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Expat guide to Colombia

Expat guide to Colombia

Living in Colombia

Brush up on your Spanish if you plan on moving to the vibrant Colombia. This country has made leaps and bounds in progress and is popular with expats who want a comfortable place to retire. Colombia is a diverse country both in the people that live there and in the fauna and flora that can be found there. If you’re moving to Colombia we have the essential information for you and your family.


Expat Clubs

The American Society of Bogota
The American Society of Bogota is a not for profit organization that unites Americans and Colombians through Social and cultural activities for the purpose of educating Colombian children.
Address: Ave. Carrera 86 # 55A – 75
Tel: +57 1 544 1540 Ext. 114
Website: www.amsocbogota.org

International Schools 

Colegio Albania -- Cerrejon, La Guajira
An institution at the forefront in the field of international education, which through the development of all dimensions of human practice and promote the universal values of excellence and bring the students to become leaders committed to building a better world.

Curriculum: PYP, MYP, Diploma, TACA
Tel: +57 5 350 5648
Fax: +57 5 777 4969
Email: ruth.allen@colegioalbania.edu.co
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Colegio Bolivar
Colegio Bolivar is a private, non-denominational, American school located in Cali, Colombia's second largest city (pop. 2m.). Currently, the School offers to 1.200 students a college preparatory education in English and in Spanish from Preprimary through grade 12, comparable and compatible with the one offered by the best schools in this category, in Colombia, United States and abroad.

Curriculum: American
Address: Calle 5 No. 122-21 Vía Pance Cali, Colombia
Tel: +572 485 5050
Fax: +572 485 0453
Email: info@colegiobolivar.edu.co
Website: www.colegiobolivar.edu.co
Colegio Britanico Internacional
The British International College is a large co-educational bilingual day school, founded in 1981 and situated on the road to the Caribbean coast from Barranquilla.

Curriculum: British, International Baccalaureate
Address: Km 6 Old road to Puerto Colombia, Barranquilla, Colombia
Tel: +57 5 359 8699, +57 5 359 8891
Website: www.britishschool.edu.co
Colegio Granadino
Colegio Granadino has recently earned accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Universities.

Address: AA 2138 Manizales, Colombia
Tel: +57 6 874 5774, +57 6  874 6066
Website: www.granadino.edu.co
Colegio Gran Bretaña, The British School
Colegio Gran Bretaña was founded in September 1997 with the aim of offering children in Bogotá a high quality education in a challenging international environment for learning. It is the only school in Colombia where the medium of instruction is English as a first language.

Curriculum: British, IGCSE
Address: Cra 51 # 215 - 20 Bogotá, Colombia
Tel: +57 1 676 0391, +57 1 676 1847
Fax: +57 1 676 0426
Website: www.cgb.edu.co
Colegio Helvetia de Bogotá -- Schweizerschule/école Suisse
The Helvetia College was founded by a group of Swiss citizens over 60 years ago in the city of Bogota, in order to impart to their children a very consistent training with the Swiss education, so that they could return to their home country to continue with college. The initial aim of the College has not changed since its inception; on the contrary, it has been transformed and now the College offers students the Swiss Matura diploma Bilingual (official diploma Switzerland).

Curriculum: Swiss
Address: 128 # 71A-91, Bogotá, Colombia
Tel: +57 1 624 7374
Email: colegio@helvetia.edu.co
Website (Spanish): www.helvetia.edu.co
Colegio Jorge Washington
The mission of the George Washington School is to form bilingual and bicultural citizens who possess high ethical values and commitment to the search for academic excellence and success in life.
Curriculum: American
Address: Zona Norte, Anillo Vial Km.12, Cartagena, Colombia
Tel: +57 5 693 0170 Ext. 30100
Website: http://www.cojowa.edu.co/
Colegio Karl C. Parrish
A private, non-sectarian, non-profit elementary secondary school that is open to children of all nationalities.

