not respond to your questions. You may also want to consider making use of our Question and Answer Service.