visa extension colombia

Time’s Up, Time to Extend

Last week, was a moment Kim and I had been dreading ever since we arrived in Colombia: the expiry of our 90-day Colombia tourist visas. It was time to come before immigration and plead for a 90-day extension.

In a turn of events as unsurprising as a James Bond escape from certain death, the process ended up being a debacle.

So now, as per the vows we swore to uphold when we became bloggers, we will translate our experience into tips to help your Colombia tourist visa extension goes more smoothly.

Outline

Does your visa expire in more than two days?

You’re such a go-getter. Jump to how to extend your Colombia tourist visa online.

Does your visa expire tomorrow?

Sorry to say, you’re going to have to jump down to the section on how to extend your Colombia tourist visa in person at the Medellín immigration office.

Note: This post only covers Colombia tourist visas. To extend your student visa, follow this guide by Tellanto and for 7 other visa options to extend your stay in Colombia, check out this overview by Brittany from Leaving Gringolandia

How to Extend Your Colombia Tourist Visa Online

1. Start early

As soon as you know you’re going to stay in Colombia for more than ninety days in a row, get started with extending your Colombia tourist visa.

Even if your visa doesn’t expire for another month, it doesn’t hurt to start now. There’s no penalty for applying early—the 90-day visa extension is added to the day your current visa expires, not the day you apply—but there is a penalty for starting late.

2. Get your documents together

You’ll need the following documents, in PDF format, to extend your Colombia tourist visa online:

  • The photo page of your passport
  • The page on your passport with your Colombian immigration entry stamp
  • Your ticket for your departure from Colombia within less than 180 days of your initial arrival in the country. This can be a copy of your flight confirmation email. Make sure it has your full name, the dates, and an itinerary from a Colombian city to a non-Colombian city.

Two helpful things to know regarding these documents:

  1. The three PDFs must be less than 1 MB total. Colombia’s online tourist visa extension system won’t accept files bigger than that. Use a scanning app like Scanbot (free) on your phone to make a PDF of your passport photo and stamp pages, then use a free site like ilovepdf.com to shrink the files to the required size.
  2. If you don’t have a departure flight yet, buy a ticket to wherever on Expedia, save a copy of the email in PDF, then cancel it immediately. Expedia refunds all flights as long as you do it within 24 hours.

3. Submit your online Colombia tourist visa extension application

Here’s the link for extending your Colombia tourist visa online.

Choose “English” on the top right if you think “no problemo” is proper Spanish, then under “Tipo de Tramite” check the box beside “Permiso Temporal de Permanencia para Prorrogar Permanencia.”

The rest of the form it super straightforward. It won’t take more than a couple minutes if you already have your documents ready. 

Screenshot of Colombia online visa extension application form
The form for your online Colombia tourist visa extension application is as easy as uno, dos, tres.

Shortly after you’ve submitted the form, you’ll get an email like the one below. It says your application has been received and that you will receive a response within one business day. It also includes a confirmation number and a password so you can check your application status online.

Colombia tourist visa application confirmation email
This online visa extension application thing might actually work…

Amazingly, we got a response within one business day just like the email said we would.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the response we hoped for.

3. Don’t take “No” for an answer

Despite having all the documents exactly as they asked, our online Colombian tourist visa extension applications were rejected.

The rejection email (screenshot below) included reasons the application was denied, but those reasons are complete “gentleman cow manure”. It’s just something the poor employee with the horrible job of having to review each application mindlessly copy-pasted.

Screenshot of online visa extension rejection email.
In Spanish, “no” doesn’t always mean “no.”

If you’re sure you have all the right documents, don’t take “No” for an answer. There’s no cost to you in doing so other than the couple minutes it takes to fill out the form.

4. Pray

Every time you submit your online visa extension, pray your application ends in the inbox of a Colombia immigration employee who does their job properly and not someone who hates their job or is spiteful that your country’s soccer team beat Colombia’s one time.

If you pray hard enough, you’ll get an approval letter like the one I got below (on my third try). It has an attachment you’ll need to keep on hand digitally or physically.

Screenshot of email confirming Colombia tourist visa extension
Exito isn’t just a supermarket in Colombia. It’s Spanish for success!

5. Pay

If you’re a national of a Schengen country your Colombia travel visa extension is free. Otherwise, you have to pay. On Colombia’s Immigration site it says the cost is 92,000 COP, but they charged us 96,000 COP. Either the price has gone up or we bought somebody a couple empanadas.

