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Old 03-03-2014, 04:40 PM   #1
brecchi OP
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Proper border crossing procedure, Bolivia to Chile to Argentina..

...currently in Potosi, and planning on going to Uyuni, the Salar, Parque Avaroa, and into Chile, staying the night at San Pedro de Atacama before heading into Argentina via Pasa de Jama.

I have a Bolivian bike that I bought off a couple on Colombia. The paperwork matches and I have a bill of sale and no problems yet at borders. The plate fell off but I have documentation that the bike is legit, and written and stamped permission from the police in La Paz to ride the bike. Does anyone have any experience doing this crossing? Do I need to take care of things on the Bolivian side at Uyuni? Any heads up on what to expect (fees, problems, etc.) would be appreciated.

I'll only be in Chile a short while before I head over the Pasa de Jama and into Argentina, stopping in Salta. I have to be in Mendoza around the 17th. Im a U.S. citizen, so I imagine that I have to pay for a visa online, print it out, and all that. Can anyone with experience doing this tell me how easy/hard it is, and if there is any wait time?

I usually play things by ear but it seems pretty remote where Im going and Im a little pressed for time so I want to make things as easy as possible on myself.

Thanks for any help and advice.
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Old 03-03-2014, 07:42 PM   #2
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I don't know if this of much help. I did the crossing from San pedro de Atacama into Argentina in 2010 via Paso de Jama. You have to do Chilean customs & imigrations before leaving San Pedro, go early as it gets crowded sometimes, then the Jama Pass is all tarmack in very good condiiton. The Argentine customs are in Susques. Is usually cold and windy outside because the altitude so the officers try not to spend much outside cheking but they may notice your missing plate.

can't help with the vISA info. Good luck.
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Old 03-03-2014, 08:10 PM   #3
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On our entering and exiting both Chile and Argentina no one came out to check the bikes at all. The paperwork was just checked in the office.

If you go to Argentina there is a $160 fee for USA/Canada/Australia. You have to do this by credit card on the internet BEFORE you go to the Argentina border.

It's a simple online process, you print out your access paper right away, no wait. It lasts for 10 years, YES 10 years.

You cannot get the access paper at the Argentina border oddly enough. So plan ahead and get it when you have good internet and a printer.

This was Jan 2014.
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Old 03-04-2014, 05:19 AM   #4
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Hey, Ben, wow, you finally made it out of Sucre! The tasty breakfasts at the Condor mus really have lured you in. :-)

I also pu this info on JDowns' thread yesterday. he's in the same boat.

All you need is found here:

Shortcut to just the forms:

You register for the pre-payment site and pay here:

The change in payment method follows a decision to increase the fee for US citizens from US$140 to US$160, which came into effect in April of this year.

A press release from the US state department offers these instructions for how to pay the reciprocity fee online:
1) Enter the web site or of Provincia Pagos and register to start the process.
2) Complete the form with the corresponding personal and credit card information.
3) Print the payment receipt.
4) On arrival in Argentina, this printed receipt must be presented at Immigration Control. The receipt will be scanned by the Immigration officials, the information will be checked, and the traveller’s entry to the country registered.
confirmed by Argentina government web site

A past posted summary of the regulations and effect of the Reciprocity Fees:
Reciprocity Fees for Americans for specified arrivals now $US 160
US passport user reciprocity fees for arrivals just rose to $US 160, as of April 16, 2012:

This is in response to recent US visa charge raise by the US.
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Old 03-04-2014, 05:29 AM   #5
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For whatever reason, I cannot go back and edit my above post for typos. So, pardon my poor typing.

If you know your placa number when they ask you, no one will inspect your bike. If you don't have it ready, they might walk outside to see, then you'd have to explain it. So, I would be ready for that question.

It might be that your placa number is on your title. My US title doesn't have it, as our system sells and registers the vehicle separately. So, sometimes they get bewildered and have to look at my bike.

I believe (and may be 100% wrong) that Chile won't try to extract the $100 reciprocity fee from you on an overland crossing. I don't know for sure, because I have mine in my passport, from flying in to Santiago.

I have entered Argentina three times, and my girlfriend twice. Each of us needed to show a hard copy of the reciprocity being paid, although they also have it in their system. No idea why they can't trust their computers. I handed over her copy with my passport at Cardenal Samora migracion, and they stopped the process and said the numbers don't match up. My copy worked with my passport. Ah, well, you need a printed copy (and try to get it laser printed, because injet printing will run when the paper gets moist).

