A guide for applying for a 90-day extension at Migración for your tourist entry stamp and stay here for 180 days per calendar year without a visa
At one point in time there was or may still be a tourism campaign for Colombia, which goes something like, “Colombia, the only danger is wanting to stay”. If you are reading this, you may be figuring out your visa situation and being legal in Colombia. Having gotten a 90-day extension, spent an inordinate amount of time researching visas, speaking on the phone to la Cancellería in Bogotá-from the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, which grants visas, I can probably explain this process to you and some other visa processes.
Legally, if you are entering Colombia under a certain passport, (check the applicable regulations which apply to you specifically) you can spend up to 180 days per CALENDAR year (1 January-31 December for a given year) in Colombia without a visa. If your extension ends near the end of December, i.e., you came from July-December, you should probably leave the country for at least 24 hours and re-enter after 1 January for the next year to get another 90 days for the next year. However, after 90 days you will need to either pay to get an extension or leave the country to get another 90 days. The common places to head to before your initial 90 days are up are Ecuador and Panamá, keep in mind it can be a long way from Medellín to Ecuador on a bus (20+ hours on a bus). Or you can apply online for a 90-day extension from Migración, which costs 99.000 COP (approximately $33 USD/€28/£25). Getting an extension is less than taking the bus to Ecuador crossing the border and then returning and probably less time-consuming.
Recommendations for this process
If you decided that you want to apply online for this 90-day extension, great. My recommendation is to apply for this at least two (2) weeks before the date when your initial 90 days is up. It can take longer than the 1-3 business days for Migración here in Medellín promise to come back with an answer. For example, my first request for a 90-day extension never went through their system, and before you ask, I did all the things correctly. They only received my second request, so to be safe, apply ahead of time.
If your initial 90 days ends within two business days, apply online submit your documents and get yourself to the nearest Migración office ASAP. You can get an extension at the Migración office and avoid paying a huge fine.
Instructions for applying for this 90 day extension from Migración Colombia
First: Get all of your documents together
In order to apply for this extension you will need to have electronic copies of a number of documents. You will need the following documents: a scan of the biographical/information page for your passport, a picture of the page of your passport with your entry stamp from Migración Colombia, and a ticket for onward travel from Colombia to a non-Colombian city less than 180 days after your initial arrival into Colombia. This proof of onward travel can be a copy of your flight confirmation email, be sure that it has your full name, the dates, and itinerary which shows you leaving a Colombian city for a non-Colombian city.
Helpful things to know regarding these documents
1. These three PDFs must be less than 1 MB in total. The form you will be using to apply for this 90-day extension will not accept files that are larger than 1 MB. You can find many free scanning apps for your phone to scan and make a PDF your passport and entry stamp pages, and then you can use a site like ilovepdf.com, to compress your files to get the right size.
2. If you do not have a departure flight yet, you can supposedly buy a ticket on Expedia to wherever from a Colombian city, save a copy of this flight confirmation in your email and then cancel the flight immediately. Apparently, (although I cannot confirm the validity or veracity of this information) Expedia refunds all flights purchased as long as you cancel your reservation within 24 hours of purchasing your ticket. You can always buy a bus ticket to Ecuador and use this to prove that you are leaving the country. Migración Colombia needs to see evidence that you have proof of onward travel for leaving Colombia.
Second: Do the thing, apply for your 90-day extension
Once, you have all of your documents together; you will need to go to the Migración Colombia website and go to the “Transmites” section. Once you are here, you will select the option for “Permiso Temporal de Permanencia,” you will be doing the option for “PERMISO TEMPORAL DE PERMANENCIA PARA PRORROGAR PERMANENCIA”. Then you will click on the option above for “Formulario Único de Trámites”. They have an English option, but it does not always work, hence me explaining how to do this if you only can access the Spanish option.
Section 1: Tipo de trámite (Type of Request) o Trámite a: select the third option, “PERMISO TEMPORAL DE PERMANENCIA PARA PRORROGAR PERMANENCIA” y Centro Facilitador de Servicios Migratorios cercano a usted:
If city is listed, select your city.
If your city is not listed, use the closest Migración Office.
Type of request: select the third option, “Temporary Permit of Permanence to Extend Permanence”/“Permiso Temporal de Permanencia para Prorrogar Permanencia”
You can find Migración Colombia offices in the following major cities in Colombia:
Armenia – Carrera 12 No. 19-00 Local 18 | Centro Comercial Altavista
Barranquilla – Carrera 42 # 54-77, Barrio El Recreo
Bogotá – Calle 100 #11B-27
Bucaramanga – Carrera 11 #41-13
Cali – Avenida 3 norte # 50N-20
Cartagena – Carrera 20 B # 29-18, Barrio Pie de la Popa
Cúcuta – Calle 22N # 8-47 | Zona Industrial
Ibagué – Calle 10 # 8-07
Manizales – Calle 53 # 25A-35 | Barrio la Arboleda
Medellín – Calle 19 #80A-40, Barrio Belén (the entrance is on the other side of the building on Calle 19A)
Pereira – Avenida 30 de agosto # 26-37
Santa Marta – Avenida del Ferrocarril Calle 19 # 8 – 68 Esquina | Barrio Centro
A complete list of the Migración Colombia offices can be found here.
