Opening a Bank Account in Colombia

Find out how to go about opening a Colombian bank account: the documents needed and the process to expect...

To open a savings and current/checking bank account in Colombia, the following documents are required:

  • ID (Cédula): Foreigners need to show their passport together with a work or resident visa and the cédula de extranjería
  • Personal details: for example address and telephone number
  • Utility bills or copy of a tenancy agreement
  • Information about the source of the money

For checking accounts the following documents are also required:

  • Work details: Employees must provide the address and telephone number of their work (this information will be verified by the bank)
  • Employees must present a copy of their contract of employment
  • Independent workers must provide all the documents related to their activity or the company, income information and documents such as a certificate from the Chamber of Commerce, copy of a declaration of income and bank statements

Money must be deposited into an account in order to open one.

Types of Bank Accounts

Savings Account (Cuenta de Ahorro)

Savings accounts can be:

  • Individuales (Individuals): For only one person
  • Colectivas (Collective): More than two people can manage the account
  • Conjuntas (Combined): Two people are authorized to manage the account

Accounts are interest-bearing during a certain period depending on the amount kept in the account.

Current/Checking account (Cuenta Corriente)

The money held in a checking (current) account can be withdrawn using automated cash machines (ATMs), and electronic debit and credit cards. Payments can also be made by check with prior authorization from the bank. The maintenance fees can be high depending on the bank.

Other types of account include:

  • Cuentas para niños (Accounts for children): To encourage and teach children the value of money and how to save it, this account is designed for children younger than 8 (depending on the institution) and their parents are responsible for managing the account
  • Cuentas para jovenes (Accounts for young people): For children, students and young people aged between 8 and 25 years old, and free of tax. Once the client turns 25 the account needs to be upgraded to a different type of bank account
  • Cuenta de ahorro programado (scheduled savings account): Interest-bearing account, where the amount of interest earned depends on the period of time the money remains in the account untouched. There are no debit cards for this type of account

The procedure when opening a savings account is relatively quick and simple; following the application a debit card is provided immediately. Temporary passwords are also provided to set up online and telephone banking and it is possible to use the bank account straight away.

For checking accounts the bank sends a letter after approximately one week to confirm whether the application process was successful or not. Once the account has been approved, account details are provided and the person must go to the bank to collect any debit or credit cards (tarjeta de credito o debito).