The Colombia Retirement Visa is intended for retired persons receiving retirement income and it is easy to get with few requirements. The visa also known as the Pension Visa (or TP-7 visa) is also relatively inexpensive – costing just $255 including the processing fee.
The city is attracting more retirees with its near perfect climate, a relatively low cost of living and good healthcare with five of Latin America’s 35 top-rated hospitals.
Colombia Retirement Visa Requirements
To qualify for the Colombia Retirement Visa you need to demonstrate income of at least three times the minimum monthly salary in Colombia, which is 616,000 pesos per month in 2014. This means you would need monthly income of 1,848,000 pesos ($964 – using 1,918 pesos to 1 USD exchange rate) per month to qualify for the visa.
The minimum monthly salary in Colombia increases each year; in 2014 it increased 4.5%. But the government also tends renew visas for people that qualified under lower amounts in previous years.
Note that the Colombia government is known to prefer official government pension certifications, such as from the United States Social Security Administration. It will be more difficult to get approved with private pension plans or savings accounts.
The Visa Process
The following documents how to get a Colombia Retirement Visa in-person in Bogotá. If you are in Medellín and don’t want to travel to Bogotá you can use a visa service. You can also get a visa at Colombian Consulates abroad.
The Colombia Retirement Visa is applied for in-person at the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores office located in Bogotá at Avenida 19 # 98-03, Torre 100 Building, 3rd Floor. The office is open from 7:30am until noon.
- Copy of the first page of your current passport where your personal data is displayed.
- Copy of the page of your passport where the last stamp of entry or departure of Colombia is located.
- Proof of pension: certificate issued by government, public or private company, foreign entity or diplomatic or consular mission from the country that the foreign national receives the retirement funds, which shows that the applicant receives a monthly stipend of no less than three times the current legal minimum monthly salary.
- Valid current passport with an expiration date of more than 180 days and two blank pages.
- If you are applying for the visa in-person you will not need photographs, your photo will be taken on site.
The cost of the Colombia Retirement Visa is $50 for processing (study) in the visa office and $205 for the visa for a total of $255. This is paid in pesos in a small bank branch located in the visa office.
If you are applying for the TP-7 visa remotely using an agency in Medellín or another city you will need to add two photos and a notarized letter in Spanish authorizing the agency to act on your behalf.
You can apply for the visa online here, which will require you to have scans of all the required documents. But this is not needed if you apply for the visa in-person. If you apply in-person, the agent will ask you questions, fill out the online application for you, scan all your documents and return them to you as well as take your photo with a digital camera.
The TP-7 visa is good for a year and will need to be renewed each year. After five years of having a TP-7 visa this can be converted to a resident visa, which is good for five years.
The Proof of Pension
This should be an apostilled proof of pension letter. For the United States Social Security Administration (SSA) this is the SSA Benefit Verification letter. To get this letter the easiest method is via the SSA web site.
You will want to create an account, found on the left side of the SSA’s main home page: “my Social Security”. Create an account, log in and go to your Benefit & Payment Details link on the top menu bar, click to open this page, and the middle of the page you will see “Get a Benefit Verification Letter” – click on this link and it will open your SSA Benefit Verification letter, which can be printed.
Next step is to get an apostille for this letter. An “apostille” is a form of authentication attached to a document so it is certified for legal purposes for use in other countries. The SSA Benefit Verification Letter is a federal document so it must be authenticated by the U.S. Department of State.
There are several agencies that offer apostille services in Washington, D.C. including Washington DC Apostille and Apostille Courier Express but these are fairly expensive services that cost $189-195.
An apostille can be also be ordered directly from the U.S Department of State via mail or in-person using a DS-4914 form, which costs only $8, more information is available here. The average processing time for mail-in requests is approximately five to seven business days from the date of receipt. You will need to include a self-addressed prepaid envelope, which will be used to return your apostilled letter. Tracked mail delivery such as Fedex or UPS is also recommended.
Once you have the apostilled SSA Benefit Verification letter keep in mind it needs to be dated within 90 days for the visa application. The SSA Benefit Verification letter should also be translated into Spanish. Trámites Internacionales Inter-Col is one company in Medellín with official Colombian translators that can translate into Spanish at a cost of about $12 per page.
Getting a Colombian Cedula
After you have successfully received your Colombia Retirement Visa you will have a maximum of 15 days to register your visa with Migración Colombia to get a Cedula de Extranjeria (Colombian ID for foreigners). This must be done in-person.
It is important to do this within the allotted time frame or you will be liable for a big fine of up to seven times the minimum monthly salary in Colombia (well over $2,000).
The following is information successfully used at the Migración Colombia office in Bogotá in July 2014.
Before going to Migración Colombia’s office, deposit 156,300 pesos at Banco Occidente. In Bogotá there is a Banco Occidente branch located at Calle 100 #9A-39, which is a few blocks from the Migración Colombia office.
At the bank they will have a sample deposit slip posted on the wall showing how to fill it out with:
- Account name: Migración Colombia
- Account number: 263-05464-5, codigo 101
- Amount: 156,300 pesos
After making the deposit at Banco Occidente, it is a short walk to the Migración Colombia office in Bogotá, which is located at Calle 100 #11B-27.
- Original deposit slip from Banco Occidente
- Original passport
- Signed “Formato Único de Tramites” application form (form available in the office)
- Photocopy of biographical page of passport
- Photocopy of your TP-7 visa
- Photocopy of blood test showing your blood type (or if you have a previous visa, photocopy of your cedula)
- 1 photo (3×4 cm) – no photo needed if you have a previous visa
If you register your visa with Migración Colombia in Bogotá, the cedula should be ready for pickup in three business days at their office. You can check status on the Migración Colombia website, which has a list of cedulas ready for pickup.
You can also register the visa in Bogotá and have the cedula sent to the Medellín Migración Colombia office – this requires a letter to request this and make sure to have an extra copy.
If the visa is registered at the Migración Colombia office in Medellín (located at Calle 19 #80A-40) or another city the process takes longer, which is about 10 business days to receive the cedula.
A Time-Saving Tip
It is possible to get the visa and apply for the cedula in the same day in Bogotá. The visa office opens at 7:30am but I recommend going at 6:00am so you will be one of the first in line and make it out normally before 9:00am. This way you avoid sitting for much time in the visa office and provides plenty of time to register the visa with Migración Colombia, which closes at 4pm.
Also make sure to bring something to read and dress warmly as it can be cold in the morning in Bogotá.
The Colombia Retirement Visa is relatively easy to get but is strictly intended for people who are retired and drawing retirement income. The steps outlined above show how to get a Colombia Retirement Visa yourself based on the current procedure but you can also utilize visa services; if for example, you don’t want to travel to Bogotá to get the visa.
There are currently 17 different types of visas available to foreigners in Colombia however the procedures and requirements can change so it’s important to have professional help when looking to acquire a non-tourist visa. First American Realty, the largest foreign-owned real estate firm in Medellin, offers a wide range of client services including Visa Services.