Author Topic: Update on Bolivian visa Nov 2017  (Read 51 times)

Offline wei

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Update on Bolivian visa Nov 2017
« on: Nov 15, 17, 10:40 PM »
I had posted this on FB, but thought I should post this here as well, for those who did not see the post shared by admins on FB.

Turned out that applying for a Bolivian visa was relatively painless. If you want to visit Bolivia, here is what you need to know:-

Many nationalities require a visa to enter Bolivia. The visa requirements for each individual depends on the nationality on the passport under which you will be travelling. Some visas are free, others require payment. Some can be obtained upon arrival to the Bolivian border. Others MUST be obtained in advance. It is critical to research your visa requirements before travel and apply for your Bolivia visa within the necessary timelines.

The Bolivian embassy has listed countries into 3 different groups.

GROUP 1: Passport holders from any of these countries do not require a visa or need to pay any kind of fee upon entering Bolivia. The only requirement is that you present a valid passport with a minimum validity of 6 months, a valid immigration card and a VALID international yellow fever certificate at the border. Many European countries fall under this group.

GROUP 2: Passport holders from any of these countries NEED to apply for a visa either at a Bolivian embassy or directly at the border. Obtaining a visa at the Bolivian embassy in advance is FREE OF CHARGE, however if you opt to get your visa at the border, a $95 USD fee (or the equivalent of 665 Bolivianos) will apply. SINGAPORE AND MALAYSIA FALL UNDER THIS GROUP.

GROUP 3: Passport holders from any of these countries MUST to apply for a visa IN ADVANCE and can ONLY apply for one directly at a Bolivian embassy. The cost for the visa is $30 USD.

EXCEPTION: US CITIZENS
Americans can apply for a visa either at a Bolivian embassy or at the border. The cost for the visa is $160 USD either way.

There are Bolivian consulates and consular offices in the neighbouring countries of Peru, Chile and Argentina. So if you are entering by land, you can easily go to any of the offices and apply for the free (Group 2) visa beforehand. I got mine in Puno, Peru. There is a consular office in Cusco too.

What do you need for visa application:-
-1 recent passport sized photo
-1 photocopy of your passport
-6 month validity of your passport. Take note that if you are crossing by land from Peru, you have to enter Bolivia using the same passport that you entered Peru with. In my case, I entered Peru on my old passport, but by the time I was exiting Peru, there was less than 6 months validity on my passport, so I had to present both the new and old passport for visa application and for exiting Peru and entering Bolivia.
-1 photocopy of your yellow fever vaccination certificate.
-1 photocopy of your bank statement (to prove you have sufficient funds for travel in Bolivia) or your credit card.
-1 copy of your itinerary in Bolivia (you can just type it up on your computer yourself and make up anything).
-1 copy of proof of exit of Bolivia (or South America or whatever. As long as it shows you have a bus or flight out and don't intend to stay in Bolivia).

Once you have all the documents in order, you just have to turn up at the consular office and present everything. I arrived at the office in Puno at 11.30am. Spent 30 minutes looking at the secretary filling up the e-form on her computer and then she told me to go back the same day at 2.30pm to collect my passport. You don't even need half a day and it's free. You get only 30 days and no more.

Thinking of extending your visa? Don't bother if you are from Group 2. It is such a pain in the ass and will cost you quite a bit. Just get everything over and done in the 30 days given in the first free visa. If you really insist on staying longer than the 30 days, then read on (you've been warned).

If your country belongs to Group 1, then getting an extension is relatively easy. All you need is a few hours and lots of patience. Just go to any of the immigration offices in the big cities in Bolivia, get a queue number, wait and eventually you can get a stamp to extend your stay.

If your country belongs to Group 2 (Singapore/Malaysia), first prepare:
-1 photocopy of your passport
-1 photocopy of the page of your passport with the visa/entry stamp for Bolivia
-1 passport sized photo
-Money for payment of visa (250 U.F.V.s, more or less equivalent to 555 Bolivianos)
-LOTS OF PATIENCE
-basic command of Spanish (only found one officer speaking English and she was not working behind the counter, just at the reception, so she could not help with anything except to dish out the queue numbers).

Note that you can only ask for an extension of visa with only 10 days or less remaining on your first visa. If you go before that, you will get turned away.

Queues in the La Paz immigration office are SUPER DUPER long. I was there on 3 different days and each time, I had to wait at least 2 hours before my number was called. You have to budget also for at least a couple of hours to get things done because first they will process your application, then they will send you to the bank to pay, then you come back, grab another number for another counter to "register". What they did not tell me was, that second counter is closed at 3.30pm. They only called for my queue number the first time at 4pm, so by the time I came back from the bank, I was told to come back the next working day, which was the following Monday. On Monday, I finally did the so-called registration (after 2 hours of waiting), only to be told that 3 working days was needed to process the passport. I managed to collect the passport the next day only after a lot of pleading and all. But not before going through another lot of waiting and frustrations.

Contrary to what was told by the first officer attending to me, the second visa starts from the day you applied for the visa, not from where your first entry stamp finishes. The good news is, you can ask for 30 days or 60 days and it both cost the same price. So just ask for a 60 days extension to avoid the headache I had when I realised I had one week less than I expected when I finally got my passport back.

There are tons and tons of blogs online that insisted on how easy it is to get a visa extension in Bolivia. Please note that this is only for those whose country fall under Group 1. If your country belongs to Group 2 (Singapore and Malaysia) or 3, then nothing is easy. Trust me, I learnt it the hard way. So if you are from the US or your country belongs to Group 2/3, apply for your visa beforehand to save the hassle and try to get out within the 30 days allocated to avoid any frustrations.

The Singapore passport was recently named the most powerful passport in the world, but not powerful enough for Bolivia apparently, looking at all the frustrations I went through. Good luck if you need to extend your visa!

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