There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding obtaining a visa for Bolivia by South Africans. Even when we were doing our research, we found very little concrete information, and most of it was contradicting.Information on required documents etc. is very scarce or very contradicting. Bolivia does not have a Bolivian Consulate or Embassy in South Africa, however, an extensive Google search will give you a random email address and office address somewhere in Johannesburg. So, having been through the process, here are the facts:
You don't need to apply before you leave South Africa
South African citizens fall in Group 2 which means you can obtain a visa upon arrival. You can also apply at a Bolivian Consulate in a neighbouring country just before you cross the border.We applied at the Consulate in Salta, Argentina. It literally took 10 minutes to obtain the visa while we waited. You can apply at the border, however, as some border posts are super busy, it might take much longer. So to avoid waiting, we suggest you just apply before you cross over.
It is absolutely FREE!
So if you managed to get the email address in Johannesburg and asked them relevant questions like we did, they will tell you that you have to apply before you leave South Africa and it will cost about R1000 per person. This may be true if you apply from South Africa, but as we said, you don't have to.If you apply upon arrival or at a Consulate in a neighbouring country, it is free! Why would you pay if you don't have to? Note that we did read from other Group 2 citizens, that they had to pay a fee if they applied at the border, we cannot attest to that as it is supposed to be free. It could be that the Officials took a chance, but we don't know. To avoid this, apply before you cross the border.
Update: One of our readers informed us that it wasn't free for them in October 2019. They had to pay $103 per person, at the airport/land boarders from Puno to Copacabana. This is a different experience than ours, so we cannot state that this is true for all borders.
Required documents you need
Because you are applying for a formal visa, you do need all the annoying documents applicable for any other visa application. You need hard copies of all the following documents: You can do an application online at: http://www.rree.gob.bo/formvisas/ but you need to print this form out and take it with you, this is just an application form, and you can get one at the Consulate or border.
Copy of you Passport
Copy of the page with entry stamp into the current country - for us it was Argentina.
Exit ticket out of Bolivia. This one is always super annoying. It you know your dates it's easy, but we don't plan to the T, so we didn't have one. Check out our post here on how to get a free Exit Ticket.
Proof of Accommodation: You get a visa for 30 days in Bolivia, we only booked for the first 2 nights as we didn't know where we are going after that. It wasn't a problem.
Full travel itinerary of your stay in Bolivia: Super annoying also. We literally just made one up, you can download ours here and customise it for yourself. Just make up a random one taking your 30 days into account.
Proof of financial solvency: Bank statement showing you have enough money to spend the 30 days in the country.
Copy of Yellow Fever certificate.
You can also extend your visas for another 30 days if you want, up to 2 times. We didn't need to but it is an option if you choose to stay longer. So there it is: You can apply upon arrival, and it is free, and fairly easy.
**If you cross into Bolivia from Salta, Argentina, we highly recommend making Tupiza your first stop.
Stay for 2 or three nights and do the horse-riding tour through the "Wild West" of South America. It is stunning! You can read all about it here.We stayed in the Butch Cassidy Hostel - truly a 5 star experience with the best breakfast we've had in South America thus far.
Please leave your comments below if you've had any different experiences with visas so we can update our readers!
And of course, we would love to hear about your travel experiences.