Y u so troublesome?
Singaporeans, and other Group 2 countries that require a visa on arrival, need to pay a hefty USD $92 to USD $160 if applying for a visa at the land border and go through a lot of hassle if they do not have the required documents.
I’ve read horror stories about people running back and forth between the border and printing shops for their documents, holding up the entire bus, and almost getting left behind at the border.
Thankfully, there is a way to avoid all that and even get your visa for free:
Apply for your Bolivia visa at a consulate!
(This may or may not apply for everyone. The FREE part does not apply to North Americans.)
I first heard about it from a fellow Singaporean who did it at Salta, Argentina. I was heading to San Salvador de Jujuy, Argentina and after doing a little bit of Googling, I found out there is a consulate at Jujuy.
I believe most major cities close to Bolivia have a consulate, like Northern Argentina and Chile and Southern Peru. Maybe even in Asuncion, Paraguay.
The problem is, most of the embassy websites are not updated, especially for Jujuy. The address on every website I checked, and even the official Bolivian website, was wrong.
I went to the address (Independencia 1098) stated only to find this:
A shut-down building.
Even blogs of other traveller’s experience were written years ago at the old address.
(Side note: the bus terminal address at Jujuy is not updated on most websites too.)
Of all the search results, Google itself provided the updated address on Google Maps:
Address of Bolivia Consulate in Jujuy: Ramirez de Velazco 145
Look out for the colourful flags and note that the opening hours are: 07:00 to 13:00 hrs.
After waiting 2 days over the weekends, I went there on a Monday morning at 10:30am only to be told to return with these documents ready:
- 1. Passport with 6 months’ validity
- 2. Declaration form to be printed out from the website: http://www.rree.gob.bo/formvisas
- 3. Economic solvency a.k.a bank statement
- 4. Typed out itinerary of my stay in Bolivia, or a hotel/hostel reservation, or a letter of invitation from a Bolivia citizen
- 5. Photocopy of yellow fever vaccination
- 6. A passport photo
- 7. Only for North Americans: USD $160 (sorry guys)
- 8. Proof of Onward Travel (It depends on which consulate you went to. I did not get asked for it, but my friend who applied at the consulate at Montevideo was asked for it)
Like most plan-as-you-go backpackers, I didn’t have everything ready. Carrying my heavy backpack, I rushed to my new hostel only to realize my laptop couldn’t connect to the hostel’s wifi.
The online process for the declaration form requires you to upload a scanned copy of your passport, itinerary, bank statement, and a letter of invitation from a Bolivian. Honestly, I doubt they actually check the online application. I uploaded the itinerary in place of the letter of invitation.
For the itinerary, simply Google a sample Bolivia itinerary and you’ll get lots of results. Or if you prefer, make a hostel reservation with free cancellation and simply print it out and cancel it later.
I had my yellow fever vaccination card ready from my trip to Brazil 3 years ago. If you don’t have one, I’m sorry I can’t help. Perhaps negotiate with the consulate.
All these were followed by a mad rush to find a printing shop.
I returned to the consulate at 1:15pm. I cursed.
Thankfully, the consulate was still open and the person/officer/staff accepted my documents. The application takes 24 hours, though I read about people begging the consulate in desperate situations (like catching a bus later in the day).
I’m not sure about you, but I’d rather apply for my visa free in advance, than to have an anxiety attack for not having the documents ready at the border and still pay the hefty roughly USD $100 fees.
Oh and by the way, the visa in valid for 30 days and an option to extend to 90 days at an immigration office in any major cities (La Paz, Santa Cruz, Sucre etc) in the country.
Update August 2017: Two Singaporeans crossed the San Pedro-Uyuni border together on a tour. One followed this post and went through smoothly, the other paid USD $50 and handed over his passport to complete the immigration process 3 days later. Different prices at different border.
Insist to apply your visa at the consulate even if the they tell you it isn't necessary. Some of them are unsure of the requirement themselves. My friend insisted and saved USD $50.
And now, it’s your turn.