Marriage to a Bolivian Citizen
Every country has its own laws that apply to its citizens marrying a person from a different country. Getting married to a Bolivian citizen with the goal of eventually bringing them to Canada to live is a process with many steps.
You must demonstrate to Bolivian officials that they are not currently married to anyone else - either you have never been married or all divorces are finalized - that your identity is proven, and that you have never committed any crimes in Bolivia. This is done by providing various documents including an Affidavit of Single Status to the Bolivian government either in Bolivia or via a Bolivian embassy.
If you want to bring your Bolivian spouse or partner to live in Canada, you must then file a sponsorship application for them to become a permanent resident. If they would like to visit you in Canada while their application is in process, they must also apply for a visitor visa. For more information, please see our family sponsorship page and our visitor visa page.
Bolivian Marriage Basic Requirements
Marriage in Bolivia can be done in Church or civil registrar’s office. For the latter, the following documents must be presented:
- Certified original copy of birth certificate translated into Spanish and authenticated by Bolivian authorities
- Valid passport
- Certificate of eligibility to marry, such as death certificate if deceased or divorce certificates if divorced also translated into Spanish and authenticated by Bolivian authorities
- Proof of three months consistent residence in Bolivia
Only civil marriages are recognized as legal in Bolivia and are performed by a civil registry official, either before or after a the religious ceremony at Church.
Although the marriage age in Bolivia is 21, men can marry at 16 and women at 14, with parental consent.
The Marriage Visa
To qualify for a Bolivian residency visa the following requirements must be met. Anyone wishing to get married in Bolivia should apply for the Visa de Objecto Determinado or 'specific purpose visa'.
The Bolivian government requires this of all foreigners, no matter their country of origin, who are not entering Bolivia as tourists.
The requirements are:
- The below documents must be notarized and translated into Spanish where applicable
- Authentication of any Canadian documents by the ministry of foreign affairs
- Visa form
- Passport photos
- International yellow fever vaccination
- Proof of financial stability
This visa is valid for 30 days.
If your Bolivian spouse has dependent children, this does not affect the Bolivian Marriage document application.
If you have dependent children, they have no effect on the application to marry a Bolivian citizen.
List of Bolivian Consulates in Canada
- The exit code for Canada is 011
- The country code for Bolivia is 591
- Dial 011 – 591 – area code – local number
|Area Codes by Department|
Please note, the above area codes are for landlines only. For cell phones, use area code 6 or 7.
Calling Canada from Bolivia
-The international calling code to Canada is 00
-The country code for Canada is 1
-Dial 00 – 1 – area code – local number
The time zone for Bolivia is UTC/GMT -4
COMPARISON TO TIME ZONES IN CANADA
|Canadian Time Zone||Bolivian Time Zone is||During Canadian Daylight Savings Time BT is|
|Pacific||4 hours ahead||3 hours ahead|
|Mountain||3 hours ahead||2 hours ahead|
|Saskatchewan||2 hours ahead||N/A|
|Central||2 hours ahead||1 hour ahead|
|Eastern||1 hour ahead||Same|
|Altantic||Same||1 hour behind|
|Newfoundland||.5 hours behind||1.5 hours behind|
Escudo boliviano [Public Domain]
The official currency of Bolivia is the Boliviano (Bs). which is divided into 100 cents also known as centavos in Spanish.
In 1988 new coins were introduced in denominations of 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 1 boliviano.
Banknotes also received a facelift in 1987, denominations 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 boliviano.
Canadians travelling to Bolivian are always encouraged to take Bolivianos when visiting villages and rural areas. Only Bolivianos with a value of up to Bs. 20 are normally accepted.
The American dollar is the second most commonly used currency in bigger cities in Bolivia. The Bolivian economy is heavily influenced by dollar businesses: hotels, tours and flight tickets are all paid for in dollars.
Credit cards are accepted in the bigger stores, hotels and restaurants in bigger cities such as La Paz. The most commonly accepted credit cards are Visa and MasterCard. American Express is accepted in some places. If you are travelling outside of the major cities, be sure to bring bolivianos.
ATM's can be found in the larger cities.
In the bigger cities traveller cheques are accepted at a small commission.
Western Union and MoneyGram operate in various banks and post offices in Bolivia.
Convert to Bolivianos
Emergency and Travel Information for Bolivia
Canadians travelling to Bolivia should remain alert and vigilant due to the ongoing political and social tensions.
