How to Extend Your Colombian Tourist Visa

passports with tourist visa stamps

TLDR? You can fill out an online form to renew your tourist visa for up to 180 days in a calendar year.

So, you’ve fallen in love with life as a digital nomad in Medellin, Colombia. Or, maybe you’ve met someone, or spotted a fantastic business opportunity in the city.

Whatever it is that’s making you reluctant to get back on a plane and head back to the cold in London or New York, we’re not surprised. 

You’re definitely not the first person to want to extend your stay 90-day stay in Colombia.

So, if you’re looking to extend your stay, we’ve got you covered. Let’s take a look at how to extend your tourist visa.

The Standard Tourist Visa

visa being stamped in the passport

Visitors from over 90 countries can enter Colombia without a visa and receive instead a stamp in their passport booklet. These stamps are tourist permits that allow them to stay for up to 180 days as a tourist. 

Now, while we’re not going to list out all 90 countries, it does pay to know a few of the top countries. These include:

  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Ecuador
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Panama
  • Peru
  • Russia
  • South Korea
  • The United Kingdom
  • The United States

Remember, even if you think you qualify, it’s a good idea to check. After all, you don’t want to travel to Medellin only to be turned away at immigration!

Receiving Your Tourist Permit

If you’re from one of the eligible countries, you’ll get your tourist visa upon arrival. This will let you stay in Colombia for between 30 and 90 days. 

Keep in mind that the number of days first issued is at the discretion of each immigration official. More often than not, the time period is 90 days. 

If your original permit is due to run out and you want to extend your stay as a tourist that’s not a problem. Under Colombian law, you are allowed to remain in Colombia as a tourist for up to 180 days in a calendar year (January 1 to December 31). 

Covid-19 and Immigration Permits

covid-19 testing station at medellin airport

The covid-19 pandemic has caused a lot of turmoil. However, it’s also brought about some positive things.

For one thing, it’s made it easier to extend your stay. Let’s take a look at a few ways that’s become the case.

No In-Person Visits

Firstly, you no longer have to visit one of the migration offices to extend your stay. Thanks to covid-19, it’s now possible to extend your tourist visa online.

Lengthier Stays

Secondly, the health crisis and complications resulting from travel restrictions being enforced on arrivals and departures to certain countries have impacted visas.

Thanks to these circumstances, Colombian immigration authorities have relaxed the way they enforce the number of days visitors are allowed to stay in the country without incurring a fine.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Extend Your Visa

visas and passport

To ensure you avoid any possibility of problems on departure, you’ll have to make sure you don’t outstay your visa. If you intend to outstay the number of days stamped in your passport, you’ll need to apply for an extension.

Luckily, this is pretty easy to do. Here’s what you’ll need to do to extend your visa.

Step One: Visit the Immigration Website

In the past, if you wanted to keep exploring Medellin you’d have to go to an immigration office in person. Now, however, all you have to do is get online.

To renew your visa, you’ll need to visit the Colombian Immigration Authority’s official website. From there, you’ll need to select Formulario Único de Trámites (FUT).

Next, select the option “Permiso Temporal de Permanencia para Prorrogar Permanencia”.

Struggling with the Spanish? We don’t blame you. While you’re staying here longer anyway, try checking out some of the city’s language exchange meetups.

These can be great jumping-off points for improving your Spanish for situations like this one!

Step Two: Upload Your Documents

Once you’ve started your application, you’ll need to upload some documents. This includes:

  • Copy of the page of your current passport with your personal data/photo.
  • The page with your valid Colombia tourist permit stamp/entry stamp.
  • Proof of onward travel. You will need to have a valid ticket that proves your intention to leave the country. This can be a copy of a flight confirmation email. It should have your full name, dates, and an itinerary showing departure from a Colombian city to a city outside of Colombia.

If you are traveling with a child you will also need to submit:

  • The child’s birth certificate.
  • Copy of the page of a parent’s passport with personal data/photo.

Keep in mind that the PDF files cannot exceed 1MB (in total). So, you may need to compress the PDF files in Adobe Acrobat.

Step Three: Get Your Confirmation Email and Pay

After you have submitted your application to extend your tourist visa, you’ll receive an email within 1 to 2 working days. 

If approved, you will need to pay the $103,000 COP fee. However, this is free if you are from one of the Schengen countries in Europe.

There will be instructions about how to pay in your approval email. You can make a deposit at a Banco Occidente bank, or at a Migracion Colombia office. Or, you can choose to pay online.

Staying Longer Than 180 Days

people strolling around Medellin in the comuna 13 neighborhood

If you are really smitten with Colombia, want to tie the knot with a Colombian, or have decided to pull the trigger on an investment opportunity, we get it.

In that case, you might want to consider converting your tourist visa into a permanent visa. You can choose to apply for a visitor, resident, or migrant visa.

Within those categories, there are 20 different types of visas depending on your circumstances. You’ll need to check out which one works for your situation before applying.

Expat Housing Options in Medellin

If you’re looking to stay for more than 180 days, it’s probably worth looking into long-term stays. There are tons of properties on Airbnb that you can rent for a minimum of 30 days.

Alternatively, there are apartahotels. These work sort of like apartment buildings, but they come fully furnished and equipped with amenities to make your stay better for a long-haul visit.

What Happens When You Overstay

Extending beyond the tourist time limit without applying for an extension warrants a fine. And you must settle this before leaving Colombia. The most convenient way to pay the penalty is at the country’s Migracion Office at least three days before the departure flight. 

