December 8, 2007

Bolivia's Infuriating Visa Requirements for Americans
Lima, Peru

Bolivia has jumped onboard a new wave of 'reciprocal visa fees' targeting citizens of the United States.

I briefly mentioned a murmuring of this almost a year ago, though made no attempt to follow up on it. Now that I'm back on the west coast of South America, the thought of seeing Bolivia again has crossed my mind—a thought at has since vanished from my head with such speed its absence has created a vacuum.

I'm going to quote parts of an article I found on businesstravellogue.com, as it articulated the situation nicely:

Beginning December 1, 2007, U.S. tourists to Bolivia will be required to purchase a visa to enter the country. As with most visa requirements for U.S. citizens, this move is in reciprocity for visa requirements Bolivian citizens are obligated to pay to enter the United States.

Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca said U.S. citizens would fall under Bolivia’s most highly regulated migratory category. A 30-day tourist visa will cost $134, an amount similar to fees paid by Bolivians applying to enter the United States.

Currently, U.S. tourists only have to fill out a small form upon entering Bolivia, which grants them 30 days’ stay with the chance to apply for up to 90 days. The new category requires proof of "economic solvency," proof of hotel reservations for the entire planned visit or a notarized invitation from a Bolivian citizen as well as a small passport photo taken against a "red background," though Choquehuanca hinted the process might be simplified.

The good news is that you will be able to get the visa at the border or airport, rather than being required to spend 8 weeks dealing with some embassy in the states.

The Bolivian Tourism Chamber says one in five tourists visiting Bolivia is from the United States, and more than 70,000 Americans visited in 2005, the last year for which figures were available. Americans spend an estimated $40 million a year in South America’s poorest country. I wonder how many of those tourists will opt for another country that won’t require additional fees.

President Evo Morales has called Bolivia’s new policy "a matter of reciprocity." The U.S. government requires Bolivians to obtain visas to enter the United States, charging $100 for each visa, plus a $14 fee per family to begin the application process. "That’s expensive for us, but it’s cheap for them," Choquehuanca said, which is a load of crap.

Well, congratulations President A**hole, you've found the perfect way to both alienate 1/5 of your tourists and make no less than 9.38 million dollars a year off them in the process.

Comments:

Andy HoboTraveler.com

December 9th, 2007

Funny
Skip Bolivia a Landlocked rock.

I have been to 77 countries, and I know there is no reason to enter a country. Bottom line, there is at least 252 countries and missing 1 or 50 is not a problem.

El Salvador was charging 10 dollars when I went through Central America, about 80 percent of the travelers skipped it.

This is funny to me, you would think a country, a whole country would have more sense There is a reason why they are poor.

Maya

December 9th, 2007

The "reciprocity thing" has to do probably with the same thing that here in Chile.
Here Americans, Australians Canadians and…i dont rememnber the 4th country have to pay a similar amount of money here, but we dont ask about proofs of economic solvence.
Its called a reciprocity because we have to pay for our tourist visa $52000 pesos (about a 110 us).
And when i got mine they ask me for:
- Bank accounts papers
- My savings papers
- Copy of my contract of work
- birth certificate
- other proofs of economic solvency
- a photo with specific measures and colors (other wise you´ll get rejected)
- Proofs of my roots in Chile and reasons to come back (and not staying there as an ilegal)
- Paper of all my "outs" and "ins" of my country from international police (that i didnt knew at the moment)
- police background papers
- Adress of the place im staying in the US
- The visa forms… and.. i think… thats about it….
Also, since you leave your passport there you have to pay 13 bucks more because they dont gove you the passport, they send it to tyour house priority mail, but you have to pay for it.
and oh! before you go to the embassy you have to buy a pin number (cost $15 USD)To call a call center in Argentina (the only once with authority to give you infomrmation about visas) and book and interview (they give me mine one month after i asked for it)for you to talk with and inmigration officer and show them all the papers.
The kick ass part in here is that once i was able to get togueter all the papers, they ask me for nothing because i had an old american visa,… nothing except for that paper i didnt have because AT THE CALL CENTER IN ARGENTINA, they didnt tell me that, so i have to send the paper in mmy passport again by mail (another 13 bucks more) and finally. there… my visa. (SIGHT!!!)

