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.

PCR Test No Longer Needed to Travel to Colombia

According to El Tiempo, the Minister of Health, Fernando Ruiz, explained on Wednesday the guidelines of resolution 777 of 2021, which sets the criteria for the economic and social reactivation of the country.

In an interview with Caracol Noticias, Ruiz revealed that Colombia will no longer request the requirement of the PCR test from travelers, both Colombian and foreign, who enter the country. Also, the CoronApp requirement will be removed.

The bottom line is it will no longer be necessary for travelers to present a negative PCR test upon arrival in the country. This measure began to take effect on June 1, 2021, as confirmed by the Minister of Health, Fernando Ruiz.

You Previously Had 3 Options Regarding a PCR Test to Enter Colombia

When a PCR test (COVID-19 test) was required you had three options:

  1. If you are a non-resident (tourist) starting on April 7, 2021, you must get a PCR test with negative results taken a maximum of 96 hours before your flight and you do not have to quarantine.
  2. If you are a resident with a M visa, R visa  or V visa or a Colombian citizen and don’t have a PCR test, you must quarantine for 14 days when arrive in Colombia.
  3. If you are a resident with a M visa, R visa or V visa a Colombian citizen, you can get a PCR test when you arrive in Colombia and quarantine until you receive negative results. It is possible to get PCR test results within 48 hours in Medellín.

We also have an article covering where you can get a PCR test in Medellín.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Tourism Impact of Coronavirus: Colombia started to reactivate tourism

Tourism Impact of Coronavirus: Colombia started to reactivate tourism

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.

Computer generated image of COVID-19, photo by Felipe Esquivel Reed

Computer generated image of COVID-19, photo by Felipe Esquivel Reed

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:

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.

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