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Country Information

Colombia

Country Information

Colombia
Republic of Colombia
Last Updated: April 17, 2017

The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risk of travel to Colombia.  U.S. citizens should exercise caution, as violence linked to domestic insurgency, narco-trafficking, crime, and kidnapping occur in some rural and urban areas.  This

The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risk of travel to Colombia.  U.S. citizens should exercise caution, as violence linked to domestic insurgency, narco-trafficking, crime, and kidnapping occur in some rural and urban areas.  This replaces the previous travel warning dated April 5, 2016.  

Organized political and criminal armed groups are active throughout much of the country and their methods include the use of explosives and bomb threats in public spaces. Violence associated with the armed groups occurs in rural areas as well as Colombia's major cities, including in the capital. These groups are heavily involved in the drug trade, extortion, kidnapping, and robbery. On November 30, 2016, the Colombian government approved a peace accord with the largest guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The peace agreement is in the process of being implemented and does not include other active armed groups.

Violent crime is a threat throughout Colombia. Kidnapping remains a threat, although U.S. citizens are not specifically targeted. Violent political groups and other criminal organizations occasionally kidnap and hold civilians, including foreigners, for ransom. 

U.S. government officials and their families are generally permitted to travel to major cities only by air. They may not use inter- or intra-city bus transportation or travel by road outside urban areas at night. During daylight, they are permitted to use only the following routes:

  • Main highways between Bogota and Bucaramanga, and between Bogota and Ibague.
  • Highways between Manizales, Pereira, and Armenia and within the “coffee country” departments of Caldas, Risaralda, and Quindío.
  • Highway 90 from Cartagena, through Barranquilla to Santa Marta. 

All other travel by U.S. government personnel and their families requires a security review and specific authorization. 

If you do travel to Colombia, review your personal security plans, remain alert to your surroundings, and learn more about staying safe on our Country Specific Information page for Colombia. U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have contingency plans for emergency situations.  Review the Traveler’s Checklist

For further information:

... [READ MORE]
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Embassy Messages

Bogota

 

Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

Must be valid at time of entry.

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

One page required for entry stamp.

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

Not required for stays 90 days or less.

VACCINATIONS:

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

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

10,000 USD maximum

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

10,000 USD maximum

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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Bogota

Calle 24 Bis No. 48-50
Bogotá, D.C. Colombia
Mailing address: Carrera 45 No. 24B-27 Bogotá, D.C. 110111 Colombia
Telephone: +(57) (1) 275-2000
Emergency after-hours telephone: +(57) (1) 275-4021

Consulates


U.S. Consular Agency - Barranquilla
Calle 77B No. 57-141, suite 511
Centro Empresarial Las Americas, Barranquilla, Atlantico,
Colombia
Telephone: +(57) (5) 353-2001
Emergency after-hours telephone: Please contact the U.S. Embassy in Bogota: +(57) (1) 275-2701
For hours and services, please visit the U.S. Embassy Bogota website

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Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Colombia for information on U.S.- Colombia relations. 

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Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

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.

Find information on dual nationality, prevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

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Safety and Security

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.

Scams: See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

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:

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Local Laws & Special Circumstances

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.  

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

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.

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Health

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:

  • Chikungunya
  • Dengue
  • Malaria
  • Yellow fever
  • Zika

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

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Travel and Transportation

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.”

Hague Convention Participation
Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
What You Can Do
Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US
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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Bogota

Calle 24 Bis No. 48-50
Bogotá, D.C. Colombia
Mailing address: Carrera 45 No. 24B-27 Bogotá, D.C. 110111 Colombia
Telephone: +(57) (1) 275-2000
Emergency after-hours telephone: +(57) (1) 275-4021

Consulates


U.S. Consular Agency - Barranquilla
Calle 77B No. 57-141, suite 511
Centro Empresarial Las Americas, Barranquilla, Atlantico,
Colombia
Telephone: +(57) (5) 353-2001
Emergency after-hours telephone: Please contact the U.S. Embassy in Bogota: +(57) (1) 275-2701
For hours and services, please visit the U.S. Embassy Bogota website

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General Information

Colombia and the United States have been treaty partners under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention) since June 1, 1996.

For information concerning travel to Colombia, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country-specific information for Colombia.

The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA).  The report is located here.

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Hague Abduction Convention


The U.S. Department of State serves as the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention.  In this capacity, the Departmen's Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children's Issues facilitates the submission of applications under the Hague Abduction Convention for the return of, or access to, children located in countries that are U.S. treaty partners, including Colombia.  Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the foreign Central Authority.

Contact information:

U.S. Department of State 
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children's Issues
CA/OCS/CI 
SA-17, 9th Floor 
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Telephone:  1-888-407-4747
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444
Website:  travel.state.gov

The Colombian Central Authority for the Hague Abduction Convention is the Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar (ICBF).  ICBF's role is to perform the duties given to central authorities under the Hague Abduction Convention, including processing Hague Abduction Convention applications for return of and access to children.  They can be reached at:

Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar (ICBF)
Sede Nacional Avenida Carrera 68 No 64 C 75
Bogota, DC, Colombia
Telephone: 011-57-1-437-7630, Extension 101105
E-mail
Website

To initiate a Hague case for return of, or access to, a child in Colombia the left-behind parent must submit a Hague application to the ICBF.  The USCA is available to answer questions about the Hague application process, to forward a completed application to the ICBF, and to subsequently monitor its progress through the foreign administrative and legal processes.

There are no fees for filing Hague applications with either the United States or Colombian central authorities.  Attorney fees, if necessary, are the sole responsibility of the person hiring the attorney. Additional costs may include airplane tickets for court appearances and for the return of the child, if so ordered.

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Return

A parent or legal guardian may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for return to the United States of a child abducted to, or wrongfully retained in Colombia.  The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand whether the Convention is an available civil remedy and can provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

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Visitation/Access

A person may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for access to a child living in Colombia.  The criteria for acceptance of a Hague access application vary from country to country.  The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand country-specific criteria and provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

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Retaining an Attorney

Parents pursuing Hague applications in Colombia must be represented by an attorney. Parents may choose either to hire a private attorney or request that an attorney be appointed for them by the Colombian Central Authority. Some parents have reported that they prefer hiring their own private attorneys, because they tend to be the most responsive in following up on cases and providing direct information to a court. A privately-hired attorney should contact the Colombian Central Authority as soon as possible after the Hague Abduction Convention application has been filed with the Colombian Central Authority. 

The U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Colombia posts a list of attorneys including those who specialize in family law.

This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the following persons or firms. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.

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Mediation

The Colombian Central Authority strongly promotes mediation in abduction cases and if the case is filed with the ICBF, the ICBF will first attempt to mediate between the parties in Hague Abduction Convention cases before a case is forwarded to a court. This mediation occurs in all cases and has resulted in several returns of children to the United States since 2009.

Exercising Custody Rights

While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country.  It is important for parents to understand that, although a left behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.   For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney when planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney.  

For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information

DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. 

 

Hague Convention Participation
Hague Adoption Convention Country?
Yes
Are Intercountry Adoptions between this country and the United States possible?
Is this country a U.S. Hague Partner?
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Hague Convention Information

Colombia is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention or Convention). Intercountry adoption processing in Convention countries is done in accordance with the requirements of the Convention; the U.S. implementing legislation, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA); and the IAA’s implementing regulations, as well as the implementing legislation and regulations of Colombia.

On July 15, 2013, Colombia's Central Authority for adoptions, the Colombian Family Welfare Institute (ICBF), ceased accepting new intercountry adoption applications from non-Colombian citizens living abroad interested in adopting a child under 6 years and 11 months old, unless ICBF considers the child to have special characteristics or needs (please see the Special Needs or Medical Conditions section below for more information). ICBF has indicated that this restriction will last at least two years.

All Colombian adoptions are managed through ICBF or an authorized adoption institution (known in Spanish as “Institucion Autorizada para desarollar el Programa de Adopciones” (IAPA)).  Colombian law prohibits private adoptions. Please note ICBF does not allow for a Colombian child to travel to the United States to be adopted. Therefore, prospective adoptive parents must obtain a full and final adoption under Colombian law before the child can immigrate to the United States. The Colombian adoption process has two stages, an administrative process (with ICBF or an IAPA) and a judicial process before a family judge. Intercountry adoptions are only considered full and final in Colombia after the family judge issues the final adoption decree, called a “sentencia,” and the certificate of conformity issued by ICBF. Adopting parents are required to remain in Colombia during both stages of the adoption process.

Note:  Special transition provisions apply to adoptions initiated before April 1, 2008. Read about Transition Cases.

U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS

To bring an adopted child to the United States from Colombia, you must meet eligibility and suitability requirements. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines who can adopt under U.S. immigration law.

Additionally, a child must meet the definition of Convention adoptee under U.S. law in order to immigrate to the United States on an [H-3 or H-4] immigrant visa.

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Who Can Adopt

In addition to the U.S. requirements, Colombia obliges prospective adoptive parents to meet the following requirements in order to adopt a child from Colombia:

  • Residency: There are no residency requirements for intercountry adoptions from Colombia.
  • Age of Adopting Parents:  Parent(s) must be 25 years old and at least 15 years older than the child to be adopted. In practice, newborns are assigned to younger couples and older children to older couples.
  • Marriage: Colombia permits adoption by both married couples and unmarried individuals, although Colombia has significantly stricter requirements on adoptions by unmarried individuals. Because the Colombian courts and legislature are currently reviewing whether adoption by same sex couples and unmarried individuals are permissible, it is highly unlikely that ICBF will approve adoptions by LGBT persons at this time.
  • Income: Prospective adoptive parents are required to submit documentation confirming their ability to provide for the adopted child.
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Who Can Be Adopted

Because Colombia is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Colombia must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the adoption may take place only if the competent authorities of Colombia have determined that placement of the child within Colombia has been given due consideration and that an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests. In addition to Colombia’s requirements, a child must meet the definition of Convention adoptee to be eligible for an immigrant visa that will allow you to bring him or her to the United States.

Colombia only approves a child for adoption after completing an extensive review of the child’s situation and his or her extended family (a process known as the restoration of rights – “restablecimiento de derechos” in Spanish).

On July 15, 2013, ICBF ceased accepting new intercountry adoption applications from non-Colombian citizens living abroad interested in adopting a child under 6 years and 11 months old, unless ICBF considers the child to have special characteristics or needs. ICBF has indicated that this restriction will last at least two years.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS:

  • Relinquishment: Colombian law allows adoption by direct relinquishment to blood relatives within the third degree of consanguinity or second degree of affinity. (Click here for a chart explaining consanguinity/affinity.)
  • Abandonment: Most intercountry adoptions from Colombia occur after a family defender issues a declaration of adoptability following an extensive review of the child’s living situation and his/her biological and extended family’s ability to care for the child (“restoration or rights”).
  • Age of Adoptive Child:  Prospective adoptive parents with Colombian citizenship and U.S. families who reside in Colombia may apply to adopt children under the age of 16 (up 18 if adopted along with a younger sibling), although ICBF has established specific age ranges for different types of children and different family compositions.  ICBF no longer accepts new intercountry adoption applications from non-Colombian citizens living abroad interested in adopting a child under 6 years and 11 months, unless ICBF considers the child to have special characteristics or needs.  ICBF intends to reassess these limitations on placement in July 2015.  
  •  
    • Note:  Families who have already been accepted by ICBF as prospective adoptive parents for a healthy child under 6 years and 11 months old will maintain their place on the existing waiting list and ICBF will continue to match and finalize adoptions for these children.
  • Sibling Adoptions:  Sibling adoptions may take place in Colombia.  Please see the Special Needs or Medical Conditions section below for more information.
  • Special Needs or Medical Conditions:  ICBF’s highest priority is to find home for children with special characteristics or needs:

a.  Three or more siblings
b.  Two siblings, one older than eight years of age
c.  Any child older than 8 years of age with no diseases or disabilities
d.  Any child of any age with a physical or mental disability
e.  Any child with a chronic disease (HIV, cardiac, liver, among others)

ICBF is committed to accelerating the entire adoption process – from declaration of adoptability through the final issuance of the adoption decree – for families interested in these children.