So i totally can connect with you about how idiotic this thing is, and that for sure that Evo Morales, who personally i think its a lama with a presidential band, its damaging his own country… But never forguet that for us has been always like this And yes, once again i think its idiotic, saldly in this part of the world we are masters of trying to copy everything that the fellows up north do…

Peru

Craig | travelvice.com

December 9th, 2007

Maja: I feel your pain, thank you for sharing.

The United States has strict controls because everyone and their grandmother tries to come to the country and work illegally. People are not going to a Second World country looking for jobs.

For tourists not interested in working, the simple truth is that you're desiring to travel inside the most power, sought after country on the planet. And if you think the U.S. Visa is expensive, well, it pails in comparison to the price of a single day in Disney World.

I think that if you're going to charge a visa — which I personally think is just government BS that should be removed for all — that is should be in direct relation to the cost of living for that country.

If I'm going to travel in Bolivia and live off US$10/day — I DO NOT expect to pay US$134 to enter the country. If I'm a Bolivian and I'm going to travel in the United States of America, I'm already a very small subset of the population of the country — and very small and wealthy subset.

For these Bolivian, it might easier accept the US$100 visa fee because it will just be one expenditure in a long, long trip of other large expenditures. People traveling to the U.S. should know and expect this ahead of time. When this prosperous Bolivian family sits down for a meal in Miami, maybe they're not going to be the type to gag on the bill for US$100 for their family of four.

Whereas me –a traveler who only seeks to learn more about Bolivia and inject his dollars into the country by traveling through it, is absolutely repulsed at the thought of such a fee. I'm allowed to be poor, and travel inside a poor country. Bolivians have to be wealthy to travel inside a wealth country. That's what makes sense, not the current situation.

Now does that mean that I should have to pay a US$200 to enter the UK, US$300 to enter Italy, or US$400 to enter the Netherlands? Hell no. That's just ridiculous. So the cost of living thing breaks down in First World countries. But the point is that struggling countries shouldn't be offended because their citizens are charged US$100 to enter the freedom of the playground that is the most powerful country on the planet. The USA is at the top, it can do what it wants. Bolivia isn't. It needs that tourism. It needs to be tourist friendly.

Stop rocking the boat, Bolivia. You really think you're country is good enough to pay US$134 to get into?

***

As for Chile. Yes, I had forgotten about Chile's similar stupid behavior:

"Entry requirements for Americans: No visa is required by US nationals for visits of up to 90 days, but a US$100 reciprocity fee, payable in USD cash on arrival, will be charged for tourists. The receipt is regarded as a multiple entry visa and is valid until expiry of passport. A passport is required for travel to Chile."

But Chile has one saving grace that Bolivia (and Brazil) don't: It DOES NOT require the payment of this visa fee if you enter the country by land. That means tourists and business travelers get hit with the fee when they fly into Santiago, but I, as a poor backpacker don't pay it when I come across by bus.

Point, Chile.

I did this last year and made no mention of such fees:
"The Chilean border control is chaotic, time consuming, and intense about their searches for fruits, vegetables, and drugs (lots of dogs)."

If I had been asked to pay US$100 to enter Chile, I would have turned around.

I now think opening a hotel on the route between Cuzco and Argentina via Chile is going to begin to be a very prosperous business, as more and more Americans will be side-stepping Bolivia by entering Chile via Arica.

Anonymous

December 9th, 2007

For Canadians, it costs US$132 to enter Chili. I am going Dec. 15 and found out after I bought my plane ticket…

Jo

Aqui_c

December 9th, 2007

That's why I "really like" being Argentinian.

For those who think that "everybody from the third world wants to go to the USA to work", so, why do Europeans have also problems to go?

Why the US is the only country that hasn't had an increase in the number of tourists since 2000?

And for you, "americans" (a bolivian is as american as you) perhaps should try to think what's your responsibility in Bolivia's poor. For you 130U$ is what? 1 day of work? For them is 1 month.

By the way, Brasil is also asking for a Visa to USA citizens, by the same: "reciprocity." Imagine every country in the world making as much trouble to USA citizens every time they want to go out as they make every time you want to get in.

