Don't Get Stuck at the Bolivian Border Without These Documents (If you're American)
Last updated February 2019: I’ve updated the Bolivia entry requirements to reflect any changes since I first visited
After an adventurous time exploring Peru, I took the Bolivia Hop bus to cross the border to Bolivia. Little did I know, as an American, I needed about 8 different things to be allowed to enter.
Caught off guard (I am usually always over-prepared!) and frustrated that I didn't research the information beforehand, I rushed to get all of my paperwork at the last minute. Though the regulations are rumored to change frequently, as of June 2015, here is what you will need to cross the border from Peru to Bolivia if you're American. I'll update this page if I hear any updates.
Two passport-sized photos
I had no idea about this but was lucky to learn that right next to the immigration office on the Bolivian side of the border, a local couple owns a small storefront selling snacks and making photocopies. Recently, this couple purchased a digital camera and printer and can provide small photos for the visa requirement.
I crossed the border, went to the back room in the store, and got my picture taken against a white sheet and window. It definitely was not high quality but it was good enough to submit to the office next door.
A Sworn Statement / Immigration form
In order for Americans to apply for a tourist visa to visit Bolivia they must download, fill out and sign a statement form (essentially, your application). Whether you are applying for a visa in the states, at the embassy in Peru or trying your luck at the border, this form is essential.
Two copies of your passport information page
Thankfully I carried these around with me anyway. If you don't have passport copies, make sure you at least have a copy in your email drafts so you can print it in an internet cafe. The aforementioned store next to immigration also has a copy machine. Make sure your passport will be valid for at least 6 months from the date of your trip and there are enough pages left to place the large visa sticker.
One copy of your bank statement
I hated this the most because I had to run into an Internet cafe/copy shop at 9:15pm (my bus left at 9:30pm) and pretty much cried asking the shop owner not to close so I could log into my online banking account. The whole transaction felt last minute and uneasy. Apparently the U.S. does this to them when they try to visit our country so maybe it's reciprocal.
Update February 2019: You may conceal the account number on your printouts if you are worried about security.
A day-to-day printed itinerary
You should provide a copy of your daily itinerary for your visit. When I encountered this I was frustrated, and didn’t know why this was important. Though I DO know that I have never planned a full vacation itinerary in my life!
I made the itinerary up while at the Internet cafe and was sure to throw in the name of a hostel chain or Airbnb address. Be sure to have the complete address of where you are staying.
Note (Updated February 2019): if you are staying at a residence, you’ll need a letter of invitation from them. If you are staying at a hotel, you’ll need a copy of your reservation.
Copy of your yellow fever vaccine certificate
I made this copy at the store next to the office.
Proof of onward travel (an exit ticket)
Be sure to have a copy of your flight/bus ticket ready to provide for your visa application. I was taking a bus, so I printed my pre-purchased bus ticket as proof of exit. If you don't have one, buy the cheapest bus ticket you can find, or purchase a fully refundable ticket before crossing the border so you can cancel once you're in the country.
$160 Visa fee
When I visited Bolivia we paid $55 per person (cash) to get across the border. Perhaps it was this cheap because we were coming from Peru. Or maybe times have changed and the price increased. I know back then, if you didn’t have the proper paperwork, that $55 jumped to $135.
Now, if you are trying to get a Bolivia tourist visa, expect to pay $160.
Note that if traveling across the border like I did, although U.S. currency is accepted, no one in Bolivia accepts dollars that are ripped or wrinkled. Apparently the bank gives them a low exchange rate if they are not crisp, new bills.
Update February 2019: if you are applying for a visa in the states, you can pay via credit card authorization form or money order.
Three pages of visa/customs paperwork
When I was at the immigration office at the Bolivia border I didn't see the forms laying out so they're either behind the desk and you can get them after paying the higher fee, or you need to stop by a tour company office to get it beforehand. I took the Bolivia Hop bus and they supplied it for me while in Peru
I hope this helps! xx