How to Get Colombian Citizenship

How to Get Colombian Citizenship

Colombia may not be the first country that comes to mind if you’re thinking of relocating. The country was the centre of corruption, drug trafficking and organised crime in South America in the late 20th century. However, the Colombian economy is now growing steadily and attracting foreign investment. Colombia is a popular holiday destination and its Pacific coast boasts beautiful beaches and many other spectacular landscapes. The Colombian passport provides many advantages to its holders. Read on to learn how to become a citizen of Colombia.

Advantages of a Colombian Passport

It is relatively easy to become a citizen of Colombia and enjoy all its benefits, from living legally in the country to working, including jobs in public offices. Moreover, Colombian citizens have the right to free education and healthcare.

In Colombia, investors not only have the opportunity to operate in the growing economy and enjoy the relatively low cost of living, but also to enter the vast South American market. It is much easier to run your business in the region if you are a Colombian citizen. Besides, you will only start to pay personal income tax after five years of residence in the country.

Another great advantage of a Colombian passport is the opportunity to travel to many other countries. According to the Henley Passport Index, which ranks the level of freedom of movement for citizens of different countries, Colombia is the 37th best country in the world. You can travel visa-free to 132 countries, 27 of which are in Europe, with a Colombian passport.

Bogota. Photo: Random Institute (Unsplash)

Obtaining Colombian Citizenship by Birth

The Colombian Citizenship Act states that not every person born in Colombia can become a citizen. According to the law, you can automatically obtain Colombian citizenship in the following cases:

  • you were born in Colombia to a family with at least one Colombian parent,
  • you were born in Colombia to foreign parents, but at least one of them is a Colombian resident,
  • you were born abroad to a family with at least one Colombian parent.

In all other cases, you have to apply for the Colombian passport. The same applies for children adopted by Colombian citizens.

Obtaining Colombian Citizenship by Marriage

If you are married to a Colombian citizen, you are also eligible for citizenship. The main requirement is to be married for a minimum of two years and have a residence permit.

Obtaining Colombian Citizenship by Naturalisation

Another route to Colombian citizenship is naturalisation, but you will need to get a residence permit first. There are various types of visas in Colombia and the naturalisation period depends on where you come from. 

Before applying for the residence permit, choose the type of visa that suits you best. There are three main categories of visas in Colombia. Take note that not all visa types allow you to stay permanently in the country.

Cartagena. Photo: Leandro Loureiro (Unsplash)

Visitor Visa (Type V)

This type of visa gives you the right to visit Colombia once or several times and stay here for a short term. The Visitor Visa includes some subtypes.

Tourist Visa

You can stay in Colombia for up to 180 days a year on a tourist visa. Tourists from most countries, including the USA, Canada, and the UK, can enter Colombia without a visa and get a stamp upon arrival to stay here for up to 90 days. If you want to stay longer, you must apply for a 90-day visa extension before your stamp expires.

Rentista Visa

You are eligible for this type of visa if you have a stable source of passive income such as pension, rent, investment dividends, disability or insurance payments, or annuities. This visa allows you to stay in Colombia for up to 24 months, but you cannot work in Colombia or receive income from a Colombian-based business. To get the Rentista Visa, you must confirm your income is equal to at least 10 times the minimum wage in Colombia (around $2577) a month.

Business Visa (Type V)

This is the best visa for those who want to explore the Colombian market from the inside before starting their business in the country. This type of Business Visa is valid for 24 months and gives you the right to enter the country multiple times.

Visitor Visa for Digital Nomads

Digital nomads can stay in Colombia for 24 months while working for a foreign company. Applicants must confirm their monthly income is not less than three times the minimum wage in Colombia (about $773).

Photo: Zan (Unsplash)

Migrant Visa (Type M)

The Type M Visas would suit applicants who want to come to Colombia for the long term or settle down here, but are not eligible for the Resident Visa (scroll down to learn more). As with Type V Visas, there are various types of Type M Visas.

The Type M Visas would suit applicants who want to come to Colombia for the long term or settle down here, but are not eligible for the Resident Visa (scroll down to learn more). As with Type V Visas, there are various types of Type M Visas.

Retirement Visa

This visa allows you to come to Colombia and live here on your pension.

Investment Visa

You can get an Investment Visa if you make direct investments or buy real estate in Colombia worth 350 times the monthly minimum wage in Colombia, or more. The minimum investment required may vary as the formula depends on the minimum wage in Colombia, which is going up. Check out the official website of the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to learn more.

Marriage Visa

The Marriage Visa is issued to applicants married to Colombian citizens.

