Traveling to Colombia

Entering and exiting Colombia

In order to enter Colombia you must pass through Immigration at your port of entry and present a valid passport, a visa if required, and in many cases an outbound ticket. There are special considerations to be taken into account about traveling with minors, especially if they happen to be Colombian too, see below.

When entering the country as a visitor take special care in noticing that your passport is correctly stamped. Participants that do not need a visa to travel to Colombia will be able to download an invitation letter in order to receive atemporary visitor permission. Please take special care in noticing the date of expiry of the permission to be in the country and report immediately if the date written in the stamp on your passport is a bad date, for example, a date before the conclusion of the IMO. Heavy sanctions  especially financial, will be imposed on people who stay longer than permitted either by visa or visitor permission. In principle, participants traveling before the IMO or leaving after may wish to enter on a tourist visitor permission, please note with care the date of expiry of the permission.

Although it may not be required for foreigners, it is recommended that minors have with them at all times a permission from their parents (and special indications when they do not live with both their parents) to travel to and exit Colombia in the company of the deputy leader for the purposes of participation in the IMO. Any person who is also a Colombian citizen must enter the country with their Colombian passport and follow national laws, in particular, minors must have a permission to exit the country signed by their parents at a Colombian consulate.

When checking in for your outbound trip to Colombia you may be required to pay an exit or airport tax according to the fees already charged on your ticket. You may check if both taxes are already charged in your ticket before traveling. If they are not they will be charged by the airline in Colombia.

When exiting Colombia you must present your passport with the visa or visitor permission. At this point the date on the visa or permission will be carefully checked and if there is an error in the dates that imply that you are irregularly in the country you may be obliged to pay a heavy sanction.

Safety in Colombia:

Colombia is generally a very safe country. Road travel and visiting the cities and towns are very low-risk activities.

Colombia's major cities, such as Bogota, Medellin, Cartagena, Santa Marta, Barranquilla or Cali  have risk levels lower than other places in America, even lower than in other big cities. Rural areas are also very safe and allow visitors to wander and discover without fear. Like elsewhere in the world, in Colombia it is necessary to take some precautions to make your trip the best possible experience. Please note the following recommendations for your next trip:

General safety:

  • As in any other big city in the world, watch your belongings and don’t neglect them.
  • Allows guides, residents and tourism professionals to suggest  the best places to visit.
  • Be particularly careful in places with high crowds as in public transportation, mass events and centers or commercial sectors. Do not neglect and store in a safe place your documents, cash, jewelry, cell phones and other items of value.
  • When you do rural tourism, always be accompanied by tour guides and qualified personnel. Do not deviate from routes. The complicated Colombian geography makes it easy to get lost.

Tranportation:

  • When using public transportation, always do it in the terminal and specially-designed places.
  •  If you take a taxi, try to call some of the local companies that provide this service or use the demarcated areas for this purpose.
  • If you travel by car or rent one, do not leave it parked on the street. Always go to the parking lots and sites specialized for this purpose. In most hotels, restaurants, airports and shopping areas there are safe parking places.

 

Managing Money:

  • In Colombia there is no widespread use of travelers checks, so it is better to use credit cards, debit or cash.
  • Try not to carry all your cash or bank cards, carry the money necessary for your daily activities and, where possible, keep your money and personal belongings in the hotel safe.
  • If you need to change money, always do it in exchange offices and authorized banks, never do it on the street or in unauthorized places. You can find banks and exchange offices at airports and shopping centers and some hotels. You can inquire about the location of these agencies at points of tourist information and hotels.

Health:

  • If you have allergies or health problems due to some food ingredients always ask what you're going to eat. The Colombian cuisine is varied and uses a lot of different ingredients.
  • Always carry some identification document such as passport, identity card, insurance card or health certificates.
  • In all big cities there is full sanitary coverage and water supply, you can even drink tap water without any problems. In rural areas the coverage is not complete, so it is necessary to get the water in special places or to consume bottled beverages.
  • Always consult the region’s required vaccinations or special health precautions before traveling. For travel to some areas of the country you must be immunized against yellow fever at least 15 days prior to travel, in some places there are times where viral respiratory diseases such as influenza are common. You can find more information on vaccines in the section Health in Colombia, tourist information points and medical points at airports and land transportation terminals.
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