Canadians are also advised to avoid all demonstrations and public gatherings because they may turn violent. Roadblocks should not be crossed even if they appear unmanned they should be avoided to avert possible confrontations with the authorities.
Areas that have violence or demonstrations should not be approached with cameras or communications devices.
All roads leading to the border areas, particularly in the region between Bolivia and Peru, and roads leading to La Paz’s International airport, are particularly vulnerable to blockades.
Shortages of food and fuel have been reported in most of Bolivia.
Most up to date information from the Government of Canada:
Canadians should be alert and be aware of their surroundings at all times. It is better to dress down, avoid wearing jewelry or carrying large sums of money or credit cards, or carrying cameras and electric equipment.
Petty theft, including pickpocketing and purse snatching, vehicle thefts, and hijackings are notoriously common in the commercial and residential areas.
Canadians are advices to watch out for organized robberies. A group of thieves usually distract victims by staging a fight, starting a conversation, blocking a sidewalk, or throwing an object or liquid on the victims, and the others rush to rob them.
People offering cheaper transport should be avoided and the use of officially approved taxi services is highly recommended. Travelers are advised to ask for the plate number of the taxi that will be sent to them, as well as the driver’s name where possible.
Canadians should be extra careful when walking around tourist areas such as Sarganaga Street, near the San Francisco Church, the historical Jaen Street in La Paz, or hiking in areas surrounding La Paz, such as La Muela del Diablo.
Travellers should at all times remain in large groups, accompanied by reputable tour operators. Kidnappings by organized gangs have also been reported. Tourists are captured and held for ransom, often in a car, afterwards being robbed or forced to withdraw money using their ATM cards to withdraw cash.
It is always advisable not to allow anyone else in your taxi because that could be a set up and the passengers could be accomplices.
Special attention should be paid when boarding taxis to and from airports. Kidnappings occur most frequently in major cities like La Paz, Santa Cruz, and Cochabamba, and between Copacabana and Desaguadero (a Peruvian border town).
Criminals are known to pose as police officers, and then ask the travellers to surrender their luggage for examination or to accompany them to a police station only to later on rob them.
Bolivian law states that a formal written request from a judge with your name on it should be shown before following any police officer. Any searches or seizures should be done at an official police station in the presence of the prosecutor. Canadians should also demand their right to contact the Canadian embassy.
Criminals also tend to pose as tourists and may approach the traveller and to share transportation mostly a taxi, which proceeds to a remote place where the travelers are robbed.
In other cases, a fellow robber posing as a police officer intercepts the traveller sharing a taxi with another criminal posing as a tourist. This is how contraband and illegal goods such as drugs are smuggled.
Dating websites scams are also common, Bolivian crooks who claim to live in Europe ask the Canadians to go to Bolivia on the pretext of picking up personal belongings or legal documents on their behalf.
The alleged belongings or documents may contain cocaine or other drugs laced inside the lining. The result is the Canadian being detained at the airport and subsequently sent to a Bolivian prison.
When entering Bolivia, a yellow fever vaccination certificate is required by the immigration authorities. This vaccination certificate is also required when travelling to flood-affected and tropical regions in Bolivia, such as Los Yungas, El Chapare, Beni, Pando, and Santa Cruz.
Dengue fever is a viral disease spread by mosquitoes. It causes flu-like symptoms and in some cases leading to hemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
Travellers should protect themselves from mosquito bites because there is no vaccine or medication to protect against dengue fever.
Most clinics and hospitals in Bolivia only accept payments in cash. Water-borne diseases are very prevalent, Canadians are advised only to drink bottled water and to avoid ice cubes.
Fruits and vegetables washed in tap water should be disinfected, peeled, and cooked properly before being eaten.
Only reliably pasteurized and refrigerated dairy products should be bought and restaurants should be chosen carefully. Food or beverages sold by street vendors should be avoided at all costs.
Travellers should discuss travelling to high altitude locations with their personal physician and request specific recommendations concerning medication and high-altitude issues because La Paz is 3,000 ft. high and such high altitude can cause health problems for some people.
Alcohol should be avoided before and shortly after arrival; remember to drink plenty of water.
Transport services like flights and road are not very reliable. Travel plans may be affected by demonstrations or strikes, before travelling one should contact the airlines to confirm.
