COVID-19: travel health notice for all travellers
Colombia travel advice
Latest updates: Editorial change
Last updated: ET
On this page
- Risk level
- Safety and security
- Entry and exit requirements
- Laws and culture
- Natural disasters and climate
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Colombia - Exercise a high degree of caution
Exercise a high degree of caution in Colombia due to high levels of crime.
Border areas - Avoid all travel
Avoid all travel to the following departments and border areas due to the risk of kidnapping and violent crime posed by the presence of illegal armed groups and other criminal organizations:
- Caquetá, excluding the city of Florencia
- Cauca, excluding the city of Popayan
- Chocó, excluding the towns of Nuquí, Bahía Solano and Capurganá
- within 50 km of the border with Venezuela, excluding the city of Cúcuta
- within 100 km of the border with Panama
- within 50 km of the border with Ecuador, excluding the border crossing at Ipiales
- Norte de Santander, excluding the city of Cúcuta
- the Port of Tumaco and the city of Buenaventura
Regional advisory - Avoid non-essential travel
Avoid non-essential travel to the following departments and cities due to drug-related criminal activity by illegal armed groups and other criminal organizations:
- Antioquia, north of the city of Buriticá, west of highway 62 and west of highway 60 along the borders with Choco, Risaralda and Caldas departments, excluding the cities of Jardín, Andes and Hispania
- Córdoba, south and west of the city of Montería
- City of Cúcuta
- Meta, excluding the city of Villavicencio and Caño Cristales
- Nariño, excluding the cities of Pasto and Ipiales
- Valle del Cauca, excluding the cities of Buga, Cali and Palmira
Safety and security
Crime rates are high throughout the country, particularly in the main cities. In some cases, extreme violence leading to death has occurred.
Muggings and assaults occur even in the safer areas of Colombia’s cities. These incidents can turn violent. Firearms and other weapons are common in Colombia. Armed robberies are frequent and may occur on streets, in buses, taxis, restaurants and shopping malls. Criminals won’t hesitate to use weapons on victims who refuse to co-operate.
- Avoid walking alone in isolated or deserted areas
- Avoid travelling alone after dark
- Dress down and avoid wearing jewellery or watches
- Keep cell phones, cameras and other electronic equipment out of sight
- Avoid carrying large amounts of cash
- Use ATMs inside banks, shopping malls and other public locations during business hours only
- If you're robbed, hand over cash, electronic devices and valuables without resistance
Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse and cell phone snatching, is common in all parts of the country. Drive-by snatching by thieves on motorcycles occurs regularly. They occur in both impoverished and wealthier parts of the country.
- Ensure that your belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times
- Stay in reputable accommodations with good security
- Keep windows and doors locked at all times
There is a risk of kidnapping for ransom in Colombia.
Armed groups may target foreigners in all parts of the country, especially those who work for oil and mining companies. Business travellers and Canadian companies establishing operations in Colombia should take enhanced security measures to protect both personnel and company assets.
Choose living accommodations that have significant security measures in place and modern office facilities.
“Express kidnappings” are frequent and often occur in affluent areas, as well as in tourist areas. In this scenario, criminals kidnap the victim from the street or a taxi and force the person to withdraw funds from an ATM. The victim is sometimes held overnight so that a second withdrawal can be made the next day
- Avoid hailing taxis on the street
- If you're threatened by armed criminals, stay calm and don’t resist
Illegal armed groups
Illegal armed groups pose a major risk to travellers. These groups carry out violent attacks, such as bombings, and finance themselves through extortions and kidnappings. Attacks often result in casualties.
- Remain on well-travelled roads and paths when visiting remote locations
- Be aware of your surroundings at all times
There is a threat of domestic terrorism. Terrorist groups are active in some parts of the country. Attacks occur periodically.
Further attacks are likely. Targets may include:
- government buildings, including schools
- places of worship
- military and police installations and vehicles
- airports and other transportation hubs and networks
- infrastructure, including energy facilities
- public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners
Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places. Be particularly vigilant during:
- religious holidays
- public celebrations
- major political events, such as elections
Terrorists may use such occasions to mount attacks.
- Avoid unattended packages or parcel and bring these to the attention of police or security personnel
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for the latest updates
Credit card and ATM fraud occurs. Card overcharging also happens, especially in popular tourist areas, where scammers target tourists by charging them elevated prices for services, food and drink.
Ask for a printed price list before ordering.