6. Mock your procrastinating friends

If you were forward-thinking and fortunate enough to have a smooth and successful online Colombia travel visa extension you now have permission to look down upon your friends who had to go to the Medellin immigration offices because they waited until the last minute.

Wherever you stay, enjoying a cold beverage tops the list of things to do in Bahia Solano
Have you been to Colombia’s Pacific Coast already? Read here how to pick your paradise.

7. Enjoy up to 90 more days in Colombia!

For stuff that’s a lot more exciting than extending your visa, check out our stuff on The Unconventional Route. You might be interested in our Colombian beer taste test results, these surprising facts about aguardiente, the mind-blowing trek we did that no one talks about, or our recap of all our tips and favorites after living 6 months in Medellin.


How to Extend Your Colombia Tourist Visa at the Medellín Immigration Office

1. Give the online Colombia visa extension application one last go

Unless today is the day your Colombia travel visa expires, before going to the Medellín immigration office submit an online application and hope for the best.

If I had done so, I could have avoided a miserable trip to the Medellín immigration offices.

They had already rejected my online application twice and there were only two business days left before my visa expired, so I prematurely gave up hope and went to the Medellín immigration offices.

There, the lady told me to fill out the online form once again. I didn’t understand the point, but I didn’t want to cause a fuss, so I did as she asked (I’m Swiss and Canadian after all). I then waited for over an hour to be called to talk with the guy who reviewed my documents. He pulled up my file on his computer and… asked me what I was doing there. He said the online application I’d just filled out had already been approved!

I’d gone to the immigration offices and waited around for nothing.

2. Make an appointment

If you’ve run out of time and hope for getting your Colombia travel visa extended online, don’t just show up at the immigration offices. Make an appointment.

To do so, call 018000-510454. If you don’t speak Spanish, don’t worry; there are call center agents that speak perfect English. They will set a time for you and give you an appointment number. Write it down because you’ll need it.

3. Prepare everything you need

Before going to the Medellín immigration offices, print off the required documents (see above) and get your appointment number and the number of your online application ready. If you’re not a citizen of a Schengen country, bring a credit card to pay for your extension. Cash is not accepted.

If you don’t have access to a printer, you can go to one of the many of opportunistic printing businesses located beside the Medellín immigration offices.

4. Turn lemons into (healthy vegan) lemonade

Except when we go to hike Cerro de las Tres Cruces, we don’t spend much time in the area where the Medellín immigration offices are. To make the most of being in a different part of town, we stopped for lunch at Copoazú, a twelve-minute walk away.

Copoazú is a vegan restaurant that opened in late 2017. The owner will everything she can to ensure you enjoy your meal. She even asked if we were right or left handed so as to set the cutlery for us accordingly.

Our meal included cream of lettuce soup topped with sesame seeds to start, then falafel, grilled zucchini medallions, cabbage salad with a herbed tomato sauce, and brown rice as the main dish. And the dessert of little pieces of french toast covered in chocolate sauce and carob powder was the best we’ve had in a lunch menu.

Costing just 10,500 COP, it was so good we almost wish we had to go to Colombian more immigration more often to give us a reason to come back.

Ok, that’s a complete lie. But Copoazú’s menu del dia was really one of our favorites. (See our list here.)

Our lunch from Copoazu
At least you can look forward to a good meal at nearby Copoazú if you need to go to the Medellín immigration office to extend your visa.

5. Go to the Medellín immigration office

The Medellín immigration offices aren’t where Google Maps says. They’re around the corner. Here’s a map. You can save these locations to your phone by following these easy instructions.

6. Stay calm and extend your visa

When you get to the Medellín immigration offices, show your appointment number to the security guard at the door. He’ll point you to a receptionist, to whom you also need to tell you have an appointment and then show your printed documents.

Be friendly but adamant to the receptionist that they respect your appointment. We weren’t and had to wait an hour because of it.

The receptionist will check your documents then tell you to sit down and wait to be called by an official. If you have an appointment the wait shouldn’t be long.

When called, the official will review your documents and stamp your passport. If you’re not a citizen of a Schengen country you’ll have to pay 96,000 COP. You will need to pay by credit card.

Then you’re done!

