Colombia

Finding a Visa

It is useful to know the location of the closest Colombian diplomatic representation because it may be necessary to seek advice and guidance initially and throughout a visa application process. Currently, Colombia maintains 54 embassies abroad as well as 96 consulates and other representations.

The official Government web site, is available in Spanish. There is a tab which suggests that it is also available in English. This is not totally the case. The important details of available visas is on a page under the Visas Y Tramites Internacionales web site specifies the particulars and costs connected with applying for a visa using its services. The processes to apply for a visa (of any kind) are clear and reasonably simple. It is quite common for the correction to and smooth running of new procedures to take months. This was true on the introduction of the new health care procedures introduced in the U.S.A. by the President Obama administration in 2013/14.

What is evident from the Government web site is that there is no visa for retirees which provides immediately permanent residence. The TP7 visa must be renewed annually for a period of five years before permanency is available. Also after that time it is possible to apply for naturalization and a Colombian passport. The renewal of a TP7 visa for a retiree seems to be easy and automatic but, again, the correct procedures and documents must be provided for processing in good time before any current visa expires.

In addition to the usual documents, passport, certified copies of passport identity pages, birth certificates, marriage certificate, three passport sized photographs it is especially important to provide a current statement of income from the authority which pays your pension or annuity. The minimum income requirement that a retiree must have in order to obtain a TP7 visa is three time the Colombian minimum wage.

Colombia is very pedantic about the age of documents used to support visa applications. This is in an effort to crack down upon the use of fake identity documents. For every application documents such as birth certificates. marriage certificates, income statements and diplomas must be “new” from the issuing authorities. Documents more than 90 days old are not acceptable. A notary’s stamp or a new apostille on a document which is more than 90 days old will not be taken as an up-dated or current document.

It is permitted to apply for a TP7 visa from within Colombia. Effectively this is transitioning from whatever visa is currently held to this temporary residence visa.

Full details on the above points can be had by reference to the links on the "Resources" tab of this site and to the book "How to Retire in Colombia" by Les Johns which can be bought directly from this site.

Getting Help

As is stated above it is useful to employ a lawyer/attorney for dealing with government departments in Colombia if Spanish is not your first language, if you are not fluent in that language and during a time of transition in laws and regulations. As stated above an estimate of the likely cost should be obtained before any work is done. A list of legal firms which deal with immigration matters is available at the Martindale.com web site although only those in Bogota are shown. The Visas Y Tramites Internacionales organization has been mentioned previously as a firm which specializes in visa applications.

The Expat Exchange web site provides details of the experiences of those who have moved to or experienced conditions in Colombia. A wide range of subjects is discussed many of which will be relevant to settling in Colombia. How peculiar any problems are to particular circumstances is difficult to judge from what are probably very subjective rather that objective comments.

The important point is that it is comparatively easy to obtain a temporary resident visa. Progress from this to a permanent resident visa merely takes time. As always attention to detail is vital for the success of any application. The ready availability of a visitor’s visa permitting a stay of up to 90 days makes the observance of the “Golden Rule” - always visit before making or taking any irrevocable move or action - very easy.

These matters are all covered by reference to the links on the "Resources" tab of this site and to the book "How to Retire in Colombia" by Les Johns which is available directly from this site.