ColombiaOfficial Name: Republic of Colombia
Must be valid at time of entry
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:
One page required for entry stamp
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
Not required for stays less than 90 days
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:
Embassies and Consulates
Calle 24 Bis No. 48-50
Bogotá, D.C. Colombia
Telephone: +(57) (1) 275-2000
After Hours Emergency Telephone: +(57) (1) 275-2701
Fax: +(57)(1) 275-4501
U.S. Consular Agent - Barranquilla
Calle 77B No. 57-141, suite 511
Centro Empresarial Las Americas, Barranquilla, Atlantico
Telephone: +(57) (5) 353-2001
After Hours Emergency Telephone: Please contact the U.S. Embassy in Bogota: +(57) (1) 275-2701
Fax: +(57) (5) 353-5216
The U.S. Consular Agency in Barranquilla provides many routine citizen services for travelers on Colombia's north coast. Hours are 8:00am to noon, Monday through Friday except holidays, no appointment is necessary.
Colombia is a medium-income nation of 46 million persons. Its geography is very diverse, ranging from tropical coastal areas and rainforests to rugged mountainous terrain. Tourist facilities in Colombia vary in quality and safety, according to price and location. Based on Colombian statistics, an estimated 60,000 U.S. citizens reside in Colombia and 280,000 U.S. citizens travel, study and do business in Colombia each year. Read the Department of State's Fact Sheet for Colombia for additional information.
Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
All U.S. citizens who do not also hold Colombian citizenship must present a valid U.S. passport to enter and depart Colombia. U.S. citizens traveling to Colombia do not need a Colombian visa for a tourist stay of 90 days or less. Travelers entering Colombia are sometimes asked to present evidence of return or onward travel, usually in the form of a plane ticket. The length of stay granted to travelers is determined by the Colombian immigration officer at the point of entry and will be stamped in your passport. Before the visa expires, travelers may request an extension of up to 90 days. Extensions may be requested by visiting an office of the Colombian immigration authority (Migración Colombia) after arrival in Colombia. Fines are levied if a traveler remains in Colombia longer than authorized, and the traveler cannot leave Colombia until the fine is paid. Any traveler possessing a Colombian visa with more than three months’ validity must register the visa at a Migración Colombia office or on-line within 15 days of arrival in Colombia or face fines. The Migración Colombia office in Bogota is located at Calle 100 and Carrera 11B-29, telephone (571) 511-1150. This office is open from Monday to Thursday from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Fridays from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Colombia has no travel restrictions on travelers with HIV/AIDS.
For further specific guidance on Colombian entry requirements, including information about Colombian visas, contact the Colombian Embassy at 2118 Leroy Place NW, Washington, DC 20008; telephone (202) 387-8338; or the nearest Colombian consulate. Colombian Consulates are located in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York, Orlando, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Special Entry/Exit Instructions for U.S. Citizens Born in Colombia: Be aware that any person born in Colombia or of Colombian parentage may be considered a Colombian citizen, even if never documented as such. According to Colombian law, all Colombian citizens—regardless of dual citizenship—MUST present a Colombian passport to enter and exit Colombia. Colombian citizens traveling with non-Colombian passports frequently have been prevented from departing the country until they obtain a Colombian passport. Colombian citizens who naturalized as U.S. citizens before 1990 are deemed to have lost their Colombian citizenship as of the date of naturalization and do not need to show a Colombian passport, but Colombian Immigration authorities suggest that these passengers travel with proof of their date of naturalization. Be aware as well that all U.S. citizens, regardless of dual citizenship, must present a valid U.S. passport upon returning to the United States. Hence persons who are both U.S. and Colombian citizens MUST travel between these countries with both passports, presenting the Colombian passport upon departing Colombia and the U.S. passport upon arrival in the U.S.
Additional Exit Requirements for Minors: To prevent international child abduction, Colombia has implemented special exit procedures for Colombian children under 18 who depart the country alone, without both parents, or a without a legal guardian. These procedures also apply to U.S. citizen children if they are dual nationals or if they are legal residents of Colombia. The procedures can be complex and time-consuming, especially if the absent parent is outside Colombia, so advance planning is essential.
