- Reviewed: 28 March 2018, 11:05 NZDT
- Still current at: 20 February 2019
Exercise increased caution
Exercise increased caution in Bolivia due to the potential for civil unrest and violent crime.View Larger Map Close/Open map
The political situation in Bolivia is unpredictable, and there are ongoing political and social tensions. Protests are frequent and there is a continuing risk of strikes and demonstrations that have the potential to result in violence. Roadblocks are common, particularly in tourist areas. These have the potential to seriously disrupt transport across the country, including at airports and public transport networks.
New Zealanders in Bolivia should exercise a high degree of caution, avoid all protests and demonstrations, monitor the local media and adhere to any instructions issued by local authorities. No attempt should be made to pass or go around roadblocks as this may aggravate the situation and lead to violence.
Violent crime against foreigners, including armed robbery, occurs in Bolivia, particularly in tourist areas like La Paz and Santa Cruz. Petty crime is common in urban areas and around tourist sites and public transport facilities. “Organised” robberies are common and have involved attempts by individuals or groups to distract or deceive tourists. Criminals sometimes pose as police officers or fellow tourists. Be aware that under Bolivian law, you are not obliged to follow a police officer unless he or she has a formal written request from a judge with your name on it, and any search or seizure must occur at a bona fide police station in the presence of the prosecutor.
Particular care should be taken at land border crossings with Chile and Peru.
Local authorities caution people to avoid Coronilla Hill, the area adjacent to the main bus terminal in Cochabamba due to high incidences of crime.
When travelling near Rurrenabaque, remain in large groups and only join tours organised by reputable tour operators as criminals have targeted tourists in this area.
Beware of individuals offering help, as thieves often work in teams to distract their victims. Tourists frequently report having a liquid thrown on them and or their belongings and a person nearby offering to help them clean up.
“Express kidnappings” have also been reported in Bolivia, where criminals abduct a victim for a short amount of time and force them to withdraw funds from automatic teller machines (ATMs) to secure their release. To reduce the risk of this occurring we recommend you use ATMs during daylight hours or ATMs located within bank branches.
Throughout the country, care should be taken when using public transport. There has been an increase in express kidnappings and robberies involving taxis. Use only well-known radio taxi companies that can be easily identified by the telephone number displayed on the vehicle's roof. If travelling by bus, try to use direct routes wherever possible.
The telephone number for tourist police with English speaking operators is: 800 140081
General travel advice
Bolivia has strict rules relating to the import and export of prescription medication. Foreign nationals have been detained on arrival for possession of medicines that would not normally be problematic in other countries. New Zealanders are advised to carry a letter from a doctor describing their medical condition and any prescribed medication. Any medicines should be in their original containers and clearly labelled.
Always keep your passport, air ticket and other valuable items in a safe place.
New Zealanders travelling or living in Bolivia should have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place that includes provision for medical evacuation by air.
New Zealanders travelling or living in Bolivia are encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The New Zealand Embassy Santiago, Chile is accredited to Bolivia
Street Address Isidora Goyenechea 3000, 12th Floor, Las Condes, Santiago, Chile Telephone +56 2 2616 3000 Fax +56 2 2951 6138 Email firstname.lastname@example.org Web Site http://www.mfat.govt.nz/chile Hours Mon-Fri 0845-1300, 1400-1715 hrs
See our regional advice for Central/South America
Accredited New Zealand Embassy Chile
Isidora Goyenechea 3000, 12th Floor, Las Condes, Santiago, Chile
Telephone: +56 2 2616 3000
Fax: +56 2 2951 6138
Hours: Mon-Fri 0845-1300, 1400-1715 hrs