How to Obtain a Colombia Retirement Visa – Requirements and Cost

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Retirement visa
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.

If you are getting your retirement visa in Colombia you can also reportedly get a letter in Spanish from the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá that certifies your Social Security income and is accepted as proof of pension for visas.

You email the embassy a letter of request, PDF copies of your SSA Benefit Verification letter, a signed release of information form and copy of your passport.  They will send back a letter that is accepted by Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores sent via a certified courier to your home.

 

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.

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62 COMMENTS

  1. 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.

      • 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.

      • Much of what is written here on this website is pretty good, however there is some VERY VALUABLE information that is omitted. First, what is the application registry number (important to complete the Visa process). Second, where do we obtain the forms to fill out necessary processing information, for example the aforementioned “letter of request” to add with other required documents. Leaving out letters of the alphabet then omits words from the language which then omits the ability to communicate properly, and this is what we have here regarding the information here. I have all my documents, but what is a “release of information” form and why does the US Embassy in Colombia have NO clue what the heck I am even talking about when I mention it!? Where would I then obtain such a document? Would it be possible for me to take all my documents (apostilled and in PDF form) directly to the Embassy and get my SSA document translated and go from there? Even then I still need a number that again NO ONE seems to know where it can be obtained or manifested. Looking for some assistance that seems to be the key to the golden kingdom to obtain. Thank you very much for the time and consideration.

    • Hi Ron

      Actually I am in Bogota I would like to contact a good and honest lawyer to guide and help me through visa , retirement, residency, working and investment. You saying you know someone. I appreciate your recommendations. Thank you.

  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.

      • I Know Ron I lived in the same building as him. Whats up Ron? This is Dan anyways I am going to the colombian consulate here in Chicago on September 19th and will have all my documents everything should be good to go. Will they give me my visa same day or do I have to wait and they send it to me? thanks Dan

  3. 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.

    • Hi Robz, I am looking at the possibility of going down the orthodontic route for obtaining a visa. Was this fairly simple to do? I am thinking of getting braces but was not sure if this would be sufficient. When you say simple orthodontic work, is this basically braces for aesthetic purposes?

      • Can you all explain a little more about this visa?
        I was looking to apply for a retirement visa but i’m only 43 years old but with a monthly income from the government. Maybe this medico visa could be another option for me?

  5. 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

  6. 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.

      • 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.

    • 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

      • 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. 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. 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.

    • The problem with the FSU website it is programmed erroneously to only accept ten digit phone numbers and here in Costa Rica they are 11-digit. So you can’t file your online no matter the hour I spent trying. But here is something I heard from an expat here, he used his MagicJack number and it worked perfectly. His PDF of his Social Security Administration Verification letter showed up in his email inbox. I am going to the States next year so I am buying a MagicJack setup and just pay $35 year to keep it alive so the US Embassy in Costa Rica. But then again, I might just abandoned my use of SKYPE for call to telephone numbers in the States.

  10. 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

  12. Jeff, thanks for all your wonderful articles on Medellin. I’m planning my first trip here next year!

    I want to ask, what if you are aiming to retire early and plan to support your retirement yourself? My goal is to eventually live off investments and rental income, which aren’t a “pension” per se (right now I work multiple jobs and save/invest a good portion of my income while living frugally). Have you come across people doing this in Medellin, and what kind of pension do they typically have? Do they just buy property, or make an investment to get that visa? (I think I read on another site that you can get the investment visa if you buy at least $88k worth of house/apartment, or invest at least $25k in a business.)

    Anyway, thanks for all the great work you do on this site!

    • Did you ever receive answers at to how best too apply for a Visa( which kind) if yo are not retired yet but have enough income to move to Colombia? Thank you Howard

      • Hi, I am in the same situation but living and working in Colombia. I have a TP-4 Visa but I will retire in December. I also have enough to retire on and I want to know what type of VISA I will need. If you come across the this information. Please share.

