How to Obtain a Cedula Extranjeria in Colombia

Cedula

Due to several requests from readers we now look at how to obtain a Cedula Extranjeria in Colombia. We have previously looked at several different Colombian visas on this site.

After you have received one of the many visas Colombia offers you will have a maximum of 15 calendar days to register your visa with Migración Colombia.

During this visa registration process you will also be applying for a Cedula Extranjeria, which is a Colombian ID for foreigners. This must be done in-person.

It is extremely important to register your visa within the allotted time or you will be liable for a fine of up to seven times the minimum monthly salary in Colombia (about $1,450).

Note that only visas of greater than three-month duration require a cedula. Short duration visas don’t require a cedula but still must be registered.  Also it is not possible to get a cedula with a standard tourist visa.

Applying for a Cedula

To register your visa and apply for a cedula this must be done at one of the Migración Colombia offices found 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.

Documents required:

  • Your original passport
  • Copy of the data page from your passport
  • Original visa (in your passport)
  • Photocopy of blood test showing your blood type if this is your first cedula
  • Filled out application form found online here or in the Migración Colombia office

The cost of a cedula is currently 162,000 pesos (this is a new amount, which is up from 156,300 pesos in 2014).

This is the price listed on the Migración Colombia website but it may have increased this year as a reader in Cali who renewed a cedula recently reportedly paid 173,000 pesos.

You can pay with a credit card or debit card in the Migración Colombia office and you will receive a receipt with bar-code.

You can also schedule an appointment with Migración Colombia online here, but this is optional according to the Migración Colombia website.

When you apply for the cedula they will take your photo and fingerprints.

Migración Colombia office in Bogotá, one place to apply for a new cedula

Migración Colombia office in Bogotá, one place to apply for a new cedula

My Application Experiences

I have had three different visas so three different cedulas. Each cedula you receive will be valid be for the exact same duration as your visa. When you receive a new cedula after your first it will have the same number as your previous cedula.

Each time I have applied for a visa I have done this in-person in Bogotá at the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores office. Each time I was there an hour before it opened and one of the first in line for a visa.

After receiving each visa I walked to the Migración Colombia office in Bogotá, which is short distance from the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores office.

In Bogotá the cedula application and visa registration for me only took about an hour each time in the morning. It is possible to receive your visa and apply for a cedula in the same morning in Bogotá if you don’t run into problems.

If you register your visa with Migración Colombia in Bogotá, the cedula should normally be ready for pickup in three business days at the Bogotá office. However, cedula-processing times can vary in my experience.

You can check the status on the Migración Colombia website, which has a list of cedulas ready for pickup.

You can also register the visa in Bogotá and request for the cedula to be sent to the Medellín Migración Colombia office (or another city) – this requires a letter to request this and make sure to have an extra copy.

Each time I applied I was told my cedula would be ready in three days in the Bogotá office or if sent to Medellín it would take 7-10 days. For my first cedula I had it sent to Medellín and it arrived about three weeks later.

For my second cedula I was still in Bogotá and it was ready as promised in three days.

For my third cedula it took well over a month to arrive in Medellín as Migración Colombia told me they were having problems with the vendor they outsourced cedula production to.

I needed to follow up with Migración Colombia a couple times for my third Colombian ID card.

Note that the number of a Cedula Extranjeria (CE) can be the same as the number of a Colombian citizen’s cedula (CC). For example, I know my cedula has the same number as the ID of Colombian guy living in Bogotá.

In my experience this can cause problems when signing up for some things like store rewards programs if their system doesn’t support both CC and CE numbers.

The Bottom Line

Once you have a Colombian visa, a cedula is required and the process to obtain a cedula is relatively painless.

Having a Colombian ID will make your life easier in Colombia. Most banks require a cedula to open an account. Plus a cedula can make it easier to open accounts for TV, Internet and phone services.

You can also travel domestically in Colombia with your cedula and leave your passport at home.

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About Jeff

Jeff first discovered Colombia back in 2006 and has traveled to all the major cities in Colombia. He is fortunate to have a job in the U.S. with location flexibility, which has allowed him to spend over six years living in Medellín. He is also studying Spanish to become fluent.