Generally, you must settle the fine in Migracion Colombia no more than 15 days before your flight. Approach the staff and request for a “salvoconducto”. It’s a temporary permit that permits you to stay in Colombia until your departure, even with an expired visa. 

You must present the salvoconducto in the airport’s immigration center when departing. The following are the document requirements when requesting a salvoconducto:

  1. Your passport
  2. A photocopy of the passport page with your photo and personal data
  3. Copy of the most recent tourist visa stamp from Colombia
  4. Your preferred debit or credit card to pay the salvoconducto cost and the overstaying fine

Overstaying fines typically start at 1,400,000 Colombian pesos and increase based on the number of days you overstayed. Moreover, protocols also vary depending on your overstay duration.

Less Than Six Months

If you overstay for not more than six months, you can simply pay the penalty and leave Colombia. Returning to the country in the same year with a brand-new tourist visa is also possible. That’s considering the visa is under the 180-day duration. 

More Than Six Months

Overstaying for more than six months can lead to deportation. You don’t want to commit this mistake because it warrants you never to return to the country ever again. 

Paying for The Visa Extension

Applying for a tourist visa extension online works best with Firefox. Several individuals report experiencing errors when using other browsers. 

It’s normal to wait at least one business day or two after submitting your tourist renewal application. The fee is currently 110,000 Colombian pesos, but it’s free when you’re a local from Europe’s Schengen country. 

Your approval email should come with the payment instructions. You can pay through Banco Occidente online or directly at the Migracion Colombia office. Remember that web maintenance issues are common when paying for a credit card. 

For encountered problems, dial 01800 0510454 or ask for help from the office. Look for an employee who can fluently speak English to ensure you communicate your issues well. 

After paying for the extension, a PDF of your approved extended tourist permit will be emailed to you. Don’t forget to print this and include it inside your passport. After renewing and extending your tourist visa online, visiting the Migracion Colombia office is unnecessary.

The Migracion Colombia Office

We totally understand that there are still individuals who prefer to do it the old-fashioned way. That mean’s visiting the Migracion Colombia Office. Fortunately, you can find several branches in Colombia’s major cities. 

But here’s a head’s up! It’s essential to book your appointment online before going to the office. Appointments are required. Migracion Colombia does not accept walk-in applicants, especially for tourist visa extensions. 

When receiving the appointment confirmation, it’s best to screenshot it so it’s easier to countercheck with the office when you arrive. 

Moreover, because Migracion Colombia is essentially a government office, it’s closed on weekends and national holidays.

Getting There

If you prefer heading to the Migracion Colombia Office for the tourist visa extension, we also got you covered! The addresses in Colombia’s five largest cities are as follows:

  1. Barranquilla 0 Carrera 42 #54-77, Barrio El Recreo
  2. Bogota – Calle 100 #11B-27
  3. Cali – Avenida 3 Norte #50N-20
  4. Cartagena – Carrera 20 B #29-18, Barrio Pie dela Popa
  5. Medellin – Calle 19 #80A-40, Barrio Belen

Since it’s a government office, reaching Migracion Colombia Office is convenient. You can take any public transportation or self-drive. 

Challenges in Extending Your Colombian Tourist Visa

Aside from the common web errors or lags, you might encounter a couple of other difficulties or problems when applying for a tourist visa extension. Let’s discuss the most common issues according to ex-pats we’ve talked with. 

Getting A Rejection Email

A rejection email usually starts with “No fue aprobada”. The following are the most common reasons behind getting rejected:

  • Incomplete documents uploaded
  • PDF documents uploaded are not clear or not of good quality
  • Necessary information was inaccurately registered in the system

If you encounter these issues, simply submit a new application by resubmitting all the required documents and the application form. Don’t worry about the fee; you only pay once the extension is approved. 

We talked with several ex-pats who revealed they applied twice or thrice before getting approved. Some individuals got rejection emails but also received approval confirmation after 24 hours. 

No Rejection or Approval Email Was Received

After 24 to 48 hours, you didn’t receive any confirmation or rejection email. Now what? 

If you plan to stay in Colombia for several more days, maybe it’s time to head to the Migraciones. Make an online appointment, and secure a printout of the first email’s code-generated screenshot. 

Several ex-pats also suggest bringing cash or a credit card if your extension gets approved and you must pay the fee.

Leaving and Returning to Colombia Within the Extension

So, maybe you decide to take a vacation outside Colombia after getting approval for your tourist visa extension. Can you still return to Colombia?

The answer depends on the number of days left within your visa extension. When granted 90 days of staying in Colombia, you’ll be fine returning as long as you haven’t used up the entire three-month period. 

Colombia’s immigration will simply count how many days you have with the tourist visa extension. 

Additional Tips When Moving to Colombia

If you’re extending your tourist visa to prepare for migration to the country, the following tips should get you covered:

  1. Always read and understand the country’s visa policy to prevent violations.
  2. Read and research Colombia’s healthcare system.
  3. You need a traveling mailbox. It should be where your government documents, tax returns, and credit card and bank statements should be placed in. 
  4. Don’t forget that staying in Colombia might mean experiencing a language barrier. This is why we suggest learning the Spanish language. 

Extend Your Tourist Visa and Stay in Marvelous Medellin

Whether you’re looking to do away with your tourist visa and move to Medellin or just want one more week here, we get it. With this guide, you should have no problem extending your visa in this beautiful country.

If you’re interested in a long-term stay in Medellin, extending your tourist visa is just the beginning. From there you can get ready to make Medellin your home, whether it’s for a full year or just a few months!

Looking for pro tips on long-term stays in Medellín? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter and join our expat community to get insider knowledge on everything that goes on in the City of Eternal Spring!