  • Waiting Period or Foster Care:  There is no mandatory waiting period to be matched with a child.  ICBF does require, however, that prospective parents spend a minimum of three days (more typically one to two weeks) living with the child(ren) in Colombia before ICBF will allow the family to file their final adoption paperwork with a Colombian court.
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How to Adopt

WARNING:  Colombia is party to the Hague Adoption Convention.  Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Colombia before a U.S. consular officer issues an “Article 5 Letter” in the case.  Read on for more information.

Colombia’s Adoption Authority
Colombian Family Welfare Institute (ICBF)

Note:  If any of the following occurred prior to April 1, 2008 (the date on which the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force with respect to the United States), the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption:  1) you filed a Form I-600A identifying Colombia as the country where you intended to adopt; 2) you filed a Form I-600; or; 3) the adoption was completed.  Under these circumstances, your adopted child’s visa application could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions.  For more information, read about Transition Cases

The Process

Because Colombia is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adoptions from Colombia must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention’s requirements.  A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is given below.  You must complete these steps in the following order so that your adoption meets all applicable legal requirements.  Adoptions completed out of order may result in the child not being eligible for an immigrant visa to the United States.

  1. Choose a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider
  2. Apply to USCIS to be found eligible to adopt
  3. Be matched with a child by authorities in Colombia
  4. Apply to USCIS for the child to be found eligible for immigration to the United States and receive U.S. agreement to proceed with the adoption
  5. Adopt the child in Colombia
  6. Obtain a U.S. immigrant visa for your child and bring your child home

1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider

The recommended first step in adopting a child from Colombia is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited or approved to provide services to U.S. citizens in Convention cases.  Only adoption services providers accredited or approved by both the United States and Colombia may provide adoption services between the United States and Colombia.  The U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider will act as the primary provider in your case.  The primary adoption service provider is responsible for ensuring that all adoption services in the case are done in accordance with the Hague Adoption Convention and U.S. laws and regulations.  Learn more about Agency Accreditation.

Note:  Colombian law allows prospective parents and their chosen adoption service provider to work with ICBF or an authorized adoption institution (IAPA).  A number of U.S. adoption service providers have pre-established relationships with IAPAs.  Adopting with the assistance of an IAPA can be more expensive than adopting directly through ICBF.  Prospective parents should review the pros and cons of both options with their adoption service provider before making a final decision about which option to pursue.

2.  Apply to USCIS to be Found Eligible to Adopt

After you choose an adoption service provider accredited or approved in both the United States and Colombia, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt by the responsible U.S. government agency, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), by submitting Form I-800A.  Read more about Eligibility Requirements.

Once USCIS determines that you are “eligible” and “suited” to adopt by approving the Form I-800A, your adoption service provider will provide your Form I-800A approval notice, home study, and any other required information to ICBF, or your chosen authorized adoption institution (IAPA) in Colombia, as part of your adoption dossier (see a list of documents required by ICBF below).  Colombia’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Colombia’s law.

3.  Be Matched with a Child in Colombia

If both the United States and Colombia determine that you are eligible to adopt, and the Colombian Central Authority determines that a child is available for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests, the Colombian Central Authority or IAPA may provide you with a referral for a child.

To request a referral, prospective adoptive parents need to submit the following documents (in addition to your Form I-800A approval notice) to ICBF or the approved adoption institution:

  • Application Form for adoption (this can be provided by the ICBF or found on the ICBF website;
  • Birth certificate(s) of the prospective adoptive parent(s);
  • Marriage certificate or proof of common law relationship of prospective adoptive parents;
  • Social and psychological study of the prospective adoptive family that establishes physical, mental, moral, and social capacity.  The home study required by USCIS can fulfill both the U.S. and the Colombian requirements.  ICBF reserves the right to request additional information or clarification of any information included in this study.  
    • Note:  Diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues with prescription medication is much more common in the United States than in Colombia.  As a result, ICBF staff and family judges (who must approve the adoption) may have additional questions for families addressing these issues.  By including a psychological study prepared by a psychologist or psychiatrist with their initial submission, a family dealing with these issues can provide additional information that could help avoid delays in the Colombian approval process.
  • Medical examination(s) by board-certified physicians clearly stating that the prospective adoptive parent is mentally and physically capable of caring for a child. 
    • Note: Prospective adoptive parents who are taking (or have recently taken) prescription medication for mental illnesses, including attention deficit disorder or any type of depression or any psychological or emotional issue, must ensure that the medical exam includes a diagnosis of the issue and a discussion of the treatment.  Prospective adoptive parents who have been arrested for any drug or alcohol related offense (to include possession and driving under the influence) should ensure that the medical exam clearly discusses whether there is any evidence of drug or alcohol abuse or addiction;
  • National law enforcement clearance issued by a competent police authority.  For U.S. citizens, this consists of a set of fingerprints, and their results, issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). 
    • Note: Prospective adoptive parents with a criminal record, even if the charges were subsequently dismissed, should ensure the home study includes a detailed discussion of the charges including their nature, their resolution, and whether this criminal history would affect their abilities as parents.
  • Birth certificates of any children previously adopted by the prospective adoptive parent(s);
  • Certificate of financial ability and employment letters explaining length of service and monthly salary received in U.S. dollars;
  • If self-employed, a certified document regarding the parent's(s') financial resources or last income tax return with supporting documents;
  • If there were previous marriages or partners of the prospective adoptive parent(s), proof of divorce and reasons for such dissolutions should be presented;
  • Notarized statement clarifying any changes in name or "also known as" name.  Generally, Colombian women do not change their name to that of their husband’s.  As a result, Colombian courts are accustomed to birth certificates, marriage certificates, and passports with no variation in name.  If you have documents in both maiden and married names, you must submit a notarized statement indicating the reasons for the discrepancies in your documents;
  • Signed commitment to complete post-adoption reporting requirements; and
  • Family photo album.  There is no required format for this album.  ICBF and IAPA staff use this album during the matching process to get a more complete sense of the family and living situation.  Additionally, ICBF and IAPA staff share this album with the child to prepare him or her to meet the family and transition to his or her new family and home.

Note:  Colombia requires that all documents submitted (except the family album) to be authenticated and include an official Spanish translation by a qualified translator.

The referral is a proposed match between you and a specific child based on a review of your dossier and the needs of a specific child in Colombia.  The adoption authority in Colombia will provide a background study and other information, if available, about the child to help you decide whether to accept the referral or not.  A family can request additional information about the child before making a final decision.  Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs and provide a permanent home for a particular child.  If you accept the referral, the adoption service provider communicates that to the ICBF in Colombia.  Learn more about this critical decision.

4.  Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States and Receive U.S. Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption

After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), for provisional approval for the child to immigrate to the United States (Form I-800).  USCIS will make a provisional determination as to whether the child meets the definition of a Convention Adoptee and will be eligible to enter the United States and reside permanently as an immigrant.

After provisional approval of Form I-800, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Colombia, that is responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from Colombia.  A consular officer will review the Form I-800 and the visa application for possible visa ineligibilities and advise you of options for the waiver of any noted ineligibilities.

WARNING:  The consular officer will prepare a letter (referred to as an “Article 5 Letter”) to the Colombia’s Central Authority in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from Colombia where all Convention requirements are met and the consular officer determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States.  This letter will inform Colombia’s Central Authority that the parents are eligible and suited to adopt, that all indications are that the child may enter and reside permanently in the United States, and that the U.S. Central Authority agrees that the adoption may proceed.  A representative of your adoption service provider will need to come to the embassy to collect this letter and deliver it to ICBF.

Do not attempt to adopt or obtain custody of a child in Colombia before a U.S. consular officer issues the Article 5 Letter in any adoption case.

Remember:  The consular officer will make a final decision about a child’s eligibility for an immigrant visa at the final visa interview.

Obtaining the Article 5 letter is a two-step process:

  • You prepare and electronically submit an online DS-260 application for the child(ren) you will be adopting.

In order to submit the DS-260, you will need the Department of State case number (which will begin with “BGT” followed by 10 digits) and an invoice ID.  The National Visa Center (NVC) will mail this information to you generally within two weeks of USCIS’ approval of your I-800.  If you do not wish to wait for this letter from NVC, you may email NVCAdoptions@state.gov five to seven business days after USCIS has provisionally approved your Form I-800 petition to request your case number and invoice ID.  Please include in this email your full name and date of birth, the full name and date of birth of the petitioner (if you are not the petitioner), and the USCIS receipt number (if you are adopting more than one child, please include the USCIS receipt number for each child as NVC will need to send you a separate case numbers and invoice IDs for each child).  Once you have this information, you can complete the online DS-260 application.  Please remember that you are filling this form out on behalf of your child(ren) – answer each question based on their current situation (to include using their biological names), not your own.

  • The local representative of your adoption service provider submits several additional items in person to the U.S. Embassy in Bogota on your behalf:
    • Two (2) color photographs of the child on a white background.  The total size of the photo must be 5 cm x 5 cm with the child’s head size measuring 3 cm x 3 cm.
    • The $230 immigrant visa application fee. 

Note: This payment must be made in person at the embassy, although the local representative may pay by cash or credit card.
Note:  A consular officer will confirm the validity of your USCIS-issued fingerprint clearance during the Article 5 review process.  If your fingerprints are scheduled to expire within three months, the embassy will normally request that you schedule a new fingerprint appointment with USCIS to update your prints prior to travelling.  We cannot issue a visa to your child if your fingerprints have expired, so you will prevent unnecessary delays by updating your prints before travel.  If you have already updated your prints, please e-mail a copy of the update (or a copy of the appointment letter showing the date of your fingerprint appointment) to IVBogota@state.gov so that we can work with USCIS to add these updated results to your file.

5.  Adopt or Gain Legal Custody of Child in Colombia

Remember:  Before you adopt a child in Colombia, you must have completed the above four steps.  Only after completing these steps, can you proceed to finalize the adoption in Colombia.

The process for finalizing the adoption in Colombia generally includes the following:

  • Role of the Central Authority:  Colombian law does not allow for private adoptions.  Children may be adopted only through the Colombian Family Welfare Institute (ICBF) or approved adoption agencies (IAPAs).  ICBF or the IAPA will match the child with the prospective adoptive parent(s) and issue the required paperwork before the case moves to the Colombian courts.  Once a family judge issues an adoption decree, ICBF will issue the Certificate of Conformity for all adoption cases (whether completed through ICBF or an IAPA).
  • Role of the Court:  The Colombian family courts require a letter from the U.S. Embassy in Bogota stating that they will issue an immigrant visa to the child if all adoption and U.S. immigrant requirements are met.  When all documentation is completed, the family judge will provide the adoption decree which the family can then use to obtain a new Colombian birth certificate from the National Registrar and a new Colombian passport from the Colombian passport office.

Note:  For children adopted by two parents, Colombian law requires that both parents travel to Colombia for the official integration period with the child (as established by ICBF) and for the initial court date.  Only one parent is required to remain in Colombia following the initial hearing with the judge.  Should one parent choose to return to the United States, the departing parent must go to a Colombian notary to prepare a travel authorization to allow the child to travel to the United States with only one parent.

  • Role of Adoption Service Providers:  A list of accredited U.S. adoption service providers authorized to facilitate adoptions in Colombia is available on the ICBF website.  The Department of State maintains a current list of accredited adoption service providers.  Not all Hague accredited adoption service providers are authorized to operate in Colombia.

Before traveling to Colombia, we recommend that you confirm with your adoption service provider the services that you will receive in-country.  Although the Colombian government requires adoption service providers to assist you throughout your time in country, families have reported differing levels of support.  In particular, we recommend confirming the type of translation assistance you will receive during the process as well as whether the local representative will attend any meetings with you.

