Emigrate to Colombia

⇒ Culture of Colombia

⇒ Climate

⇒ Language

⇒ School system of Colombia

⇒ Health care system

⇒ Vaccinations and medical certificates

⇒ Tax system

⇒ Economy

⇒ Prices by index

⇒ Real estate

⇒ Company foundation

⇒ Visa

⇒ Safety

Colombia culture

Colombia’s culture is extremely diverse and rich, characterized by a mixture of indigenous, African and European influences. Here are some of the main characteristics that distinguish the culture of Colombia:

  1. Diverse ethnic groups: Colombia is a country with great ethnic diversity. It is home to indigenous peoples, descendants of African slaves, Europeans and mestizos (a mixture of different ethnic groups).
  2. Music and dance: Colombia is famous for its diverse music and dance scene. The vallenato, cumbia, salsa, champeta and reggaeton are just a few examples of the popular music genres. Colombian dances such as the cumbia and salsa are known worldwide and are often performed at festivals and local bars.
  3. Gastronomy: Colombian cuisine is varied and rich in flavor. Rice and beans are staple foods, and there is a wide range of dishes based on rice. Arepas (flat cornbreads), empanadas (stuffed dumplings) and sancocho (a type of soup) are just a few of the popular dishes.
  4. Festivals and celebrations: Colombia is known for its lively festivals and celebrations. The most famous is the Barranquilla Carnival, one of the largest carnivals in Latin America. The Flower Festival in Medellín and the Black and White Festival in Pasto are also popular events.
  5. Arts and Literature: Colombia has a rich literary tradition, with authors such as Gabriel García Márquez, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature. The Colombian art scene is also vibrant, with many talented painters, sculptors and photographers.
  6. Religion: The majority of Colombians are Catholic, and religious celebrations and rituals play an important role in people’s lives. However, there is also a growing presence of other religions in Colombia.
  7. Nature and environment: Colombia is rich in natural beauty, from the Andes to the Amazon rainforest. People often have a close relationship with nature and the various ecosystems of the country.
  8. Sociability: Colombians are known for their hospitality and their open and friendly nature. Family and social relationships are highly valued, and spending time with friends and family is common.
Ein Auszug aus der Landschaft in Kolumbien

Climate

The climate in Colombia varies greatly depending on the region due to its geographical diversity. Here are the general climate zones in Colombia:

  1. Tropical climate: The coastal areas on the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean have a hot and humid tropical climate. Temperatures are high throughout the year, and there is a distinct rainy season that lasts from April to November.
  2. Temperate climate: The central regions of Colombia, including cities such as Bogotá, Medellín and Manizales, are located at higher altitudes in the Andes and have a temperate climate. Temperatures are moderate throughout the year, with cooler nights. These regions are known for their pleasant temperatures.
  3. Tundra and glacial climate: In the highest peaks of the Andes, such as Nevado del Ruiz and Nevado del Huila, there is an alpine or tundra-like climate with cold temperatures throughout the year. There are even glaciers on these mountains.
  4. Rainforest climate: The Amazon basin region in southern Colombia has a humid tropical rainforest climate. Here it rains frequently throughout the year, and temperatures are high and constant.
  5. Desert climate: In some parts of the La Guajira region in northern Colombia, especially in the Tatacoa Desert, there is a desert-like climate with extreme temperatures and low rainfall.

Language

Several languages are spoken in Colombia, with Spanish being the official language and the most widely spoken. Here are the main languages in Colombia:

  1. Spanish: Spanish is the official language and the most spoken language in Colombia. However, there are regional differences in pronunciation and vocabulary.
  2. Indigenous Languages: Colombia is home to a variety of indigenous peoples, many of whom speak their own languages. There are more than 60 indigenous languages in Colombia, including Kogi, Wayuu, Nasa Yuwe, Emberá, and many more. These indigenous languages are spread in different regions of the country.
  3. Afro-Colombian Creole: In some coastal areas, especially on the Caribbean coast, Afro-Colombian Creole (Palenquero and other variants) is spoken by the Afro-Colombian population.
  4. English: English is spoken as a second language in some urban areas and tourist regions, especially by people in the tourism and service sectors.

