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Travel Insurance Colombia


Colombia Country Guide

  1. CountryFacts
  2. Health
  3. Media
  1. Intro
  2. Geography
  3. People
  4. Travel
  5. Embassies & Visas
  6. Finance
  7. Cities/Regions

Quick Facts

Region: South America
Full Name: Republic of Colombia
Capital City: Bogota
Language Spoken: Spanish

Colombia Travel Insurance

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Geographic data

4 00 N, 72 00 W

Elevation Extremes

lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m highest point: Pico Cristobal Colon 5,775 m note: nearby Pico Simon Bolivar also has the same elevation

Land boundaries

total: 6,309 km border countries: Brazil 1,644 km, Ecuador 590 km, Panama 225 km, Peru 1,800 km, Venezuela 2,050 km

Natural hazards

highlands subject to volcanic eruptions; occasional earthquakes; periodic droughts

Natural resources

petroleum, natural gas, coal, iron ore, nickel, gold, copper, emeralds, hydropower

Land use

arable land: 2.01% permanent crops: 1.37% other: 96.62% (2005)

Environmental current issues

deforestation; soil and water quality damage from overuse of pesticides; air pollution, especially in Bogota, from vehicle emissions


The climate is very warm and tropical on the coast and in the north, with a rainy season from May to November. This varies according to altitude. It is cooler in the upland areas and cold in the mountains. Bogotá is always spring-like, with cool days and crisp nights. Required clothing Lightweight cottons and linens with waterproofing during rainy season in coastal and northern areas. Medium- to heavyweights are needed in upland and mountainous areas.

Time difference

time difference: UTC-5


43,593,035 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 30.3% (male 6,683,079/female 6,528,563) 15-64 years: 64.5% (male 13,689,384/female 14,416,439) 65 years and over: 5.2% (male 996,022/female 1,279,548) (2006 est.)

Median age

total: 26.3 years male: 25.4 years female: 27.2 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate

1.46% (2006 est.)

Birth rate

20.48 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate

5.58 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate

-0.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.78 male(s)/female total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 71.99 years male: 68.15 years female: 75.96 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate

2.54 children born/woman (2006 est.)

Business Practices

Business people are expected to wear suites and ties for meetings. English is widely understood in many business circles; the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has an official translation service, and there are a number of commercial interpreter services. A command of Spanish is always appreciated. Business visitors will sometimes be invited out to dinner, which may be preceded by a long cocktail party, with a meal starting around 2300. Working breakfasts and lunches at hotels and private clubs have become common practice in most Colombian cities. Colombians tend to be friendly, straightforward and direct in their business dealings. They understand the give and take of business and look to negotiate business arrangements that will be of mutual advantage to both parties. Colombian business people are generally punctual, yet flexible, and expect the same of their business associates. Most business customs are similar to those in North America and Europe. Given the proximity of the two countries and the long-term presence of U.S. firms in the market, Colombians are used to doing business with the U.S. Many of them have traveled or studied in the United States and have family members or friends there. Colombian executives and technicians, as well as government officials, travel frequently to the U.S. and Europe for meetings, conferences, trade fairs, training and tourism. Colombian trade associations, government entities and private firms are hosting an increasing number of national and regional conventions, conferences and seminars in the country. Despite the ever-present security concerns, these event present excellent opportunities for meeting Colombian business people and key government officials as well as for assessing market potential. Office hours are 0800-1200 and 1400-1700 Monday to Friday