Maya

December 10th, 2007

I think this has become a very interesting discuss subject.
As i see it, i also have a passion for traveling and i would love to go wherever i like withouth doing all that, not even for the money, but also the long waitings in the embassy sucks.
For my canadian visa they ask me for so much things, just for deniying me the damned paper because "they doubted about the true reason for my trip" — wich it was non other that go visit my boyfriend. After paying the fee again they finally gave me the visa…(but in Toronto`s airport they had 3 differents officers asking me what i was doing there, why, how much money i had, what i do for a living, how i met my boyfriend, why i was going on that particular date, where does he live, how did you guys met, do you have credits cards, do you have a bank account, what your parents do —-NO, NOT JOKING)
You didnt have to say what it obvious for all of us, that that is that up north doesnt want us latins there.. and you have absolutely RIGHT… ilegals aliens that go and end up raising the delinquency rates ars just the worst… but i wasnt one of them… and it was obvious!!!
Regarding to my country i think its beyond reason to charge that fee… trust me, my country is so beautiful and full of nice things, but people here are just crap in terms of taking care of the tourist, so probaly thay are going to overcharge you in a taxi only because you are a tourist and you HAVE to HAVE money… gosh that really mekes me feel ashamed… and thats why we dont get as many tourist as we wish…
Regard the fact that first world people doesnt come to look for a job thats also true… but they do come looking for something else…
Because we dont ask for backgorund and we dont ask for nothing to come here (except for money), Chile is one of the latin paradises for pedofiles, sex offenders, people with problems with the IRS… you name it… Just a couple of months ago one Candian was finally aprehended by the interpol here… after he was living for like 2 years in here….
You do the final conclusion in here….
This is not my way to start a war of bloggers and fans of travelvice… is not my intention to fight anyone here too, but saldly the world is like this and up north and down south like to bug each other just for the pleasure to do it, withouth thinking that at the end we are part of the same planet in here, and personally i dont think less of americans for asking all they ask, or the canadians (that actually are asking me for more money this year)
Thay have structured societies that work better, but all im saying is that they should not put us all in the same side.
At least i know that no matter how stupid is a goverment, real people, in most cases is nothing like them, so because the US goverment (or the canadian one) is asking me for pretty much a DNA test, thats doesnt mean that the PEOPLE are idiots too..

i love to travel and i hope to be able to do it often, i cannot die without my month in italy, the soccer world cup in brazil, my honeymoon in some unknown paradise, go back to disney world, visit new zeland, take sun in Cuba and see the phyramids… The easiest those goverments make my dreams come true; the better, and i hope to find in every adventure some nice people to call my friends without caring from where they are…
still dont know what to bring you from Chile… Wine perhaps?
CU!

