Being a land-locked country, Bolivia remains one of the world’s most remote destinations. Several parts of the country remain untouched by travelers. However, considering all practicalities, the best way to explore Bolivia on your next trip is by road!
What is the difference between an International Driving Permit (IDP) and an International Driving License (IDL)?
An International Driving Permit is a small grey booklet marginally larger than a passport containing a translation of your original driving license in 10 languages, including English, French, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, and Spanish. It is recognized by 141 countries worldwide and is valid for one year.
On the other hand, an International Driving License is not a legal document and cannot be used to drive in foreign countries or instead of an IDP.
How does an IDP work in Bolivia?
An International Driving Permit is a translation of the information from your existing driver’s license into over ten languages. In other words, an IDP functions as a tool that makes your driver’s license valid in all countries across the globe. Since an IDP is a document issued in compliance with UN road traffic regulations, they are the only valid form of documentation enabling travelers to drive legally around the world, recognized in over 150 countries.
Benefits of using an IDP
Hassle-free Road Trips
Since an IDP is an officially recognized document in Bolivia, any traffic police stopping you during routine stops will have a driver’s license will likely take no more than a matter of seconds with an IDP. Traffic officials often check for a valid driver’s license, particularly with tourists, since many foreigners ignore the stringent road regulations in Bolivia. Bolivia is a country with almost seven different indigenous languages. So, if your existing driving license is in a language that cannot be understood by the officials checking it, stops might take significantly longer. An IDP prevents you from such mishaps by serving as a translation document of your license.
Serves as an ID
If you are traveling around Bolivia and are particular about keeping your IDs safe and sealed, it helps to have an IDP, even if it is a digitized version. Wherever you need to provide your ID, an International Driving Permit can be a valid substitute. Since an IDP can be obtained only if you have an existing valid driver’s license, it ensures that your ID and driver information is recognized without providing a respective original. You would be surprised to see how much our digitized version of IDP comes in handy, especially since the Covid-19 situation has enabled wider recognition of digitized records by local authorities or government agencies.
Bolivian car rental agencies, like most other countries, rely on an IDP, among other documents, to approve car rental requests. Since a valid driver’s license is the primary document required, an IDP covers that aspect for you. However, suppose you mistakingly obtain an IDP from an unauthorized agent. In that case, you might have difficulty finding a car rental agency willing to rent you a car. To be on the safer side, apply online with us to get a valid IDP that prevents mishaps.
Driving Requirements for Non-citizens in Bolivia
Is Driving With a US License in Bolivia Allowed?
If you are a US citizen, you might not need an IDP to visit Bolivia for a few days as long as it is within the 90-day window. However, other nationals would be required to have an IDP while touring through the adventurous country roads of Bolivia. You can confirm with car rental agencies if they accept a US license or an IDP before arriving in Bolivia. Nonetheless, even if you are required to have an IDP in Bolivia, you can get one with instant approval if you choose our services. All it takes is 20 minutes to have your IDP downloaded to your phone.
When should I get a Bolivian License?
To obtain a Bolivian license, one must be a resident of Bolivia. A foreigner residing in Bolivia can obtain a domestic driver’s license based on their visa type. You might also be required to submit your medical certificate along with approval from a recognized driving school in accreditation to the Servicio General de Identificación Personal (SEGIP) and a bank deposit slip from Banco Union. Nonetheless, obtaining a Bolivian driver’s license can be pretty tiring. To save time and unnecessary hurdles, even if you reside in Bolivia for a couple of years, you can obtain an International Driving Permit online and utilize the same in place of a license.
Since an IDP serves for one year, you will need to renew it yearly. Purchasing an International Driving Permit is much more accessible than obtaining a domestic driver’s license after going through multiple tests that take up your time. Being one of the countries that have contracted to the United Nations conventions, an IDP is recognized by any government agency in Bolivia.
How can I renew my IDP while in Bolivia?
If you have an expired valid IDP while you are still in Bolivia, fret not. Our services can help you renew your IDP within minutes and at very reasonable pricing. Don’t hesitate to contact our team to know more about how to renew your IDP while in a foreign country such as Bolivia.
It’s important to note that if your original driver’s license from your home country has expired, you might not be able to obtain an IDP. Therefore, you must ensure that your original license is valid while applying for an IDP renewal.
How to get your IDP?
To get an IDP, all you need is details of your driver’s license, a passport-size photo of yourself, and most importantly, an existing and valid driver’s license to verify your identification information.
Additionally, you can choose which mode you want your IDP to be, i.e., digitized or physical (or both). You can contact our service provider, who can help you with the process to make it as seamless as possible.
When should I get an IDP?
We recommend applying for an IDP ideally 2-3 weeks before your trip if you want a printed booklet version. For a digitized version of your IDP, you can apply with us even on the day you need your IDP. We process IDP requests efficiently, guaranteeing travelers a smooth and hassle-free process.
A digitized version of your IDP will take up to 2 hours to be delivered to your email, although we usually deliver within 60 minutes. However, if you are in a bit of a last-minute hurry, you can opt for our Express order service, and we will process your application within 20 minutes.
