Colombia flag Colombia: Buying and Selling

International convention and customs procedures of Colombia

International Conventions
Member of the World Trade Organization (WTO)
Party to the Kyoto Protocol
Party to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
Party to the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls For Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies
Party to the International Coffee Agreement
International Economic Cooperation
Colombia has signed many international trade agreements, including:

- Latin American Association of Integration - ALADI
- Andean Community - CAN -Colombia, Equator, Peru, Bolivia
- CAN - Mercosur
- Central American and the Caribbeans
- FTA - Free Trade Agreement Colombia and Chile
- FTA Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras
- FTA Colombia, Peru and Canada
- FTA G2- Group of Two - Colombia and Mexico
- FTA Colombia and Peru - EFTA
- FTA Colombia and United States
- Trade Union CAN - UE

Colombia is part of the Pacific Alliance.

For more information consult this link.

Non Tariff Barriers
Several non-tarriff barriers to trade exist in Colombia: a cumbersome bureaucracy; pilferage in customs warehouses and trucks; shipment detainment in customs because of improper tariff schedule classification, incorrect address or typing errors; inspections carried out by import operations observers; import licences, pre-approval or phytosanitary registration and permits.

All imported goods have to be registered with the Ministry of Foreign Trade (Mincomex) on a form called 'Registro de Importacion', worth 21,500 pesos. Most products are automatically authorised to be imported if this form is presented (imports under the 'Registro' procedure). There are nevertheless a certain number of goods (especially agricultural products) that are subject to licence (imports under the 'Licencia' procedure).
Import authorisations (automatic and licensed) are valid for 6 months, except for the following products: capital goods: 12 months; perishable foodstuffs: 2 months. The goods have to be claimed at Customs before the expiry date of the licence.
Besides that, some products are subject to phytosanitary measures, and the importer should be registered with a certain number of organisations: the Instituto Colombiano Agropecuario for plants and animal products, the INVIMA for medicines, medical underwear, cosmetics and the Ministry of Transport for all types of vehicles. Some farm products can be imported only with a visa from the Ministry of Agriculture, as long as the importer also buys identical local products. According to local conditions, it is also possible that the Ministry does not permit the import of certain products during a given period.

The import of vehicles, tires, second hand clothes and violent toys is forbidden. The import of weapons is strictly limited to the army.

Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports
The average rate is 4.5%. For more details, consult the UNCTAD website.
Customs Classification
Colombia applies the Harmonised Customs System. Customs duties are calculated Ad valorem on the CIF value. The customs duties system (4 rates) was fixed within the Andean PACT and is applicable to Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela.
Import Procedures
The importer must submit an import declaration to the DIAN (Customs). This declaration includes the same information contained on the import registration form and other information such as the duty and sales tax paid, and the bank where these payments were made. This declaration may be presented up to 15 days prior to the arrival of the merchandise in Colombia or up to two months after the shipment's arrival. Once the import declaration is presented and import duties are paid, customs will authorise the delivery of the merchandise. Customs officials are responsible for inspecting merchandise to verify that the description and classification are consistent with the importer's declaration. A customs inspection group often performs after-clearance random investigations to detect fraud, foreign exchange irregularities, and tax evasion. Major customhouse brokers have a customs office in their own bonded warehouses where most clearance procedures are completed before the merchandise is delivered to the customers.
Besides the Customs declaration (SAD) 2 traditionally required for all goods dispatched, consignments sent to Colombia must be accompanied by the following documents:

  • The commercial invoice in quadruplicate; it must be drawn up in Spanish for preference and indicate beside the usual details: the value or exchange value of the goods in U.S. dollars, the number of the 'registro de importacion' (the certificate of registration of import) sent to the exporter by the Colombian consignee.
  • The certificate of origin. It is drawn up in the community form.
  • The certificate of non-contamination by radioactivity, required for agro-food products and especially for milk, is issued by the Departmental Directorate of Veterinary Services.
  • The phytosanitary certificate, required for fruit, vegetables, seeds and other plants, is issued by the Regional Service for the Protection of Plants.
  • The health certificate issued by the Departmental Directorate of Veterinary Services.
  • The certificate of free sale for cosmetics.

Other products may be subject to the presentation of certificates of free sale to be registered in Colombia. For more information, please visit the website of Colombian Customs.

Importing Samples
After a special form provided upon arrival at an international airport is filled out, demonstration equipment may stay in the country up to 90 days. The regulations regarding the importation of samples varies according to the type of products. It is recommended that you contact the National Department of Customs.

To go further, check out our service Import controls and Export controls.

For Further Information
National Directorate of Taxes and Customs
Colombia Trade Portal

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Latest Update: May 2024