Last updated April 6, 2016
Editor’s Note: This information is specific to citizens of the USA, though I do believe it applies to most Western countries as well (Canada, Australia, UK). If you’re from another country, double-check the tourist visa rules as they apply to you.
Upon entry into Colombia, the Immigrations officer will usually give you 90 days for your first tourist visa. The amount of time is at the officer’s discretion.
Currently, a tourist visa allows Americans up to 180 days per calendar year in the country.
After your initial time is up, you can use the process below to extend your visa for up to a total of six months. There are two scenarios to be aware of when planning your time in the country.
You arrive on January 1, 2015 and are given a 90-day visa. You then extend your visa up to the maximum of six months per calendar year.
You must then leave the country by June 30, 2015 and cannot return until the start of the following calendar year, January 1, 2016.
You arrive on September 1, 2015, and are given a 90-day visa. You then extend your visa in November for an extra 90 days (six months total). You must then leave Colombia by February 28, 2016 because you are not allowed to stay in the country for more than 180 consecutive days, despite the change in calendar years.
You can choose from a variety of quick and easy ways to leave and come back, including cheap flights to Quito or Panama City.
If you return to Colombia March 2, 2016, you’ll get 90 days on arrival, and can then renew your visa once for up to an extra 90 days (for six months total in 2016). In this example, you would need to leave Colombia by about June 2, 2016.
How to Extend a Tourist Visa in Medellín
Important: As of December 2015, you must make an appointment in advance via the Migración website.
1. You can now pay for your visa extension by credit or debit card at the Migración Colombia office. As of 2015, the cost is 81,000 pesos ($32).
To pay by cash, visit any Banco Occidente to deposit the Unidad Administrativa Especial Migración Colombia fee.
- Amount: 87,000 pesos (about $28)
- Account name: Unidad Administrativa Especial Migración Colombia
- Account number: 263-05464-5
- Referencia 1: 103 (the code for tourist visas)
- Referencia 2: Your passport number
- You may be asked for a phone number to make the deposit
- Keep the original deposit slip, you’ll need to present it at the Migración office
Don’t rely on the bank branch to have this information. Bring it yourself.
2. You will need one visa style (3 x 4 cm) photo with a white background.
If you do not have any on hand, you can either go to a photography store (available in all the big malls) and get a few printed off, or look for the small store near the Migración office which does them too.
3. Make photocopies of the following:
- One copy of the information page in your passport
- One copy of the page with your entry stamp to Colombia
4. Bring your original passport, photo, and documentation to the Migración Colombia office (formerly known as DAS).
- Address: Calle 19 #80A-40, Barrio Belén, Medellin
- Phone: 345-5500
- Office Hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. The office is closed for national holidays.
5. Proof of onward travel (copy of a booking for bus or flight out of Colombia).
If you don’t already have exit plans, simply print off an itinerary for a bus or plane ticket out of the country if they ask.
6. Check in at the front gate, where security will ask that you mute your phone. The security guard should also direct you toward the office, which is located directly down the driveway in front of you.
7. Present yourself at the counter where someone will verify you have the proper documentation, and if so, give you an application form to fill out, along with a number for the queue.
The application form requires:
- Basic biographical information, as well as your phone number and the address where you’re staying (hostel, hotel or apartment rental address will suffice).
- Name, address, and telephone number of a Colombian who can testify to knowing you.
8. When it’s your turn, go up to the right person and answer any questions asked.
Be respectful, and if the worker doesn’t speak English and you have questions, see if anyone else in the office or waiting room can help. Usually, there is at least one bilingual staff member or person in the waiting room who can help.
9. You will be fully fingerprinted using an inkless pad, and if all the required documentation is provided, have your passport stamped for an extra 90 days.
You can follow a similar process in cities around Colombia. For a full list of offices, visit the new Migración Colombia website.
Tourists who overstay their visa will be required to pay a fine before exiting the country. The minimum fine is half of the average salary in Colombia (340,000 pesos, $133) up to 4,000,000 pesos ($1,563). If you are flying out, you should pay this fine at the Migracion office within a few days of your departure, otherwise, you may be delayed at the airport.
If any of this information is incorrect or out-of-date, please leave a comment below or contact me with the details.