When buying computers or tablets in Medellín and Colombia, it is possible to find computers and tablets with prices similar to in the U.S. or sometimes even cheaper. We provide a guide for buying computers and tablets, which is updated for 2022.
I bought two Apple computers and two Apple iPads in Colombia and only paid a total of about $75 USD more than the same models listed on Apple’s website in U.S. at the times of purchase.
For lower priced computers and tablets, Colombia exempts the 19 percent IVA tax in Colombia, which helps make these items priced similar to in the U.S. But higher-end computer and tablets will be more expensive in Colombia due to the high IVA tax.
The information in this article applies to Medellín as well as other cities in Colombia and has been updated for 2022. Note the above photo is of Apple iMacs for sale at Falabella.
Colombia Exempts Some Computers and Tablets from the IVA Tax
Colombia has a policy where personal computers and laptop computers are not subject to Colombia’s 19 percent IVA tax (value added tax) if they do not exceed the price of 3,116,328 pesos for 2022, which is $777 USD at an exchange rate of 4,007 pesos per USD.
Tablets are also not subject to the 19 percent IVA tax if they do not exceed the price of 1,634,172 pesos ($408 USD) for 2022. These price limits for computers and tablets to avoid the IVA tax in Colombia for computers and tablets are for 2022 and are adjusted each year.
These maximums are based on a multiple of Unidad de Valor Tributario (UVT), which is a tax value unit. The computer price limit for avoiding IVA tax is established at 82 x UVT and for tablets the limit is set at 43 X UVT.
UVT in 2021 is set to 38,004 pesos, which is an increase from 36,308 in 2021. UVT is adjusted each year based on the inflation for the prior year. So, the maximum value for avoiding IVA taxes for computers and laptops is adjusted each year. Higher priced computers and tablets are subject to the 19 percent IVA tax.
Avoidance of IVA taxes for computers and tablets was established in 2012 under Colombian Law 1607 under Article 38.
Other Things That Help Lower Computer and Tablet Prices in Colombia
In addition to the IVA tax exemption, Colombia has been putting in place free trade agreements with several countries, which has helped reduce the costs of computers, tablets and other electronics in Colombia over the past several years.
Also, the exchange rate for the Colombian peso fluctuates. So, if the U.S. dollar strengthens, stores in Colombia do not necessarily immediately adjust prices higher of the computers and tablets that are priced in Colombian pesos. As a result you can sometimes find better deals in terms of USD when the dollar strengthens.
Where to Buy Computers and Tablets in Medellín
There are many stores selling computers and tablets in Medellín and other cities in Colombia. The following are several locations where you can find inexpensive computers and tablets in Medellín. Also, these stores all frequently have sales on computers and tablets.
Alkomprar is like a small Best Buy selling appliances, audio equipment, cellphones, computers, tablets, televisions and other electronics. And they frequently have sales.
Most noteworthy, Alkomprar frequently has sales that are advertised in fliers and on their website. You can pick up the fliers in the stores and they also sometimes have people handing out their fliers.
Typically, the sales including some televisions with up to 40 percent off, some computers for up to 30 percent off, some appliances for up to 35 percent off and some cellphones for up to 40 percent off.
You can find Alkomprar in several other malls in Medellín including Florida Parque, Los Molinos, Mayorca, Puerta del Norte and San Diego. And in Rionegro there is an Alkomprar at San Nicolás mall.
Exito is a large supermarket chain in Colombia that also sells appliances, computer and tablets, electronics, clothes, home furnishings, kitchen items, and many other things. An Exito is similar to a Walmart in the US.
Exito has 26 of its large format grocery stores in the Medellín metro area that also sell computers, tablets and many other household items.
If you shop frequently at Exito and/or Carulla you should sign up for Puntos Colombia, which is a program that used to be known as Puntos Exito. Puntos Colombia is a frequent shopper program where you accumulate points for each purchase. You can use these points to purchase items in the future.
