Customs regulations for your trip to Colombia

Last modified: July 31, 2023
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Customs Regulations

Always carry a colour photocopy of the data page and Colombian visa from your passport for identification.

Homosexuality is legal but not widely accepted, especially in rural areas. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

Photographing of military or strategic government sites is not allowed.

It is a serious criminal offence to have sex with a minor.

Drugs

Don’t get involved with illegal drugs of any kind. Colombian drug trafficking detection methods are sophisticated and anyone attempting to traffic drugs should expect to be arrested. Conviction leads to severe penalties. British nationals have been arrested and detained for trying to smuggle cocaine out of the country. Prison conditions are harsh. Pack your own luggage and keep it with you at all times. Don’t carry items for other people.

Spiritual cleansing

Ayahuasca, or yage, is a traditional plant used in ‘spiritual cleansing’ ceremonies by indigenous communities in Colombia, primarily in Putamayo and the Amazon region. The yage ceremony typically involves the consumption of a brew containing dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a hallucinogenic drug. Consumption of this brew is not regulated and its interaction with existing medical conditions is not well understood. People have suffered serious side-effects and in some cases death after participating in these ceremonies.

Spiritual cleansing or yage retreats are usually some distance from populated areas making it difficult to access medical attention for those who need it.

Click here to view : Local laws and customs

When exporting to Colombia, make arrangements with a Customs Agency to receive the merchandise and clear it through customs. The following are the main steps to be followed:

Customs inspects the merchandise, when they consider it necessary, and then authorizes withdrawal of goods.

Fill out the “Andean Custom Value Declaration” (Declaración Andina de Valor en Aduana) when the import value is equal to or more than USD 5,000.00 FOB.

Fill out the Import Declaration (‘Declaración de Importación’). When the import value is equal to or more than USD 1,000.00 Customs Brokers should do all the paperwork and clear the shipment through Customs.

Go to an authorized financial entity and pay the import duties, VAT, surcharges, and other fees.

Present all documents to customs.

The importer must keep import documents for a period of no less than five years.

Customs officials are responsible for inspecting merchandise to verify that the description and classification are consistent with the importer’s declaration. A customs inspection group often performs after-clearance random investigations to detect fraud, foreign exchange irregularities, and tax evasion.  Major customhouse brokers have a customs office in their own bonded warehouses where most clearance procedures are completed before the merchandise is delivered to the customer.

Used Household Goods and Personal Effects

Documents Required

Foreign and Colombian Citizens

  • Notarized passport copy at a Colombian notary (must include blank pages) please don’t use the biometric because we need the immigration stamp for customs process
  • Typewritten packing list, without values, with brands, serial number, model and reference of the electronic items (no “packed by owner” / PBO)
  • Working visa of the owner of the shipment, valid for at least 12 months
  • Residence certificate issued by Colombian consulate overseas declaring residence abroad for more than 2 years (returning citizens)
  • “Registro unico de Retornados” for Colombian returning citizens that lived abroad for a minimum three years (It is optional if the customer wants to apply the duties /taxes exception) (Colombian returning citizens) https://tramitesmre.cancilleria.gov.co/tramites/enlinea/solicitarRetornado.xhtml
  • 530 form “Declaracion de Viajeros O De Equipajes No Acompanados” (for shipments of unaccompanied baggage) (foreigners, returning citizens) shipper must complete this form upon this arrival at the airport and stamp the same by the customs authorities at that moment, not the next day. This form must be completed and sent a stamped copy to clearance agent together with the other documents, if this document is not completed the clearance can be delayed or denied
  • Powers of attorney provided by the local agent. (notarized in Colombia)

