American citizens need to get a tourist visa to visit Bolivia and pay a reciprocal US$135 fee. Opinions aside as to the wisdom of this decision from a Bolivian tourism perspective, I decided to get this taken care of upon arriving in Lima since you have to pay in cash and I didn’t want to carry it around until I got to the Bolivian border. Why didn’t I get it beforehand in New York? Good question. For some ridiculous reason, Americans getting the visa in New York need to have a Certificate of Good Conduct from the police, which costs $50 and requires a visit to police HQ in the Financial District. Gracias, pero no gracias.
Fortunately, getting the visa was extraordinarily quick and easy in Lima. I walked to the Bolivian embassy from my nearby hostel in San Isidro and got there around 11:00. Despite information online that says the embassy is open until 6 pm, the posted sign said it is only open to the public from 9:00 – 13:00. I showed my passport to the guard at the front, who asked me a couple of questions and pointed me in the right direction.
There was no line at the embassy and I was attended to almost immediately. I handed over the following documents:
- My passport (of course, with ample free pages and more than six months validity)
- A completed application
- My Yellow Fever inoculation card
- A copy of my flight itinerary showing onward travel
- A copy of a hotel reservation in Sucre via Expedia (which was later cancelled)
- A copy of my most recent bank statement, with identifying information blacked out
- Two photocopies of my passport
- A color passport-sized photo
I did not have photocopies of my credit or debit cards, but I was asked for them and they made a copy at the embassy without any trouble. I don’t know whether they actually needed all of the information I gave them, but I wanted to be comfortable knowing I wouldn’t be missing anything.
I was then given a slip of paper with a bank account number on it and was told to go to the Banco Continental four blocks away to deposit the cash and get a receipt. This was a very simple process and took about half an hour, including the walk to and from the bank.
Once I had my deposit slip, I returned to the embassy and they had already put a visa, good for five years, into my passport. Like magic.