When using debit or credit cards:
- pay careful attention when others are handling your cards
- use ATMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business
- avoid using card readers with an irregular or unusual feature
- cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN
- check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements
Fraudulent police officers
Thieves posing as police officers have approached foreigners to verify their documents or foreign currency in the intend to rob them.
If you face this situation:
- don’t hand over your money or documents unless you feel threatened
- request to provide your documents or currency at the nearest police station, your hotel or another public place
Demonstrations and strikes take place regularly throughout Colombia, especially in large cities.
Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
Spiked food and drinks
Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum, cigarettes or anything else from new acquaintances or someone in the street. These items may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.
Scopolamine and other incapacitating drugs
Scopolamine is a drug that temporarily incapacitates unsuspecting victims, who become quickly disoriented and are vulnerable to crime.
Thieves may put the drug on pamphlets or wares distributed on the street. They may also slip it into food and drinks or blow it into the face of the victim. They often work in teams, with women easing the victim into a false sense of security. They then steal the valuables once the victim has been incapacitated. Dating applications and websites are often used by criminals to identify and lure foreigners travelling alone and looking to meet local people.
- in nightclubs
- in bars and restaurants
- on public transportation, including taxis
- on the street
Spiritual cleansing and ayahuasca ceremonies, offered by shamans and other individuals, have led to serious illness, injury, assault and even the deaths of several tourists.
Ceremonies involve consuming substances that can cause medical complications and severely impair cognitive and physical abilities. They often take place in remote areas with no access to medical or mental health facilities or resources. Often, there is no access to communications with local authorities or emergency services. Facilities generally lack basic first aid or emergency plans to help those suffering from physical or psychological illness during these ceremonies.
Ayahuasca ceremonies are not regulated and individuals offering them are not licensed. There is no way to assess the safety of any of the services, the operators or the shamans.
Avoid participating in spiritual cleansing or ayahuasca ceremonies.
Women travelling alone may be subject to some forms of harassment and verbal abuse.
Incidents of attacks and sexual assault, including rape, have been reported throughout the country, particularly in tourist areas.
- Avoid travelling alone, especially after dark
- Stay in accommodations with good security
- Be careful when dealing with strangers or recent acquaintances, especially regarding the acceptance of rides or other invitations
- Avoid hospitality exchange arrangements, such as shared accommodations
If you are a victim of a sexual assault or other crime, you should report it immediately to the police and the nearest Canadian office.
Boat accidents have occurred due to unlicensed tour boats not meeting safety standards, including in Cartagena, Santa Marta and San Andrés.
- Choose a reputable boating company
- Ensure that your tour operator follows up-to-date safety regulations
- Don’t board vessels that appear overloaded or unseaworthy
Road conditions and road safety can vary greatly throughout the country, due to:
- road signs that are difficult to see or non-existent
- lack of lighting and guard rails
- livestock grazing on the roadside in rural areas
- pedestrians walking on the street
Driving conditions may be particularly hazardous during the rainy seasons, from April to May and from October to November.
Drivers are extremely aggressive and reckless. They often drive at excessive speeds, are frequently distracted and ignore traffic controls.
Motorcycles are common and are often involved in traffic accidents.
Pedestrians don’t have the right of way, including at stop signs.
When travelling by car in Colombia:
- avoid driving at night
- avoid driving on secondary roads as they are often targeted by criminals
- don’t pick up hitchhikers
- keep your doors locked and windows closed at all times
- always place all belongings under your seat
- carry a cell phone
- park your car in a guarded parking lot when in a city
Local authorities may deny you entry to certain areas due to emerging security threats. Military checkpoints outside cities are common.
Strikes occur often in Colombia and associated roadblocks on major transit routes may cause significant travel disruptions.
Unauthorized roadblocks and bandits also pose a threat.
If you’re planning to travel by land in Colombia:
- dial 767 from your cell phone to receive advice on current road closures from the Colombian Highway Police information line (in Spanish)
- never hitchhike
- consult local media
- follow the instructions of local authorities
Public transportation isn’t safe in Colombia. You should avoid using it.
City and rural buses are frequent targets for theft. Armed groups frequently stop and rob rural buses.
If you must take an overnight bus, keep your belongings close to you, not on the floor or in storage compartments, as they could be stolen while you sleep.
Express kidnappings and assaults often occur in unlicensed taxis.