Comments

  1. Aldrin Leal says:

    For us belonging to Mercosur, the process is a bit straightforward. A TP-15 Cedula allows one to live and work in Colombia with no hard requirements. At least for us Brazilians, it requires a translation from Portuguese.

    • Stephan Johnsen says:

      Hey thank you so much for this comment! I was not aware of the TP-15, this is perfect for my wife who is Brazilian! This will be much easier than I thought!

  2. Aldrin Leal says:

    Also, be wary that most banks require you to wait 6 months from Date of Issue to open a bank account. I’ve heard some allow three months though.

    • Hey, not sure what this is all about. My cedula arrived and I opened an account at Bancolombia the very same day!

  3. A couple of observations on Jeff’s fine article….if you register your visa with Migración Colombia in Bogotá and prefer to pick up your cedula in Medellín, no letter is required – simply a note in the comments/observations part of the application form will suffice (“Por favor envíe a Medellín”).
    Also, a photo copy of the new visa is required – a copy of the data page of your passport is not.
    On 9th Feb 2016, the fee for a cedula in Bogota was indeed $173.000 ($51.00 US), so the Cali reader was correct.
    To check if yours is ready for collection, the website Jeff refers to can be found here http://www.migracioncolombia.gov.co/index.php/es/cedulas-para-reclamar
    You can pick it up any time up to six months from date of issue.

    • Interesting, demonstrates that the process changes and isn’t even updated on their website – see: https://www.sivirtual.gov.co/memoficha-tramite/-/tramite/T703, which still has the 162,000 peso price. When I went for my third cedula late last year they required a copy of the data page from my passport but not a copy of the visa, which is also what it says on their website. To be safe I guess it is best to have both in case they change again.

      Yes the letter to request the cedula be sent to Medellín wasn’t technically “required” but recommended and the agent I talked to said it would make it absolutely sure it goes to Medellín. She said in the past the letter was required and she was happy to see I had it.

      • @Jeff
        I obtained a RE Visa two years ago when I apply for renewal in three years are the requirements the same , especially concerning proof of marriage I am currently separated from my Colombian wife which I married Stateside nine years ago .

        Any input appreciated
        Terry
        by the way I am considering moving to Medellin

  4. Hi Jeff – the Migracion Colombia website asks for 2 photocopies of the visa page in your passport, 2 copies of the data page and 3 photos – as well as the proof of blood type if it is your first visa – I was asked for all of these applying in Medellín – best to be safe than sorry!

    • Demonstrates inconsistency – in Bogotá in my experience for 3 cedulas they only asked me for a copy of the data page and no need for photos in Bogoá as they take digital photos. The proof of the blood type was only needed for the first cedula. But better to have a couple copies of the data page and visa to be safe.

  5. Hey! Don’t expect the process to be quick and/or easy, at least in the Medellin office. When I went to pick up my cedula, 3 weeks after having applied, four people and multiple phonecalls were required to find the code to open the safe where all of the cards are held… so that…

  6. Steve Behr says:

    I have just obtained a TP7 retiree visa (using Social Security Disability Insurance as the source of income) at the Colombia consulate in Los Angeles, California. If anyone is interested, I would be glad to elaborate on the process and steps needed to be taken for you to do the same.

    • Hello, I would appreciate knowing how the processes went and how long it took to get it, thank you

      • steve behr says:

        It takes two trips to the consulate, one to drop off all the required documents and another to pick up your visa. In Los Angeles, the drop off is done on Tuesdays. You have to pay $263 dollars at the consulate for the visa (money order or cashiers check) I picked up my visa about 5 days after dropping off the required documents.

        1. You need to get a social security benefits letter and then have it apostilled, translated and legalized.

        2. You can easily print out the benefits letter from the Social Security website:
        https://www.ssa.gov/

        3. You need to send the benefits letter to have it apostiled. This is done by the Office of Authentications. Here is their website:
        https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal-considerations/judicial/authentication-of-documents/office-of-authentications.html

        4. I can give you the name of an official translator in New York city who will translate the benefits letter and the apostille of the benefits letter and will also legalize both documents and send them to you by priority mail for around $42 dollars. His name is David Olsen and here is his email address:
        gringoviejo45@gmail.com. You can mention my name if you like so he knows to do for you exactly what he did for me.