School system of Colombia

For emigrating to Colombia with your family, the school system is obviously of great importance:

The school system in Colombia is federally organized, which means that education systems and policies are largely administered by individual states (departamentos) and municipalities. Here are some important features of the school system in Colombia:

  1. Primary education (Educación Primaria): Primary education in Colombia is compulsory and usually lasts five years, starting at the age of six. The curriculum covers a wide range of subjects, including mathematics, science, languages (including Spanish and, in some regions, English), social studies and ethics.
  2. Secondary education (Educación Secundaria): Secondary education in Colombia usually lasts six years and is divided into two cycles: the basic cycle (ciclo básico) and the orientation cycle (ciclo de orientación). The curriculum expands, and students choose specialized courses based on their interests and abilities.
  3. Higher Education: Colombia has a variety of higher education institutions, including universities, technical and vocational colleges. Higher education is usually free, and there are state and private universities. The higher education system in Colombia is known for its quality in certain fields such as engineering and medicine.
  4. Language Teaching: Spanish is the main language of instruction in Colombia. However, English is also taught as an important foreign language, especially in secondary schools and universities.
  5. Higher education: Colombia has several prestigious universities, including the Universidad de los Andes, the Universidad Nacional de Colombia and the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. These universities offer a wide range of degree programs in various disciplines.

Healthcare system

The health care system in Colombia is a mixed system that includes both government and private health care providers. Here are some important features of the health care system in Colombia:

  1. Universal coverage: Colombia has a universal health insurance system designed to ensure that all citizens have access to health care. This system is called the “Sistema General de Seguridad Social en Salud” (General System of Social Security in Health).
  2. Compulsory insurance: All citizens and permanent residents of Colombia are required by law to pay into the health care system. Contributions vary according to income and employment status. Government subsidies are available for low-income populations to ensure that they also have access to health care.
  3. Provider selection: Insureds have the option to choose from a list of health insurance companies (EPS – Entidades Promotoras de Salud). These companies manage health care services and work with a network of health care providers.
  4. Primary care: The health care system in Colombia provides basic care that includes doctor visits, hospitalization, medications, and preventive care. However, the quality of care can vary by region and insurance company.
  5. Private health services: In addition to the public health care system, there are also private hospitals and clinics in Colombia that offer fee-based health care services. These facilities are often known for their high-quality medical care and state-of-the-art technology.
  6. Health Tourism: Colombia has become a popular destination for health tourism, especially for beauty and medical procedures. The country offers high-quality medical services at comparatively low prices.
Ein Auszug aus der Tierwelt Kolumbiens

Vaccinations and medical certificates

No special vaccinations are usually required to emigrate to Colombia, unless you come from a country or region where certain diseases such as yellow fever are present. In such cases, travelers may be required to present proof of yellow fever vaccination. This depends on your nationality and itinerary.

However, it is strongly recommended that you check your vaccination status before traveling to Colombia and make sure you are up to date on standard vaccinations such as tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), polio, measles, mumps, rubella and influenza. Depending on the planned activity and time of travel, other vaccinations such as hepatitis A and B, typhoid and meningococcal may also be recommended.

Tax system

The tax system in Colombia is complex and includes different types of taxes at the federal, state and municipal levels. Here are some of the most important taxes and aspects of the Colombian tax system:

  1. Income tax: Colombia levies income tax on income from various sources, including salaries, profits from companies and capital gains. Income tax rates are progressive, which means that people with higher incomes pay a higher tax rate.
  2. Value Added Tax (IVA): This is the Colombian value added tax levied on the sale of goods and services. The general rate is usually 19%, but there are also reduced rates for certain goods and services.
  3. Wealth tax: Colombia imposes a wealth tax on assets above a certain threshold. This usually involves real estate and other assets.
  4. Taxes on capital gains: Capital gains from the sale of assets such as shares or real estate are taxable in Colombia.
  5. Corporate taxes: Companies are subject to corporate income tax, which is levied on their profits. The rate may vary depending on the size and activity of the company.
  6. Additional Taxes: There are also a number of specialized taxes and levies in Colombia, including a financial transaction tax, a stamp tax, and others.

Tax tricks

In Colombia, as in most countries, there are legal ways to optimize or reduce taxes. Here are some legal ways to optimize taxes in Colombia:

  1. Use of tax incentives: Colombia offers certain tax benefits and incentives to encourage investment in certain sectors or regions. Companies can use these benefits to reduce their tax burden.
  2. Optimize capital gains: Capital gains from the sale of assets may be taxable. Careful planning and use of exemptions and allowances can reduce your tax burden.
  3. Correct recording of business expenses: Companies should ensure that they record all eligible business expenses, as these are generally tax-reducing.
  4. Manage advance tax payments: Companies should manage their advance tax payments to ensure that they do not pay more taxes in advance than required by law.
  5. Tax optimization for international business: Companies that operate internationally can benefit from double taxation treaties and international tax rules to ensure that their income is not taxed twice.
  6. Use of tax advisors: Tax advisors and tax law professionals can help companies and individuals understand and optimize their tax obligations.
  7. Asset planning: careful planning of assets can help minimize estate and gift taxes.

