This is our experience/record of crossing the Bolivia-Chile border on Saturday, 17 October 2015. Our traveling party consisted of two people and two motorcycles. We arrived at 10:48am and were finished at 11:50am. This was a quiet crossing with no fixers. There is no town on the Bolivia side. The border closes at 4:30 or 5:00pm.
Border Name: Ollague
Closest major cities: Estacion Avaro, Bolivia and Ollague, Chile
Costs: 30 Bolivianos for exit fee
*Bolivia temporary vehicle import permit
*Bolivia tourist card
Note: we keep all originals in individual plastic sleeves. We labeled these sleeves clearly to avoid confusion as to what was what, to keep original documents clean, and to differentiate what is original and what is a copy. All border-crossing officials have respected the sleeve.
Drive up to the barrier across the road (but not through the barrier as it is often left open) and park on the right or left.
Step 1 – Immigration: The immigration office is on the right (south side of road) after you walk past the barrier and is well marked. When you walk in the small building then go into the door on your right. Turn in your passport and tourist card. They will keep tourist card and stamp your passport. We were asked to pay 15 Bolivianos each and we didn’t argue it; it is unclear whether this is an actual fee or not.
Step 2 – Customs: The blue aduana building is across from immigration (on the north side of road). Go in and hand in your temporary vehicle import permit and passport. The officer went into another room (used a computer) and came back and told me all was completed.
Total time to exit was twelve minutes.
There are no moneychangers at the border. There was a woman on the Bolivia side selling some bits so we used the last of our Bolivian money to buy water and cookies.
Drive through the barrier and down the road to Chile (about a mile or so) and park in front of the buildings that will be on your left (north side of road).
Step 1 – Immigration: It is the building on your left that is actually marked “aduana” and if there is no one there (like when we arrived) you will find a bell about mid-way into the building on the right hand side next to the policia migration window. It says “timbre”. Ring that bell and someone will come. We had to wait about five minutes (it took us awhile to find the timbre). Fill out a tourist card and hand in our passport. The tourist card asks how many days you would like – we said 90-days. Passports and tourist cards were stamped and handed back to us.
Drive a short distance past a gate to the second building – the actual aduana building.
Step 2 – Customs: The aduana building is on the left. Enter the building and fill out a customs declaration form. Declare everything because they do search and if they find something you will be fined. Unallowable is fresh fruits or vegetables. Hand the declaration form, passport, and vehicle title to the officer and they will process your temporary vehicle import permit. They will give you the same amount of time that is on your tourist card. Review carefully as one of ours needed to be revised; they had used my Brazilian visa information as my passport number and country of residence. They return your items plus the TVIP and the stamped customs declaration form.
Step 3 – Customs declaration: Another officer (waiting near the front of building) will take your customs declaration form, ask you questions, and search your vehicle. Then he will let you go. This was the first time we had to open any of our side boxes or bags on the motorcycles. Nothing was confiscated. All the food items we carried were processed items (pasta, canned tuna, oils, etc). They did not see or ask about spices.
Step 4 – Insurance: SOAT is not available for purchase at the border though it is required. We purchased insurance in La Paz at Seguros Illimani for Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay for a five-month period. The cost was $160 per motorcycle. Our GPS coordinates are (S16.49903, W068.13338) and the address is Loayza No 233 Edif Mcal de Ayacucho (this is the name of the building) Floor 10. The operations director (Daniel Arce) is a Bolivian/American and speaks perfect English and was very friendly and helpful. They required a copy of our passports and vehicle titles.
The town of Ollague at the Chile border has a hotel but there isn’t a gas station or ATM. The next gas station is in Calama about 123 miles from the border. The road from Ollague to Calama is about seventy percent paved.