Skip to main content

Cookies on the DFA website

We use cookies to give the best experience on our site while also complying with Data Protection requirements. Continue without changing your settings, and you'll receive cookies, or change your cookie settings at any time.

Colombia

If you’re travelling to Colombia, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information.

Security Status

  • Normal precautions
  • High degree of caution
  • Avoid non-essential travel
  • Do not travel
  • Overview
  • Safety and Security
  • Local Laws and Customs
  • Natural Disasters and Climate
  • Additional Information
  • Embassy Contact

Overview

Overview

Security status

We advise visitors to Colombia to exercise a high degree of caution, particularly when travelling to more remote areas. The security situation is volatile in many areas of the country, and at all times you should pay close attention to the warnings issued by the Colombian authorities.

Latest travel alerts

The Colombia-Venezuela border region is currently volatile. We advise against all travel to Colombia's border regions with Venezuela until further notice. You should not use any of the Colombia-Venezuela land crossings.

Emergency assistance

We suggest you learn as much as you can about Colombia before your trip from travel agents, tour operators and guide books. The best help is often close at hand, so if you have problems when you're in Colombia, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.

You can contact the emergency services in Colombia by dialling 123.

In the event of an emergency, you can contact the Irish Embassy in Bogotá. Contact details can be found under the "Embassy Contact" tab. If you phone outside of working hours, leave us a message giving:

  • Your name
  • The nature of your problem
  • Where you are now
  • Your contact details (mobile phone number or phone number of where you're staying)

We regularly monitor these messages and one of our staff members will be in contact with you.

Our tips for safe travels:

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities.
  • Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly if there's an unforeseen crisis like a natural disaster or a family emergency.
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates.
  • Read our 'Know Before You Go' guide.

Safety and Security

Safety and security

Political unrest

Politically-driven and criminal violence is a serious problem in Colombia. Attacks, including bombings, continue to take place. Political demonstrations can occur in the capital city of Bogotá and throughout the country. These can be confrontational and occasionally turn violent. You should monitor local media and avoid all demonstrations.

Kidnapping

There is a high risk of kidnapping from both terrorist and criminal groups. While Colombians are the primary targets, foreigners can also be targeted, especially those working for (or perceived to be working for) oil, mining and related companies. Take particular care when travelling alone, using ATMs, or travelling in or near tugurios (slum areas).

You should regularly reassess your security arrangements and consider carefully any travel around the country.

Landmines

Colombia is affected by landmines and unexploded ordnance. Mined areas are frequently unmarked so be aware of potential dangers when visiting remote locations or venturing off the main roads.

Border security

The Colombia-Venezuela border region is currently volatile. We advise against all travel to Colombia's border regions with Venezuela until further notice. You should not use any of the Colombia-Venezuela land crossings.

To cross by land between Colombia and Ecuador, you should only use the crossing on the Pan-American Highway, at Ipiales. Do not stop en route between the border and Pasto.

Avoid crossing between Panama and Colombia by land. The 'Darien Gap' is a dangerous area renowned for the presence of several illegal armed groups, illegal migration, and drugs trafficking. There is no road crossing between Colombia and Panama.

Crime

Crime is prevalent in Colombia and you should take sensible precautions.

Street crime is a problem in major cities, including Bogotá, Medellín, Cali and Santa Marta. Mugging and pickpocketing can be accompanied by violence.

There have been reports of criminals in Colombia using drugs to subdue their victims. Drugs can be administered through food, drinks, cigarettes, aerosols and even paper flyers, and can temporarily incapacitate the victim, leaving them vulnerable to robbery, sexual assault and other crimes.

Where possible, plan how you will travel to and from your destination. Only use pre-booked taxis. Avoid travelling on your own or at night, especially at border crossings or areas where there are few other people around.

Serious crime

Though the security situation in Colombia has improved in recent years, terrorism and serious criminal activities remain significant threats.

The January 2019 bombing in Bogotá has seen tensions between the Colombian Government and terrorist group ELN heightened given that peace talks have permanently broken down.

A high level of caution should be exercised against street crime in major cities such as Bogotá, Medellín and Cali. You should avoid unnecessary visits to deprived areas of all Colombian cities. In Bogotá, you should be vigilant in areas to the south of Candelaria and to the west of the airport road as these parts of the city are particularly dangerous. Exercise caution on city streets, especially after dark.

Foreigners have been known to be victims of 'express kidnapping', which can occur after hailing taxis on the street.

Criminal gangs are active in all of the Departments where coca is cultivated, processed or transported, as well as in many cities. The risk is particularly significant in rural areas near the borders with Panama, Venezuela and Ecuador; in the Parque Nacional Natural de La Macarena in the Department of Meta; and the port towns of Buenaventura in the Department of Valle de Cauca, Turbo in the Department of Antioquia and Tumaco in the Department of Nariño.

Petty crime

Petty theft, such as pick-pocketing and bag-snatching, is relatively common in Colombia, including at the airport in Bogotá, on public transport, and near hotels. Take care of your personal belongings and avoid obvious displays of wealth. Avoid using your mobile phone on the street.

Foreigners have been robbed and assaulted after accepting 'spiked' food, drinks, cigarettes or chewing gum and after being sprayed by aerosols containing incapacitating chemicals.

Tourist scams

There have been reports, including in Bogotá, of bogus policemen approaching foreigners to inspect documents or foreign currency. If approached, you should avoid handing over money or documents, unless threatened, and try to stay in busy areas.

