How to cross a border

23 Jan

How to cross the border from Quiaca Argentina to Villazon Bolivia.

Ushuaia seems a long time ago
Ushuaia seems a long time ago
  1. Arrive at border at opening time
  2. Observe hordes of people and vehicles already milling about. Put smile firmly onto face, grit teeth and begin
  3. Park where you hope you’ll be able to keep an eye on the bike/belongings
  4. Join the long queue of people at the main building, window 1
  5. After 10 mins go and ask the Argentinian policeman at the barrier in broken Spanish if you are in the right queue
  6. Leave long queue which it turns out is for people leaving Argentina on foot and move to much shorter queue window 2 for people taking a vehicle across
  7. Move bike again, to a position close to the Argentinian policeman (who is now my mate) so he can watch it
  8. Get to window 2 and present docs and get told no, go to that window a few feet away
  9. Do as requested, and get sent straight back to first window 2 because you aren’t a lorry and the guy at window 2 gave you a duff steer
  10. Finish window 2. You are now officially ‘out’ of Argentina, now for the bike
  11. Go to window 3 Aduana (Customs) and wait in queue, chat to friendly Argentinian couple who are also trying to get across
  12. Notice that there is no one in Aduana building and it is locked.
  13. Stand around for 10 mins
  14. Ask around and find out there is only one customs person on today and when they aren’t inspecting vehicles they will come and do window 3
  15. Wait another 20 mins until Aduana chap turns up. Notice that he fiddles with fuse box in office and cannot get power to come on. Watch with gritted teeth as he shuts Aduana office again and disappears for another 10 mins
  16. Power on and a girl now on duty
  17. Notice that there are now more people at window 3 and they don’t seem to respect queues Gggrrr
  18. Realise that everyone else in queue has a biro number on the white slip of paper you got at window 2 indicating their place in the Aduana queue – you don’t have a number, window 2 didn’t write it on. You now realise the chap at window 2 was a trainee and didn’t really have a clue.
  19. Improvise. Get own biro out and write on number ’12’ and prepare to follow nice Argentinian couple (nr 11) into office. No one else notices or cares.
  20. Lady Aduana officer then comes out, asks if you are English and then lets you jump queue anyway (???)
  21. As she goes to cancel your Argentine importation doc she notices one character of bikes reg nr is incorrect (gulp!). Turns out the large grumpy Aduana lady at our last border coming into Argentina did a typo – oh oh. Luckily chassis nr matches and that is enough for this nice Aduana officer (note to self, always double check what they give you at borders)
  22. All stamped up, we and the bike have now officially left Argentina, go to first of 2 Bolivian windows
  23. Get our passports stamped up. 30 day visa – “but we want the normal 90 days” – NO
  24. Shrug/smile (30 is enough) go to next window, Bolivian customs. Nice smiley lady takes all personal and vehicle docs and prepares importation docs for bike
  25. Receive docs after 5 mins stamped for 90 days. We now are allowed to stay in Bolivia for 30 days but Bertie can have 90 – go figure that one out
  26. Get bike clobber back on. Ride off into incredibly crowded and buzzing town of Villazon Bolivia with an aching jaw from smiling and a slightly bemused expression.

Simples !



3 Replies to “How to cross a border

  1. Bob and I hate border crossings in the Americas. Very stressful. The easiest way is hiring one of the guys, that hang around at the border, that assist foreigners.

    • Yes, think we may well be trying that, certainly when we hit Central America! Just spent 4 days on a 4WD tour of the Bolivian Altiplano. Awesome doesn’t even begin to cover it, we’ll do a post and some photos/videos when we have time – stunning scenery, never seen anything like it in our lives!

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