- We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Bolivia because of ongoing political and social tensions and the risk of serious crime.
- Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
- The political situation in Bolivia remains unpredictable. There is an ongoing risk of civil unrest, including roadblocks, violent protests and strikes. We advise you not to cross roadblocks set up by protesters.
- Demonstrations, violent protests and strikes can occur at any time and may seriously affect domestic and international travel plans without notice. You should remain alert and vigilant and avoid large crowds which have the potential to turn violent. See Civil Unrest/Political Tension below for further details.
- Australia has a Consulate in La Paz, Bolivia, headed by an Honorary Consul which provides limited consular assistance. The Australian Embassy in Peru provides full consular assistance to Australians in Bolivia.
- Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
Entry and exit
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Bolivia for the most up to date information.
Children (under 18) who are Australian/Bolivian dual nationals, and are travelling alone to Bolivia, are required upon entry into the country to present their birth certificate and written consent from both parents, translated into Spanish and certified by the nearest Bolivian embassy or consulate.
Bolivia is listed by the World Health Organization as endemic for yellow fever. Some airlines may require passengers to present a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate before being allowed to board flights out of the country. If in doubt, check with your airline.
If you have visited Bolivia in the last six days prior to your date of return to Australia, Australian Customs officials will ask you to present a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate on entry into Australia.
If you are travelling to Bolivia through the United States of America, or if you are transiting in Honolulu or other US points of entry, you are required to meet US entry/transit requirements. Make sure you check with your nearest Embassy or Consulate of the United States your visa requirements well in advance of your travel. You should also read our travel advice for the United States of America.
Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.
Safety and security
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General Advice to Australian Travellers.
Civil unrest/political tension
We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Bolivia because of ongoing political and social tensions and the risk of serious crime. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
The political situation in Bolivia remains unpredictable. There is an ongoing risk of civil unrest, including roadblocks, violent protests and strikes. Where roadblocks are set up by protestors, we advise you not to cross them.
Travellers should remain alert and vigilant and avoid large crowds which have the potential to turn violent.
Blockades and closures associated with strikes and demonstrations can seriously affect travel across Bolivia, including at airports and bus stations. International and domestic travel can be disrupted without notice, particularly to Oruyo, Uyuni and Santa Cruz.
You should not approach large groups of protesters as the situation could deteriorate rapidly. The use of tear gas and force to control disturbances is common. You should not cross road blockades, even if they appear unattended, as it may result in confrontation or the threat of violence.
We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in the coca growing areas of Chapare (between Santa Cruz and Cochabamba) and the Yungas region northeast of La Paz, because of the possibility of confrontations associated with anti-narcotics activities.
We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Bolivia because of ongoing political and social tensions and the risk of serious crime.
Petty theft is common, particularly in tourist areas and on buses and in bus stations. You should exercise a high degree of caution if using public transport and do not leave your bags unattended at any time.
Thieves often work in teams using various forms of distraction. Criminals are also known to pose as police officers. Be aware that under Bolivian law, police need a written order or warrant to detain or search a suspect.
Violent crime against foreigners, including armed robbery and assault, has increased, particularly in tourist areas and on public transport in the cities of La Paz and Santa Cruz.
'Express kidnappings', where victims are forced to withdraw funds from ATMs to secure their release, have occurred. Overland border points with Chile and Peru such as Copacabana and Desaguadero are particularly vulnerable.
Assaults and robberies in shared, unmarked and radio taxis are also becoming more common and you should beware of hailing taxis off the street. Use only well-known radio taxi companies that can easily be identified by the telephone number prominently displayed on the vehicle's roof. Before starting your journey make a note of the taxi's registration number and telephone number.
Hikers travelling without a guide have been robbed and assaulted on the Inca trails and in Rurrenabaque. Use of an experienced, reputable tour guide may reduce risks associated with hiking on the Inca trails.
The Bolivian government has a tourist police number with English speaking operators to assist tourists who encounter problems in Bolivia. The contact number is: 222 5016 (outside La Paz 02 222 5016).
Money and valuables
Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Australian currency and travellers' cheques are not accepted in many countries. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work in Bolivia.
Make two photocopies of valuables such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.
While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.
As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
Australians are required to pay an additional fee to have their passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.
There are limited flights within Bolivia and to neighbouring countries. Flight delays are common. Contact your airline or travel agent for further information on flight options.
Public transport can be unsafe, and you should exercise a high degree of caution when travelling on buses, trains and in taxis.
You are required to carry photographic identification at all times. A photocopy of your passport is acceptable.
Driving in rural areas of Bolivia may be hazardous as roads and vehicles are often poorly maintained. Rural roads often lack adequate lighting and signage. Drivers should maintain caution, particularly at night, as roads are often shared with pedestrians and livestock. For further advice, see our road travel page.
