How to Obtain a Colombia Retirement Visa – Requirements and Cost

Retirement visa

The Colombia retirement visa has a low-income requirement.  It is intended for those with a retirement or pension income and is relatively easy to get.  The visa is known as the pensionado (pension) visa (TP-7).  The TP-7 visa is also used for other popular visas including rentista visas (a non-pension income from outside Colombia) and investment visas (invests in property or a business in Colombia).

The Colombia retirement visa is also fairly inexpensive to get with a current cost of only $263.

Several readers of Medellín Living asked for us to cover the Colombia retirement visa, as this type of visa hasn’t been covered yet on this site.

A popular location in Colombia for expat retirees is Medellín.  Medellín is becoming popular for retirees due to its climate, low cost of living, good public transportation with its metro, and good healthcare with eight of the top 44 hospitals in Latin America.

A number of publications have called Medellín one of the top foreign retirement locations, including Businessweek, Huffington Post, International Living, Live & Invest Overseas and U.S. News.

In our Medellín Living reader survey in December last year, 19.4 percent of over 200 expats surveyed living in Medellín have a retirement visa, which was the second most popular visa for expats living in the city.

Colombia Retirement Visa Requirements

To qualify for a Colombia retirement visa, you must show that you have income of at least three times the minimum monthly salary in Colombia.  In 2017, the minimum monthly salary in Colombia is 737,717 pesos.  So three times that is 2,213,151 pesos or only $753 at an exchange rate of 2,941 pesos to the USD.

The minimum monthly salary in Colombia increases each year. In 2017, it increased 7 percent. The government reportedly renews some visas for people that qualified under lower amounts in previous years.

Required documents:

  • Valid current passport with an expiration date of more than 180 days and at least two blank pages.
  • Copy of the data page of your current passport where your personal data is displayed.
  • Copy of the page of your passport where the last stamp of entry to or departure from 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 retirement funds with a monthly income of no less than three times the current legal minimum monthly salary.
  • Passport style face photo with a white background, sized at 3cm width X 4cm height, max size of 300kb jpg file for online application.

The current cost of a Colombia TP-7 retirement visa is $52 for processing and $211 for the visa for a total of $263.

The Proof of Pension

The Colombian government reportedly prefers official government pension certifications for its retirement visa, such as from the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA). It is reportedly more difficult to get approved with private pension plans

The proof of pension for the SSA is a SSA Benefit Verification letter. The easiest method to get a SSA Benefit Verification letter is via the SSA web site.

Next step is to get an apostille for this Benefit Verification letter. An “apostille” is an authentication attached to a document so it is certified for legal purposes for use in another country like Colombia.

The SSA Benefit Verification letter is a federal document. So the U.S. Department of State must be authenticate it.  You can order an apostille directly from the U.S Department of State via mail or in-person using a DS-4914 form, which costs only $8.  Agencies also offer apostille services in Washington, D.C. but these can cost upwards of $200.

Once you apostille the SSA Benefit Verification letter you need to get it translated into Spanish.  This is the final step.  Furthermore, keep in mind a Benefit Verification letter should be dated within 90 days of the visa application.

Applying for a retirement visa

Applying for a retirement visa

Applying for a Retirement Visa in Colombia

The visa process in Colombia is fairly easy and it’s done online.  You can apply for a retirement visa online here. This application will require scans of all the above required documents in PDF files plus the photo in jpg format. A detailed guide for applying online is found here.

After the visa approval you need to travel to Bogotá to get the visa in your passport.  Visas are issued at the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores office in Bogotá. This is located at Avenida 19 # 98-03, Torre 100 Building, 3rd Floor.  It’s open from 7:30am until noon.

If you don’t want to travel you can use a visa agency.  A visa agency can handle the online application. And it will courier your passport to Bogotá to get the visa in your passport. There are several visa agencies in Medellín.  We plan to cover these agencies in a future article. If you use a visa agency, you will need to add a notarized letter in Spanish authorizing the agency to work on your behalf.

You can also get visas at Colombian consulates around the world.  In the U.S., Colombia has consulates located in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, Newark, New York, San Francisco and Washington DC.

Once you have a Colombia Retirement visa, don’t forget to apply for a Cedula Extranjeria (foreigner ID) within 15 days at Migracion Colombia.  If you don’t do this you will be liable for a big fine.  The fine is up to seven times the monthly minimum salary in Colombia (over $1,700).

A TP-7 Retirement Visa is good for a year and will need to be renewed each year. After five years of having a TP-7 visa you are eligible for a resident visa, which is good for five years.