Wherever you stay, enjoying a cold beverage tops the list of things to do in Bahia Solano
Have you been to Colombia’s Pacific Coast already? Read here how to pick your paradise.

7. Enjoy up to 90 more days in Colombia!

For stuff that’s a lot more exciting than extending your visa, check out our stuff on The Unconventional Route. You might be interested in our Colombian beer taste test results, these surprising facts about aguardiente, the mind-blowing trek we did that no one talks about, or our recap of all our tips and favorites after living 6 months in Medellin.

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35 comments

  1. Chris, thanks so much for this helpful article! I completed the process in less time than it would have taken me to go to the office. One question, as I wait-praying–
    Did you pay the fee each of the three times you applied online, or did one payment cover the entire process?

    Thanks again!

    1. Glad to have helped Angie! I will pray for you too, haha.

      Don’t worry; applications are free. You only have to pay once at the very end after (fingers crossed) you’ve been approved.

  2. This article is very well written and detailed but I feel at some points you are a bit mocking colombian culture. If you don’t like it stay in your country.

    1. Hey Luigi, thanks for sharing! Believe me that if we ever get around to making a guide to renewing your driver’s license or passport in our homeland of Canada our post will be as mocking of the inefficient Canadian bureaucracy as we are of Colombia’s! It’s a global issue.

  3. Awesome post! Very detailed and informative thank you. My girlfriend and I left it a little late and were hoping to avoid a visit to the immigration office, we followed your instructions and got approved within 1 business day. Thanks again, Jason & Rose.

  4. Update: September 2018 – my application just got denied because I didn’t include my return trip and I have to resubmit. They also request that documents are “scanned” and not a photo, even if in a PDF. Just a heads up!

    1. Thanks for the update Kimberli.

      That’s insane that they request “scanned” documents instead of photos. I suppose their friends at the printing shops that are all around the immigration offices need more business. I’d try a couple applications with photos before going to the hassle of scanning anyways. Or maybe try a grainy filter so it looks scanned.

      And yeah, you gotta provide the flight out. A couple other friends tried to get by without it and failed too. Just get a refundable one like we outlined above.

      1. It worked! I used the Scanbot app and then just added a distortion filter in Photoshop. I also condensed the PDF just in case they got me for surpassing that max file size requirement. I added a return flight and they approved it within two days. Success!

        1. Oh man. That’s hilarious that you added a distortion filter on Photoshop so it looked like a photocopy and not a scan. And that’s awesome that it worked. Congrats Kimberli and thanks for making us smile with your anecdote!

  5. if you book through expedia you have to call to cancel. if you book through united, you can cancel online. hate having to call.

    1. We canceled our Expedia booking online. No call needed. We’ve done it multiple times. Maybe something’s changed recently, but I doubt it. I do remember that it was a bit difficult to find the “Cancel” link though.

      Anyway, if you say it’s easier with United, I’ll take your word for it. I’ll update the post. Thanks for the tip Chris!

  6. Hi Chris, great read. I saw that you said you can try to extend more than a month before your Visa expires with this online process. Do you know of people successfully doing this? We need to extend more than a month before but I’ve heard some people say you have to be within a week of it expiring or it won’t get approved!

    1. Hey Max – I haven’t actually heard of anyone who tried more than a week in advance. Everyone we know is like us, needlessly saving it to the last minute. According to the Colombia immigration website you can, but maybe it’s not true in practice. Since it costs nothing to apply, you might as well give it a go. If you could update us with whether you succeed or not, future extenders would appreciate it.

  7. Got approved on my second attempt. Paid. Now what? I’ve gotten nothing other than a confirmation of payment? Bit concerned as obviously the stamp in my passport clearly says 3 months and I don’t seem to have any paperwork to show the extension has been approved. Did you receive something?

    1. Congrats, Chris. Did you get a confirmation email like the one I shared above (with the green exclamation marks)? If so, that’s it. I felt the same you did, concerned about having no stamp or paperwork (other than the email). At immigration at the airport, I was super nervous, and when the guy first looked at my passport I could see he first saw it was expired, but then he entered me in the system, saw I’d extended and let me through with no problem or mention of it at all. Long story short, you’re good!

      1. Oh great, thanks. I did eventually get a second email with a PDF it said to print out and carry with me. Many thanks for your blog post and guidance, made it possibly the easiest visa extension I’ve ever done!

