Bolivia & Peru border crossing – How to avoid trouble
Crossing the border between two foreign countries may sound like a daunting task, and sometimes it is. It is easy to run into problems, delays and just a whole lot of hassle when crossing the border, especially when you are not well prepared. Knowing where to cross and which documents to carry, is essential.
How it works
Border checkpoints are a little distance from the border. If you are travelling from Bolivia to Peru, you will arrive at the Bolivian checkpoint with the bus. There, you will get off in group, wait in the International line and get an EXIT stamp. Next, you will cross the border and arrive to the Peruvian checkpoint and get your ENTRY stamp.
Knowing where to cross
One of the best ways to avoid any problems or issues is to know the best spots to cross the border. There are two main terrestrial passages, one at Copacabana and one at Desaguadero. If you want to avoid major lines and issues your best option is Copacabana. Desaguadero is a much more direct route to La Paz but that also makes it busier and more hectic than the Copacabana crossing. The hour that you spend extra taking the Copacabana route, is well worth it.
Documents, papers and legalities
It is very important that you have all the necessary documents ready before getting to the border crossing. It can make for a very stressful time if you do not have your documents in order.
Time in the country
Make sure not to overstay your legal time in the country because this is a long and drawn out process. You would have to pay 1 US dollar for every day you stayed in the country over your limit. This can bring along some extra trouble as some border officials might look for a bribe. This is one thing you should avoid if you don’t want problems at the border. Usually you will be able to stay for 90 days. If they give you less, ask for 90.
- 6-month valid passport
- Valid immigration card à TAM (card you receive upon entering the country)
Make sure to get these documents ready BEFORE you hop on a bus.
Some countries also need to apply for a Visa to enter Bolivia. This can be done at the Bolivian embassy and depending on where you are from it might be possible to do it at the border. Look up what your requirements are in your specific case. US Citizens also have to pay $160 dollars for their Bolivian Visa because of the reciprocity principle. When Bolivians apply for a US Visa, they have to pay the same amount.
Required documents Bolivian Visa
- Passport pictures 4cm*4cm
- Two photocopies of the information page of your passport
- Detailed printed Itinerary of your time in Bolivia
- Exit ticket from Bolivia
- Printed bank statement or photocopy credit card
- Printed hotel/hostel booking confirmation first night in Bolivia
- Visa application form (for USA citizens only)
Some of these documents might not be asked at the border depending on where you are from and who you are dealing with but do some research before crossing the border to find out exactly what you need and bring it just in case.
Some extra tips
- Try to exchange some Bolivianos/Soles at the border just to have some coins.
- Do not bring animals, fruit or vegetables across the border. They might give you trouble from bringing them.
- Do not bring drugs on the bus. It seems obvious but we cannot emphasize this enough …
- Be a little extra careful around the border.
Keep in mind that the above information can change at any time.
All in all, crossing the border between Bolivia and Peru can be a smooth and painless process. As long as you do your research before leaving, get your paperwork in order and have some patience, you’ll be fine!