Bolivia travel advice

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Risk level

Bolivia - Exercise a high degree of caution

Exercise a high degree of caution in Bolivia due to the continuing political and social tensions resulting in frequent roadblocks throughout the country.

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Safety and security

Roadblocks

Roadblocks are common throughout the country. They can lead to significant disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Roadblocks can also restrict the flow of goods and services throughout the country. The following are particularly vulnerable to blockades:

  • main roads leading to large cities
  • main arteries in cities
  • roads leading to airports

Before making your way to the airport, check with your airline to determine if there are delays or changes in flight schedules caused by roadblocks

If you plan to take a road trip:

  • review your travel plans to determine if they will be affected by roadblocks
  • take personal security measures
  • monitor local media

Once a roadblock is in place, local authorities, officials, and vendors will not be able to enter or exit the city to provide supplies to stranded travellers. As a precaution, you should take extra:

  • food
  • water
  • fuel
  • medication
  • warm clothing

Don’t cross roadblocks, even if they appear unattended. This may aggravate the situation and lead to physical harm. Instead, consider:

  • taking an alternative safer route
  • returning to your place of departure

Road closures and blockages – Bolivian Highway Administrator (in Spanish)

Demonstrations

Demonstrations and labour strikes occur frequently, often with little or no notice. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Protesters may also use dynamite during protests. The police often respond with tear gas to disperse crowds.

  • Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities
  • Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations

Mass gatherings (large-scale events)

Crime

Petty crime

Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, is common in large cities, including La Paz and Santa Cruz. Thieves target tourist areas and public transport. Theft also occurs in unofficial taxis.

  • Only use a reputable taxi company or a trusted ride-sharing app
  • Avoid hailing taxis on the street

Criminals often operate in organized groups. They will distract victims while an accomplice steals from them. Strategies include:

  • staging a fight
  • starting a conversation or offering help
  • blocking a sidewalk
  • throwing an object or liquid on the victims, then offering to help clean up
  • posing as a victim of crime
  • posing as a law enforcement officer
  • using a young child to lure a tourist to a separate location

To avoid becoming a victim of theft:

  • ensure that your belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times
  • don’t travel alone, especially at night
  • be cautious of strangers approaching you
  • remain alert to your surroundings at all times
  • avoid showing signs of affluence
  • avoid carrying large sums of money
  • keep cellphones, cameras and other electronic equipment out of sight

Violent and drug-related crime

Violent crime against tourists is uncommon but does occur. Foreigners have been victims of armed robberies and assaults at tourist destinations.

Violent crime, carjacking and civil unrest, mainly associated with drug trafficking, pose risks in:

  • the Chapare region between Santa Cruz and Cochabamba
  • the Yungas region, northeast of La Paz
  •  border areas with Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Peru

Fraud

Fraudulent police officers

Criminals often pose as police officers and ask to examine the traveller’s belongings or ask the traveller to accompany them to a bogus police station, sometimes in collusion with a criminal posing as a taxi driver or as another traveller.

Under Bolivian law, there’s no obligation to go with an officer to a police station unless they have a formal written request from a judge with your name on it. Any search or seizure must occur at a genuine police station in the prosecutor's presence.

If you’re stopped while travelling by someone claiming to be a local authority, ask to see their official identification.

Overseas fraud

Credit card and ATM fraud

Credit card and ATM fraud occurs. When using debit or credit cards:

  • pay careful attention when others are handling your cards
  • use ATMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business
  • avoid using card readers with an irregular or unusual feature
  • cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN
  • check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements 

Car theft

Vehicle and auto-parts theft, as well as theft from vehicles, are common throughout Bolivia.

  • Keep valuables in the trunk, and only when necessary
  • Park your car in a supervised lot
  • Keep car windows and doors locked at all times

Express kidnapping

There is a risk of express kidnappings. Criminals ask for small, immediate ransoms. They usually force their victims to withdraw funds from an ATM or to arrange for family or friends to pay the ransom. This ploy is often used by criminal taxi drivers, who pick up the victim and then stop to pick up associates. These kidnappings are committed by organized gangs and occur throughout the country.

  • Use only reputable taxi companies or ride-sharing apps
  • Avoid hailing taxis on the street
  • If armed criminals threaten you, cooperate and don’t resist

Women's safety

Women travelling alone may be subject to some forms of harassment or verbal abuse.

