No Gas for Tourists in Bolivia?

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Gasoline in Bolivia is very cheap due to government subsidization, which causes persons to drive in from neighboring countries such as Argentina and Chile to fill up their tanks.  To counteract this, Bolivia passed a law in December of 2011 stating that vehicles with foreign plates need to pay a price about 3 times higher than the standard rate.

However, the nationalized gas company,  YPFB, has yet to create the paperwork for the gas stations in order for them to process this higher price. Because of this, many gas stations are turning away vehicles with foreign plates.

Here are some suggestions we found to help you get through this issue during your travels:

  • Fill up your tank and any extra gas canisters before entering Bolivia
  • According to a post on advrider.com, show our vehicle permit and say that this officially allows the station to sell gas. In case that does not work, call the police and insist on them to make a report about the incident in written and send it to the Ministry of Tourism.
  • A post on Horizons Unlimited says that "the same attendants who couldn't sell fuel at a fair price (or at all) because of paperwork/plate issues would gladly fill one of their 4-liter emergency bags (or a normal gas can or whatever size) at the normal price".  He recommends parking away from the gas station and bringing only the gas canister to the station.

Two helpful blog posts with tips on how to get gas for less than the internetaional price.

Best of luck to everyone, and please post any more information you find on this page as a comment!

Sources

Fri, 12/28/2012 - 07:39

Pain-in-the-Gass

December 2012 and things seem to be changing in Bolivia for accessing gasoline, that is, getting more strict.  We have been following the blogs of folks who have passed in October and built our strategies.  However by December we are finding it almost impossible to NOT pay the full price.

What we have faced is:

  1. Filling Jerry cans is officially illegal – presumably to limit the amount of gasoline that leaves the country.  We have on occasion been successful in filling our jerry cans but these are in the smaller farming centers that are more accustomed to selling small quantities of gasoline to poor folk.  As a point of explanation our mechanic in La Paz siphons gasoline OUT of his car into jerry cans to use in his shop for cleaning automotive parts!
  2. Between Copacabana-Sorata-La Paz, presenting Jerry cans without a car, or arriving with a car you are still a foreigner and will be implored to pay the full official rate since you are still a foreigner.
  3. ‘Camers’ are present in most gas stations and the attendants do have a fear of them. 
  4. Most gas stations between Copacabana-Sorata-La Paz have either a government official (in uniform) or military soldier stationed in the Gasolinera to supervise activities.
  5. Gas attendants – and Bolivianos in general we find- are very cold individuals.  We rarely get a ‘Buenos Dias’ response to our greetings.  More often than not we get a turned back.  

We have hit on some successes too.   We find that when we couch the “Sin Factura” negotiation ploy in a way that calculates the amount of profit the attendant or station could generate immediately interests people.  For example; “No need for a ‘factura’ but we will pay 5 BOB per liter.  Imagine if we take 50 liters you can make over 60 BOB and since it is Christmas you can buy your children some presents.  Yes? “

Our friends in La Paz simply suggest that offering to buy gasoline at the local price and then offering 10BOB ‘tip’ should be sufficient incentive.  This has worked - No nessicito una factura, pagamos una propina. - on one occasion.

We should start a list of gasoline stations accepting of negotiations....

Huarina

Between Copacabana and Sorata or Copacabana and La Paz you pass through this tiny farming community.  There are three small ‘Tienditas’ that sell gasoline from barrels.  These are local families doing business and not gas stations.  All three charge 6BOB/litre and sell to everyone this way – there are no ‘facturas’ here.  However be cautious that their 10l jerry cans are more like 8 litres!

Coroico

At the entry to Coroico there is a station – I suspect that it is the only station.  I was able to successfully negotiate for 5 BOB/Litre with no effort.

Wed, 01/02/2013 - 13:46

The secret to success...

...is to not try to buy fuel anywhere near a tourist center, but rather BETWEEN tourist centers.

Jaucoagua – between the Parque National Sajama and the Chilean border. Station on the eastern entry (nearest to the park). Paid 6BOB with little hassle.

SicaSica- first station on the western entry, paid 3,74 and a tip (10BOB) though I believe the tip was a surprise to the attendant. Tharapaya, just north of Potosi and just south of the Ojo del Inca thermales. S19*28,948 W65*48,198 purchased 5,50/litre.

Uyuni – forget about buying gas in Uyuni – the whole month of December 2012 was a fuel shortage and a 4-5 hour line wait got you full foreigner prices. Rather head to Playa Blanca (the east entry into the Salar) and you can get fuel there without a line. Paid 7 BOB per litre. 

Atocha – half-way between Uyuni and Tupiza on the dirt (baaad) road.  An amazing drive nevertheless- 210kms in two days.  Fuel at National Price (3,74BOB) with no questions or negotiations.  S20*57,654 W66*12,261

Cotagaita – on the paved section between Tupiza-Potosi, station on the south entry to town.  Paid National Price by simply asking for it.  S20*50,104 W65*39,626

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 13:39

Quick update as of April 2914

Just a quick update from Bolivia, April 2014. We have experienced little trouble purchasing gasoline with foreign plates in Bolivia. First preference is to negotiate a price with the attendant, the price we average is 7Bolivianos (compared to the local price of 3Bolivianos). If the attendant is not willing to negotiate they have always filled us up at the international rate of approx. 9Bolivianos, under this arrangement always request a receipt.

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 23:17

It is sad to hear that your

It is sad to hear that your having a trouble in purchasing gasoline in bolivia. I hope people can find ways to solve this issue.

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Thu, 09/21/2017 - 02:03

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