I applied for the Colombia tourist visa twice, once in Ecuador and the other time in India. In this article, I will write about my experience and how it went both times. Although the Colombia visa application process was similar in both countries, there were some differences.
But before I get to that, I will brief you on things to see in Colombia.
Things to Do in Colombia
Colombia has everything, be it pristine islands or gorgeous small towns, or rain forests. While a lot of tourists throng popular destinations like Cartagena, Cocora valley, Tayrona National Park, Medellin, and the coffee country, there are so many off-the-beaten-path places in Colombia.
And if you are planning to learn Spanish in Latin America, Colombia is probably one of the best places to learn Spanish as Colombians are known to have one of the most neutral Spanish accents.
And traveling in Colombia is probably the fastest way to learn Spanish.
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.
Sometimes many tourists refer to this as a Colombia e visa. The thing is the visa is emailed to you in an electronic format, which you don’t need to get stamped on your passport if you are planning to stay in Colombia for less than 3 months.
By the way, it does not matter whether you enter Colombia visa-free or with a tourist visa. You have to fill in the Check Mig Colombia form.
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Do You Need a Visa to Go to Colombia?
Citizens of many countries don’t need a visa for Colombia if the purpose of their visit is tourism or sightseeing etc. Examples- EU countries, the U.S.A, Canada, Australia, Japan, etc.
Now do Indians need visas for Colombia? Yes, they do. So do the Chinese. And a lot of others.
And if the purpose of the visit has to do anything other than tourism, everyone except for citizens of Mercosur countries needs a visa for Colombia.
To check who needs a visa for Colombia, check this article on Colombia visa requirements and types.
My Experience Getting Colombia Tourist Visa
I applied for the Colombia visa online twice. The first time was in Ecuador and the second time in India.
Colombia Visa Application in Ecuador, the First Time
Since arriving in Ecuador, I had been confused about whether to extend my tourist stay in Ecuador for 90 days or get a Colombia tourist visa and leave Ecuador.
Note: Indians need an Ecuador tourist visa nowadays.
Although a Colombia visa for Indians like me is easier to get in the Colombian embassy in Delhi, I hadn’t tried it there. I wasn’t sure whether I could get a visa for Colombia in Ecuador, but I had to give it a try.
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 learned 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 visitor visa for Colombia since I was so close to it.
Applying Colombia Visa in India, the Second Time
Even if you apply from India, the Colombia visa application process is exactly the same as getting it anywhere else. You can get it from the Colombian embassy in Delhi. While you might need to show a couple more documents, everything else will be the same.
I applied for the Colombian e visa online in India after being married to a Colombian for a few years. While I thought, it would be a piece of cake, they actually asked for more documents.
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 from the application process.
Colombia Visitor Visa Application Process Step by Step
Step 1: Apply Colombia Tourist Visa Online
Colombia has a centralized website(SITAC) where you can apply for any kind of Colombia 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 to the visa section of the website of the Colombian embassy, you will be forwarded to the website below where you would need to fill out your details. The SITAC Colombia portal would be the same no matter which country you are applying from.
Step 2: Document Checklist for Colombia Tourist Visa
Colombia visa requirements are not very straightforward. For instance, do you know what they don’t tell you when applying for the Colombia tourist visa? 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 Colombia visa application process, you wouldn’t be able to complete the process and submit it.
Here is the list of requirements for Colombia tourist visa from the official website.
Colombia Visa Requirements in Ecuador
As usual, I booked my refundable flight tickets on Orbitz.com.
The onward flight was from Quito to Bogota, a couple of months from the date of application of visa, whereas 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 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.
Colombia Visa Requirements in India
So when applying for the Colombia visa online in India, I sought it as the spouse of a Colombian citizen. I provided all the standard documents like
Round trip flight ticket
I booked refundable tickets on Orbitz for both my wife and myself.
I did the refundable reservations on booking.com for a week in Bogota.
I provided the salary slips for the last 3 months and a no-objection certificate(NOC) from my employer.
Entry/Exit Stamps from Colombia
Since I had already been to Colombia, I had to upload the last entry stamp in the Colombia visa application portal online.
Proof of Funds
I had to provide the bank statements for the last 3 months from my Indian bank account.
Cover letter for Colombia tourist visa
I wrote a cover letter explaining my intent to visit Colombia, how long I would be there and the places I would be visiting in detail. Although you could write this in English, it is better to do it in Spanish if you speak it.