Colombia is one of the most dangerous countries in the world. Based on Colombian government statistics, Colombia's per capita murder rate of 77.5 murders per 100,000 inhabitants is more than eight times higher than that of the United States. While narcotics and guerrilla-related violence account for part of this, common criminals are responsible for an estimated 75 percent of the reported murders. Minor crime is prevalent in cities, especially in the vicinity of hotels and airports. Theft of hand luggage and travel documents at airports is common, particularly at El Dorado Airport in Bogota. Taking illegal taxis, which are sometimes characterized by a driver and a companion and irregular markings, is dangerous. Getting into a taxi that already has one or more passengers is not advisable. Travel by bus is risky. Attempts at extortion and kidnappings on rural buses are not unusual. Violence occurs frequently in bars and nightclubs. Visitors are urged to exercise caution as they would in any large city. Criminals sometimes use the drug "scopolamine" to incapacitate tourists in order to rob them. The drug is administered in drinks (in bars), through cigarettes and gum (in taxis), and in powder form (tourists are approached by someone asking directions, with the drug concealed in a piece of paper). The drug renders the person disoriented and can cause prolonged unconsciousness and serious medical problems. Another common scam is an approach to an obvious tourist by an alleged "policeman," who says he wants to "check" the foreigner's money for counterfeit U.S. dollars. The person gives the criminal his/her money, receives a receipt, and the "policeman" disappears. As a general rule, visitors to Colombia should avoid remote areas of the country and travel in pairs. Residents should be alert to surveillance and vary their daily schedules, especially to and from work. Other general tips include: -Travel at night outside the city should be avoided; -Visitors are advised not to carry large amounts of cash or wear expensive jewelry; -Any jewelry that is worn, to include watches, should be concealed at all times; -Cash and identifying documents should be kept in secure place; -Purses should be tucked under the arm and held close to the body with one hand over the clasp. -Necklaces and other jewelry should be avoided or should be worn under a blouse or sweater so as not to be visible. Criminals have been known to pose as plainclothes policemen and carry false identification. They approach foreigners and attempt to lure them to a police station for questioning about narcotics trafficking or counterfeit currency. Once the person leaves, he is assaulted and robbed. If approached in this manner, one should immediately return to the safety of his hotel or walk towards a group of people.


Facilities and services in major Colombian hotels are similar to those found in the North America. Prices vary, but generally range from US $130-$200 per night for a single room. Among well-known hotels located in Bogota are: the Tequendama Intercontinental, Forte Capital (near downtown and the airport), Howard Johnson, Holiday Inn, Embassy Suites, Victoria Regia, Bogota Royal, Hacienda Royal, Bogota Plaza, Fontana, Melia, Casa Medina, La Boheme, and Cosmos 100 (in the north of town). In Medellin: the Intercontinental Hotel, Park 10, Poblado Plaza and Las Lomas (Rionegro). In Cali: the Pacifico Royal, Dann Carlton and Intercontinental Hotel. In Cartagena: the Hilton, the Intercontinental, Hotel Caribe, Santa Clara and the Santa Teresa. In Barranquilla: the Cadebia and Dann. Many U.S. hotel chains (Hyatt, Marriott, and Sheraton) have plans underway and/or are currently building hotels in other parts of the country. All of these hotels provide shuttle services to and from the airport.


Telephone IDD service to most areas; calls to smaller centers must be made through the international operator. The country code is 57 and the outgoing international code is 90. Hotels have fax facilities. Post offices are marked Correos. Opening hours are 0900-1700 Monday to Friday; 0800-1200 Saturday. There are two types of service: urban post (green letterboxes) and inter-urban and international (yellow boxes).


is mostly 110/120 volts AC, 60Hz. American-style 2-pin plugs are common. Electricity Mostly 110 volts AC, 60Hz. American-style two-pin plugs. Communications

Plug Types


Food And Dining

Entry departure requirements

Visa immigration information


Passport valid for at least six months required by all.


Required by all except the following for up to 180 days:
a) 1. nationals listed in the table above (except for nationals of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Republic of Ireland, Latvia, Poland and Slovenia);
b) nationals of Andorra, Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Iceland, Indonesia, Israel, Jamaica, Korea (Rep), Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, The Philippines, Romania, San Marino, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Singapore, Switzerland, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Types of visa and cost

Tourist: US$43 (depends on nationality). Temporary visitor: US$103 Business: US$163 Student: US$43 Fees have to be paid in the form of bank deposit. For other types and costs contact the Consulate or Consular section at Embassy.


Tourist and Temporary Visitor: Valid six months (multiple entry). Business: Valid four years for multiple entries with maximum stays of six months each. Student: Valid five years with multiple entry.