To sign up for Puntos Colombia you just need a Colombian cedula ID. And it’s essentially like getting 1 percent cash back on your purchase that you can use for future purchases. With the program you get 1 punto for every 700 pesos in purchases. And that 1 punto is worth 7 pesos.
Exito frequently has sales on computers, appliances, TVs and other electronics. Typically the sales including some computers for up to 30 percent off, some appliances for up to 35 percent off and some cellphones for up to 40 percent off.
Falabella Department Store
Falabella is a large U.S.-style department store that sells a wide range of items including appliances, clothing, computers and table and other electronics, furnishings, furniture and many other things. You can also find many imported brands at Falabella.
Falabella is based in Chile and reportedly has over 90 department stores located in Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Peru. In Colombia, Falabella has 25 stores located in 11 cities. And in Medellín, Falabella threee stores, which are located in the San Diego, Santafé and Arkadia malls.
Falabella frequently has sales of computers and tablets listed on their website.
In Colombia, you can also find iShop stores that specialize in Apple products. In Medellín you can find iShop in the Santafé, Los Molinos, and Viva Envigado malls. In addition, there are iShop stores found in Bogotá and Cali.
Also, iShop sometimes has sales listed on their website.
Jumbo is a large supermarket that also sells appliances, computers and tablets and other electronics, clothes, home furnishings, kitchen items, and many other things. A Jumbo is similar to a Walmart or Target in the US.
Jumbo has five stores in Medellín, which are located in the Premium Plaza and Santafé malls as well as additional stores at La 65, Envigado and Rionegro.
If you shop frequently at Jumbo you should sign up for Jumbo Puntos (points). Jumbo Puntos is a frequent shopper program where you accumulate points for each purchase. These points can be used to purchase items in the future. However, to sign up you need a cedula.
Jumbo frequently has sales on appliances, computers and tablets, TVs and other electronics, which are similar to the sales at Exito.
Ktronix is a chain of stores in Colombia that is somewhat similar to a Best Buy in the U.S. The Ktronix chain of stores sells electronics including audio equipment, cameras, cellphones, computers, tablets, televisions and video games as well as home appliances.
Ktronix frequently has sales, which are advertised on its website and in flyers. The sales normally include several computers with savings of 30 percent or even higher.
In Medellín, Ktronix has three shops located in El Poblado on Avenida Poblado and in the El Tesoro and Arkadia malls. It also has 11 stores in Bogotá, one in Bucaramanga, one in Cali and one in Villavicencio.
Monterrey Mall in El Poblado is a specialty mall in Medellín that is unlike all the other malls in Medellín.
The uniqueness of Monterrey mall is that it’s full of small shops selling technology products. In this mall, you will find well over 175 shops selling all types of technology products. This includes cameras, cell phones, computers, computer parts, game consoles, network equipment, printers, printer cartridges, tablets and much more.
Many of the small shops in this mall have good prices on computers and tablets. And the shops in this mall frequently have sales.
My Experiences Buying Computers and Tablets in Medellín
Over the past several years, I bought two computers and two tablets in Medellín.
For example, in 2014, I bought an Apple iMac at Falabella that was on sale. It was priced about $50 less than the same model listed on Apple’s website in the U.S. And in 2015, I bought an Apple MacBook Pro at iShop for only about $50 more than the same model found on Apple’s website.
Also in 2015 and 2017, I bought two Apple iPads. The first one was priced at about the same as listed on Apple’s website for the same model. And the second iPad purchased in 2017 was priced at only about $25 more than the price on Apple’s website for the same model.
So, I bought two Apple computers and two Apple tablets and only paid a total of only about $75 more than the same models listed on Apple’s website. Also, three of the four items were on sale at the time I purchased them.
This demonstrates that it is possible to find some computers and tablets in Colombia for similar prices as found in the U.S.
