Colombia-MICE is part of the Pelecanus Travel Group. We are located in Bogota, Colombia. We are specialized in corporate travel and all services around Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions.
More and more foreigners want to settle in Colombia. However, this usually comes with some problems.
What do you need to work in Colombia?
In Colombia, as in any other country in the world, there are many requirements for practicing a profession or setting up a company. Depending on the profile and the activity to be performed, these requirements may vary.
General requirements for employing foreigners in Colombia
It is at the sole discretion of the Colombian government to authorize the entry and stay of foreigners in the country.
Following are the requirements or limitations to consider when applying for a job in Colombia:
- When entering Colombia as a tourist, foreigners are not permitted to work in the country or apply for a work visa.
- As a foreigner, if you want or plan to have a job, employment or activity in the country (through an employment contract or as a civil servant), you must belong to the general social security system as an employee (health, pension and occupational risks).
- Being able to join the pension system and contribute is entirely voluntary, as long as the foreigner certifies that they contribute to the pension system of their country of origin or another country.
- Important to know that Colombian companies have an obligation to inform you about your rights and obligations as a worker in Colombia.
- If you wish to practice a regulated profession, it is essential that you provide evidence of your professional qualifications and obtain a license or permit from the relevant professional bodies or competent authorities.
The most important thing to be able to legally work or hold an occupation in Colombia is a work visa. Below you will find all the information you need to apply for a visa.
What you need to start a business in Colombia
If you want to incorporate a company in Colombia, there are several steps to follow. First of all, these documents are required:
- Certificate of incorporation and legal representative of the company issued by the official body of the company’s registered office. If the representative is a non-resident, they must provide a copy of their passport.
- Authorization of the appropriate person to act on behalf of the company.
- Articles of Association.
- Resolution of the company: Purpose of the company, amount of capital allocated, business address, the appointment of a legal representative and an auditor.
The above documents are required for the next phase, which is to formalize the public deed. This must be signed by the legal representative of the company in Colombia.
In addition, declarations of acceptance from industry representatives are required. These letters must include the full name of the person accepting the position, their position, ID card type and number, and your signature.
You must then register with the responsible tax authority. The process of obtaining the company’s Tax Identification Number (NIT) can be carried out in person or through a legal representative at the National Tax and Customs Directorate (DIAN).
In addition, the business registration form must be completed and submitted, detailing the taxes to which the organization is subject, and the company must be registered with the Chamber of Commerce. Every company must register its accounts with the Chamber of Commerce.
On the other hand, it is of paramount importance to open a corporate account in the name of the company into which the investors will deposit the initial capital.
Finally, don’t forget to register the foreign investment with the Central Bank of Colombia. Once the investment has been made, ie the initial capital allocated to the company, any subsequent capital increase must be registered with the Central Bank of Colombia. Depending on how the investment was made, the procedure for registering the investment differs.
Visa for entrepreneurs in Colombia
You may be wondering if you need a work visa to start your business in Colombia… and the answer is yes. In this case, we recommend the M-Worker visa, which is valid for a maximum of three years and requires the following documents to apply for:
- Valid passport with at least two blank pages.
- A valid photocopy of the front and side with the entry stamp of the applicant’s passport.
- A photo with a white background of 3×4 centimeters.
- A letter of introduction from the legal representative of the company.
- Certificate from the Chamber of Commerce showing that the value of the new business exceeds 100 Colombian minimum wages (approximately $26,000).
- Existing personal or professional bank statements.
- An F-4 interchange statement.
- Accountant’s professional card and national identity card and a background report.
- Foreign Investment Certificate (optional).
- Complete the relevant application form on the government’s migration website.
What does it take to invest and live in Colombia
Colombia has positioned itself as one of the most interesting countries in Latin America for investors. So if you are planning to invest in a Colombian company and work in the country, this information is of interest to you.
There are 3 ways to do this:
Visa for resident investors in Colombia
In order to obtain this visa, you must invest capital of at least $180,000. This amount can be used for direct investment in a business in Colombia or for the purchase of the real estate.
The foreigner holding such a visa is entitled to engage in any legal activity in the country, including that exercised on the basis of an employment relationship or contract.
Entrepreneur visa for investments in Colombia
The Entrepreneur Visa (or Owner-Partner Type – M) allows entry and residence in the country to start, develop and manage a business. In other words, in order to apply for this visa, the foreigner must establish a business in Colombia that is active, producing goods and services, paying taxes, etc. This visa is only allowed to carry out activities for the relevant company.
