Obtaining Retirement visa

I'm having a difficult time finding what documents are required and the fees to obtain an M-11. Perhaps I'm blind. I will go to a consulate in the US to do this. Unfortunately, all I get is a recording when I call the consulate and no info. So, sorry to ask. Can someone point the way to a site that lists this info as well as any money orders that I need to bring? Thanks.

This site has the latest updated information:


Thank you.
The consulate responded to my email, something I didn't expect, and provided a link for the application.

Here is the official.migraciones site with links to the procedure

http://www.cancilleria.gov.co/en/proced … visa-guide

Apparently its a lot easier now mostly online and they will send you the visa by courier (of course you pay) and wont have to send your passport

If you live in Bogota area you can even get by without a lawyer or facilitator.

You will still have to go into the local.migracions Office to register your visa and apply and pay for your cedula, and then again 10- 20 days later to pick Up  your cedula when.it is ready

One of the requirements is confusing. They ask for a copy of a passport AND green card (yes, they use that term) AND visa. I hope they don't give me a hard time when I only submit a copy of my US passport.
They also don't ask for proof of income, like a social security benefits letter. They do ask for 6 months' bank statements though.
They don't say who to make the money order payable to.
Hopefully I can resolve these things as I will go to the consulate in NY in person to finalize it.
Can I get a cedula in the US after the visa is issued?

I dont think so. Think you have to come here..

But you are not given the same time restrictions after visa issue to get itt registered

I really dont know why you and other  people do this from the US. It makes no sense to me. If you come here with a 90 day passport  stamp its easily  enough time to do it, and you can easily extend it to 180 days lf it isnt.

And way easier to do it in Colombia..other than getting financial data.

I want to get health insurance and open a bank account immediately, hence my reason for getting the visa in the US. I would think it's easier to do in the US since I wouldn't have to deal with Bogota. I'll be in Medellin. Or, is my reasoning wrong?

You can get medicina prepagada ( which is more expensive than EPS) and open a Bank account with just a passport. I did both with just a passport.

And you dont need a Bank account in Colombia if you have a US account and ATM card.

I personally would recommend against a Colombian Bank account..

Quechimba, first off, thank you for your responses. Hopefully, I haven't worn out my welcome.

For reasons I can't get into, I will not be able to keep my US bank account. I've read elsewhere advising against opening a Colombian bank account. No one mentions why though. What is the problem with that?

It also seems that there is a lack of consistency with Colombian banks and even branches in the documents required to open an account. My thought is better safe than sorry.

As for health insurance, I read on one site that it is very difficult to get prepaid insurance if you're over 62, which I am. Is there a problem with the better EPS policies? I'm hoping to get a policy with benefits more or less equivalent to Medicare Part B.

Many thanks.

You have to have your Cedula to get health insurance ( and apartment lease, utilities, cell phone, internet contracts ) here in Colombia. You must apply for your Cedula within 15 days of receiving your Visa in your passport.  If you do not, you pay a hefty fine. How you can do that outside of Colombia is beyond me. Very easy to get your Cedula on your own.

We have a bank account with Bancolombia, primary to pay our rent and utilities on their web site avoiding carrying cash and paying at the local offices.
When we went to open the bank account the first person at the first branch said we have to have 6 months residency here to open an account. Total BS. Luckily we have a driver/translator that has helped us with everything and he said let's go to another branch. Sure enough, we opened the account with no problems, other then they spelled our last name wrong and that took a week to get corrected. Keep in mind that doing business is VERY black and white here. There are no grey areas. They go by the book. You will need proof of your retirement income, a copy of passport and Cedula. We have several friends that have accounts with Bancolombia. They are the largest bank here. Opening an account is a bit more challenging without a Cedula. Is Bancolombia the best? Certainly not, but it is what it is.
Regarding the EPS insurance, we have had friends use it and have heard great reports. If you get the expedited coverage your wait time for appointments is greatly reduced. We will be getting signed up tomorrow and will let you know our experience.


sailcomania, are there any drawbacks to having a Colombia bank account vs. US? Are you able to make withdrawals at no charge and/or use their ATM at no charge or at a  low fee? If so, and I know every bank is different, do you get close to the posted exchange rate?
Sort of related, how does one know what the exchange rate is at a cajero before one takes out money?

Colombian bank service to customers versus US bank service to customers, in general:  Colombia is backwards and charges and/or penalizes customers for everything, where US banks although of course they exist to make money for themselves, offer customers many fee-free services and conveniences - almost as if they were trying to please their customers, whereas Colombian banks would rather let you know who's in charge, even if it is your money...

If you like waiting in long lines and taking forever to do even simple things, and with lots of paperwork, you'll love Colombian banks.

When you plan to go to a Colombian bank, make sure you pack a lunch.

Some Colombian banks will let you know how they calculate the exchange rate, and what measure they base it on but the info is usually rather well hidden.

http://www.banrep.gov.co/es/tasa-cambio … mbiano-trm

That link was a complicated explanation of the methodology used to calculate the rate! However, bottom line, the bank's rate was near the posted rate.

