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 work visa within the allotted time frame. If not in time, you will be liable for a big fine of up to seven times the minimum monthly salary in Colombia. The minimum salary in 2018 in Colombia is 781,242 pesos per month. Which means the fine is up to 5,468,694 pesos ($1,823 USD at an exchange rate of 3,000 pesos to the USD) for not registering your visa in time.
In addition, only visas of greater than a three-month duration need a cedula. Shorter duration visas still need to be registered with Migración Colombia but 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 Migracion 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 Migracion Colombia website this scheduling of an appointment is optional but at the Migracion Colombia office in Medellín they told me you need an appointment.
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.
Location of the Medellín Migracion Colombia office
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.
The current cost of the Cedula Extranjeria is 183,000 pesos ($61.51 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 Cedula Application Experiences
I have applied for 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.
Each time 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.
Each time 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 three 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.
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.
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.
The Colombian visa changes that went into effect in mid-December 2017 are significant. So, we have covered the 2017 visa updates for six popular visas for foreigners:
- Colombia retirement visa
- Colombia marriage visa
- Colombia student visa
- Colombia resident visa
- Colombia work visa
- Colombia investment visa
In addition, all visa articles on this website will be kept up-to-date as new details are disclosed.
Editors note: updated on December 31, 2017 with the new 2018 Colombia minimum wage information.