On December 3, 2021 is an IVA tax free day in Colombia when you can save the 19 percent IVA tax. We provide a guide to 2021 IVA tax free days.

One of the downsides of living in Medellín or Colombia is that Colombia has a 19 percent IVA tax (a.k.a. value-added tax or VAT) on many products. This tax makes buying many things in Colombia more expensive than in some other countries.

Colombia previously had an IVA tax free day on October 28, 2021 and November 19. And there one more 2021 IVA tax free day in Colombia on December 3.

Colombia’s IVA Tax

Colombia VAT, which is known as the IVA tax, is the country’s main indirect tax, which is collected by DIAN. And it is levied at 19 percent on most goods and services sold in Colombia. However, there are some things that are exempt from the IVA tax. And some things are taxed at lower rates.

Among items that are taxed at the full 19 percent IVA tax are clothing, personal and household toiletries, movies, airline tickets, appliances, footwear, jewelry, oils, margarine, condiments (spices, sauces and dressings), spare parts for cars and vehicles (except electric ones, which have a 5 percent tax).

Some electronics will only be taxed beyond a certain price. For example, there are exemptions for lower priced computers and tablets. For computers or laptops the tax starts after a cost of 2,810,140 pesos. And for tablets the tax starts after a cost of 1,531,101 pesos for 2020.  So, if you buy a low-cost tablet or computer in Colombia there is no IVA tax.

Also, there is a 5 percent IVA tax on several products such as coffee, sanitary towels, tampons, diapers, toilet paper, lower cost bicycles, among others.

In addition, some grocery items such as milk, eggs and fruits and vegetables and several other items are exempt from the IVA tax in Colombia.

The IVA tax is included in prices you see posted on items in stores. But your receipt will break out the IVA tax into the different categories, such as 19 percent, 5 percent or exempt (zero percent).

Also, tourist in Colombia are eligible for an IVA tax refund on certain items like clothing, emeralds, footwear, handicrafts and some other items. We have a separate article that looks at the IVA tax refund for tourists.

Computers for sale at Jumbo

Computers for sale at Jumbo

IVA Tax Free Days in Colombia

There was previously IVA tax free days in 2020 on June 19 and July 3 and November 21. On Friday, June 19, 2020 the first of three planned tax holidays in 2021, at many stores in Colombia, mobs of shoppers turned out in a Black-Friday-like frenzy.

Retail sales reportedly jumped five-fold on the first tax holiday on June 19 2020, according to the Colombian government.

But the crowds were so large that social distancing went out the window. So, for the second two IVA tax free days last year, some items were only sold online.

Escape, a clothing store - clothing is exempt from IVA tax on the tax free days, up to a limit

Escape, a clothing store – clothing is exempt from IVA tax on the tax free days, up to a limit

IVA Tax Free Days Limits

There are maximum limits for the IVA tax free exemption to apply:

  • Audio, video and digital technology (including computers, tablets and communication equipment) – the IVA exemption applies to purchases of less than 2,904,640 pesos
  • Sports elements such as weights, abdominal machines, treadmills and ellipticals: maximum purchase limit equal to or less than 2,904,640 pesos.
  • Other household products: children’s games and toys, entertainment and leisure items – purchases must not exceed 363.308 pesos.
  • Clothing, leather, footwear and accessories for men, women and children: maximum purchase limit equal to or less than 726,160 pesos.
  • School supplies: maximum purchase limit equal to or less than 181,540 pesos.
  • Household appliances, equipment for the home and kitchen: (fridge, washing machine, vacuum cleaner, dishwasher, among others) – the maximum amount must be equal to or less than 2,904.640 pesos.

Also, the purchaser can only buy three units of the same good (such as three pants, three shirts and three shoes). In addition, for the IVA tax free exemption you must pay with a credit or debit card.

You can avoid the IVA tax on appliances, up to a limit on the IVA tax free days

You can avoid the IVA tax on appliances, up to a limit on the IVA tax free days

The Bottom Line: 2021 IVA Tax Free Days in Colombia –  A Guide to VAT Tax Free Days

On November 19 in Colombia, you can save 19 percent when buying many products in Colombia due to the IVA tax free days.

However, this tax holiday brings out crowds of people. So, take care, wear face masks and try to maintain distance from others. Also, if you go shopping, we recommend going early.

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Editor note: updated on November 14 with information about the next IVA tax free day in Colombia on December 3.

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