Invitation Letter for Colombia
After I submitted all the documents, they provided a comment that I needed to provide an invitation letter from my wife, inviting me to Colombia. Yes, as weird as it may sound, that’s what they asked for.Do note that all these are not asked to you at the time of submitting the visa application for Colombia, rather through email notifications later.
Step 3: Pay Colombia Visa Fees for Visa Study
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.
Payment for visa study fees in Ecuador
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 anyway.
I received automated emails every time the status of your application is changed. You can check the status of your Colombia visa application on the website of the Ministry of Foreign affairs as well.
Payment for visa study fees in India
In India, I made the payment online through a credit card. To do this, you could visit the payment link : https://tramites.cancilleria.gov.co/pago.aspx
You would need to provide the application number and then choose the option, and then make the payment.
Step 4: Visa Interview & 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.
Interview in Ecuador & Visa Fee Payment
In Ecuador, 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.
Visa Fee Payment in India
In India, I didn’t have to do an interview. Rather, I got the email to pay the fees for Colombia tourist visa. I was also able to check Colombia visa online status for the same.
I ran into some issues when trying to make the payment through a credit card from India. While making the payment, I closed the browser window accidentally and after that when I retried, it simply didn’t work.
So I had to call up a friend in Colombia to make the payment on my behalf through the PSE option, which allows someone to make payments through Colombian payment apps or bank account.
I also wrote to the email addresses for help in the mean time, but I had already made the payment by the time they responded.
Step 5: Colombia Visa Stamping
Stamping in Ecuador
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.
Receiving the Colombia Electronic Visa in India
When I recieved the Colombia visa in India, I did not go for stamping in the consulate of Colombia in Delhi as it was simply too far. And I could simply do the registration in Colombia.
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.
Colombia Visa Processing Time
Here is the thing about Colombia visa processing time: It is limited to 30 days. This means, if you don’t get a decision within 30 days, you would need to reinitiate the whole thing.
You would need to file a fresh application, pay the study fees, wait for them to review the documents.. you get the picture.
That being said, it shouldn’t take that long in most cases. In my case, the Colombia visa processing time in India was close to 3 weeks while the same took 2 weeks in Ecuador.
Colombia Visa Online Status
You can check the Colombia visa status online at any time during the visa processing by visiting the cancilleria link.
Understanding the Colombia Electronic Visa or eVisa
When your Colombia tourist 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 a Colombia e Visa in your email without the visa sticker on your passport. Make sure to carry a printout.
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 the Bogotá VISAS office.
And you should do that within 2 months from the date the visa is issued.
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
Colombia Visa Policy: F.A.Q.S
Is It Possible to Convert Colombia Tourist Visa to any other Visa?
Yes. And the good part is that you can convert your tourist visa to another visa while being in Colombia, without needing to leave the country. While I was there I converted my tourist visa to a volunteer visa for Colombia easily.
Later, I got a job teaching English and converted the volunteer visa to a Colombia work visa.
Do I Need to Apostle or Translate Any Documents for a Colombia Tourist Visa?
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 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 Colombia Tourist Visa if There is no Embassy 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.
Can I Extend Colombia Visa in Colombia?
As long as you don't exceed the maximum 180 days stay limit, you can extend your Colombian visa. So if for example, your Colombia visa duration is 120 days, then you can extend it for 60 more days.
Note that your Colombia visa extension experience can be totally different from people who enter Colombia without a visa and with a simple entry stamp on their passport. Anyone who enters Colombia as visa-exempt would simply be extending stay in Colombia, rather than an actual visa.
Is There a Tourist Visa Colombia 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.
The Visa Project’s Comprehensive Visa Series: Guides & Experiences
Visa requirements are always changing. Here on The Visa Project, they are kept up-to-date and should answer most visa questions.
And not just guides and tips, we also rely on real people’s experiences on visas, coz’ we know how much visas change based on your nationality, financial status, age, ethnicity, etc.
South America Visa Series: Experiences
- Tourist Visa for Bolivia
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- Peru Visa for Indians: Peru Tourist Visa in Bolivia
- Peru Visa Extension Online
- Peru Visa Extension in Immigration Office: A US citizen’s experience
- Tourist Visa for Brazil: How I got it in Ecuador
- Ecuador Professional Visa: An Indian’s experience
- Ecuador Visa for US Citizens: Ecuador temporary residency visa
- SENESCYT Ecuador Registration : Register your degree in Ecuador
- Colombia Work Visa: Teach English in Colombia
- Colombia Tourist Visa Extension: A US Citizen’s perspective
South America Visa Series: Complete Guides
Have you applied for Colombia tourist visa?
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.