Colombia’s marriage visa is intended for foreigners with a Colombian spouse or permanent partner. The Colombia marriage visa is relatively easy to get with only a few documents required.
The Colombia marriage/permanent partnership visa used to be known as the TP-10 visa. This visa was typically valid for three years. And after three years you became eligible for a resident (R) visa. However, Colombia changed its Colombian visa rules, which went into effect on December 15, 2017
So, starting on December 15, 2017, the Colombia marriage visa changed and be known as a Migrant (M) visa of category 1 (an M-1 visa). The major change of the new M-1 marriage visa compared to the old TP-10 visa, is that with a M-1 visa you are eligible to apply for a resident visa after only two years.
Furthermore, if you have an existing TP-10 marriage visa, it doesn’t change to a M-1 marriage visa. So, if you have a TP-10 visa you will need to wait for three years before you are eligible for a resident visa.
In addition, with the new M-1 marriage visa you are permitted to carry out any lawful work activity in Colombia. This is similar to the previous TP-10 visa. Also, with a M-1 visa if you leave Colombia for more than six months without returning to Colombia your visa loses its validity like any other migrant visa.
The cost for the new M-1 marriage visa is $282 USD including the processing charge. This is somewhat higher than the previous TP-10 visa, which cost $263.
How to Apply for a Colombia Marriage Visa
You can apply for a Colombia marriage visa online. In addition, you can obtain Colombian visas at Colombian consulates around the world. In the U.S., Colombia has consulates located in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, Newark, New York, San Francisco and Washington DC.
The Colombian visa process is fairly easy as it’s done online. You can apply for a Colombia retirement visa online here. This application will require scans of all required documents in PDF files plus the photo in jpg format. In addition, a detailed guide for applying online is found here.
After receiving the online visa approval, if doing this in Colombia, you need to travel to Bogotá to get the visa in your passport. Or if at another country you can get the visa put in your passport at a Colombian consulate.
Visas in Colombia are issued at the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores office in Bogotá. This is located at Avenida 19 # 98-03, Torre 100 Building, 3rd Floor. It’s open from 7:30 am until noon.
I successfully obtained three Colombian visas that I applied for my own in the past that were good for a total of five years. But the biggest challenge with doing a Colombian visa yourself is not benefiting from the experiences of a a visa agency, which has processed hundreds of visas and knows exactly what is needed for each type of visa.
Also, another big benefit of using a visa agency is that they offer services to courier your passport to Bogotá to get the visa put in your passport. So, you can avoid a trip to Bogotá. The cost of a visa service including the service to courier your passport to Bogotá can even be cheaper than the cost of a trip to Bogtoá.
So, for my latest visa received in 2018, a Colombia resident visa, I used a visa agency. And I found the experience painless and now highly recommend using a visa service over doing a Colombia visa application yourself. The bottom line is with a visa agency you are less likely to run into problems and you can avoid a trip to Bogotá.
Note that you may be required to go to Bogotá for an interview with your spouse or permanent partner. Reportedly up to one-third of Colombia marriage visas now require an interview. When I received my TP-10 visa over two years ago, my wife and I were interviewed in Bogotá. We were interviewed separately and our answers were compared.
Documents Required for a Colombia Marriage Visa
Documents required for M-1 marriage visa are essentially the same as the previous TP-10 marriage visa:
- Photocopy of the first page of your valid passport where your personal data is displayed.
- Photocopy of the page of your passport with the last stamp of entry or departure of Colombia is located.
- If you’ve had a previous Colombian visa, a photocopy of this visa.
- Notarized letter from the Colombian spouse or permanent partner granting you legal power to apply for the visa.
- Notarized copy of the cedula of the Colombian spouse or permanent partner.
- Genuine Colombian marriage certificate or a notarized copy of marriage certificate. Must be issued within three months prior to the visa application.
- Passport style face photo with a white background, sized at 3 cm width X 4 cm height, maximum size of 300 kb jpg file for online application.
Getting Married in Colombia
In Colombia, you can get married at a church or at a Colombia notary. Here I’ll discuss a civil marriage at one of the notaries in Medellín. Note that religious marriages must also be registered at a notary. A complete list of the notaria offices in Medellín is found here.
Your first step in a civil marriage at a notary in Colombia is to contact the notary you want use to find out what documents are required and the procedure. Documents required can be different from notary to notary in Colombia. Also, the documents required depend on your situation.
For example, if you or your partner have kids it can be more complicated. Also, not all notaries are used to working with foreigners. So, it’s important to talk to a notary to find out the documents they require for your situation.
Over three years ago I was married at Notary 17 in El Poblado located at Calle 8 #42-15. And this notary has much experience with foreigners and the process was straightforward in my experience. The documents required were:
- Photocopy of my wife’s cedula.
- Notarized copy of my wife’s birth certificate not older than 90 days – this needed to be the long form folio version which showed her marital status. Note that Colombia has a national registry of births and marriages. So, a birth certificate in Colombia is a living document.
- My U.S. birth certificate with an apostille and Spanish language translation not older than 90 days.
