In January, a COVID-19 test (PCR) was required to enter Colombia for international travelers. But in June 2021, a PCR test is no longer required to travel to Colombia.
Previously there was confusion generated by a court ruling in November that ordered the presentation of negative PCR tests for travelers who want to enter Colombia, the National Government affirmed on December 1 that, everything remains the same (no PCR test required).
But the court ratified its decision that a PCR test is required on December 3 but the government responded on December 3 that it will not comply with the ruling. However, this changed in January 2021 and a PCR test was again required to travel to Colombia.
Several Medellin Guru readers asked about this topic. So, we published this article that is being kept up-to-date and was updated again on June 4, 2021.
EDITOR NOTE on January 3: According to Dinero and El Tiempo and El Colombiano, with resolution 2532, signed on December 31, 2020, the Ministry of Health modified the regulations for the arrival of travelers to Colombia from other countries during the pandemic. A PCR test is now required and must be taken a maximum of 96 hours before the flight but there is an exception where you can take a PCR test in Colombia the requirement went into effect on January 7.
EDITOR NOTE: starting on April 7, non-residents (tourists) traveling to Colombia are required to have a PCR test.
EDITOR NOTE: starting in June 2021, international travelers to Colombia no longer require a PCR test (COVID-19 test) to travel to Colombia.
EDITOR NOTE: starting on December 14, 2021, international travelers to Colombia that are 18 years old or older must have a card or certificate of vaccination against COVID-19 with a complete schedule.
PCR Test is Now Needed to Travel to Colombia
EDITOR NOTE: Starting on December 31, 2021, international travelers to Colombia that are 18 years old or older must have a PCR rest within 72 hours of the flight and also be vaccinated.
On January 3: Ministry of Health Previously Required PCR Test
EDITOR NOTE on December 1: the Health Minister on December 1 said that for now it will not require a PCR test needed to enter Colombia according to El Tiempo.
EDITOR NOTE on December 3: the court ratified its decision that a PCR test should be required from travelers entering Colombia according to El Tiempo and later the government responded that it will not comply with the ruling of the court.
All the major new in Colombia reported on January 3, that with resolution 2532 of December 31, 2020, the Ministry of Health modified the regulations for the arrival of travelers from other countries to Colombia.
A PCR test should be taken a maximum of 96 hours before the flight and must be presented by all travelers, even if they are Colombian nationals and without exceptions due to age. That is, even babies traveling with their relatives must have a PCR test.
The resolution also states that “passengers with fever or respiratory symptoms associated with COVID-19 and those who have not previously filled out the Check-Mig application will not be allowed to board.
Why Did Colombia Originally Eliminate the PCR Test Requirement Last Year?
The Deputy Minister of Public Health and Provision of Services, Luis Alexander Moscoso Osorio, explained the epidemiological reasons that led the National Government to withdraw the requirement of a PCR test on November 4 for foreign passengers arriving in Colombia.
Let us remember that when the COVID-19 pandemic began, the world had an infection rate higher than that of Colombia, so we had to regulate, close flights and take some measures. Today there is community transmission, which means that in Colombia it is the same as in other nations.
Also, a series of difficulties have been encountered during the process where a PCR test was required:
- It was found that people can be infected in the 96-hour period that had been established between the time of the test and the trip.
- At the time of the test, the person may be in an incubation period that is up to 7 days. This creates a very large time in which the traveler can actually be positive and fly with a negative test. The passenger arrives in Colombia with a negative PCR test and believes that he/she is protected when in fact is not.
- The PCR test can cost between $60 and $400 USD abroad. So, it is recognized that for people with fewer resources it can be a barrier.
- In some countries it is difficult to find laboratories that can perform PCR tests within 96 hours and the readings are complex.
Colombia looked for a better alternative. And reportedly a contact follow-up strategy was set up with a call center that has about 1,033 people.
Impact on International Tourism to Colombia
With the COVID-19 test (PCR test) requirement now dropped again for Colombia, this will likely have an impact on international tourism to Colombia. Not requiring a PCR test for tourists may help some tourists decide to come to Colombia.