Retirement savings

Retirement savings

The Bottom Line

Colombia’s retirement visa has a lower income requirement than retirement visas found in many other countries.  For example, the income requirement for a retirement visa is $1,000 per month in Costa Rica, Panama and Peru.  The Colombia retirement visa is also relatively easy to get.  But it also is intended only for people who are retired and drawing retirement income.

The cost of living is also relatively low in Medellín and several other cities in Colombia compared to the costs found in North America and Europe. So Colombia is expected to remain a popular foreign retirement location.

Reminder: Join our Medellín Living May Meetup on May 11 at 7pm at Del Patio Restaurant and Bar in Laureles. This meetup is a good way to meet other expats living in Medellín as well as newcomers visiting or considering moving to the city. Please RSVP if you plan to attend.

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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. Ron Wegner says:

    Great work. Medellin is a wonderful city but lets be clear . During the past 40 years Medellin has inceeased by 10 fold in populariion. In 1975 when I first arrived here there were about 400 thousand people luving here and average daily mean temperature was about 72 degrees F. Today in 2017 there are approx. 4 million peopke living in the greater metropolitan area, with daily temperatures at times appraching and exceeding 85-90+ deg. f. The air quality is some of the worst on earth and my lungs at times are on fire due to the high levels of contaminants in our very polluted air. Unfortunately Medellin has become a very unhealthy place to live. Once above the valley here the air quality greatly improves. I live in Laureles and have central air-conditioning throughout my apartment. Without it I woukd broil and asphyxiate. Good luck on the TP-7 visa. It requires hard work and determination and needs to be renewed yearly. Major consideration. If you can obtain a resident visa by investing 200,000 usd here into property and or orher legally acceptable investments and the money gets recorded by the Banco de la Republica (the Colombian central bank) you will avoid the yearly renewal of your tp-7 Pensionado Visa. If anyone needs an acknowledged and accredited colombian attorney expert in the visa orocess and recommended by the US embassy in Bogotà feel free to ask. i know of a very honest and reasonably priced attorney who speaks fluent English. Good luck and welcome.

    • Hi Ron,

      Thanks for the comment. I respectfully disagree that the “air quality is some of the worst on earth” in Medellín. There are actually over 600 cities (particularly in China and India) with worse air pollution. According to the World Health Organization, Medellín is ranked 675 in terms of particulate matter concentration – see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_polluted_cities_by_particulate_matter_concentration.

      Our Medellín Living reader survey last year found that pollution is the number two concern of expats living in Medellín (after traffic) – http://medellinliving.com/2016-reader-survey-results/. I am working on an article for this website that looks at the pollution problem in the city in more detail since it is a major concern. Medellin does have a pollution problem as its located in a canyon, with mountains surrounding the city, which do not allow easy dispersion of pollutants, so pollution tends to stay in the metropolitan area. But fairly regular rain in the city can help clean the atmosphere. Also pollution levels vary in different areas of the valley.

      Yes the temperature in Medellín at times can exceed 90 °F at times but the average high temperature in Medellín during the year is 82 °F. The temperatures vary in the valley by 4 °C according to a recent study, with El Centro being the warmest part of the city. This is something to consider when choosing an area to live. The lower part of the valley like El Centro and Laureles tends to have higher temperatures than other areas like the hills in El Poblado, Envigado and Sabaneta. This is something else I plan to cover in an article on this site.

      • Edward says:

        Yes, I agree that Medellín doesn’t have air quality that is some of the worst on earth.

        I live in Laureles and don’t have air-conditioning but open the windows with some fans, which is sufficient for me. I don’t need AC.

        Thanks for writing this article. When I went for my TP-7 retirement visa last year I found that many articles on the Internet about Colombia retirement visas are inaccurate or out of date. Based on my experience in getting a visa last year your article is very accurate. It should help many people.

        • Edward, hi.

          Its necessary to get the passport translated and apostilled to get the tp7 visa?. Thanks in advance

  2. To confirm,since I live in Miami( consulate here) I do not need to go to Bogata for the retirement visa. I can do it in the consulate in Miami.

    • Yes, you can get a retirement visa at any Colombian consulate and avoid a need to go to Bogotá.

      If you get a visa from a consulate, once you enter Colombia you will have 15 days to go to Migracion Colombia to register your visa and apply for a Cedula Extranjeria.

      • Wow, that is good to know. I have 3 years and 7 months till retirement (but who is counting). Bought a condo. in Envigado.
        Need to go to one of yours get together next time I am there.
        Thanks for the info.

