Moving from Europe to Bolivia

by Jari

I'm moving to La Paz with my family in the end of this year. We have been trying to decide wether to move our belongings over or just get rid of furniture, car etc. and just take the most important with us. I've read some stories about the horrors of the removal process into Bolivia and startign to be inclined towards the clean slate option :-)

But in case we need to use a company I'd love to hear recommendations for removal companies. Any ideas of estimated cost for a container from central Europe to Bolivia would be very much appreciated. We've asked for quotes from companies over the internet, but haven't received any responses yet.

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Sep 03, 2013
Bring what you can carry
by: Wagg

I would stay well clear of shipping anything into the country.

Bring only what you can carry with you.

If not, you will end up paying way more than the value of the goods once they are held ransom by "the system".

Once in detention, you will encounter no end of bureaucratic hoops to jump through (each of which will of course require the payment of an outrageous sum of cash) in order to liberate your goods.

The only alternative to this is to abandon your goods to the system (which I have just done).

it was a painful decision, but it makes me feel good that these legalized thieves will not be getting any cash from me.

If you value your sanity, leave your beloved items in Europe, it is by far the safest option.

Aug 23, 2013
Moving stuff
by: Marc

Hello Jari,

my wife will be moving to Bolivia ( she's from there ) at the end of this year. I am staying behind to see our house sold, after which I will join her and my daughters. Currently my wife has begun shipping a few items, mostly clothes. I cant say I blame her, A good pair of Levi jeans is impossible to find. Only knock offs. So there are some essential articles we will take. The rest of the house, with the exception of my dog, is going to be sold off or donated.

What part of Switzerland are you from? I have attended courses at the Graduate Institute of Geneva. Lovely city.


Aug 13, 2013
Shipping household goods to Bolivia

My personal preference is to travel lightly. Most of the time you can find almost anything you need for a household in Bolivia. The trouble is that you may be able to ship your goods quite easily and at a price you find affordable, but once your goods arrive in Bolivia the customs nightmare begins. Most shipping companies don't or can't do the actual customs clearance for you. Your goods are delivered directly to a customs warehouse. You then have to hire a customs clearance agent to deal with customs agents if you don't speak Spanish (and even if you do, it's often advisable because they know each other and it tends to be easier). You should still accompany the agent to the warehouse to view your received goods to make sure it is all there and doesn't get stolen. Besides your payment to the agent, you'll pay customs clearance fees. If you have items you just cannot part with, then shipping is the way to go. But if a clean slate is OK with you (and you can store items you want to keep but don't need to have with you in Bolivia), then a clean slate is probably preferable.

Having said that, I would suggest that you make a list of all the household items you absolutely cannot live without (things you just really, really need or love to have in your house) and then post a message here in our forum and ask which items are available in Bolivia and which are not. You might also consider asking what they cost in Bolivia. That way, you can make a more informed decision.

For example: you can purchase washers for your home laundry easily in Bolivia. But depending on where you are from, they may be more expensive here. I find they cost just a little less, not much less, than in the U.S. On the other hand, dryers are hard to come by (Bolivians rarely use them, but some stores sometimes have a few). Same with automated dishwashers. They are not impossible to find, but are rare in Bolivia. You'll find high end furniture costs about the same as in the US or Europe, but Bolivia has amazing artisans and carpenters who make beautiful furniture for a fraction of the imported price. So it's worth making a comparison.

If you are from Europe you have one advantage. Most of you already use appliances and electronics that are 220V. Not so with Americans. So in your case, you may find it worthwhile to import some of your goods. Americans use 110V, then find importing expensive, then find they either have to live with a house full of transformers, or purchase appliances all over again in Bolivia anyway.

Just some thoughts. Feel free to ask any more questions you may have.

Aug 12, 2013
by: Anonymous

I have shipped about 100kg of stuff when moving to Bolivia from was mainly clothes and some baby accessories, since i wanted to travel I paid about 400 GBP for it at the time. It took about month to arrive,but could not collect it straight away for days..I didnt speak much Spanish so cant tell you why but in the end we had to pay nearly double the money to collect our stuff-again dont know why. in UK the company i hired told me its all paid including taxes,customs or whatever there is to pay. We just paid to get our stuff back. oh and the cot arrived broken and then i discovered they do have all sorts of cots in bolivia and clothes, and baby stuff too lol

Mar 05, 2013
Starting fresh
by: Jari

Thanks for all the advice. It seems to make sense to just get rid of as much as possible. I remember that furniture etc. is also a lot cheaper in Bolivia than in Europe so it really isn't worth the cost to bring everything over. And I like the idea of starting over fresh. After all I originally came to Switzerland with just a backpack years ago :-)

I also discovered that in addition to the standard luggage we could just mail a few boxes via the post office. We can get half a ton of stuff over this way without too much hassle.

We will be living in a furnished house for the first year at least so more reason not to bring furniture. Thanks for the tip regarding the car - I forgot that Bolivian roads aren't really made for the typical European car.

Mar 05, 2013
Sell your stuff!
by: Jenny

Hi there, we moved to Santa Cruz from the UK and have been here just three weeks now. We have packaged all our stuff up with Team Relocations in the UK, but there is so much red tape involved - my advice to you is sell everything and start afresh. We sold our furniture and are just bringing over stuff like kitchen accessories, glasses, sentimental stuff etc, and we were packed up two weeks before we got here. So that's five weeks and it hasn't even left the UK yet. Our house here is "furnished" which means basic furniture only - no kitchen stuff. So we are having to buy new stuff anyway - goodness knows what we will do when and if our old house stuff ever gets here. Everything is going to be duplicated, but we have to survive and live in the meantime and so we have no choice but to buy here. And speaking to previous people who have been here and those currently here, it takes FOREVER to get your stuff here and the stuff is often broken. The guy whose house we moved into here said his air shipment, which was supposed to take 3-4 weeks, took over 6 months. Look at it as a nice change and start new, just pack stuff you don't need anytime soon - literally!! Good luck :)

Mar 05, 2013
Moving from Europe to Bolivia
by: Vimal

Hi Jari, I moved from India to La Paz however with just my bag and stuff I need. Since your case is different, my first advice is let go of the car unless its a good 4x4. Secondly, moving your furniture should be decided once you have seen your Apartment, House. The reason being the space.

My best advice to you would be first get your Accomodation sorted, then take a call on what furniture you want to move in etc. You can get good used 4x4 here easily at a good price. With regards to Cargo any good EU freight/Shipping company will get your stuff here. If its by Sea it would be via Brazil or Argentina then by road to Bolivia. Please insure your goods.
Best wishes, Vim

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