Application to

Consulate (or Consular section at Embassy); see Passport/Visa Information.

Application requirements

(a) Valid passport with at least one blank page to affix the visa (two pages for business visas). (b) Three recent passport-size photos. (c) Two copies of application form. (d) Onward or return tickets. (e) Most recent bank statement as proof of sufficient funds to cover stay. (f) Fee, payable by bank deposit only. (g) Must call in person for interview. Tourist: (a)-(g) and, (h) Letter of Invitation from a Colombian national or resident, or proof of hotel accommodation. Temporary Visitor: (a)-(g) and, (h) Letter of invitation from a sponsoring organization or a Colombian national or resident. Business: (a)-(g) and, (h) Letter form company stating applicant's position, purpose and duration of visit, and taking responsibility for travel expenses, if self-employed, letter must also include purpose of trip, bank references and names of commercial contacts in Colombia. (i) Company's UK registration certificate.
Note: Photocopies of all the above documentation are required All documents will need to be translated into Spanish, and some of them will need to be legalized by the Consulate. Nationals will be required to undergo an interview prior to being issued with a visa. Contact the nearest Colombian Consulate or Consular section at Embassy for further details

Working days required

Depends on the visa issued. Five for Tourist and Business visas; one week for Temporary Visitors Visas. It is generally advised to allow plenty of time for applications.

Temporary residence

Enquire at Consulate or Counsular section of Embassy for further details; see Passport/Visa Information.

HIV entry requirements

Entry into Colombia for anyone who is HIV positive is prohibited unless they have obtained a waiver from the Colombian Embassy

Departure tax

Either collected upon ticket issuance or levied upon embarkation. Transit passengers continuing their journey on the same day are exempt. The price will be ?28 or possibly more - payable by cash only


Embassy of the Republic of Colombia in the UK

Flat 3A, Three Hans Crescent, London SW1X 0LN, UK
Tel: (020) 7589 9177
Consular Section: Tel: (020) 7495 4233
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 0900-1800.

Colombian Consulate of the UK

West Cott House, 3rd Floor, 35 Portland Place, London W1B 1AE, UK
Tel: (020) 7637 9893.
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 0900-1330 (personal callers); 1500-1700 (telephone enquiries).

Embassy of the Republic of Colombia in the USA

2118 Leroy Place, NW, Washington, DC 20008, USA
Tel: (202) 387 8338.

Colombian Consulate in the USA

10E 46th Street, New York, NY 10017-2499, USA.
Tel. (212) 370 0004.

Travel Advice

Travelers are strongly advised against all travel to Putumayo, Meta, Arauca, Narino, Caqueta and Norte de Santander departments, and to rural areas of Sucre, Bolivar, Choco, Antioquia, Valle de Cauca and Cauca departments. There is a high risk to personal safety in these areas.
The threat from terrorism, especially Colombian domestic groups, is high. Travelers should be extremely vigilant, particularly in public places used by foreigners, such as hotels, bars, restaurants, nightclubs and shopping malls or avoid them all together. The Colombian authorities have increased security around government buildings and public transport.
There is a serious risk of kidnapping and crime.
This advice is based on information provided by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office in the UK. It is correct at time of publishing. As the situation can change rapidly, visitors are advised to contact the following organizations for the latest travel advice:

British Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office


US Department of State



Colombian Peso (COP) = 100 centavos. Notes are in denominations of peso50,000, 20,000, 10,000 and 5000. Coins are in denominations of peso1000, 500, 200, 100 and 50.

Currency restrictions

The import and export of local currency is unlimited. The import of foreign currency is unlimited subject to declaration on arrival. The export of foreign currency is limited to US$25,000.

Banking hours

Bogota: Mon-Fri 0900-1500. In other cities: Mon-Fri, 0800-1130 and 1400-1630. On the last business day of every month, banks close at 1200.

