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Work in Colombia

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Though the economy in Colombia is continuing to grow, it can be difficult for foreigners to find work. That said, Colombia is a very business friendly country and expats may choose to open their own business.

Job-hunting in Colombia

It can be difficult to find a job if you are not yet living in Colombia. Colombian business culture can be very traditional, and sometimes it’s more about who you know than what you know. Before arriving, begin to network within your professional field and send CVs to prospective employers. Local newspapers and specialised job search sites are the best places to start your job search.

The majority of jobs in Colombia require fluency in Spanish. However, job opportunities for non-Spanish speakers are growing. The most common position available to English-speaking foreigners is to teach English. There is a huge demand for native English speakers in all levels of school and university, as well as for private lessons or with language academies. Click here for information about teaching English in Colombia. There are also opportunities for English speakers in call centres and tourism.

 Good to know:

Even if applying for an English-speaking position, it is helpful to send your CV and cover letter in both English and Spanish.

Signing a contract

In order to live and work in Colombia, you must have a written agreement of employment. There are two types of employment contracts.

1. Prestación de servicios

A Prestación de servicios is a temporary work contract and the most common type of employment offered in Colombia. This agreement can be based on a pre-set length of time or project. These contracts are not regulated by the labour code and therefore not required to pay benefits such as pension, vacation, severance, and maternity leave.

2. Contrato laboral:

This type of contract can be either for a set period of time (fijo) or undetermined (indefinido). Set contracts have a maximum period of three years. If signing a Contrato Laboral, it is obligatory for businesses to provide the benefits listed above.

 Important:

You must have a job before you may apply for a work visa. Once you’ve secured employment and submit your visa request, there is no requirement to leave and re-enter Colombia.

Setting up a business in Colombia

The process to start a business has many bureaucratic steps and must be done while living in Colombia. If you speak Spanish fluently, it is possible to complete the process on your own. However, if you do not speak Spanish and/or are unfamiliar with the different business models and types of taxes, it is recommended to contact a lawyer and accountant to facilitate the process.

In order to open your business, you will need to register your company with the Cámara de Comerico (Chamber of Commerce) and pay the associated fees. These fees are equivalent to 40.000 COP 0.7% of your company’s capital. Next, you’ll need to open a business bank account. Once these two steps have been completed the DIAN office (the National Tax and Customs Office) will issue a Tax ID number for your business.

 Important:

Job listings will be in Spanish.

  Useful Links:

El Empleo
Computrabajo
Trabajando
Bogotá Post: Starting and registering a business in Colombia
Cámara de Comerico (Chamber of Commerce)
DIAN - Dirección de Impuestos y Aduanas Nacionales (National Tax and Customs Office)

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