Utilities and Basic Services in Bolivia

Expat Services   Expat Meets   Expat Forum   Live in Bolivia   Site Tools

Custom Search

Although this section on utilities was originally written for Santa Cruz, the processes described are similar or the same for most of Bolivia (although some company names may be different) so if you're planning to move somewhere other than Santa Cruz, read through this very important information anyway.

You will have to set up utilities (water, electricity, gas, phone, internet, cable or satellite TV) in your home and/or office if you are relocating to Bolivia This can be a bit frustrating for foreigners as it is time consuming, usually must be done in person, and there are quite a few prior requirements that must be fulfilled, especially in terms of documentation you will be asked for.

In addition, things just don’t operate the same way here as in other countries, but if you are well informed prior to your move, everything will go a lot more smoothly, which is why I've included this section to help make your transition just a little less stressful.


a) You may need a written rental contract to set up some of these utilities, so make sure you get one when you decide on a place to rent or buy. You may, in some cases, also be asked to show documents proving your legal residency.

b) Some do not send a bill each month in the mail. You are usually personally responsible for calling the office of each one of these utilities each month before your payment due date to request the total you owe. You then will have to pay your bill either at the utility company office itself, or at your bank or credit union. The electric company, gas company and some cellular phone companies do sent a bill to your home at some locations.

c) There are sometimes power shortages and electric company rations power throughout the city whenever necessary. To this end, they will previously announce (usually in the local media or on their websites) in which neighborhoods and during which hours these cut-offs will occur so you can plan ahead (to not use electricity or water during these times, or to have extra water and candles on hand during these hours). It doesn't happen too often, but this is something you should know.

d) There are parts of every city (usually the outskirts that have not been fully developed and urbanized yet) where running water and electricity (and other utilities) 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 basic services, if they exist and are available, and how much is the estimated monthly cost for each one of the services you will be using.

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

Follow the links below to learn how to set up water, electricity, phone, cellular phone, internet, Cable TV, and natural gas (for cooking) in your Santa Cruz home. If you will be moving to another city in Bolivia, read through this anyway. Most of the procedures will be similar and you'll be a well-informed consumer before you arrive.

WATER service (running water, sewage and trash pick up are included). This section also lists companies that deliver bottled water.

ELECTRICITY for your office or home.

NATURAL GAS (for cooking) account (or to have gas cannisters delivered to your home).

PHONE AND CELLPHONE service (local land lines, long distance, cellular phones).

INTERNET service (internet providers that offer dial-up, DSL and wireless service).

CABLE TV providers. How to choose and set up cable TV.

Overwhelmed? Let Us Handle It

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 can also 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

Expat Services   Expat Meets   Expat Forum   Live in Bolivia   Site Tools

Contact Bolivia Expat Services

Please note that all fields followed by an asterisk must be filled in.

Please enter the word that you see below.