Colombia’s retirement visa is intended for retired persons receiving a retirement income. This retirement visa is relatively easy to get with a low-income requirement and only a few documents needed. Medellín in particular in Colombia is gaining a reputation as to top foreign retirement location.
The Colombia retirement (pensionado) visa was previously known as the TP-7 visa in 2017. This TP-7 visa was valid for only one year and needed to be renewed each year. However, Colombia changed its Colombian visa rules, which went into effect on December 15, 2017.
So, starting on December 15, 2017, the Colombia retirement visa changed and is now known as a Migrant (M) visa of category 11 (an M-11 visa). The major change of the M-11 retirement (pension) visa compared to the TP-7 visa, is that the M-11 visa can be valid for up to three years but recently is being granted for only a year, depending on your health insurance coverage.
In addition, if you had an old TP-7 retirement visa, it didn’t change to a M-11 retirement visa until you renewed. Also, you are not permitted to work in Colombia with a M-11 retirement visa or the old TP- retirement visa.
The cost for the M-11 retirement visa is $282 USD, which is higher than the previous TP-7 visa that cost $263. So, the new Colombia retirement visa price is a bit higher. But you won’t have to renew the retirement visa as often. So, it is actually cheaper when you factor in less frequent renewals.
Note that a M-11 retirement visa loses its validity if you leave Colombia for a period of over six months without returning to Colombia. You can re-enter Colombia before the six months are up and leave again. You just can’t leave one time for more than six months.
Coronavirus Visa Impacts
Editors note, on March 19, President Iván Duque announced that starting on March 23 the arrival of international travelers to Colombia will be suspended for a period of 30 days. This ban includes all travelers including Colombians and foreigner residents.
Also, starting on March 24, the country in in a nationwide Colombia quarantine from March 24 to April 13, 2020. During this quarantine, the Migracion office in Colombia and Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores office in Bogotá are closed.
What does this mean for visa holders?
If you are not in Colombia, you cannot travel to Colombia even if you have a resident (R) visa, migrant (M) visa, beneficiary visa Visitor (V) visa.
And if you are in Colombia, if you leave Colombia you can’t return return even if you have a Colombian visa.
Has the visa process changed in Colombia due to coronavirus?
Yes, the Colombian visa process has changed due to coronavirus and the quarantine in Colombia. We have a separate article about the Colombian visa produces changes due to coronavirus.
According to ExpatGroup, the visa agency we partnered with, they are still submitting visa applications online without issues and are receiving visa approvals during the Colombia quarantine.
If you were approved for a Colombian visa and received electronic approval but can not get the visa stamped in your passport, register the visa or apply for a cedula due to the current coronavirus crisis, you basically can do this when things return to normal without paying a penalty.
Medellín: A Top Foreign Retirement Location
Medellín continues to attract more foreign retirees with its low cost of living, “eternal spring” climate and good healthcare. Colombia has 24 of the best hospitals in Latin America and nine of these are in Medellín.
Also, the city has been described by a number of publications including U.S. News and Huffington Post as a top foreign retirement location. Also, we have looked at 11 reasons why Medellín is considered a top foreign retirement location.
In addition, Medellín has been touted for many years as a top foreign retirement location by the foreign retirement publications. I have lived in Medellín for over eight years. And each year it seems that I see more foreign retirees in the city. While I’m not retired, I previously wrote about 27 reasons why I chose to live in Medellín.
Many of these 27 reasons are attracting foreign retirees to Medellín, particularly the climate, low cost of living, good public transportation and good and inexpensive healthcare. But there are also some downsides to living in Medellín that should be considered by foreign retirees looking at moving to the city of Medellín.
Income Requirement for Colombia Retirement Visa
The income requirement for the Colombian M-11 visa is the same as the previous TP-7 retirement visa – your income must exceed three times the minimum wage in Colombia. The minimum salary in Colombia is 877,803 pesos per month in 2020.
So in 2020, you need an income of only 2,633,409 pesos per month (which is only $656 USD at the exchange rate of 4,003 pesos to USD) to qualify for the Colombia retirement visa.
The minimum monthly salary in Colombia increases each year. For example, in 2020, the minimum salary in Colombia increased 6 percent, which was the same as the increase in 2019. But reportedly the Colombian government can renew retirement visas for people that qualified under lower amounts in previous years.
In addition, Colombia prefers official government pension certifications like from the U.S. Social Security Administration. It reportedly can be more difficult to be approved with private pension plans.
How to Apply for a Colombia Retirement Visa
You can apply for a Colombia retirement 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. So, I now recommend using a visa agency.
In addition, 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. And you can avoid a trip to Bogotá. The cost of a visa service including the service to courier your passport to Bogotá for the visa stamp can be cheaper than the cost of a trip to Bogotá if you aren’t located in Bogotá.
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 the Colombia Retirement Visa
The following documents are required for M-11 retirement 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.
