The Colombia resident visa is intended for foreigners who wish to live full-time in Colombia. We provide 2020 updates to the resident visa rules.
Colombia changed its Colombian visa rules in late 2017, which went into effect on December 15, 2017. So, the previous resident (RE) visa in Colombia became an R visa in late 2017.
The cost for the current R visa is $443 USD, which is higher than the previous RE visa, which was $435 USD. So, the current Colombia resident visa cost is somewhat higher than the previous.
The New Resident (R) Colombian Visa
The resident (R) visa, which started to be offered in Colombia in December 2017 is similar to the previous RE visa. There are five categories of the new R visas:
- Returning Colombian – In some cases, Colombians living in other countries were required to renounce their Colombian citizenship when becoming citizens of their adopted countries.
- Is the father or mother of a Colombian national by birth.
- Has held a migrant (M) visa category 1 to 3 visa continuously and uninterrupted for two years. The category M-1 visa is a marriage visa. And M2 is a visa for citizens from the Mercosur, Bolivia and Chile and M3 is a refugee visa.
- Has continuously and uninterruptedly held for five years a M visa in category 4 to 11, which includes retirement, work and student visas. Or continuously and uninterruptedly held a beneficiary visa of type R for five years.
- Investment of over 650 times the minimum monthly wage in Colombia. The minimum wage in 2020 in Colombia is 877,803 pesos per month. So, 650 times is 570,571,950 pesos or $175,561 at the exchange rate of 3,250 pesos to the USD. Note there is a separate Migrant investment visa with a lower investment requirement.
These are essentially the same categories as the previous RE visa with the same requirements.
The previous RE visa rules required TP-10 marriage visa holders to hold the visa three years before becoming eligible for a RE visa. According to Resolution 6045 in late 2017, this dropped to two years for holders of a M category 1 visa (marriage visa) before becoming eligible for a R visa.
Time in Colombia Required With a Resident Visa
Similar to the previous RE visa, if you leave Colombia for a period of more than two years consecutively with an R visa without returning to Colombia, the R visa expires and is no longer valid.
However, if you are planning to become a naturalized Colombian citizen the restriction is different. While you have the R visa and you are out of the country for more than a continuous year then you aren’t eligible for citizenship. So, if you plan to become a citizen based on having an R visa you can’t leave Colombia for more than a year at a time.
In addition, you are permitted to work in Colombia with an R visa.
How to Apply for a Colombia Resident Visa
You can apply for a Colombia resident 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 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.
Documents Required for a Colombia Resident Visa
Documents required for R resident visa are as follows:
- 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.
- Photocopies of your previous TP or M visa(s) if applying based on length of time holding these visas. In addition, you need a certificate accrediting occupation or source of income.
- Migratory Movement Certificate issued by Colombia Migration, dated within three months of the visa application
- If you are receiving the R visa due to being married to a Colombian after three years with a TP-10 visa or two years with the new M-1 visa then you need a notarized letter signed by the spouse or permanent partner who is a Colombian national requesting the issuance of the R visa along a copy of the Colombian national’s cedula. In addition,you need a certificate accrediting occupation or source of income.
- If you are receiving the R visa due to being the parent of a Colombian child, a copy of the Colombian birth certificate of whom the foreigner is a parent must be provided. In addition, a letter must be provided signed by the other parent, stating that the foreigner visa applicant is fully complying with corresponding food obligations. Or if the child is of legal age, the letter should be from the child requesting the issuance of the visa along with a copy of the child’s cedula.
- If you are receiving the R visa due to investment then you must provide a communication issued by the Department of International Exchange of the Bank of the Republic that records the direct foreign investment in your name with an amount greater than 650 times than minimum monthly wage.
- 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.
How to Get the Migratory Movement Certificate (Certificado de Movimiento Migratorio)
You can get the Migratory Movement Certificate (Certificado de Movimiento Migratorio) at any Migración Colombia office. The cost was increased on February 1, 2019 to 90,000 pesos. You need to submit online and can pay online. Or you can submit online and pay at a Migración Colombia office.
I submitted online and went to the Migración Colombia office in Medellín. I needed an enlarged copy of my cedula (both sides) and paid with a credit card. The processing time is three business days. I submitted and paid on a Thursday and the Migratory Movement Certificate was ready on Tuesday.
Using a Visa Agency for a Resident 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 resident 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.
The Medellin Guru visa service partnership was launched in March 2019. And in the first 10 months, 151 visas were successfully received by clients including 10 resident visas.
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.
Our visa partnership is an affiliate relationship (like the Amazon affiliate program). If you use our visa partner, Medellin Guru receives a small commission and you support the website. This is at no additional cost to you. The price remains the same, whether you use a button or affiliate link on this website or not.
Furthermore, the visa agency we partnered with offers visa services anywhere in Colombia. So, if you are located in another city in Colombia you can use this service.
My Experience Obtaining a Resident Visa
I previously had two Colombian student visas and a Colombian marriage visa. And I applied for all three visas myself and traveled to Bogotá to get the visas in my passport.
In early September 2018, I became eligible for a resident visa after having an old TP-10 marriage visa for three years. But instead of applying for my own resident visa, I decided to use a visa agency to avoid a trip to Bogotá.
I met with the visa agency and they provided a list of required documents. I gathered the documents including the Certificado de Movimiento Migratorio and provided the documents to the visa agency a week later.
After another week, the visa agency heard back from the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores. They wanted more documentation about my income. So, I provided additional documentation to and my visa was approved three days later. So, I paid for the visa at a Servibanca ATM machine and received the electronic visa the same day.