Incidents of sexual assault against women travellers have occurred, including on guided tours.

  • Do not accept offers of transportation from strangers
  • Keep your hotel doors and windows locked

Advice for women travellers

Spiked food and drinks

There are reports of criminals adding drugs into items that could put you at risk of sexual assault or robbery. Items include food and drinks.

Incidents are most likely to occur:

  • in nightclubs
  • in bars and restaurants
  • on public transportation, including taxis on the street

While you’re in Bolivia: 

  • be wary of accepting these items from new acquaintances
  • never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers
  • ask for drinks coming from sealed bottles or cans instead of in plastic cups

Adventure tourism

There are no official minimum safety standards for tour operators, and reputable tour operators are limited.

Only participate in tours with well-established companies for adventure tourist activities, including:

  • Salar de Uyuni
  • jungle expeditions
  • boat trips
  • mountain biking, including old Yungas Road (commonly known as “Death Road”)
  • Potosi mine tours

Be vigilant when hiking or trekking as criminals have targeted these tourist areas:

  • in the areas surrounding La Paz, such as the Muela del Diablo
  • near Rurrenabaque
  • the Bolivian Andes
  • in the Yungas region
  • on the Inca trail

If you intend to participate in adventure tourism activities:  

  • stay on marked trails and consider hiring an experienced guide from a reputable company  
  • obtain detailed information on your activity and on the environment in which you will be setting out   
  • buy travel insurance that covers  incidents related to this type of recreational activity    
  • ensure that your physical condition is good enough to tackle the challenges of your activity   
  • ensure that you have proper equipment and bring sufficient water  
  • monitor weather conditions and other possible hazards; 
  • share your itinerary with a friend or family member if hiking alone  
  • know the symptoms of acute altitude sickness, dehydration and heatstroke, which can be fatal 
  • stay away from stray dogs, which can be aggressive and carry rabies.

Useful links:

Spiritual cleansing ceremonies

Spiritual cleansing ceremonies involving hallucinogenic substances (ayahuasca, peyote, San Pedro, etc.) have led to serious illness, injury, physical and sexual assault and even the deaths of several tourists.

Ceremonies involve consuming substances that can cause medical complications and severely impair cognitive and physical abilities. They often take place in remote areas with no access to medical or mental health facilities or resources. Often, there is no access to communications with local authorities. Facilities generally lack basic first aid or emergency plans to help those suffering from physical or psychological illness during these ceremonies.

Spiritual cleansing ceremonies are not regulated and individuals offering them are not licensed. There is no way to assess the safety of any of the services or the operators.

Avoid participating in spiritual cleansing ceremonies using hallucinogenic substances.

Road safety

Road safety is poor throughout the country. Accidents and fatalities are common.

Road conditions

Road conditions are poor throughout the country.

Although improved highways connect Cochabamba, La Paz, Santa Cruz and Sucre, many roads in Bolivia are unpaved. The old Yungas Road (commonly known as “Death Road”) is considered one of the world’s most dangerous roads.

Driving can also be dangerous due to:  

  • narrow, winding and mountainous roads
  • lack of guardrails
  • insufficient lighting  
  • lack of traffic signs  
  • poorly marked construction sites
  • unpaved roads 
  • potholes
  • torrential rain and landslides
  • poorly maintained vehicles

Four-wheel-drive vehicles are necessary outside major cities, especially in mountainous areas and during the rainy season.

Driving habits

Drinking and driving is common.  

Drivers do not always respect traffic laws. Drivers can be aggressive and reckless and often speed.  

Water activities

Swimming

Lifeguard services do not always meet Canadian standards.  Most lakes do not have warning flags to alert of unsafe conditions.  

  • Consult residents and tour operators for information on possible hazards and safe swimming areas
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities

Boat tours

If you take a boat tour:

  • make sure the boat you are boarding is carrying appropriate safety equipment, including life jackets accessible for all passengers at all times
  • don’t board boats that appear overloaded or unsafe
  • verify the safety standards of boats with your tour operator
  • if you have any doubts about the safety of the equipment, do not use it.

