Exchanging a Foreign Driving License

Information on who can exchange their driving license for a Colombia one, and the steps to follow if you have to exchange your license...

Foreign driving licenses (licencias extranjeras) can be used in Colombia as long as they are still valid in the country they were issued in. This means that unless there are very specific reasons for doing so, it is not necessary to convert a foreign driving license to a Colombian license. There may however be a limit to the length of a time a foreign vehicle may be used in the country, and this should be checked if a car has been temporarily imported.

If the driving license is going to expire and the holder plans to remain in Colombia, then it can be replaced with a driving license issued by the national authorities. The current driving license must first be recognized as valid by the Ministry of Transport. The process is known as Convalidación de Licencia de Conducción Extranjera (recognition of a foreign driving license)

The applicant must first ensure that they have no outstanding fines or charges at the national and district level. National fines and charges can be checked on the SIMIT website. At the district level, they can be checked on the Secretaría de Movilidad website for the relevant district.

The following documents must then be presented at the district transit authorities or at an authorized driving school. In Bogotá, driving licenses are dealt with at SIM offices: SIM stands for the Integrated Mobility System (Sistema integrado de movilidad).

  • A signed application form which is provided by the authorities (hoja de datos licencia de conducción)
  • A 3x4cm color photo, with the applicant's identity number written on the back
  • Copy of blood type certificate
  • Medical certificate
  • A photocopy of the national ID card (cédula) or foreigner's ID card (cédula de extranjería)
  • Photocopy of the valid foreign driving license
  • An official translation of the foreign driving license, issued either by the diplomatic representatives of the foreign country and apostilled or by the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores)
  • Receipt of payment for the service, which varies depending on the type of vehicle the license is for

The license should be obtained in person and the process can be completed in a matter of hours. Fingerprints must also be provided by applicants with a foreign ID card (cédula). Driving licenses are valid for ten years.

To get a Colombian driving license, it is also necessary to sign up for the National Transport Registry, the Registro Único Nacional de Tránsito (RUNT).

The driving license is valid for ten years for people up to the age of 60 and for three years for those aged over 60.