Other Latin American Countries Have Higher Prices for Computers and Tablets
Many other countries in Latin America have higher taxes computers and tablets. For example, when I was in Perú, computers in stores there cost at least 30 percent higher than in Colombia.
And when I visited Chile, I found that computers there were roughly 10 percent more expensive than in Colombia.
The worst country I am aware of is Brazil. In Brazil, computers, tablets and other electronics can cost more than double than what they cost in the US. due to very high taxes in Brazil. I have a few friends in Brazil and they are always complaining about the high cost of electronics in Brazil.
I was in Brazil in December 2017 and saw iMacs in a store there were more than double the cost listed on Apple’s website in the U.S.
For example, an iMac cost about $2,300 in Brazil vs. $1,099 in the U.S. for the same model listed on Apple’s website at the time. I also saw a 128GB iPad mini that cost about $950 vs. $399 listed on Apple’s website at the time.
Over the past decade, the Brazilian government has tried several times to enable cheap computer. But these efforts never were successful due to red tape, Brazil’s dysfunctional tax system and political infighting. So, pricing of computers and tablets in Brazil is still out of reach for many in the country.
This is why I have seen on flights to Brazil from Colombia many computers, tablets and phones in carry-on bags. Brazilians can probably pay for a trip to Colombia with the savings they can get by buying computers and tablets and other technology items for much cheaper in Colombia.
Spanish Style Keyboard on Computers in Colombia
Computers sold in Colombia will have a Spanish style keyboard. This keyboard really isn’t very different than the U.S. keyboard. And it didn’t take me very long to get used to it.
For example, Apple’s Spanish keyboard features:
- All of the letters are in the exact same position as on the U.S. keyboard.
- Very few of the symbols have changed positions, and they are easily identifiable on the keyboard. And there are two extra keys.
- Direct access to accent marks and many other diacritical marks.
- Also direct access to the € (euro) symbol, with continuing access to the $ symbol.
- And direct access to the inverted ¿ and ¡ (exclamation) characters, with continuing access to the standard ? and ! characters.
If you are looking for a U.S. style keyboard on a laptop sold in Colombia, I haven’t seen them. For desktops it is possible to buy a replacement U.S. style keyboard. I have seen a few being sold in Colombia.
The Bottom Line: Guide to Buying Computers or Tablets in Colombia
It is possible to find lower end computers and tablets in Medellín and Colombia for similar prices as found in the U.S. This is due to an exemption from Colombia’s IVA tax and free trade agreements.
However, a higher-end computer and tablet will normally cost more in Colombia than in the U.S. So, it will usually be cheaper to buy a higher-end computer or tablet in the U.S.
If looking to buy a computer or tablet in Colombia, we highly recommend looking for sales. The shops selling computers, tablets and other technology items in Colombia frequently have sales which you can see on their websites.
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Editors note: updated on August 20, 2018 to reflect the change in Exito’s frequent shopping program that has changed from Puntos Exito to Puntos Colombia.
Editors note: updated on October 7, 2018 to add the iShop located in the new Viva Envigado mall.
Editors note: updated on January 2, 2019 with the new 2019 value for UVT in Colombia.
Editors note: updated on January 28, 2020 with the new 2020 value for UVT in Colombia, which changes the value of computers and tables that are exempt from the IVA (VAT) tax in Colombia.
Editors note: updated on January 22, 2021 with the new 2021 value for UVT in Colombia, which changes the value of computers and tables that are exempt from the IVA (VAT) tax in Colombia.
Editors note: updated on January 17, 2022 with the new 2022 value for UVT in Colombia, which changes the value of computers and tables that are exempt from the IVA (VAT) tax in Colombia.
Thanks for the helpful article. I need to replace my ancient HP laptop soon. I just use it for email and Internet so a lower end laptop will work fine for me. I guess I will need to learn the Spanish keyboard.
Hi im selling a Chromebook with english keybord, cheap and in perfect conditions if u are interested
See response from Mariana below, no longer available.
