How To Move To Colombia: Your Guide to Getting Temporary or Permanent Residency

Updated in 2022.

This article will tell you how to move to Colombia!

What are your options?

Colombia is on the tip of everyone’s tongue, and has been for some time.

Based on the emails I receive on this blog, it is by far the number one choice for folks looking to expat to Latin America.

This post is part of a series of articles I’m doing on getting residency in various Latin American countries (Mexico, Peru, Guatemala).

In the circles I run in, it seems that everyone wants to relocate to Colombia. Many want residency and citizenship in Colombia.

And who could blame them?

Pleasant weather, diverse geography and hospitable people are just a few of the many wonderful qualities of this South American nation.

If you want to know how to move to Colombia, and how to get residency in Colombia, I’m going to show you the best ways to do it. Fortunately, Colombia offers many options for residency.

Let’s look into some of the easiest ones.

Tourist Visa

Most people’s first visit to Colombia is on a tourist visa. Some countries have to apply for a tourist visa, but most Western (Canada/USA/European) countries have ‘visa-free’ access. 

U.S. and Canadian citizens do not need a Colombian visa for a tourist stay of 90 days or less or for cumulative stays of 180 days or less per calendar year. Travelers will be fined if overstaying the specified period on your entry stamp. You may apply for a stay extension at the nearest Migración Colombia office. You may extend your stay up to a maximum of 180 days per calendar year. You also can’t stay for more than 180 days consecutively, even if this is across two years

The key piece of information is that we are talking about calendar year. You CAN spend more than 180 days out of a 365 day period in Colombia. For example, if you did Q3 and Q4 2022 (6 months) in Colombia, you can do a visa run and come back for Q1 and Q2 2023 (another 6 months). This is up to the discretion of the border officer, but it should work.  


Student Visa

You can easily obtain a student visa in Colombia by enrolling in university or language courses. Accredited institutions will provide you with the documentation you’ll need to receive this visa. You can process your application in Colombia or at a consulate outside of the country, but you’ll need to finalize it at an immigration office in Colombia.

If you maintain your student visa by enrolling in courses, after 5 years, you will be eligible for a residency visa.

So, it’s certainly not the quickest path to residency. But it is an option. As long as you’re taking more than 10 hours of studies per-week, the student visa will allow you to remain in Colombia for more than the 180 days allowed by a tourist visa. Typically, student visas will be good for one-year. After that, you’ll have to renew it if you want to stay in the country.


Marriage Visa

What about marrying a Colombian? Well, it certainly is an option!

The marriage visa is relatively easy to get. After two years on this visa, you’ll be able to apply for residency (it used to be three years up until December 2017 – a good change I’d say!).

You’ll have to apply in-person in Bogota, or at a consulate outside of the country.

If you have a girlfriend or boyfriend from Colombia that you plan on marrying, the marriage visa will be your easiest option for moving to Colombia.


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Retirement Visa


The retirement visa for Colombia is valid for 3 years before needing to be renewed, and requires that you prove an income of about $750 USD per month. Typically, this will be a pension income.

Unfortunately, this visa only seems to apply to folks receiving some kind of pension. That means that an income of $750 USD a month through personal investments or employment will not qualify.

In other words, if you’re young and have a permanent income of the above amount or more, you won’t be able to take advantage of this visa (you many, however, qualify for the rentista visa, if you can show a permanent income of $4000 or more each month).


Work Visa

To get a work visa in Colombia, you will have to be hired by a Colombian company. Once you’re hired, you can apply for your work visa in-person in Bogota or at a consulate. The visa is easy to get once you have a Colombian company sponsoring you.

What’s not so easy is finding a job in Colombia.

Many people opt to teach English. If that’s your plan, keep in mind that the sort of institutions that would sponsor you (because it costs them money to do so) will be professional ones. This means that they will more often than not require a TEFL or CELTA certificate, as well as a university degree.

After 5 years on a work visa, you’ll be able to apply for residency.


Investment Visa

The best option for folks with money. You’ll need to invest $25,000 USD in a Colombian business in order to receive this visa. This visa is good for 3 years before it needs to be renewed.

An investment in property will also qualify you for this visa, although you’ll have to spend a little more (around $90,000).

Just like the other visa options, after 5 years on this visa, you will be able to apply for residency in Colombia.




While there are other, more obscure alternative for residency in Colombia, the above options are most likely to apply to you. Fortunately, Colombia makes it relatively easy to gain residency.

Peru, for instance, requires that you invest a whopping $154,000 USD before you can be eligible for the investment visa.

Mexico requires $90,000 USD. Residency in Guatemala is an option as well. 

For all of you lovely people wondering how to move to Colombia, I hope this article has helped you out. We are seeing more and more expats and retirees move to Colombia every year. 

As you can see, if you want to live here, there are a number of ways to do it – if you want it enough, I’m sure you’ll find a way to move and start your wonderful new life in Colombia.

Thanks for listening!

And until next time,



Skip the guesswork and develop your ideal Latin Life Plan with our consultation services:

Schedule Your Personal Consultation With My Latin Life