  • Time Frame:  There is no set time frame for completing an intercountry adoption from Colombia.  There are many factors that determine how long the adoption and visa process takes, including paperwork approval times, desired gender and age of the child, and the age of the prospective adoptive parent(s).  Adoptive parents have reported the entire process taking 18 to 30 months from the start of the home study process.
  • Adoption Application:  Prospective adoptive parents can find a description of the adoption process as well as the adoption application here.
  • Adoption Fees:  In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency should itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process.  It is difficult to predict how much the entire adoption process will cost, as each case is unique.  Adoptive parents have reported spending between $12,000 and $30,000 to complete the adoption process.  ICBF does not charge for administrative processing.  Families working with an IAPA can find the list of allowable fees published on ICBF’s webpage.
  • Documents Required: See the section Be Matched With a Child in Colombia.
  • Authentication of Documents:  You will be asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic.  If so, the Department of State, Authentications office may be able to assist.  Read more about Authenticating U.S. Documents.

6.  Obtain an Immigrant Visa for your Child and Bring Your Child Home

Now that your adoption is complete, there are a few more steps to take before you can head home.  Specifically, you need to apply for four documents before your child can travel to the United States:

Certificate of Conformity
Your adoption representative will take the adoption decree issued by a family judge to the ICBF national headquarters to obtain a Certificate of Conformity which you will need to present to the U.S. Embassy on the day of your child’s immigrant visa interview.

Birth Certificate
If you have finalized the adoption in Colombia, you will firstneed to apply for a birth certificate for your child so that you can later apply for his/her Colombian passport.

At present, Colombia does not have any provisions which would allow for the electronic delivery of the adoption decree or the new birth certificate.  Your adoption service provider will usually make arrangements to hand-deliver a notarized copy of the adoption decree to the registrar’s office where your child was originally registered.  That office will prepare a new birth certificate that someone will need to collect.  While this process usually takes just a few days, some families have experienced delays of a week or more due to difficulties in delivering/receiving documents.  Families may wish to consult with their adoption service provider prior to traveling to Colombia to review how much additional time this process could require.

Colombia Passport
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Colombia.  Most families take the child’s new birth certificate to the Colombian Passport Office located at Calle 100 in Bogota to obtain the child’s passport.  A passport costs approximately $65 and is generally available for pick-up within two days.

U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to finalize your application for a U.S. visa for your child from the U.S Embassy in Bogota, Colombia.  After the adoption is granted, visit the U.S Embassy for final review of the case, issuance of a U.S. Hague Adoption Certificate or Hague Custody Certificate, a final approval of Form I-800, and to obtain your child’s immigrant visa.  This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you.  As part of this process, the consular officer must be provided the “Panel Physician’s” medical report on the child if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage.  Read more about the Medical Examination.

Once you have the documents listed under section 4 above, along with the required medical exams, your adoption service provider can request an expedited interview by emailing this request and a copy of the child’s biographical data page from the new passport to IVBogota@state.gov.  In general, the Embassy can offer an appointment the next business day as long as you or your adoption representative sends the request and a copy of the passport biographical data page before 4:00 p.m.  After you or your representative requests the appointment from us, we will reopen your DS-260 application(s).  You will then need to return to https://ceac.state.gov/IV/Login.aspx and update the application to show your child’s adoptive name and correct passport information.  Note:  You cannot make these edits until after we have reopened the DS-260 application electronically.

  • On the day of the interview, you and your child should come to the Embassy at your scheduled time and bring:
    • Child’s new Colombian passport
    • Child’s new birth certificate and a copy of the child’s birth certificate prior to the adoption
    • Administrative resolution of the adoption that contains the declaration of adoptability.  This document must include ICBF’s approval
    • Final adoption decree
    • Medical examination results

Child Citizenship Act

For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States:  A child will acquire U.S. citizenship upon entry into the United States if the adoption was finalized prior to entry and the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States:  An adoption will need to be completed following your child’s entry into the United States for the child to acquire U.S. citizenship.

*Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible.  Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting.  Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

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Traveling Abroad

TRAVELING ABROAD

Applying for Your U.S. Passport
U.S. citizens are required by law to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.

Getting or renewing a passport is easy.  The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.

Obtaining a Visa to Travel to Colombia
In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa.  A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit.  Where required, visas are affixed to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation.  To find information about obtaining a visa for Colombia, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.

Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it is always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country.  The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.

Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to enroll with the Department of State.  Enrollment makes it possible to contact you if necessary.  Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in Colombia enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.

Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

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After Adoption

AFTER ADOPTION

Post-Adoption/Post-Placement Reporting Requirements
Colombia requires four post-adoption reports certified by a psychologist.  The reports should be provided to ICBF 3, 9, 15, and 21 months after the adoption has been finalized.  We urge prospective adoptive parents to comply with Colombia’s post-adoption requirements in a timely manner.  Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process.  Your cooperation will contribute to Colombia’s history of positive experience with U.S. citizen parents.

Post-Adoption Resources
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption.  There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families. There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin.  Take advantage of all the resources available to your family, whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.

Here are some places to start your support group search:

If your adopted child wants to learn about their biological family, please email busquedaorigenesadoptados@icbf.gov.co.

Note:  Inclusion of non-U.S. government links does not imply endorsement of contents.

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Contact Information

U.S. Embassy in Colombia
Carrera 45, No. 24B-27
Bogotá, Colombia
Tel:  011-57-1-275-2000, 2:00–3:00 p.m. (Colombian Standard Time)
Fax:  011-57-1-275-4545
Email:  IVBogota@state.gov, Attn: Adoptions
Internet:  co.usembassy.gov

Colombia Adoption Authority
Bienestar Familiar (ICBF)
Grupo Nacional de Adopciones
Avenida 68 # 64-01
Bogotá, Colombia
Tel:  011- 4377630 ext. 101000 o 101062
Email:  atencionalciudadano@icbf.gov.co
Internet:  www.icbf.gov.co (Spanish)

Embassy of Colombia
2118 Leroy Place, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Tel:  (202) 387-8338
Fax:  (202) 232-8643
Email:  embassyofcolombia@colombiaemb.org
Website:  http://colombiaemb.org/

Colombia also has consulates in:  Houston, TX; Atlanta, GA; Los Angeles, CA; San Francisco, CA; Chicago, IL; Boston, MA; San Juan, PR; New York, NY; Miami, FL

Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State
CA/OCS/CI, SA-17A, 9th Floor
Washington, D.C.  20522-1709
Tel:  1-888-407-4747
Email:  AdoptionUSCA@state.gov
Internet:  adoption.state.gov
Tel:  1-888-407-4747
Email:  AdoptionUSCA@state.gov
Internet:  adoption.state.gov

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel:  1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
Internet:  uscis.gov

For questions about filing a Form I-800A or I-800 petition:
National Benefits Center
Tel:  1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)
Email:  NBC.Adoptions@dhs.gov

Reciprocity Schedule

Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.

Explanation of Terms

Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.

Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).

Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.

Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.

Visa Classifications
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
 
Visa
Classification
Fee Number
of Entries
Validity
Period
A-1 None Multiple 60 Months
A-2 None Multiple 60 Months
A-3 1 None Multiple 24 Months
B-1 None Multiple 120 Months
B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
B-1/B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
C-1 None Multiple 60 Months
C-1/D None Multiple 60 Months
C-2 None Multiple 12 Months
C-3 None Multiple 60 Months
CW-1 11 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-2 11 None Multiple 12 Months
D None Multiple 60 Months
E-1 2 None Multiple 60 Months
E-2 2 None Multiple 60 Months
E-2C 12 None Multiple 24 Months
F-1 None Multiple 60 Months
F-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-1 None Multiple 60 Months
G-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-3 None Multiple 60 Months
G-4 None Multiple 60 Months
G-5 1 None Multiple 24 Months
H-1B None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-1C None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-2A None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-2B None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-2R None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-4 None Multiple 60 Months 3
I None Multiple 60 Months
J-1 4 None Multiple 60 Months
J-2 4 None Multiple 60 Months
K-1 None One 6 Months
K-2 None One 6 Months
K-3 None Multiple 24 Months
K-4 None Multiple 24 Months
L-1 None Multiple 60 Months
L-2 None Multiple 60 Months
M-1 None Multiple 60 Months
M-2 None Multiple 60 Months
N-8 None Multiple 60 Months
N-9 None Multiple 60 Months
NATO 1-7 N/A N/A N/A
O-1 None Multiple 60 Months 3
O-2 None Multiple 60 Months 3
O-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-1 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-2 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-4 None Multiple 60 Months 3
Q-1 6 None Multiple 15 Months 3
R-1 None Multiple 60 Months
R-2 None Multiple 60 Months
S-5 7 None One 1 Month
S-6 7 None One 1 Month
S-7 7 None One 1 Month
T-1 9 N/A N/A N/A
T-2 None One 6 Months
T-3 None One 6 Months
T-4 None One 6 Months
T-5 None One 6 Months
T-6 None One 6 Months
TD 5 N/A N/A N/A
U-1 None Multiple 48 Months
U-2 None Multiple 48 Months
U-3 None Multiple 48 Months
U-4 None Multiple 48 Months
U-5 None Multiple 48 Months
V-1 None Multiple 120 Months
V-2 None Multiple 120 Months 8
V-3 None Multiple 120 Months 8
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Country Specific Footnotes

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

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Visa Category Footnotes
  1. The validity of A-3, G-5, and NATO 7 visas may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the person who is employing the applicant. The "employer" would have one of the following visa classifications:

    • A-1
    • A-2
    • G-1 through G-4
    • NATO 1 through NATO 6

  2. An E-1 and E-2 visa may be issued only to a principal alien who is a national of a country having a treaty, or its equivalent, with the United States. E-1 and E-2 visas may not be issued to a principal alien if he/she is a stateless resident. The spouse and children of an E-1 or E-2 principal alien are accorded derivative E-1 or E-2 status following the reciprocity schedule, including any reciprocity fees, of the principle alien’s country of nationality.  

    Example: John Doe is a national of the country of Z that has an E-1/E-2 treaty with the U.S. His wife and child are nationals of the country of Y which has no treaty with the U.S. The wife and child would, therefore, be entitled to derivative status and receive the same reciprocity as Mr. Doe, the principal visa holder.  

  3. The validity of H-1 through H-3, O-1 and O-2, P-1 through P-3, and Q visas may not exceed the period of validity of the approved petition or the number of months shown, whichever is less.

    Under 8 CFR §214.2, H-2A and H-2B petitions may generally only be approved for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as participating countries. The current list of eligible countries is available on USCIS's website for both H-2A and H-2B visas. Nationals of countries not on this list may be the beneficiary of an approved H-2A or H2-B petition in limited circumstances at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security if specifically named on the petition.  

    Derivative H-4, L-2, O-3, and P-4 visas, issued to accompanying or following-to-join spouses and children, may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the principal alien.

  4. There is no reciprocity fee for the issuance of a J visa if the alien is a United States Government grantee or a participant in an exchange program sponsored by the United States Government.

    Also, there is no reciprocity fee for visa issuance to an accompanying or following-to-join spouse or child (J-2) of an exchange visitor grantee or participant.

    In addition, an applicant is eligible for an exemption from the MRV fee if he or she is participating in a State Department, USAID, or other federally funded educational and cultural exchange program (program serial numbers G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-7).

    However, all other applicants with U.S. Government sponsorships, including other J-visa applicants, are subject to the MRV processing fee.

  5. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican nationals coming to engage in certain types of professional employment in the United States may be admitted in a special nonimmigrant category known as the "trade NAFTA" or "TN" category. Their dependents (spouse and children) accompanying or following to join them may be admitted in the "trade dependent" or "TD" category whether or not they possess Canadian or Mexican nationality. Except as noted below, the number of entries, fees and validity for non-Canadian or non-Mexican family members of a TN status holder seeking TD visas should be based on the reciprocity schedule of the TN principal alien.

    Canadian Nationals

    Since Canadian nationals generally are exempt from visa requirement, a Canadian "TN' or "TD" alien does not require a visa to enter the United States. However, the non-Canadian national dependent of a Canadian "TN", unless otherwise exempt from the visa requirement, must obtain a "TD" visa before attempting to enter the United States. The standard reciprocity fee and validity period for all non-Canadian "TD"s is no fee, issued for multiple entries for a period of 36 months, or for the duration of the principal alien's visa and/or authorized period of stay, whichever is less. See 'NOTE' under Canadian reciprocity schedule regarding applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality.