Nice post. I bought an inexpensive laptop and also a laser printer at Monterrey mall. There are many small shops there that have good deals plus you can sometimes negotiate.
Thanks for this article! I was looking to buy a MacBook Air computer and I see on Falabella’s website that they have a MacBook Air 13.3″ 8GB 128GB on sale for 2.799.000 pesos, which is $975 US dollars at the current exchange rate. On Apple’s website I see the same model computer sells for $999. So in Colombia you can save $24 compared to in the US.
Hi David thanks. Yes, if you watch for the sales at Falabella you can sometimes find Apple products cheaper than are listed on the Apple website in the U.S.
And it is nearly the same with the same 1.8 GHz i5 processor, 8GB memory with 128 GB SSD storage but difference with the one on sale at Falabella is of course the Spanish keyboard model (MQD32E/A). The MacBook Air listed on the Apple website also has the same 1.8 GHz i5 processor, 8GB memory with 128 GB SSD storage – seen here for $999 https://www.apple.com/shop/buy-mac/macbook-air?product=MQD32LL/A&step=config#
Thanks Jeff, I actually prefer it with the Spanish keyboard so easier to type Spanish here in Colombia. So, I ordered one today from Falabella.
Excellent share, I lived in Bangkok, New Delhi and several places in the Middle East where computers tend to cost more plus most of the Apple products sold in SE Asia and the subcontinent are not real Apple product.s
Great report! You saved us and a lot of other readers valuable time!
HI Jeff – following up now that we just moved to Medellin 🙂
I am looking for a monitor to use with my MacBook Pro. We haven’t looked in any specialize electronics or computer stores yet, but have looked in Jumbo and Éxito and all they seem to have are small TVs. I’ve gone the small TV route before, and it’s OK but not the best solution. Have you seen computer monitors anywhere?
Yes, I have seen some computer monitors being sold in the Monterrey mall near the Poblado metro station.
Do any shops sell used laptops
Not that I am aware of. But they have inexpensive laptops and stores have sales all the time.
I am also wondering if there is anywhere that sells second hand laptops. Someone mentioned a small mall near suramericana. Would you know anything about that or anywhere else for that matter?
Which stores have the largest amount of miscellaneous items? In my case, where would you gamble going first if you list your Canon camera battery charger…as the best chance?
If looking for a Canon battery charger there is a camera store on the first floor of Monterrey mall that sells Canon cameras – https://medellinguru.com/monterrey/. But most of this mall is closed on Sunday.
Hello, Jeff. I just don’t think this guide is good enough for me. Considering my work, I always need a good enough laptop, something that normally costs around $1000-$1200 in the US. Something like Dell XPS or HP Spectre or Huawei Matebook. However, based on my online research, these laptops cost me 40% more in Colombia. Which makes no sense
In your article you mentioned high-end laptops are subject to 19% import tax so what justifies the remaining 20% price increase? I have checked all the new macbooks from different online shops, including falabella.com, but the price is much higher than normal price in the US. not just 20% higher
Higher end laptops are subject to a 19% VAT tax and also additional import duties depending on the country it was imported from and the status of free trade agreements with Colombia.
Not anymore, sorry
He is my problem my son lives in Colombia with my EX wife and I want to buy him a laptop for school but all the websites to buy want some sort of Identification number and document which American’s don’t have so how if its possible to buy a lap top and ship in Colombia using American sender and Credit Card ?
Can you clarify this in the article about buying computers?
“Tablets are also not subject to the 19 percent IVA tax if they do not exceed the price of 1,561,244 pesos ($4443 USD) for 2021. These price limits for computers and tablets to avoid the IVA tax in Colombia for computers and tablets are for 2021 and are adjusted each year.”
Did you mean $444 US?
Very apropros… I just bought a used iPad on eBay yesterday for $300. The shipper stated there will be a 19% IVA tax since the value is over $200. Is this not correct?
$443 USD, thanks for catching the typo, which is fixed. The rule may be for new and not used.