Diplomats

  • Copy of the passport with seal of the diplomat entity (must include blank pages) please don’t use the biometric because we need the immigration stamp for customs process
  • Typewritten packing list, without values, with brands, serial number, model and reference of the electronic items (no “packed by owner” / PBO)
  • Diplomatic accreditation (foreign)
  • Colombian Returning Diplomats, have to obtain a permit issued by Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • 530 form “Declaracion de Viajeros O De Equipajes No Acompanados” (for shipments of unaccompanied baggage) (foreigners, returning citizens) shipper must complete this form upon this arrival at the airport and stamp the same by the customs authorities at that moment, not the next day. This form must be completed and sent a stamped copy to clearance agent together with the other documents, if this document is not completed the clearance can be delayed or denied
  • Powers of attorney provided by the local agent. (notarized in Colombia or printed in paper of the diplomatic entity)

Specific Information

  • An owner of the goods must be at least 18 years old to import a household goods shipment and present for Customs clearance.
  • The shipment must arrive to the designated Colombian port within 120 calendar days after arrival of owner.
  • The shipment must to pay duties /taxes of 15% on the CIF value
  • Partial customs clearance is not permitted and it must be done at airport or port of arrival.
  • Customs clearance takes approximately 10-12 days plus 2 days of transit to an owner of the goods’ residence under normal conditions.
  • All shipments are subject to physical inspection, except diplomatic shipments
  • Only one shipment of household goods can be imported per family each five (5) years.
  • Time limit for arrival of hhgds is 30 calendar days before or 120 calendar days after arrival of owner.
  • Time limit for arrival of unaccompanied baggage is 30 calendar days before or 90 calendar days after arrival of owner.
  • During any visit to Columbia during the 2-year period, the owner of the goods must not have exceeded 15 days temporary stay. (Colombian returning citizens)
  • The owner of the goods cannot have imported a household goods shipment in the last 5 years.
  • The owner of the goods must obtain a certificate issued by the Colombian consulate at origin, which may serve as proof of time abroad.
  • The owner of the goods as a Colombian returning citizen can apply to the duties and taxes exemption for the importation of their HHGDS to Colombia, if they have been living abroad for 3 years or more. In this case the owner of the goods must complete the registration online through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs webpage and send the “Certificado de Beneficiarios de la Ley 1565 de 2012” to the moving company.
  • Diplomatic shipments are cleared without a physical inspection at the airport or port of arrival.
  • Returning Colombian diplomats must use the diplomatic permit within the next 6 months of completion of an employment contract (with an embassy, consulate and authorized organization) at origin to use the diplomatic permit and qualify for duty- and tax-free entry of the shipment.
  • For unaccompanied baggage, foreigners and returning citizens must prove time abroad for at least 5 calendar days.
  • Diplomats must be duly registered at the ministry of Foreign Affairs prior to shipment arrival. Confirm registration by contacting the destination agent prior to import.
  • Foreign diplomats must obtain a franchise through an embassy, consulate, or diplomatic organization in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • The approval of the franchise by the ministry takes 2-3 weeks approx.
  • Household goods shipments are subject to duties and taxes of approximately 15% cost, insurance, and freight (CIF) value, except diplomatic shipments.
  • Consular notarized inventories do not exempt the payment of duties.
  • The value of the household goods on which the duties and taxes are charged is calculated after the Customs inspection.
  • If citizens did not live two years abroad should make “re-importation” attaching export household documents.
  • “Re-importation” process: the items to import must be the same items exported from Colombia, the weight, volume and packages number must match.
  • The pre-alert must state the actual weights, and/or volumes, delivery details, etc.
  • Wooden crates must show an ISPM-15 stamp proving certification.
  • Customs will confiscate goods in the following cases:
  • Excess of the allowance authorized (e.g., more than one electric appliance)
  • Destined for different purposes to those for which goods were imported
  • Arrival outside the established period of time (30 days after or 30 days before)
  • No commercial quantities are permitted for import.

Click here to view : Country guides

Dutiable Items

Free import by passengers of 18 years and older:

  • 200 cigarettes and 50 cigars and less than 50 grams of tobacco;
  • 2 bottles of alcoholic beverages per passenger;
  • a reasonable quantity of perfume for personal use by female passengers.

