Since arriving in Ecuador, I had been dreading whether to extend my tourist stay in Ecuador for 90 days or get a tourist visa for Colombia and leave Ecuador. I taught English in a public school in Quito, thanks to a program called Time to Teach Ecuador. I stayed with a local family and learnt Spanish. Things were good. And if it was up to me, this life would have gone on for long. However the program was an administrative mess and most volunteer teachers like me took the heat. So once I was sure that my days in Ecuador were numbered, I decided to get a tourist visa for Colombia since I was so close to it.
What’s your visa status?
1. Are you from a country that’s not visa-exempt for Colombia? Then you are at the right place. You need to apply for a tourist visa prior to your entry. Examples- India, China, Nigeria, South Africa.
2. Are you from a visa-exempt country? It means enter without any tourist visa and receive an entry stamp with the number of days you can stay at the immigration. Usually 90 days. Examples- USA, Canada, Philippines,EU.
Do you have a USA or Schengen visa?
And if you are from the following countries, you will be able to enter Colombia with a USA visa or Schengen visa valid for at least 180 days from the day of your arrival in Colombia.
Ok, now let me tell you how to get the tourist visa for Colombia starting form the application process. Do note that the tourist visa was of type TP-11 when I got it, but is known as Visitor(V) as of now. The process is all the same.
Step 1: Apply online
Colombia has a centralized website(SITAC) where you can apply for any kind of visa online. Find out whether the country where you are applying for a visitor visa for Colombia has a consulate or embassy of Colombia. If you go the visa section of the website of the embassy, you will be forwarded to the website below where you would need to fill out your details. The portal would be the same no matter which country you are applying from.
Step 2 : Upload the documents
You know what they don’t tell you when applying for the visitor visa for Colombia? That you should get the documentation ready before you start the application process on the portal. Unless you upload all the documents once you start the application process, you wouldn’t be able to complete the process and submit it.
Here are the list of requirements for a visitor visa for Colombia from the official website.
As usual, I booked my refundable flight tickets on Orbitz.com. The onward flight from Quito to Bogota a couple months from the date of application of visa, where as the return flight from Bogota to Delhi with a date 5 months after the date of my arrival.
I used booking.com to make refundable reservations in different hostels starting from Bogota to Santa Marta, Cartagena and a few other places, with my stay ranging from a week to 3 weeks at each hostel. To keep things simple, I saved the reservations in Spanish.
Booking.com allows you to save the application in Spanish and it’s quite useful if you are applying for a visa for any Latin American country.
And to show ’em da money, I downloaded the statements from my HDFC bank account in India for the last 6 months. I had a balance of more than 6000 USD at that time. On top of it, I decided to scan a couple of my Credit cards and save them in PDF format.
Although they don’t mention the flight tickets and hotel reservations, you would need to upload them in the ‘additional documents’ section.
Along with all this, I also uploaded the pages of my passport that with the entry stamp from Ecuador. As an Indian citizen, I had 90 day limit in Ecuador and by that time, I had consumed 3 weeks out of it.
Step 3 : Time to pay the visa study fees
Ok, this might sound super weird, but to get a visa for Colombia, you always have to pay up first for them to go through your documents. That’s how it is.
After saving the application, you need to choose the nearest consulate and the medium of pay. It’s different for every consulate. I chose Quito and then visited the consulate of Colombia in Quito with my application number. They asked me to visit the nearest Banco de Pichincha branch with the bank account number of the embassy. I paid 52$ and went back to the consulate with the receipt.
I submitted a printout of my application along with all the documents that I had submitted online, and the original receipt. It’s not necessary to submit the physical documents but I decided to just do it anyways.
I received automated emails every time the status of your application is changed. You can check the status of your application on the website of Ministry of Foreign affairs as well.
Step 4 : Interview and payment of visa processing fees
Once the status of your visa application moves to APPROVED or to the Interview stage (REQUIRED, for: ENTREVISTA EN OFICINA), you would receive an emails stating the same. The email would always contain the text in Spanish and then in English. The English sometimes would contain traces of Spanish but you can make sense of it.
After a week, I received an email that my visa has been approved. Although technically there was no need for an interview in my case, I still had a short, informal one at the consulate. The interview happened in Spanish as my Spanish had improved a lot by then.
The consular officer was real nice and quite surprised with my Spanish. He asked me some generic questions like 1) Why do I want to visit Colombia? 2) What all places do I want to visit there? 3) Do I know anyone in Colombia?
I answered accordingly. Then I was asked to pay the visa processing fees (82$) in the same bank with the same account number and bring them the original receipt. I did that and then they asked me to leave my original passport there.
Step 5: Visa stamping
After a couple of days, I received an email from the embassy that my passport was ready with the visa stamp. I received an Electronic visa in my email as well.
Step 5 : Celebrate with some Aguardiente. Or Canelazo.
Colombia is often ranked as the happiest country in the world. So, now that this happiness is gonna be a part of you, it’s time to listen to some Latin music and have some Aguardiente, the national drink of Colombia.
Understanding the Electronic visa
When your visa is issued, you get an email containing the visa in Electronic format. You can use this as a backup in case you are unable to make a visit to the consulate for the visa sticker. You can enter Colombia with an electronic visa in your email without the visa sticker on your passport. Make sure to carry a print out.
If your visa has been issued for less than three (3) months, you can enter, stay and leave the country showing your electronic visa, without printing it over the passport. But if it’s for more than 3 months, you need to get it printed in Bogotá VISAS office. And you should do that within 2 months from the date the visa is issued.
If you ask me, it’s much better to get it printed at the consulate to avoid any future mishaps. So if you got time, just do it.
Visa fees: – 134$ in total ( 52$ for study + 82$ for processing)
Visa duration :- Even though I had applied the visa for 4 months, I got it for 5 months in total. You can get it for 180 days maximum.
Visa validity :- The visa was valid from the day it was issued.
No. of entries :- Multiple
Do I need to apostile or translate any documents for a tourist visa for Colombia?
As the official language of Colombia is Spanish, you might need to get some documents translated and apostiled to apply for the visa. You need to check with the particular consulate about the same. Although, lots of times documents in English just work fine.
A friend in Colombia invited to me to come to Colombia. What all documents do I need for this?
If you are visiting Colombia through a tourism agency or a friend, you can get a letter of invitation from them and upload it in the documentation section. You also might need to upload a copy of their national identity card or Cedula.
How can I apply for a tourist visa for Colombia is there is no embassy or consulate of Colombia in my country?
If Colombia doesn’t have an embassy or consulate in your country, check out the nearest consulate and ask them how to pay the fee. If you can pay it online, well and good. If not, you should make the arrangements first and then apply for the visa.
Is there a tourist visa for a longer duration?
You can get a Visitor(V) visa for Colombia for up to 180 days. However, it’s possible to get a tourist visa for up to 2 years as well. But, you shouldn’t try it the first time you visit Colombia. They would normally deny it.
The Visa Project quick tip:
Once you apply online, the application is valid for 30 Calendar days. If for some reason, your case takes longer than that, you go back to square one and start out with a new application and upload all the documents and pay the visa fees to study it one more time. So make sure you can get it done in 30 days.
Have you applied for a tourist visa for Colombia?
If you applied for a tourist visa for Colombia, was the whole process smooth? Please let us know in the comments. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.