Section 2: Datos personales (Personal information), Write your name as it appears in your passport.
· If your passport doesn’t state a country of issuance, put in your country name.
· Make sure you include a current email address as you’ll get a confirmation email with information about your application.
Section 3: Información en caso de emergencia (Information in case of emergency)
Enter the emergency details for your emergency contact in Colombia, their name, address, and phone number. Click on the adicionar dirección option to add the address for your emergency contact here in Colombia.
Section 6: Archivos (Files)
Click: Agregar archivo (Add file with your documents for this request)
Upload a PDF of your passport (smaller than 1 MB – use smallpdf.com if you need to compress it)
This will upload the PDF with your documents.
Once the PDF is successfully uploaded it will look like the below image, and you can check the PDF by clicking “VER”.
Section 7: Consentimiento (Consent) o Click: Acepto (Accept)
Click Accept/Acepto to send your documents to Migración to request the visa extension.
After submitting your request for a 90 Day Extension
You should receive an email from Migración confirming your application, with a subject line, like “MIGRACIÓN COLOMBIA, SOLICITUD TRAMITE”.
At the following link you can check on the status of your request for an extension:
Número de Solicitud: (Request number)
Clave: (Password associated with your request number)
8. Pay for your extension if you have been pre-approved to receive an extension from Migración Colombia
If you receive an email explaining that you have been “pre-aprobada” for your extension you will receive an email like the one below explaining payment instructions. You can pay online through Place to Pay which accepts foreign cards, PSE (If you have a Colombian bank account connected to PSE) or with credit or debit card at a Migración Colombia Office. The cost for this extension is $99.000 COP
Once you have paid the $99.000 COP fee you will receive a letter from Migración Colombia within a couple of days stating how long your tourist stamp extension is good for, you will need to show this document when you are asked when you are leaving the country, to avoid any fines or trouble trying to leave the country. Assuming you have done all of this congratulations! You can now spend another 90 days in Colombia if you are trying to stay here more long-term, use this time to figure out your visa situation and apply for a visa. However, when you are leaving the country, when you are passing through the Migración Colombia, you will need to have this letter showing your extension from Migración Colombia to show upon exiting the country along with your passport and other related documents. Below this you can see what your extension letter should look like and remember to print this out before you leave the country so can show it before it exiting country
I actually went in person to Migración to pay my fee and get the application finished in early October 2018, since my last day was going to be on a Sunday and I had previously thought I was going to be busy the other days that week. I got in line at Migración before 7:30 AM and was done by 10:30 AM at the latest. It is important to remember that there is only ONE PERSON, who approves all of these requests and then digitally signs these letters.
What to do if your initial 90 days ends the next business day?
Well, you should apply online for the extension and then the day before your initial 90 days ends, if you are in Medellín, try to arrive at Migración at 7:00 AM before it opens to the public at 8:00 AM to avoid waiting in line forever. Have either a hard copy or an electronic copy of the PDF of the documents you submitted for your online application with you, and your passport. When you are able to enter the Migración office, explain your situation and hopefully you will be sent straight to the back, where you will be able to resolve this.
I have heard stories of people applying before their time ran out going to Migración, their requests had not been approved in time and not being forced to pay the fine here in Medellín. But, I would not count on this happening, please plan ahead. Migración is better than the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) in the U.S., they tend to be friendlier than the people at the DMV and may be more efficient, but if you arrive early, are friendly, patient and are prepared this will make this experience much better.
*For the purposes of this post, whenever giving out visa guidance, I will admit when I do not have an answer. When I do not have an answer, in those situations, call the 24 Cancellería Helpline in Bogotá, +57 (031) 382-6999 (they have English speaking agents), check on the what agreements the country which issued the passport you are using has with Colombia, and/or consult a lawyer. If you spend more than 180 days in Colombia without a visa and do not get a visa, you might be deported. And yes, I have heard stories of this really happening, so do yourself a favor and follow the rules. But, Cancellería’s website explains the applicable visa and immigration regulations in English and Spanish, maybe even in other languages.
**If you spend 183 days or more per year in Colombia, I am told that for tax purposes here you are considered to be a tax resident here.**
Special thanks to The Unconventional Route, for publishing the guide “How to Extend Your Colombia Tourist Visa Online or in Person”, this was incredibly helpful as I was preparing to apply for, applying for and getting the 90-day extension here during October 2018.
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