Coincidentally, I am heading into Peru today, from Copacabana. Man, it must be the Tuesday of Carneval, because I was woken up every hour by massive explosions echoing through the valley. Not a fan of 24 hour fireworks to celebrate.


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Old 03-04-2014, 06:56 AM   #6
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Just make sure you don't try to bring any fruit into Chile, they don't like it when you do that.
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Old 03-04-2014, 08:24 AM   #7
brecchi OP
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Thanks for the wealth of info guys. Hey Mike, I hope you are enjoying your last days in Bolivia, despite the fireworks.........Im leaving Potosi today for Uyuni. I have to say I am getting pretty tired of everything being closed and getting slammed with water and foam every day. The first couple of days was cool, but it gets old after a Im ready to see the Salar :)

I was still wondering about crossing from Bolivia into Chile - Where is the customs and immigration on the Bolivian side; Uyuni, at the border, in the park? I'm assumin the Chilean customs is either at the border or in San Pedro de Atacama..
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Old 03-04-2014, 10:26 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Misery Goat View Post
Just make sure you don't try to bring any fruit into Chile, they don't like it when you do that.
Fruit, meat, oatmeal, honey, nothing exept tinned food, and they will want to see that, make sure your contraband is in a seperate container,

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Old 03-04-2014, 05:34 PM   #9
brecchi OP
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OK. I won´t have any food on me. I am in Uyuni now and would really like to know if i need to take care of immigration to Chile here, or if there are migracion and aduana services somewhere at the border or in between. I´ll be leaving for the Salar tomorrow.
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Old 03-06-2014, 10:11 AM   #10
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The Aduana for leaving Bolivia is about 90-100km before the border at a mine site, if you are leaving via the "lagunas route". It is just off the road by the "geyser" site, not much signage. The immigration at the border will send you back, so make sure you dont miss it, its after laguna colorada, 2 or 3 hours of riding iirc. Bring some extra gas, you may get some at laguna colorada, or beg it off a landcruiser, but dont count on it.
At San Pedro there is a well marked aduana/migracion when you get into town. Paso Jama big border, lots of buses and people. Get your reciprocity fee/paper work before hand. I forgot and was lucky that the migracion agent took pity on me, walked across highway to small office and i was able to use a computer and get it sorted out for a minimal fee(2$).
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Old 03-09-2014, 09:46 AM   #11
brecchi OP
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Thanks for everything guys. I'm in Chile now, and I'll tell you my crazy experience.....

I left Uyuni and was basically lost 50% of the time in the Salar and the surrounding areas. Its an amazing place but I was surprised at how little infrastructure was set up for solo touring - its way more set up for the Land Cruiser tours. I was haveing a lot of trouble finding food even when I got to small towns, and I was buying gas off the Land Cruisers when I would see them. Also, (admittedly my GPS maps sucked) there aren't really any signs and I often found myself just having to choose a fork in the road and crossing my fingers. That usually didnt work out too well!

So I managed to get to the border, 45 kms from San Pedro de Atacama. I was told about the aduana but I never saw it, although I did go off the main road occasionally. Lucky for me, there is an aduana guy at the migracion at the border. I guess they are doing both there now. Unlucky for me though, I had a problem with my bike papers....

I bought the Bolivian bike in Colombia and the aduana guy told me that the Colombian bill of sale was not legal in Bolivia. And that the bike could not leave the country!.....Seems stupid that I should need permission to take the bike OUT of the country, but thats the way it is. I had no problems bringing it in though, and in fact I paid a fine for the bike being out of Bolivia longer than 3 months ( from the previous owner).

The border is in the middle of nowhere as many of you know. No electricity, cell phone signal, etc. And no hope to catch a ride wth someone until a Land Cruiser tour passed through the next day. The Chilean aduana and migracion is in San Pedro, 45 kms away. I was super pissed. There were some Colombians stranded there at the aduana waiting to catch a ride the next day. I finally got the police officer to stamp my passport. They knew what I was up to.....we all had a bit of a laugh when we agreed that when Chile sent me back I would bring some beer.

So I got on the bike and rode up the side of a dirt mountain, around a big ditch that was there to prevent border-hoppers. About 1 km up, the ditch was shallow enough to ride over and then back down the mountain into Chile. Downhill and and paved all the way to San Pedro. 2 minutes to get my passport stamped in. The lady at the aduana next door was really nice. She asked about my Bolivian permission to leave. I just shrugged - and so did she. She took my info, my bill of sale and stamped me in properly in about 7 minutes.

I plan to stay here one day and go to Argentina - so now that my papers are legit for Chile, there should be no problem.

And thats my story!
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