Why do Digital Nomads Choose Colombia?
Digital nomads are individuals who leverage digital technology to work remotely and follow a location-independent lifestyle. They are a growing demographic in the global workforce. The majority of digital nomads in 2022 were from the United States.
Digital nomads can travel and live in different places while doing their jobs or running businesses remotely. This gives them the freedom to explore and experience new countries while still earning a living. They are attracted to destinations like Colombia for a variety of reasons, such as its affordable cost of living, diverse landscapes, and welcoming culture. Medellín is one of the top 10 cities in the world that digital nomads like the most. The city's improving infrastructure, reliable internet, and growing co-working spaces cater to their remote work needs. Moreover, Colombia's visa options make it an attractive destination for digital nomads seeking a balanced lifestyle.
Legal Status of Digital Nomads in Colombia
In a significant move towards embracing the growing trend of digital nomadism, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Colombia introduced the highly coveted Digital Nomad Visa (Visa V Nómadas Digitales) in October 2022. This visa was officially made available in January 2023.
The regulation governing Digital Nomad Visa in Colombia is outlined in Resolution 5477 of 2022. Individuals who identify as digital nomads, remote workers, or digital entrepreneurs from countries not subject to the short-stay visa requirement may enter Colombia without obtaining a visa. Instead, they can stay in the country using an Entry Permit issued by the immigration authority.
The Digital Nomad Visa shows Colombia's dedication to innovation and adaptability. It also highlights their commitment to creating a good environment for modern professionals who want to balance work and exploration in this beautiful South American country.
Colombia Digital Nomad Visa Eligibility
If you want to live and work in Colombia as a digital nomad, you must meet the following criteria:
- Work remotely for an international firm;
- Plan to live in Colombia for longer than 90 days;
- Demonstrate a monthly income of at least USD 800.
It is important to note that the Colombian Digital Nomad Visa is only available to citizens of countries that are exempt from short-stay visa requirements for entering Colombia. These nations include the United States, Canada, Portugal, Australia, and Germany, among others.
Benefits of a Colombian Digital Nomad Visa
The Colombian Digital Nomad Visa opens doors to multiple possibilities for remote professionals. This innovative visa program not only provides legal authorization to work from Colombia but also offers a lot of great benefits that enrich both personal and professional experiences.
Obtaining a Colombian Digital Nomad Visa comes with several notable benefits:
- Legal Status
It provides legal permission to work remotely from Colombia, ensuring you are compliant with immigration laws. Additionally, it outlines the necessary steps to obtain the required permits and visas for seamless remote work operations.
- Extended Stay
The visa allows for an extended stay of up to 2 years, providing stability and eliminating the need for frequent visa renewals. Moreover, it offers the flexibility to explore and immerse oneself in the local culture and community.
- Access to Essential Services
You can open a bank account, sign up for local services, and access healthcare facilities. This makes day-to-day life more convenient. According to the World Health Organization, Colombia's healthcare system will rank 22nd in the world in 2023, ahead of both Canada and the United States. In terms of price, you get much better quality for the money spent.
- Networking Opportunities
You can connect with other digital nomads, entrepreneurs, and professionals in Colombia's growing digital nomad community. These connections can open doors to collaboration, knowledge sharing, and exciting opportunities for professional growth during your stay in Colombia.
- Cost-Effective Living
Compared to many Western countries, Colombia offers a lower cost of living, allowing you to make the most of your income. With affordable housing, dining, and entertainment options, you can enjoy a high quality of life without breaking the bank. Compared to cities in the U.S., Australia, Canada, and many parts of Europe, living in Colombia will be more affordable, and your baseline monthly costs will be between $1,000 and $2,000 in 2023.
- Safety and Security
Many areas of Colombia have seen significant improvements in safety, making it a more secure destination for travelers. The local authorities have implemented effective measures to ensure the safety and well-being of residents and visitors alike. The fact that Colombia ranks 15th in a crime report for the Americas in 2023 is a very positive indicator.
Restrictions of the Colombia Digital Nomad Visa
The Colombian Digital Nomad Visa has some restrictions that applicants should be aware of:
- Duration of Stay
The Digital Nomad Visa is valid for up-to 2 years and allows approved applicants to stay in Colombia for a maximum period of 180 days in a calendar year. After this period, individuals would need to leave and re-enter the country or apply for a different type of visa if they want to continue staying in Colombia.
- No Local Employment
Holders of the Digital Nomad Visa are not permitted to engage in local employment within Colombia. The visa is specifically intended for individuals conducting remote work for foreign employers or clients.