- Proof of pension: certificate issued by government, public or private company, foreign entity or diplomatic or consular mission from the country that the foreign national receives the retirement funds. This shows that the applicant receives a monthly stipend of no less than three times the current legal minimum monthly salary.
- International health insurance policy certificate showing you have an international health insurance policy that covers you. This policy should be valid for at least a year, since the validity time of your visa is dependent on the validity time of your international health insurance.
- 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.
Having an international health insurance policy is a new retirement visa requirement in 2020 based on the experience of the visa agency we partnered with. Once you have a visa and cedula, you qualify for Colombia’s EPS health insurance, which is believed will be sufficient for renewing a visa.
Proof of Pension Required
The proof of pension for the retirement visa typically needs to be apostilled. For a pension from the United States Social Security Administration (SSA) this proof of pension is a SSA Benefit Verification letter. To get this letter the easiest method is via the Social Security web site.
To get this SSA Benefit Verification letter on this site, you will need to create an account, found on the left side of the SSA’s main home page: “my Social Security”. Create an account, log in and go to your Benefit & Payment Details link found on the top menu bar. Then, click on this, and the middle of the page you will see “Get a Benefit Verification Letter”. Click on this link and it will open your SSA Benefit Verification letter, which you can then print.
After you have your SSA Benefit Verification you need to verify this for it to be used in Colombia.
In the past, one way to verify this document was to get an apostille for this letter to use it in Colombia. An “apostille” is a type of authentication that is attached to a document so it is certified legally for use in other countries.
The SSA Benefit Verification Letter is a federal document so the only place you could can get it authenticated was by the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. Several expats have reported that the U.S. Department of State no longer will apostille a SSA Benefit Verification letter, since there is no signature. But some readers have reported that you can get the letter signed by an SSA officer at an SSA office and then get an apostille.
How to Get a Benefits Verification Letter from the U.S. Embassy
The alternative to the apostille is a benefits verification letter from the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá. This letter is sometimes called a “budget letter,” a “benefits letter,” a “proof of income letter,” or a “proof of award letter”.
To request a benefits verification letter at the U.S. Embassy, you need to request “notarial and other services” and get an appointment.
On the day of your notary appointment you will need to present:
- Original or copy of valid U.S. passport
- Documentation from Social Security, Veterans, private pension from the current year indicating the amount you receive or bank statements from the last three months showing the monthly amount you receive
- The $50 notary fee.
Or instead of doing this visa process yourself you can use a visa agency that will take care of everything for you including getting the visa in your passport. So, you will avoid a trip to Bogotá for the benefits verification letter at the U.S. embassy or getting the visa in your passport.
In the following section are several visa agencies in different cities in Colombia you can use:
Using a Visa Agency for a Colombia Retirement 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 retirement 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 12 months, 190 visas were successfully received by clients including 71 retirement visas for clients.
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.
Getting a Colombian Cedula
After you have successfully received your Colombia retirement 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 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.
- 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)
After having an migrant (M) retirement visa for five years you are eligible to receive a resident (R) visa. And after having an R visa for five years you can apply to become a citizen of Colombia.
Also, 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 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.
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
- Coronavirus Impacts on Colombian Visas and Tourist 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 were 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 Retirement Visa
Colombia’s retirement visa is relatively easy to get with a low-income requirement, which is lower than many other countries. The income requirement is only $801 USD per month at the exchange rate of 3,287 pesos to USD to qualify for this retirement visa. This is a lower income requirement than the income requirement for retirement visas in most other countries.
The Colombia retirement visa is one of the most popular visas for foreigners. But it’s only intended for people who are retired with a retirement income.
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Editors note: updated on December 16 2017 with the cost of the new retirement visa.
Editors note: updated on December 31, 2017 with the new 2018 Colombia minimum wage information.
Editors note: updated on September 8, 2018 with information about how to get a benefits verification letter from the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá.
Editors note: updated on December 22, 2018 with new 2018 Colombian hospital rankings.
Editors note: completely updated on January 2, 2919 this article originally published in November 2017 with the new 2019 Colombia minimum wage information and updated with information that the U.S. Department of State no longer will apostille a SSA Benefit Verification letter.
Editors note: updated on February 25, 2019 to add information that a M-11 retirement visa loses its validity if you leave Colombia for a period of over six months without returning to Colombia.
Editors note: updated on September 3, 2019 with the current income requirement for the Colombian retirement visa, which is now lower due to the improved exchange rate.
Editors note: updated on December 14, 2019 with information about the Mercosur agreement benefits of having Colombian citizenship.
Editors note: updated on January 1, 2020 with the new 2020 Colombia minimum wage information, which impacts the income requirement for the Colombian retirement visa.
Editors note: updated on March 11, 2020 to add a new retirement visa requirement, which is an international health insurance policy. Also, updated the retirement income requirement with the current exchange rate.
Editors note: updated on March 17, 2020 with the retirement income requirement using the current exchange rate.
Editors note: updated on March 30, 2020 with Colombian visa process changes due to coronavirus and the quarantines in Colombia.