Water safety abroad

Public transportation

Crime is high in public transportation and at transportation hubs. Accidents are common due to:

  • poor maintenance of vehicles
  • lack of safety standards
  • poor road conditions

Buses and coaches

Road accidents involving local/interurban buses are frequent, especially with overnight buses.

If you choose to travel by intercity bus, exercise caution in:

  • La Paz bus terminals due to petty crime, including:
    • the main bus terminal on Peru Avenue in Zona Norte
    • the terminal near the La Paz cemetery, and the Minasa terminal in Zona Villa Fatima
  • the Santa Cruz bus/train terminal, where violent crimes against foreigners have occurred
  • Coronilla Hill, adjacent to the main bus terminal in Cochabamba, due to assaults

Accidents involving poorly maintained coaches have caused death and injuries among tourists.

Only use tour buses operated by well-known, reputable companies. If you have any doubt about the safety of a bus or its driver, use another company.

Taxis

Many taxis are poorly maintained and do not have functional seatbelts.

You can call registered radio taxi companies from a landline or from a hotel. Radio taxis are identifiable by the telephone number and name of the taxi company on the vehicle’s roof.

  • Avoid hailing taxis on the street and taking motorcycle taxis
  • Note the driver’s name on his or her photo identification card and license number  
  • Exercise caution when taking cabs to and from airports, especially in Santa Cruz and La Paz, where tourists have been the victims of robberies
  • Decline transportation from people offering cheaper fares
  • Never share a taxi with strangers
  • Confirm the fare in advance , as taxis are not equipped with meters

Ridesharing services

Ride-sharing services are not available in many cities.

If you use a ride-sharing app: 

  • confirm the driver’s identity and license plate before getting in the car
  • use the security features in rideshare apps

Trains

Train service is limited and irregular.

Ferries

You can cross Lake Titicaca by ferry.

If you choose to travel by ferry:

  • make sure the ferry you are boarding is carrying appropriate safety equipment
  • make sure that life jackets are provided for all passengers and accessible at all times
  • avoid boarding ferries that appear overloaded
  • verify the safety standards of ferries with your tour operator

Air travel

We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.

Information about foreign domestic airlines

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Entry and exit requirements

Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.

We have obtained the information on this page from the Bolivian authorities. It can, however, change at any time.

Verify this information with the Foreign Representatives in Canada.

Passport

Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.

Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.

Regular Canadian passport

Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the date you arrive in Bolivia.

Passport for official travel

Different entry rules may apply.

Official travel

Passport with “X” gender identifier

While the Government of Canada issues passports with an “X” gender identifier, it cannot guarantee your entry or transit through other countries. You might face entry restrictions in countries that do not recognize the “X” gender identifier. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.

Other travel documents

Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.

Useful links

Visas

Tourist visa: not required for stays up to 30 days
Business visa: required 
Student visa: required
Volunteer work visa: required

Registration

All foreign residents and tourists must complete the web-based registration process (SIGEMIG) prior to arriving in Bolivia. Registration must include lodging information for the entire stay.

If you have not completed the electronic registration prior to arriving in Bolivia, immigration agents at the port of entry will register you and give you further instructions. If you fail to comply, you will be subject to fines upon leaving the country.

Address registration – General Directorate of Migration (in Spanish)

Extensions of tourist visa

Applications for tourist visa extensions must be submitted to the General Directorate of Migration before the end of the 30-day period.  A 30-day extension can be obtained twice, at no extra cost and to a maximum of 90 days during one calendar year.

If you overstay the 90-day period without proper authorization, you may be fined upon departure.

Other entry and exit requirements

Customs officials may ask you to show them a return or onward ticket and proof of sufficient funds to cover your stay.

When arriving by land, ensure your passport is stamped upon exiting the country you’re leaving and upon entering Bolivia. If you fail to do so, you’ll be fined upon departure. Avoid travelling at night when border officials and police may not be present.

Luggage screening

Bolivia employs strict luggage screening measures at its international airports. You must complete an online declaration form prior to luggage screening and show an electronic or printed version of the QR code to authorities. All luggage is routinely X-rayed upon arrival. 

Children and travel

Bolivia has strict requirements for the entry and exit of persons under the age of 18, including special documentation.