- Tax Obligations
While non-residents are generally exempt from paying Colombian taxes on foreign-sourced income, any income earned within Colombia's borders is subject to taxation. It is crucial for visa holders to comply with Colombian tax regulations.
Colombia Digital Nomad Visa Taxes
Digital nomads, being non-residents, are not obliged to fulfill income tax obligations in Colombia, as they do not meet the criteria for tax residency. Consequently, non-resident foreigners are only required to report income tax if their earnings originate from a local source or involve assets acquired within the country, such as real estate.
If individuals reside in Colombia for over 183 days, counted from their arrival to their departure, within a span of 365 consecutive days, they will be classified as taxpayers in the subsequent year and required to pay taxes on their global income.
Digital Nomad Visa vs Tourist Visa and Freelancer Visa
The Colombian Digital Nomad Visa, Tourist Visa, and Freelancer Visa are distinct visa categories designed to cater to different types of travelers and workers. Here is a comparison between these visas:
Colombia Digital Nomad Visa Requirements
In order to qualify for the Digital Nomad Visa, you have to provide remote work or teleworking services from Colombia via digital media and the Internet, exclusively for foreign companies, or launch a digital content or information technology enterprise of interest to the country. You must also submit certain specific documents, including:
- Passport that is valid for a minimum of 6 months at the time of visa application;
- Employment letter in Spanish or English issued by one or more foreign companies for which you provide services remotely, indicating the nature of the relationship and the type of compensation received;
- A motivational letter describing your entrepreneurial project and the financial and human resources you currently possess or intend to acquire;
- Bank statements proving your minimum monthly income is equivalent to 3 Current Minimum Legal Monthly Wages (SMLMV*) for the previous 3 months, which is COP 3,480 (approximately USD 800*);
- Health insurance policy that protects you against all risks in the event of an accident, illness, pregnancy, disability, hospitalization, death, or repatriation.
- Passport-style photo, 3x4cm, with a white background;
* SMLMV is COP 1,160,000 in 2023.
* The exchange rate is COP 4,500 per USD 1 at the moment of writing.
Colombia Digital Nomad Visa Application Process
It takes up to 30 days to get a Colombian Digital Nomad Visa. The application process is online and involves the following steps:
- Step 1: Check Eligibility
You have to ensure you meet the eligibility criteria set forth by the Colombian government for the Digital Nomad Visa, including non-Colombian citizenship, proof of remote work, sufficient financial means, a temporary stay intention, and no prior violations of Colombian immigration laws. A Digital Nomad Visa is available in Colombia to citizens of select countries (e.g., the US, Canada, Portugal, Australia, Germany, and others).
- Step 2: Gather Required Documents
To start the process of applying for a Digital Nomad Visa in Colombia, you should make sure you have all the necessary paperwork, such as a valid passport, proof of remote work (e.g., employment letter), bank statements, health insurance, visa application form, passport-sized photos, etc. All documents may need to be translated into Spanish and certified.
- Step 3: Submit Online Application
Once the documents are prepared, you will visit the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and fill out the online application form. Follow the instructions on the website to complete the application form and electronically submit the required documents.
- Step 4: Pay Initial Fees
You must pay the application fee of around USD 50 on the website before submitting the application.
- Step 5: Wait for Processing
Wait for your application to be processed. This could take a couple of weeks.
- Step 6: Receive Approval
If your application is approved, you will receive a notification. This may be sent to you electronically or via mail.
- Step 7: Get Your Visa
When your Colombian Digital Nomad Visa is approved, you must pay the visa fee. The fee amount will be specified in the approval notification, which can range between USD 170 and USD 230. Your visa will be delivered electronically within 10 days of paying the visa fee.
5 Tips How to Get a Digital Nomad Visa from Golden Harbors Experts
Obtaining a Digital Nomad Visa can be a game-changer for individuals who want to work and travel simultaneously. Based on our experience, here are 5 tips for successfully relocating to Colombia with a Digital Nomad Visa:
- Understand Visa Requirements
Gain an understanding of the particular prerequisites for obtaining a Digital Nomad Visa in Colombia. Ensure that you meet all these criteria. Next, thoroughly check the list of required documents to confirm your ability to provide them all.
We recommend compiling a comprehensive portfolio showcasing your work, client testimonials, and evidence of income. This will help demonstrate your professional standing and financial stability to Colombian authorities. Additionally, you may join online forums, social media groups, or attend events related to digital nomadism and freelancing in Colombia. Your application will look more professional and much stronger.