- Avoid hailing taxis on the street
- Use only reputable taxi companies through establishments such as hotels or ride-hailing apps
If you have no choice but to hail a taxi on the street:
- avoid cabs without licence plates
- never enter a cab if it already has one or more passengers
- note the licence plate number and name of the driver when you travel and immediately communicate this information to family or friends
El Dorado International Airport in Bogotá allows only authorized taxis to pick up passengers at its terminals.
Arrange pickup in advance with your travel agency or hotel.
Transportation services - El Dorado International Airport
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
Entry and exit requirements
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from the Colombian authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with the Foreign Representatives in Canada.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date you expect to leave Colombia.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Passport with “X” gender identifier
While the Government of Canada issues passports with an “X” gender identifier, it cannot guarantee your entry or transit through other countries. You might face entry restrictions in countries that do not recognize the “X” gender identifier. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.
Tourist visa: not required for stays of up to 90 days
Business or work visa: required
Student visa: required
Electronic Immigration Form
You must complete a free electronic immigration form (Check-Mig) within 72 hours to 1 hour before:
- boarding a flight to or from Colombia
- entering into Colombia via land, maritime or river crossings
You will need the following information to complete the form:
- flight details
- a valid passport
- a valid email address
- the address where you will be staying in Colombia
- a phone number
Electronic Immigration Form – Colombia Migration Agency
As of November 14, 2023, you must pay an entry fee equivalent to $85 CAD in Colombian Pesos upon arrival in Colombia. You can only pay by credit card. The payment must be made upon entering the country during the immigration control process. There could be significant delays to make the payment, which could disrupt your travel plans.
You don't have to pay this entry tax if:
- your destination is the archipelago of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina
- you have a valid Colombian visa
- you are less than 14 years of age or more than 79 years old
- you are a member of the crew of international transport means (conditions apply)
- Entry tax for Canadian travellers starts on Nov 14, 2023 – Migration Colombia (in Spanish)
- Entry tax applicable to Canadian nationals – Ministry of External Relations of Colombia (in Spanish)
You must obtain an entry stamp in your passport when you enter Colombia by land.
You may be fined if you fail to obtain an entry stamp
Length of stay for tourists
The immigration officer will determine the permitted length of your stay when you enter Colombia. As a tourist, you may be granted a stay up to 90 days.
You will be fined if you overstay the specified period on your entry stamp. You may apply for a stay extension at the nearest Migración Colombia office. You may extend your stay up to a maximum of 180 days per calendar year. The final decision remains with the immigration authority.
Migración Colombia - Government of Colombia (in Spanish)
Other entry requirements
Customs officials may ask you to show them a return or onward ticket and proof of sufficient funds to cover your stay.
Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina
If you plan to visit the Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina, you must purchase a tourist card at the airport before departure.
You must also show this card before you depart the island.
Colombia employs strict screening measures at its international airports to detect narcotics smuggling.
Customs officials may:
- search you and your luggage
- fingerprint you
- require you to undergo an X-ray inspection upon arrival or departure
Most airport customs inspectors speak only Spanish.
Canadian citizens who also hold Colombian citizenship must enter and exit Colombia using the following documents:
- Colombian passport
- Colombian identification card
Although local immigration authorities will allow dual citizens to enter without Colombian documents, they will stamp their foreign passport indicating that they must leave using Colombian documents.
Children and travel
Exit requirements for dual citizen children
Whether travelling to a domestic or international destination, underage Canadian-Colombian dual citizens must present:
If under 18 and travelling alone or accompanied by a single parent
- an authorization to travel from both parents, written in Spanish and notarized at a local notary public or at a Colombian embassy or consulate abroad; and
- a Colombian birth certificate, notarized at a local notary public, or a long-form Canadian birth certificate and its official Spanish translation
If under 18 and travelling with both parents
- a Colombian birth certificate notarized at a local notary public; or
- a long-form Canadian birth certificate showing the parents' names, and its official Spanish translation.
- Authorization to travel for minors - Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Spanish)
- Colombian Notaries Directory - Superintendent of Notaries and Registry (in Spanish)
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Government of Colombia (in Spanish)
- Travelling with children
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
This section contains information on possible health risks and restrictions regularly found or ongoing in the destination. Follow this advice to lower your risk of becoming ill while travelling. Not all risks are listed below.
Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic preferably 6 weeks before you travel to get personalized health advice and recommendations.