    Mexican Nationals

    Mexican nationals are not visa-exempt. Therefore, all Mexican "TN"s and both Mexican and non-Mexican national "TD"s accompanying or following to join them who are not otherwise exempt from the visa requirement (e.g., the Canadian spouse of a Mexican national "TN") must obtain nonimmigrant visas.

    Applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality, who have a permanent resident or refugee status in Canada/Mexico, may not be accorded Canadian/Mexican reciprocity, even when applying in Canada/Mexico. The reciprocity fee and period for "TD" applicants from Libya is $10.00 for one entry over a period of 3 months. The Iranian and Iraqi "TD" is no fee with one entry over a period of 3 months.

  6. Q-2 (principal) and Q-3 (dependent) visa categories are in existence as a result of the 'Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act of 1998'. However, because the Department anticipates that virtually all applicants for this special program will be either Irish or U.K. nationals, the Q-2 and Q-3 categories have been placed only in the reciprocity schedules for those two countries. Q-2 and Q-3 visas are available only at the Embassy in Dublin and the Consulate General in Belfast.

  7. No S visa may be issued without first obtaining the Department's authorization.

  8. V-2 and V-3 status is limited to persons who have not yet attained their 21st birthday. Accordingly, the period of validity of a V-2 or V-3 visa must be limited to expire on or before the applicant's twenty-first birthday.

  9. Posts may not issue a T-1 visa. A T-1 applicant must be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or a U.S. port of entry, where he/she will apply for an adjustment of status to that of a T-1. The following dependents of a T-1 visa holder, however, may be issued a T visa at a U.S. consular office abroad:

    • T-2 (spouse)
    • T-3 (child)
    • T-4 (parent)
  10. The validity of NATO-5 visas may not exceed the period of validity of the employment contract or 12 months, whichever is less.

  11. The validity of CW-1 and CW-2 visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (12 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

  12. The validity of E-2C visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (24 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

 

 

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General Documents

Please check back for update.

Birth, Death, Burial Certificates

Birth

 

Available. Decree No. 540 of March 13, 1934 provided for the civil registration of births in Colombia with notaries, with municipal authorities where a notary has not been appointed, and with Colombian consular representatives in foreign countries. However, this system was not effective before 1940. Decree No. 540 of March 13, 1934 also provided for the registration of marriages, adoptions and deaths in the same procedure as required for birth certificates. Copies of these records may be obtained from the appropriate official authority where registered.

Complete copies of the page of the book where the birth, the marriage, and/or the death was registered (copia del folio) are issued on plain white paper and certified by the notary public with an original signature over either a wet seal or a sticker. Applicants must present these civil records in support of their applications; religious records are not sufficient (applicants can usually present their religious records to a Colombian notary or appropriate authority to obtain an official civil record of the event).

Notaries often issue summarized birth, marriage and death certificates. It is advisable to request the "copia del folio" since it is a copy of the book itself and has all the information regarding the parents, the exact place where the person was born (hospital's name, home, etc.), grandparents names, date of registration, etc. All this information is very helpful in verifying applicant's relationship to petitioner and helps to detect possible fraud.

Occasionally, the embassy requests a copy of a religious baptism, marriage, or funeral to augment civil records. If requested by the embassy, an applicant can obtain complete copies of baptism, religious marriage, and religious funeral records from the church parish where the ceremony took place. The Catholic baptismal certificates always have a line for marginal notes. Usually, the marginal notes indicate if the person had been married under a religious ceremony. They are issued on official paper, letterhead paper of the church, or plain white paper signed and sealed by the issuing priest. To avoid fraud, the issuing priest's signature may be authenticated by the competent ecclesiastical or civil authority.

 

Death/Burial

 

Available. Decree No. 540 of March 13, 1934 (See Birth Certificates) also provided for the registration of marriages, adoptions and deaths in the same procedure as required for birth certificates. Copies of these records may be obtained from the appropriate official authority where registered.

Complete copies of the page of the book where the birth, the marriage, and/or the death was registered (copia del folio) are issued on plain white paper and certified by the notary public with an original signature over either a wet seal or a sticker. Applicants must present these civil records in support of their applications; religious records are not sufficient (applicants can usually present their religious records to a Colombian notary or appropriate authority to obtain an official civil record of the event).

Notaries often issue summarized birth, marriage and death certificates. It is advisable to request the "copia del folio" since it is a copy of the book itself and has all the information regarding the parents, the exact place where the person was born (hospital's name, home, etc.), grandparents names, date of registration, etc. All this information is very helpful in verifying applicant's relationship to petitioner and helps to detect possible fraud.

Occasionally, the embassy requests a copy of a religious baptism, marriage, or funeral to augment civil records. If requested by the embassy, an applicant can obtain complete copies of baptism, religious marriage, and religious funeral records from the church parish where the ceremony took place. The Catholic baptismal certificates always have a line for marginal notes. Usually, the marginal notes indicate if the person had been married under a religious ceremony. They are issued on official paper, letterhead paper of the church, or plain white paper signed and sealed by the issuing priest. To avoid fraud, the issuing priest's signature may be authenticated by the competent ecclesiastical or civil authority.

 

Marriage, Divorce Certificates

Marriage

 

Available. Decree No. 540 of March 13, 1934 (see Birth Certificates) also provided for the registration of marriages, adoptions and deaths in the same procedure as required for birth certificates. Copies of these records may be obtained from the appropriate official authority where registered.

Complete copies of the page of the book where the birth, the marriage, and/or the death was registered (copia del folio) are issued on plain white paper and certified by the notary public with an original signature over either a wet seal or a sticker. Applicants must present these civil records in support of their applications; religious records are not sufficient (applicants can usually present their religious records to a Colombian notary or appropriate authority to obtain an official civil record of the event).

Notaries often issue summarized birth, marriage and death certificates. It is advisable to request the "copia del folio" since it is a copy of the book itself and has all the information regarding the parents, the exact place where the person was born (hospital's name, home, etc.), grandparents names, date of registration, etc. All this information is very helpful in verifying applicant's relationship to petitioner and helps to detect possible fraud.

Catholic marriages in Colombia have legal effect and, after it has been performed by the Church authorities, it is registered with the civil authorities. Both records are available to applicants, although the embassy requires the civil record for visa processing. Civil marriages are presently performed by a Notary Public or a Family Judge (Notario Publico o Juez de Familia).

Occasionally, the embassy requests a copy of a religious baptism, marriage, or funeral to augment civil records. If requested by the embassy, an applicant can obtain complete copies of baptism, religious marriage, and religious funeral records from the church parish where the ceremony took place. The Catholic baptismal certificates always have a line for marginal notes. Usually, the marginal notes indicate if the person had been married under a religious ceremony. They are issued on official paper, letterhead paper of the church, or plain white paper signed and sealed by the issuing priest. To avoid fraud, the issuing priest's signature may be authenticated by the competent ecclesiastical or civil authority.

Divorce

 

Under the new law No. 25 of 1992, divorce is now legal in Colombia for both civil and Catholic marriages. Mutual consent divorces are processed by the Notary Publics, and divorces by cause are processed by the "Juzgados de Familia". Both types of documents are issued on plain white paper. Catholics who do not want to process a divorce can get an annulment of their marriage (“cesacion de efectos civiles”). Annulments are issued by the "Tribunal Eclesiastico" of the Roman Catholic Church on letterhead paper. The embassy will accept an annulment issued by the "Tribunal Eclesiastico" as proof of an official annulment of the marriage.  All divorces, whether civil or religious, must be registered with the civil authorities (“La Oficina de Registro Civil”) to be legal.  Proof that the divorce was registered with civil authorities (either an annotated birth certificate or marriage certificate) is required in addition to the divorce decree.  

 

Adoption Certificates

Unavailable.

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Identity Card

(Documento De Viaje)

The Government of Colombia also issues this document, which together with a cedula de extranjeria constitute a "passport". The documento de viaje supplies the bearer's origin and identity, while the cedula states the bearer's nationality.

Police, Court, Prison Records

Police Certificates

 

  • Available/Unavailable: Available
  • Fees: No Fee
  • Document Name: Certificado de Antecedentes Judiciales
  • Issuing Authority: Ministerio de Defensa Nacional – Policía Nacional de Colombia
  • Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: The police record can be printed from the Policía Nacional de Colombia website.
  • Issuing Authority Personnel Title: N/A
  • Registration Criteria: N/A
  • Procedure for Obtaining: All applicants who are 18 years or older must provide a Colombian Police Certificate, called Certificado de Antecedentes Judiciales. Applicants may obtain police certificates online at www.policia.gov.co. Police certificates have a validity of one year.

    Any applicant who has a police record that states "Actualmente no es requirido por autoridad judicial alguna" (in English, "currently not wanted by any judicial authority") must bring their complete court records, along with an English translation, to the embassy on the day of their interview. Applicants who fail to bring these court records and the English translation will be required to return to the embassy for a second interview.

    Additionally, individuals who have lived in the United States without legal permission and/or applicants who unsuccessfully applied for asylum should obtain their report of entry and exits ("certificado de movimientos migratorios") from Colombia. Applicants can obtain this report from Migración Colombia at www.migracioncolombia.gov.co.

    Third country nationals who hold foreigner identification cards (Cedulas de Extranjeria, C.E.) can obtain Colombian criminal records online through the Colombian National Police website www.policia.gov.co by entering their C.E. number.

    If a third country national resides legally in Colombia but does not have a C.E., he/she can go to the following address in person to request a criminal records certificate:

    Carrera 27#18-41 from Monday to Thursday 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on Friday 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Telephone: 408-8000 x3637

    Third country nationals who do not have a C.E. must bring: 1) a letter addressed to the Colombian National Police requesting the certificate; 2) a copy of his/her foreigner identification card (if any) and/or evidence of legal entry into Colombia; 3) their passport.

    There is no charge for this process.  This process must be carried out in person.

    Criminal record certificates are not issued to third country nationals who are unlawfully present in Colombia.  They must go to Migracion Colombia and legalize their stay before the Colombian National Police will issue a certificate.

  • Certified Copies Available: N/A
  • Alternate Documents: N/A
  • Exceptions: N/A
  • Comments: Please do not send the police certificate to the National Visa Center. You must bring your police certificate to the U.S. Embassy on the day of the interview.
Military Records

Unavailable. Colombian citizens over 18 years of age should have their Military Carnets (Libreta Militar), First Class for those who have served with the armed forces and Second Class for those who have obtained an exception.

Passports & Other Travel Documents

The Government of Colombia issues diplomatic, official, regular, border, collective, and provisional passports to Colombian citizens:

  • Border Passports: are issued by the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Relations and the Colombian Consulates abroad to Colombian citizens who are at that moment in a border country with Colombia. These passports are only valid for the country where it was issued.
  • Provisional Passports: are issued by the Colombian Consulates abroad to (a) Colombian citizens who are abroad and who are extremely poor, repatriates, or deportees, who have lost their documents and whose return to Colombia is imminent, (b) the son or the daughter of a Colombian citizen who was born abroad and whose nationality is not yet determined. (Provisional passports issued under the above circumstances are only valid to travel to Colombia), (c) Colombian citizens who have lost their documents or who, due to exceptional circumstances, cannot use their passport and whose return to Colombia is not (repeat not) imminent. (These passports are issued with a note indicating the countries to be visited and are valid for two months.

    All these different types of passports meet the requirements of section 212(a)(7)(B)(i)(I) of the INA.

 

Other Records

Not applicable.

Visa Issuing Posts

Bogota, Colombia (Embassy)

Address:
Carrera 45 No. 24B-27, Bogota, D.C., Colombia

Tel: 011 571-275-2000 - Embassy Switchboard

011 571-275-4545 - Consular Section Fax

Fax: 011 571-315-2196/2197

 

Visa Services

All visa categories for all of Colombia.