Address: Km. 2 Antigua Via a Puerto Colombia, Barranquilla, Colombia
Tel: +57 5 359 8929
Fax: +57 5 359 8828
Email: sideandreis@kcparrish.edu.co
Website: www.kcparrish.edu.co
Colegio Nueva Granada Bogotá
Colegio Nueva Granada (CNG) is a private co-educational day school founded in 1938 to provide students (K4-12) with a U.S. oriented college preparatory education. CNG is organized in four schools: Primary School (Kinder 4, Kinder 5, 1st and 2nd grade), Elementary School (3ed, 4th and 5th grades), Middle School (6th, 7th and 8th grades) and High School (9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grades). Both the High School and the Colombian Bachillerato diplomas are offered.

Curriculum: American, Colombian Bachillerato
Address: Cra 2E No. 70-20, Bogotá, Colombia
Tel: +57 1 212 3511
Website: www.cng.edu
Colegio Panamericano
Colegio Panamericano is a progressive, non-profit educational community with a global perspective offering both Colombian and U.S. diplomas.

Address: Calle 34 #8-73 Cañaveral Alto, Floridablanca, AA 522 Bucaramanga, Colombia
Tel: +57 7 638 6213
Fax: +57 7 639 8970
Email: panamericano@panamericano.edu.co
Website: www.panamericano.edu.co
Fundacion Colegio de Inglaterra -- The English School
The English School is identified as a School that adopts the methodological strategies promoted by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) through its three programmes, as well as a School that founds its practices on contemporary pedagogical tendencies, that correspond with the evolution of the person of the TES community.

Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Address: Calle 170 No. 15-68, Bogotá, Colombia
Tel: +57 1 676 7700
Fax: 57 1 671 1318
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Gimnasio Ingles
Offering excellent educational programs drawn from the best international curriculum and standards, GI strives to inspire each and every student with knowledge, skills and attributes necessary to become a responsible contributor to the global community.

Curriculum: American, Colombian
Address: Km. 3 Vía Circasia
Tel: + 57 6 741 5111
Email: comunicaciones@gi.edu.co
Website: www.gi.edu.co 
Marymount International School Barranquilla
Teaching and learning to love God, each other and the world around us.
Website: www.marymountbq.edu.co
The Columbus School
Our educational methodology is based on a bilingual program with a strong academic and college preparatory orientation. We have a fourteen year program organized into three schools to provide developmentally appropriate experiences with close and personal guidance.

Curriculum: American, Colombian Baccalaureate
Address: Km. 16 (Alto de Las Palmas) Envigado, Colombia
Tel: +57 4 403 3000
Fax: +57 4 386 1133
Website: www.thecolumbusschool.com

Local News in English

Colombia Journal
The mission of Colombia Journal is to promote political, social and economic justice in Colombia by creating a greater awareness and understanding of U.S. foreign policy. To this end, Colombia Journal provides editorial analysis from a leftist perspective—anywhere from the center-left (i.e. social democratic) to the left (i.e. socialist)—in an effort to dispel the myth of media objectivity.
Website: www.colombiajournal.org

Country Information 

Location: South America
Capital City: Bogotá
Other Important Cities:
Currency: Colombian Peso ( Col $)
Language: Spanish
Calling Code: 57
Internet TLD: .co
Electricity: 110V 60Hz  
Emergency Numbers:   
  • Civil Defense: 144
  • CAI Immediate Attention Center: 156
  • Tourist Police: +57 1 337 4413, +57 243 1175

Electricity is generated mainly by hydro and thermal power. The largest electricity transmission company is the government-owned Interconexión Eléctrica S.A.
Address: Calle 12 Sur No. 18 – 168, Medellín, Colombia
Tel: + 57 4 3 25 2270
Fax: + 57 4 3 17 0848
Email: isa@isa.com.co
Website: www1.isa.com.co