        Cuong

  13. I am coming to Medellín in September for a month from my retirement home in Costa Rica. I will renew my for the third time my Costa Rica “residente pensionado” cedula for the third time this month. This requires me to get a new Social Security Administration (SSA) Benefit Verification letter for Costa Rica from the US Consulate in San Jose, Costa Rica. At the same time, same trip, I want to get the same letter for an application to be made online to Colombia after I return home the first part of October. I don’t think US consulates overseas issued a a U.S Department of State DS-4914 to anybody mentioned in this article. I could be wrong an Colombia has a special agreement with the USA to do so. Now, I have two questions: (1.) How long can you hold on to your SSA Benefit Verification letter for Colombia before you make your application, six months or more? NOTE: In Costa Rica any documents for your initial Immigration application/cedula renewals none of the documents you submit can not be older in six months. (2.) Does anybody know if that is also true with Colombia? SIDEBAR: I would prefer to kill two birds with one stone by getting both letters when I have to travel to San Jose for my pending renewal for Costa Rica is my goal. Also I think for the Colombia application download attached to this article makes it clear if since I am resident of Costa Rica, there are advantages of me applying from here that are convenient. Advice, thoughts or have you done your immigration application for Colombia from Costa Rica?

  14. I Have a question, I have been living near Medellin for 3 years and was attempting to get my 4th pensionada visa. Unfortunntely the US Embassy in Bogota changed the process for verify SS income, they now send all to San Jose Costa Rica and it is taking a lot of time. The past years it was done in about 5 days so I applied 30 days before expire to not loose days working on my 5 year deal. As it was expiring and no verify letter I flew over to Panama to not overstay and get fined. I came back in with the 90 day tourist stamp to be legal. I am now told by the agency helping me with renewal that I have lost my 3 years as the visa expired. Any sound info on this ssue. Thanks, William

  15. Just beginning to explore retirement overseas from the U.S,, and came across this site. Medellin had not been a consideration for me. I had lived in Thailand and that had been an option though they are making this an increasely difficult process, plus it’s too far away, as I might like to easily opt back just to the U.S for Medicare or VA Healthcare, or visit family. Then Ecuador gets lots of press, and now Mexico. Beats me about Mexico, l hear mostly ‘tough’ stories. Anyway, I am concerned that the TP-7 retirement visa is solely based on SS. It’s presently at a low entry point but local requirements could inflate and become prohibitive for the invested time in the country. I don’t understand why they wouldn’t include investments and/cash requirements.

    I also don’t have a good sense how receptive their culture is too foreigners or the degree of crime and corruption. I would work to speak the language though I am told you are very limited not speaking Spanish. I like that Medellin is a very cosmopolitan city, education, arts, music, food, transportation, and energy. Worth a closer look. I would use an agent, at least, for the first pass. Though what services are available to orient you to places to live and get around.

    • Hi Kim,

      I traveled to Medellin in June and stayed for 6 weeks, my experience in Medellin was AMAZING! I can tell you that as a NON Spanish speaker I had ZERO problems! It was very easy to get around the city via the Metro, Taxi or my favorite Uber. It was a GREAT experience and I would recommend Medellin to anyone. The cost of living is very affordable, as long as you stay away from El Poblado. I lived in the Estadio area, and had a fully furnished apartment with all utilities included (even high speed internet) for $500.00 USD per month. Everyone that I encountered was very friendly and I felt safe everywhere I went. I also met several other Americans there that Social Security was their only source of income. If you’re looking for a GREAT place to retire I’d choose Medellin. I’m headed back myself next month!

  16. Hi, I am retiring young at 50 and I dont have a pension. However, I been living in Colombia and working for 3 years. I have a bank and saving in Povenir in Colombia. I have enough to retire on for the rest of my life. When I reach 55 and 65 I will receive a pension then. Can I still get the TP-7 pension visa?

    Thank you,

    Cuong

  17. Can somebody recommend a visa agency to help with the paperwork in Medellin. I am from Canada and most articles cover paperwork with US Embassy.
    Thanks for your help

  18. Hi Jeff

    Perhaps you could help me ‘over the wire’?

    I submitted all my document online this recent evening and now I have a document entitled, “Settle Visa Study” (the English translation). It tells me, “To make the payment in a branch of the bank please indicate in the window or in the servibanca ATM the unique payment reference which consists of a control code and the appliant’s document number.”

