Guidance

Living in Colombia

How to obtain criminal records, residence permit, identity cards and other local procedures for British nationals living in Colombia.

Overview

This guide sets out essential information for British nationals residing or planning to reside in Colombia, including quick links to local and UK official websites for advice on residence requirements and more. We are unable to provide any guidance on general lifestyle enquiries apart from the information and links listed below.

See our information on what consulates can and cannot do for British nationals.This information supplements the travel advice for Colombia.

Coronavirus

You should follow the advice of the Colombian government and your local authority. You can also read our Colombia travel advice for our latest guidance.

For information on getting a COVID-19 vaccine as a UK national in Colombia see our coronavirus travel advice.

Health

Medical treatment

Medical facilities in Colombia vary widely in quality. In large cities and state capitals, private clinics provide good quality care for routine treatments and complex treatment. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation. Not all travel health insurance policies provide cover for private or emergency medical care so check your policy before travelling.

Public health facilities and those in smaller cities are generally ill equipped and poorly funded. Ambulance services in remote areas are unreliable and public hospitals often lack adequate medical supplies.

You can find most medication in pharmacies in large cities, but medicine for complex treatment may be unavailable in rural areas and small towns. You may need a prescription from a local doctor to get some controlled medicine.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, you should dial 123 to ask for assistance (in Spanish). Contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Health risks

UK health authorities have classified Colombia as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For more information and advice, visit the website of the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.

Dengue fever, malaria and yellow fever are present throughout the country, although the coastal and southern states with lower altitudes are the most affected, especially during or shortly after the rainy season between April and November. You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Cases of Chikungunya virus have been confirmed in Colombia. You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Tap water is safe to drink only in Bogota. You should drink only bottled water and avoid ice in drinks.

Education

If you travel to Colombia to study, you should apply for a visa or permit at the nearest Colombian consulate or embassy. If you are in the UK you can contact the Colombian Consulate in London.

Employment

If you travel to Colombia to work, you should apply for a visa or permit at the nearest Colombian consulate or embassy. If you are in the UK you can contact the Colombian Consulate in London.

Entry and residence requirements

For advise on entry requirements for Colombia please visit our Travel Advice pages.

For residence requirements and information on obtaining an identity card known as Cedula de Extranjeria (CE), contact the Colombian Immigration authorities.

Benefits

It is important to consider whether you can continue to or apply for benefits whilst living abroad or if you are moving or retiring abroad.

Driving licences and vehicles

As a tourist you can drive using a UK driving licence for the same period that the entry was authorised. Carry your passport with you at all times when driving.

For information on how to obtain the relevant permissions for your vehicle or how to obtain a local driving licence, contact Colombia’s Ministry of Transport.

The Direccion de Impuestos y Aduanas Nacionales has information about tax regulations for importing vehicles to Colombia.

For a confirmation certificate of your UK driving licence you need to contact the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.

Finance

If opening a personal bank account, you will be expected to submit certain documents. Please ask the bank of your choice about requirements. For information on the banking rules and private funds (AFP) regulations in Colombia, please contact the Superintendencia Finaciera de Colombia. This institution regulates and supervises the financial, insurance and private funds systems, and prevents and detects money laundering and terrorism financing.

For information on taxes, please contact the Direccion de Impuestos y Aduanas Nacionales.

Disclaimer

This information is provided as a general guide and is based upon information provided to the embassy by the relevant local authorities and may be subject to change at any time with little or no notice. The FCDO and the British embassy will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information. British nationals wishing to obtain any further information must contact the relevant local authority.

Published 25 February 2014
Last updated 23 March 2021 + show all updates
  1. Coronavirus section added with a link to guidance on vaccines

  2. Health section added

  3. New items included

  4. First published.