Guidance

Living in Bolivia

Advice for British people living in Bolivia, including information on obtaining a residence permit, driving license and more.

Introduction

This guide sets out essential information for British nationals residing in Bolivia, including advice on obtaining a residence permit, driving license and more. We are unable to provide any guidance on general lifestyle enquiries apart from the information and links listed below. See our information on what we can and cannot do for British nationals. This information supplements the travel advice for Bolivia.

Entry and Residence Requirements

British nationals are allowed to visit Bolivia without a visa for up to 90 days per year. If you are planning on staying for more than this period, you must apply for a visa from a Bolivian Consulate before your arrival in the country. Upon entry you will be initially stamped with a 30-day permit which you can extend to up to 60 additional days at the Bolivian Immigration office. Your passport must be valid for a minimum period of six months from the date of entry into Bolivia. Read the Entry Requirements section of our Travel Advice and visit the Bolivian Immigration website for further useful reference points.

Bolivian residence visa

Plase visit the Bolivian Immigration website for up-to-date information on requirements and information about residence visas.

Be prepared to submit a number of copies of your birth and marriage certificates for immigration, work, education and other processes in Bolivia. These should be obtained via the General Register Office website where you can also request to have them legalised and then sent to you by post. We highly recommend that you request legalised certificates as local authorities commonly request them that way.

You may need to access information about yourself to complete the process of getting a Bolivian residence visa. The Data Protection Act and the Right for Information Act give you the right to ask in writing whether there is any personal data that the Metropolitan Police Service (or any other UK police) holds or has processed about you. This is the right of Subject Access. Therefore, requests for personal data can only be made via a subject access request under the Data Protection Act.

Subject access requests:

If you do not live or have never lived in the London Metropolitan area, please apply to other UK Police Service that covers the relevant region or area.

The police record needs to be legalised in the UK, by the Legalisation Office, otherwise it will not have complete local validity. A Spanish translation may also be required by the Bolivian authorities, please check with them whether they will accept a translation produced in the UK, otherwise the British Embassy can certify a translation from an authorised translator.

Bolivian police record

British nationals who have resided in Bolivia for a certain period, may need to obtain a Bolivian police record, or certificado de antecedentes, for working purposes in the UK or other country. You should request these yourself from the relevant Bolivian authorities.

  • Fuerza Especial de Lucha Contra el Crimen (FELCC)
  • Fuerza Especial de Lucha Contra el Narcotráfico (FELCN)
  • Interpol

Bolivian Foreigner identity card (Carnet de Extranjero)

The Bolivian “Carnet de Extranjero” or Foreigner Identity Card can be obtained through the Servicio General de Identificación Personal SEGIP. You must apply for your Foreigner ID card whitin 25 working days after being notified about your residence administrative resolution. Your Foreigner ID card will display personal information such as marital status and occupation. You will need to submit the following:

  • Photocopy of valid passport
  • Photocopy of passport page with the residence permit sticker.
  • Photocopy of your residence administrative resolution
  • Legalised photocopy of your marriage certificate (if applicable)
  • Legalised photocopy of your academic degree (if applicable).
  • Deposit slip from Banco Union for the related fees.
  • SEGIP Pre-register form (available at their website).

Please check which documents need to be legalised and translated into Spanish and whether they will accept a translation produced in the UK.

Please bear in mind that the British Embassy in La Paz can only legalise documents issued in the UK when these have been previously legalised by the Legalisations Office. The British Embassy in La Paz can certify photocopies of British passports and British diving licenses. Please refer to our Notarial Services Guide page for more information about our services.

For further information and details, please contact SEGIP

Benefits

If you want to know whether you are entitled to UK benefits whilst residing abroad please visit this website.

If you are moving to Bolivia and need information about how to claim your pension benefits, please visit our Retiring Abroad advice website.

Driving licenses and vehicles

  • Foreign driving licences are valid in Bolivia for up to 180 days from the entry date to Bolivia
  • If driving in Bolivia with a British driving licence, you must also carry your British passport with you
  • If you have an International Driving Licence issued in the UK, it would be also valid in Bolivia for the same tourist permit from the entry date to the country, as long as the international driving licence is also valid for the same period or more
  • You cannot apply for a Bolivian/International driving licence in Bolivia if you are not a resident in Bolivia Driving licenses for foreigners who are residents in Bolivia will be issued according to the type of visa they hold. Driving licenses for foreigner will be valid for the same period as their Foreigner ID card. Requirements:
  • Foreigner ID card.
  • Certification from driving school accredited by SEGIP.
  • Medical certificate issued by medical centre approved by SEGIP
  • Certificate of criminal records from FELCC, FELCN and Transit Operational Organism
  • Bank deposit slip from Banco Union for the relevant fees
  • Evidence of minimum age requirement
  • Applicants for Categories B or C licenses (professional) should submit a psychological evaluation certificate.

Please refer to the website of the Bolivian General Service of Personal Identification (SEGIP) for more information.

Finance

Banks will generally only allow residents to open bank accounts as one of the requirements is to submit a Foreigner ID card issued by Segip. Please visit the website of the Finance System Supervising Authority ASFI website for a list of regulated banks and financial institutions.

Social ethics and traditions

Spanish is the official language; however, the constitution recognises native languages such as Aymara, Quechua and Tupi Guarani as official languages too.

The Roman Catholic religion is still the major one in Bolivia. However, there is a strong attachment to prehispanic traditions and worship. Bolivia is a democratic country and there are presidential, parliamentary, regional and municipal elections.

You will find more information in our Enjoy Bolivia publication.

Disclaimer

This information is provided as a general guide and is based upon information provided to the embassy by the relevant local authorities and may be subject to change at any time with little or no notice. The FCO and the British Embassy will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information. British nationals wishing to obtain any further information must contact the relevant local authority.

Published 16 December 2013