- Obtain Appropriate Health Insurance
Colombia requires digital nomads to have health insurance that covers them during their stay.
To select a reliable health insurance company in Colombia, start by evaluating their coverage options and financial stability. Additionally, ensure they are licensed and regulated by Colombian authorities, and consider seeking recommendations from expats or locals with experience in the healthcare system.
- Open a Local Bank Account
We suggest opening a Colombian bank account as soon as possible. This will make it easier to receive payments from clients, manage expenses, and comply with local financial regulations. Having a local bank account will also allow you to take advantage of banking services tailored to residents, such as easier access to loans or credit facilities if needed.
- Consider Tax Implications
As a freelancer from the United States, it is crucial to understand the tax implications of working abroad. Consult with a tax advisor to ensure compliance with US tax laws. You should keep thorough records of your income and expenses to facilitate accurate tax reporting and compliance with tax authorities.
- Select a Reputable Service Provider
Choose a reputable service provider with experience in assisting individuals with Colombian visa applications. Utilize the expertise and guidance provided by the service provider throughout the application process. The Golden Harbors team can assist in preparing and reviewing your application, navigating potential bureaucratic hurdles, and ensuring that all documentation is complete and accurate. We can also offer valuable insights and advice on optimizing your application for a successful outcome.
FAQs Digital Nomad Visas
Is it difficult to get a Colombia Digital Nomad Visa?
No, it is not difficult to get a Colombia Digital Nomad Visa if you satisfy all the legal requirements. This depends on your nationality, your financial stability, and the purpose and length of your stay. The application process is fast and can be completed entirely online.
How much does it cost to get a Colombia Digital Nomad Visa?
You have to pay the application fee of USD 50 and the visa fee. The last one ranges between USD 170 and USD 230, depending on the inclusion of dependents. You must also account for other significant fees such as professional services, document preparation, and certification. Please contact us for a more specific quote based on your specific situation.
Can you extend your Colombia Digital Nomad Visa?
Yes, you can prolong your Colombia Digital Nomad Visa. Overall, this visa can be issued for up to 2 years. Applicants who have received the visa for a shorter period, like 3 or 6 months, can extend it. With this visa, you can stay in Colombia for up to 180 days, or 6 months, within a year.
What taxes do you need to pay with a Colombia Digital Nomad Visa?
Foreign digital nomads in Colombia, as non-residents, enjoy a tax exemption, meaning they are not required to pay any local taxes. However, any income earned within Colombia's borders by a non-resident is subject to taxation. This tax scenario is based on two crucial factors: your residency status and the origin of your income. If your stay in Colombia exceeds 183 days in a given year, you may transition from non-resident to tax resident status, potentially making you liable for Colombian income taxes on your global earnings.
What are other alternatives to a Digital Nomad Visa in Colombia?
Apart from the Digital Nomad Visa, there are several alternative visas and residency options for foreigners looking to live and work in Colombia:
Business Owner or Investor Visa
This visa is for those who plan to start a business or invest in an existing one in Colombia. It requires a significant financial investment of COP 116,00 (USD 25,777) and the creation of jobs for Colombian citizens.
Real Estate Investment Visa
To qualify for this visa, individuals must make a significant investment in Colombian real estate. The specific investment threshold is COP 406,000 (USD 90,222). You can read more about Colombian investment visas in our guide.
Foreigners receiving retirement income from a foreign entity can apply for a retirement visa. They have to receive a pension of no less than COP 3,480 (USD 773) or a periodic income of COP 11,600 (USD 2,577).
This visa is available to foreign freelancers intending to enter Colombia for the purpose of engaging in independent work or activities and earning at least COP 11,600 (USD 2,577) per month.
Are there any alternatives to the Colombian Digital Nomad Visa in other Latin American countries?
Yes, there are several Latin American countries that offer visa options or programs tailored for digital nomads or remote workers. They are as follows:
Ecuador issued a visa for digital nomads in July 2022 that is valid for up to 2 years. The primary requirements are remote work and a monthly income of at least USD 1,350.
Brazil was one of the first South American countries to offer a visa program for people who work online at the beginning of 2022. Foreigners who want to live in Brazil and work remotely can do so for a year with this visa, and it can be renewed for another year. You must present bank statements showing evidence of income of at least USD $1,500 per month.
The newly issued Digital Nomad Visa (May 2023) allows digital nomads to reside in Uruguay for 6 to 12 months. Applicants must work remotely and earn a livable income.