  3. geoffrey says:

    Like Ron Wegner I live in Laureles and I don’t understand how my experience could be so different than his. I don’t need air conditioning at all; two fans do the trick. I sleep great. The air contamination is a problem for me only on the main arteries such as San Juan. Air quality on the hundreds of side streets rarely bothers me at all and I came from a city on the ocean with very clean fresh air. I never break a sweat walking around in the middle of the day. It’s often a tad too warm but as soon as I step into the shade I’m fine and I’m in my 70’s.

  4. Jeff, please note that the TP-7 visa is not exclusively a retirement visa as you suggest. The TP-7 covers various other categories including “Tratamiento médico”. This is a perfectly viable alternative to other visa types. I have used the TP-7 “Tratamiento médico” visa for 2 years supported by simple orthodontic treatment.

  5. Fred J says:

    Thanks for this article.

    A typo?
    Medellín is becoming popular for retirees due to its climate, low cost of loving, good public transportation with its metro, and good healthcare with eight of the top 44 hospitals in Latin America.

    While this is possibly true, I think it should be “low cost of living,”

    cheers

    • Hi Fred, LOL, thanks for catching that typo that wasn’t caught by the spell-checker! It’s corrected now to “living”.

  6. Chris G. says:

    Also I think your leaving out that when arriving in Colombia with the Pension visa your required to apply for a Cedula within two weeks of arrival. There is a cost for that, I’m not sure what it was this year. Also these costs are a yearly cost for each of the first 5 years.

    • I mentioned that under Applying for a Retirement Visa in Colombia with a link to our separate article on this site about getting a cedula – http://medellinliving.com/cedula/.

      • Chris G. says:

        Ah, yes. I see that now. Just as a heads up this year when I renewed my visa it was sent through email and I was told it would be sufficient when I renewed my Cedula but it wasn’t accepted and I had to get if stamped in my passport. This was an additional 100,000 pesos. I had to hire a broker to get it done in Bogota.

    • There is also a fine if you are late. I was on a marriage visa and went away after being awarded my visa not realising we had two weeks to apply for the cedula only to be hit with a $400.000 COP fine for being a week late.

    • Jerry Goudchaux says:

      I just paid for this it is 62.88 and by the way they don’t take cash so you need to pay with debit card or credit card

      • Jerry Goudchaux says:

        And one other thing, the visas are only issued in Bogata, so stating $263 is really not the whole cost, you either have to pay someone to go there or go there yourself…so that is an extra cost. I had an attorney go there and had to pay $150 for that service.

  7. Hi Jeff, this is great for retires with pensions, thanks for writing it; I know a few people who have pensions and are considering Colombia, so I will pass this article on to them.

    Any chance you can do an article on the TP-7 Rentista visa? You briefly touched on it in your RE visa from Jan 16. And heck, also the investment visas? Thanks.

    • Hi Jason,

      Thanks! Yes, I’m planning to also write articles that cover the rentista and investment visas as they also haven’t yet been covered on this site.

  8. David M. says:

    Good article. Pretty much covers everything.

    Last week I went to Migración in Medellin the day after I arrived and was nearly turned away. You now need to make an appointment at http://www.migracioncolombia.gov.co . The link is Agendamiento De Citas. I got lucky and the officer was in a good mood.

    You will be given your Cédula Extranjero number and told that it will take 10 days for the card to be available.They also told me to check the above mentioned site to see when the card had been processed. This week I checked the site several times, with no success. This morning I tried again and there was no history available on my number. Fearing the number the official had given me was incorrect I when to Migracion and my card had been issued and was there(with the number the official had given me)

  9. Janet Oates says:

    For US citizens needing official certification of Social Security income: the online services of the US Embassy are excellent.

    You can email them a letter of request, PDFs of your SS letter, your signed release of information form, copy of passport. They will send back, by secure certified courier to your home, a letter that is accepted by immigration. Just did this, for the second year. Sent the email request on a Monday and had the certified forms back by end of week. (Even though the website says it can take up to 20 days.)

    My husband and I file individually and therefore don’t need marriage license documentation.

    Married friends who have a single SS pension have been told different things by different Medellin lawyers. Some say you need apostille copy every year (a major pain because this had to come from the state where the marriage took place). Others state you only need to do this for the original visa application. Anyone have info on this? Some friends have remarried here to simplify the process.

  10. Bdshreve@gmail.com says:

    Great article, Jeff. Short, sweet and easy to understand. One questions. Ecuador accepts disability (SSDI) for income requirements. Please, please tell me the same is true for Colombia.

  11. Great post. My Bf is getting tp7 visa but readed all documents need be translated into spanish and apostilled. About benefit letter we already got it from us embassy in Bogotá, which we were told its fine but we have already doubts about passport, it needs to be translated and apostilled already??.. please help!, he has an appoint next week to Colombian consulate in Miami. Thanks

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