Some of these vaccinations include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Pre-travel vaccines and medications
You may be at risk for preventable diseases while travelling in this destination. Talk to a travel health professional about which medications or vaccines may be right for you, based on your destination and itinerary.
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
- There is a risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is required if you are arriving from Angola, Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo, or Uganda, or have transited through an airport in one of these countries.
- Vaccination is recommended depending on your itinerary.
- Contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of your trip to arrange for vaccination.
- Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care professional.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada
* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
There is a risk of hepatitis A in this destination. It is a disease of the liver. People can get hepatitis A if they ingest contaminated food or water, eat foods prepared by an infectious person, or if they have close physical contact (such as oral-anal sex) with an infectious person, although casual contact among people does not spread the virus.
Practise safe food and water precautions and wash your hands often. Vaccination is recommended for all travellers to areas where hepatitis A is present.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.
Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.
Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.
Hepatitis B is a risk in every destination. It is a viral liver disease that is easily transmitted from one person to another through exposure to blood and body fluids containing the hepatitis B virus. Travellers who may be exposed to blood or other bodily fluids (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) are at higher risk of getting hepatitis B.
Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all travellers. Prevent hepatitis B infection by practicing safe sex, only using new and sterile drug equipment, and only getting tattoos and piercings in settings that follow public health regulations and standards.
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious viral disease. It can spread from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.
It is recommended that all eligible travellers complete a COVID-19 vaccine series along with any additional recommended doses in Canada before travelling. Evidence shows that vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. While vaccination provides better protection against serious illness, you may still be at risk of infection from the virus that causes COVID-19. Anyone who has not completed a vaccine series is at increased risk of being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and is at greater risk for severe disease when travelling internationally.
Before travelling, verify your destination’s COVID-19 vaccination entry/exit requirements. Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are adequately protected against COVID-19.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease that is caused by parasites spread through the bites of mosquitoes.
There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this destination.
Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic before travelling to discuss your options. It is recommended to do this 6 weeks before travel, however, it is still a good idea any time before leaving.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times:
• Cover your skin and use an approved insect repellent on uncovered skin.
• Exclude mosquitoes from your living area with screening and/or closed, well-sealed doors and windows.
• Use insecticide-treated bed nets if mosquitoes cannot be excluded from your living area.
• Wear permethrin-treated clothing.
If you develop symptoms similar to malaria when you are travelling or up to a year after you return home, see a health care professional immediately. Tell them where you have been travelling or living.
In this destination, rabies is commonly carried by dogs and some wildlife, including bats. Rabies is a deadly disease that spreads to humans primarily through bites or scratches from an infected animal. While travelling, take precautions, including keeping your distance from animals (including free-roaming dogs), and closely supervising children.
If you are bitten or scratched by a dog or other animal while travelling, immediately wash the wound with soap and clean water and see a health care professional. In this destination, rabies treatment may be limited or may not be available, therefore you may need to return to Canada for treatment.
Before travel, discuss rabies vaccination with a health care professional. It may be recommended for travellers who are at high risk of exposure (e.g., occupational risk such as veterinarians and wildlife workers, children, adventure travellers and spelunkers, and others in close contact with animals).
Safe food and water precautions
Many illnesses can be caused by eating food or drinking beverages contaminated by bacteria, parasites, toxins, or viruses, or by swimming or bathing in contaminated water.
- Learn more about food and water precautions to take to avoid getting sick by visiting our eat and drink safely abroad page. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
- Avoid getting water into your eyes, mouth or nose when swimming or participating in activities in freshwater (streams, canals, lakes), particularly after flooding or heavy rain. Water may look clean but could still be polluted or contaminated.
- Avoid inhaling or swallowing water while bathing, showering, or swimming in pools or hot tubs.
Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among children, travellers going to rural areas, travellers visiting friends and relatives or those travelling for a long period of time.
Travellers visiting regions with a risk of typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation, should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.
Insect bite prevention
Many diseases are spread by the bites of infected insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, fleas or flies. When travelling to areas where infected insects may be present:
- Use insect repellent (bug spray) on exposed skin
- Cover up with light-coloured, loose clothes made of tightly woven materials such as nylon or polyester
- Minimize exposure to insects
- Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in buildings that are not fully enclosed
To learn more about how you can reduce your risk of infection and disease caused by bites, both at home and abroad, visit our insect bite prevention page.
Find out what types of insects are present where you’re travelling, when they’re most active, and the symptoms of the diseases they spread.
