Costs of Owning a Vehicle in Bolivia

Several website visitors have asked about the costs of owning a car in Bolivia, whether there are taxes to pay, what the requirements are for obtaining a driver's license, issues regarding insurance, etc.

There is a yearly vehicle tax here in Bolivia. It's not very expensive but depends on the make and model of your car. Some people pay as little as $10 a year for older cars. Others pay up to about $100, but it really does vary depending on your vehicle. The tax is paid to the municipal government each year and each major city has an office for this (or subcontracts a company to take in this type of revenue).

You do also have to get a Bolivian driver's license. If you come to Bolivia with an international driving permit (usually about $15-25 at your local AAA), plus your state driver's license, you can usually get a Bolivian driver's license a lot easier because they can see you already know how to drive - sometimes they even let you skip the driving classes. The cost for obtaining a Bolivian driver's license is much higher than in the US (over $100) and the DL lasts for 5 years. Taking driving classes is probably a good idea even if you know how to drive because driving in Bolivia is quite an unusual experience. Traffic is chaos in most major cities as people tend to completely disregard traffic laws.

Alternatively, you can get an international driving permit from the Automóvil Club Boliviano (the equivalent of the AAA in Bolivia). Most major cities in Bolivia have one. You can find the information from the ACB in Santa Cruz here, where you'll also find information on motorcycle driving permits.

You also have to have insurance. In addition to any private car insurance you choose to purchase, you are required by law to minimally have the SOAT which is a basic insurance that covers only minor liabilities. Still, by law every vehicle has to have the SOAT sticker on it. The cost for the SOAT is minimal (usually under $100 a year).

There is also a yearly inspection sticker you have to have on your car window (which costs under $20 in most major cities).

If you purchase a car in Bolivia the prices are pretty much the same as in the US. A lot of people think they will be a lot more expensive but they aren't since they are usually imported directly from Japan, Brazil and other countries.

If you plan to bring a vehicle to Bolivia, you should be aware that your vehicle cannot be more than 5 years old. For environmental reasons, this new law was passed in 2009. Here's some more information on importing vehicles.

In Santa Cruz, Expat Services can help. If you feel that you'll need help getting any or all of these documents please feel free to contact Expat Services using the secure form on this page.

You must also take into consideration regular vehicle maintenance costs, and the cost of spare or replacement parts, but those are difficult to
average because they depend so much on the make and model of your vehicle and literally cover thousands of parts. However, on the whole, spare parts are about as expensive as in the US, but the labor costs are much lower.

Comments for Costs of Owning a Vehicle in Bolivia

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Jan 19, 2016
Motorcycle in Bolivia?
by: Anonymous

I am curious about the thought of using a motorcycle there? I am a well seasoned rider. I began riding with friends and church family. Not the hard, grizzly, tattooed, stereotype, VERY far from it. I lived deep in the country where my home was a mile from the main highway connected by an often washed out gravel road. In fact locals passed my drive regularly thinking it was a creek bed. So dusty, bumpy, narrow, low light, doesn't phase me in the least.
Are there many in service there? Are the processes similar to other vehicles? Any known differences? Thank you.

Jul 01, 2015
Thanks for sharing.
by: Tyler Grant

Of course you have to give taxes for it. Owning a vehicle in Bolivia is a bit expensive. Making a Bolivia license is also must. Its better you make a complete research on it.

Apr 21, 2013
Prices are definitely high
by: Daniel

Cars in Bolivia are ridiculously expensive. It has to do with import taxes. If u import your own car, chances are you will have to pay import taxes as well. For that reason, many people in Bolivia keep driving very old cars that are in bad shape. That, in turn, makes for a demand for old cars and keeps the prices of old 90's models high.

Jan 12, 2013
by: Anonymous

I was just in Bolivia this past Christmas, and you can reasonably expect to pay at least $15,000 to $25,000 minimum for a new car in Bolivia compared to the U.S. It is far cheaper to buy a car in the U.S., and have it shipped.

