Upon arrival, most tourists receive 60 day visas to Colombia. If you sweet talk the immigration official, you can sometimes get 90 days; if they don’t like your face it is not unheard of to receive 30 days. Luckily, these tourist visas are not difficult to extend, and can be done so over and over up to six months in any calendar year (if you play your cards right and show up in June, you could conceivably stay in Colombia for a year).
The Colombian government is very intellegent in this regard — they seem to have realized that long duration tourists will often just lounge around their country spending money — and they’ve set their immigration policy up in a way to allow for extended stays. But they also have their hands in the golden pot of tourism: if you want to stay in Colombia beyond the time on your initial visa, you have to pay for it every thirty days.
The sixty day point of my stay in Colombia was fast approaching, and I went scrambling to acquire all the documentation that I needed to extend my visa. The following is a list of what I had to do to get a 30 day extension on my visa.
1. Go to Davivienda bank and deposit around $40 in Colombian pesos into the account of the Colombian immigration department. I recommend that you call or visit DAS office to find out the exact fee and the current account routing number, but at the time of writing the fee is 72,350 pesos and the account number is 056-99020-3, Código 103. When you get to the bank say you want to make a “consignación” to DAS to extend your visa. The people at the bank will more than likely know what you’re talking about. Make sure you hold onto the receipt that you get from making this depost.
2. Obtain 2 photo copies of each:
- The information page of my passport
- Your plane ticket out of Colombia (if you don’t have one, make a fake one)
- The receipt for the bank deposit that you just made
Some websites say that you also need photocopies of the original visa stamp in your passport, but I personally did not need this in Cartagena.
3. Get three passport photos. In Cartagena, these oddly need to have a blue background. There are businesses offering passport photos near the DAS offices for 6,000 pesos for six with, surprise, blue backgrounds.
4. Go to DAS, fill out the visa extension form, and meet with an official.
Often, the DAS officials will take mug shots of you as well as scan your finger prints. They did not do demand this of me, but they did to other foreigners who were extending their visas the same time I was.
The turn around time for extending a visa in Cartagena is often within one day. I was able to receive mine immediately after applying. In fact, I was hardly in the DAS office for over a half hour between the time I submitted my application and the time I had my extended visa in hand. Though keep in mind that wait times vary — sometimes foreigners wait for hours to submit their application and then need to wait until the following day to pick up their extended visa.
Address of DAS in Cartagena
DAS (Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad)
Carrera 20 B No. 29-18 Pie de la Popa
Tel: 6568003 – 6560646 – 6562524- 6664665
Open from 8-12 and 2-5, monday through friday.
Extending your Colombian tourist visa multiple times
Once you’ve extended your visa the first time, you are already logged into the DAS system, and further renewals are much less complicated: you just need to go to the bank, deposit your payment, and return to the same DAS office you previously registered at with the deposit slip and your passport.
Yes, you need to extend your visa every 30 days for as long as you remain in Colombia over your first 60 day period. As of Nov. 2011, there is no way to get a longer extension. You can continue extending a Colombian tourist visa for up to six months in a calander year, which is great for foreigners who want to stay long term as the time starts over with the new year. Theoretically, if you enter Colombia for the first time in June you can remain in Colombia until June of the following year.
Visa extensions are easy to get independently, avoid services and middlemen
It is easy to extend a Colombian tourist visa independently, and there is really no reason to hire an agency or any middlemen offering to assist you in this process. If you do use one of these visa services, you will just be throwing your money away as you need to go into the DAS office in person anyway. When I was renewing my visa in Cartagena there was a group of foreigners who hired a visa agency to assist them with their extensions. The rep that accompanied them basically just told them where to stand in line and made sure they had everything they needed and filled out their forms correctly. Seriously, this is not something that a competent individual needs to pay someone to help with.
In all, extending a tourist visa in Colombia is a painless process. A lot of odds and ends need to be tied up, for sure, and it is annoying to have to extend your visa every 30 days, but it sure beats doing visa runs to neighboring countries — which is a viable alternative towards getting extensions. If this process seems like a drag, just keep in mind that at least Colombia allows foreigners to extend their tourist visas, which is something that ever country does.