There is a risk of chikungunya in this country. The risk may vary between regions of a country. Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.
Cutaneous and mucosal Leishmaniasis
Cutaneous and mucosal leishmaniasis causes skin sores and ulcers. It is caused by a parasite spread through the bite of a female sandfly.
Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from sandfly bites, which typically occur after sunset in rural and forested areas and in some urban centres. There is no vaccine or medication to protect against leishmaniasis.
- In this country, dengue is a risk to travellers. It is a viral disease spread to humans by mosquito bites.
- Dengue can cause flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can lead to severe dengue, which can be fatal.
- The level of risk of dengue changes seasonally, and varies from year to year. The level of risk also varies between regions in a country and can depend on the elevation in the region.
- Mosquitoes carrying dengue typically bite during the daytime, particularly around sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue.
Zika virus is a risk in this country.
Zika virus is primarily spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. It can also be sexually transmitted. Zika virus can cause serious birth defects.
Pregnant women and women planning a pregnancy should visit a health care professional before travelling to discuss the potential risks of travelling to this country. Pregnant women may choose to avoid or postpone travel to this country.
- Prevent mosquito bites at all times.
- If you are pregnant, always use condoms correctly or avoid sexual contact with anyone who has travelled to this country for the duration of your pregnancy.
- Women: Wait 2 months after travel to this country or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer) before trying for a pregnancy. If your male partner travelled with you, wait 3 months after travel or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer).
- Men: Wait 3 months after travel to this country or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer) before trying for a pregnancy.
For more travel recommendations, see the travel health notice: Zika virus: Advice for travellers
American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease) is a risk in this country. It is caused by a parasite spread by infected triatomine bugs. The infection can be inactive for decades, but humans can eventually develop complications causing disability and even death.
Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from triatomine bugs, which are active at night, by using mosquito nets if staying in poorly-constructed housing. There is no vaccine available for Chagas disease.
Some infections, such as rabies and influenza, can be shared between humans and animals. Certain types of activities may increase your chance of contact with animals, such as travelling in rural or forested areas, camping, hiking, and visiting wet markets (places where live animals are slaughtered and sold) or caves.
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, livestock (pigs, cows), monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats, and to avoid eating undercooked wild game.
Closely supervise children, as they are more likely to come in contact with animals.
Stay home if you’re sick and practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette, which includes coughing or sneezing into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand. Reduce your risk of colds, the flu and other illnesses by:
- washing your hands often
- avoiding or limiting the amount of time spent in closed spaces, crowded places, or at large-scale events (concerts, sporting events, rallies)
- avoiding close physical contact with people who may be showing symptoms of illness
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV, and mpox are spread through blood and bodily fluids; use condoms, practise safe sex, and limit your number of sexual partners. Check with your local public health authority pre-travel to determine your eligibility for mpox vaccine.
Medical services and facilities
Good health care is limited is available in major cities. Quality of care varies greatly throughout the country.
Private clinics offer emergency services. They typically require advance payment in cash or by credit card.
If you don’t have proof of travel insurance, you may be transferred to a public hospital, where medical care may not meet Canadian standards.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
Canadian citizens have died or had serious health complications following cosmetic or other elective surgeries in Colombia.
Before leaving for medical travel:
- make sure you have done your research
- use reputable health-care providers only
Some prescription medication may not be available in Colombia.
If you take prescription medication, you’re responsible for determining their legality in the country.
- Bring sufficient quantities of your medication with you
- Always keep your medication in the original container
- Pack your medication in your carry-on luggage
- Carry a copy of your prescriptions
Bogotá is located at 2600 metres above sea level. In some parts of the country, you may experience health problems due to high altitudes.
Altitude sickness can be life-threatening. It may require immediate medical evacuation.
- Know about the symptoms of altitude sickness
- Find out how to prevent or reduce the effects of altitude sickness
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws and culture
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
Penalties for breaking the law in Colombia can be more severe than in Canada, even for similar offences. No transfer of offenders’ treaty exists between Canada and Colombia. If you’re convicted of a serious crime, you must serve your jail sentence in Colombia. You may also have to remain in Colombia for a parole period following your release.
Detention conditions may be below the standards of Canadian prisons.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences and heavy fines.
- Pack your own luggage and monitor it closely at all times
- Never transport other people’s packages, bags or suitcases
- Never exchange money for strangers, as this is a common practice among money launderers
It’s illegal to import firearms into Colombia.