According to Migración Colombia reported by Infobae, only 40,000 foreign visitors entered Colombia during September and October in 2020 when the PCR test was lifted last year.
Agencias de Viajes y Turismo (ANATO) released the percentages of foreigners who entered Colombia in September and October 2020 with the four most traveled from countries:
- United States: 48.4 percent
- Mexico: 5.5 percent
- Ecuador: 3.6 percent
- Peru: 2.5 percent
These visitors (tourists) accounted for 60 percent of all foreign travelers to Colombia in September and October 20201
Also, ANATO revealed that these were the destination departments in September and October, where 81 percent of foreign visitors traveled to:
- Bogotá: 36.6 percent
- Antioquia (Medellín): 24.3 percent
- Valle del Cauca (Cali): 11.8 percent
- Bolívar (Cartagena): 8.5 percent
Colombia experienced record foreign tourism in 2019 according to The City Paper, with 4.5 million foreign visitors, or about 375,000 per month on average in 2019.
If Colombia received only an average of 20,000 foreign visitors per month in September and October, 2020, this is only 5.3 percent of 2019’s average monthly volume.
So, international tourism to Colombia barely started to recover last year when the PCR test was eliminated. With Colombia again dropping the PCR test requirement, the number of international tourists coming to Colombia could increase somewhat impacting the tourism market.
The Travel and Tourism Market in Colombia
There has been a huge tourism impact of coronavirus in Colombia but Colombia started to reactivate tourism in Colombia beginning on September 1, 2020.
The Travel and Tourism market represents approximately 3.8 percent of Colombia’s GDP and is the third leading source of foreign exchange behind oil and coal.
Tourists are also spending more in Colombia. From 2004 to 2018 income from foreign visitors grew by over 400 percent, from $4.7 billion USD in 2004 to more than $20 billion USD in 2018.
In 2019, international tourists reportedly spent an average of $1,470 USD per person, excluding flights. Also, the central bank found that 90 percent of travel revenues were generated by tourists arriving by air.
The tourism impact of coronavirus was huge in Colombia, which impacted airlines, hotels, hostels, furnished rentals, travel agencies, national parks, tour operators and many other businesses.
Colombia starting to reactivate tourism can help tens of thousands of businesses in the tourism sector in Colombia.
Medellin Guru’s Coronavirus Series
Medellin Guru has a series of articles about the coronavirus pandemic and the impacts in Colombia: Also, these articles are being kept up-to-date, as this is a fast-moving topic:
- Nightly Curfew and Dry Law in Antioquia from March 25 to June 7
- Colombia Needs to Ramp up COVID-19 Vaccinations
- COVID-19 Vaccinations in Colombia Start on February 17
- PCR Test: How to Get a COVID-19 Test in Medellín
- PCR Test: How to Get a COVID-19 Test in Bogotá
- PCR Test: how to Get a COVID-19 Test in Cartagena
- Nightly Curfews in January in Medellin and Antioquia Start on January 6
- Nightly Curfew in Medellín For Christmas and New Year’s Holidays
- Colombia is Buying 10 Million Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine from Pfizer
- Does Colombia Require a COVID-19 Test for International Travelers?
- 8 Reasons Why Colombia is Unlikely to Return to a Quarantine
- Coronavirus Cases Increase in Medellín: What Happens Next?
- New Normal in Medellín: Medellín is Returning to Normal
- Will the Quarantine Return to Colombia? What if Cases Increase?
- New Normal in Medellín: Medellín is Returning to Normal
- Colombia’s Quarantine Ends on September 1: New Phase Starts
- Tourism Impact of Coronavirus: Colombia Starts to Reactivate Tourism
- Economy Impacts in Colombia Due to Extended Quarantine
- Epicenter of Coronavirus in Colombia: Bogotá is the Epicenter
- Medellín Plans the Total Reopening of Economic Activities in the City
- When Will the Quarantine End in Colombia? On September 1?