Parents of children travelling alone, with one parent or with another individual are strongly encouraged to contact the nearest Bolivian embassy or consulate before departure to ensure that the latest entry and exit requirements, which may change without notice, are met.

Travelling with children

Yellow fever

Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).

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Health

Relevant Travel Health Notices

This section contains information on possible health risks and restrictions regularly found or ongoing in the destination. Follow this advice to lower your risk of becoming ill while travelling. Not all risks are listed below.

Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic preferably 6 weeks before you travel to get personalized health advice and recommendations.

Routine vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccinations, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date before travelling, regardless of your destination.

Some of these vaccinations include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.

Pre-travel vaccines and medications

You may be at risk for preventable diseases while travelling in this destination. Talk to a travel health professional about which medications or vaccines may be right for you, based on your destination and itinerary. 

Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements

Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

Risk

  • There is a risk of yellow fever in this country.

Country Entry Requirement*

Recommendation

About Yellow Fever

Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada
* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.

Hepatitis A

There is a risk of hepatitis A in this destination. It is a disease of the liver. People can get hepatitis A if they ingest contaminated food or water, eat foods prepared by an infectious person, or if they have close physical contact (such as oral-anal sex) with an infectious person, although casual contact among people does not spread the virus.

 

Practise safe food and water precautions and wash your hands often. Vaccination is recommended for all travellers to areas where hepatitis A is present.

Hepatitis B

 Hepatitis B is a risk in every destination. It is a viral liver disease that is easily transmitted from one person to another through exposure to blood and body fluids containing the hepatitis B virus.  Travellers who may be exposed to blood or other bodily fluids (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) are at higher risk of getting hepatitis B.

Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all travellers. Prevent hepatitis B infection by practicing safe sex, only using new and sterile drug equipment, and only getting tattoos and piercings in settings that follow public health regulations and standards.

Measles

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.

Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.

Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.

COVID-19

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious viral disease. It can spread from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.

It is recommended that all eligible travellers complete a COVID-19 vaccine series along with any additional recommended doses in Canada before travelling. Evidence shows that vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. While vaccination provides better protection against serious illness, you may still be at risk of infection from the virus that causes COVID-19. Anyone who has not completed a vaccine series is at increased risk of being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and is at greater risk for severe disease when travelling internationally.

Before travelling, verify your destination’s COVID-19 vaccination entry/exit requirements. Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are adequately protected against COVID-19.

Influenza

 The best way to protect yourself from seasonal influenza (flu) is to get vaccinated every year. Get the flu shot at least 2 weeks before travelling.  

 The flu occurs worldwide. 

  •  In the Northern Hemisphere, the flu season usually runs from November to   April.
  •  In the Southern Hemisphere, the flu season usually runs between April and   October.
  •  In the tropics, there is flu activity year round. 

The flu vaccine available in one hemisphere may only offer partial protection against the flu in the other hemisphere.

The flu virus spreads from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Clean your hands often and wear a mask if you have a fever or respiratory symptoms.

Malaria

Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease that is caused by parasites spread through the bites of mosquitoes.
 
There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this destination. 

Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic before travelling to discuss your options. It is recommended to do this 6 weeks before travel, however, it is still a good idea any time before leaving. 
 
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times: 
• Cover your skin and use an approved insect repellent on uncovered skin. 
• Exclude mosquitoes from your living area with screening and/or closed, well-sealed doors and windows.
• Use insecticide-treated bed nets if mosquitoes cannot be excluded from your living area. 
• Wear permethrin-treated clothing. 
 
If you develop symptoms similar to malaria when you are travelling or up to a year after you return home, see a health care professional immediately. Tell them where you have been travelling or living. 

Rabies

In this destination, rabies is commonly carried by dogs and some wildlife, including bats. Rabies is a deadly disease that spreads to humans primarily through bites or scratches from an infected animal. While travelling, take precautions, including keeping your distance from animals (including free-roaming dogs), and closely supervising children.

If you are bitten or scratched by a dog or other animal while travelling, immediately wash the wound with soap and clean water and see a health care professional. In this destination, rabies treatment may be limited or may not be available, therefore you may need to return to Canada for treatment. 

Before travel, discuss rabies vaccination with a health care professional. It may be recommended for travellers who are at high risk of exposure (e.g., occupational risk such as veterinarians and wildlife workers, children, adventure travellers and spelunkers, and others in close contact with animals). 