Imports of the following products have been specifically prohibited: dieldrin, aldrin, chlordane, endosulfan, heptachlor, lindane, and any preparations containing these products, gasoline that contains lead tetraethylene, and weapon-type toys.

An import license is required for 101 sub-classifications of the Colombian Tariff Schedule. No import licenses are being approved for the following: used vehicles and parts, used tires, used or irregular clothing, clothing closeouts, used bags and sacks, sacks of vegetable fibers, rags, and scrap cordage of textile material wastes. Only the Military Industry Institute (Indumil) (Colombia’s government-owned arms and explosives manufacturer) may import weapons, explosives, and related raw materials.

Click here to view : Prohibited restricted imports

  • Guns, explosives and ammunition are prohibited from being imported to this country without stated permission from Colombian authorities.
    • Any dogs or other animals being imported into the country will require a veterinarian issued Health Certificate and a rabies vaccination before being admitted.
  • Firearms and collection weapons (authorization from the Colombian Ministry of Defense is required and must be obtained prior to import)
  • Bedroom sets (only one bedroom set per family member)

Only one type of major appliance can be imported, excluding televisions (3 maximum)

Prohibited Items

  • Vegetables, plants and plant materials are banned from entry.
  • Meat and animal based foodstuffs are also banned from entry.
  • Liquor / spirits
  • Food items
  • Autos, motorcycles, boats, jet skis, golf carts, etc.
  • Construction materials
  • Jewelry
  • Cash
  • Compressors
  • Security cameras
  • Tires, spare parts
  • Chemicals

Miscellaneous (Pets, Motors, and others.)

Arms and Ammunition regulations:

Prior authorization from regional police departments is required for import and export. Must be declared on arrival and departure.

Wild Fauna and Flora:

The import of certain endangered species of plant, live animals and their products is prohibited or restricted under CITES.
For further details please refer to CITES: www.cites.org.

Additional Information on regulations:

Prohibited: vegetables, plants or plant material, meat and food products of animal origin.

Pets:

Passengers arriving with cats or dogs must obtain approval from the Colombian Agricultural Institute (ICA) at first point of entry and must be accompanied by:
1. original Sanitary Inspection Certificate issued (or endorsed) by the official sanitary authority in country of origin containing all details of the pet. The certificate must be stamped and signed for a period not exceeding 10 calendar days prior to arrival and must state that the pet:
a. is in good health and free of contagious and parasitic diseases and has no fresh or healing wounds;
b. has a current vaccination plan and is suitable for transport;
c. was treated with authorized internal or external antiparasitic products;
2. original and copy of a vaccination certificate showing vaccination against rabies issued at least 60 days before arrival. If the pet is vaccinated for the first time, this must be done at least 21 days before arrival.
Pets imported from the USA must be accompanied by a certificate issued by Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA -APHIS).

Imported cats or dogs not complying with above mentioned conditions are subject to quarantine (or other suitable actions) for 5 days at the premises of the transporting company at passenger’s expense. There are no quarantine offices at the airport.
For more information, contact the Quarantine Technical Direction of the ICA at www.ica.gov.co or ICA offices at the airport.
In addition, passengers departing Colombia must obtain a CIS Certificate (Certificado de Inspeccion Sanitario) issued by Colombian Agricultural Institute (ICA) at El Dorado Airport authorizing the pet to exit. This can be done up to three days before traveling, from Monday to Friday.
Prohibited:

The following canine breeds and any cross breeds of: Staffordshire terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, pit-bull terrier, American pit-bull terrier.

Baggage Clearance regulations:

Baggage is cleared at the airport of final destination in Colombia.
Exempt:
a. baggage of passengers traveling to Armenia (AXM) or Manizales (MZL), which is cleared at the airport of entry in Colombia;
b. baggage of transit passengers on an international flight to a destination outside Colombia.

Currency

Currency Import regulations:

Local currency (Colombian Peso-COP) and foreign currencies: up to USD 10,000.- or equivalent. Amounts exceeding USD 10,000.- must be declared on arrival.

