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World Travel Guide > Guides > South America > Bolivia

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Money and duty free for Bolivia

Currency and Money

Currency information

Notes are in denominations of 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5 bolivianos. Coins are in denominations of Bs5, 2 and 1, and 50, 20 and 10 centavos. Bolivianos are sometimes referred to as pesos.

The Boliviano is tied to the US Dollar. Due to the relative weakness of the Bolivian economy, the boliviano remains vulnerable and so many businesses operate in US dollars. Most hotels and tour operators quote in dollars and will accept payment in either currency. Smaller shops, stalls and local businesses will only accept bolivianos.

Change and coins are in very short supply in Bolivia, which is something of a vicious circle as local buses, shops and taxis often won’t accept big denomination notes. Try to break big notes wherever possible – namely hotels, restaurants, large stores and bus companies.

Credit cards

Visa and MasterCard are the most widely accepted in most mid- to top-range hotels and restaurants, but otherwise have limited acceptance. American Express is rarely accepted. It is best to carry cash with you – there are ATMs in most larger towns and cities.

ATM

There are ATMs in most of the larger towns and cities. Even the smaller towns have at least one bank with an ATM, and there are ATMs available at the larger airports. Enlace is the nationwide network from which you can withdraw either US dollars or bolivianos. Sometimes in smaller towns, banks will offer international withdrawals for a small fee over the counter.

Travellers cheques

US Dollar and Euro travellers' cheques are accepted in the large cities, but outside are useless. Pound Sterling travellers' cheques are not widely accepted. It is best to carry cash with you when travelling to smaller towns.

Banking hours

Mon-Fri 0830-1200 and 1430-1700, and Sat 0900-1300.

Currency restrictions

There are no import restrictions on local and foreign currency, but the import and export of amounts between US$50,000 and US$500,000 must be authorized by the Central Bank, and sums exceeding US$500,000 must be authorized by the Ministry of Economics and Public Finance through a ministerial resolution. Export of currencies is allowed up to the amounts imported and must be declared.

Currency exchange

Money can be changed in hotels and casas de cambio. There are also plenty of money street changers if there are no official exchanges available, but be sure to check for forged notes in these cases. The boliviano is the preferred currency with exchange against the euro now preferred to the dollar.

Bolivia duty free

Overview

The following goods may be imported into Bolivia by persons over 18 years of age without incurring customs duty:

• 450 cigarettes or cigars or 500g of tobacco.
• 3L of alcoholic beverages.
• New articles up to a maximum of US$1,000.

Banned Imports

Prohibited imports include illegal drugs, unauthorised guns, explosives and ammunition, knives and deadly weapons, counterfeit money and goods, and pornographic material.

Restricted imports include pharmaceutical and medical products, live animals and animal products, wild products, cheese, milk, raw meat, and other food and drinks. You must declare these, and cannot import them without authorisation.

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