  8. Hey I’m from England and the flight alone is a arm and a leg and i wish to go for 4 months

    The problem being is that the visa is only 3 months (90 days) is it ok if i apply for visa towards the end of my 90 days to stay for an extra month?
    or is this cheating or something??

    Thanks

    1. Hey Lewis, giving up an arm and the leg to trade in England’s winter for 4 months in Colombia sounds like a good deal! And there’s absolutely no problem with waiting towards the end of your first 3 months to extend. I would recommend filing your extension request at least a week ahead of time, though, so you can do it online and avoid having to go to the immigration offices.

  9. Hello! Many thanks for this super helpful and entertaining resource. As a US citizen who has spent 6 months in Colombia in 2018, I’m wondering when I can return as a tourist… Do you know if the 180 days reset January 1, 2019, or will I need to spend 6 months outside of Colombia first? Gracias!

    1. Hey Kathryn, I’ve seen conflicting reports on this so I looked for an official resource. According to this link on the official Migracion Colombia site, http://migracioncolombia.gov.co/phocadownload/base_del_conocimiento/v6/02_CONTROL_MIGRATORIO.pdf, the limit is 180 days per calendar year. So yeah, if that’s still up to date your 180 days reset on Jan 1.

      “MIGRACION COLOMBIA estampa un sello en el pasaporte, documento de viaje o Tarjeta Andina Migratoria (TAM) donde consta EL INGRESO (fecha del ingreso, días de permanencia autorizados y tipo de ingreso), que será de noventa (90) días consecutivos, prorrogables, por noventa (90) días más, hasta completar un máximo de 180 días por año calendario”

      1. yes, rules are clear in that regard. Maximum of 6 months in any calendar year, AND maximum of 6 months in any one stay. So, even if arrive in, say October, you would have to leave by April so as not to stay more than 6 months in one stay. But you could leave for a single day and come right back. You would then have to leave (for the rest of the calendar year) by end of June due to the 6 months in any calendar year rule.

  10. Hello there, great post. I am on my extension that expires 12/29/18 right in the middle of the holidays…and its causing me a bit of stress. Do you know if there is any way, any options so or work arounds that would make it so I didn’t have to leave in the middle of the holiday’s?

  11. Hey Chris/Kim, thanks for this very clear and concise post. I was wondering if I could ask you guys a question – my situation is a bit similar to Kathryn’s.

    This year I’ve made a few entries into Colombia. My most recent entry was Oct 2, by which point I had already stayed around 70 days in Colombia in 2018 (from previous entries in May and July).

    My plan is to stay from Oct 2 – late March without leaving the country. This would mean in 2018 I will spend around 160 days in Colombia, and in 2019 just under 90. This means, from my perspective, I’m not overstaying the calendar year limit (180 days) or the consecutive days limit (180 days).

    In early Oct I went to Migracion in person and after one officer told me my plan wasn’t okay, one of her colleagues sat down and agreed with me that it would be fine.

    I’ve applied for the extension and it was approved, though they’ve said I need to leave the country by Jan 15, because from that agent’s perspective the counter doesn’t reset on Jan 1 I guess? What do you think?

    1. Hey Eamon, So when you arrived on Oct 2, you got a stamp until Jan 2 (or 1 or whatever 90 days is), then you got another extension with a stamp (or email if you did it online) that says you have to leave by Jan 15? They only extended you for 13 days?! As you say, the other Chris wrote above in his comment, and the migration officials you talked to confirmed, you should be able to stay a whole 180 days. Unless I’m missing something, I suppose in your case your only option is to head to Migracion to tidy this up. That sucks! Sorry to hear about this, all the best, and please keep the rest of us posted on how it goes for you. I’m sure others are in similar situations as you and are keen to learn from your hard-earned experience.

      1. Hey Chris, no problem. I went to Migracion and one officer told me my plan was fine, while another told me that indeed I had to leave by Jan 15. So I went to a private migration agency in Bogota for their opinion and they agreed with January 15. He told me that the 180 days/calendar year counter only resets in the new year once you’re out of the country. So if I continue to stay in Colombia in 2019, those days will add to those from 2018 because I haven’t left the country since 2019 started.

        I can’t be completely certain this is correct but that made it three separate opinions to one saying I needed to leave by Jan 15, so rather than risk a hefty fine when departing in March I’ll try and find a cheap flight in and out in Janaury. I’d be more than happy for someone to prove me wrong though! Cheers

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