Lost or stolen passports

If your passport is lost or stolen, it can take up to three weeks to get a replacement, due to time and distance factors. So please take extreme care with your passport and other personal documentation. Getting a replacement passport will be easier if you are able to provide a copy of the lost or stolen one, so keep photocopies of your passport.

Reporting crime

If you're a victim of a crime while in Colombia, report it to the local police immediately. Many insurance companies will only compensate loss from theft if you can provide a police report. Contact us at the Irish Embassy in Bogotá if you require assistance.

Driving

If you're planning to drive in Colombia, you should be extremely careful. Driving and road standards are variable. Travel by road outside the major cities, including by public transport, is dangerous. If you want to drive:

  • Bring your international driving license and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and you risk being detained, fined or banned from driving if caught
  • Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you're stopped at traffic lights

Taxis

Where possible, plan how you will travel to and from your destination. Only use pre-booked taxis. We strongly advise against hailing taxis from the street.

Hiring a vehicle

If you're hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you're allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.

Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).

Local Laws and Customs

Local laws and customs

Illegal drugs

Drug trafficking is a serious crime in Colombia and drug smugglers face severe penalties, usually receiving long terms of imprisonment. Don't handle drugs in Colombia. Pack your luggage yourself and keep it with you at all times. Don't carry anything through customs for anybody else.

LGBT travellers

Homosexuality is legal but not widely accepted, especially in rural areas.

Military or strategic government sites

Photographing of military or strategic government sites is not allowed.

Age of consent

It is a serious criminal offence to have sex with a minor (under 18 years old).

Natural Disasters and Climate

Natural disasters and climate

Earthquakes

Colombia is in an active seismic zone, which can prove dangerous. If you're travelling to or living in Colombia, make sure you know what to do in the event of an earthquake.

Volcanoes

Colombia is also subject to volcanic activity. If travelling to volcanic zones e.g. Nevado Del Ruiz, the Galeras Volcano in the Nariño Department or the Cerro Machin in Tolima Department, you should pay careful attention to any warnings issued and follow the advice of the local authorities.

Flooding

Colombia is prone to heavy rains, which can affect large areas of the country, particularly in the Andes regions and during the rainy seasons of April to May and October to November. Pay close attention to the warnings issued by the Colombian authorities.

Additional Information

Additional information

Entry requirements (visa/passport)

Irish citizens don't need a visa to visit Colombia for periods of up to 90 days. When entering the country, you may need to provide evidence of return or onward travel.

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of six months from the date of entry into Colombia. Entry requirements change from time to time, so check these requirements with the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Colombia.

If you're travelling through the United States of America, you'll need to meet US entry/transit requirements. Check your visa requirements with a US Embassy or Consulate well in advance of travel.

Yellow fever

Depending on your country of origin, Colombian authorities may require you to hold a yellow-fever vaccination certificate in order to enter the country. Such certificates are also mandatory to enter certain high-risk regions and national parks.

If you intend to travel on to neighbouring countries in Latin America from Colombia, you may not be allowed to do so without production of a yellow-fever vaccination certificate. You should confirm with the authorities of your next destination whether they require a certificate following your visit to Colombia.

Passports

It's advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you. During your stay you should carry a photocopy of your passport, the passport page containing your Colombian visa (if applicable), and the passport page containing your entry stamp, at all times.

Health

Check with your doctor well in advance (at least eight weeks) of travelling to see if you need any vaccinations for Colombia.

Medical facilities in Colombia vary widely in quality. In larger cities, private clinics usually provide good quality care, whereas public health facilities and those in smaller cities may be of poorer quality.

Before you travel, you should make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation. Foreign nationals who violate immigration laws in Colombia (e.g. by overstaying a visa) will not be permitted to access Colombia's public health system.

Malaria

There's a high incidence of malaria in low-land tropical areas, particularly in Choco and north-western Antioquia. You are advised to take medical advice on anti-malarial medication prior to travel, and after arrival, take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes by using bed nets and repellents, and wearing closed shoes, long sleeves and trousers.

Dengue fever

Dengue fever is endemic to Latin America and the Caribbean and can occur throughout the year. Take precautions against being bitten by Dengue-carrying mosquitoes, which are active throughout the day.

Zika virus

A moderate risk of transmission of the Zika virus (a dengue-like mosquito-borne disease) exists in Colombia, though it is worth noting that mosquitoes transmitting the virus are unlikely to be found above 2,000m (6,500ft). Pregnant women or women planning a pregnancy are advised to postpone all non-essential travel to Colombia. All Irish citizens are advised to follow the guidance available on the website of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC).

Chikungunya virus

Cases of chikungunya virus have been reported in Colombia. As with other mosquito-borne viruses, all precautions should be taken to avoid bites.

Drinking water

Tap water is safe to drink only in Bogotá. In all other areas of Colombia, you should drink only bottled water and avoid ice in drinks.

Altitude sickness

Travellers to many parts of Colombia, including Bogotá, are at risk of developing altitude sickness. Get advice from your doctor before you travel, particularly if you plan to carry out activities such as hiking in high-altitude areas.

 

Embassy contact

Embassy Contact

Embajada de Irlanda
Calle 116 No. 7-15,
Edificio Cusezar, piso 12,
Santa Bárbara, Bogotá D.C.

By appointment only

Contact us

Honorary Consulate Contact

Mr Carlos Guillermo Gómez Lecompte
Honorary Consul of Ireland
Avenida Americas 56-41
Bogotá
Colombia

Tel: + 571 432 0695

Email: Email us