Republic of Colombia
Travel Warnings: Issued when Protracted situations make a country dangerous or unstable. Defer or reconsider travel.
Travel Alerts: Issued when short-term conditions pose imminent threats. Defer or reconsider travel.
Embassy Messages: Issued when local security issues arise.
Must be valid at time of entry.
One page required for entry stamp.
Not required for stays 90 days or less.
Yellow fever vaccine, documented on the WHO International Certificate of Vaccination, is required for travelers coming from Brazil, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda. The vaccine must have been administered at least 10 days before arrival in Colombia
10,000 USD maximum
10,000 USD maximum
All U.S. citizens who do not also hold Colombian citizenship must present a valid U.S. passport to enter and leave Colombia. U.S. citizens do not need a Colombian visa for a tourist or business stay of 90 days or less. Before the visa expires, you may request an extension of up to 90 days from the Colombian immigration authority (Migración Colombia). You will face a fine if you remain in Colombia longer than allowed, and you will not be able to 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 online within 15 days of arrival in Colombia or face fines. You may be denied entry to Colombia if you do not have a return ticket. Visit the Embassy of Colombia website for the most current visa information.
Please see our website for Special Entry/Exit Instructions for U.S. Citizens Born in Colombia and Additional Exit Requirements for Minors.
U.S. citizens traveling overland must enter Colombia at an official border crossing. If you don’t, you may be fined or receive a jail sentence. We strongly advise you against entering Colombia overland. Colombia’s border areas are off-limits to U.S. government personnel unless specific authorization is granted.
Lost or Stolen Passport: If your U.S. passport is lost or stolen in Colombia, you must obtain a new one before leaving the country. You can report the loss or theft on the Colombian National Police website.
The U.S. Department of State is not aware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Colombia.
Please read the Travel Warning for Colombia.
Demonstrations: Demonstrations and protests occur often in Colombia, particularly in Bogota. Avoid areas of demonstrations as they can become violent.
Crime: Crimes and scams against unsuspecting tourists are common in urban areas. Firearms are prevalent in Colombia and muggings or robberies can quickly turn violent. The Embassy continues to receive reports of violent and petty crime, including pickpocketing of passports, in the El Dorado Airport in Bogota.
ATMs: People are sometimes robbed after using automatic teller machines (ATMs) on the street. Use ATMs inside shopping malls or other protected locations.
Taxis: U.S. government personnel are prohibited from hailing taxis on the street due to the risk of assault or robbery. U.S. citizens have been killed during robberies while using taxis, most recently in September 2015 in Medellin. Use telephone or internet-based dispatch services whenever possible. Many hotels, restaurants, and stores will call a taxi for you. Authorized taxi booths are present in most airports in Colombia.
Disabling Drugs: Criminals may use drugs to temporarily incapacitate unsuspecting victims and then rob or assault them. Avoid leaving food or drinks unattended at a bar or restaurant, and use caution if a stranger offers you something to eat or drink.
Victims of Crime: Report crimes to the local police at 123 and contact the U.S. Embassy at +57 (1) 275-4021. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime. See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.
For further information:
Medical care is adequate in major cities but varies greatly in quality and accessibility elsewhere. Uninsured travelers may need to seek treatment in public hospitals where care is below U.S. standards.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. Be aware that U.S. Medicare and Medicaid do not apply overseas. We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
If traveling with prescription medication, check with the government of Colombia to ensure the medication is legal Colombia. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.
Altitude: Travelers to Bogota may need time to adjust to the altitude of 8,600 feet.
Elective Surgery: U.S. citizens have died after cosmetic or other elective surgery. Visit the CDC’s website for information on the risks of medical tourism, as well as the website of Colombian Society for Plastic, Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery.
Diseases: The following mosquito-borne diseases are prevalent:
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Some crimes are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law. See our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Colombia are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long pre-trial detention and lengthy prison sentences under harsh conditions, with significant expense and great hardship for themselves and their families. Colombian law requires that released offenders serve a lengthy period of parole in country, during which the offender is given no housing and may lack permission to work. Family members must often support the offender until the parole period expires.
Colombia uses 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. Luggage is sometimes damaged during screening procedures. Most airport inspectors do not speak English.
Customs Regulations: Travelers generally must not enter or exit Colombia while carrying cash or other financial instruments worth more than 10,000 USD. If you do, you must declare it and be able to prove the legal source of the financial instruments.
Colombian law prohibits tourists and business travelers from bringing firearms and ammunition into Colombia. Colombian law also restricts the importation of plants and animals (or products made from either).
Donations of Goods: 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. U.S. customs officials are obliged to seize pre-Columbian objects and certain colonial religious artwork brought into the United States.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the Department of State’s Faith-Based Travel Page.
LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Colombia. Legal prohibitions on discrimination are not fully enforced. The government has taken measures to increase the rights and protection of LGBTI persons, but there are reports of societal abuse and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Access to buildings, sidewalks and transportation is extremely difficult for persons with disabilities. Most hospitals in major cities are wheelchair accessible. Sidewalks (if they exist) are uneven and rarely have ramps at intersections. Pedestrian crossings are infrequent and motorists almost never give pedestrians the right of way. Buses and taxis do not have special accommodations for disabled persons.
Students: See our Students Abroad page.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Cruise Ship Passengers: See our travel tips for Cruise Ship Passengers.
Road Conditions and Safety: 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. Please refer to the Travel Warning for Colombia for details.
Road travel in Colombia can be dangerous, especially at night. Some roads are poorly maintained or vulnerable to heavy rains and mudslides. Mountain roads may lack safety features such as crash barriers or guard rails, and conditions are frequently made more treacherous by heavy fog. Highways are often unmarked and unlit, and do not have signs indicating destinations. In addition, slow-moving buses and trucks frequently stop in the middle of the road unexpectedly. In the countryside, livestock is often herded along roads or grazes on roadsides. Due to a lack of sidewalks, many roads are also used by pedestrians.
The use of motorcycles is widespread in most major Colombian cities. According to the Colombian National Institute of Pathology and Forensic Science (Instituto Nacional de Medicina Legal y Ciencias Forenses), motorcycle riders accounted for 47% of traffic fatalities in 2015. U.S. government officials may not use motorcycles because of safety and crime issues.
Traffic Laws: Traffic laws are often ignored and rarely enforced, creating dangerous conditions for drivers and pedestrians. Seat belts are mandatory for front-seat passengers in a private vehicle. Car seats are mandatory for children, and a child under 10 years old is not permitted to ride in a front seat. It is against the law to talk on a cellular phone while driving, 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.
Public Transportation: U.S. government officials may not use public transportation in Bogota because of security issues and crime. You should not hail a taxi on the street.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Also, we suggest that you visit the website of the Colombian agency for tourism promotion and the national authority responsible for road safety, the Instituto Nacional de Visas.
Tourist Vessels: Small tourist boats sometimes sink off the northern coast between Cartagena and the nearby islands, particularly in the months of December and January when seas are rough. You should check for lifejackets and safety equipment before boarding a tourist vessel.
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.
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Colombia should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the NGA broadcast warnings website; select “broadcast warnings.”