Conviction may result in lengthy prison sentences.
It’s illegal for foreigners to participate in local political activities, rallies or public demonstrations in Colombia.
Political involvement may result in your deportation.
It’s illegal to export certain cultural artifacts with historical value from Colombia, such as:
- original paintings
Child sex tourism
It's a serious criminal offence to have sex with minors in Colombia.
Conviction may result in a lengthy prison sentence.
Colombian law does not prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex.
However, 2SLGBTQI+ travellers could be discriminated against based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Colombia.
If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of Colombia, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.
International Child Abduction
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty. It can help parents with the return of children who have been removed to or retained in certain countries in violation of custody rights. The convention applies between Canada and Colombia.
If your child was wrongfully taken to, or is being held in Colombia, and if the applicable conditions are met, you may apply for the return of your child to the Colombian court.
If you are in this situation:
- act as quickly as you can
- contact the Central Authority for your province or territory of residence for information on starting an application under The Hague Convention
- consult a lawyer in Canada and in Colombia to explore all the legal options for the return of your child
- report the situation to the nearest Canadian government office abroad or to the Vulnerable Children’s Consular Unit at Global Affairs Canada by calling the Emergency Watch and Response Centre
If your child was removed from a country other than Canada, consult a lawyer to determine if The Hague Convention applies.
Be aware that Canadian consular officials cannot interfere in private legal matters or in another country’s judicial affairs.
- List of Canadian Central Authorities for the Hague Convention
- International Child Abduction: A Guidebook for Left-Behind Parents
- Travelling with children
- The Hague Convention - Hague Conference on Private International Law
- Canadian embassies and consulates by destination
- Emergency Watch and Response Centre
Local authorities may ask you to show identification at any time.
- Carry photo identification at all times
- Keep a photocopy of your passport and visa or residence permit in a safe place, in case they’re lost or confiscated
You must carry an international driving permit.
In the event of a car accident:
- remain at the scene
- don’t move your vehicle until the authorities arrive
Failure to remain at the site may be considered an admission of guilt under Colombian law.
However, some accidents may attract a crowd that could turn hostile. If you feel unsafe:
- ensure your windows and doors are locked
- leave the area
- report the accident to the police and your insurance company as soon as possible
The currency in Colombia is the peso (COP).
You can easily exchange U.S. dollars and euros for pesos in banks and currency exchange bureaus.
Credit and debit cards are widely accepted. In rural areas, ATMs may be limited in availability.
Natural disasters and climate
Colombia is subject to various natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, torrential rains, floods and mudslides.
There are several active and potentially active volcanoes throughout Colombia.
Debris from erupting volcanoes may clog rivers and cause them to overflow, which could in turn cause flash floods and landslides. Ash clouds may also cause disruptions to domestic and international flights.
Colombia is located in an active seismic area. Earthquakes occur frequently. Dangerous landslides can also occur, even after minor earthquakes.
- Colombian Geological Service - Colombia’s government (in Spanish)
- Latest earthquakes - U.S. Geological Survey
- Earthquakes - What to Do?
Hurricanes usually occur from mid-May to the end of November. During this period, even small tropical storms can quickly develop into major hurricanes.
These severe storms can put you at risk and hamper the provision of essential services.
If you decide to travel to a coastal area during the hurricane season:
- know that you expose yourself to serious safety risks
- be prepared to change your travel plans on short notice, including cutting short or cancelling your trip
- stay informed of the latest regional weather forecasts
- carry emergency contact information for your airline or tour operator
- follow the advice and instructions of local authorities
- Tornadoes, cyclones, hurricanes, typhoons and monsoons
- Large-scale emergencies abroad
- Active storm tracking and hurricane watches and warnings - United States’ National Hurricane Center
Colombia’s rainy seasons usually occur from March to June and from September to November. Incidents of flooding and mudslides can occur, especially in rural areas.
Seasonal flooding can hamper overland travel and reduce the provision of essential services. Roads may become impassable and bridges damaged.
For emergency assistance, dial 123.
For non-urgent matters, you can reach the National Police by email at email@example.com.
Bogotá - Embassy of Canada
Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, VenezuelaAppointment Book your appointment online
Cartagena - Consulate of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada to Colombia, in Bogotá, and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.
The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.
If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
Learn more about consular services.
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