- Humanitarian Flights from Colombia to the U.S. and Other Countries
- Beware of Fake News in Colombia About Coronavirus and Quarantines
- Reopening Gymnasiums, Churches and Movie Theaters in Colombia
- Reopening Amusement Parks, Zoos and Nature Reserves in Colombia
- Medellín Starts Free COVID-19 Tests on the Medellín Metro
- New COVID-19 Preventive Measures in Medellín to Contain the Pandemic
- Penalties for Violating the Quarantine in Medellín are Stiff
- COVID-19 Orange Alert in Bogotá: New Lockdowns in Bogotá
- Medellín Starts to Lift the Quarantine: Enters Smart Isolation Phase
- Colombia Started to Lift the Quarantine – What Does this Mean?
- Coronavirus: When Will the Quarantine Be Lifted in Colombia?
- Colombia Starts to Lift the Quarantine in COVID-19 Free Areas
- Colombia Quarantine: Nationwide Quarantine Extended to September 1
- Coronavirus in Colombia: Myth vs Reality – Current Status
- Coronavirus Hospitalization in Colombia: Myth vs Reality
- Are Medellín and Antioquia Winning the Coronavirus Battle?
- 23 Cities with a Major Increase in Coronavirus Cases in Colombia
- Colombia Coronavirus Death Rate: What are the Chances of Dying?
- Coronavirus: When Will Things Return to Normal in Colombia?
- COVID-19 Testing in Colombia: Realty About Coronavirus Testing
- Life as an Expat: During Medellín’s Coronavirus Quarantine
- Colombian Visa Process Changes: Due to Quarantine and Coronavirus
- Medellín Coronavirus Closures – What is Closed in Medellín?
- Pico y Cedula: A Restriction for Grocery Shopping in the Aburrá Valley During the Quarantine
- Pico y Cedula in Colombia: Which is Strictest Out of 5 Largest Cities?
- Medellín Quarantine Starts on March 20 for Four Days
The Bottom Line: Does Colombia Require a COVID-19 Test for International Travelers?
Starting on June 1, a PCR test is no longer required to enter Colombia. But if you have symptoms within 14 days of arriving. you will have to quarantine and report to the local health authorities.
With a COVID-19 test (PCR test) no longer required to enter Colombia, international tourism may start to recover again in Colombia.
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Editors note: updated on December 1, 2020 with information that the Health Ministry has said that for now it will not require a PCR test as needed to enter Colombia.
Editors note: updated on December 3, 2020 with information that the court ratified its decision that a PCR test is required to enter Colombia and gave the Colombian government four days to comply with the order.
Editors note: updated on December 3, 2020 again with information that the Colombian National Government responded and will not require a PCR test or quarantine for arriving international passengers.
Editors note: updated on January 3, 2021 with information that a PCR test is now required to travel to Colombia.
Editors note: updated on January 5, 2021 to add information that readers are reporting that airlines such as JetBlue and American Airlines are starting to inform customers about the PCR test requirement for Colombia. Also, added that the PCR test requirement apparently goes into effect on January 12 but may be earlier.
Editors note: updated on January 8, 2020 with information that the PCR test requirement apparently went into effect on January 7 and that some Medellin Guru readers that arrived on January 8 were required to have a PCR test.
Editors note: updated on March 7, 2021 with information from JetBlue’s and Spirit’s website regarding the PCR test requirement for travel to Colombia, which is correct. Some readers are reporting that some airlines are denying boarding to Colombia is you don’t have a PCR test.
Editors note: updated on March 16, 2021 with information about incorrect news that a PCR test is no longer required to enter Colombia. The requirement for a PCR rest has not changed.
Editors note: updated on April 8, 2021 with information that a PCR test is now required for all tourists (non residents) traveling to Colombia.
Editors note: updated on June 4, 2021 with information that is PCR test is no longer required to travel to Colombia.
Editors note: updated on December 7, 2021 with information that Colombia will require a card or certificate of vaccination for travelers who are aged 18 or older.
Editors note: updated that a PCR test is need for those 18 or older traveling to Colombia starting on December 31.