After you have successfully received a Colombian visa, you have a maximum of 15 calendar days to register your visa with Migración Colombia and apply for a Cedula de Extranjeria (Colombian ID for foreigners). Or if you received your visa at a consulate, you will have 15 calendar days after you arrive in Colombia to register your visa.
Due to being photographed and fingerprinted this must be done in-person at a Migración Colombia office.
Especially relevant, it is very important to register your Colombian visa within the allotted time frame. If not in time, you can be liable for a big fine of up to seven times the minimum monthly salary in Colombia.
The minimum salary in 2019 in Colombia is 828,116 pesos per month. Which means the fine is up to 5,796,812 pesos in 2019 ($2,401 USD at an exchange rate of 3,247 pesos to the USD) for not registering your visa in time.
In addition, only visas of greater than a three-month duration need to be registered with Migración Colombia. And only visas of greater than a three-month duration require applying for a cedula. Shorter duration visas don’t need to be registered and don’t require a Colombian ID.
Once you have a Colombian cedula it will make your life easier in Colombia. Most banks in Colombia require one to open an account. In addition, having one will make it easier to open accounts for Internet, TV and landline and cellular phone services.
Furthermore, you can travel domestically in Colombia with just your cedula and can leave your passport at home.
How to Apply for a Cedula Extranjeria
Applying for a Colombian Cedula Extranjeria is a relatively straightforward process as follows:
1. Get your blood test to determine your blood type.
If you are in Medellín or Bogotá you could go to one of the best hospitals in Colombia or one of the many clinics found in each city. When I went for a blood test, I went to Clínica las Américas in Belén, which is the third best hospital in Medellín. I used to live within walking distance to this hospital. And it only took about 15 minutes to get my blood test showing my blood type.
If you previously had a Colombian cedula there is no need for a blood test as they already have your blood type from your previous cedula.
Also, some expats report you now don’t need a blood test if you know your blood type. But be aware, you need to be sure about your blood type as if you are unconscious they use your blood type on your cedula for any medical care.
2. Fill out an online application.
Migración Colombia has an online application for a cedula that is available in English or Spanish. In the past Migración Colombia used paper applications that were available in their offices.
This online application asks some basic information including some personal information, emergency contact information and foreigner registration information as seen in the following three screen shots.
3. Schedule an appointment at one of the Migración Colombia offices.
Before going to Migración Colombia, you should make an appointment. And this can be done online here. Note the English version of that website reportedly doesn’t work. So, use the Spanish language (español) version.
You can also call to schedule an appointment 24 hours a day at: 01800 051 0454.
According to the Migración Colombia website this scheduling of an appointment is optional but your wait will be shorter with an appointment. If you go without an appointment we recommend arriving early in the morning, if possible.
You can find Migración Colombia offices in the major cities in Colombia.
- Barranquilla – Carrera 42 # 54-77, Barrio El Recreo
- Bogotá – Calle 100 #11B-27
- Cali – Avenida 3 norte # 50N-20
- Cartagena – Carrera 20 B # 29-18, Barrio pie de la Popa
- Medellín – Calle 19 #80A-40, Barrio Belén (the entrance is on the other side of the building on Calle 19A)
A complete list of the Migración Colombia offices is found here.
4. Go to the Migración Colombia office on your scheduled date with the following required documents:
- Your original passport with your original visa.
- Photocopy of your blood test showing your blood type if this is your first cedula.
- Photocopy of the data page from your passport.
- Photocopy of your visa.
The cost of the Cedula Extranjeria was increased on February 1, 2019 and is 196,000 pesos ($63.30 USD). Or for Ecuadorians the cost is only $5 USD. You can pay this fee at the Migración Colombia office with a credit or debit card.
After applying, you can check online here to see if it is ready to be picked up.
My First Three Cedula Application Experiences
I applied for my first three Colombian visas myself over the past several years. After receiving each visa, I also applied for a cedula. Each cedula will be valid for the same duration as your Colombian visa.
In addition, when you renew, the new cedula will have the same number as your previous one.
The first three times I applied for a visa, I traveled to Bogotá. And after I received the visa in my passport I walked to the Migración Colombia office in Bogotá to apply for my cedula.
The Migración Colombia office in Bogotá is conveniently located within walking distance office from the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores office where you get your visa.