Jujugoes

January 26th, 2008

i am with you, Maya–and let me just say that I am planning a trip to Peru and Bolivia in June with my daughter. I did pause when i learned of the requirements for entering Bolivia–but I'd rather give them my money than chile–I'd love to see both countries and will, someday–but Chile is much wealthier than Bolivia. In any event, I understand where Evo is coming from and perhaps it is just pride and maybe even foolish pride at that, but let's be honest: U.S. foreign policy sucks–and I disagree with the skewed thinking that it is better for a wealthy Bolivian to pay our exorbitant fees, but not you poor U.S. backpacker–get real! What about the Bolivian who is NOT wealthy, but like me, squirrels away any extra money he can, scrimping and saving to finally one day go to the United States to visit the places he's heard and dreamed about? Perhaps as a backpacker, even. It is unreasonable to suggest that it is ok to charge him over a month's salary to do so. He may be a backpacker too, doofus. And also to the idiot who called Bolivia a land-locked rock–you indeed SHOULD skip it, by all means. Bolivia does not need morons visiting them any more than the United States needs immigrants looking for work, right? For those of you out there not too damn lazy to jump through hoops–do it!~ pay the damn fee and get to Bolivia. First off, it will help their economy–and secondly, you MUST see Isla del Sol, Copacabana, La Paz, the Salar de Uyuni (that alone is worth it) and go see the old Yungas road–if you are ballsy enough, bike down the thing–go to Coroico–Santa Cruz-see the jungle. Or skip it and go to Chile instead–which is beautiful in its own right, but way more expensive. Go to Argentina–I hear that's heaven on earth, literally. Who are any of us to discount a country as not worth seeing? Anyone who calls himself or herself a true traveller must never diss a country or its ppl so cavalierly. And notice that when I mentioned the United States, I did not say "America" because we are all "americans"–South Americans are americans as much as North Americans are. We need to recognize that governments will be governments and bicker and fight amongst themselves–but we, as ppl need to stop and examine why we want to travel so much–for me, the main reason is to meet ppl who are culturally and ethnically different from me. If I only met ppl who looked, talked, dressed, ate and acted like me, I would be sooooooooo bored! And another big reason I physically MUST travel is because I need to see the beauty that is in the world: the architecture in Europe, the vast ruggedness of the Andes, the green of Ireland, the absolute WILDNESS of Africa, and on and on. As it is now, I can name many countries that I now cannot enter because I am a U.S. citizen, one of which is Cuba. Tell me I can't go to Cuba and guess which country I wanna see the most? CUBA!!! I want to see the lands and meet the ppl–and let us all remember that most ppl just want what we all want–love, family, hope, a place to live and call home, food to eat and water to drink–these are all fair and reasonable things to want. There will always be the haves and the have-nots–just be grateful if you have a job and are able to support your family and take pride in doing so and maybe being able to save enough to travel. Don't take the political situation out on the ppl. Alright, I'm stepping down from the pulpit, but before I do I want to add one more thing: Viva Bolivia! I'll see you soon!!! My thoughts, for what they're worth…Judy

Anonymous

May 21st, 2008

If we (the US) makes other citizens pay to come into the US I think its fair for other countries to charge us. Why should we expect a double standard?

Anonymous

July 7th, 2008

If you want to go see Bolivia, go. If you don't want to, don't go. I have been to Bolivia twice as my husband is from this beautiful country. Yes, the country is poor, but the U.S. and European countries are to blame for this if one looks into the actual history. I agree with the last comment. It is only fair that the Bolivian government charges for people to come to their country. It's about time!! Do you have any idea how expensive it is to get a visa to come from Bolivia, or any country for that matter, to the U.S.? It is ridiculous. But as usual, U.S. citizens what everything for free. No big surprise there.

Anonymous

November 6th, 2008

I have an American passport, and I feel that it is really sad that certain countries in South America are implementing high fees for visitors who pose little or no risk to their countries security or economic welfare. On the other hand, each country has an absolute right to decide IF and UNDER WHICH CONDITIONS they will allow foreign citizens to enter.

So rather than complain about the high fees (over $100) and hassles charged by Bolivia, Brazil, and Chile, I personally decide to visit countries which make it easier for me to visit and don't extort me while I am getting off the plane. I'd rather spend an extra $100 visiting Buenos Aires or somewhere else in Argentina or Peru than fill the government officials’ pockets of Chile, Bolivia and Brazil. But, that's how I see it. Whoever enjoys spending $100 for ability to enter and spend more of your tourist dollars in Brazil, Bolivia, and Chile should by all means do so.

I personally prefer to go to countries that are more welcoming and don't feel to antagonize me for no real reason prior to my visit. That aside, there are so many countries that have more reasonable policies, you can travel for years and experience many cultures where you can enter without the ridiculous fees.

By the way, you CAN visit Cuba. You just fly from Europe (or Canada). Cuba just makes everyone (regardless of nationality) buy a "tourist card" which is a visa card for about $20 (give or take). $20 is reasonable and they treat EVERY foreigner the same. Just make sure you ask the Cuban customs official to please NOT stamp your passport (so the US officials don't get tipped off that you went to Cuba). The stamped my tourist card and smiled. Cubans are really nice, welcoming people and everything was excellent - the food, the hotels, and the beaches.

John

October 12th, 2009

You sirr,are an idiot for writing this article. As an American with Bolivian heritage, but more importantly as a Political Science and International Relations scholar I don't think you comprehend the that it's not your right to go visit another country but rather a privilege. A privilege that yes, you sometimes might have to pay for. Lucky for you and other Americans, Bolivia did not choose to set the price of the visa according how a US Visa relates financially to the median income per household in Bolivia otherwise you'd realize just how difficult it is to get purchase a visa for a Bolivia. On another note, tourist money is not a huge percentage of any country's GDP unless you're considering a small Caribbean nation. Stop embarrassing Americans and yourself.

