Customs regulations and required documents
Personal effects import regulations
Illegal bars exist in Bolivia. You may be detained for questioning if you are caught at one of these, particularly if drugs are found within the premises.
Bolivia is the world’s third largest producer of cocaine. There are harsh penalties for those caught trafficking or in possession. The minimum sentence is 8 years and prison conditions are very basic. Be very careful with your luggage and belongings and avoid any contact with illegal drugs.
Ayahuasca is a traditional plant used in “spiritual cleansing” ceremonies by indigenous communities in Bolivia, primarily in the Amazon region, but also near La Paz. This ceremony involves the consumption of a brew containing dimethyltryptamine (DMT), an hallucinogenic drug. Consumption of this brew is not regulated and its interaction with existing medical conditions is not well understood. People have suffered serious illnesses and in some cases death after participating in these ceremonies. Some Ayahuasca retreats are some distance from populated areas making it difficult to access medical attention for those who need it.
Be careful especially when carrying cameras or binoculars when travelling off the beaten track, particularly in coca-growing areas such as the Chapare and the Yungas.
Check before taking photographs of local people.
Homosexuality is not illegal, but is frowned upon by the majority of Bolivians, more so in the Altiplano than in Santa Cruz, where attitudes tend to be more liberal. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
Police and immigration officials sometimes carry out ID checks. You can keep a photocopy of the pages from your passport containing your personal details and the Bolivian immigration stamps with you, and leave the original document in a safe place.
Since January 2011, the maximum age of cars permitted for import is three years old. Additionally, Bolivia has prohibited the importation of diesel vehicles with engine displacement smaller than 4,000 cubic centimeters, all vehicles that use liquefied petroleum gas, and cars with right side steering.
The import of certain endangered species of plant, live animals and their products is prohibited or restricted under CITES.
Birds, cats and dogs must be accompanied by a good health certificate issued by a government official authority at point of origin.
Baggage is cleared at the airport of final destination in Bolivia, if the carrier is operating under the same flight number.
Exempt: baggage of transit passengers with a destination outside Bolivia, which is transferred by the carrier, if it is labeled to that destination.
Local currency (Bolivian Boliviano-BOB) and foreign currencies: no restrictions up to USD 10,000.- or equivalent. Higher amounts must be declared on arrival. For amounts over USD 50,000.- or equivalent, registration at The Central Bank of Bolivia is required.
Local currency (Bolivian Boliviano-BOB) and foreign currencies: up to the amounts imported and declared.
A Permit, granted by the Bolivian Ministry of Defense, is required to import firearms and/or ammunition. This must be obtained prior to arrival in Bolivia. Visitors must apply for this through the Bolivian Embassy or Consulate in their country of residence.
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Exit tax is levied on nationals and residents of Bolivia and on visitors staying more than 90 days: BOB 190.-.
Place of payment: Airport of departure in Bolivia.
Exempt: children under 2 years of age.
Social conflict is common in Bolivia and blockades may occur along the main roads. Groups often use road blockades as a form of protest, without warning. Public transport can be disrupted at very short notice and strikes may result in widespread road blockades, including on roads to and from airports. The Bolivian road authority website gives up-to-date information on which roads are blocked. You should avoid large crowds and demonstrations, and do not attempt to cross blockades.
Be vigilant at all times while travelling around. There have been a number of reported crimes against foreign nationals.
When choosing your transport, use established companies and seek local advice.
Petty crime is common in central La Paz and other popular tourist destinations, on buses and in crowded areas. Don’t leave your bag or belongings unattended. Always keep your passport, air ticket and other valuable items in a safe place.
There has been an increase in the number of robberies involving taxis in the city of Santa Cruz and La Paz. If you do use a taxi choose a ‘radio taxi’, which is identifiable by the telephone number and the name of the taxi company on the vehicle’s roof. If possible, request a taxi by phone, make a note of the taxi’s registration number and telephone number before you set off. This type of taxi should carry no other passengers.
A list of taxi companies registered with the Mayor’s office in La Paz is available in this news article. According to the Mayor’s office, registered taxis display a sticker on their windscreen or windows.