I spoke with the shipper, a freight forwarding company in Florida. She is not aware of any rule changes in 2021, but wants to look into it further. Can you provide a source for the information?
As it says in the above article, source is Colombian Law 1607 under Article 38.
Hi Jeff, thanks for the valuable article! I wonder if there is a market for refurbished laptops (electronics). If there is no market, do you know the reason why? Thanks!
I’m sure there is a market. There are shops on Avenida Maracaibo that buy and sell used computers.
I know this as a fact because my MacBook computer, iPad and iPhone were stolen from my home and the MacBook called home the next morning and showed it was in front of one of two electronics stores on that street.
While the devices running iOS can have the Apple ID password changed simply by using the device unlock code, without ever logging on to Apple Services, the macOS is not susceptible to this security weakness Apple won’t fix.
The thieves could change the Apple ID password on the iPhone devices using that unlock code they got me to divulge. That turned off the Find My Phone function instantly and the iPhone nor the iPad ever called home.
But for the MacBook, they had to use their newly set Apple ID password to actually log in to iCloud and turn off Find My Mac. In the seconds after the computer had a network connection, it recorded its location and transmitted it to Apple.
Sadly, once they changed my password, due to horrible Apple policies, it took me 32 days to get back into my Apple ID. The location data had been e-mailed to my e-mail address at mac.com the very moment it was captured, but since I could not get into my Apple account, I never saw it for over a month.
By the time I got the location data 32 days after the robbery, I’m certain the shops had sold the computer. And they aren’t going to help the police ID the seller, who probably wasn’t the actual person who robbed me, but an accomplice.
Lessons to learn:
1) Put a different unlock code on every Apple device you own. Never give anyone your unlock code and never let anyone see you type in that unlock code. Even if you use Face ID, the unlock code is always active and cannot be turned off.
2) Set up receiving your Apple Mail on a different non-Apple mail reader that you can reach from any computer and set it to forward all your Apple mail to another non-Apple account, like Gmail.
3) If your credit or debit card was also stolen, DO NOT contact your bank to report the card stolen if the card was the one you registered with Apple for purchases. Wait to report the card lost or stolen until AFTER you have regained control of your Apple ID. Use a card for the Apple App Store that you don’t carry around with you or keep in your wallet or purse. Hide the card at home, freeze it in a bowl of water. That way if you Apple gear and your wallet are stolen or lost in a catastrophe, you will be able to get back into your Apple ID quickly with that valid credit card you tapped to the back of your headboard. And write it down somewhere too.
Apple uses that credit card number in conjunction with secret questions, to let you back into your Apple ID, so you can change the password. Same process as forgetting your password, it is a password reset process that will override the new password the thieves set.
But in addition to the secret question, the second metric is that card number, expiration date and CVC which Apple will try to validate as if you were making a purchase. If you’ve notified your bank and they’ve turned off the card, that card won’t validate, and you’re stuck waiting 32 days.
Without access to your Apple ID, no apps you downloaded from the App store will function. They all need to be validated with the App Store and of course you don’t have the new password.
I had to buy a new iPhone, but I didn’t want to set up a new Apple ID, losing all my purchases and anything stored in iCloud. Plus restoring my Time Machine backup requires access to your existing ID.
I just had to sit, and stew, and wait and enjoy my new iPhone for phone calls only.
Jeff, could you please write a similar article on purchasing cellular phones, and include Apple’s iPhone 12?
Already have one – https://medellinguru.com/cell-phones/ but possibly needs some updates.
Jeff, How can I send a computer from the States to a person living in Colombia? I was going to send a MacBook Air, but it seems it would have to have IVT added when received, or at some point prior to entering the country? So, is it possible to send a less expensive computer – a Windows machine – without triggering the IVT for the recipient?
Jeff, I am interested in the answer to the question regarding sending a used laptop to Medellin Colombia
Recommend asking at Envios Market – https://www.enviosmarket.com/