Road Conditions and Safety: Use extreme caution when driving on roadways. Few highways have shoulders, fencing or barriers, and lane markings are minimal. Even when lanes are marked, it is common for drivers to disregard them.
- Although La Paz, Santa Cruz, and Cochabamba are connected by highways, most roads in Bolivia are unpaved.
- Four-wheel drive vehicles are recommended for trips outside major cities.
- Travel during the rainy season (November-March) is difficult, as most routes have potholes, and roads and bridges may be washed out.
- Other dangers include poor maintenance and overloaded vehicles, lack of lights on some vehicles, and intoxicated or overly tired drivers, including commercial bus and truck drivers.
- Stop signs are rare, and drivers commonly disregard red lights, particularly at night.
Traffic Laws: Most drivers lack formal training. Maintain situational awareness on the roads and employ defensive driving skills.
- Drivers do not normally yield to pedestrians.
- If you are involved in a traffic accident, stay at the scene until local police arrive. Leaving the scene is illegal under Bolivian law. The police may assess a percentage of fault to you relative to their assessment of your responsibility for the incident.
Public Transportation: Although violent assaults on public transportation are rare, petty theft is common.
- Avoid taking unlicensed taxis, and use radio taxis whenever possible.
- The majority of intercity travel is by minibus, with varying levels of safety and service. Bus accidents are responsible for death and severe injuries. The old Yungas road is considered one of the most dangerous routes in the world. See our Road Safety page for more information.
Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Bolivia?s Civil Aviation Authority to be in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Bolivia?s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA?s safety assessment page.
Please visit the Embassy’s COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Bolivia.
Bolivia is subject to extreme drought and shortage. During the dry season, many neighborhoods, particularly in La Paz, Potosi, Cochabamba, Santa Cruz, Chuquisaca, and Oruro, may not have regular running water.
Medical care in large cities is adequate, but of varying quality. Medical facilities are generally not equipped to handle serious medical conditions, and risk of infection is high. Emergency medical care outside of large cities, in rural areas, and inside national parks is inadequate.
For emergency services in Bolivia, dial 110.
- Ambulance services are limited to non-existent. Injured or seriously ill travelers may prefer to take a taxi or private vehicle to the nearest major hospital rather than wait for an ambulance.
- Prescription and over-the-counter medications are widely available. However, many pharmacies only stock generic brands.
- Much of Bolivia is 10,000 feet above sea level and higher. Be aware of the symptoms of altitude sickness, and take precautions before you travel. Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information about Travel to High Altitudes.
- Water treatment methods do not meet U.S. standards. Avoid consuming unfiltered tap water.
- Sanitize all produce, and ensure all meat products are completely cooked, due to higher risks of salmonella or other contaminants.
Medical Tourism and Elective Surgery: Undergoing elective cosmetic procedures in Bolivia presents significant risks. The blood supply and regulation of doctors and medical services do not meet U.S. standards in many areas. Visit the CDC Medical Tourism page for more information.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept U.S. health insurance.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor?s prescription. Check with the Government of Bolivia to ensure the medication is legal in Bolivia. The following diseases are prevalent:
- Yellow fever
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Local laws and Special Circumstances
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Individuals establishing a business or practicing a profession that requires additional permits or licensing should seek information from the competent local authorities, prior to practicing or operating a business.
Bolivian authorities are generally required to press official charges within 24 hours of arrest, and to release a detainee within 48 hours if no formal charges are brought. However, investigative and pre-trial periods may drag on indefinitely.
Bolivian law allows law enforcement officials to detain any foreigner pending proof of legal status in country (i.e. passport, visa, or residency card). Though this is rarely enforced, anyone who cannot produce proof of legal status may be detained until legal status is confirmed.