The procedures are as follows: When exiting the country, a certified copy of the child’s birth certificate, along with a written, signed, and notarized authorization from the absent parent(s) or legal guardian must be presented. The authorization must be notarized by a Colombian authority and explicitly grant permission for the child to travel alone, with one parent, or with a named third party. If a parent is deceased, a notarized copy of a death certificate is required. If one parent has sole custody of the child, that parent may present a custody decree instead of the other parent’s written authorization. In cases where a Colombian citizen or dual national child has been adopted in a U.S. Court, the adoption decree must be legalized (Exequatur) by the Colombian Supreme Court.
If the documents originated in the United States, they must first be translated into Spanish and then signed in front of a Colombian consul at a Colombian consulate. Upon arrival in Colombia, the documents must be presented to the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for certification (apostille) of the consul’s signature.
Alternatively, the documents may be translated into Spanish, then notarized by a notary public in the United States, and the notary’s signature certified by the competent authority in the U.S. state where the notary is licensed. The notarized document, translation, and certification (apostille) should be presented to immigration officers at the airport when the child travels.
If the documents originated in Colombia and are written in Spanish, only notarization by a Colombian notary is required. For documents originating in countries other than the United States or Colombia, please inquire with the Colombian Embassy serving that country.
In cases where the absent parent refuses or is unable to provide consent, the other parent can request assistance from Colombia’s child protective service, Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar (ICBF). In appropriate cases, ICBF will investigate and may issue a document that will allow the child to travel without both parents’ consent. This process may take a significant amount of time and is not within the control of the U.S. government.
Entering the Country by Road: U.S. citizens traveling overland must enter Colombia at an official border crossing. If you’re taking a bus to Colombia, make sure prior to boarding that your bus will cross the border at an official entry point. Failure to do so may result in a fine or even face a jail sentence. If you plan to enter Colombia over a land border, be sure to read the information on Traffic Safety and Road Conditions below.
Exit Tax: No arrival tax is collected upon entry into Colombia, but travelers leaving by plane must pay an exit tax in cash at the airport. Most airlines include all or a portion of this fee in the cost of your airline ticket. Check with your airline beforehand to find out how much you will have to pay at the airport. According to Aeronautica Civil, the Colombian authorities in charge of civil aviation and airport taxes, the exit tax is divided in two categories: 1) the Tasa Aeroportuaria of US$86 and 2) the Timbre Aeroportuario of $US37 These fees are updated annually and posted on the Aeronautica Civil website. In some instances, an additional administrative fee of US$15 may be charged. Some foreign travelers who have been in Colombia for less than 60 days have obtained an exemption from this tax by taking their documents immediately upon arrival to the Aeronautica Civil desk in the El Dorado international terminal and requesting the exemption.
Lost or Stolen Passport: If your U.S. passport is lost or stolen in Colombia, you must obtain a new one before departing the country. You must then present the new passport, along with a police report describing the loss or theft, to a Migración Colombia office. Information about obtaining a replacement passport in Colombia is available at U.S. Embassy Bogota’s website. The Embassy in Bogota or the U.S. Consular Agency in Barranquilla will provide guidance on contacting Migración Colombia when you apply for your replacement passport.
Information about dual nationality and the prevention of international child abductions is available on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
Safety and Security
Please read the current Travel Warning for Colombia. Due to the security environment in Colombia, U.S. government officials and their families are not permitted to travel by road between most major cities, use inter-city or intra-city bus transportation, or travel by road outside urban areas at night. Security in Colombia has improved significantly in recent years, including in tourist and business travel destinations such as Cartagena and Bogota, but violence linked to narco-trafficking continues to affect some rural areas and parts of large cities.
Stay up to date:
- Bookmark our Bureau of Consular Affairs website which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.
- Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook.
- Download our free Smart Traveler App through iTunes and Google Play to have travel information at your fingertips.
- Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the U.S. and Canada, or a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
- Take time before you travel to consider your personal security. Here are some useful tips for traveling safely abroad.
Demonstrations: Demonstrations and protests occur frequently in Colombia, particularly in Bogota. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. A common tactic used by demonstrators in Colombia is to block traffic on major roads inside and near cities. Protests may turn violent as demonstrators are known to use homemade improvised explosives such as potato bombs against Colombian police who employ tear gas against the protestors. U.S. citizens are urged to avoid areas of demonstrations.