I've seen the line in banks and don't relish having to deal with it. But I'm pretty much stuck.

Thanks for the info.


are there any drawbacks to having a Colombia bank account vs. the US?

Not that we are aware of, except opening the account initially. The big plus with having Bancolombia is we can pay our bills with their online bill paying system and it helps to establish credit for us here in Colombia. We have and use our US bank accounts  for withdrawing money from ATM's.  We use Xoom to transfer money from our USAA account to Bancolombia. They charge $4.95 per transfer. We have Charles Schwab and it is the best bank to deal with. They reimburse for all ATM fees and no foreign transaction fees. Awesome service. We can go to any bank to get cash.

Are you able to make withdrawals at no charge and/or use their ATM at no charge or at a  low fee?
There is no charge to use the Bancolombia ATM's providing you have an account. They do have monthly fees but with the low cost of living here, it is minor.

If so, and I know every bank is different, do you get close to the posted exchange rate?


Sort of related, how does one know what the exchange rate is at a cajero before one takes out money?

You can Google for that info.
We have Units Plus app on our iPhone for converting currency, weights, metrics, Celsius, etc.

Hope that helps you.


There are lines at the bank. But it is well organized. You sign in at a kiosk for the service you need, get a number, take a seat, watch the monitor for your number to be called.

If you don't go to the bank on a Monday or Friday and around the 1st and 15th of the month, ( paydays ) you will avoid the crowds. I never had to wait more than 30 minutes. 10 minutes has been average.


Most Colombian banks have quite heavy hidden charges for any activities where their staff attend to you.
You can mostly avoid these charges by using the ATM, although Davivienda (and others) start to charge you $1300 after your 6th visit in a month.

My husband obtained his retiree visa in January 2019.  He needed:
1)  copy of passport ID page
2)  copy of last entry stamp into Colombia
3)  copy of last exit stamp out of Colombia
4)  letter from the SSA (Social Security Administration) stating your monthly benefit amount; must be dated and signed by a SSA official, not the internet version, nor the one readily available at any SSA office - must be ordered at an SSA office ($64.00)
5)  apostille of the SSA letter (done by Washington, DC, Office of Authentications, $8.00, but you have to pay for the mailing back and forth; I highly recommend a trackable means)
6)  translation into Spanish of the SSA letter (unless you are more successful at obtaining it originally in Spanish - we went round and round because they are supposed to provide a Spanish language letter, but don't).  This letter must be notarized.
7)  apostille of the translation letter (done by the Secretary of State in the state in which notarized, cost varies - usually $10 or less)
8)  a letter (in Spanish) explaining any "yes" answers to the visa application questions (have you ever been denied a visa, had a visa canceled, ever been incarcerated, etc., etc.)
Okay, then you pay $52.00 for the visa study.
Once approved, you pay $230.00 for the visa.
Here is the payment info:  https://www.cancilleria.gov.co/en/proce … ce-offices
Hope that helps.

Thanks for the responses. Siol, a special thanks for  that list. Sailcompania, for various reasons, I can't get into specifics about banking on a forum, sorry. But thanks for the info.

I decided to spend a little extra and hire a service. It seems that it would be less than $200 extra. But the time saved plus the knowledge that it's being done correctly is worth it to me. I found an accountant in Medellin who came recommended by a law firm that I used that provides a visa service.

Hey gsusser

Good on you for "I decided to spend a little extra and hire a service"

This all looks super painful what you have done. I have learned to avoid thinking about all these details of Colombian paperwork. You are gonna be stressed because it's impossible to keep up and impossible to figure it out. Very very frustrating and complicated. And it will probably be fruitless because success in this matter definitely requires a paradigm shift.

I found a local details "expert" here in Armenia that was government certified for translating and official paperwork. I told him to take care of my retirement Visa and I told him that i did not want to think about it.

Cost me about 900 dollars USD when all was done. Pain free. And most of that was the government fees. Beats the the expenses of perpetual tourist route. Bottom line. And i don't have to leave Colombia after 6 months. More no stressing.

gsusser. it is a task to find the right service... I guess I lucked out. My good experience was to go with the flow and focus my efforts finding a good Colombian specialist. Consider it's their turf, not yours. I visit my Colombian friend and BS with him occasionally because he solved my retirement Visa problem very nicely. And his service is needed for my next Visas.

Wow, it sounds like navigating the bureaucracy and paperwork in Colombia can be a real challenge, and gsusser's experience resonates with many people trying to deal with complicated systems in foreign countries. It's a valuable reminder that sometimes it's worth spending a little more for a smooth experience, especially when it comes to matters as crucial as retirement visas. The advice of finding a local expert who is familiar with the system, rather than trying to figure it out yourself, is invaluable. Furthermore, it appears that this investment not only saved time and stress, but also provided a useful and long-lasting relationship with a local specialist. [link moderated]

You are responding to a post from 2019, the laws have drastically changed since then. There is currently no easy or smooth pathway to obtaining a visa, at least that I am aware of.