Visa for Colombia, Residency and Benefits for Retirees

By RetirePedia's Roving Reporter Jim Veinot

Do you need a visa for Colombia when you travel there? What are the requirements for getting residency? Are there any benefits for retirees living in Colombia? Read on to find the answers.

Visa For Colombia: The Requirements

Citizens of some 95 countries of the world do not require a visa for Colombia and may stay for a period of 180 days as a tourist. This period is comprised of an initial stay of 90 days and then an extension from the Department of Immigration, at a cost of about $80 USD.

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Technically you must show evidence of a return flight that’s paid for, but this is seldom requested.

Passports are required, with the standard stipulation that they don’t expire for at least 6 months from the projected departure date.

Which 95 countries, you are probably wondering? There’s a list and a non-interactive map available at WikiPedia.org. The list is interactive though, and will take you to the specifics for the country you click.

Some interesting exceptions appear; citizens of Cuba, Haiti and Nicaragua require a visa, as do most citizens of African countries and non-EU countries of Europe, such as the Ukraine.  

Canadian must pay a reciprocity tax of some $160,000 COP or about $68 USD. Citizens of most South American countries require an ID card to enter Colombia, as well as a passport. The exceptions are Surinam, Guyana and French Guyana. Departure tax must also be paid, at a rate of about $40 USD.

There’s also a short list of countries such as India and China who can visit without a visa if they have a visa from the USA or the Schengen Treaty countries. These visits can only last up to 90 days.

Visas are also required for students and for those working in Colombia. They will be in Colombia for a period longer than the tourist period allows, so need a visa from the beginning.

For a full understanding of all visa twists and turns, it’s advisable to consult the government of Colombia website

Getting Residency in Colombia

To sort out your visa for Colombia, and to apply for residency, you'll have to go to the Migration Office in Bogotá.Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores in Bogotá [Image credit: www.firstamericanrealtymedellin.com]

The Pensionado Visa

The Pensionado visa for Colombia (TP7) is easily available for those that wish to retire in Colombia. This visa is issued one year at a time, at a cost of $205 USD plus $50 USD for processing.

After 5 years of continued residency, with a new TP7 each year, you can convert this visa to a Resident visa, thus becoming a lawful full-time resident.

The main qualification for this visa is that you need to receive (and prove you receive) an amount in pension income, preferably from your government, of three times the minimum wage in Colombia.

In 2016 that wage is $689,455 COP. Three times that amount, converted to USD, is about $700 per month, depending on the conversion rate of the day.

The following list of items needs to be submitted to your local Colombian consulate:

  • A two page completed application form, which can be acquired from the consulate or by completing the form on-line
  • 2 passport photos, 3x4 cm in size
  • 2 photocopies of the information pages of your passport, with at least 6 months remaining.
  • A criminal record search letter from your local police service, translated into Spanish by a certified translator. If you are over 65 years of age this is waived.
  • An apostilled proof of pension letter from the government or facility making the payments, also translated by a certified translator.

The visa takes one to three days to be issued. Once you have arrived in Colombia, you have two weeks to visit the Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad to receive your cedula (Identity Card).

You'll find these in any major city. You'll need to deposit $160,000 COP (about $68 USD) into the bank account of Migración Colombia. There are forms to complete here as well, but you need the receipt from the bank, a copy of your passport, the original passport and a copy of the visa to be granted the cedula.

There are several websites and visa services that may be more complete than this summarized version (for example First American Realty Medellin), and I would encourage you to become well acquainted with the procedure before attempting to proceed.

If you are not fluent in Spanish, you may want to have a translator available as well. 

Other Temporary Visa Options

Interestingly enough (and contrary to what I've seen for other countries), the TP7 visa for Colombia does not just accommodate those who receive a pension.

Quoting from the government website...

To the foreigner who wishes to enter the national territory for the development of any of the following activities or occupations: as a pensioner or annuitant; as a partner or owner of a company; to get medical treatment and to the foreigner accompanying the one receiving the medical treatment; the owner of real estate; for the carrying out of independent trades or activities. In this case, the duration of the visa shall be one (1) year with multiple entries.

The monetary requirements for the other visa options (except for the reason of getting medical treatment), are higher than the ones for the Pensionado visa.

If you apply for "Rentista" (= annuitant) status for example, you need to prove an income of 15 times the amount of the minimum wage, i.e. about $3,500 USD (2016) per month.

If you don't receive a state pension yet, one of these additional visa options may be just the right alternative for you.

You can read all about the various TP7 visa for Colombia requirements at the government website

Retiree Benefits

Unlike other Latin American countries, such as Nicaragua or Panama, there are no special benefits conferred on you by law as a retiree in Colombia.

Having said that, historically the people of Latin American countries tend to treat elders with some deference.

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