CRIME: Violent and petty crime remains a significant concern in Colombia. Robbery and other violent crimes, as well as scams against unsuspecting tourists, are common in urban areas. Generally speaking, if you are the victim of a robbery, you should not resist. Firearms are prevalent in Colombia and altercations may turn violent. Small towns and rural areas of Colombia can still be extremely dangerous due to the presence of illegal armed groups and narcotics trafficking gangs. There has been an increase in petty crime, including a significant increase in pickpocketing of passports in the El Dorado Airport in Bogota, Colombia, and at luxury hotels, especially during Colombian holidays, Christmas, Easter Week, and summer holidays (July and August).
Some of the most common methods used by criminals in Colombia are noted below:
ATMs: People are sometimes robbed after using automatic teller machines (ATMs) on the street. In some cases, robbers use motorcycles to approach their victims and then flee the scene. For your safety, only use ATMs inside shopping malls or other protected locations. Driving to and from the location – rather than walking – provides added protection. When using an ATM, you should be on the lookout for anyone watching or following you and be extremely cautious about displaying cash and safeguarding your PIN.
Taxis: Passengers who hail taxis on the street may be victimized by assault or robbery. In June 2013, a U.S. citizen was killed in Bogota after entering a taxi hailed from the street. Typically, the driver – who may be one of the conspirators – will pick up the passenger and then stop to pick up armed cohorts, who enter the cab, overpower the passenger, and take his/her belongings as well as make multiple ATM withdrawals. U.S. government personnel are prohibited from hailing taxis on the street. To the extent that they are available, use of the telephone or internet-based dispatch service applications such as Tappsi or Easy Taxi should be used. Many hotels, restaurants, and stores will call a taxi for you. When a taxi is dispatched, the dispatcher creates a record of the call and the responding taxi. The taxi company provides the caller with the license plate number and a security code to present to the taxi driver before departing. When entering a taxi, take note of the license plate, company and other ID for the car and driver. Also, the Colombian Tourist Police recommend checking to make sure that your taxi door has inside handles and latches before committing to the ride.
Buses and Other Public Transportation: U.S. government personnel are prohibited from using public (e.g. municipal) buses due to levels of crime. Whenever possible, visitors should travel by bus during daylight hours only. Although the police have made progress in bringing this type of crime under control, armed robberies of entire busloads of passengers still occur.
Airports: U.S. citizens arriving at major Colombian airports have occasionally been victimized by armed robbers and rogue taxi drivers while en route from the airport to their hotel or home. For this reason, use of authorized taxis only is encouraged. Authorized taxi booths are present in most airports in Colombia. You may go to the booth, request a taxi, and provide the address of your destination. The person in the booth will give you a ticket. Dispatchers are often present to organize the waiting line. Authorized taxis are located in the designated area, close to the booth. Give one part of your ticket to the driver and retain one for your records. In airports without this service, there is generally a designated area where one is able to get a taxi. All travelers are advised to exercise care in using any taxi during your travels.
Hiking Trails: Several U.S. citizens have been robbed in recent years while hiking on nature trails in and around Bogota. Hike in groups for safety, especially in isolated areas.
Hostels: The Tourist Police in Bogota specifically caution about crimes in backpacker hostels in the Candelaria area of Bogota, noting that such locations are often targets for crime. Be careful when selecting a hostel- consider not just the price, but the general safety of the area.
Disabling Drugs: The Embassy continues to receive reports of criminals in Colombia using disabling drugs, including scopolamine, to temporarily incapacitate unsuspecting victims. Perpetrators may offer tainted drinks, cigarettes or gum at bars, restaurants, and other public areas, especially those that cater to sexual tourism. Typically, victims become disoriented or unconscious, and are thus vulnerable to robbery, sexual assault and other crimes. Avoid leaving food or drinks unattended at a bar or restaurant, and be suspicious if a stranger offers you something to eat or drink.
Counterfeit Money: Foreigners in Colombia may fall victim to a scam in which purported undercover police officers approach them on the street and request to examine their money, supposedly to determine if it is counterfeit. The “officers,” who are in fact criminals, then flee with the money. In a variation of this scam, the thieves may ask to see your jewelry. Legitimate Colombian police officers do not make such requests. Colombian police officers will always be in uniform. If someone claims to be working “undercover” (out of uniform), he or she is not legitimate since undercover police are not authorized to intercept tourists on the street.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the U.S. Embassy in Bogota or the Consular Agency in Baranquilla. We can:
- Replace a stolen passport.