Foreign Consular Office Contact Information

Washington, DC (202) 332-7476

Atlanta, GA (404) 254-3206 (404) 343-4906

Boston, MA (617) 536-6222

Chicago, IL (312) 923-1196 (312) 923-9034 (312) 923-9035 (312) 923-1197

Houston, TX (713) 979-0844/0845 (713) 529-3395

Los Angeles, CA (323) 653-4299 (323) 653-2964

Miami, FL (305) 441-1235 (305) 441-9537

Newark, NJ (862) 279-7888 (862) 279-7885

New York, NY (212) 798-9000 ext. 200 (917) 972-1725

Orlando, FL (407) 650-4274 (407) 650-4281

San Francisco, CA (415) 495-7195 (415) 495-7196 (415) 777-3731

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Bogota
Calle 24 Bis No. 48-50
Bogotá, D.C. Colombia
Telephone
+(57) (5) 275-2000
Emergency
+(57) (1) 275-4021
Fax
null
Colombia Country Map

Learn about your destination
Additional Information for Reciprocity

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

Country Information

Colombia
Republic of Colombia
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Embassy Messages

Bogota

 

Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

Must be valid at time of entry.

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

One page required for entry stamp.

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

Not required for stays 90 days or less.

VACCINATIONS:

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

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

10,000 USD maximum

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

10,000 USD maximum

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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Bogota

Calle 24 Bis No. 48-50
Bogotá, D.C. Colombia
Mailing address: Carrera 45 No. 24B-27 Bogotá, D.C. 110111 Colombia
Telephone: +(57) (1) 275-2000
Emergency after-hours telephone: +(57) (1) 275-4021

Consulates


U.S. Consular Agency - Barranquilla
Calle 77B No. 57-141, suite 511
Centro Empresarial Las Americas, Barranquilla, Atlantico,
Colombia
Telephone: +(57) (5) 353-2001
Emergency after-hours telephone: Please contact the U.S. Embassy in Bogota: +(57) (1) 275-2701
For hours and services, please visit the U.S. Embassy Bogota website

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Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Colombia for information on U.S.- Colombia relations. 

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Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

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.

Find information on dual nationality, prevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

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Safety and Security

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.

Scams: See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

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:

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Local Laws & Special Circumstances

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.  

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

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.

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Health

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:

  • Chikungunya
  • Dengue
  • Malaria
  • Yellow fever
  • Zika

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

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Travel and Transportation

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.”

Hague Convention Participation
Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
What You Can Do
Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US
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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Bogota

Calle 24 Bis No. 48-50
Bogotá, D.C. Colombia
Mailing address: Carrera 45 No. 24B-27 Bogotá, D.C. 110111 Colombia
Telephone: +(57) (1) 275-2000
Emergency after-hours telephone: +(57) (1) 275-4021

Consulates


U.S. Consular Agency - Barranquilla
Calle 77B No. 57-141, suite 511
Centro Empresarial Las Americas, Barranquilla, Atlantico,
Colombia
Telephone: +(57) (5) 353-2001
Emergency after-hours telephone: Please contact the U.S. Embassy in Bogota: +(57) (1) 275-2701
For hours and services, please visit the U.S. Embassy Bogota website

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General Information

Colombia and the United States have been treaty partners under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention) since June 1, 1996.

For information concerning travel to Colombia, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country-specific information for Colombia.

The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA).  The report is located here.

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Hague Abduction Convention


The U.S. Department of State serves as the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention.  In this capacity, the Departmen's Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children's Issues facilitates the submission of applications under the Hague Abduction Convention for the return of, or access to, children located in countries that are U.S. treaty partners, including Colombia.  Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the foreign Central Authority.

Contact information:

U.S. Department of State 
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children's Issues
CA/OCS/CI 
SA-17, 9th Floor 
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Telephone:  1-888-407-4747
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444
Website:  travel.state.gov

The Colombian Central Authority for the Hague Abduction Convention is the Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar (ICBF).  ICBF's role is to perform the duties given to central authorities under the Hague Abduction Convention, including processing Hague Abduction Convention applications for return of and access to children.  They can be reached at:

Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar (ICBF)
Sede Nacional Avenida Carrera 68 No 64 C 75
Bogota, DC, Colombia
Telephone: 011-57-1-437-7630, Extension 101105
E-mail
Website

To initiate a Hague case for return of, or access to, a child in Colombia the left-behind parent must submit a Hague application to the ICBF.  The USCA is available to answer questions about the Hague application process, to forward a completed application to the ICBF, and to subsequently monitor its progress through the foreign administrative and legal processes.

There are no fees for filing Hague applications with either the United States or Colombian central authorities.  Attorney fees, if necessary, are the sole responsibility of the person hiring the attorney. Additional costs may include airplane tickets for court appearances and for the return of the child, if so ordered.

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Return

A parent or legal guardian may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for return to the United States of a child abducted to, or wrongfully retained in Colombia.  The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand whether the Convention is an available civil remedy and can provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

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Visitation/Access

A person may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for access to a child living in Colombia.  The criteria for acceptance of a Hague access application vary from country to country.  The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand country-specific criteria and provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

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Retaining an Attorney

Parents pursuing Hague applications in Colombia must be represented by an attorney. Parents may choose either to hire a private attorney or request that an attorney be appointed for them by the Colombian Central Authority. Some parents have reported that they prefer hiring their own private attorneys, because they tend to be the most responsive in following up on cases and providing direct information to a court. A privately-hired attorney should contact the Colombian Central Authority as soon as possible after the Hague Abduction Convention application has been filed with the Colombian Central Authority. 

The U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Colombia posts a list of attorneys including those who specialize in family law.

This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the following persons or firms. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.

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Mediation

The Colombian Central Authority strongly promotes mediation in abduction cases and if the case is filed with the ICBF, the ICBF will first attempt to mediate between the parties in Hague Abduction Convention cases before a case is forwarded to a court. This mediation occurs in all cases and has resulted in several returns of children to the United States since 2009.

Exercising Custody Rights

While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country.  It is important for parents to understand that, although a left behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.   For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney when planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney.  

For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information

DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. 

 

Hague Convention Participation
Hague Adoption Convention Country?
Yes
Are Intercountry Adoptions between this country and the United States possible?
Is this country a U.S. Hague Partner?
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Hague Convention Information

Colombia is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention or Convention). Intercountry adoption processing in Convention countries is done in accordance with the requirements of the Convention; the U.S. implementing legislation, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA); and the IAA’s implementing regulations, as well as the implementing legislation and regulations of Colombia.

On July 15, 2013, Colombia's Central Authority for adoptions, the Colombian Family Welfare Institute (ICBF), ceased accepting new intercountry adoption applications from non-Colombian citizens living abroad interested in adopting a child under 6 years and 11 months old, unless ICBF considers the child to have special characteristics or needs (please see the Special Needs or Medical Conditions section below for more information). ICBF has indicated that this restriction will last at least two years.

All Colombian adoptions are managed through ICBF or an authorized adoption institution (known in Spanish as “Institucion Autorizada para desarollar el Programa de Adopciones” (IAPA)).  Colombian law prohibits private adoptions. Please note ICBF does not allow for a Colombian child to travel to the United States to be adopted. Therefore, prospective adoptive parents must obtain a full and final adoption under Colombian law before the child can immigrate to the United States. The Colombian adoption process has two stages, an administrative process (with ICBF or an IAPA) and a judicial process before a family judge. Intercountry adoptions are only considered full and final in Colombia after the family judge issues the final adoption decree, called a “sentencia,” and the certificate of conformity issued by ICBF. Adopting parents are required to remain in Colombia during both stages of the adoption process.

Note:  Special transition provisions apply to adoptions initiated before April 1, 2008. Read about Transition Cases.

U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS

To bring an adopted child to the United States from Colombia, you must meet eligibility and suitability requirements. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines who can adopt under U.S. immigration law.

Additionally, a child must meet the definition of Convention adoptee under U.S. law in order to immigrate to the United States on an [H-3 or H-4] immigrant visa.

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Who Can Adopt

In addition to the U.S. requirements, Colombia obliges prospective adoptive parents to meet the following requirements in order to adopt a child from Colombia:

  • Residency: There are no residency requirements for intercountry adoptions from Colombia.
  • Age of Adopting Parents:  Parent(s) must be 25 years old and at least 15 years older than the child to be adopted. In practice, newborns are assigned to younger couples and older children to older couples.
  • Marriage: Colombia permits adoption by both married couples and unmarried individuals, although Colombia has significantly stricter requirements on adoptions by unmarried individuals. Because the Colombian courts and legislature are currently reviewing whether adoption by same sex couples and unmarried individuals are permissible, it is highly unlikely that ICBF will approve adoptions by LGBT persons at this time.
  • Income: Prospective adoptive parents are required to submit documentation confirming their ability to provide for the adopted child.
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Who Can Be Adopted

Because Colombia is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Colombia must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the adoption may take place only if the competent authorities of Colombia have determined that placement of the child within Colombia has been given due consideration and that an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests. In addition to Colombia’s requirements, a child must meet the definition of Convention adoptee to be eligible for an immigrant visa that will allow you to bring him or her to the United States.

Colombia only approves a child for adoption after completing an extensive review of the child’s situation and his or her extended family (a process known as the restoration of rights – “restablecimiento de derechos” in Spanish).

On July 15, 2013, ICBF ceased accepting new intercountry adoption applications from non-Colombian citizens living abroad interested in adopting a child under 6 years and 11 months old, unless ICBF considers the child to have special characteristics or needs. ICBF has indicated that this restriction will last at least two years.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS:

  • Relinquishment: Colombian law allows adoption by direct relinquishment to blood relatives within the third degree of consanguinity or second degree of affinity. (Click here for a chart explaining consanguinity/affinity.)
  • Abandonment: Most intercountry adoptions from Colombia occur after a family defender issues a declaration of adoptability following an extensive review of the child’s living situation and his/her biological and extended family’s ability to care for the child (“restoration or rights”).
  • Age of Adoptive Child:  Prospective adoptive parents with Colombian citizenship and U.S. families who reside in Colombia may apply to adopt children under the age of 16 (up 18 if adopted along with a younger sibling), although ICBF has established specific age ranges for different types of children and different family compositions.  ICBF no longer accepts new intercountry adoption applications from non-Colombian citizens living abroad interested in adopting a child under 6 years and 11 months, unless ICBF considers the child to have special characteristics or needs.  ICBF intends to reassess these limitations on placement in July 2015.  
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    • Note:  Families who have already been accepted by ICBF as prospective adoptive parents for a healthy child under 6 years and 11 months old will maintain their place on the existing waiting list and ICBF will continue to match and finalize adoptions for these children.
  • Sibling Adoptions:  Sibling adoptions may take place in Colombia.  Please see the Special Needs or Medical Conditions section below for more information.
  • Special Needs or Medical Conditions:  ICBF’s highest priority is to find home for children with special characteristics or needs:

a.  Three or more siblings
b.  Two siblings, one older than eight years of age
c.  Any child older than 8 years of age with no diseases or disabilities
d.  Any child of any age with a physical or mental disability
e.  Any child with a chronic disease (HIV, cardiac, liver, among others)

ICBF is committed to accelerating the entire adoption process – from declaration of adoptability through the final issuance of the adoption decree – for families interested in these children.

  • Waiting Period or Foster Care:  There is no mandatory waiting period to be matched with a child.  ICBF does require, however, that prospective parents spend a minimum of three days (more typically one to two weeks) living with the child(ren) in Colombia before ICBF will allow the family to file their final adoption paperwork with a Colombian court.
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How to Adopt

WARNING:  Colombia is party to the Hague Adoption Convention.  Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Colombia before a U.S. consular officer issues an “Article 5 Letter” in the case.  Read on for more information.

Colombia’s Adoption Authority
Colombian Family Welfare Institute (ICBF)

Note:  If any of the following occurred prior to April 1, 2008 (the date on which the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force with respect to the United States), the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption:  1) you filed a Form I-600A identifying Colombia as the country where you intended to adopt; 2) you filed a Form I-600; or; 3) the adoption was completed.  Under these circumstances, your adopted child’s visa application could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions.  For more information, read about Transition Cases

The Process

Because Colombia is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adoptions from Colombia must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention’s requirements.  A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is given below.  You must complete these steps in the following order so that your adoption meets all applicable legal requirements.  Adoptions completed out of order may result in the child not being eligible for an immigrant visa to the United States.

