Colombia offers many different visas, which enable you to stay in the country for a year or more. In addition, Colombian visas come in two different types – temporary (TP) and resident (RE) visas. So, the best Colombian visa depends on your individual circumstances. This is an update in 2017 of a popular article on this site with current information.
The temporary (TP) Colombian visas are typically good for one to three years depending on the type. And the Colombian RE visa is good for five years. Furthermore, both TP and RE visas can be renewed.
Citizens of many countries including the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom do not need a visa to enter Colombia as a tourist for up 90 days. However, tourists from Canada must pay a 160,000 peso entry fee. But this fee does not apply to those under the age of 15 or over the age of 78. The Colombian “tourist” visa isn’t a formal visa – it’s just a stamp in your passport. It can be extended by another 90 days at any Migración Colombia office in the country.
So, without a formal Colombian visa you can stay in Colombia a maximum of 180 days per calendar year. We previously looked at extending tourist visas here. If you overstay your allotted time on a tourist visa, you will be required to pay a fine before leaving the country.
So, if you want to stay in Colombia for more than 180 days, the question becomes “which is the best Colombian visa for me?”
The Most Popular Colombian Visas
Colombia offers about 20 different visas and subtypes of visas, of which about seven are most commonly used by expats. The following are reportedly the seven most commonly used Colombian visas by expats:
- Student visa (TP-3)– for the foreigner who enters Colombia to engage in an academic program. We previously looked at getting a student visa in Colombia in detail here.
- Work visa (TP-4)– for the foreigner who has a job in Colombia.
- Retirement visa (TP-7) – for the foreigner who receives a retirement income such as a pension from a public or private company or the government (Social Security). The requirement is a minimum of three times the minimum wage in Colombia. The minimum wage in 2017 is 727,717 pesos per month, so the minimum retirement income is only $721 per month at an exchange rate of 3,029 pesos. We previously looked at the Colombia retirement visa in detail here.
- Rentista visa (TP-7)– for a foreigner who receives a non-pension income from outside Colombia from a public or private company. The minimum income is 15 times the minimum wage in Colombia or about $3,605 per month.
- Investment visa (TP-7) – for a foreigner who invests in property or a business in Colombia. For property investments, Colombia requires an investment that is more than 350 times the minimum wage in Colombia or more than $84,087. For business investments, Colombia requires an investment that is no less than 100 times the minimum wage in Colombia or no less than $24,025 currently. We previously looked at the Colombia investment visa in detail here.
- Marriage visa (TP-10)– for a foreigner who has a Colombian spouse or permanent partner. The TP-10 visa is typically good for three years. We previously looked at the marriage visa here.
- Resident visa (RE)– There are four common options for obtaining a Colombia resident visa, which include:
- (a) Having a TP visa for a certain time– after holding most TP visas for an uninterrupted minimum time of five continuous years or for a TP-10 visa (marriage visa) for a minimum of three years.
- (b) Qualified resident– this is available immediately for expat parents of Colombian children.
- (c) Resident investor– This visa option requires that you make an investment in Colombia of more than 650 times the minimum wage in Colombia or more than $156,162.
- (d) Returning Colombians– In some cases, Colombians living abroad were required to renounce their Colombian citizenship when becoming citizens of their host countries. This visa provides residency when these Colombians return to Colombia.
After having an RE visa for five years (or two years if married to a Colombian), you can apply to become a citizen of Colombia. Furthermore, Colombia permits dual-citizenship as does the U.S. and many other countries.
The main benefits of becoming a dual Colombian citizen is there will be no more time and cost of visa applications and new cedulas de extranjeria. In addition you will be able to travel to a few countries as a Colombian citizen that U.S. citizens can’t travel to without a visa such as Brazil and Russia.
Each Colombian visa has detailed requirements that are spelled out on the Colombian Cancillería website found here.
Less Common Colombian Visa Options
In addition, Colombia has several more visas that reportedly aren’t as frequently used by foreigners including:
- Diplomats (TP-1) – is for a foreigner entering Colombia that is a diplomate or relative of a diplomat.