- My U.S. divorce decree with an apostille and Spanish language translation not older than 90 days.
- Photocopy of my cedula (I had a previous visa so already had a local cedula ID). If I didn’t have this cedula, a photocopy of my passport would have been needed.
I translated my documents from the U.S. to Spanish using Intercol Trámites Internacionales, a visa agency in Medellín with official Colombian translators that can translate into Spanish.
When I brought all the documents to the notary they reviewed the documents and scheduled the civil wedding with the notary. Since I spoke sufficient Spanish a translator wasn’t needed. And the cost of a marriage at Notary 17 in El Poblado was 140,000 pesos.
Civil Partnership – Like a Common-Law Marriage
Colombia also has the option for documenting a civil partnership, which can also be used for a “marriage” visa. A civil partnership is like a common-law marriage. This is also known in Colombia as a “union libre” or “union marital de hecho.”
Two consecutive years of cohabitation with a permanent and monogamous live-in situation in Colombia essentially represents a legal and defacto marital union in Colombia.
Documenting this type of relationship requires a declaration in front of a notary. This is called a declaracion union marital de hecho and should be documented in a public escritura and this document can be used to get a visa.
Technically a couple should be living together under the same roof and the relationship is reportedly supposed to have been for two years. But I have met some expats that received this declaration with shorter relationships.
Other Considerations in Colombia Marriages and Civil Partnerships
Colombia permits same sex civil unions. So, partners in same sex relationships have the right to also get marriage visas in Colombia.
In addition, it’s important to understand that Colombia is essentially a community property country.
So, assets acquired post marital union are most commonly divided 50/50 in Colombia and this applies to both marriages and civil partnerships. In Colombia, anyone who has been living with his or her partner for over two years essentially has almost the same rights as a spouse.
However, assets that you acquire before your marriage/union in Colombia are typically not up for debate when dissolving any martial union in Colombia.
But it is possible to get prenuptial agreements in Colombia, which are known as “capitulaciones matrimoniales”. An experienced lawyer in Colombia can design a prenuptial agreement that includes asset dissolution agreements that can protect claims on future assets.
Using a Visa Agency for a Marriage Visa
If you are in Colombia and not located in Bogotá and you don’t want to travel, you can use a visa agency to obtain a Colombia marriage visa. A visa agency can handle the online application. And it will courier your passport to Bogotá to get the visa in your passport.
Medellin Guru has partnered with what we believe is the best visa agency in Medellín to offer Colombia visa services. Features of this service include:
- Online chat – get visa questions answered fast.
- Online quotes – get immediate visa quotes.
- Courier your passport to Bogotá to get the visa in your passport.
- Office in El Poblado in Medellín.
- Competitive price compared to other visa services.
We reviewed all the Colombia visa agency services in Medellín and found one agency that offers a more efficient visa service with more features and more comprehensive communications including online chat, WhatsApp, Skype, email and phone plus a low price and a convenient office in El Poblado.
Getting a Colombian Cedula
After you have successfully received your Colombia marriage visa, you have a maximum of 15 calendar days to register your visa with Migración Colombia to get 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 resident visa within the allotted time frame. If not, you will be liable for a big fine of up to seven times the minimum monthly salary in Colombia. The minimum salary in Colombia is 828,116 pesos per month in 2019. So, the fine is up to 5,796,812 pesos in 2019.
To register your visa and apply for a cedula this must be done at one of the Migración Colombia offices. You can find Migración Colombia offices in 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)
If you are married to a Colombian, after having one of the new R resident visas for two years you are eligible to become a citizen of Colombia. And you won’t have to give up your existing citizenship. Colombia permits dual-citizenship, as does the U.S. and many other countries.
Once you become a dual citizen with Colombian citizenship, you will no longer need to deal with visas anymore. Also, you will be able to travel to some counties as a Colombian citizen without a visa such as Russia and Brazil, which require a visa for U.S. citizens.
To become a citizen, Colombia requires a citizenship test, just like the U.S. does. You will be required to pass a test related to Colombian history, geography and the constitution. Also, a basic Spanish oral test is required. However, those who have a bachelor’s degree from a Colombian university or are over 65 years old are exempt from these tests.
Medellin Guru’s Comprehensive Visa 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:
- 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
In addition, we have a guide to Colombia tourist visas and how to extend a tourist visa.
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: Obtaining a Colombia Marriage Visa
Colombia’s marriage visa is relatively easy to get with few documents required. But this visa is only intended for people who have a Colombian spouse or Colombian permanent partner.
A major benefit of the new M-1 marriage visa compared to the old TP-10 marriage visa is that there is now a shorter duration of two years until you are eligible for a resident (R) visa. And after another two years with an R visa with a Colombian spouse or permanent partner you become eligible to become a citizen of Colombia.
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Editors note: updated on December 16, 2017 with the cost of the new marriage visa.
Editors note: completely updated on January 5, 2019 this article that was originally published in November 2017 with changes including the new 2019 Colombia minimum wage information.
Editors note: updated on February 25, 2019 to add information that a M-1 marriage visa loses its validity if you leave Colombia for a period of over six months without returning to Colombia.