How to Get a Bolivian Tourist Visa as a US Citizen

How to Get a Bolivian Tourist Visa as a US Citizen

As Jordan and I plan our trip to Peru and Bolivia, we have a few things on our absolutely-must-do checklist. One of the most important of those was obtaining our tourist visa so we could legally enter Bolivia. The process of getting a tourist visa can range from really easy to really difficult depending on your country of citizenship, and we found this process to be more on the difficult side, if only because of the confusing nature of instructions we found. If you are going to Bolivia and you are a US citizen, I’m going to break it all down for you so you don’t have to go searching like we did!

This photo was taken by  Diego Aguilar , at the salt flats in Bolivia. Pretty amazing right?

This photo was taken by Diego Aguilar, at the salt flats in Bolivia. Pretty amazing right?

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Note: I’m going to go over what you’ll need to send in to the consulate before the actual application process, but you have to actually apply online before you can send anything in.

What you need to send to the Bolivian Consulate

A Valid Passport

This one is kind of a no-brainer, but I really don’t want you to forget it, so I’m putting it up here first. The process for us was made even more complicated by the fact that we had “just” gotten married (…8 months earlier), and I had changed my name, so before I could officially claim I had a valid passport, I had to change my name on and renew my passport. Ladies, changing your name takes time. Give yourself a long time before international travel to do so, seriously.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Debate here as to whether you actually, really need this, but if you don’t want to get yellow fever while in Bolivia, just err on the side of safety and get it. We sent the documentation in along with our passports to show that we had received the vaccine because we read somewhere that we should. Again, unknown if that was necessary, but I think they probably appreciate it. Fun fact: according to the CDC, the US’ version of the yellow fever vaccine is totally depleted, so they have to import Stamaril (which you can only get at very few clinics, and it’s expensive). We were vaccinated at Passport Health, which I highly recommend. It is a national operation and they are very knowledgable. In order to be vaccinated by Stamaril, you will have to read and sign kind of scary documentation, but no worries, Jordan and I lived to tell the story.

Flight Itinerary and Hotel Booking

Apparently they want to know exactly how and when you’ll be getting to Bolivia, and then where you’ll be staying. Jordan and I have been working with a wonderful travel agency, Anywhere Peru (shout out to Cesar, who is my best friend), who couldn’t yet provide us with exact flight plans or hotel bookings, so we sent our travel itinerary in its current state, which included flight times, just not flight numbers and exact flight information. For the hotel booking, we sent the information of the hotel we’d be staying in, but again, not the exact booking documentation. I tell you all this so that you understand exactly what we did and did not send to the Bolivian Consulate, and you don’t have to stress like we did. The only thing we made sure of was that both of our names were on the itineraries.

If you are staying with someone, you need to send in a formal letter of invitation from that person, that also includes the dates, address, and all the details of the stay, and this all apparently needs to be notarized.

When it comes down to it, just give as much information that seems really legitimate as possible.

Passport Photos

They ask you to send in a loose copy of a passport photo along with everything else, and for this, I truly have no idea why. Normally with visas, they’ll include the picture on the visa stamp in your passport, but not on the Bolivian visa. Who knows?

Proof of Monetary Solvency

I don’t think I’m using exactly the correct term here, but they want to know that once you get to Bolivia, you’re not going to be stuck there and become a drain on their economy. You can either send in a copy of a bank statement with sensitive information blacked out, or what Jordan and I chose to do is send in a photo copy of the front and back of a credit card (literally, the credit card), again, with sensitive information blacked out.

Application Fee

You can print out a form authorizing the consulate to charge your credit card, which is what we did. I’m sure you can send a money order or check, but this was by far the easiest route to go, and what the consulate encouraged, so it’s what we did. The cost for one person for a US tourist visa that will allow you to 90 days’ visit (standard visa) is $160.

How to actually apply for the visa

This was the trickiest part, and when I say “go with the flow", I really mean it. There are a few different Bolivian consulates to choose from in the US, and after doing some research, it seemed like the Houston Consulate would process and return everything the fastest. You’ll have to apply online first, print out your specific application, then mail it all in, whew! It’s not hard, but it can be confusing at times, but don’t worry - I’ll walk you through all the steps below!

How to Apply for a Bolivian Visa as a US Citizen | The Lavorato Lens
  1. Go to the Houston Bolivian Consulate’s Website. It does not matter where in the country you live, you can pick any one of them. I suggest this one for their timeliness.

  2. Click “Sworn Statement for Visa Application / Declaración Jurada de Solicitud Visa” at the bottom of the page, which will redirect you to the actual application form.

  3. The first drop down will already be selected to Spanish/English. If you wish to change the language, this is the place to do so. There is no English-only. In the second drop-down, select your nationality. I am only qualified to speak to US citizens here (because that is how I applied for the visa), so for these purposes, select United States of America. In the third drop-down, select Regular Passport (unless you have a diplomatic passport, then I think you will be following a completely different process and please stop following my directions). Once you have selected their three drop-downs, you will need to complete the “security check,” which is some simple math. Enter the number, then click on the link that says “Ingresar al formulario de solicitud de visa / Enter the visa application form.” It will ask you if you are sure, hit confirm.

  4. For the first drop-down, it is asking you which type of visa you want. You will select “Tourist visa for United States and Puerto Rico.” The next portion (Personal Information) must match your passport, with surname meaning your last name. Ensure whatever is on your passport is in that information field. The national identification number will be your passport number. In the next portion, it asks you to upload a current photograph. You can use an app like GeniusScan to scan your passport picture and upload it here. Here’s where I got stuck - it says it accepts JPEG, but it does not (I know, these are essentially the same type of file, but I’m telling you, when I tried to upload my picture as a .JPEG, it would not take it). You should stick with a .JPG file, and ensure it is below 150 KB (small). Click onto the next page once you are done with all of that!

  5. You will (again) have to type in your passport number. Then this is where things get a little confusing. We think this is referring to where the visa will be issued, but I’m pretty sure that Jordan and I typed in separate things on our applications and they both got approved, so who knows. I typed in United States as the country and Houston as the Issuing City and Texas as the State. Jordan put Charlotte as the issuing city (referencing his passport, although thinking back, Charlotte, NC did not issue our passports) (this is why this part is confusing). Then we both put the Issued Date and Expiration Date relevant to our passports.

  6. Next Page! Answer basic questions about your trip. We are going to the salt flats by Uyuni, which there was no selection for this, so we just put La Paz, where we will be entering and exiting.

  7. On the next page, you will be filling in information for emergency contacts - maybe your travel partner, travel agency, and then someone back home, all dependent on how you are traveling. Lugar de la solicitud means “place of application”

  8. On this last page, you will upload digital copies of everything we talked about above! Once you have done that, you will click submit and they will provide you with an application code. You can use that code to check on your application’s status. I also sent in a printed copy of the application, just in case.

  9. Mail everything in to the Houston Consulate, along with a expedited return envelope (prepaid) to your home address (or wherever you would like it to be mailed to), and you should get it back within 3-4 weeks! Want a printable checklist to make sure you got it all? I’ve created this checklist just for you!

All in all, this was not too complicated of a process, it was just confusing with all the moving pieces and ambiguous information on the application form online. The good news is, our visa was approved, and it happened fairly quickly! Did you have a different experience for your visa application? Let me know in the comments?

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How to Get a Bolivian Tourist Visa as a US Citizen | The Lavorato Lens
How to Get a Bolivian Tourist Visa as a US Citizen | The Lavorato Lens