Economy

The Colombian economy is one of the largest in Latin America and has a wide range of industries and economic activities. Here is some important information about Colombia’s economy:

  1. Economic sectors: Colombia’s economy is divided into various sectors, including the service sector, the industrial sector and the agricultural sector.
  2. Services sector: The services sector is a significant part of the Colombian economy and includes areas such as financial services, trade, tourism, healthcare and education.
  3. Industrial sector: The industrial sector in Colombia includes the production of products such as food, beverages, chemicals, machinery, textiles and vehicles.
  4. Agricultural sector: Agriculture plays an important role in Colombia and includes the cultivation of coffee, flowers, bananas, rice, sugar cane and other products.
  5. Energy and Mining: Colombia has significant natural resources, including oil, coal, natural gas, and precious metals such as gold and silver. Mining and power generation are important sectors.
  6. Exports: Colombia exports a variety of products, including crude oil, coal, coffee, flowers, bananas and textiles. Exports are an important part of the economy.
  7. Trade: Colombia has trade agreements with several countries, including the U.S. and the EU. These agreements have facilitated trade and promoted economic growth.
  8. Challenges: Although Colombia has a diverse and growing economy, it also faces some challenges. These include social inequality, high unemployment in some regions, crime and drug trafficking.
  9. Investment: Colombia has created incentives to attract foreign direct investment, particularly in the mining, energy and infrastructure sectors.

The Colombian economy is diversified and offers opportunities in various sectors. Despite challenges, the country remains an important player in the Latin American economy.

Beim Wegzug sollten Sie auch Länder wie Kolumbien in Erwägung ziehen

Prices by index

Since prices can change constantly even in a diverse economy like Colombia’s, we refer here to the Cost of Living website. This constantly updates its values and thus keeps you up to date.

Real Estate

As an immigrant in Colombia, you have the right to buy or rent real estate. Colombia has no special restrictions for foreign nationals regarding the purchase of real estate.

Here is some important information about buying and renting real estate in Colombia:

  1. Buying real estate: If you want to buy real estate in Colombia, you can usually do so as a foreigner without major restrictions.
  2. Rental housing: Renting apartments or houses in Colombia is a common practice. There is a wide range of rental properties available, both in urban and rural areas. Rental rates vary depending on the location, size and condition of the property.
  3. Ownership: In Colombia, the right to property is well protected, and the country has clear laws and registers that regulate the ownership process.
  4. Real estate agent: Working with a real estate agent can help you find a suitable property. Brokers can help you negotiate leases or purchase agreements.
  5. Land Registry and Title Check: Before purchasing a property, conduct a thorough review of land records and title history to ensure the property is free of legal problems or mortgages.
  6. Visa and Residence Permit: Note that buying or renting a property in Colombia does not usually require a residence permit or visa.
Company foundation

As an immigrant, you can start a business in Colombia. The Colombian economic system is open to foreign investment and there are no specific restrictions for foreigners to start a business or invest in existing businesses.

Here are some important steps to follow when starting a business in Colombia:

  1. Register your business: You must register your business with the Chamber of Commerce (Cámara de Comercio). This step includes the selection of a suitable company name and the submission of all required documents.
  2. Obtain a tax number (RUT): Every company in Colombia needs a tax number called Registro Único Tributario (RUT). This allows your company to pay taxes and conduct business transactions.
  3. Open a bank account: You must open a business bank account in Colombia to conduct your business financial transactions.
  4. Meet tax and legal requirements: Make sure you meet all tax and legal requirements for your business. This may include registration for value-added tax (IVA) and other taxes, as well as compliance with labor laws and other regulations.
  5. Obtain the necessary licenses and permits: Depending on your industry and location, you may need additional licenses and permits. Check with the appropriate authorities.
  6. Recordkeeping and reporting: maintain accurate records and adhere to required reporting standards. In Colombia, there are clear accounting rules that must be followed.
  7. Visa and Residence Permit: Keep in mind that starting a business in Colombia usually does not automatically include a residence permit or visa. If you plan to live and work in Colombia, you need to be aware of the requirements for visas and residence permits.