Business Visa (Type M)

You can get a Type M Business Visa if you register your business or buy a share in a Colombian company.

As a rule, Migrant Visas are valid for three years. However, it is necessary to visit Colombia at least once in six months in order to keep it. Getting a Migrant Visa is a vital step for those who wish to become a resident in Colombia as you cannot get a Resident Visa without having lived in Colombia for a certain time.

Salento. Photo: Datingjungle (Unsplash)

Resident Visa (Type R)

Resident Visas are issued to foreigners who have resided in Colombia for several years and want to live in the country permanently. Type R visas have a number of benefits. For instance, you get access to the national healthcare system and insurance programmes, as well as the right to work in Colombia without any restrictions, unlike Type V and M Type Visas.

As we have already mentioned above, getting a Migrant Visa is a prerequisite for applying for the R Visa. First, you have to live in Colombia for three years on an M Visa and extend it. After having lived in the country for five years on a Migrant Visa, you can apply for the Resident Visa. The R Visa gives you the right to work, invest, buy and sell assets with much fewer restrictions than M and V Visa holders.

You are also eligible for the Resident Visa if you fall into one of these categories:

  • Your child is a Colombian citizen by birth.
  • You want to restore your Colombian citizenship after you have previously renounced it.

Required Documents to Apply for Residency

Once you have selected your visa type, the next step is to gather all the documents for the application. The list depends on the visa type you are applying for. In most cases, you will have to provide the following:

  • A copy of your passport to confirm your identity and citizenship.
  • A confirmation of your legal entry into Colombia. This may be an entry stamp in your passport, a visa or an exit stamp.
  • A passport-size photo. The Government of Colombia requires applicants to provide a 3x4 cm digital photo in the form of a JPG file of no more than 300 kB. You should attach it to your online application.
  • A copy of your previous visa if you have one.
  • Proof of income. Depending on your type of visa, you may have to provide proof of your income or financial solvency. The goal is to show you will be able to support yourself during your stay in Colombia.
  • A copy of your Colombian ID (cedula) if you have one.
  • Professional accreditation. If you’re applying for a work visa, it is necessary to provide proof of your qualifications and an accreditation in your professional area.
  • A confirmation of investments from the Federal Bank. Individuals applying for investment visas must submit documents confirming their investments, including proof of deposit made in a Colombian bank account.
  • A notarised letter from your spouse. If you’re applying for a marriage visa, you must provide a letter from your Colombian spouse or partner as proof of the relationship between you.
  • A migration certificate. This document shows your travel history to and from Colombia. It is required for most visas and residence permits.

The next step is to apply for a visa. You can do it in person, at the Migración Colombia office, or online.

All applicants will need to visit the Migración Colombia office. All applicants must have an appointment with a migration officer who has to check your papers and take your fingerprints and a photo. They may ask you to provide some additional documents.

When your application has been processed, you just need to wait for the visa approval. It may take up to several weeks. You will need to pay the fee and visit the Migración Colombia office again to get your visa. Once again, the fee depends on your type of visa. For example, a Resident Visa usually costs around $455.25.

Salento. Photo: Jan Kronies (Unsplash)

About the Naturalisation Process

After obtaining your visa, you can start the naturalisation process and stay in Colombia for some time before you get the right to apply for a passport. The time of required residency depends on your original citizenship.

For example, indigenous people from Latin America or countries in the Caribbean should continuously reside in Colombia for 12 months before applying for citizenship. Spanish citizens by birth or descent must spend two years in Colombia. Other foreigners must live here for five years before applying for a Colombian passport. However, if you marry a Colombian citizen or adopt children, the required period of residency is just two years.

Remember that your continuous residence in Colombia is interrupted if you live outside Colombia for more than 12 months.

Citizenship by Investment

As mentioned above, investors can get a Migrant Visa to Colombia and live here for at least five years before being able to become Colombian citizens.

Dual Citizenship in Colombia

Colombia welcomes dual citizenship, but with some restrictions. For instance, current diplomats can only apply for a second citizenship here if they do not plan to advance further in their career.

In a Nutshell

A Colombian passport may appeal to those who wish to settle down in South America and obtain citizenship relatively quickly. You can naturalise in Colombia within one to five years. Colombia has been working on its image recently and is now considered a comfortable and safe country.

It is quite easy to get a Colombian passport through investment or naturalisation. You can also keep your original citizenship. The key thing is to provide all the required papers, apply for the right visa, and meet the conditions for naturalisation.

Cover photo: Guatape. Justus (Pixabay)

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