In Bolivia, you may find products made with wild plants and animals. Many of these products could involve protected or endangered species, whose sale and export are illegal. Any protected species that is sold or transported, either live or transformed into food, medicinal beverages, leather, handcrafts, garments, etc., could be seized by Bolivian authorities. Some products, including live animals, require special permits when leaving Bolivia. Knowingly importing into the United States wildlife or plants that were taken from the wild or sold in violation of the laws of Bolivia (or any other country) violates U.S. law.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
- Under Bolivian law, suspects can be detained for up to 18 months without formal charges during an investigation, and the detention period could be extended beyond 18 months.
- Legal cases often drag on for years.
Mountain Trekking and Climbing Safety: Many popular trekking routes in the Bolivian Andes are at 16,000 feet or higher. Regardless of medical history or physical fitness, you may experience significant health issues due to the high altitude. Exercise extreme caution when trekking or climbing in Bolivia.
- Trekkers must have adequate clothing and equipment, not always available locally, and should be experienced mountain travelers.
- Don?t trek alone. Join an organized group and/or use a reputable firm to obtain an experienced guide and porter.
- If you develop a severe headache, weakness, vomiting, shortness of breath at rest, cough, chest tightness, or unsteadiness while climbing, descend to a lower altitude immediately, and consider seeking medical attention.
- Trekkers and climbers should purchase insurance that covers emergency services such as medical evacuations.
- Satellite communication and internet connectivity can be limited or non-existent. Inform family members of your plans and note that you may not be reachable for extended periods.
Authentication of Documents: The Embassy is prohibited from issuing apostilles or authenticating U.S. or Bolivian-issued documents, such as birth, marriage, or death certificates, or driver?s licenses. For information on where to obtain an apostille on a U.S. document, please click here.
Counterfeit and Pirated Goods: Although counterfeit and pirated goods are prevalent in many countries, they may still be illegal according to local laws. You may also pay fines or have to give them up if you bring them back to the United States. See the U.S. Department of Justice website for more information.
Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:
- Faith-Based Travel Information
- International Religious Freedom Report ? see country reports
- Human Rights Report ? see country reports
- Hajj Fact Sheet for Travelers
- Best Practices for Volunteering Abroad
LGBTI Travelers: The Bolivian constitution prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Bolivia.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance. Few buildings and streets are accessible by wheelchair. Sidewalks and ramps are often in disrepair. Most public transportation vehicles are ill-adapted.
Women Travelers: Bolivia has one of the highest domestic violence rates against women in South America. A very high percentage of women have experienced intimate partner violence. See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Safety and Security
Protests, strikes, and roadblocks are common. While they generally begin peacefully, they have the potential to become violent.
- Avoid roadblocks or public demonstrations.
- Consider the possibility of flight disruptions.
- Take extra food, water, and warm clothing on road trips. Roadblocks may occur without warning and could strand you for several days.
- Monitor Bolivian media and the U.S. Embassy website for updates.
Messages regarding demonstrations, strikes, and weather-related events are posted on the embassy?s website.
Emergency medical care outside of large cities, in rural areas, and inside national parks is inadequate. The U.S. Embassy recommends that visitors to remote areas inquire with their travel agency or guide service about contingency plans for emergency communication and medical evacuation, and that all travelers purchase insurance that covers emergency medical care and evacuation while abroad.
Chapare and Yungas Regions: Organized criminal groups near Coroico and Carnavi in Yungas have committed carjackings and robberies. Additionally, government authorities have used force in past confrontations with residents over coca eradication, and pro-coca groups may attempt to target U.S. interests. Contact the Embassy before traveling to these regions.
Crime: Pick pocketing, assaults following ATM withdrawals, and car theft are common.
- Express kidnappings, in which tourists are robbed and forced to withdraw money from ATMs, are common in La Paz. Use only radio taxis and don?t travel alone, particularly late at night, or if you?re under the influence.
- Avoid Coronilla Hill in Cochabamba next to the main bus terminal, due to crime.
- Use caution if you plan to travel from Copacabana to La Paz by bus. Arrive during daylight hours if possible, verify the final destination, and buy tickets directly at the bus terminal.