In Bogotá, the cedula application for me only took about an hour each time in the morning at the Migración Colombia office. So, it is possible to receive your visa and apply for a cedula in the same morning in Bogotá if you don’t run into problems.
You can apply for a cedula in Bogotá and request that it be sent to the Migration Colombia office another city. Note that it requires a letter to request this and make sure to have an extra copy.
The first three times I applied for a cedula, I was told that it would be ready in three days in the Bogotá office or if sent to Medellín it would take 7-10 days.
However, my experience was that two of my four cedulas took longer than this:
- My first cedula arrived in Medellín about three weeks after I applied in Bogotá.
- My second one was ready in the Bogotá Migración office three days after I applied.
- My third one arrived in Medellín after more than a month. This delay was due to problems Migración Colombia was having with the vendor they had outsourced cedula production to.
- My fourth cedula arrived in about 10 days after I applied in Medellín.
In addition, one problem I have found out is the number of my Cedula Extranjeria is the same as the number of a Colombian citizen’s Cedula Ciudadania who lives in Bogotá. This caused me problems when trying to sign up for some store rewards programs in Colombia as their systems don’t support both types of cedulas with the same number.
When you see the your cedula is ready online you have to go to pick it up. And bring your passport with you, as they will want to see your passport.
My experience in 2018 Getting a New Cedula
After receiving my fourth Colombian visa recently, a Colombia resident visa, I needed to also go to get my fourth cedula. I used the visa agency InterCol for my resident visa. And after I received the visa they filled out the online cedula application for me and provided me with the paperwork needed for a cedula:
- One page proof of applying for the cedula online with a confirmation number.
- Photocopy of the data page from my passport.
- Photocopy of my visa.
I went to the Migración office in Medellín on a Friday without an appointment. I arrived at about 8 am and was finished a little after 10 am. So, it took a little over 2 hours. I had to wait for over 1.5 hours before seeing a Migración officer. I then turned in the paperwork, answered a few questions, paid 190,000 pesos for the cedula with a debit card and they took my photo and fingerprints. Also, note the price increased to 196,000 pesos in February 2019.
I started checking online daily after five days to see if my cedula was ready to be picked up. And after eight business days (10 calendar days) my cedula was ready to be picked up. Overall this was a very painless process.
Medellin Guru’s Comprehensive Visa and Passport Series
The Colombian visa changes that went into effect in mid-December 2017 were significant. So, on the Medellin Guru site, we have a comprehensive series of visa articles that are kept up-to-date and should answer most visa questions. These articles include:
- Colombia Visa Guide: Ultimate Guide How to Get a Colombian Visa
- How to Obtain a Colombian Visa with Up-to-Date Info – an overview of all the Colombian visas
- Visa Agencies: A Guide to Visa Agencies in Medellín and Colombia
- 7 Common Colombian Visa Mistakes: How to Avoid Them
We have looked in detail at the seven most popular Colombian visas used by foreigners:
Also, we have looked in detail at three additional Colombian visas, which are less popular for foreigners:
- Rentista visa (annuity visa) – for foreigners with a fixed income
- Beneficiary visa – for relatives of visa holders
- Expertise visa – for professionals
Furthermore, we have a guide to how apply for a cedula extranjeria in Colombia and a guide to using notaries in Medellín and Colombia. Finally, Medellin Guru has partnered with a visa agency to offer Colombia visa services.
All of our Colombia visa articles were updated in early 2019 to ensure they are up-to-date. In addition, all visa articles on this website will be kept up-to-date as new details are disclosed.
The Bottom Line: Receiving a Cedula Extranjeria
After you receive a Colombian visa the process to receive a Cedula Extranjeria is relatively easy with few documents required.
Once you have a cedula your life will become easier in Colombia. You will be able to open bank accounts in Colombia; apply for Internet, TV and phone services; start to establish a credit record in Colombia plus you can travel in Colombia with just your cedula and leave your passport at home.
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Editors note: updated on December 31, 2017 with the new 2018 Colombia minimum wage information.
Editors note: updated on August 16, 2018 with current cost of a cedula.
Editors note: updated on September 26, 2018 with Jeff’s recent experience in obtaining a new cedula.
Editors note: updated on January 1, 2019 with the new 2019 Colombia minimum wage information.
Editors note: updated on March 2, 2019 with the current cost of a Cedula Extranjeria.
Editors note: updated on July 11, 2019 to add that only visas that are valid for more than three months need to be registered with Migración Colombia.