        5. You need your passport and photo copies the page with your photo and the page with the visa stamps.

        6. And finally you need a photo of yourself. In Los Angeles, there is a place in the consulate building that will take the necessary photo for around $5 dollars.

        I think that sums it up. I don’t think I forgot anything. I am in Bogota right now and I don’t have access to my file with all the required documents but, I believe I have listed all the necessary steps.

        Good luck!

        • Hello Steve,

          I also thank you for your explanation in details. So you got your visa and after arrival to Bogota you had to go to apply for the cedula, right? The TP 7 visa is good for one year. Did they tell you how many days ( or weeks ) before expiration date you have to come to the immigration office again and what the procedure is about? The renew procedure is the same or they just need all the documents one time? Did you get a chance to open an account yet? Is there any problem with SSA to have them send you your Social Security money ( I mean how long does it take for them to change the account for the payments?

          Thank you for your answer. Marie

          • steve behr says:

            Hello Marie,
            Yes, you have to register your visa and apply for your cedula within 15 days of your arrival in Colombia (Jeff writes about this in the above article).
            This was my first TP-7 visa so I cannot speak about the renew process. I plan on renewing my visa in March 2017 when I return to Los Angeles and I expect I will have to follow the same steps or procedures.
            As far as the SSA question, I am not sure I understand your question but, I have been collecting SS monies for several years and I have the money direct deposited into a Bank of America account in California and in Colombia I just use a bank ATM to access the money. I pay a $5 dollar ATM use fee and about a 3% foreign transaction fee for each withdrawal, which is a bit costly (for example a withdrawal of 700.000 pesos ($240 dollars) cost about 12 dollars or 5% total)
            Citibank is in Colombia so if you have an account with them you might save the $5 dollar ATM fee.
            I would also recommend having a credit card that does not charge foreign transaction fees. This will save you about 3% on your purchases.

  7. Brad Finnson says:

    3 cedulas! You are a serious masochist.

  8. Does it take different amount of time for issuing the card? We, 5 of us applied same day with same set of documents. 4 of got it after 2 weeks, but 5th one is not ready even after 3 weeks.

    • Yes it can sometimes take different amounts of time. For my third cedula they had technical problems and I had to follow up. You can follow up after about a month.

  9. I’ve arrived to Medellin on a TP-3 and need to get my Cedula. Does anyone know if I can make the payment at any Banco Occidente or does it need to be a certain one near the Migracion office?

    • It’s easier to just pay with a credit card or debit card in the Migración Colombia office. Since they started accepting credit/debit cards few pay cash anymore so I doubt someone can answer your question. If paying with cash you can ask where to pay at the Migración Colombia office.

      • From what I’ve read you need to use a Colombian Debit or Credit Card? Is that still the case or do international cards work?

        • I used my Colombian debit card last year in Bogotá to pay for a new cedula. I met one expat there that used an international credit card. The credit card machine they use looked to be the same you’ll see at stores/restaurants. But keep in mind the foreign cards must be set up to work in Colombia (contact the bank before arriving). Many foreign debit or credit cards won’t work in Colombia unless you notify your bank.

          • Visa from BofA has a travel rewards credit card that charges no foreign transaction fee. Has anyone else tried Express Send from Wells Fargo? I sent myself money to BanColombia from my Wells Fargo account and it only cost me $4.The first transfer has to be done from inside a branch in the US. I don’t know if there is a limit on the amount, but theoretically you could send your entire pension/SSA/disability check once a month for a $4 transfer fee charged by WF.
            I don’t have an account here, so i just pick up cash; but I think it would be pretty seamless if I did have an account here. When I come here to stay more permanently I will do just that. In the meantime, if you fill out a form with BanColombia {once i.e. the first time } they tell me receiving the subsequent transfers will be very simple. I’ve done it twice. The first time was a pain, the second time was a breeze. The exchange rate was quite favorable, (the official rate that day) You only have 15 days to pick up the money or else it is returned to your bank {so they tell me}. WF also partners with 5-6 other banks in Colombia besides Bancolombia. I asked about getting an account here and they said i need a cedula, and that we would talk about it when i return for a longer stay.