Currency Export regulations:

RESIDENTS:

  • if under 15 years of age: local currency (Colombian Peso-COP): up to COP 5,642.- per day of stay abroad (max. COP 169,260.- per year) or foreign currencies: up to USD 35.- or equivalent per day of stay abroad (max. USD 1050.- or equivalent per year);
  • if 15 years of age or over: local currency: up to COP 11,284.- per day of stay abroad (max. 338,520.- per year) or foreign currencies: up to USD 70.- or equivalent per day of stay abroad (max. USD 2,100.- or equivalent per year).

NON-RESIDENTS:

Local currency and foreign currencies: up to USD 10,000.- or equivalent. Amounts exceeding USD 10,000.- must be declared on arrival.

Motor Vehicles

Documents Required

Foreign and Colombian Citizens

  • Copy of the diplomatic passport (it is available)
  • Colombian ID.CARD, Diplomatic acreditation
  • OBL (3) / AWB (2)
  • Original commercial invoice with full vehicle description, including accessories, in USD (preferred)
  • Powers of attorney provided by the local agent. (should be printed the paper of the diplomatic entity)

Diplomats

  • Owner of the goods’ passport
  • Identification card (returning citizens)
  • OBL (3) / AWB (2)
  • Import license approved by Customs at Destination (for diplomats returning citizens and new vehicles)
  • Original commercial invoice with full vehicle description, including accessories, in USD (preferred)
  • Antipollution control certificate (emissions certificate) from the manufacturer or vehicle assembly company
  • Valid visa for at least 12 months (diplomats, foreigners)
  • List of vehicle specifications
  • Conformity certificates for safety belts, glazing, braking systems
  • RUT like temporary importer

Specific Information

  • Customs clearance takes approximately 3-4 weeks from the date of arrival at the airport or port.
  • Non-diplomats are subject to duties and taxes of approximately 15%-85% on the cost, insurance, and freight (CIF) value.
  • Returning Colombian diplomats must personally obtain a diplomatic permit from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
    • It takes approximately 15-20 business days to obtain approval by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • The antipollution control certificate must state that all parts and accessories are functional and do not adversely affect the environment.
    • It must be legalized by the Colombian embassy or consulate at origin.
    • The certificate must be obtained from the vehicle assembler at origin for vehicles manufactured in 1997 or later (returning Columbian diplomats).
  • Only diplomats who are duly registered with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs may import new or used motor vehicles in Columbia with a valid diplomatic permit.
  • The diplomatic permit must be obtained prior to vehicle arrival in Colombia as it is required to get approval for the import license.
    • Once the license is approved, the Department of Environment will issue a quality certificate granting permission to import the vehicle (approximately 5 days).
  • Diplomats must pay an IVA tax, which ranges between 15%-45% on the CIF value, depending on the cylinder capacity of the automobile.
  • Foreign diplomats are exempt from duty and tax payments on motor vehicle imports.
  • Foreign diplomats are not required to obtain approval of the import license prior to import.
    • However, foreigners and returning citizens must obtain approval prior to import.
  • Returning Colombian diplomats must use the diplomatic permit with 6 months of completion of an employment contract (with an embassy, consulate, or authorized organization) at origin to use the diplomatic permit and qualify for duty- and tax-free entry of a motor vehicle.
  • Non-diplomats may only import new vehicles manufactured in the current year with 000 kilometers / mileage.
  • The emission certificate must be processed directly to the automobile’s owner.
    • It is requested by the Ministry of Industry and Trade as support to issue the import license.
  • Do not import a motor vehicle with a household goods shipment prior to consulting with the destination agent.
  • A list of vehicle specifications must include the details of the vehicle, including: make, model, year of manufacture, engine power, etc.
  • It is recommended that all documents be received by the destination agent prior to import to ensure that all requirements have been met.

Do not use the biometric because the immigration stamp is needed for customs process

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