Trips to the mountainous areas require four-wheel-drive vehicles, bad weather conditions can make road travel hazardous.
Roadblocks are a common throughout Bolivia and can cause disruptions to transportation, even in the remote parts of the country.
Public transportation including buses, trains, and some taxis is not very safe. Only tour buses from reputable companies should be used for trips.
Embassy of Canada in Bolivia
Address: 2678, Calle Victor Sanjinez, Edificio Barcelona, 2nd Floor, Plaza España, La Paz, Bolivia
Tel.: 591 (2) 241-5141
Fax: 591 (2) 241-4453
E-Mail: [email protected]
Most Bolivians wait to get married in December, because it is in the middle of summer. (Bolivia is in the southern hemisphere, seasons are opposite of Canada and US.)
Typically Bolivians live together for up to three years before getting married, they may already have children.
The two ceremonies commonly followed ceremonies for a Bolivian wedding are the church ceremony, and the state ceremony, where the required legal papers are signed. This is the only recognized legal marriage and it must be completed for the marriage to be considered valid.
The marriage ceremony is followed by a three day party that involves a lot of fun and Latin dancing. Bolivians do not take it well when guests turn down any food or drinks offered during the wedding reception.
Bolivians eat lots of beef, chicken, pork and fresh vegetables and canned, bottled and traditional cane alcohol is always on the menu.
Gifts that are normally given are an Awayo key ring which is a Bolivian handmade textile full of bright colours. A small bag of locally grown coffee is also given.
Religion in Bolivia
Roman Catholic is the biggest religion in Bolivia consisting of 81.6% of the population. There are other denominations but not many:
- Evangelical Protestant: 10.3%
- Other Protestant: 2.6%,
- Jehovah’s Witness: 1.7%
- Traditional religions 0.1%
- Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and Hindu: 0.4%
- Atheists or secular: 3.3%.
According to the Bolivian constitutional referendum Bolivia is a secular state. In the colonial era Christianity was introduced into the country during the Spanish conquest; priests accompanied the first military expeditions that conquered the country.
The Roman Catholic Church’s organization, staff, and role in society were all defined early on in this colonial era.
An agreement between the Catholic Church and the Spanish monarch gave the Spanish powers in church affairs.
Appointments of clergy and bishops required the approval of government authorities. The relationship between church and state was mutual and intimate and either institution had great influence on the other's affairs.
After Bolivia attained independence, some changes were made to the Church- Government relations. The Roman Catholic Church attempted to establish a more visible presence in Bolivian society in the 1960s.
Bishops formed the Bolivian Bishops Conference ("Conferencia Episcopal Boliviana") which issued letters criticizing living conditions of peasants and workers.
Development centres, research organizations, and commissions were introduced by the Bishops to address these problems which led priests, brothers, and sisters to take a more direct political stand.
Saltenas This is the Bolivian version of meat pie that contains different fillings like meat, potatoes, eggs, spices, raisins and other ingredients.
Saltenas can be eaten as a snack with hot beverages or on their own whether as a snack or at weddings and parties.
A drink made from peaches, cinnamon and sugar. This is a very common drink suitable for any occasion or weather, perfect particularly on hot summers.
This is a dessert which is basically sweet tamale with no filling. It's made with sweet corn, raisins, cinnamon, with a layer of melted cheese on top, all wrapped in a corn husk leaf.
Sopa de Mani
Considered one of Bolivia's delicacies, this soup is made of ground peanuts, beef broth, vegetables, French fries, and meat, sometimes leftover chicken feet.
Pique a lo Macho
Another popular Bolivian entrée is a mixture of sautéed ingredients that include French fries, beef chunks, onions, peppers, cheese and sausages, sauce can be added.
Chicharron de Cerdo
This entrée is made of fried pig skin with carbs like potatoes or bread.
Chicharron [Public Domain]
Parillada is steak, chicken, sausages, some guts served with salad, rice, and French fries.
Parillada Carne Asada [Public Domain]
Bolivians have several pastries like pastelitos which is stuffed dough with cheese, deep fried, and sprinkled with powder sugar on top.
This dish is very similar to the oriental style of cooking rice with eggs, the Bolivian way is rice mixed with meat, sautéed with tomato sauce. An egg is put on top
Beans with Vegetables
Beans mixed with a variety of vegetables in Bolivian are called Porotos Granados. The dish is served as an entrée as a daily meal or on special occasions and receptions.