        • As an update, they do accept international debit and credit cards and the current fee (August 2016) is 173,000.

  10. Thanks Jeff for this great article and for helping and inspiring me to make my own post on this. My posts relates directly to my experience with the Bogotá office. I’ve liked to your article here and mine can be found here: http://stuartoswald.com/2016/09/obtaining-a-cedula-extranjeria-foreigner-id-in-colombia.html. It might be of great use to anyone applying there. Best regards and love the site.

  11. ust yesterday me and my family were in Migracion Colombia in Medellin to register our visa and to get our Cedulas de Extranjeria. Be aware that they DEMAND an appointment although on their website they say it is optional! The lady told us we need it or have to wait until all other people are ready. You can make an appointment on the website or by phone. However other people waiting told us that the online booking system did not work for them. Phone worked but you need to call some days in advance.

  12. You now have to register your VISA (mine is TP-7) online and apply for the Cédula de extranjeria online before going to the immigration office. I am processing mine in Cali. It is 173.000 COP (Nov 16).

    Register within 15 days of being stamped http://www.migracioncolombia.gov.co

    Exact link: http://www.migracioncolombia.gov.co/index.php/es/tramites-2016

    You can only process at the office once you have the 14 digit code obtained by submitting form online.

    • Hi Jessica thanks for your comments …. I have my Visa TP7-Titular .. I obtained it at the Colombian Embassy in San Jose Costa Rica. I have registered on line for my cedula for extranjeros successfully … I could only do this by using Modzilla Firefox …Chrome & Explorer would not work. I am now trying to register my Visa online …I have selected the link “http://www.migracioncolombia.gov.co/ … as you have suggested …after this I cannot see how to proceed … any help would be appreciated….. BTW, I am a Canadian … and will be travelling to Medellin in early January and would like to go to the migracion office in Medellin on January 9th.

  13. Hello Jeff
    I am fortunate to have a job in Colombia with a Canadian company that contracts its services to the Colombian gov.
    I will be in Bogota this week and we have a Colombian employee that is going to walk me thru the Cedula and work visa process.I hope it goes well and on the other hand Que Sera I am on the company clock.
    My questions are: I am showing up with a one way ticket, no visa, but I have a copy of my passport/ license notarized and authenticated by the Colombian Consulate in Canada, Will this be a Issue at the Airport Customs & Immigration when they ask me purpose of your trip, pleasure or business and do i show them my papers
    Its complicated and I have asked my companies executive assistant what to do and she just says I don’t know I haven’t done it before. Great I am thinking I am showing up to work in Colombia with no ace up my sleeve or no in site whats so ever and my boss is on the other side of the fence when I get there.
    I know this is a little different case for expats that work in Colombia
    Help me if you can

    • Hi Roland,

      When you enter Colombia just say you are there on vacation. You can convert a tourist visa to a work visa in Bogotá. Before I had a visa I was never asked by immigration in Colombia for an airline ticket leaving Colombia. But the airline may ask for for a return ticket when checking in – this happened to me about half the time before I had a visa. If you have to buy a return ticket, make sure it is refundable and get it refunded once you are in Colombia.

      • Thanks Jeff
        Thanks for the advise,I think a TP 2 is the one I will be getting this week in Bogota
        During the early 80s I spent a couple of years traveling Central & South America, It was difficult in those days especially Colombia. I am happy to have a job there now and I am impressed on the positive progress the people have done to change and make it a better place
        I can hardly wait to be immersed back in the culture that I miss

  14. Harold L Shirley says:

    Thank you for the very helpful explanations … comments & responses …. I have my Visa TP7-Titular .. I obtained it at the Colombian Embassy in San Jose Costa Rica. I have registered on line for my cedula for extranjeros successfully … I could only do this by using Modzilla Firefox …Chrome & Explorer would not work. I am now trying to register my Visa online …I ave selected the link “http://www.migracioncolombia.gov.co/ … after this I cannot see how to proceed … any help would be appreciated….. BTW, I am a Canadian … and will be travelling to Medellin in early January and would like to go to the migracion office in Medellin on January 9th.

    Many Thanks

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