The visa agency couriered by passport to Bogotá to get the visa physically in my passport. And a week later I had my passport in my hands with the visa. In addition, visa agency provided documents that I would need to apply for a new cedula.
Overall this was a painless process and the visa agency was very professional. From the time I initially provided documents to the visa agency to getting my passport back with the resident visa was only 2.5 weeks.
Getting a Colombian Cedula
After you have successfully received approval of your Colombia resident visa, you have a maximum of 15 calendar days to get the visa in your passport and register your visa with Migración Colombia to 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 and apply for a cedula.
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 877,803 pesos per month in 2020. So, the fine is up to 6,144,621 pesos in 2020.
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.pesos in 2019).
- 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)
Validity of the Colombian Resident Visa
According to Resolution 6045, Article 22, the “R” visa is valid indefinitely.
However, according to Article 25, the validity period of the “R” visa label (“visa stamp” in a passport) is five years. At the request of its owner, this document may be renewed for equal periods by a “visa transfer procedure”.
I asked a visa agency about this, as this isn’t clear. The “R” visa is supposed to be valid indefinitely but the “R” visa stamp in your passport is only good for five years.
So, it is possible to get a new cedula at Migracion with an expired R visa, which is essentially like getting a new cedula. But a problem with only getting a new cedula means that you still have an expired R visa in your passport.
Foreigners who have received a new cedula with an expired R visa have reported problems traveling internationally, as in foreign countries they don’t know that a Colombian R visa is valid indefinitely, even though the R visa stamp in a passport is only good for five years.
A solution to this expired R visa in your passport is that you can transfer the R visa via a traspasó (transfer) process, which will result in a new R visa in your passport with a new five-year validity. The transfer process requires the same documents as the original R visa application and a study fee of 175,000 pesos and government fee of 175,000 pesos. This is essentially like applying for a new R visa but with lower fees.
This visa transfer for a R visa can be done by a visa agency and the visa agency Medellin Guru partnered with offers this visa transfer service.
Another option to renewing cedulas every five years with a R visa and transferring the visa every five years to get a visa with new dates in your passport is to become a dual citizen.
After having an R resident visa for five years (or two years if married to a Colombian – see our Marriage Visa article) you can apply 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.
And if you already have a R visa when you get married to a Colombian, you need to wait two years after being married to be eligible to apply to become a citizen of Colombia.
But if planning to become a citizen when you have the R visa and you are out of the country for more than a year then you reportedly aren’t eligible for citizenship.
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 a few counties as a Colombian citizen without a visa such as Russia, which require a visa for U.S. citizens.
Also, if you have Colombian citizenship, this benefits you with the Mercosur trade block. Nationals of Member States (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) and Associated States (Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru) do not need a passport or visa to travel around the region, with only a national identity card required.
In addition, the Mercosur Agreement grants the right to residence and work for citizens with no requirement other than nationality. Citizens of the Member States and Associated States that are part of the agreement enjoy a facilitated procedure for applying for a residence visa, as long as they have a valid passport, birth certificate and a negative certificate of criminal record.
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. Those who have a bachelor’s degree from a Colombian university or are over 65 years old are exempt from these tests.
Furthermore, a complete list of the requirements for Colombian citizenship is found on the Cancillería website here.
Medellin Guru’s Comprehensive Visa and Passport 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:
- Colombia Visa Guide: Ultimate Guide How to Get a Colombian Visa
- 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
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 and are being updated again in early 2020. 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 Resident Visa
Colombia’s resident visa is relatively easy to get with few documents needed. But the resident visa requires several years with the new Migrant (M) visa or former temporary (TP) visas unless you are the parent of a Colombian child or invest sufficient funds to qualify as a resident visa.
The visa costs in Colombia are lower than in many other countries in Latin America. Also, the Colombian visa process is streamlined with online applications and is relatively fast.
Sign up for the Free Medellin Guru Newsletter – You can see all of the previous Medellin Guru weekly email newsletters and sign up here.
Editors note: updated on December 16, 2017 with the cost of the new resident visa.
Editors note: updated on December 31, 2017 with the new 2018 Colombia minimum wage information.
Editors note: updated on August 18, 2018 to add details about getting a Migratory Movement Certificate.
Editors note: updated on September 19, 2018 with Jeff’s recent experience in obtaining a resident visa.
Editors note: updated on January 2, 2019 with the new 2019 Colombia minimum wage information.
Editors note: updated on February 25, 2019 to add information that an R visa loses its validity if you leave Colombia for a period of over two years without returning to Colombia.
Editors note: updated on March 2, 2019 with the new cost of the Migratory Movement Certificate (Certificado de Movimiento Migratorio).
Editors note: updated on June 5, 2019 with information about the validity of the resident visa (R visa) and how to renew as the R visa is supposed to be valid indefinitely but the R visa stamp is only good for five years.
Editors note: updated on June 19, 2019 with information that if you are planning to become a naturalized Colombian citizen based on having a R visa then you can’t leave the country for more than a year at a time or you lose eligibility for citizenship.
Editors note: updated on December 13, 2019 with information about the five-year validity of a R visa stamp and how to transfer this visa to obtain a visa stamp with new dates.
Editors note: updated on December 14, 2019 with information about the Mercosur agreement benefits of having Colombian citizenship.
Editors note: updated on January 5, 2020 with the new 2020 Colombia minimum wage information, which impacts the investment requirement for a resident investor visa.
Editors note: updated on January 23, 2020 to add information that if you already have a R visa and get married you need to wait two years after getting married to be eligible for having Colombian citizenshi