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Colombia

Colombia
Republic of Colombia
Exercise increased caution in Colombia due to crime and terrorism. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Exercise increased caution in Colombia due to crime and terrorism. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Do not travel to:

  • Arauca, Cauca (except Popayan), Chocó (except Nuquí), Nariño, and Norte de Santander (except Cucuta) departments due to crime and terrorism.

Reconsider travel to:

  • Several departments throughout the country due to crime and terrorism.

Violent crime, such as homicide, assault, and armed robbery, is common. Organized criminal activities, such as extortion, robbery, and kidnapping for ransom, are widespread. 

While the Colombian government signed a peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) terrorist group, some dissident groups refuse to demobilize.

The National Liberation Army (ELN) terrorist organization continues plotting possible attacks in Colombia. They may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, local government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, major sporting and cultural events, educational institutions, airports, and other public areas.

U.S. government personnel cannot travel freely throughout Colombia for security reasons.

Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.

If you decide to travel to Colombia:

Arauca, Cauca, Chocó, Nariño and Norte de Santander Departments – Level 4: Do Not Travel

Violent crime, including armed robbery and homicide is widespread. 

Terrorists groups are active in some parts. 

The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens as U.S. government personnel cannot travel to these areas without permission from the Embassy’s Regional Security Office. When permitted, U.S. government personnel must travel to the cities of Popayan (capital of Cauca) and Nuqui (capital of Chocó) by air.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Several Departments throughout the Country – Level 3: Reconsider travel

Violent crime, including armed robbery and homicide, is widespread in the following departments. 

Terrorists groups are active in some parts.

Reconsider travel to:

  • Antioquia department north of Medellin
  • Caquetá department
  • Casanare department
  • Cesar department outside of Valledupar
  • Cordoba department outside of Montería
  • Guainía department
  • Guaviare department
  • Meta department
  • Putumayo department
  • Valle del Cauca department outside of Cali and Palmira area
  • Vaupes department
  • Vichada department

The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens as U.S. government personnel cannot travel to these areas without permission from the Embassy’s Regional Security Office.

U.S. government officials and their families are generally permitted to travel to the major cities of Valledupar, Monteria, Cali, and Palmira by air.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Travel Restrictions for U.S. Government Personnel

U.S. government personnel must request advance permission for any travel outside of Bogota and the Atlantic Coast corridor from Cartagena to Santa Marta, and sometimes are required to travel in armored vehicles or carry personnel trackers. U.S. government officials and their families are generally permitted to travel to major cities only by air. They cannot 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” provinces of Caldas, Risaralda, and Quindío.
  • Highway 90 from Cartagena, through Barranquilla to Santa Marta.
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Embassy Messages

Alerts

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.

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
Email: 

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

Destination Description

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

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.

Safety and Security

Terrorism: The National Liberation Army (ELN) and dissident groups from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) continue plotting and executing attacks in Colombia. Two Ecuadoran journalists and their driver were kidnapped and killed along the Colombia-Ecuador border in April 2018. In January 2018, a bomb exploded at a police station in Barranquilla. In June 2017, a bomb in the Andino Shopping Center in Bogota killed three people, including a French citizen. U.S. Embassy personnel need permission to travel outside of Bogota or the corridor between Cartagena and Santa Marta.

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 received multiple reports of armed robberies in the area around Monserrate in Bogota, as well as on the road between Jose Maria Cordova International Airport in Rio Negro and the city of Medellin. Robberies by people riding motorcycles are common in all major cities. U.S. citizens have been robbed by individuals posing as police officers. U.S. citizens reported sexual assaults in several different cities throughout Colombia.

ATMs: People are sometimes robbed after using automated 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) 275-2000 or +57(1)275-4021 after hours. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution                                  
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.  Help in domestic violence situations is available, in Spanish, by calling 155 (*155 from a cell phone).

For further information:

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.

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law. For examples, 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 may require 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 funds. 

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).

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 our following webpages for details:

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 and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

Cruise Ship Passengers: See our travel tips for Cruise Ship Passengers.

Health

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.

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. Ambulances may be slow to arrive, if at all.

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.

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, including three in the first four months of 2018. 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. If you have elective surgery in Colombia, make sure to have international travel insurance that covers medical evacuation and repatriation of remains. Your legal options in case of malpractice are very limited in the Colombian legal system.

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. Travelers arriving from Brazil, Angola, Uganda, or the Democratic Republic of Congo must carry a yellow World Health Organization immunization card proof of yellow fever vaccine administered at least 10 days before arrival in Colombia. Proof of yellow fever vaccine may also be required for entry to some national parks in Colombia.

Further health information:

Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: Due to the security environment in Colombia and poor infrastructure, 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.

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 52% of traffic fatalities in 2016. U.S. government officials may not use motorcycles because of safety and crime concerns.

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 concerns and crime. You should not hail a taxi on the street.

See our Road Safety page for more information. Visit the website of the Colombian agency for tourism promotion and the national authority responsible for road safety, the Instituto Nacional de Vias.

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.

International Parental Child Abduction

Review information about International Parental Child Abduction in Colombia.  For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA) report.”

 

Last Updated: June 28, 2018

Travel Advisory Levels

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

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

Colombia Map