Doing Business in Colombia


Coltrade gives you some steps if you are planning to start a business in Colombia. In general, individuals or companies exporting goods from Colombia must comply with the following procedures:

Step 1: Certificate of Origin (if required by the importing country) 

Some importing countries require a Certificate of Origin (Certificado de Origen) for the exported good in order to proceed with nationalization or to be eligible for tariff preferences such as those granted to Colombia by the United States under the Andean Trade Preference and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA).

When the importing country does not require a certificate of origin for the particular articles that are being exported, proceed to step 2.

If a Certificate of Origin is required by the importing country for the particular article being exported, the exporter must request and fill out a “Register of Domestic Producers, Export Offer, and Request of Determination of Origin” form at one of the regional offices of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism – MINCOMERCIO

The textile visa requirement expired on December 31, 2004. After this date, textile visas will no longer be required for textiles and apparel exports to the United States. For more information, visit the Office of Textiles and Apparel, US Department of Commerce – International Trade Administration at

Step 2: Export Declaration Form

The next step involves purchasing and filling out an Export Declaration form (Declaración de Exportación) which is sold nation-wide at the regional offices of the Dirección de Impuestos y Aduanas Nacionales (DIAN) – National Tax and Customs Administration.

Step 3: Approval by Other Entities

A limited number of articles require approval of other government entities before they may be exported from Colombia. The list of products includes (the proper entity that grants approval is indicated in parenthesis): emeralds and precious stones (MINERCOL); Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Ministerio del Medio Ambiente- Ministry of the Environment); glands and organs of human origin and pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food products (INVIMA – Food and Drug Regulatory  Institute); Live plants and animals and theirs products (ICA – Colombian Institute of Agriculture), non-processed products of live and dead fish (INCODER – Colombian Institute of Rural Development).

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 exporter can sign, pay, and view the status of a process involved with any of the 18 government entities (Ministries & Agencies) that are engaged with export activities.  The exporter is only required to fill out a form (Formulario Único de Comercio Exterior) using the VUCE system, in order to register himself and products or services to be exported, describe the production chain and standardize the information that is required by the appropriate government agencies.

Step 4: Final Approval

The exporter must present the Colombian customs office with the completed export declaration form for final approval of the exportation. The export declaration form must be accompanied by: a) identification card of exporter or proxy which authorizes the agent to undertake the operation; b) transport document; c) commercial invoice; d) approval by other government entities if required for the particular product.Colombian customs will proceed to authorize the export unless it deems necessary to perform an inspection.


Procedures may vary for temporary exports, either for passive reconditioning or for unaltered re-importation. Further information regarding the procedures that must be followed in the case of temporary exports may be obtained at the regional offices of MINCOMERCIO.