Safe food and water precautions

Many illnesses can be caused by eating food or drinking beverages contaminated by bacteria, parasites, toxins, or viruses, or by swimming or bathing in contaminated water.

  • Learn more about food and water precautions to take to avoid getting sick by visiting our eat and drink safely abroad page. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
  • Avoid getting water into your eyes, mouth or nose when swimming or participating in activities in freshwater (streams, canals, lakes), particularly after flooding or heavy rain. Water may look clean but could still be polluted or contaminated.
  • Avoid inhaling or swallowing water while bathing, showering, or swimming in pools or hot tubs. 

Travellers' diarrhea

Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.

Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.

The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Typhoid

Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among children, travellers going to rural areas, travellers visiting friends and relatives or those travelling for a long period of time.

Travellers visiting regions with a risk of typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation, should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.  

Insect bite prevention

Many diseases are spread by the bites of infected insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, fleas or flies. When travelling to areas where infected insects may be present:

  • Use insect repellent (bug spray) on exposed skin
  • Cover up with light-coloured, loose clothes made of tightly woven materials such as nylon or polyester
  • Minimize exposure to insects
  • Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in buildings that are not fully enclosed

To learn more about how you can reduce your risk of infection and disease caused by bites, both at home and abroad, visit our insect bite prevention page.

Find out what types of insects are present where you’re travelling, when they’re most active, and the symptoms of the diseases they spread.

Chikungunya

There is a risk of chikungunya in this country.  The risk may vary between regions of a country.  Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.

Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.

Cutaneous and mucosal Leishmaniasis

Cutaneous and mucosal leishmaniasis causes skin sores and ulcers. It is caused by a parasite spread through the bite of a female sandfly.

Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from sandfly bites, which typically occur after sunset in rural and forested areas and in some urban centres. There is no vaccine or medication to protect against leishmaniasis.

Dengue
  • In this country, dengue is a risk to travellers. It is a viral disease spread to humans by mosquito bites.
  • Dengue can cause flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can lead to severe dengue, which can be fatal.
  • The level of risk of dengue changes seasonally, and varies from year to year. The level of risk also varies between regions in a country and can depend on the elevation in the region.
  • Mosquitoes carrying dengue typically bite during the daytime, particularly around sunrise and sunset.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue.
Zika virus

Zika virus is a risk in this country. 

Zika virus is primarily spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. It can also be sexually transmitted. Zika virus can cause serious birth defects.

During your trip:

  • Prevent mosquito bites at all times.
  • Use condoms correctly or avoid sexual contact, particularly if you are pregnant.

If you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, you should discuss the potential risks of travelling to this destination with your health care provider. You may choose to avoid or postpone travel. 

For more information, see Zika virus: Pregnant or planning a pregnancy.

American trypanosomiasis

American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease) is a risk in this country. It is caused by a parasite spread by infected triatomine bugs. The infection can be inactive for decades, but humans can eventually develop complications causing disability and even death.

Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from triatomine bugs, which are active at night, by using mosquito nets if staying in poorly-constructed housing. There is no vaccine available for Chagas disease.

Animal precautions

Some infections, such as rabies and influenza, can be shared between humans and animals. Certain types of activities may increase your chance of contact with animals, such as travelling in rural or forested areas, camping, hiking, and visiting wet markets (places where live animals are slaughtered and sold) or caves.

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, livestock (pigs, cows), monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats, and to avoid eating undercooked wild game.

Closely supervise children, as they are more likely to come in contact with animals.

Person-to-person infections

Stay home if you’re sick and practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette, which includes coughing or sneezing into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand. Reduce your risk of colds, the flu and other illnesses by:

  •  washing your hands often
  • avoiding or limiting the amount of time spent in closed spaces, crowded places, or at large-scale events (concerts, sporting events, rallies)
  • avoiding close physical contact with people who may be showing symptoms of illness 

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV, and mpox are spread through blood and bodily fluids; use condoms, practise safe sex, and limit your number of sexual partners. Check with your local public health authority pre-travel to determine your eligibility for mpox vaccine.  

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.

For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.

Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care professional.

High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.