Company forms

In Colombia, immigrants can create different types of businesses that best suit their business needs. Here are some of the most common types of businesses available in Colombia:

  1. Sole proprietorship (Persona Natural):
    • A sole proprietorship is managed by a single person.
    • The owner is personally liable for the debts and liabilities of the company.
    • This is the simplest and most cost-effective form of business.
  2. Limited Liability Company (Sociedad de Responsabilidad Limitada – SRL):
    • This form of company enables the establishment of a company by one or more persons.
    • The liability of the shareholders is limited to their contributions.
    • It requires the preparation of articles of association and registration with the Chamber of Commerce.
  3. Stock corporation (Sociedad Anónima – S.A.):
    • A corporation allows the issuance of shares to attract capital from investors.
    • The liability of the shareholders is limited to their contributions.
    • It requires formal incorporation with a share capital and compliance with additional regulatory requirements.
  4. Association (Asociación):
    • This is a non-profit organization or association that has social, charitable or cultural purposes.
    • The formation of an association requires the filing of bylaws and compliance with certain regulations.
  5. Branch (Sucursal):
    • A branch is a branch office of a foreign company in Colombia.
    • The foreign parent company is liable for the debts of the branch.
    • This requires registration with the Chamber of Commerce and compliance with local regulations.
  6. Repräsentanzbüro (Representative Office):
    • A representative office is a non-profit entity that represents the interests of a foreign company in Colombia.

It may not engage in commercial activities, but only perform information and coordination tasks.

Visa

Different types of visas are offered for emigrating to Colombia, depending on your reason for immigrating and your situation. Here are some of the most common types of visas you can consider:

  1. Tourist Visa (Tourist Visa):
    • This visa allows foreigners to stay temporarily in Colombia to carry out tourist activities.
    • The maximum length of stay is usually 180 days per year.
  2. Family Reunification Visa (Visa de Reunificación Familiar):
    • If you have close family members in Colombia, you can apply for a family reunification visa to live with them.
    • This applies to spouses, children and parents of Colombian citizens or residents.
  3. Studentenvisum (Student Visa):
    • If you want to study in Colombia, you can apply for a student visa.
    • This requires accreditation from a recognized educational institution in Colombia.
  4. Work visa (Visa de Trabajo):
    • If you want to work in Colombia, you need a work visa.
    • This usually requires that you already have an employment contract with a Colombian company.
  5. Pensioner visa (Visa de Pensionado):
    • Individuals who receive a regular foreign pension may apply for a pensioner visa to live in Colombia.
  6. Investor visa (Visa de Inversionista):
    • If you want to invest in Colombia, you can apply for an investor visa. This usually requires a significant investment in Colombian businesses or real estate.
  7. Freelance visa (Visa de Profesional Independiente):
    • Individuals who work in the liberal professions can apply for a freelance visa in order to be self-employed in Colombia.
  8. Highly qualified specialist visa (Visa de Profesional Altamente Calificado):
    • This visa is intended for highly qualified professionals and facilitates access to the Colombian labor market.
  9. Religious visa (Visa de Ministro de Culto):
    • Clergy and religious missionaries may apply for a religious visa.
Security in the country

The security situation in Colombia has improved in recent years, but the country still has some security problems. It is important to note that the security situation may vary in different parts of the country. Here are some important points about safety in Colombia:

  1. Major cities: Most major cities in Colombia, including Bogotá, Medellín and Cali, are relatively safe for tourists and residents. However, you should still exercise caution in big cities as in any other part of the world, especially with regard to pickpocketing and similar crimes.
  2. Rural areas: Some remote and rural areas, especially on the country’s borders, may be more unsafe due to the activities of illegal armed groups and drug cartels. These areas should be visited with caution and it is advisable to obtain information on the current security situation before traveling.
  3. Natural disasters: Colombia is prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods. Tourists should be aware of potential hazards in the region they are visiting and follow instructions from local authorities.
  4. Health Security: In some areas of Colombia, health services may be limited. It is advisable to take the necessary vaccinations and health precautions before traveling.
  5. Drug Crime: Colombia has struggled with drug-related crime in the past, but the government has taken steps to address these problems. Nevertheless, tourists should be vigilant and not get involved in illegal activities.

It is always advisable to inform yourself about the official warnings and safety instructions, we refer here to the German Foreign Office: Safety instructions Colombia.

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