Criminals sometimes impersonate police officers and act in collusion with bogus taxis to target foreigners. False police ID cards, uniforms and even false police stations have been used to fool victims. The criminal pretends to be a friendly tourist. A bogus police officer then approaches and asks for passports and other information. The victim is then persuaded to get into a taxi where he/she is robbed or taken to cash points to withdraw money.
Be vigilant and call local authorities if you suspect that impostors are targeting you. You can’t be searched without a written order from a state prosecutor. The Tourist Police toll-free number is 800-14-0081.
Beware of individuals offering help at taxi points and at bus terminals where thieves work in teams to distract their victims.
There is a general risk of ‘express kidnappings’ – short-term, opportunistic abductions, aimed at extracting cash. Victims are normally selected at random and held for up to several days while criminals use stolen bank or credit cards. Foreign visitors are particularly vulnerable when entering Bolivia at overland border points with Peru, Chile and Argentina. If you are travelling from Copacabana to La Paz, try to use direct buses. Take particular care on arrival, especially in the Cementerio General, area in La Paz where a number of incidents have been reported. There have also been reports of similar incidents in the Sopocachi area of La Paz.
Take care around transport in tourist sites such as Rurrenabaque. Attacks on lone travellers taking motorbike taxis have been reported.
Female travellers should be vigilant inside clubs and hostels. Rape and sexual assault incidents have been reported. Be cautious if you’re approached by strangers and if possible, lock your room when you return to your hotel/hostel.
Petty crime is common in central La Paz and other popular tourist destinations like Sagarnaga Street, on buses and in other crowded areas.
Always keep your passport, air ticket and other valuable items in a safe place.
Bolivia offers a number of adventure activities, including mountain biking, salt flat tours and jungle expeditions. There are no official minimum standards for tour operators. Seek local advice and only use reputable companies. Check your travel insurance policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake.
For mountain biking on the so-called ‘Death Road’, from La Paz to Coroico through the Yungas Valley, make sure bicycles are in good condition and guides are fully equipped with safety equipment and first-aid kits.
Avoid prison tours. They are illegal and unsafe. There are no guarantees for your safety inside prison premises.
You will need an International Driving Permit to hire a car. You must carry this with you at all times when driving.
Road travel can be dangerous due to poor road conditions, local driving techniques and the condition of vehicles on the road. There have been a number of recent accidents involving public transport, especially long distance buses, in which British nationals have been affected. Bus drivers drive for well over the time permitted in comparison with European laws.
Weather conditions can seriously affect your ability to travel. During the rainy season (November to March) there is risk of landslides and roads can be severely affected. Check with the Bolivian road authority website on the state of the roads and seek local advice before you set out.
There is little control of vehicle maintenance and serious accidents occur on the main tourist routes Some of Bolivia’s principal roads are paved, but of variable quality. Most roads are unpaved rough tracks. 4-wheel drive vehicles are often the best means of transport, especially during the rainy season. Broken-down vehicles with no warning lights are a frequent hazard on roads at night.
Many taxis and most of the bus companies don’t meet European standards and rarely have seat belts.
A list of recent incidents and accidents can be found on the website of the Aviation Safety network.
The rainy season may affect air travel; flights may be delayed or cancelled at short notice. Contact your airline to confirm your flight schedule.
A civil airline accident in 2013 at Riberalta airport in the Beni department highlighted a lack of safety and rescue capability in many of Bolivia’s airports, with airports outside the departmental capitals less likely to possess fire and rescue equipment.
The FCDO can’t offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list does not necessarily mean that it is unsafe.
In 2008 the International Civil Aviation Organisation carried out an audit of the implementation of the critical elements of safety oversight in Bolivia.
Boat trips on Lake Titicaca are available, but the craft are often very basic. The same is true of boats used for river excursions in jungle areas.
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The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.
The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
UK citizens are not allowed to enter Bolivia on a tourist visa, if you have been in Europe during the last 14 days, until 15 March 2021, when the situation will be reviewed again. UK citizens with residence in Bolivia must have negative PCR test results for COVID-19, and will need to fill in a form stating where you will self-isolate for 14 days. You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You should arrange to take a private test. You should check specific requirements with your airline. Land, river and lake border crossings remain closed.