Also, the streets are very small, not wide, and bumpy. The roads are dusty, and driving is slow going compared to the U.S. Getting cars fixed there are incredibly cheap (if the are Toyota) compared to the U.S. There are many Landcruisers, but especially Corolla's). Other car parts are not as readily available.

If you are of small stature, I suggest getting a smaller Toyota vehicle. There are a lot of 4Runners there as well, but remember no one parks on the street at night due to high likelihood of car theft.

Taxis are readily available and reasonably priced, so you don't have to always drive your car there, but the taxis don't all have working A/C. Gas prices are slightly higher than in the U.S., and bought in liters. Getting used to the driving with few lights in some areas can be stressful.

Feb 28, 2012
if you are planning on moving....
by: Anonymous

If you are planning on moving here, I strongly suggest you to bring your own cars. I haven't fully understood why prices are so high, but it might have to do with a banned on imported cars that are more than 4 years old. If your cars are ’09 or newer, I would bring them.
The rule of thumb is to add 30% to 40% to the FOB (US) price for shipping, import duties and taxes.
Hundreds of small dealerships have flooded the country with cars imported from the US. Although, you might find some cars in good shape, most of them are in bad shape, and don’t have clean titles. And be sure there is no lemon law here to protect you.
The Tundra is not imported by the Toyota Dealership. The car, I think, was designed for the American market. It is simply too big and bloated for Bolivian streets. The 4Runner has always being a very popular SUV. The Land Cruiser is also a popular choice around here.
Visit to get an idea of car prices. A friend of mine was looking for a Runner in the $15K range, and all you can find are ’95-’97 models (if you can believe that!!!!)

Jan 23, 2012
Moving to Santa Cruz
by: Anonymous

We are moving to Bolivia by the end of the year. Is that what we can expect to pay for a new 2012 or 2013 Toyota 4Runner or a new Toyota Tundra? We have to decide whether to buy here in the US and ship there or wait until we get there to buy a new car. We met a guy here who is from Bolivia and used to import cars into SA who says the new car prices are outrageous which is why he was able to make a profit importing mostly Toyotas to Bolivia and Chile. It is hard to believe that the Santa Cruz or La Paz market could support such high new car prices.

Jan 16, 2012
car prices in Bolivia same as in the US? Impossible!
by: Anonymous

Toyota Runner $80K to $110
Toyota Land Cruiser starting at $100
Rav4...about $36 to $39
Yaris $23
Corolla $28
Kia Sportage $35K
Hyundai Accent $22K; Elantra $27K, Tucson $37K

Prices as of December 2011, including taxes

And if you are buying a pre owned car....get ready to pay ridiculous prices...2002 VW New Beetle with +100K miles....for $10K...the same car in the states is about $4K...and 20year old SUV still sell for like $10K (specially true for Nissan Patrols, and Land Cruisers)

Dec 10, 2011
Cost of car
by: banjanti

"If you purchase a car in Bolivia the prices are pretty much the same as in the US"

Yeah, is only true if we speak about new cars (in 30-40k rage), 2nd hand are insanely expensive, expect to pay 10k for 10-15 years old 4wd! And mostly it will be "transformer" - Japanese car changed from RHD to LHD, mostly changed in very poor manner (electric and ac will cause you problems, if you're lucky enough and ac works at all).

So please don't mislead people, cars in Bolivia are VERY expensive.

Oct 03, 2010
Car taxes and SOAT
by: BoliviaBella

Great information Carla! Everything depends on the make and model of the vehicle, what accessories it has, what you use it for, and even what city you live in, so your tax reference is really useful and helpful. Thanks for that!

Also that reminds me: the first year you purchase a vehicle in Bolivia your fees may be higher because you have to pay a vehicle registration fee, the title fee, and the license plate.

Oct 03, 2010
Taxes and SOAT
by: Carla

I have a comment regarding municipal vehicle taxes. I bought a car in 2005 valued in $us 20,000 and that year the taxes for that vehicle were almost $us 400! The next year were a little less, but still very expensive for me.

In the other hand, the SOAT for my vehicle cost about $us 12- $us 15 per year, and I think it's basically the same for most of private vehicles. Public vehicles must pay more.

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Live in Bolivia.