    Futher down it mentions a US dollar fee ($52) and a COP fee 154,440 COP.

    Somebody told me that I could pay that online but I don’t believe that’s correct, is it? (I live in Medellin). Last year the Colombian who helped me with this process made the payment for me (with my money of course) via his Colombian bank ATM. I do not have a Colombian bank but I do have a US credit union debit card that works internationally.

    The document also mentions ‘Servibanca’ and I know they have ATM. So….. can I finish this much of the process myself, or….. ?

    Thanks,
    Art Williams

  19. I qualify for a Colombian retirement visa through my social security income but my husband doesn’t, is it possible for him to stay because he is my spouse?

  20. Wondering about health insurance options for retirees in Colombia. Most private health insurance does not accept persons older than 60yo. Do you have any info on this?

    • Hello Derek, thank you for taking the time to read the article and for your comment.

      This really depends on whether or not you are a tax resident here in Colombia. Non-residents only have to pay taxes on their Colombian income or Colombian assets. The story is completely different if you are a Colombian tax resident since the Government would require you to pay for your worldwide income and assets.

      Regards

  21. Excellent reading, Jeff. I’m Australian and want to relocate to Medellìn,Colombia. However I want to travel a couple of months or so there and in Ecuador prior to applying for the TP-7 visa. Can I apply for it being in Colombia already? Alternatively could my wife (who is not coming for the time being) apply for it from Australia? As I understand, the validity of the accompanying documents cannot exceed a certain timeframe.
    The TP-7 visa is for one year and has to be renewed each following year. Does the same fee apply each time?
    Thanks in advance

  22. How does a retirement visa work for those who want to retire in Medellin but are not receiving social security (because retired at 50) but have enough savings to live on for the rest of their lives?

  23. Hello, and thanks for,the info.
    If you are not retired (not receiving social security) yet, but will have savings that can be structured into monthly income, can that count in obtaining a retirement visa?

    Gracias!

  24. I would like to apply for this visa and have spoken with a law firm in Medellin but the breakdown of the cost is significantly higher than the almost $300 American mentioned in the article. 1. M-Pension Visa 900,000 pesos. 2. TRM-022 Cedula assistance 0 pesos. 3. TRM-019 Pension Legalization 330,000 mil pesos. 4. BGT Messenger Service 60,000 mil pesos. 5. MAIL-National-Deprisa-9AM (2) @ 10,700 mil pesos. 6.GOV-Ministerio TP7 Visa-Study Fee 154,440 mil pesos. 7. GOV-Miniserio TP7-Visa Fee 638,100 mil pesos. That is a total of 2,148,940.00 pesos and at today`s exchange rate of $1=.00035 pesos is roughly $767 USD. This was sent to me by Visas y Transmites Internacionales NIT/VAT (Company ID) NIT 700036426-9 Cra 36#10B – 78 Medellin Antioquia El Prolado, Colombia. From James Shotwell Lindzey III, Alexa Gomez visas@medellinattorney.com Please respond through the email I am providing below. Thank you

  25. What are the benefits of the TP-7 aside from allowing you to stay in the country? Does it give you any healthcare benefits?

  26. I recently received my M type visa (pensionado) and plan on living in hotels for less than 30 days each time,moving from city to city. Do I need to pay the IVA tax the hotels have here in Colombia? I plan on doing this for a couple of years.

  27. Good Day Jeff:

    I live in the Los Angeles area, which mean I can get the Colombian visa here at the Consulate. My questios are:
    1. After obtaining the TP-7 pensionado visa, how soon must I enter Colombia so that the visa does not expires?
    2. After obtaining a Colombian cedula, how many days out of the year am I required to be physically present in Colombia so that the cedula nor the visa do not expire?

  28. Hey Jeff.
    Great information. I’m reading many posts but I’m not finding my type of situation has been covered.
    I draw on SSD – Social Security Disability, can this be considered meeting the requirements to be able to retire in Columbia?
    Can you take me through the process of retiring to Columbia, do I need a US passport first? Through obtaining the Foreigner ID, please.?
    Thank you