- Crew members (TP-2) – is for a foreigner that is a crew member or member of an international means of transport or a fishing vessel or dredger
- Religious members (TP-5) – is for a foreigner entering Colombia that is a member of a cult or religious creed duly recognized by Colombia.
- Volunteers or working for a NGO (TP-6) – is for a foreigner entering Colombia that is a volunteer aid worker or works for a non-governmental or non-profit organization (NGO) recognized by the Colombian government
- Medical treatment (TP-7) – is for a foreigner entering Colombia to receive medical treatment that would typically take longer than the 180-day tourist restriction.
- Child adoption (TP-8) – is for a foreigner entering Colombia pursuing child adoption or intervening in judicial or administrative proceedings
- Refugees (TP-9) – is for a foreigner entering Colombia qualified as a refugee or asylee by the Colombian government.
- Rest and recreation (TP-11) – is for a foreigner entering Colombia for rest or recreation activities. For this visa, you need to demonstrate a certain bank balance. This visa is normally intended to be used by citizens of countries that are unable to enter Colombia under a normal “tourist” visa.
- Academic, scientific, artistic, etc. assist and/or participate (TP-12) – is for the foreigner entering Colombia to assist and/or participate, with or without work contract, in academic, scientific, artistic, cultural and sports events and/or to present an interview for a selection process for public or private entities, a business academic program, commercial or business contacts and journalistic coverage.
- Technical assistance (TP-13) – is for the foreigner who wishes to enter Colombia to provide technical assistance in his/her area of expertise, with or without a work contract with a public or private entity.
Getting a Colombian Cedula
After you have successfully received your Colombian 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.
Especially relevant, it is very important to register your visa within the allotted time frame. If not, you will be liable for a big fine of up to seven times the minimum monthly salary in Colombia (over $1,600).
To register your visa and apply for a cedula this must be done at one of the Migración Colombia offices. You can find offices in major cities in Colombia.
- Bogotá – Calle 100 #11B-27
- Medellín – Calle 19 #80A-40, Barrio Belén
- Cali – Avenida 3 norte # 50N-20
- Cartagena – Carrera 20 B # 29-18, Barrio pie de la Popa
- Barranquilla – Carrera 42 # 54-77, Barrio El Recreo
A complete list of Migración Colombia offices is found here.
- Original passport
- Photocopy of biographical page of passport
- Photocopy of your visa
- Photocopy of blood test showing your blood type (or if you have a previous visa, photocopy of your cedula)
You will need to make an appointment with Migración Colombia to register your visa and apply for a cedula. This appointment can be done online here or via the phone at 018000510454
The current cost of a cedula is currently 183,000 pesos, which can be paid for using a credit card at the Migración Colombia office. Each year or two, Migración Colombia typically increases the price for a cedula.
The Bottom Line – the Best Colombian Visa
Colombia has many temporary (TP) visa options for foreigners who wish to stay in the country for a longer period than the standard 180-day maximum during a year as a tourist.
Deciding which is the best Colombian visa for you really depends on your individual situation. Are you looking to study? Are you retired with a pension? Are you making an investment in Colombia? Do you have a job in Colombia? Do you have a non-pension income? Are you married to a Colombian?
Obtaining a visa in Colombia is relatively easy. And you don’t need to be in Colombia full-time to maintain it. The visa application process for Colombia is also now online and is relatively fast. You can apply for a Colombian visa in-person in Bogotá or at a Colombian consulate in another country. Or you can use a visa service, which are available in each of the major cities in Colombia.
Resident (RE) visas are the most challenging type of Colombian visa as for most expats they require several years with a temporary (TP) visa first unless you are a parent of a Colombian child or invest sufficient funds to qualify as a resident investor.
There are currently many 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. FAR International, the largest foreign-owned real estate firm in Medellin, offers a wide range of client services including Visa Services. FAR International also has offices in Bogotá, Cartagena and Cali.
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