  1. Choose a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider
  2. Apply to USCIS to be found eligible to adopt
  3. Be matched with a child by authorities in Colombia
  4. Apply to USCIS for the child to be found eligible for immigration to the United States and receive U.S. agreement to proceed with the adoption
  5. Adopt the child in Colombia
  6. Obtain a U.S. immigrant visa for your child and bring your child home

1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider

The recommended first step in adopting a child from Colombia is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited or approved to provide services to U.S. citizens in Convention cases.  Only adoption services providers accredited or approved by both the United States and Colombia may provide adoption services between the United States and Colombia.  The U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider will act as the primary provider in your case.  The primary adoption service provider is responsible for ensuring that all adoption services in the case are done in accordance with the Hague Adoption Convention and U.S. laws and regulations.  Learn more about Agency Accreditation.

Note:  Colombian law allows prospective parents and their chosen adoption service provider to work with ICBF or an authorized adoption institution (IAPA).  A number of U.S. adoption service providers have pre-established relationships with IAPAs.  Adopting with the assistance of an IAPA can be more expensive than adopting directly through ICBF.  Prospective parents should review the pros and cons of both options with their adoption service provider before making a final decision about which option to pursue.

2.  Apply to USCIS to be Found Eligible to Adopt

After you choose an adoption service provider accredited or approved in both the United States and Colombia, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt by the responsible U.S. government agency, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), by submitting Form I-800A.  Read more about Eligibility Requirements.

Once USCIS determines that you are “eligible” and “suited” to adopt by approving the Form I-800A, your adoption service provider will provide your Form I-800A approval notice, home study, and any other required information to ICBF, or your chosen authorized adoption institution (IAPA) in Colombia, as part of your adoption dossier (see a list of documents required by ICBF below).  Colombia’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Colombia’s law.

3.  Be Matched with a Child in Colombia

If both the United States and Colombia determine that you are eligible to adopt, and the Colombian Central Authority determines that a child is available for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests, the Colombian Central Authority or IAPA may provide you with a referral for a child.

To request a referral, prospective adoptive parents need to submit the following documents (in addition to your Form I-800A approval notice) to ICBF or the approved adoption institution:

  • Application Form for adoption (this can be provided by the ICBF or found on the ICBF website;
  • Birth certificate(s) of the prospective adoptive parent(s);
  • Marriage certificate or proof of common law relationship of prospective adoptive parents;
  • Social and psychological study of the prospective adoptive family that establishes physical, mental, moral, and social capacity.  The home study required by USCIS can fulfill both the U.S. and the Colombian requirements.  ICBF reserves the right to request additional information or clarification of any information included in this study.  
    • Note:  Diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues with prescription medication is much more common in the United States than in Colombia.  As a result, ICBF staff and family judges (who must approve the adoption) may have additional questions for families addressing these issues.  By including a psychological study prepared by a psychologist or psychiatrist with their initial submission, a family dealing with these issues can provide additional information that could help avoid delays in the Colombian approval process.
  • Medical examination(s) by board-certified physicians clearly stating that the prospective adoptive parent is mentally and physically capable of caring for a child. 
    • Note: Prospective adoptive parents who are taking (or have recently taken) prescription medication for mental illnesses, including attention deficit disorder or any type of depression or any psychological or emotional issue, must ensure that the medical exam includes a diagnosis of the issue and a discussion of the treatment.  Prospective adoptive parents who have been arrested for any drug or alcohol related offense (to include possession and driving under the influence) should ensure that the medical exam clearly discusses whether there is any evidence of drug or alcohol abuse or addiction;
  • National law enforcement clearance issued by a competent police authority.  For U.S. citizens, this consists of a set of fingerprints, and their results, issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). 
    • Note: Prospective adoptive parents with a criminal record, even if the charges were subsequently dismissed, should ensure the home study includes a detailed discussion of the charges including their nature, their resolution, and whether this criminal history would affect their abilities as parents.
  • Birth certificates of any children previously adopted by the prospective adoptive parent(s);
  • Certificate of financial ability and employment letters explaining length of service and monthly salary received in U.S. dollars;
  • If self-employed, a certified document regarding the parent's(s') financial resources or last income tax return with supporting documents;
  • If there were previous marriages or partners of the prospective adoptive parent(s), proof of divorce and reasons for such dissolutions should be presented;
  • Notarized statement clarifying any changes in name or "also known as" name.  Generally, Colombian women do not change their name to that of their husband’s.  As a result, Colombian courts are accustomed to birth certificates, marriage certificates, and passports with no variation in name.  If you have documents in both maiden and married names, you must submit a notarized statement indicating the reasons for the discrepancies in your documents;
  • Signed commitment to complete post-adoption reporting requirements; and
  • Family photo album.  There is no required format for this album.  ICBF and IAPA staff use this album during the matching process to get a more complete sense of the family and living situation.  Additionally, ICBF and IAPA staff share this album with the child to prepare him or her to meet the family and transition to his or her new family and home.

Note:  Colombia requires that all documents submitted (except the family album) to be authenticated and include an official Spanish translation by a qualified translator.

The referral is a proposed match between you and a specific child based on a review of your dossier and the needs of a specific child in Colombia.  The adoption authority in Colombia will provide a background study and other information, if available, about the child to help you decide whether to accept the referral or not.  A family can request additional information about the child before making a final decision.  Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs and provide a permanent home for a particular child.  If you accept the referral, the adoption service provider communicates that to the ICBF in Colombia.  Learn more about this critical decision.

4.  Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States and Receive U.S. Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption

After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), for provisional approval for the child to immigrate to the United States (Form I-800).  USCIS will make a provisional determination as to whether the child meets the definition of a Convention Adoptee and will be eligible to enter the United States and reside permanently as an immigrant.

After provisional approval of Form I-800, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Colombia, that is responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from Colombia.  A consular officer will review the Form I-800 and the visa application for possible visa ineligibilities and advise you of options for the waiver of any noted ineligibilities.

WARNING:  The consular officer will prepare a letter (referred to as an “Article 5 Letter”) to the Colombia’s Central Authority in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from Colombia where all Convention requirements are met and the consular officer determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States.  This letter will inform Colombia’s Central Authority that the parents are eligible and suited to adopt, that all indications are that the child may enter and reside permanently in the United States, and that the U.S. Central Authority agrees that the adoption may proceed.  A representative of your adoption service provider will need to come to the embassy to collect this letter and deliver it to ICBF.

Do not attempt to adopt or obtain custody of a child in Colombia before a U.S. consular officer issues the Article 5 Letter in any adoption case.

Remember:  The consular officer will make a final decision about a child’s eligibility for an immigrant visa at the final visa interview.

Obtaining the Article 5 letter is a two-step process:

  • You prepare and electronically submit an online DS-260 application for the child(ren) you will be adopting.

In order to submit the DS-260, you will need the Department of State case number (which will begin with “BGT” followed by 10 digits) and an invoice ID.  The National Visa Center (NVC) will mail this information to you generally within two weeks of USCIS’ approval of your I-800.  If you do not wish to wait for this letter from NVC, you may email NVCAdoptions@state.gov five to seven business days after USCIS has provisionally approved your Form I-800 petition to request your case number and invoice ID.  Please include in this email your full name and date of birth, the full name and date of birth of the petitioner (if you are not the petitioner), and the USCIS receipt number (if you are adopting more than one child, please include the USCIS receipt number for each child as NVC will need to send you a separate case numbers and invoice IDs for each child).  Once you have this information, you can complete the online DS-260 application.  Please remember that you are filling this form out on behalf of your child(ren) – answer each question based on their current situation (to include using their biological names), not your own.

  • The local representative of your adoption service provider submits several additional items in person to the U.S. Embassy in Bogota on your behalf:
    • Two (2) color photographs of the child on a white background.  The total size of the photo must be 5 cm x 5 cm with the child’s head size measuring 3 cm x 3 cm.
    • The $230 immigrant visa application fee. 

Note: This payment must be made in person at the embassy, although the local representative may pay by cash or credit card.
Note:  A consular officer will confirm the validity of your USCIS-issued fingerprint clearance during the Article 5 review process.  If your fingerprints are scheduled to expire within three months, the embassy will normally request that you schedule a new fingerprint appointment with USCIS to update your prints prior to travelling.  We cannot issue a visa to your child if your fingerprints have expired, so you will prevent unnecessary delays by updating your prints before travel.  If you have already updated your prints, please e-mail a copy of the update (or a copy of the appointment letter showing the date of your fingerprint appointment) to IVBogota@state.gov so that we can work with USCIS to add these updated results to your file.

5.  Adopt or Gain Legal Custody of Child in Colombia

Remember:  Before you adopt a child in Colombia, you must have completed the above four steps.  Only after completing these steps, can you proceed to finalize the adoption in Colombia.

The process for finalizing the adoption in Colombia generally includes the following:

  • Role of the Central Authority:  Colombian law does not allow for private adoptions.  Children may be adopted only through the Colombian Family Welfare Institute (ICBF) or approved adoption agencies (IAPAs).  ICBF or the IAPA will match the child with the prospective adoptive parent(s) and issue the required paperwork before the case moves to the Colombian courts.  Once a family judge issues an adoption decree, ICBF will issue the Certificate of Conformity for all adoption cases (whether completed through ICBF or an IAPA).
  • Role of the Court:  The Colombian family courts require a letter from the U.S. Embassy in Bogota stating that they will issue an immigrant visa to the child if all adoption and U.S. immigrant requirements are met.  When all documentation is completed, the family judge will provide the adoption decree which the family can then use to obtain a new Colombian birth certificate from the National Registrar and a new Colombian passport from the Colombian passport office.

Note:  For children adopted by two parents, Colombian law requires that both parents travel to Colombia for the official integration period with the child (as established by ICBF) and for the initial court date.  Only one parent is required to remain in Colombia following the initial hearing with the judge.  Should one parent choose to return to the United States, the departing parent must go to a Colombian notary to prepare a travel authorization to allow the child to travel to the United States with only one parent.

  • Role of Adoption Service Providers:  A list of accredited U.S. adoption service providers authorized to facilitate adoptions in Colombia is available on the ICBF website.  The Department of State maintains a current list of accredited adoption service providers.  Not all Hague accredited adoption service providers are authorized to operate in Colombia.

Before traveling to Colombia, we recommend that you confirm with your adoption service provider the services that you will receive in-country.  Although the Colombian government requires adoption service providers to assist you throughout your time in country, families have reported differing levels of support.  In particular, we recommend confirming the type of translation assistance you will receive during the process as well as whether the local representative will attend any meetings with you.

  • Time Frame:  There is no set time frame for completing an intercountry adoption from Colombia.  There are many factors that determine how long the adoption and visa process takes, including paperwork approval times, desired gender and age of the child, and the age of the prospective adoptive parent(s).  Adoptive parents have reported the entire process taking 18 to 30 months from the start of the home study process.
  • Adoption Application:  Prospective adoptive parents can find a description of the adoption process as well as the adoption application here.
  • Adoption Fees:  In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency should itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process.  It is difficult to predict how much the entire adoption process will cost, as each case is unique.  Adoptive parents have reported spending between $12,000 and $30,000 to complete the adoption process.  ICBF does not charge for administrative processing.  Families working with an IAPA can find the list of allowable fees published on ICBF’s webpage.
  • Documents Required: See the section Be Matched With a Child in Colombia.
  • Authentication of Documents:  You will be asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic.  If so, the Department of State, Authentications office may be able to assist.  Read more about Authenticating U.S. Documents.

6.  Obtain an Immigrant Visa for your Child and Bring Your Child Home

Now that your adoption is complete, there are a few more steps to take before you can head home.  Specifically, you need to apply for four documents before your child can travel to the United States:

Certificate of Conformity
Your adoption representative will take the adoption decree issued by a family judge to the ICBF national headquarters to obtain a Certificate of Conformity which you will need to present to the U.S. Embassy on the day of your child’s immigrant visa interview.

