Bolivia visa requirements for Americans, differ a bit depending on what your purpose for traveling is. In general, there are two types of Bolivia travel visas to choose from: the tourist visa and the specific purpose visa.
Bolivia visa requirements are also not the same for Americans as for citizens of other countries. That's why, when you're looking for Bolivia visa information online (such as in travel forums, for example) it's important to focus on answers that Americans are giving you and on the experiences that Americans have had. What applies to citizens of other countries does not necessarily apply to Americans because Bolivian visa requirements are determined based on the treaties that Bolivia has in place with each individual country.THIS IS HOW TO DETERMINE WHETHER TO TRAVEL TO BOLIVIA ON A TOURIST VISA OR A SPECIFIC PURPOSE VISA:AMERICAN VISA Bolivia tourist visa
: If you're planning to tour Bolivia, or simply visit someone or volunteer in Bolivia, and your stay will be under 90 days in a one-year period, and you have no intention of requesting residency or working for profit in Bolivia, you can travel to Bolivia on a tourist visa.AMERICAN VISA Bolivia specific purpose visa
: If you plan to live in Bolivia, if your volunteer stint will be longer than 90 days, if you plan to look for a job in Bolivia or set up your own business for profit, if you plan in any other manner to either earn an income in Bolivia (regardless of how long you stay), or if you plan to remain over 90 days in Bolivia within a one-year period (whether you will be working or not), you'll need to travel to Bolivia on a specific purpose visa (called a visa de objeto determinado in Spanish). In addition, this implies that upon arrival you will immediately begin an application for residency in Bolivia. AMERICAN VISA Bolivia Tourist Visa
Unlike the citizens of some other countries, who are issued a tourist visa at the airport upon arrival, Americans are required to request the tourist visa from a Bolivian consulate in the United States prior to traveling.
The tourist visa for Americans allows you to remain in the country for a total of 90 days in a one-year period. You could travel to Bolivia up to three times within a one-year period as long as the total number of days you are in Bolivia does not exceed 90 days in one 365-day period.
The tourist visa lasts for 5 years. This is an exception that is made for Americans (for most other countries the visa lasts only one year). This means you can use the visa several times within those 5 years; however, you must remember that you cannot remain in the country longer than 90 days in each one-year period.
The tourist visa cannot be extended in you want to stay more than 90 days in a one-year period. Previously, Americans who had used up their 90 days in the country and wanted to stay longer were allowed to cross over the border (into a neighboring country) and re-enter, at which time they were given a new 90-day tourist visa. That is no longer allowed FOR AMERICANS (it is still allowed for citizens of some other countries).
If you've entered Bolivia on a tourist visa and you want to stay longer, you'll run into problems. Americans who arrive to Bolivia on a tourist visa cannot request residency. You'll have to leave the country and re-enter Bolivia on a specific purpose visa. To do this, you may be allowed to cross the border to a neighboring country and return to Bolivia on the specific purpose visa IF the Bolivian consulate in that neighboring country agrees to give you one, but it is a risk. Therefore, if you know you'll be moving to Bolivia to request residency, it is much wiser to get the correct visa (the specific purpose visa) in the United States before you arrive.
Exceptions are SOMETIMES made upon arrival at the airport if an American has traveled to Bolivia without any visa at all. Some Americans are unaware they need any type of visa. In this case, airport immigration officials SOMETIMES make an exception and issue a tourist visa. But don't count on this. No one seems to know what criteria they use to determine whether or not to make this exception for some people.
The Bolivia tourist visa for Americans currently costs $135. AMERICAN VISA Bolivia Specific Purpose Visa
The specific purpose visa is the visa you'll use if you are planning to move to Bolivia, live in Bolivia, request residency in Bolivia, work for profit in Bolivia, volunteer longer than 90 days in Bolivia, retire in Bolivia, or be an exchange student in Bolivia. In short, if you plan to remain in Bolivia longer than 90 days for any reason, this is the visa you need for travel.
The Bolivian specific purpose visa must be obtained from a Bolivian consulate in the United States prior to arrival. Unlike the tourist visa (for which exceptions are sometimes made when a TOURIST has arrived unaware they need a visa) no exceptions are made for people who plan to take up residency here. Therefore, it is very important if you are moving to Bolivia, that you obtain the specific purpose visa BEFORE TRAVELING.
The specific purpose visa also differs from the tourist visa in that it only lasts for 30 days. This means that once you arrive, you must almost immediately begin your residency application process at the Immigration Office of the city you've arrived at. There are numerous requirements to fulfill, documents to obtain, places to go, payments to make, and long lines to stand in during these 30 days. Therefore, you should begin your application for residency very soon after arrival.
Your application for residency must be complete and turned in to the Bolivian Immigration Office within those 30 days. However, once your application has been turned in, you will be free to remain in the country without any further charges until you receive a response from Immigration. At this time your passport will be returned to you with a residency sticker applied to one of its pages. At the time you turn in your residency application (along with your passport) you will be given a slip of paper stating that your application is "en trámite" (in progress). Do NOT lose this paper. It is your temporary I.D. document until your passport is returned to you. It is also the document you will use to prove you are in the country legally during the waiting period.
The Bolivia specific purpose visa for Americans currently costs $85.HOW AND WHERE TO APPLY FOR EITHER ONE OF THESE VISAS
You will have to contact the Bolivian consulate nearest you in the United States and send to them several things including your passport, photos, a letter explaining your travel purpose, and several other requirements. You can see the full list of requirements by visiting the website of the Bolivian Consulate in Washington, D.C.
Click on the box that says "Tourist Visa for United States Citizens" on the right hand side. Although it says "tourist visa" it will actually take you to a page that lists the requirements for BOTH types of visas.