visa requirements us citizens

According to data from the Ministry of Foreign Trade, US visitors to Colombian soil account for over 20% of all foreign visits to Colombia as of last year. 

Outside of the relatively short travel distance between the US and Colombia, and the tropical weather, there are many reasons why Americans choose to flock to the country of vallenato and empanadas. Whether it’s about finding new job opportunities, property to invest in, a place to retire, or simply a new culture, Colombia has tempted millions of its northern neighbors to come explore its breathtaking hills and beautiful rainforests. 

So, when it comes to having your visa information in order, there are plenty of questions. Do US citizens need a visa for Colombia? Are there specific US visa requirements in Colombia that differ from other countries? 

To keep you abreast with all the latest Colombia – US visa information, we’ve created a comprehensive article of the visa requirements for US citizens travelling to Colombia, and staying here permanently.

Do US citizens need a visa to travel to Colombia

stamped passport
52849712 – stamping passport with red stamp accepted

US citizens with a valid US passport don’t need a visa prior to travelling to Colombia. When you arrive on Colombian soil, immigration will give you a tourist stamp that lasts for 90 days. If you already have a valid Colombian visa that hasn’t expired, Colombian immigration will allow you enter Colombia on that particular visa.

Before travelling to Colombia, US citizens must have proof of forward passage to their next destination, be it a return journey to the US or to a different country in Latin America. Failure to prove your travel plans after visiting Colombia could mean that you’re denied entry to the country. 

Valid documentation that proves forward passage would include flight, boat, or bus tickets leaving Colombia. Be aware that flight reservations — as opposed to booked seats — are not accepted as valid proofs of forward passage. 

If you’re worried about any of your documentation before you arrive in Colombia, make sure to consult an experienced migratory services company prior to travelling.

What do US citizens need to apply for a Colombian work visa?

apostilled university degree

Some of the rules around acquiring the migrant M-5 work visa have changed for 2020, so be sure to check out our article on How to Get a Colombian Work Visa. 

The Colombian work visa requirements for US citizens don’t differ greatly to other foreign nationals looking to find work in Colombia. Essentially, you need to provide the following documentation online to the Colombian government website Cancillería

  • A scanned copy of the front page of your passport and the page with your entrance stamp 
  • A passport style photo with dimensions 3cm x 4cm (width and height) 
  • A scanned copy of your original degree or certificate citing your educational attainment, with an official apostille certifying it’s validity. This document and its apostille also must be translated into Spanish. 
  • A scanned copy of the contract from your prospective employers
  • Proof of your prospective employer’s earnings (around $22,500 a month) via bank statements 

If this seems like a lot to take in, you’re not alone. When Americans ask about the Colombian visa requirements for US citizens, it’s common that they’re initially overwhelmed. 

Rather than taking on the task by yourself of making sure all your documentation is in order, we advise you consult with a quality visa procurement agency that’s already helped tons of Americans go through the same process.

Can US citizens retire in Colombia?

The Colombian retirement visa for US citizens can only be acquired by Americans receiving their pension either privately or from the US government. 

To apply for the M-11 retirement visa, you first need to show that your pension pays out three times the Colombian minimum wage, which equates to around 2.340.000COP (just under $690) a month. 

The visa application process for the M-11 retirement visa is much more straight-forward than the M-5 work visa for American pensioners. Again, you must provide the following documentation online to the Colombian government website Cancillería

  • A scanned copy of the front page of your passport and the page with your entrance stamp 
  • A passport style photo with dimensions 3cm x 4cm (width and height) 
  • Proof of pension issued by the government or a private corporation
  • International health insurance which covers you for at least one year and insures you for at least $70,000 of medical coverage

For more information on the above, make sure to check out our article detailing the full process for how to acquire the retirement visa in Colombia

The visa application can be done externally from Colombian consulates in other countries or within Colombia itself. 

Unfortunately, the Colombian retirement visa for US citizens does not preclude them from filing out tax returns to the IRS, and should be handled with extreme care. Whether you will receive double taxation or not is something that you should consult organizations like American Overseas for more details.

Summing Up 

The process of acquiring a Colombian visa for US citizens isn’t particularly different to foreign nationals applying from other countries. 

Remember though, if you’re ever in doubt about aspects of your visa application, it’s always best to consult specialized Colombian migration agencies. Companies like these who’ve processed hundreds of visa applications for Americans are well-equipped to guide you through any doubts or queries you may have regarding visas in Colombia. 

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