Embassy Information


Residents Visa and Work Permit information

Nationals from several countries including the US, Canada, EU and Australia may enter the country visa-free and stay for up to 90 days. Countries in South American continent may enter using their ID card. Other countries must apply for a visa at the Colombian embassy or consulate in their home or host country.
There are 4 types of business visas (NE) and 14 types of temporary visas (TP), including tourist visas. For more information on how to apply and what documents to submit please visit the Colombian Ministry of External Relations.
There are specific conditions in applying for a resident visa:
  • When one of the parents is a Colombian national.
  • When both parents are foreigners:
  • Colombian nationals are those that are child of a foreigner who legally resides in Colombia at the moment of his/her birth. Foreigners who reside in Colombia are those with a Resident Visa that is legal at the time of birth.
  • In conformity with Law 43 of 1993, when the foreigner that has been an adopted or Colombian by birth and has renounced to his/her nationality. In this case the Resident visa will be indefinite.
  • When the foreigner has held a TP (Temporary) visa for an uninterrupted minimum time of 5 continuous years: TP-3/4/5/7/9
  • When the foreigner has had a TP-10 visa for a minimum of 3 continuous and uninterrupted years.
  • When the foreigner has had an RE visa for at least 5 continuous and uninterrupted years.
  • When the foreigner in his condition of investor has registered Foreign Direct Investment before the Bank of the Republic in an amount of more than 650 current legal monthly minimum salaries.
Please visit the Colombian Ministry of External Relations for full details, clauses and required documents.


Bogota: The big sprawling city is a very active area. There are cafes, museums, art galleries, and other cosmopolitan establishments. A lot of expats are found looking for apartments in La Candelaria, Usaqen, La Macarena, and Parque de la 93.

Medellin: This modern city is in the Aburra Valley, on the Central Andean mountain, owing its scenic views to the natural landscape, geography and Hispanic heritage. There are affordable neighborhoods in the city, particularly in Envigado, Laureles, Populado  and Belen.

Cali: Industrial and commercial establishments are located in this serene city. San Antonio is a quiet area to live.
Accommodation types range from backpacker hostels, which are prominent in the larger cities, apartments and guesthouses.
Rental properties may come unfurnished or furnished. Contracts last for up to 12 months, however this can be negotiated. It is also common for rent to be increased every year.

There are several ways to look for accommodation in Colombia. Listings are published in classifieds, notice boards and websites. If you are thinking of going to a real estate agent, they may run a background check on your credit history; unsatisfactory, renting will be difficult.

Here are some real estate agents that offer services online:

Driving License

If you are a resident in Colombia and you have your residency and ID, it is relatively simple for you to convert your driving license. You will have to pass a reflex & logic test, hearing, vision and health exam; however, you will not have to do a driving test.You can apply for a license at any driving school and the license will be processed in 2 days.

Colombia Driver's License Requirements:
  • Colombia Visa
  • Cedula (Colombia Identification)
  • 2 Photo Copies of Cedula
  • 2 Color Photos (same size as Cedula Photos)
  • 1 Photo Copy of Certificate of Blood Type
  • 140,000 Pesos


Public and private medical services are available in the country. The public healthcare has been criticized for being overcrowded and inefficient; long waiting time and delays. The quality of services is also poor. Meanwhile private healthcare on the other hand are modern and high quality, with US or European trained doctors on the roster.

If you are an employed expat, your employer would’ve made arrangements for a corporate health plan, however if you are self-employed, you may have to purchase a private insurance plan.