Birth Certificate
If you have finalized the adoption in Colombia, you will firstneed to apply for a birth certificate for your child so that you can later apply for his/her Colombian passport.

At present, Colombia does not have any provisions which would allow for the electronic delivery of the adoption decree or the new birth certificate.  Your adoption service provider will usually make arrangements to hand-deliver a notarized copy of the adoption decree to the registrar’s office where your child was originally registered.  That office will prepare a new birth certificate that someone will need to collect.  While this process usually takes just a few days, some families have experienced delays of a week or more due to difficulties in delivering/receiving documents.  Families may wish to consult with their adoption service provider prior to traveling to Colombia to review how much additional time this process could require.

Colombia Passport
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Colombia.  Most families take the child’s new birth certificate to the Colombian Passport Office located at Calle 100 in Bogota to obtain the child’s passport.  A passport costs approximately $65 and is generally available for pick-up within two days.

U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to finalize your application for a U.S. visa for your child from the U.S Embassy in Bogota, Colombia.  After the adoption is granted, visit the U.S Embassy for final review of the case, issuance of a U.S. Hague Adoption Certificate or Hague Custody Certificate, a final approval of Form I-800, and to obtain your child’s immigrant visa.  This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you.  As part of this process, the consular officer must be provided the “Panel Physician’s” medical report on the child if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage.  Read more about the Medical Examination.

Once you have the documents listed under section 4 above, along with the required medical exams, your adoption service provider can request an expedited interview by emailing this request and a copy of the child’s biographical data page from the new passport to IVBogota@state.gov.  In general, the Embassy can offer an appointment the next business day as long as you or your adoption representative sends the request and a copy of the passport biographical data page before 4:00 p.m.  After you or your representative requests the appointment from us, we will reopen your DS-260 application(s).  You will then need to return to https://ceac.state.gov/IV/Login.aspx and update the application to show your child’s adoptive name and correct passport information.  Note:  You cannot make these edits until after we have reopened the DS-260 application electronically.

  • On the day of the interview, you and your child should come to the Embassy at your scheduled time and bring:
    • Child’s new Colombian passport
    • Child’s new birth certificate and a copy of the child’s birth certificate prior to the adoption
    • Administrative resolution of the adoption that contains the declaration of adoptability.  This document must include ICBF’s approval
    • Final adoption decree
    • Medical examination results

Child Citizenship Act

For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States:  A child will acquire U.S. citizenship upon entry into the United States if the adoption was finalized prior to entry and the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States:  An adoption will need to be completed following your child’s entry into the United States for the child to acquire U.S. citizenship.

*Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible.  Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting.  Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

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Traveling Abroad

TRAVELING ABROAD

Applying for Your U.S. Passport
U.S. citizens are required by law to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.

Getting or renewing a passport is easy.  The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.

Obtaining a Visa to Travel to Colombia
In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa.  A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit.  Where required, visas are affixed to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation.  To find information about obtaining a visa for Colombia, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.

Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it is always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country.  The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.

Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to enroll with the Department of State.  Enrollment makes it possible to contact you if necessary.  Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in Colombia enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.

Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

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After Adoption

AFTER ADOPTION

Post-Adoption/Post-Placement Reporting Requirements
Colombia requires four post-adoption reports certified by a psychologist.  The reports should be provided to ICBF 3, 9, 15, and 21 months after the adoption has been finalized.  We urge prospective adoptive parents to comply with Colombia’s post-adoption requirements in a timely manner.  Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process.  Your cooperation will contribute to Colombia’s history of positive experience with U.S. citizen parents.

Post-Adoption Resources
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption.  There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families. There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin.  Take advantage of all the resources available to your family, whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.

Here are some places to start your support group search:

If your adopted child wants to learn about their biological family, please email busquedaorigenesadoptados@icbf.gov.co.

Note:  Inclusion of non-U.S. government links does not imply endorsement of contents.

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Contact Information

U.S. Embassy in Colombia
Carrera 45, No. 24B-27
Bogotá, Colombia
Tel:  011-57-1-275-2000, 2:00–3:00 p.m. (Colombian Standard Time)
Fax:  011-57-1-275-4545
Email:  IVBogota@state.gov, Attn: Adoptions
Internet:  co.usembassy.gov

Colombia Adoption Authority
Bienestar Familiar (ICBF)
Grupo Nacional de Adopciones
Avenida 68 # 64-01
Bogotá, Colombia
Tel:  011- 4377630 ext. 101000 o 101062
Email:  atencionalciudadano@icbf.gov.co
Internet:  www.icbf.gov.co (Spanish)

Embassy of Colombia
2118 Leroy Place, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Tel:  (202) 387-8338
Fax:  (202) 232-8643
Email:  embassyofcolombia@colombiaemb.org
Website:  http://colombiaemb.org/

Colombia also has consulates in:  Houston, TX; Atlanta, GA; Los Angeles, CA; San Francisco, CA; Chicago, IL; Boston, MA; San Juan, PR; New York, NY; Miami, FL

Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State
CA/OCS/CI, SA-17A, 9th Floor
Washington, D.C.  20522-1709
Tel:  1-888-407-4747
Email:  AdoptionUSCA@state.gov
Internet:  adoption.state.gov
Tel:  1-888-407-4747
Email:  AdoptionUSCA@state.gov
Internet:  adoption.state.gov

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel:  1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
Internet:  uscis.gov

For questions about filing a Form I-800A or I-800 petition:
National Benefits Center
Tel:  1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)
Email:  NBC.Adoptions@dhs.gov

Reciprocity Schedule

Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.

Explanation of Terms

Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.

Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).

Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.

Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.

Visa Classifications
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
 
Visa
Classification
Fee Number
of Entries
Validity
Period
A-1 None Multiple 60 Months
A-2 None Multiple 60 Months
A-3 1 None Multiple 24 Months
B-1 None Multiple 120 Months
B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
B-1/B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
C-1 None Multiple 60 Months
C-1/D None Multiple 60 Months
C-2 None Multiple 12 Months
C-3 None Multiple 60 Months
CW-1 11 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-2 11 None Multiple 12 Months
D None Multiple 60 Months
E-1 2 None Multiple 60 Months
E-2 2 None Multiple 60 Months
E-2C 12 None Multiple 24 Months
F-1 None Multiple 60 Months
F-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-1 None Multiple 60 Months
G-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-3 None Multiple 60 Months
G-4 None Multiple 60 Months
G-5 1 None Multiple 24 Months
H-1B None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-1C None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-2A None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-2B None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-2R None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-4 None Multiple 60 Months 3
I None Multiple 60 Months
J-1 4 None Multiple 60 Months
J-2 4 None Multiple 60 Months
K-1 None One 6 Months
K-2 None One 6 Months
K-3 None Multiple 24 Months
K-4 None Multiple 24 Months
L-1 None Multiple 60 Months
L-2 None Multiple 60 Months
M-1 None Multiple 60 Months
M-2 None Multiple 60 Months
N-8 None Multiple 60 Months
N-9 None Multiple 60 Months
NATO 1-7 N/A N/A N/A
O-1 None Multiple 60 Months 3
O-2 None Multiple 60 Months 3
O-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-1 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-2 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-4 None Multiple 60 Months 3
Q-1 6 None Multiple 15 Months 3
R-1 None Multiple 60 Months
R-2 None Multiple 60 Months
S-5 7 None One 1 Month
S-6 7 None One 1 Month
S-7 7 None One 1 Month
T-1 9 N/A N/A N/A
T-2 None One 6 Months
T-3 None One 6 Months
T-4 None One 6 Months
T-5 None One 6 Months
T-6 None One 6 Months
TD 5 N/A N/A N/A
U-1 None Multiple 48 Months
U-2 None Multiple 48 Months
U-3 None Multiple 48 Months
U-4 None Multiple 48 Months
U-5 None Multiple 48 Months
V-1 None Multiple 120 Months
V-2 None Multiple 120 Months 8
V-3 None Multiple 120 Months 8
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Country Specific Footnotes

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

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Visa Category Footnotes
  1. The validity of A-3, G-5, and NATO 7 visas may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the person who is employing the applicant. The "employer" would have one of the following visa classifications:

    • A-1
    • A-2
    • G-1 through G-4
    • NATO 1 through NATO 6

  2. An E-1 and E-2 visa may be issued only to a principal alien who is a national of a country having a treaty, or its equivalent, with the United States. E-1 and E-2 visas may not be issued to a principal alien if he/she is a stateless resident. The spouse and children of an E-1 or E-2 principal alien are accorded derivative E-1 or E-2 status following the reciprocity schedule, including any reciprocity fees, of the principle alien’s country of nationality.  

    Example: John Doe is a national of the country of Z that has an E-1/E-2 treaty with the U.S. His wife and child are nationals of the country of Y which has no treaty with the U.S. The wife and child would, therefore, be entitled to derivative status and receive the same reciprocity as Mr. Doe, the principal visa holder.  

  3. The validity of H-1 through H-3, O-1 and O-2, P-1 through P-3, and Q visas may not exceed the period of validity of the approved petition or the number of months shown, whichever is less.

    Under 8 CFR §214.2, H-2A and H-2B petitions may generally only be approved for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as participating countries. The current list of eligible countries is available on USCIS's website for both H-2A and H-2B visas. Nationals of countries not on this list may be the beneficiary of an approved H-2A or H2-B petition in limited circumstances at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security if specifically named on the petition.  

    Derivative H-4, L-2, O-3, and P-4 visas, issued to accompanying or following-to-join spouses and children, may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the principal alien.

  4. There is no reciprocity fee for the issuance of a J visa if the alien is a United States Government grantee or a participant in an exchange program sponsored by the United States Government.

    Also, there is no reciprocity fee for visa issuance to an accompanying or following-to-join spouse or child (J-2) of an exchange visitor grantee or participant.

    In addition, an applicant is eligible for an exemption from the MRV fee if he or she is participating in a State Department, USAID, or other federally funded educational and cultural exchange program (program serial numbers G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-7).

    However, all other applicants with U.S. Government sponsorships, including other J-visa applicants, are subject to the MRV processing fee.

  5. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican nationals coming to engage in certain types of professional employment in the United States may be admitted in a special nonimmigrant category known as the "trade NAFTA" or "TN" category. Their dependents (spouse and children) accompanying or following to join them may be admitted in the "trade dependent" or "TD" category whether or not they possess Canadian or Mexican nationality. Except as noted below, the number of entries, fees and validity for non-Canadian or non-Mexican family members of a TN status holder seeking TD visas should be based on the reciprocity schedule of the TN principal alien.

    Canadian Nationals

    Since Canadian nationals generally are exempt from visa requirement, a Canadian "TN' or "TD" alien does not require a visa to enter the United States. However, the non-Canadian national dependent of a Canadian "TN", unless otherwise exempt from the visa requirement, must obtain a "TD" visa before attempting to enter the United States. The standard reciprocity fee and validity period for all non-Canadian "TD"s is no fee, issued for multiple entries for a period of 36 months, or for the duration of the principal alien's visa and/or authorized period of stay, whichever is less. See 'NOTE' under Canadian reciprocity schedule regarding applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality.

    Mexican Nationals

    Mexican nationals are not visa-exempt. Therefore, all Mexican "TN"s and both Mexican and non-Mexican national "TD"s accompanying or following to join them who are not otherwise exempt from the visa requirement (e.g., the Canadian spouse of a Mexican national "TN") must obtain nonimmigrant visas.

    Applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality, who have a permanent resident or refugee status in Canada/Mexico, may not be accorded Canadian/Mexican reciprocity, even when applying in Canada/Mexico. The reciprocity fee and period for "TD" applicants from Libya is $10.00 for one entry over a period of 3 months. The Iranian and Iraqi "TD" is no fee with one entry over a period of 3 months.