This is another pork recipe that is made of spicy pork in egg batter and served as an entrée
Leche asada is a Bolivian delicacy which is baked custard Bolivian style. It is served as dessert.
Leche Asada [Public Domain]
This is a spicy sauce made from different ingredients like onions, peppers, tomatoes, basil and cilantro. It can be used as a dip, meat accompaniment or rice.
A simple but tasty Bolivian recipe which is chicken and fried shrimp stuffed in an avocado served as an entrée.
This is a Bolivian dish made of steak with eggs in sauce either llajua or any other and is served as an entrée.
Romantic, Scenic and Historic Destinations in Bolivia
Uyuni Salt Flats
The Salar de Uyuni is a body of water that disappeared 13,000 years ago. What was left was a vast empty lake bed that has salt remains creating a wonderful site to see during clear skies.
This location is accessible by a 12-15 hour bus trip from La Paz city or by plane.
Pachamama Wasi Museum
This museum has samples and art pieces as old as 20 years. Some of the collections are part of the building and decorations, dinosaur stone sculptures can also be found. Pachamama wasi means "Mother earth house".
To get to Pachama tourists walk uphill from Toro Toro main square.
This is an archeological site that contains the remains of the Inca Empire. It is 13,000 feet above sea level and recognized as an important world heritage site.
Tiwanaku town is 71 kilometers from La Paz city and 15 kilometers from the Titikaka Lake, the highest Lake in the world above sea level.
Tiwanaku by Eugen Lehle / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
Tiwanaka by Eugen Lehle / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
Copabana is a small town on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Copacabana used to be referred to as the "mystic region", a center of various cultures that existed before colonial times. Today it is considered a religious-pilgrimage center visited by devote believers of the "Virgin Morena", the holy virgin of Copacabana.
You can get there by bus from Copabana, it takes roughly 3.5 hours before taking a ferry to cross the barge at the Tiquina strait.
Sunset by Tim Morris / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0
Copacabana by Anakin / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
The Titicaca Lake is the highest navigable lake in the world. It is located 3,810 meters above sea level. Part of the lake is in Bolivia and the other in Peru.
Island of the Moon [Public Domain]
Located at 7 Km. from the Island of the Sun, the island of the moon offers a great view of the Illampu Peak and the Eastern Mountain Range. There are also ruins of the Inak Uyu also known as palace or temple of the Moon.
Apolobamba National Park
The Apolobamba Park is located to the West of the department of La Paz, at the Bautista Saavedra and Franz Tamayo Larecaja provinces.
The Park covers a total surface of 4.837 km2. The snow-capped mountains such us Akamani and Presidente Katantika provide a fantastic chance to enjoy seeing glacial lagoons and impressive glaciers like the chaupi Orcko which is one of the biggest in the world. The park is 6 hours from La Paz one can take a bus or hire a 4x4 vehicle.
Huayana Potosi Swedish Apolobamba Expedition / Wikimedia Commons [License]
Lake Suches by Rojk / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
Cotapata National Park
The National Park Cotapata is located to the northeast of the city of La Paz, approximately 20kms away. The park is home to high mountain ranges, snowfields, glacial areas and cloudy humid forest.
Madidi National Park
Madidi is one of the most protected areas on the planet because of the diversity of the more than 6,000 species of different flora found there.
The Madidi National Park can be reached from Rurrenabaquehe Park. The park is located northwest of La Paz.
Madidi by Gareth Fabbro / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
Madidi by Michael Kessler / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0
Noel Kempff Mercado National Park
The park has an impressive diversity of ecosystems and the scenic beauty is further complimented by the water falls of the Caparu plateau.
Chacaltaya is the highest skiing resort in the world located in the Chacaltaya Mountains 5,580M above sea level. From the summit, peaks of other mountains can be seen. The location is 36 KM from La Paz.
Chacaltaya Refuge by Joan Simon / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
Chacaltaya by Bernard Gagnon / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
CARRERAS PAMPA, TORO TORO
Carreras Pampa is situated on the way to Umajalanta Cavern. The unique attraction is the petrified biped and tri-finger dinosaur prints that date thousands of years back.
Visitors must however register in the Toro Toro tourism office on the town main square and buy tickets to get in the Park. Tickets cost Bs. 30.