Currency exchange

The exchange rate tends to be lower on the Caribbean coast than in Bogot?, Medell?n and Cali. The US Dollar is the easiest currency to exchange at hotels, banks, shops and travel agencies, but all establishments charge an exchange fee. Travelers are advised to only use reputable exchange houses.

Credit cards

All major cards are accepted, but check with your credit or debit card company for details of merchant acceptability and other services which may be available.

Travellers cheques

These are not always easy to change in the smaller towns, except at branches of the Banco de la Rep?blica. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travelers are advised to take traveller's cheques in US Dollars which can be exchanged at banks, foreign exchange and large hotels.

City/RegionCity/Area codeFollowed by
Armenia(0X)6+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Bogot?(0X)1+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Cartagena(0X)5+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Cucuta(0X)7+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Medell?n(0X)4+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Pasto(0X)2+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Villavicencio(0X)8+ 7 digit subscriber nr
  1. Health Information
  2. Recent Disease Outbreak
  3. Hospital Database

Dental care

Avoid dental care unless you are in a major city as generally the standards of care and hygiene can not be guaranteed

Medication Availability

Supplies of international medications are generally available in the major cities of Colombia

Blood supplies

Blood supplies are screened but not to international standards and should therefore be considered unsafe. The exception is a hospital in Bogot? called the Hospital Fundacion Santa Fe, which screens their blood to international standards

Medical facilities

Medical care is adequate in major cities, but it varies in quality elsewhere. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services, although many hospitals in major cities accept major U.S. credit cards.

General caution

Recent medical and dental exams should ensure that the traveler is in good health. Carry appropriate health and accident insurance documents and copies of any important medical records. Bring an adequate supply of all prescription and other medications as well as any necessary personal hygiene items, including a spare pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses if necessary. Drink only bottled beverages (including water) or beverages made with boiled water. Do not use ice cubes or eat raw seafood, rare meat or dairy products. Eat well-cooked foods while they are still hot and fruits that can be peeled without contamination. Avoid roadside stands and street vendors. Swim only in well-maintained, chlorinated pools or ocean water known to be free from pollution. Wear clothing which reduces exposed skin and apply repellents containing DEET to remaining areas. Sleep in well-screened accommodations. Carry anti-diarrheal medication. Reduce problems related to sun exposure by using sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats, sunscreen lotions and lip protection.

Specific concerns

AIDS occurs. Blood supply may not be adequately screened and/or single-use, disposable needles and syringes may be unavailable. When possible, travelers should defer medical treatment until reaching a facility where safety can be assured. Security on public transportation in cities is poor. Bogota's high altitude usually causes short-term breathing difficulties, insomnia, and weight loss in some healthy individuals - persons with known significant heart or lung problems should avoid Bogota.


Cholera: Although limited in effectiveness, vaccination may be appropriate for persons living and/or working in less than sanitary conditions for more than 3 months where medical facilities are unavailable. Vaccination may also be appropriate for travelers with impaired gastric defenses who are planning an extended visit or being exposed to unsanitary conditions. Vaccination is not advised for pregnant women, infants younger than 6 months old, or persons with a history of severe reaction to the vaccine. Hepatitis A: Consider active immunization with hepatitis A vaccine or passive immunization with immune globulin (IG) for all susceptible travelers. Especially consider choosing active immunization for persons planning to reside for a long period or for persons who take frequent short-term trips to risk areas. The importance of protection against hepatitis A increases as length of stay increases. It is particularly important for persons who will be living in or visiting rural areas, eating or drinking in settings of poor or uncertain sanitation, or who will have close contact with local persons (especially young children) in settings with poor sanitary conditions. Hepatitis B: If destined for Amazon basin areas, vaccination is advised for health care workers, persons anticipating direct contact with blood from or sexual contact with inhabitants, and persons planning extended stays of 6 months or greater (especially those who anticipate using local health care facilities, staying in rural areas, or having intimate contact with the local population). Rabies: Preexposure vaccination should be considered for persons staying longer than 30 days who are expected to be at risk to bites from domestic and/or wild animals (particularly dogs), or for persons engaged in high risk activities such as spelunking or animal handling. Need for vaccination is more important if potential exposure is in rural areas and if adequate postexposure care is not readily available. Typhoid: Vaccination should be considered for persons staying longer than 3 weeks, adventurous eaters, and those who will venture off the usual tourist routes into small cities, villages and rural areas. Importance of vaccination increases as access to reasonable medical care becomes limited. Contraindications depend on vaccine type. Yellow fever: Vaccination is recommended for travelers over 9 months of age going outside of urban areas. Note: All routine vaccines (such as DTP or Td, Hib, MMR, polio, varicella, influenza and pneumococcal) should be kept up-to-date as a matter of good health practice unrelated to travel.