- Be aware of impostors. Organized criminal groups sometimes pose as police with the intent to rob foreigners. It is also a common scheme for criminals to pose as a crime victim, only to rob an unsuspecting bystander.
- Theft of bags, wallets, and backpacks are a problem, especially in tourist areas and on overnight buses. Thieves sometimes distract victims by spraying water on their neck or placing a substance on the bag, and trick them into giving up the bag. Never leave personal items unattended.
Victims of Crime:
U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault should immediately get to a safe place, seek medical care if necessary, and then contact the U.S. Embassy.
Report crimes to the local police at 110 and contact the U.S. Embassy at +591 (2) 216-8000. After working hours: +591 (2) 216-8000. The National Tourism Police provides free assistance in English to tourists. Contact the La Paz office at 800-14-0081. Contact the Cochabamba office at +591 (4) 450-3880. In the city of Santa Cruz, contact Interpol at +591 (3) 349-7720.
Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
- Help you find appropriate medical care
- Assist you in reporting a crime to the police
- Contact relatives or friends with your written consent
- Provide general information regarding the victim?s role during the local investigation and following its conclusion
- Provide a list of local attorneys
- Provide information on victim?s compensation programs in the U.S.
- Provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
- Help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
- Replace a stolen or lost passport
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence are encouraged to contact the Embassy for assistance.
Tourism: The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities do not commonly occur. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is typically available only in/near major cities. First responders are generally unable to access areas outside of major cities and to provide urgent medical treatment. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Entry exit Requirementsh
Please visit the Embassy’s COVID-19 page for more information on entry/ exit requirements related to COVID-19 in Bolivia.
U.S. citizens do not need a visa to enter Bolivia for tourism. Entry is granted for 30, 60, or 90 days at the discretion of the Bolivian immigration officer at the port of entry. U.S. citizens who wish to extend their stay can apply for an extension through Administraci?n Nacional de Migraci?n (National Migration Service), which has offices in most major cities. The additional periods can be consecutive or nonconsecutive within a one-year period. The maximum period of stay for tourists is 90 calendar days per year. Visit the Embassy of Bolivia website for the most current visa information.
- Valid U.S. passport with at least 6 months validity remaining.
- International Certificate of Yellow Fever Vaccination.
- If you plan to work, study, volunteer, or conduct business in Bolivia, you must apply for a separate visa (Specific Purpose Visa).
- Make sure you obtain entry and exit stamps from the Bolivian authorities every time you enter or exit Bolivia.
- Minors with Bolivian citizenship must obtain authorization from the non-traveling parent or parents at a Bolivian Embassy or Consulate to exit Bolivia. All other minors who remain in Bolivia for more than 90 days, regardless of citizenship, must also obtain this authorization to exit Bolivia. See the U.S. Embassy?s website for more information.
Dual Nationality: Upon entering and/or exiting Bolivia, U.S.-Bolivian citizens may be required to show a valid Bolivian identity document, such as a Bolivian cedula de identidad.
HIV Restrictions: The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to, or foreign residents of Bolivia.
See the Department of State?s Fact Sheet on Bolivia for information on U.S. ? Bolivia relations.
Travel Embassy and Consulate
Avenida Arce 2780
La Paz, Bolivia
Telephone: + (591) (2) 216-8000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: + (591) (2) 216-8000
Fax: + (591) (2) 216-8111
Hours: Monday to Thursday: 08:00 ? 17:30 and Friday: 08:00 ? 12:00 (except U.S. and local holidays)
United States Consular Agency, Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Radial Castilla S/N (In front of Santo Tomas School soccer
field). Between 3er Anillo Interno y 3er Anillo Externo
Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Telephone: + (591) (2) 216-8000
Emergency after-hours telephone: +(591) 2-216-8000
Fax: + (591) (3) 351-3478
Hours: Monday and Tuesday: 08:00 ? 15:00
Wednesday and Thursday: 8:30 ? 15:00, and
Friday: 09:00 ? 12:00 (except U.S. and local holidays)