  6. Q-2 (principal) and Q-3 (dependent) visa categories are in existence as a result of the 'Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act of 1998'. However, because the Department anticipates that virtually all applicants for this special program will be either Irish or U.K. nationals, the Q-2 and Q-3 categories have been placed only in the reciprocity schedules for those two countries. Q-2 and Q-3 visas are available only at the Embassy in Dublin and the Consulate General in Belfast.

  7. No S visa may be issued without first obtaining the Department's authorization.

  8. V-2 and V-3 status is limited to persons who have not yet attained their 21st birthday. Accordingly, the period of validity of a V-2 or V-3 visa must be limited to expire on or before the applicant's twenty-first birthday.

  9. Posts may not issue a T-1 visa. A T-1 applicant must be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or a U.S. port of entry, where he/she will apply for an adjustment of status to that of a T-1. The following dependents of a T-1 visa holder, however, may be issued a T visa at a U.S. consular office abroad:

    • T-2 (spouse)
    • T-3 (child)
    • T-4 (parent)
  10. The validity of NATO-5 visas may not exceed the period of validity of the employment contract or 12 months, whichever is less.

  11. The validity of CW-1 and CW-2 visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (12 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

  12. The validity of E-2C visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (24 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

 

 

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General Documents

Please check back for update.

Birth, Death, Burial Certificates

Birth

 

Available. Decree No. 540 of March 13, 1934 provided for the civil registration of births in Colombia with notaries, with municipal authorities where a notary has not been appointed, and with Colombian consular representatives in foreign countries. However, this system was not effective before 1940. Decree No. 540 of March 13, 1934 also provided for the registration of marriages, adoptions and deaths in the same procedure as required for birth certificates. Copies of these records may be obtained from the appropriate official authority where registered.

Complete copies of the page of the book where the birth, the marriage, and/or the death was registered (copia del folio) are issued on plain white paper and certified by the notary public with an original signature over either a wet seal or a sticker. Applicants must present these civil records in support of their applications; religious records are not sufficient (applicants can usually present their religious records to a Colombian notary or appropriate authority to obtain an official civil record of the event).

Notaries often issue summarized birth, marriage and death certificates. It is advisable to request the "copia del folio" since it is a copy of the book itself and has all the information regarding the parents, the exact place where the person was born (hospital's name, home, etc.), grandparents names, date of registration, etc. All this information is very helpful in verifying applicant's relationship to petitioner and helps to detect possible fraud.

Occasionally, the embassy requests a copy of a religious baptism, marriage, or funeral to augment civil records. If requested by the embassy, an applicant can obtain complete copies of baptism, religious marriage, and religious funeral records from the church parish where the ceremony took place. The Catholic baptismal certificates always have a line for marginal notes. Usually, the marginal notes indicate if the person had been married under a religious ceremony. They are issued on official paper, letterhead paper of the church, or plain white paper signed and sealed by the issuing priest. To avoid fraud, the issuing priest's signature may be authenticated by the competent ecclesiastical or civil authority.

 

Death/Burial

 

Available. Decree No. 540 of March 13, 1934 (See Birth Certificates) also provided for the registration of marriages, adoptions and deaths in the same procedure as required for birth certificates. Copies of these records may be obtained from the appropriate official authority where registered.

Complete copies of the page of the book where the birth, the marriage, and/or the death was registered (copia del folio) are issued on plain white paper and certified by the notary public with an original signature over either a wet seal or a sticker. Applicants must present these civil records in support of their applications; religious records are not sufficient (applicants can usually present their religious records to a Colombian notary or appropriate authority to obtain an official civil record of the event).

Notaries often issue summarized birth, marriage and death certificates. It is advisable to request the "copia del folio" since it is a copy of the book itself and has all the information regarding the parents, the exact place where the person was born (hospital's name, home, etc.), grandparents names, date of registration, etc. All this information is very helpful in verifying applicant's relationship to petitioner and helps to detect possible fraud.

Occasionally, the embassy requests a copy of a religious baptism, marriage, or funeral to augment civil records. If requested by the embassy, an applicant can obtain complete copies of baptism, religious marriage, and religious funeral records from the church parish where the ceremony took place. The Catholic baptismal certificates always have a line for marginal notes. Usually, the marginal notes indicate if the person had been married under a religious ceremony. They are issued on official paper, letterhead paper of the church, or plain white paper signed and sealed by the issuing priest. To avoid fraud, the issuing priest's signature may be authenticated by the competent ecclesiastical or civil authority.

 

Marriage, Divorce Certificates

Marriage

 

Available. Decree No. 540 of March 13, 1934 (see Birth Certificates) also provided for the registration of marriages, adoptions and deaths in the same procedure as required for birth certificates. Copies of these records may be obtained from the appropriate official authority where registered.

Complete copies of the page of the book where the birth, the marriage, and/or the death was registered (copia del folio) are issued on plain white paper and certified by the notary public with an original signature over either a wet seal or a sticker. Applicants must present these civil records in support of their applications; religious records are not sufficient (applicants can usually present their religious records to a Colombian notary or appropriate authority to obtain an official civil record of the event).

Notaries often issue summarized birth, marriage and death certificates. It is advisable to request the "copia del folio" since it is a copy of the book itself and has all the information regarding the parents, the exact place where the person was born (hospital's name, home, etc.), grandparents names, date of registration, etc. All this information is very helpful in verifying applicant's relationship to petitioner and helps to detect possible fraud.

Catholic marriages in Colombia have legal effect and, after it has been performed by the Church authorities, it is registered with the civil authorities. Both records are available to applicants, although the embassy requires the civil record for visa processing. Civil marriages are presently performed by a Notary Public or a Family Judge (Notario Publico o Juez de Familia).

Occasionally, the embassy requests a copy of a religious baptism, marriage, or funeral to augment civil records. If requested by the embassy, an applicant can obtain complete copies of baptism, religious marriage, and religious funeral records from the church parish where the ceremony took place. The Catholic baptismal certificates always have a line for marginal notes. Usually, the marginal notes indicate if the person had been married under a religious ceremony. They are issued on official paper, letterhead paper of the church, or plain white paper signed and sealed by the issuing priest. To avoid fraud, the issuing priest's signature may be authenticated by the competent ecclesiastical or civil authority.

Divorce

 

Under the new law No. 25 of 1992, divorce is now legal in Colombia for both civil and Catholic marriages. Mutual consent divorces are processed by the Notary Publics, and divorces by cause are processed by the "Juzgados de Familia". Both types of documents are issued on plain white paper. Catholics who do not want to process a divorce can get an annulment of their marriage (“cesacion de efectos civiles”). Annulments are issued by the "Tribunal Eclesiastico" of the Roman Catholic Church on letterhead paper. The embassy will accept an annulment issued by the "Tribunal Eclesiastico" as proof of an official annulment of the marriage.  All divorces, whether civil or religious, must be registered with the civil authorities (“La Oficina de Registro Civil”) to be legal.  Proof that the divorce was registered with civil authorities (either an annotated birth certificate or marriage certificate) is required in addition to the divorce decree.  

 

Adoption Certificates

Unavailable.

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Identity Card

(Documento De Viaje)

The Government of Colombia also issues this document, which together with a cedula de extranjeria constitute a "passport". The documento de viaje supplies the bearer's origin and identity, while the cedula states the bearer's nationality.

Police, Court, Prison Records

Police Certificates

 

  • Available/Unavailable: Available
  • Fees: No Fee
  • Document Name: Certificado de Antecedentes Judiciales
  • Issuing Authority: Ministerio de Defensa Nacional – Policía Nacional de Colombia
  • Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: The police record can be printed from the Policía Nacional de Colombia website.
  • Issuing Authority Personnel Title: N/A
  • Registration Criteria: N/A
  • Procedure for Obtaining: All applicants who are 18 years or older must provide a Colombian Police Certificate, called Certificado de Antecedentes Judiciales. Applicants may obtain police certificates online at www.policia.gov.co. Police certificates have a validity of one year.

    Any applicant who has a police record that states "Actualmente no es requirido por autoridad judicial alguna" (in English, "currently not wanted by any judicial authority") must bring their complete court records, along with an English translation, to the embassy on the day of their interview. Applicants who fail to bring these court records and the English translation will be required to return to the embassy for a second interview.

    Additionally, individuals who have lived in the United States without legal permission and/or applicants who unsuccessfully applied for asylum should obtain their report of entry and exits ("certificado de movimientos migratorios") from Colombia. Applicants can obtain this report from Migración Colombia at www.migracioncolombia.gov.co.

    Third country nationals who hold foreigner identification cards (Cedulas de Extranjeria, C.E.) can obtain Colombian criminal records online through the Colombian National Police website www.policia.gov.co by entering their C.E. number.

    If a third country national resides legally in Colombia but does not have a C.E., he/she can go to the following address in person to request a criminal records certificate:

    Carrera 27#18-41 from Monday to Thursday 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on Friday 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Telephone: 408-8000 x3637

    Third country nationals who do not have a C.E. must bring: 1) a letter addressed to the Colombian National Police requesting the certificate; 2) a copy of his/her foreigner identification card (if any) and/or evidence of legal entry into Colombia; 3) their passport.

    There is no charge for this process.  This process must be carried out in person.

    Criminal record certificates are not issued to third country nationals who are unlawfully present in Colombia.  They must go to Migracion Colombia and legalize their stay before the Colombian National Police will issue a certificate.

  • Certified Copies Available: N/A
  • Alternate Documents: N/A
  • Exceptions: N/A
  • Comments: Please do not send the police certificate to the National Visa Center. You must bring your police certificate to the U.S. Embassy on the day of the interview.
Military Records

Unavailable. Colombian citizens over 18 years of age should have their Military Carnets (Libreta Militar), First Class for those who have served with the armed forces and Second Class for those who have obtained an exception.

Passports & Other Travel Documents

The Government of Colombia issues diplomatic, official, regular, border, collective, and provisional passports to Colombian citizens:

  • Border Passports: are issued by the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Relations and the Colombian Consulates abroad to Colombian citizens who are at that moment in a border country with Colombia. These passports are only valid for the country where it was issued.
  • Provisional Passports: are issued by the Colombian Consulates abroad to (a) Colombian citizens who are abroad and who are extremely poor, repatriates, or deportees, who have lost their documents and whose return to Colombia is imminent, (b) the son or the daughter of a Colombian citizen who was born abroad and whose nationality is not yet determined. (Provisional passports issued under the above circumstances are only valid to travel to Colombia), (c) Colombian citizens who have lost their documents or who, due to exceptional circumstances, cannot use their passport and whose return to Colombia is not (repeat not) imminent. (These passports are issued with a note indicating the countries to be visited and are valid for two months.

    All these different types of passports meet the requirements of section 212(a)(7)(B)(i)(I) of the INA.

 

Other Records

Not applicable.

Visa Issuing Posts

Bogota, Colombia (Embassy)

Address:
Carrera 45 No. 24B-27, Bogota, D.C., Colombia

Tel: 011 571-275-2000 - Embassy Switchboard

011 571-275-4545 - Consular Section Fax

Fax: 011 571-315-2196/2197

 

Visa Services

All visa categories for all of Colombia.

Foreign Consular Office Contact Information

Washington, DC (202) 332-7476

Atlanta, GA (404) 254-3206 (404) 343-4906

Boston, MA (617) 536-6222

Chicago, IL (312) 923-1196 (312) 923-9034 (312) 923-9035 (312) 923-1197

Houston, TX (713) 979-0844/0845 (713) 529-3395

Los Angeles, CA (323) 653-4299 (323) 653-2964

Miami, FL (305) 441-1235 (305) 441-9537

Newark, NJ (862) 279-7888 (862) 279-7885

New York, NY (212) 798-9000 ext. 200 (917) 972-1725

Orlando, FL (407) 650-4274 (407) 650-4281

San Francisco, CA (415) 495-7195 (415) 495-7196 (415) 777-3731

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Bogota
Calle 24 Bis No. 48-50
Bogotá, D.C. Colombia
Telephone
+(57) (5) 275-2000
Emergency
+(57) (1) 275-4021
Fax
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Colombia Country Map

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Additional Information for Reciprocity

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.