Planning to ride South America? It’s a beautiful continent, and although most riders usually have a limited amount of time, it may happen that you’ll want to stay longer in any given country. Most South American countries will grant you 90 days, but what if you want to stay longer and avoid overstaying your visa? In most countries, you can easily extend your permit with the immigration office, but customs paperwork for your motorcycle is usually much trickier and extending your Temporary Vehicle Import document is a lot harder than getting a visa extension. Solution? Border runs!
Regulations vary from country to country, and you should always check with an embassy or a tourism department for exact information. Generally, however, you can do border runs to avoid overstaying your visa in these three countries:
Peru has a very relaxed immigration and customs system. If your 90 days are about to expire, simply cross the border into Ecuador, Bolivia, or Chile, and come back – you’ll be given another 90 days.
The easiest border runs from Peru are Desaguadero to Bolivia and the Tacna – Arica border crossing to Chile. Simply ride to the border, stamp out of Peru, stay the night in either Bolivia or Chile, and come back the next morning.
Similar to Peru, Chile gives you 90 days and if you want to stay longer, you need to leave the country, come back, and get your extra 90 days. Fastest border runs from Chile are Arica-Tacna (Peru), San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni (Bolivia), and most borders between Chile and Argentina. For US citizens, Bolivia may be a less attractive option because of Bolivian visa fees.
Same as Peru and Chile, you get 90 days for you and your bike when you enter the country. Depending on where you are, do a border run to Bolivia (La Quiaca – Tupiza), Paraguay, Uruguay, or Chile, and come back the next day to get your extra three months. Again, for Americans, Bolivia may not be the best option because of visa fees.
Do not, under any circumstances, overstay your visa in South America. While most countries will only charge you a small fee for your personal overstay (usually $1 per each day overstayed), your bike might get seized or impounded, and getting it back will be a very costly nightmare.