It’s a shame that Bolivia only gives a 30-day entry visa to us Europeans. Sorry B, but this is simply not enough time to explore all you have to offer.
With tourism on the rise, we expect and hope that the thriving country will one day take a leaf from the book of its neighbouring countries and eventually offer a 60 or 90-day visa. But until that day, fear not, as a Bolivian tourist visa extension is available and to apply for one is as easy as buying a salteña.
Firstly, triple-check your nationality’s requirements but for most of us Europeans (and definitely us Irish) we are entitled to a further 60 days on top of our original 30, completely free of charge.
As we said, it is a simple process and can be done in La Paz, Sucre or Cochabamba. Alternatively, if close by, you can easily cross over into a neighbouring country such as Peru but you will have to spend 24 hours in said country before you can re-enter Bolivia.
In the meantime, La Paz is the easiest destination to apply for an extension considering you will most likely pass through here on more than one occasion to reach other Bolivian destinations. It’s basically Bolivia’s transport hub.
In La Paz, The Dirección General de Migración is where the stamping takes place. The building, found on Avenida Camacho, is just two blocks and a short walk away from the central San Francisco Plaza.
From the San Fran Plaza, with your back to the church, take a right and head straight up the big and busy Avenida until you reach the parting fork in the road. At this fork take a left and in less than 10 minutes the Dirección General de Migración building will appear on your right-hand side. It’s beside the number of banks just a few doors up from the Banco Union which is on the corner.
Enter the building and directly on your right will be the ‘Información’ desk. Hand over your passport preferably opened on the page where your entry stamp is and take a ticket.
Know that the earlier the arrival the better. As you can imagine, this is a rammed government building and you could be waiting a while. Since we only arrived in La Paz from Rurrenabaque after 8 a.m., we didn’t reach the office until 11 a.m. After what felt like an age, we were finally seen at 1 p.m. We even had a little nap while we waited.
Note: We noticed some tourists took a ticket and left the premises for an hour or so. While a few made it back before their number was called, others didn’t, yet thought it would be fine to still visit the desk despite the fact their number had been and gone. This led to more delays and more waiting time for us. In a nutshell, don’t be a dick. Wait it out like the rest of us.
All you need to bring with you is your passport and your visa entry slip, which you should have received when you entered the country. Be sure to keep this safe at all times.
And that’s it! You do not need anything else; no photocopies of your passport, no proof of onward travel, nothing. Nada. Zilch!
So take a seat, have a nap, read a book and wait for your ticket number to show up on the large overshadowing TV screens.
Once called, pop up to the desk, flash the passport, show off the visa entry slip and tell the clerk how many days you need.
A few years ago it used to be the case that you could only renew by another 30 days per visit. It seems to have changed since we were asked if we wanted 30 or 60 days more.
Save yourself the hassle and opt-in for the 90 days. Receive the tiny little button-size stamp and you’re good to go.
Note: If for whatever reason you have overstayed your original 30 days, this is only punishable by a daily fine of 20B per day. That’s €2.50 for every day of your overstay. It might not seem like much, and such a low cost could make you a little lazy but with regular roadside police checks (where we were asked for our passports on a number of occasions) if they see you are taking the piss, it could cause you more problems than necessary.
So take heed, prevent a headache and get your ass to the nearest immigration office and receive your entitled 60 days.
Now! Off you go and enjoy exploring every corner of Bolivia with peace of mind.
And sure while you’re here, and there, you might as well have a click on our guide to La Paz.