A printed booklet of your IDP can take up to 2 – 30 days to get delivered based on your delivery location, and hence, an ideal window of 2 – 3 weeks before your trip is recommended.
How can I rent a car in Bolivia?
The most important thing to remember while renting a car in Bolivia is to ensure that you do your research before you get there. You might see several car rental agencies close to the airport. However, most of them are over-priced or don’t have as many options. If you are looking for accessible car rentals, then EuropCar is a good option. They also assist in airport pickups, which might come in handy if you are planning to hit the road after your flight or vice-versa. Hertz is another company for car rentals, without outlets distributed all over Bolivia.
All you need for car rentals is a valid IDP, although certain car rental agencies could ask you for a copy of your passport or a personal credit card. Before choosing any car rental agency, ask about their packages and rental insurance policies to see what falls within your budget. If you already have an itinerary for your road trip, you can discuss it with the agent and choose a car that suits you. Typical car rental pricing in Bolivia starts at $40 / day and could go up to $120/day depending on the type of car you choose.
Tip: Contact the car rental agency several weeks before your trip to see if you can make an advanced booking and save money. This also helps in narrowing your best options.
Driving Rules to remember in Bolivia
Always keep your IDP on your at all times
You must always ensure that your valid driving license is with you. If you are taking a road trip through the country, you’d undoubtedly be stopped by traffic authorities to verify your ID. If you are unfamiliar with Bolivia’s widely spoken languages, an IDP gets you on the speedway in no minute.
Drunk driving and use of drugs
You should never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, especially on a Bolivia holiday. A blood alcohol level of more than 0.05% can get you the applicable fine levied, and you’d be forced to spend the night in jail if caught. However, if it occurs again, your license would be confiscated right there. Avoid driving intoxicated in a new country or unfamiliar locality is advisable.
Maximum speed limit
Bolivian road conditions are moderately good to very average, depending on the city/country landscapes. Therefore, the speed limits are much lower than in other countries. If you are on the country roads, you can maintain a speed of 70KPH, whereas, in urban areas, you need to maintain a speed limit of 50KPH. Bolivian roads are not equipped with surveillance cameras like the US, but if an officer spots you for speeding, you could get pulled over and fined.
Wearing a seatbelt and securing a child’s safety
Bolivian laws don’t strictly enforce the use of seat belts; however, toddlers are required to be seated in a child seat. Nonetheless, keeping your seat belts on is safer, especially if you are driving on the world’s most dangerous road, such as North Yungas road in Bolivia.
Observe road traffic signs
If you are familiar with the road signs of your country, you will do pretty well with Bolivian road signs. Pay attention to road signs at intersections or sharp turns to avoid accidents. Some rural roads might not have traffic signs, so be mindful when driving vehicles on Bolivian roads.
Avoid using phones while driving
Avoid using phones while driving. If you rent a car, you could choose a car phone holder as an add-on to mount your phone and avoid distractions. Many rental cars also come with built-in navigation systems, reducing your need to use your phone for directions.
Driving side, right of way & overtaking
Bolivia has a right-handed driving side, which might be challenging if you travel from a country that drives on the left. However, it is easy to adapt if you are mindful of your surroundings and use the horn while taking blind turns. But you must remember not to use the horn excessively in urban areas or places close to hospitals and schools, which may attract a fine. When you are at intersections, always remember to stop for vehicles approaching from the righthand side. Bolivia doesn’t have mandated overtaking policies, but it is better to avoid overtaking.
When in Bolivia, avoid parking on the streets overnight. If you are staying at a hotel, ask for designated car parking or ensure that you choose a property that has a car parking facility. Ensure you don’t park within 16 feet of an intersection or corner or 10 meters of hospitals, government offices, churches, and other places during business hours.
Top 3 Places to Visit in Bolivia
Valley of the Moon – La Paz
Located barely 10 km from La Paz, the Valley of the Moon is a picturesque sight comprising of giant spires and canyons. As an effect of centuries of wind and rain on sandstone and clay, these stunning formations have many people feeling like they are walking on the moon. Hence, the name!
Uyuni Salt Flats – A once-in-a-lifetime visit
A genuinely mesmerizing vision of pristine salt flats stretching endlessly. The salt flats can create a mirror-glazed effect during the rains, making it much more stunning than usual. Since it is situated in a remote location, there is minimal light pollution, making it the perfect place for star gazing.
North Yungas – Deadliest road in South America
Drive through the deadliest road Bolivia highly recommends for thrill-seekers worldwide looking for scenic views and adrenaline-filled travels.
Am I required to have an International Driving Permit in Bolivia?
We highly recommend having an IDP when traveling to Bolivia, as many countries require you to have a valid driving license and an IDP.
How can I find the best car rental companies in Bolivia?
The best car rental companies are the ones that offer you the best price and safest cars. Europcar and Hertz are trusted by many.
What should I do if I am pulled over in Bolivia?
Carry all your papers and provide them, especially your IDP, so the police can verify your address, etc. Ask why you’ve been pulled over politely. If you are fined for a violation, pay at the nearest police station and never by cash.
How old should I be to drive in Bolivia?
Bolivian Nationals can drive at the age of 18. However, foreigners must have attained 21 years to be eligible to drive in Bolivia.