Open a Colombian Bank Account

I travel to Colombia as a tourist 5 times a year for about 2 weeks a stay. I would like to open a Bancolumbia account and understand I need a "Cédula de Extranjería."  and to get that I need to get a VISA. How hard is it to get these 2 things and how long does it take


Hi Pete, I was in the same situation as you. Fortunately, the fact I am married to a Colombian helped me dramatically. All in all, to open a Bancolombia account, you will indeed need a "Cédula de Extranjería," which is an identification document for foreigners residing in Colombia like me. Typically, obtaining a Cédula de Extranjería requires a valid visa. The complexity and duration of the process can vary depending on the type of visa you are applying for.

The process generally involves the following steps:

1.    Choose the Appropriate Visa Type: Identify the type of visa that best suits your purpose for staying in Colombia (e.g.,  investment visa).

2.    Visa Application: Submit the necessary documents for your chosen visa type to the Colombian consulate or embassy in your home country.

3.    Approval: Wait for your visa application to be processed and approved. Processing times can vary, so it's advisable to check with the consulate or embassy for the most accurate information.

4.    Travel to Colombia: Once your visa is approved, you can travel to Colombia. Upon arrival, you will be issued a stamp in your passport, and you can begin the process of obtaining a Cédula de Extranjería.

5.    Cédula de Extranjería Application: Visit the local immigration office in Colombia to apply for your Cédula de Extranjería. The process can be very time consuming with multiple meeting required. I had to go fisically 4 times to the office and I had ti paid for a local immigration expert to help me out

Safe travels, and I hope you have a wonderful experience in Colombia.


I will not reside in Colombia just visit is that a problem

Yep, sure is Pete! The don't give those national identity cards to tourists.

It'd be like a Colombian visiting the states 5 times a year and wanting a state drivers license.

Do you really need a Colombian bank account? I know folks who've lived here for well over ten years and have never had nor needed one. Take care!

@PeteWattersChatsworth18 Why do you think you need a Colombian bank account?

Just my take as I have traveled everywhere in the all of Colombia since my first visit/extended work assignment in Bogota in the winter of 1990 and now living full time in Medellin, actually outside of Medellin, and was able to obtain a Bancolombia account about 8 years ago with only my USA passport, now for the past 5 years have my visa/cedula and actually had to transfer/amend my Bancolombia account from my passport to my cedula.............

..................yes it took me visiting a number of Bancolombia branches until I was able to find the branch manager who gave me the nod forward 7 or 8 years and I have and regularly use multiple Bancolombia credit cards, lines of credit, paid off home mortgages (Medellin), etc., etc...and overall I am very satisfied with the convenience of it all BUT I LIVE HERE!

I handle all my bills online through the PSE payment portal, just about as flawless as can be.

Not much sense to do all the needed legwork and you will be jumping through hoops just for the few times your here during the year UNLESS you have a really out of the ordinary need for it.

Hope this helps.

@South American Voyager I recently converted my Bancolombia account from Passport to Cedula... despite a few things that broke as a consequence, it went better than I thought it would!

Remember any money you pass through banks in colombia gets reported to the DIAN and you may be liable for paying income taxes in colombia. Also keep in mind that you must pay EPS health insurance based on your bank account movements or your personal income. That is 5% of what goes through your bank account so be careful.

Use foreign debit cards that dont charge atm or 3% foreign exchange fees. Davivienda is best. up to  2 million in 1 withdrawl. Decline transaction fees when you pull out money and it will use your banks transaction fee.

More info on personal taxes check out [link moderated] personal taxes section.


James Lindzey

@South American Voyager

Thngs have changed a lot in Colombia in the last 7 or 8 years as far as bureacracy etc for bank accounts , healthcare etc

However , I found out , that you can still get Medicina prepagada over 65 with just a passport, no cedula  , no EPS

May not be strictly "legal", by the written ( and ever changing) law, but you can do it, but it is extremely costly.

I think a bank account is harder

But..I know personañly  when your cedula and visa runs out  they dont kick you off anything accounts, EPS, Internet  , Medicina prepagada..keep yoour miuth shut and issues

@JAMES LINDZEYDavavienda is now charging 15 mil per withdrawal hidden charge when you hit the "decline exchange rate " option  , even with a Charles Schwab, Capitol One or no charge FinTec card.

As far as bank accounts, only BancoColombia is giving the information to DIAN at year end, and only if  your deposits are over 55 million during the year, and DIAN is sending form letters out to these people, saying " possibly" you are required to fillout a declaración de renta, but with a weasle word caveat saying, if you feel you are not a resident( for whatever reason).it is okay to ignore this letter.

I dont now what would happen if you ignored the letter..probably 95% probability nothing, but better to keep your deposits under 55 milion per year to avoid the potential mental headache.

As far as the 5% of income payment for EPS  it is only the cancilleria that is bringing this up upon visa renewal, and only in the case for visa renewals  for which income is specifically  mentioned.This is a new requirement.

I have talked to 3 lawyers and 2 say this 5%  rule applies across the board, and one says it does not apply to foriegn sourced money.However NOBODY has shown me the specific law or clause  stating where the 5% rule applies to local income or applies or does not apply to foriegn income.

Also, if you are given a pensionada visa, per the new resolution,  you are forbidden to be on EPS.This is clearly stated in words in the new resolution.

However the EPS providers dont follow any of these " rules" whether they are written or not.They still enroll people with cedulas based on pensionada visas in EPS, and anybody else,all at the basic minimum  monthly cost..around 120 mil.I myself pay 105 mil and I dont even have a visa now. Although I never, ever  use EPS

So there are 3 types of laws in Colombia  the "written law", the "assumed law" and the " actual law" as practiced, which varies from peron to person, organization to organiztion.

In response to.ops original question

Better to avoid opening bank accont in Colombia, considering the little time you spend here.

@nico peligro I second what nico says. I have been spending various times in Colombia since the late seventies and never opened a bank account. I travel with several ATM cards from several different financial institutions. On a few occasions I have used my passport in a bank to withdraw larger amounts.