- Help you find appropriate medical care if you are a victim of a violent crime such as assault or rape.
- Put you in contact with the appropriate police authorities, and contact family members or friends on your behalf.
- Help you understand the local criminal justice process and direct you to local attorneys. Local authorities, however, are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime.
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Colombia is 123 for police, ambulance, and fire. There will not be an English speaker answering the telephone.
The Government of Colombia does not provide monetary compensation to foreign victims of crime. However, a U.S. citizen residing in Colombia who is a victim of violence by illegal armed groups may apply for compensation.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While traveling in Colombia, all persons including U.S. citizens are subject to its laws and jurisdictions. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. In some places driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. These criminal penalties will vary from country to country. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States. The purchase of pirated goods may lead to prosecution under U.S. law. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Colombia, your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what is legal and what is illegal in the countries you visit.
If you are arrested, the U.S. government may not be able to request your release, depending on the circumstances of your arrest. Colombia and the United States do not have a prisoner transfer agreement. Any sentence for a crime committed in Colombia is ordinarily served in a Colombian prison where conditions of confinement may be far harsher than in U.S. prisons.
Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs in Colombia are severe. Convicted offenders can expect long pre-trial detention and lenthy prison sentences under harsh conditions, with significant expense and great hardship for themselves and their families. Colombian police make multiple arrests daily for drug trafficking at major airports, and have sophisticated means for detecting illegal drugs in baggage or on your person. Travelers are sometimes requested to undergo an X-ray to ensure that they are not smuggling narcotics within their bodies. Under no circumstances should you accept gifts, packages, or suitcases from anyone you do not know and trust well. There are currently more than 40 U.S. citizens incarcerated in Colombia for attempting to smuggle drugs out of the country.
The hardships resulting from imprisonment do not end even after release from prison. Colombian law requires that serious offenders remain in the country to serve a lengthy period of parole, during which the offender is given no housing and may lack permission to work. As a result, family members must often support the offender, sometimes for more than a year, until the parole period expires.
Arrest Notification: Based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the Colombian government is required to notify the U.S. Embassy when a U.S. citizen is arrested, if the arrestee so requests. In practice, however, depending on where the arrest takes place, this notification can be delayed, limiting the assistance the U.S. Government can provide. U.S. citizens arrested in Colombia should promptly identify themselves as such to the police, prison officials, or other authorities and should request that the U.S. Embassy in Bogota be notified immediately.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Colombia employs strict screening procedures for detecting narcotics smuggling at its international airports. Travelers are occasionally questioned, searched, fingerprinted, and/or asked to submit to an abdominal X-ray upon arrival or departure. Most airport inspectors do not speak English, and travelers who do not speak Spanish may have difficulty understanding what is asked of them. Please refer to the section on Criminal Penalties for further information on the strict enforcement of Colombia’s drug laws.
Customs Regulations: Travelers generally must not enter or exit Colombia while carrying cash or other financial instruments worth more than 10,000 U.S. dollars. If you do, you must declare it and be able to prove the legal source of the financial instruments. Colombian authorities may confiscate any amount over $10,000, and may initiate a criminal investigation into the source of the money and the traveler’s reasons for carrying it. Recovery of the confiscated amount generally requires a lengthy, expensive legal process and may not always be possible. For more information in Spanish, click here. If you need to send large sums of money to or from Colombia, contact the nearest Colombian consulate, or speak with Colombian customs officials and seek advice from an attorney or financial professional.
Colombian law prohibits tourists and business travelers from bringing firearms into Colombia. Illegal importation or possession of firearms may result in incarceration. Colombian law also restricts the importation of plants and animals (or products made from either).
Donations of Goods: U.S. citizens traveling to Colombia with goods intended for donation within Colombia should be aware that customs fees and taxes (IVA) may apply. Exemptions for either IVA or customs fees are varied and citizens seeking to import goods should check with Colombian Customs for specific categories of goods and for procedures on how to apply for an exemption. Donated goods also require an import license from the Ministry of Industrial Commerce and Tourism through their Foreign Commerce Window. Emergency donations in special circumstances such as disaster assistance can be authorized by Colombian Customs without a previous application. For further information, visit the web site for Colombian Customs detailing charitable import regulations.