Routine vaccinations are recommended before travelling to the country; Yellow Fever vaccination is required if you’re entering the national parks.
Insurance Companies
Allianz Colombia
Founded in 1874, Allianz Colombia is the oldest Colombian insurance company. Today, it is a leading provider of insurance and financial service solutions throughout Colombia. Allianz Colombia offers its Life and Non-Life insurance products to individuals and companies.
Address: Carrera 13 A N° 29-24 Piso 17, Torre Allianz, Santa Fé de Bogotá, Colombia
Tel: +57 1 560 0601, +57 1 560 1906
Fax: +57 1 561 6698
Email: servicioalcliente@allianz.co
Website: www.allianz.com

Clinica Colsanitas
Clínica Colsanitas S.A. is one of the largest health care networks in Colombia, comprising 56 medical and dental care institutions. Colsanitas offers high quality services at the Clínica Reina Sofía and the Clínica Universitaria Colombia in Bogotá.
Address: Calle 100 No. 11B-67, Barrio Chico, Bogota, Colombia
Tel: +57 1 646 6060
Fax: +57 1 523 6101
Website: www.clinicacolsanitas.com
Clinica Del Country
The Country Clinic is a dynamic institution whose achievements are the result of the sum of factors such as an administrative model supported in the figure of 'affiliated doctors' who practice their profession independently and in line with the best practices available; a focused to promote the welfare of patients through high quality care, specialized medical equipment, infrastructure and highly trained commensurate human capital, service offers care to pathologies fourth level of complexity with excellent results, particularly in the areas of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Oncology, General Surgery, Neurosurgery, Orthopedics and Traumatology, among others.
Address: Carrera 16 No. 82-57, Bogota, Colombia
Tel: +57 1 530 0470, +57 1 530 1270
Website: www.clinicadelcountry.com
Clínica de la Mujer SA
The Women's Clinic was founded in 1989, by the initiative and leadership of Dr. Eduardo Herrera Ortiz , a specialist in Obstetrics and Gynecology Medical. Since its inception concentrated around the best specialists related to health services for women and newborns, credited as one of the most recognized Medical Institutions in the country.
Address: Carrera 19C, Bogota, 91-17, Colombia
Tel: +57 1 6161 799
Fax: +57 1 616 1799
Email: comunicaciones@clinicadelamujer.com.co  
Website: clinicadelamujer.com.co
Fundacion Sta Fe De Bogota
On January 31, 1983 opened its doors to provide the patient, their family and community, high quality hospital services; since then, has the leading specialists in different disciplines supported by the best human resources and the latest technology.
Address: Calle 116 Nr 9-02, Bogota, Colombia
Tel: +57 1 214 6611
Fax: +57 1 214 6668
Email: info@fsfb.edu.co
Website: http://www.fsfb.org.co/
Clinica De Occidente
Being the leader in the provision of health services, recognized nationally and internationally, ongoing technological and scientific growth, with high standards of quality, innovative processes, a competent and committed workforce that meets the needs of users and their families with social responsibility, ensuring profitability and permanence in time.
Address: Avenida de Las Américas No. 71 C - 29 BOGOTÁ D.C., COLOMBIA
Tel: +57 2 425 4620
Website (Spanish): www.clinicadeloccidente.com
Clinica Fundacion Valle de Lili
Address: Av. Simón Bolívar. Cra 98 # 18-49 Cali, Colombia
Tel: +57 2 331 9090, +57 2 680 5757
Website (Spanish): www.valledellili.org
Clinica Las Americas
Address: Diagonal 75 B-2 A-80, Medellin, Colombia
Tel: +57 4 342 1010
Fax: +57 4 341 2946
Clinica Medellin
The Medellin Clinic is an institution with 66 years of experience in the health sector, with three hospital sites located in the south, center and west of Medellin.
Address: Sede el Poblado, Carrera 7 N. 39-290, Medellin Colombia
Tel: +57 4 311 2800
Fax: +57 4 312 4930
Clinica del Prado
Address: Calle 50A #64-42, Medellín, Colombia
Tel: +57 4 576 5700, +57 4 576 5706
Website (Spanish): www.clinicadelprado.com
Clinica Soma
Address: Calle 51 Nr 45-93, Medellin, Colombia
Tel: +57 4 251 0555
Website: www.soma.com.co

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