Incahuasi is a stopover for tourists’ en-route to Uyuni Salt flat. Located 99km southwest of Uyuni town, the island is home to giant cactus some as old as old as 700 years and it was formed on remains of a volcano forming basalt that solidified.
To access the island costs 10Bs. but it is not always easily accessible during rainy season.
Umajalanta means 'lost water in the darkness of the deepest part of earth' in the Quechua language. The cavern is located 10 kilometres away from Toro Toro. This amazing cavern offers amazing views of archaeological sites for lovers of nature.
This market is a series of shops mounted over sidewalks, some of the shops sell hand-made outfits, gold, silver, bronze and tin souvenirs, ornaments made of exotic types of wood, and carved with ancestral figures.
Puerto Suarez is a landmark on the border between Brazil and Bolivia as well as the starting point of the tour of the Bolivian portion of the Wetlands.
It also has water channels that connect Paraguay and the lagoon and Pimienta Rivers.
The most attractive feature in this town is the showcase of traditional music, outfits and dances that characterize the culture of Bolivians.
Tarabuco also has a colourful Sunday fair where there is an exhibition of Bolivian traditional outfits, helmets and ponchos of various colours, designs and patterns all meant to promote the culture and attract tourists.
Coca Museum, La Paz
This museum is the place where to discover some facts about Bolivia’s sacred leaf called Coca. It is a traditional plant that is used to manufacture the soft drink Coca Cola.
This event is one of the largest cultural events and festivities of great significance in Bolivia and Latin America.
It is held as a sign of devotion to the "Virgen de la Candelaria" or virgin of the candle mass or virgin from "Socavon" (meaning entrance of the mines).
For three days and three nights a parade of fifty different groups of dancers, each one dancing differently from the other and adorning different types of outfits, march through the streets.
There are also multiple marching bands that play continuously for hours accompanying the dancers.
Importing Goods to Bolivia
You can bring the following into Bolivia
- up to 400 cigarettes
- up to 50 cigars
- up to 500 grams of tobacco
- up to 3 litres of alcohol
- 1 camera
- 1 basic camcorder
- 1 laptop
- 1 tape recorder
- 1 PDA
- 1 cellphone
You cannot bring the following items into Bolivia:
- Illegal drugs
- Unauthorized guns, explosives and ammunition
- Knives and sharp objects that can be used as weapons
- Unauthorized pharmaceuticals products and drugs
- Unauthorized chemicals
- Food containing noxious substances
- Plants, fruits, vegetables, and seeds containing parasites considered harmful by the Ministry of Agriculture in Bolivia
- Infected pets and animals
- Used clothes without a certificate of sanitation
- Radioactive scrap or waste and other hazardous materials
- Counterfeit money and goods
- Gambling machines and consoles
What you can bring in with a license:
- Pets including birds must be accompanied by an official government certificate of health
- Firearms and ammunition require should have an import license before being allowed into Bolivia
- All imported plant and meat products require a sanitary certificate from The Servicio Nacional de Sanidad Agropecuaria e Inocuidad
- Transmission devices for radio and television must be approved by the Telecommunications authorities
- Pharmaceutical products must be inspected and approved under World Health Organization guidelines and registered with the Ministry of Health
- Artifacts, historical paintings, items of Spanish colonial architecture and history and traditional textiles require permission before being exported out of the country
Exporting Goods from Bolivia
The following items are prohibited from export:
- Illegal drugs
- Unauthorized guns, explosives and ammunition
- Knives and sharp objects that could be used as weapons
- Unauthorized pharmaceuticals and drugs
- Unauthorized chemicals
- Food products containing noxious substances
- Infected pets and animals including birds
- Radioactive waste and other hazardous materials
- Counterfeit money and goods
- Gambling machines
Other times can be brought out of Bolivia but make sure to check what you can bring into Canada without paying duties.
Wages in Bolivia
Most of the workers are concentrated in La Paz at 40% and the rest of the cities with bigger populations.
The banking and energy sectors are the best paying, while teaching, mining and services are the least paid.
In Bolivia salaried workers, family workers, and domestic servants make one half of the minimum wage. Workers in the informal sector, however, managed to get by in the recession of the 1980s better than their formal sector counterparts.
The most high-paying informal jobs were in transportation, laundry, mechanical repair, electrical services, black market currency exchanges, and loan sharking.
WAGES COMPARISON (Yearly)
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