Artifacts: Colombian law forbids the export of pre-Columbian objects and other artifacts protected by cultural patrimony statutes. Under an agreement between the United States and Colombia, U.S. customs officials are obligated to seize pre-Columbian objects and certain colonial religious artwork if they are brought into the United States.
Contact the Embassy of Colombia in Washington, D.C., or one of Colombia's consulates in the United States for detailed customs guidance. Please refer also to our Customs Information.
ACCESSIBILITY: While in Colombia, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. Colombian law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical and mental disabilities in employment, education, access to health care, or the provision of other state services, and the government seeks to enforce these prohibitions. No law mandates access to public buildings for persons with disabilities, thus limiting the power of the government to penalize schools or offices without access. National and local governments are addressing this issue with programs aimed at improving access.
Access to buildings, pedestrian paths and transportation is extremely difficult for persons with disabilities. A few major shopping centers and residential buildings in the wealthier neighborhoods of Bogotá have access ramps and elevators. Most hospitals in major cities are also wheelchair accessible. However, sidewalks (if they exist) are very uneven and rarely have ramps at intersections. Pedestrian crossings are also very infrequent and traffic almost never give pedestrians (disabled or otherwise) the right of way. Most, but not all, cafés, restaurants, hotels and residential buildings have stairs at the entrance without wheelchair ramps. Buses and taxis do not have special accommodations for disabled persons.
Medical care is adequate in major cities but varies greatly in quality and accessibility elsewhere. Emergency rooms in Colombia, even at top-quality facilities, are frequently overcrowded and ambulance service can be slow. Many private health care providers in Colombia require that patients pay for care before treatment, even in an emergency. Some providers in major cities may accept credit cards, but those that don’t may request advance payment in cash. Uninsured travelers without financial resources may be relegated to seeking treatment in public hospitals where the standard of care is below U.S. standards.
Elective Surgery: The Department of State regularly receives reports of U.S. citizens who have died or suffered complications from liposuction and other elective surgeries overseas. Before undergoing such a procedure in Colombia, consult with your personal physician, research the credentials of the provider in Colombia, and carefully consider your ability to access emergency medical care if complications arise. It is important to confirm that your medical insurance provides coverage in Colombia, including treatment of complications from elective procedures or medical evacuation if necessary. If you suffer complications as a result of medical malpractice, collecting damages from your surgeon may be difficult.
Unregulated Drugs: Colombia has seen an increase in the use of unregulated drugs. Some tourists have died after using these substances, which come in liquid, powder, or tablet form. You are urged to seek guidance from a physician before ingesting such substances in Colombia.
Altitude Sickness: Travelers to the capital city of Bogota may need time to adjust to the altitude of 8,600 feet, which can affect blood pressure, digestion, and energy level, and cause mild dyspnea with exercise, headaches, sleeplessness, and other discomfort. Drink plenty of fluids to maintain hydration, and avoid strenuous exercise until you have acclimated to the altitude. If you have circulatory or respiratory problems, consult a physician before traveling to Bogota or other high-altitude locations.
You can find good information on vaccinations and other health precautions, on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
Travel & Transportation
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Colombia, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. Due to the security environment in Colombia, U.S. government officials and their families are not permitted to travel by road between most major cities. They also cannot use inter-city or intra-city bus transportation, or travel by road outside urban areas at night. You are encouraged to follow these same precautions.
Traffic laws in Colombia, including speed limits, are often ignored and rarely enforced, creating dangerous conditions for drivers and pedestrians in major cities. Under Colombian law, seat belts are mandatory for front-seat passengers in a private vehicle. Car seats are mandatory for children, and a child under ten is not permitted to ride in a front seat. It is against the law to talk on a cellular phone while driving in Colombia, and violators may be fined. While driving outside major cities, you must drive with your lights on.
If you are involved in an accident, you MUST remain at the scene without moving your vehicle until the authorities arrive. This rule is strictly enforced, and moving a vehicle or leaving the scene of an accident may constitute an admission of guilt under Colombian law.
The use of motorcycles is widespread in most major Colombian cities. According to the Colombian government, almost 12% of traffic fatalities involve motorcycles. There were more than 5,200 motorcycle accidents in 2012.
If you want to import your own vehicle into Colombia, consult with the nearest Colombian consulate for information on Colombian taxes and licensing rules, which can be complicated and bureaucratic.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Colombia’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Colombia’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.