Drug traffickers and other criminals in the Bolivian/Brazilian border region present a serious danger to travellers crossing the border.
The safety standards that you might expect of tour operators are not always met, especially when undertaking adventure sports. Sufficient life jackets for boats, rafts and kayaks are not always provided. Check operators' credentials and safety equipment beforehand and ensure your travel insurance policy covers your planned activities.
Please refer to our air travel page for information about aviation safety and security.
When you are in Bolivia, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.
The Bolivian drink driving laws state that there is a zero tolerance for alcohol.
Penalties for drug offences are severe and include lengthy imprisonment in local jails.
While homosexual activities are not illegal in Bolivia, homosexuality is not widely accepted in Bolivian society.
It is illegal to remove any item that the Bolivian government considers to be a national treasure (i.e. pre-Columbian artefacts, certain historical paintings, items of Spanish colonial architecture and history, some native textiles, and certain flora, fauna and fossils). Excavation or collection of fossils without prior written authorisation is also illegal.
Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money, laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australian overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.
Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.
Approaches by foreigners taking photographs have been misunderstood, particularly in remote areas. You should seek permission from an adult before taking photographs of people, particularly children.
Information for dual nationals
Australian/Bolivian dual national males over 18 years of age are required to complete Bolivian military service. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Bolivia for the most up to date information.
Our Dual Nationals brochure provides further information.
We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.
Your doctor or travel clinic is the best source of information about preventive measures, immunisations (including booster doses of childhood vaccinations) and disease outbreaks overseas. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our Travelling Well brochure also provides useful tips for travelling with medicines and staying healthy while overseas.
The standard of medical facilities provided by private hospitals in Bolivia's major cities is reasonable. Outside of major cities, however, facilities can be very limited. Treatment at private clinics and hospitals is expensive. Hospitals often require up-front payment or confirmation of medical insurance prior to commencing treatment, including for emergency care. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation, at considerable cost, may be necessary. Travellers who require medical evacuation from Bolivia often face difficulties as many air ambulance services cannot fly into La Paz due to the high altitude.
Malaria and dengue fever occur in areas below 2500 metres. For information on dengue fever, see the World Health Organisation's factsheet.
Other insect-borne diseases (including yellow fever and Chagas' disease) also occur. You should consult your doctor or travel clinic about prophylaxis against malaria and take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent at all times, wearing long, loose-fitting, light coloured clothing, and ensure your accommodation is mosquito proof.
Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including typhoid, hepatitis, tuberculosis and rabies) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks from time to time. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before travelling. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, and avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.
Travellers who ascend to altitudes greater than 2500m, particularly if the ascent is rapid, or who at higher altitudes make further rapid ascents, are at risk of developing altitude sickness. Altitude sickness can be life threatening and can affect anyone, even the physically fit. Those more at risk include people who have had altitude sickness before, who exercise or drink alcohol before adjusting (acclimatising) to the altitude, or who have health problems that affect breathing. If you plan to travel to altitude, you should see your doctor prior to travel and get advice specific to you and your situation. Many areas of Bolivia, including La Paz (3660m), Salar de Uyuni (3650m), and Lake Titicaca (3820m), are above 2500m.
The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has confirmed cases of avian influenza in birds in a number of countries throughout the world. For a list of these countries, visit the OIE website. For information on our advice to Australians on how to reduce the risk of infection and on Australian Government precautions see our travel bulletin on avian influenza.
Where to get help
Australia has a Consulate in La Paz headed by an Honorary Consul. The Consulate provides limited consular assistance which does not include the issue of Australian passports. You can obtain full consular assistance from the Australian Embassy in Peru.
Australian Embassy, Lima
Avenida La Paz 1049, 10th Floor
Miraflores, Lima, 18, Peru
Telephone: (+51 1) 630 0500
Facsimile: (+51 1) 630 0520
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 9:00am to 5:00pm
Australian Consulate, La Paz
Av. Arce #2081
Mezanine, Oficina #2
La Paz, Bolivia
Telephone: (591 2) 297 1339
Mobile: (591) 7061 0626
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 8:30am to 12:30pm
If you are travelling to Bolivia, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.
In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the Embassy you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
The rainy season is from November to March. Landslides in mountainous areas, impassable roads and flooding are a regular occurrence and can make road travel extremely difficult. Travellers should keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.
Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service. In the event of a natural disaster, follow the advice of local authorities.
Australians are advised to respect wildlife laws and to maintain a safe and legal distance when observing wildlife, including marine animals and birds. You should only use reputable and professional guides or tour operators and closely follow park regulations and wardens' advice.
For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with Children brochure.
If you are planning on placing your children in schools or childcare facilities overseas we encourage you to research the standards of security, care and staff training within those establishments. You should exercise the same precautions you would take before placing children into schools or childcare facilities in Australia.