Medical services and facilities

The quality of health care varies greatly throughout the country. Good health care is available only in private hospitals in larger cities.

Public medical services and facilities have limited resources and don’t meet Canadian standards. There’s limited access to healthcare facilities and medical assistance in rural areas, including tourist areas. It can take days to receive medical services in remote areas.

Ambulance services are limited throughout Bolivia.

If you have doubts about the medical services you are being provided, contact the Embassy of Canada.

Evacuation by air ambulance can be difficult. Some air ambulance providers are unable to fly into locations at higher altitudes, such as La Paz. You may need it in case of serious illness or injury.

Most healthcare providers speak only Spanish.

Many clinics and hospitals accept cash only. They may require upfront payment or proof of medical insurance before providing medical services, even in an emergency.

Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.

Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.

Travel health and safety

Altitude sickness

You’re at risk of altitude sickness if you travel 2500 metres above sea level or more.

In some departments, you may experience health problems due to high altitudes including in:

  • La Paz (3,640 metres above sea level)
  • Uyuni (3,656 metres above sea level)
  • Oruro (3,735 metres above sea level)
  • Potosi (4,090 metres above sea level)

You're more at risk if you:

  • ascend quickly
  • exercise or drink alcohol before you get used to the altitude

Altitude sickness can be fatal. You may require immediate medical evacuation, which is less accessible in remote areas. Seek medical attention at a lower altitude if you develop symptoms.

Well on Your Way - A Canadian’s Guide to Healthy Travel Abroad

Medication

Certain prescription and over-the-counter medications legally available in Canada are classified as controlled substances in Bolivia. Consult the list of controlled substances to avoid trouble.

If you attempt to bring banned medication into Bolivia, you may be subject to:

  • confiscation of medication
  • heavy fines
  • jail sentences

If you take prescription medications, it’s your responsibility to determine their legality in Bolivia. If you decide to bring medication to Bolivia:

  • always keep them in the original container
  • pack them in your carry-on luggage
  • carry a copy of your prescriptions

Bolivia’s list of controlled substances – Vice Ministry of Social Defence and Controlled Substances (in Spanish)

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

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Laws and culture

You must abide by local laws.

Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.

Transfer to a Canadian prison

No transfer of offender’s treaty exists between Canada and Bolivia. If you’re convicted of a serious crime, you must serve your jail sentence in Bolivia. You may also have to remain in the country for a parole period after your release. 

Detention conditions may be below the standards of Canadian prisons.

Drugs

Bolivian drug laws include a zero-tolerance policy. Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect lengthy prison sentences and heavy fines.

Travellers have fallen victim to scams in which illegal drugs are hidden inside objects or luggage that an acquaintance has asked them to bring to or take away from Bolivia. Dating websites are a source of such scams.

  • Pack your own luggage
  • Never transport luggage or packages on behalf of another person

Unlicensed bars

Unlicensed bars in Bolivia are illegal. They are known to sell drugs. Police may detain and question you if they raid the establishment, even if you’re not consuming any illegal substances.

Avoid unlicensed bars.

Drugs, alcohol and travel

Exports

It’s illegal to export any item that the Bolivian government considers a national treasure (Patrimonio cultural) without formal written permission from the Ministry of Culture, including:

  • pre-Columbian artifacts
  • historical paintings
  • items of Spanish colonial architecture and history
  • native textiles
  • flora, fauna and fossils

Any type of excavation for fossils or collection of fossils without prior written authorization is illegal.

Coca leaves

It’s illegal to import coca leaves and related products into Canada.

Controlled drugs and substances act – Government of Canada

Identification

Police and immigration officials occasionally conduct identification checks. You may have to present your passport upon check-in at hotels and other commercial accommodation providers.

  • Carry copies of your passport and Bolivian entry stamp pages of your passport
  • Never leave your passport or any other identity document with anyone

Photography

Locals may find the presence of photographers intrusive, particularly in remote areas.

  • Be careful when travelling with cameras and communications devices
  • Befort taking someone’s photo, ask for permission

2SLGBTQI+ travellers

Bolivian law does not prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex.

Homosexuality is increasingly socially accepted, but much of Bolivian society remains conservative. 2SLGBTQI+ travellers could be discriminated against based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics.

Travel and your sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics

Dual citizenship

Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Bolivia.

