In general, persons or companies importing goods to Colombia must comply with the following procedures:
Step 1: Registering the Import
The first step is to fill out the import registry (Registro de Importacion) that can be obtained at any of the regional offices of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism – MINCOMERCIO. The import registry is only required for a limited set of goods which are subject to special certifications and approval processes by various state agencies.
More specifically, the import registry is required in instances where imports are subject to: licenses under the prior licensing regime, safeguards or special import-export systems. An import registry is also required for certain goods that be subject to different kind of certifications by state agencies (such as the Ministries of Agriculture, Social Protection, Environment, Defense, etc.) such as fishing products, oil products, sanitary and phytosanitary certification and certification of conformity with technical standards.
Recently, the Colombian Government has established a new system, known as VUCE (Ventanilla Única de Comercio Exterior), which allows obtaining approvals (authorizations), permits or certificates using Internet technology. Through VUCE, the importer can sign, pay, and review the status of a process involved with any of the 18 government entities (Ministries & Agencies) that are engaged with import activities. The importer is required to register in the VUCE system using his RUT – Registro Único Tributario (Unique Tax Registry) and a certificate authorizing the electronic use of his signature. Throughout VUCE, the importer can pay and file the import registry procedure, as well as to obtain the previous approvals or certificates required in order to import from the appropriate entities. For more information please visit the Web page of VUCE at MINCOMERCIO.
For more information and support in determining whether an import registry and other certifications are required, contact one of the certified customs brokers (SIAS) in Colombia.
In addition, if the importer is a company, a fiscal identification number (Número de Identificación Tributaria), known as NIT, must be submitted.
Once filled out, the import registry form must be filed at a MINCOMERCIO regional office, along with other required documents.
Step 2: Value Declaration
Filing of a Customs Value Declaration (Declaración de Valor en Aduanas) is mandatory for goods valued at US$ 5000 or more and for partial shipments that make up a total shipment valued at or above US$ 5000. The form must be requested at one of the regional offices of the Dirección de Impuestos y Aduanas Nacionales (DIAN) – National Tax and Customs Administration.
Colombia has adopted the Valuation Code of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. This means that in most cases the declared value of the imported goods will be based on the transaction method. In other words, the declared value of the goods will be the price actually paid or to be paid for them with certain adjustments.
Step 3: Import Declaration and Payment of Customs Duties
This step must be completed either a maximum of 15 days prior to the goods’ arrival to the country or, alternatively, once the goods have arrived at a customs warehouse. First, an Import Declaration (Declaración de Importación) form must be requested at a DIAN regional office.
Once filled out, the importer must bring the import declaration form to an authorized financial entity in the city where the goods have been landed. At the authorized financial entity, the importer should proceed to pay the applicable customs duties.
Step 4: Withdrawal From Customs
Upon payment of the applicable duties, the importer must present at the warehouse where the goods have been landed, the original and the third copy of the import declaration form and the following additional documents: transport documents, original copy of the value declaration, as well as original copy of the Certificate of Origin and Certificate of Conformity, if required.
The customs officer will then authorize withdrawal of the goods unless an inspection is deemed to be necessary.
The procedures described above are those that need to be followed in most transactions. However, a small number of goods may still require a license before their importation is authorized. Other import modalities that may have different procedures include: Re-importing for passive reconditioning, Unaltered re-importing, Imports covered by a warranty, Temporary importation for re-export, Temporary importation for active reconditioning, Imports to be transformed or assembled, and postal traffic and urgent deliveries.