Leaving Colombia and Moving On

Find out how to close bank accounts, end contracts for utilities and insurance, move pets and notify residency officials when leaving Colombia…

When it comes to moving on and leaving Colombia, a number of administrative tasks need to be completed in order to ensure a smooth departure.

Migración Colombia, a department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is responsible for immigration procedures for foreigners. It has an English-language telephone line for questions relating to immigration procedures. When leaving Colombia permanently, there is no requirement to inform the authorities as long as the person has up-to-date travel documents and no outstanding court orders preventing them from leaving the country.

  • Migración Colombia (website in Spanish)
    At: Calle 26 Nº. 59-51. Tower 3. Floor 4. Zona Occidente
    Tel: (1) 6055454 / 018000 510454
    email
    Open: Monday to Friday: 08:00-16:00

Travelling with Children

There are specific requirements when leaving the country with children to prevent child kidnapping and human trafficking.

Children under the age of 18 leaving Colombia must be travelling with both parents and have a notarized copy of their birth certificate. Minors not travelling with both parents must present written and notarized consent from the parent who is not travelling with them, or a death certificate if applicable. Children travelling with a third party must present written and notarized consent from both parents.

Schools

Schools should be given a reasonable amount of notice of a child's departure, however, the process may vary from school to school. In general the school should be notified by letter, by telephone or in person.

The school should provide the latest results and a summary of the child's progress and up-to-date test results upon request. In order to be valid for international institutions, an authentication from a notary public, certification by the local Education Secretariat and an apostille are often necessary, depending on the specific requirements of the destination.

Health and Social Security

The national health and social security system is mandatory for every Colombian resident and health services are provided by a number of private companies, from which every person or family group chooses one to join and pay their contributions to.

While living in Colombia, a transfer between different companies (known as EPS) can be done after the first 12-month contract is up, or in special circumstances if the individual is dissatisfied with the services. When leaving the country, the service can be suspended or cancelled; the procedure varies from one EPS to another.

In most cases, written notice must be given, in Spanish, at least one month before cancellation. For more accurate information on a case by case basis, it is advisable to contact the relevant EPS by telephone.

If dental or medical treatment has been received while in Colombia, patients should ask for their records to be forwarded to their new practitioner and, if possible, retain a copy.

Housing Issues

Rental contracts

When cancelling a rental contract within the original terms of the agreement, it is necessary to send written notice to the owner of the property at least three months before the end of the contract, stating the wish to terminate and not renew the contract when it expires.

In order to cancel a rental contract before term, Colombian law establishes that written notice must be sent to the landlord no less than three months before the desired cancellation time, and a penalty fee may be charged, which usually corresponds to the equivalent of three months’ rent.

In this case two possibilities exist: the first is that the landlord accepts the reasons for cancelling the contract before time, and a negotiation on the penalty fee may even be achieved. The second possibility is that the owner is entitled to object to the early termination of the contract, and issue a lawsuit, in which cases the tenant must pay the remaining months’ rent.

Utilities

When renting a home in Colombia, usually the basic utilities such as electricity, water and occasionally gas are installed and contracted by the owner or the estate agency, and a transfer to the tenant’s name is less frequent. If necessary, the agency or landlord can provide guidance on cancelling or transferring the services back to their name.

Services such as telephone, Internet and cable services are contracted directly by the tenant and need to be cancelled before leaving. The cancellation procedure depends on the company who holds the contract; however, notice by telephone or in writing at least one month in advance is common. Contact the provider directly and ask for specific instructions.

Bank Accounts

To close a bank account, the account holder must go in person to the bank and request the closure, usually by filling in a form. Some banks request that check books or cards be handed in and destroyed.

Insurance

The process for cancelling a contract with an insurance company is different depending on the company; however, it is common to notify the insurance company in writing. For car insurance, no claims benefits or reference letters must be requested directly and depending on the requirements of the destination country, they may need to be notarized and certified by the local authorities.

Travelling with Pets

When travelling to international destinations it is important to comply with the necessary requirements for pet travel for the country in question. Standard documentation when travelling abroad from Colombia includes:

  • Health Inspection Certificate (Certificado de salud del animal) for the destination country; this is available from a veterinarian in Colombia, and must be issued no more than three days before travel
  • Vaccination certificate (Certificado Sanitario) stating the date of the last vaccination
  • CIS Certificate (Certificado de Inspección Sanitario - CIS) issued by the Instituto Colombiano Agropecuario (ICA) at El Dorado Airport. This can be done up to three days before travelling

On domestic flights within Colombia, only the vaccination card or the dog or the cat is required as documentation.