Investor visa as a real estate owner in Colombia
This type of visa allows foreigners to stay in Colombia to take advantage of purchasing a property in the country. In order to apply for this type of visa, the applicant, as a foreigner, must have an income intended solely for the acquisition of real estate or land in the Colombian territory.
Working as a clerk in Colombia
If a Colombian company hires you and you want to settle in Colombia, you need to consider the following:
- As already mentioned, depending on the activity, you must have a visa that allows you to practice the activity, profession or licensed trade.
- You need a Cédula de Extranjería if your stay is three months or more.
- The employer company must notify the Administration Office for Migration in Colombia in writing within 15 working days of the commencement or termination of work of the employment, hiring or admission, as well as of your dismissal or termination of the contract.
- It is very important to know that there are some regulated professions in the country. These require a temporary special registration issued by the professional councils for the exercise of the profession in the respective field of knowledge.
- Keep in mind that as long as the foreign worker is employed abroad to perform a job in the country, the employer or contractor must cover the costs of returning the foreign worker (as well as the costs of his family or beneficiaries). (Art. 126.96.36.199.5.7 Decree 1067 of 2015).
What you need as a “digital nomad” to work in Colombia.
There are a number of companies in Colombia that hire foreigners to telecommute. Currently, the conditions for applying for this visa are not specific (it depends on the company), but like many other, mainly European countries, Colombia is also striving to introduce the so-called nomad visa.
The aim of this visa is to allow you to stay in the country for a specified period (between 30 days and one year depending on the permit) and work legally over the internet.
Among the possible requirements, the most basic can be:
- Valid identity card and passport.
- Certificate of remote income.
Visa to work in Colombia
A work visa in Colombia is a permit for foreigners to enter and stay in Colombia and, as the case may be, to carry out a specific job. It is issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The cost of the visa is currently $230.
In order to apply for any of the different visas that we will talk about shortly, you (as an employee) must first produce an employment contract.
If you are hired by a company, they must prove that they have an average turnover of 100 minimum wages (around USD 25,000 in 2022). If the employer is a natural person, he must prove that his average monthly income is 10 minimum wages. In addition, upon termination of the employment contract, the employer must cover the costs of returning the foreign worker to his country of origin or residence and, if applicable, also to his family.
What other types of visas are there for work in Colombia?
As established by Decree 1067 of May 26, 2015, there are several categories or types of visas to work in Colombia, depending on the work to be done.
These are some of the categories or types of visas:
- TP-4: Foreigners wishing to move to Colombia to enter into an employment or service contract with a resident of Colombia, whether a person or entity. This option also applies to artistic or cultural groups planning a public performance in the country. The validity of the visa corresponds to the duration of the contract and may not be longer than three years.
- TP-7: This type of visa is intended exclusively for foreigners entering Colombia to carry out certain activities or professions, e.g. B. as a pensioner or retiree, as a partner or owner of a company, for medical treatment, as the owner of real estate, to exercise a self-employed trade or activity and to exercise professions or activities not provided for in this decree. The visa is valid for one year.
- TP-9: This option is offered by the national government to foreign nationals arriving as refugees or asylum seekers. This visa entitles the holder to engage in any legal work, including that carried out by virtue of an employment relationship or contract. The visa is valid for 5 years.
- TP-12: Visa for foreigners wishing to enter the country to participate in academic, scientific, artistic, cultural or sporting events (regardless of whether they have an employment contract or not), an interview as part of a personnel selection process public or private To run facilities, undergo business training, establish commercial or business contacts and report journalistically. This visa is valid for 90 days.
- TP-13: Visa for foreigners wishing to enter Colombia to provide specialized technical assistance (regardless of whether they have an employment contract or not) for public or private entities. The visa is valid for 180 days.
- TP-15: Exclusively for foreigners from Mercosur and its Associated States who apply for temporary residence in the country, based on the Agreement on Residence of Nationals of Mercosur , Bolivia and Chile. The foreigner with the TP-15 visa is entitled to engage in any legal employment in the country, including that which is exercised by virtue of an employment relationship or contract. The visa is valid for two years.
Basic visa requirements in Colombia
These are some of the main general requirements for applying for a work visa in this country:
- Valid passport with blank pages for the visa to be pasted.
- Current photo.