If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of Bolivia, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.

Travellers with dual citizenship

Military service

Military service is compulsory in Bolivia. Males aged 18 or over who are dual citizens must undertake military service upon arrival in the country.

International Child Abduction

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty. It can help parents with the return of children who have been removed to or retained in certain countries in violation of custody rights. It does not apply between Canada and Bolivia.

If your child was wrongfully taken to, or is being held in Bolivia by an abducting parent:

  • act as quickly as you can
  • consult a lawyer in Canada and in Bolivia to explore all the legal options for the return of your child
  • report the situation to the nearest Canadian government office abroad or to the Vulnerable Children's Consular Unit at Global Affairs Canada by calling the Emergency Watch and Response Centre

If your child was removed from a country other than Canada, consult a lawyer to determine if The Hague Convention applies.

Be aware that Canadian consular officials cannot interfere in private legal matters or in another country's judicial affairs.

Useful links

Driving

You must carry an international driving permit to rent or drive a vehicle.

The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.00%. If the police suspect you of drinking and driving, they could confiscate your driver’s licence on the spot and apply heavy fines and jail sentences.

If you’re involved in a traffic accident, remain at the scene until local police arrive. Attempting to leave the scene violates Bolivian law.

International Driving Permit

Money

The currency in Bolivia is the boliviano (BOB).

Credit and debit cards are not widely accepted outside urban centres. Carry small bank notes to facilitate daily transactions such as:

  • street food
  • taxis
  • tips

It’s difficult to exchange Canadian dollars in Bolivia. Bring U.S. dollars if you need to exchange cash.

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Natural disasters and climate

Natural disasters and climate

Bolivia is subject to various natural disasters such as:

  • earthquakes
  • floods
  • torrential rains
  • wildfires

Climate change

Climate change is affecting Bolivia. Extreme and unusual weather events are becoming more frequent and may affect your travel plans. Monitor local news to stay informed on the current situation.

Rainy season

The rainy season extends from November to March.

Seasonal flooding occurs throughout the country, mainly as a result of heavy rains and overloaded sewage systems. Seasonal flooding can hamper overland travel and reduce the provision of essential services. Roads may become impassable and bridges damaged. Heavy rains may contribute to dangerous landslides. In particular, the Uyuni Salt Flats become dangerous to visit in the rainy season.

If you decide to travel to Bolivia during the rainy season:

  • be prepared to change your travel plans on short notice, including cutting short or cancelling your trip
  • stay informed of the latest regional weather forecasts
  • carry emergency contact information for your airline or tour operator
  • follow the advice and instructions of local authorities

Weather alerts – National Meteorological and Hydrological Service (in Spanish)

Wildfires

Forest fires are at risk during the dry season, from July to October. Heavy smoke may deteriorate the air quality in areas near active fires.

In case of a significant fire:

  • stay away from affected areas, particularly if you suffer from respiratory ailments
  • monitor local media for up-to-date information on the situation
  • follow the advice of local authorities

Latest alerts – Vice Ministry of Civil Defence (in Spanish)

Earthquakes

Bolivia is in an active seismic zone and is prone to earthquakes in the centre and southwest areas.

Dangerous landslides can also occur, even after minor earthquakes.

In the event of an earthquake:

  • monitor local news to stay informed on the evolving situation
  • follow the instructions of local authorities, including evacuation orders

Useful links

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Need help?

Local services

Emergency services

In case of emergency, dial:

  • police: 110
  • firefighters: 119
  • gender-based violence: 800-14-0348
  • ambulance service in La Paz: 165
  • tourist police in La Paz: +591-2-222-5016

Consular assistance

La Paz - Embassy of Canada
Street Address2678, Calle Victor Sanjinés, Edificio Barcelona, 2nd Floor, Plaza España (Sopocachi), La Paz, BoliviaTelephone591 (2) 241-5141Fax591 (2) 241-4453Emaillapazconsular@international.gc.caInternethttps://www.Canada.ca/Canada-And-BoliviaFacebookEmbassy of Canada to Peru and BoliviaTwitter@CanadaBolivia

For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada to Bolivia (Program Office), in La Paz, and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.

Disclaimer

The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.

The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.

If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.

Learn more about consular services.

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