Visa Options?

by Kenny

I have read the info here at Bella I am a US citizen, and am planning a few months in Bolivia around early summer 2010...There is a possibility I would like it and want to stay etc..

I understand once in Bolivia on a 'tourist visa' you can NOT apply for an extension or residency on this Visa. I have also read about the 'special purpose visa' as well and have a few questions based on other info I have read on online about Visa's... I would like to hear some feedback on possible options or solutions in regards to my situation.

I have read (somewhere?) that if you stay in Bolivia past your visa expiration that you can stay longer but have to pay a fine when you leave the country...Is this true?
If 'yes' How much is the fine?
Also if 'yes' does this apply to either Visa?

I have a few questions on this but will ask one at a time, get a reply, then ask another so it easier for myself (lol) and others to follow...Thanks!

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Oct 05, 2012
by: Emily

Hi there, I don't suppose you could help me? I am planning a trip where i'd like to spend 90 days in Bolivia, then 2 months in Peru, then another 2 months in Bolivia. I was just wondering if you know if it is possible to get another visa upon re-entry to the country? Seems like a silly question, but I just can't find the information anywhere! Thank you very much :)

Oct 30, 2011
Tourist Visa past 90 Days
by: Anonymous

Hi Bella! You said you wanted to hear from people about extending a Tourist Visa, so here goes! If anyone else knows how to do it, please post.

We came on a tourist visa and our child was born in Bolivia. Their Government gave us an ID in 24 hours and Passport in another 24 (with a little coaxing).

But, the US Gov't/Embassy would not allow our child to obtain a visa to bring it home; said we HAD TO make it a US Citizen. This took two months and threats of a DNA test to prove it was truly our child.

We went to Immigration before the Tourist Visa expired and explained and they said they would not extend it- no way, no how- for any amount of money. They told us, just pay the fine when we left, which is what we expected to do (about twice the cost of the original visa, per day, $3).

But, when we checked into the same hotel we had checked into upon arrival, we were raided by Immigration, who got our names from the Hotel, and they could see that we were there more than 90 days before. They were polite and when we explained the situation, they understood. We had to spend a day at Immigration to get our Passports back and then another day at the end when we wanted to pay the fine and leave the country.

All in all, they were much friendlier than in the U.S. I expect we would have been in an Immigration prison for months, gone to court and then deported, if this happened in the U.S.!

One more thing. I am not advising anyone to do anything illegal. Just to state a fact: once we realized that we were over our time, if we had given a false Passport number and name to the Hotel, this wouldn't have happened, as they wouldn't have been able to track us. But, we tried to do things above board.

We tried to do things correctly and were advised by them to stay in the country overtime, so the problem arose from their own miscommunication between the Investigator that came out to get us and the Immigration Officer who had advised me to stay and not do anything about the expiring visa.

Thank you for your site. I have gotten much good information about moving, shipping, visas and buying land from your site and the site. There are not too many good English Bolivia sites around.

Feb 25, 2010
updated visa information
by: BoliviaBella

I've updated our Visa Information page as of 25 February 2010.

Jan 21, 2010
by: Kenny

I really appreciate your time and thoughts on this, for my particular situation I am pretty sure this would be the best approach. I have been thinking about it alot, and trying to figure what is best for me and my situation and really it is just to hard to say for sure yet.

If I was to come on a tourist visa and do maybe 30 days Santa Cruz and 30 days Tarija that would leave me 30 days to come back, in which time I could come back here (US) and work for 6-8 months ,sell my stuff(lol) and come back to Bolivia and buy land or house near the areas I seem to be going with my current(*subject to change), business goals which could be in both locations Santa Cruz and Tarija....OFF SUBJECT - for some reason Tarija is really attracting me and I can't find much info on it though that climate is looking pretty sweet!!! I plan to make a post on it soon !

Anyways I am very happy to hear that there is options, figuring out 'my' best route to take is where I need to focus...I will update here when I do or have anymore findings...Thanks BoliviaBella!

Jan 19, 2010
bolivia residency visa
by: BoliviaBella

Here are some general thoughts about your situation. Sounds like you might want to consider just coming with the special purpose visa. It costs less to begin with and if you decide to stay you're all set. No fines, no extensions.

CONSIDERATIONS ("howevers"):

Most important: in order to be issued a special purpose visa in the first place (that is, before you travel to Bolivia) you have to complete the application and stuff by mail to the Bolivian consulate (I prefer the one in D.C. but there are many). One of the things you have to include is a letter explaining why you want to reside in Bolivia and how you plan to make a living (or if a company has hired you, a letter from them). You also have to show that you will be able to support yourself in Bolivia (they want to know that you aren't going to end up being indigent).


1. You'd have to begin applying for residency immediately upon arrival because your special purpose visa is only valid for 30 days. There are many requirements and it can easily take all 30 days (it's why you would want to hire a lawyer like the one I told you about to help out). See this page for the step-by-step on immigration in Bolivia.

2. Once your application is complete and you've turned everything in, it can take the Bolivian government up to 4 months to approve a residency request. If you request residency immediately upon arrival, you would have to remain in Bolivia until it is approved (or not approved). But it sounds like you're planning to stay just about that amount of time anyways.

3. Your residency application and accompanying paperwork have to be completed and entered at Immigration within those 30 days that your special purpose visa lasts. Once your application has been turned in, you get to stay in Bolivia until they give you an answer. You don't have to pay to extend it your special purpose visa during this time. It's a given that it's "en trámite" (which literally means, "in process") so once you've turned it in, you have about 3-4 months just to sit around and wait (in your case, travel, etc. while you wait.)

4. If for some reason you MUST return to the US before Bolivian immigration has responded (ie: before you've gotten your passport back) you can go to Bolivian immigration and tell them you have an emergency and they will have your passport brought back from La Paz. (I asked them this 2 years ago when I was renewing when they told me about the 4-month wait because I was nervous about being without my passport for so long). HOWEVER, if you were to do this for any reason, you forfeit your residency request.

I'm also guessing you won't mind the wait. I'm also guessing if you return to the US before that time it's because you didn't like Bolivia and rather not live here.

Just some thoughts. I'm not an immigration lawyer. Don't take this as legal advice please Kenny.

Jan 17, 2010
about your visa options

I'm hearing from some people that they have been able to extend their tourist visa past 90 days. But there is a big fine. I'd like to hear from somebody else about this if they've had this experience. I'm sure Kenny from Florida would also appreciate getting someone else's opinion. Sometimes things just depend on who you know too, which is why so many people have had so many different experiences.

There are exceptions to every rule. Immigration tends to take things on a case by case basis. Send me a message through this private contact form and include your email address (your message will go straight to my email and will not show online). I have someone you can talk to about this.

By the way the tourist visa no longer costs $100 in the US and $135 at the border. The government is now charging $135 no matter where you apply. I'll make that change to my visa page immediately (things change all the time here and it's hard to keep up... sigh).

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