- letter of application
- Employment contract and letter of motivation in which the company explains the reasons for your employment.
- Employer bank statements for the last 6 months prior to the visa application.
- Certificates of professional experience in the relevant trade or profession.
- If you apply for the visa while in Colombia, you must prove that the applicant is in a regular migration situation and present the most recent entry stamp, exit stamp or security stamp.
- If the visa is applied for at a Colombian consulate abroad, a copy of the document proving regular residence in the country where the foreigner resides must be presented.
Requirements may vary depending on the job to be performed and the type of visa applied for. We therefore recommend that you obtain additional information for your case before applying for a visa. On the other hand, the Colombian visa authority has a period of about 5 days from the date of registration of the payment to consider the case accordingly. However, if it is necessary to request additional documents or to have an interview, the period can be extended by up to 30 days from the date of online registration of the visa application.
Entrepreneurship in Colombia
Want to start a business in Colombia but not sure if it’s a good idea? Or do you want to start a business in this country but don’t know how?
Colombia is a country where entrepreneurship is a great alternative because, despite being a competitive market, it is an alternative that allows you to earn a good income if you plan and carry out your project professionally.
According to the registrar Único Empresarial, more than 251,000 new companies were founded in 2021, up 16% year-on-year, which is not surprising as more and more people and companies are counting on success in this country. This is according to UK company Circle Loop’s ranking, which places Colombia in the top three most entrepreneurial areas in the OECD, beating countries like the United States, Canada, the Netherlands and Germany. In addition, this research found that 64.8% of Colombians have the ability to be entrepreneurs, 47.9% see good opportunities in Colombia and 33.9% intend to start a business by 2021.
Colombia also offers all kinds of support for entrepreneurs, such as: B. Advice, courses, financial support and much more.
Personal experience with visa in Colombia
I came to Colombia in 2015 and organized my student visa in advance in Switzerland. During my studies in Colombia I founded my company and applied for an entrepreneur visa. However, the visa as an entrepreneur was delayed for some time, so I had to extend the student visa. In the following I would like to describe what a dispute with the Colombian bureaucracy can look like:
Extension visa 2016
- I personally visited the Migracion office on Calle 100. I was turned away with the comment that I was still too early and should come back next week.
- A week later I went back to the same place and they asked for confirmation from the university. This had not been mentioned in the previous week. I left the Migracion office at 100 Calle and went to the secretariat of the University of Los Andes in the center of the city.
- The university secretariat explained to me that such confirmations were not issued.
- back in the Migracion in Calle 100 and after endless waiting in the long queue, I explained this to the responsible clerk. However, they were not interested in my request.
- I then went to reception and requested an appointment with the team leader.
- The lady, who was not so nice, was also not at all interested in my request and explained to me that this was my problem, that I would be in the country illegally in a few days. I then asked for her manager and she gestured to an office with her hand.
- After a short conversation with the superior and the nice hint that this situation was caused by the non-functioning of his office, he said he was helpful. All he wanted was a confirmation email from the university.
- After consultation with the university, the relevant secretary sent a short confirmation. However, since the local head left the office for the lunch break, I had to wait another 2 hours for his return. I was then granted the extension.
Renewal visa 2020
- To renew my business visa, I submitted all the documents online. Due to Covid, physical visits to the Foreign Office have been suspended.
- The application was rejected on the grounds of insufficient capital.
- I submitted the application again, pointing out that the company had a multiple of the required capital.
- The application was again rejected on the grounds that the share capital was too small.
- After a capital increase, I submitted the visa application again.
- The request was again denied without justification.
- I submitted my application a fourth time and reserved an appointment, visits were again possible at that point.
- During the interview, I explained the whole situation to the clerk, whereupon a second lady intervened. It was noted that formal mistakes had already been made by the office with the last visas.
- Finally, I received my new visa. The compensation I mentioned (submit 4 times = pay the fee 4 times) was ignored.
- In a four-page letter, addressed directly to the Foreign Minister, I described my experiences and my dismay at the visa process. I asked if Colombia didn’t know How and capital interested.
- A few weeks later I received a reply letter signed by a secretary. The letter contained only one sentence, “Thank you for your letter, we will look into it”. There were no further communications.
Colombia has a horde of officials and complicated and outdated processes. Because of the culture, only what is instructed by the next higher authority is carried out. However, if you have problems with applications and disputes with officials, you should be polite but persistent.