How to Get a Business Visa in Colombia

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Enjoy Colombia
Enjoy Colombia (photo: David Lee)

Owning a business serves as a path to residency, and before that, a visa.

Specifically, that’s a business visa in Colombia.

A friend and I were talking about it after I wrote last month about my experience getting a work visa.

On this website, we’ve already told you about work visas (twice), tourist visas, resident visas and student visas because, let’s face it, Colombia is a great place to be, especially Medellín, which last month received some pretty prestigious recognition.

The first was an award for 2012 City of the Year, after Citibank, the Urban Land Insitute and the Wall Street Journal created a competition to determine the world’s most innovative city.

Two weeks later, Yahoo! Finance named Medellín the No. 1 place in the world to retire outside the United States.

Interested? Ok. Here’s how a business visa works:

You acquire one to give yourself a year to explore business opportunities in Colombia, or if you’re ready, to open your business as soon as possible.

It could be a club, a restaurant, almost anything you want.

Trendy Medellín is now home to several vegetarian restaurants, including the popular Verdeo.
Trendy Medellín is now home to several vegetarian restaurants, including the popular Verdeo. (photo: David Lee)

Here’s what you need to get the visa:

1) Valid Passport (for at least 3 months) with available blank pages.

2) 2 photocopies of passport page containing personal information.

3) 2 photocopies of passport page showing last arrival to Colombia.

4) 3 recent color photos, 3 x 3 cms, white background.

5) US $220 payable in pesos with Visa Card or cash deposit. Exchange rate: $1.810.

6) 2 Original visa application forms, filled and duly signed.

7) A letter from the entity within the national territory that promotes the visit of the foreign citizen, stating that the company is responsible for all expenses of this person while he/she is in the country.

8) Certificate of existence and representation of company providing letter of invitation.

9) Form 066 DAS.

10) Copy of last visa and ID, if necessary.

You can take your paperwork to any Colombian Consulate abroad, or the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores in Bogotá.

Check online for the office hours and addresses of consulates near you. Typically, consulates are open from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and located in capital cities.

The office of the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores is open from 7:30 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday, Avenida 19 #98-03, Edificio Torre 100, third floor.

For help with your Business Visa, contact Adriana Gonzalez, a lawyer who specializes in Visas of all types, at (+57) 301 252 6097 or fragoto@hotmail.com.

 

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17 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Ryan,

    A ‘Colombian business visa’ is for staff working for foreign companies needing to visit Colombia for meetings etc.

    I believe you are talking about a ‘Colombian business owners visa’ For this category of visa your minimum investment in the business or value of the shares you hold in the business needs to be not less than 59 million pesos to qualify (a bit of an omission I think!)

    The business owners visa is to help foreigners start businesses in Colombia (legally).

    Stewart

    • darn it, i must have accidentally deleted the part about the 59 million pesos in the process of cut/editing/pasting. it’s in my original draft. i have friends who own businesses here and had to pay it.

      but no one has ever referred to it as a business owners visa. i’ll ask again. do you own a business here?

  2. Very interesting article but some parts are a confusing like :

    7) A letter from the entity within the national territory that promotes the visit of the foreign citizen, stating that the company is responsible for all expenses of this person while he/she is in the country.

    8) Certificate of existence and representation of company providing letter of invitation

    If you want to open your own business I don’t see the relevance of points 7 & 8..

    Also is it easier to obtain this visa from abroad rather than within the country with just a tourist visa ?

    Very interesting topic, updates from time to time would be welcome, thanks for sharing!

    • if you just want to go ahead and open a business, then you don’t need someone to “sponsor” you, or be your legal representation as you look for opportunities. but nos. 7 and 8 are there just to give you time. and from what i’ve found, it’s easier to obtain this particular visa if you’re here.

  3. Hello, I have a business visa. It is expiring in August so I am going to go home (to Ireland) for a few months. I got the business visa because we have an online business here which is based in Colombia and I stated in my application that I wanted to do market research in the country.

    Anyway, do you know if there is anything special I will need to do before I leave? I hardly think that they will ask me how my research went etc?

  4. Hi there !

    i am going to Colombia next month to open a company (SAS).
    I am planning to fund an account with the least possible capital, but I will have guaranteed recurrent income through invoices for the first year.
    which type of visa should I apply for and how can I obtain it the easiest way?

    any suggestions are appreciated here !

    thanks a lot

    Simon

  5. Hey Ryan!

    Do you have a link to the article that ranked Medellin as the top retirement destination outside the US?

    Best,
    Ryan

  6. Hey guys,

    In July of 2013 the laws for the temporary business visa changed quite a bit, and we now have 4 categories under the NE business visa. Most importantly they are blocking some people from staying more than 6 months in a year with the NE-1 visa.

    If your really looking for a business OWNER visa then that is now achieved by certifying your ownership in a SAS company. It costs more to setup than the old sole proprietor visa but its often times the best visa for entrepreneurs. check out http://www.colombiabusinessvisa.com for more info. Colombia also has big tax benefits for new companies setting up shop.

    Medellin is booming now. Multinationals are really finding Medellin a great hub to operate out of. Outsourcing everything from bilingual call centers to computer programmers. Not to mention if your a director or managing partner in a multinational who wouldn’t want to live here with this awesome weather?

    Cheers,

    James

    • I obtained a NE-1 business visa in 2013 valid for 16 months. I’m almost at the end of my six month allowance for 2014.

      How exactly would they block someone from using the full six months per year, especially if that person is already in the country?

      Would that have been something addressed when the visa was issued, or when the person enters the country with it?

  7. Hi guys, some really useful resources here so thanks for that! I’m looking to move to Colombia and set up my own business from scratch. As such I wont be making a one off transaction to buy a business for more than the 59m peso investment criteria. I will be entering into a long term rental agreement for 5-10 years which will be in excess of this value, plus I will be expending more than this amount annually in the general running of the business. Would either of these satisfy the criteria?

    Secondly, I have read that the NE1 visa limits your stay to 180 days a year. I’m sure that this is a common query as anybody starting a business in a country would require more freedom of movement than this to run the business effectively. Are there any other visas that could allow me to live and work in the country for the whole year?

    Thanks a lot in advance 🙂

    • Actually the requirement is 61,600,000 pesos (nearly $26,000). For business investments, Colombia requires an investment that is no less than 100 times the current legal minimum monthly salary in Colombia.

      To prove a business investment for a visa, Colombia requires a certificate of legal representation issued by a Colombian Chamber of Commerce within three months prior to the application for the visa. The certificate must state that the foreign national is a partner or owner of a company legally constituted and registered with a capital or assets registered and paid by the foreigner in an amount of at lease 100 times the current legal minimum monthly salary in Colombia.

      • That’s really great information thanks Jeff. So basically if I set up a company with me as a Director and deposit that value of cash into the bank in the business’s name that would satisfy the criteria?

        • What I listed is the visa requirements listed on the Colombian Cancilleria website. Keep in mind that Colombia will likely change the legal minimum monthly salary next year.

          I would talk to a lawyer to understand how to go about setting up a business properly and making sure assets are registered properly and brought into the country correctly. Unfortunately I don’t have any business lawyer recommendations.