Disease risk summary

Insect-borne illness: these diseases, including malaria and yellow fever, are an important cause of ill health in rural areas. Dengue fever - occurs, including in urban areas Dengue hemorrhagic fever - occurs Leishmaniasis (cutaneous and mucocutaneous) - common Leishmaniasis (visceral) - rare Onchocerciasis (river blindness) - occurs Trypanosomiasis (Chagas' disease) - occurs Typhus - common in mountain areas Food-borne and water-borne illness: these diseases are common and include amoebiasis, diarrheal diseases, helminthic infections, and viral hepatitis. Brucellosis - common Cholera - occurs Echinococcosis (hydatid disease) - occurs Other hazards: Diseases such as measles and diphtheria are commonly reported. Influenza risk extends throughout the year. Rabies - occurs (prevalent among animal population)

Entry requirements

AIDS: According to the Department of State, testing is required for anyone suspected of being HIV positive. HIV positive persons are not admitted without a waiver from a Colombian consulate in the U.S. Foreign test results are accepted under certain conditions. Contact Colombia's embassy for details. Yellow fever: Colombia recommends vaccination for persons visiting the middle valley of the Magdalena River, eastern and western foothills of the Cordillera Oriental from the border with Ecuador to that with Venezuela, Uraba, foothills of the Sierra Nevada, eastern plains (Orinoquia) and Amazonia.

Recent disease outbreaks

No recent disease outbreaks

Clinica Administradora CountryCarrera 16 N. 82-57 Santa fe de Bogota
Clinica Centri ImbancoCarrera 38 N. 5A-100 Cali
Clinica de MarlyCalle 50 N. 9-67 Santa fe de Bogota
Clinica De OccidenteCalle 18 nro 534 Cali
Clinica Fundacion Santa fe de BogotaCalle 116 N. 9-02 Santa fe de Bogota
Clinica Fundacion Valle de LiliCarrera 98 N. 18-49 Cali
Clinica La CarolinaTransversal 14 Nr 126-11 Santa Cruz de Tenerife 38006
Clinica Las AmericasDiagonal 75 B-2 A-80 Medellin
Clinica MedellinSede el Poblado Carrera 7 N. 39-290 Medellin
Clinica Metropolitana de BucaramangaBucaramanga
Clinica SomaCalle 51 Nr 45-93 Medellin
Fundacion Sta Fe De BogotaCalle 116 Nr 9-02 Bogota
Hospital BocagrandeCalle 5ta C/Carrera 6ta Barrio Castillogrande Cartagena
Instituto de Inmunologia del Hospital SanCra. 10 Calle 1a Santa fe de Bogota


Colombia is a very dangerous place for journalists who face intimidation by drug traffickers, guerrillas and paramilitary groups. More than 120 Colombian journalists were killed in the 1990s, many for reporting on drug trafficking and corruption.
Press: Spanish dailies include El Tiempo, El Espacio, El Nuevo Siglo and Vanguardia Liberal.
TV: Senal Colombia is state-run; Caracol TV is a private commercial network. Other channels include Cadena Uno, Telecaribe and RCN TV.
Radio: There are hundreds of stations. The main networks are state run Radio Nacional de Colombia, Cadena Super including Radio Super and Super Stereo FM, Caracol, which runs flagship station Caracol Colombia and Radio Cadena Nacional (RCN Radio) which is a mediumwave (AM) network with many affiliates.