Australia

Caitlin

August 2nd, 2010

I think its only fair that the Bolivian Government is charging American citizens the same amount they get charged when entering your country.

Americans are allowed to charge what they want, but if another country does the exact same to them its unfair?

Why should you be treated any different? I am from Australia and also have to pay an equal fee when entering countries such as Argentina - and I don't care, I think its only fair!
Why should Bolivians have to pay money to enter your country, but not vice versa?

This is the reason why South Americans, and the whole world hate USA… You don't deserve special treatment, shut up, get over your self.

The United States

J. VIllanueva

October 5th, 2010

What you guys don't know is that bolivians have to pay 134 just to get the right to go to the embassy for an interview. Usually they are denied and they don't get their money back. But americans are guaranteed they get the visa. Plus bolivians don't want to move to the states like back in the day. They are smarter now, choosing europe or australia.

The United States

Tyla B

March 24th, 2011

I am migrating to Bolivia to look for jobs. I see the fact that I am bilingual and educated through an alternative style of university as an asset.(We do more self created project work and I will never have taken a math class when I graduate.)
La Paz seems filled with engineers and intelligent educated people. It's a shame that they don't get to share these skills as easily as people from India.
My ultimate goal is to bring value back to a natural self driven engaging education for La Paz. For them to forget what people in the rest of the world are doing and see value in what they already do well and have done well.

I think the visa fee possibly made my last trip better. The lack of tourists means that there are not enough around to make me look like a jackass before I even open my mouth. Every American I met was engaged in research, study or spiritual enlightenment. I cannot say the same for the other visa-free tourists. It was designed to piss us off, but it makes Americans look better than we really are by putting our best foot forward.

I think immigration in the USA is a failure. They keep getting stricter without gaining efficiency.
I think the entire visa system should be re-evaluated for the USA. It's a modern example of how disconnected the USA is with the world. Pretty soon these little fledgling countries are going to surpass us in what we consider our greatest aspects.

I am not sure how I feel about Evo. I think he has done some great things by standing up to certain authorities (USA has no right to put the biggest impact on it's failed drug wars abroad or inhibit or regulate use of sacred plants.) He became a voice that stood up to the government of the USA. I just feel that his openly blatant racism for all US Americans, inhibits his ability to see some of the good things that the better ones can do (school partnerships, donations for new non-profits, Research collaborations, etc.) At times, he has hurt his people by refusing assistance of some form, without offering similar assistance or a solution to the people who would have benefited.

For the most part, he is not the greatest or worst. If he could temper his emotions and legislate based on logic, then his connection to the rural communities would be an asset. He also needs to learn to admit fault sometimes instead of placing it elsewhere. If he could develop these qualities, then he could work out fine for Bolivia in the future.

The United States

tim

June 12th, 2011

This is more a problem with the US government than other countries. Its the rest of the world who should not come to American because of there visa requirements. These countries are just trying to tell americans that they are tired of the american government telling them what to do and charging the poor of the world to come to the USA. Just another way for the USA to pay for jerks that harrass you at the airport.

Malaysia

WLIL

June 13th, 2011

I don't mind paying visa fee, if I can afford it and if the country is naturally really nice or worth visiting or worth migrating to. But, what bothers me is
having to pay unneccessary visa fee to any government that may be corrupt or inefficient or unreasonably nasty or being forced to pay further tip upon entering, such as the unpleasant experience that I have to put up with upon entering the cambodia border.

Ecuador

Richard

October 20th, 2011

Agreed. Countries should charge what they want and reciprocal fees are fine. Americans are still better off in the deal since our average income is magnitudes higher. Also I say American because its a short version of our nation "United States of America". I say American just as Mexicans do, because its a short way of saying their country name 'Estados Unidos de Mexico'. Also In the United States students are taught that North and South America are seperate continents so for people from the United States it is not some form of egocentrism. There is no other America. If you want to say you are from the continents of the North and South Americas you have to say I'm from the Americas - plural.

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