Colombian products are very competitive in global markets. Many of the articles produced in Colombia enjoy preferential and even duty-free treatment in several markets. For instance, many Colombian products enjoy preferential treatment in the United States under the Andean Trade Preferences Act. Also, many products enjoy preferential treatment under the Generalized System of Preferences adopted by developed nations to favor imports from developing countries. Colombia has signed a number of Partial-Scope and Free Trade Agreements that provide reciprocal preferential treatment.
Moreover, in recent years Colombia has enacted sweeping changes to its trade legislation making it easier and less expensive to export products from our country.
In general, individuals or companies exporting goods from Colombia must comply with the following procedures:
Step 1: Certificate of Origin (if required)
Some importing countries require a Certificate of Origin for the exported good in order to proceed with nationalization or to be eligible for tariff preferences.
When the importing country does not require certificate of origin or a textile visa 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 the corresponding regional office of the Foreign Trade Ministry [MINCOMEX]. www.mincomex.gov.co/comercio/registros/
Once the form is filed, the exporter may proceed to purchase the appropriate Certificate of Origin form at a branch office of the Banco del Estado. The completed Certificate of Origin form must then be filed at MINCOMEX along with a copy of the commercial invoice. MINCOMEX will process the Certificate of Origin form in 24 hours.
When the Colombian export consists of textiles or apparel to the United States, the exporter must obtain a textile visa. The exporter must complete a textile quota form that is supplied by MINCOMEX. Once completed, MINCOMEX will issue the textile visa, which is stamped on the commercial invoice.
Step 2 Export Declaration Form:
The next step involves purchasing and filing out a Documento de Exportación [Export Declaration] form, which is sold nation-wide at the offices of the Dirección de Impuestos y Aduanas Nacionales [National Tax and Customs Directorate] (DIAN).
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 (MINERALCO); animal and vegetable species (Ministerio del Medio Ambiente); gold and its products (Banco de la República); glands and organs of human origin (Ministerio de Salud); non-processed products of animal or vegetable origin, live and dead fish (INPA).
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 the 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 from MINCOMEX at www.mincomex.gov.co
IMPORTING INTO COLOMBIA
In recent years, Colombia has enacted sweeping changes to its trade legislation, lowering its tariffs and making it easier to import products into its territory. Furthermore, Colombia has signed several important free trade and partial-coverage agreements that provide preferential tariff treatment to products imported from other signatory countries.
NORMAL IMPORT PROCEDURES
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 file the importer’s Identification Numbers with MINCOMEX. If the importer is an individual, must present an authenticated copy of cédula de ciudadania [citizenship card]. In the case of a company an authenticated copy of the número de identificación tributaria [fiscal identification number], abbreviated as NIT, card must be presented.
Next, the importer must purchase a registro de importación –hoja principal [registry of import form — main sheet] form at any of the branch offices of the Banco del Estado.
Before filing the import registry, the importer must determine whether the goods in question requires a Certificate of Origin, Certificate of Inspection, Certificate of Conformity, and whether the import must be approved by another State agency (such as the Ministries of Agriculture, Health, Environment, Defense, etc.). Also, at this stage the importer must determine whether the import qualifies for any preferential treatment.
Once filled out, the import registry form must be filed at an MINCOMEX office, along with any other required paperwork described above. Most applications will be approved and ready for pick-up on the following day. Approved import registry forms are valid for a period of 6 months, unless they are for certain capital goods in which case they are valid for 1 year or for products under the control of the Consejo Nacional de Estupefacientes [Narcotics Board] in which case they are only valid for 1 month.
Step 2: Payment of the imported articles
Upon approval of the import registry by MINCOMEX, the importer may proceed to secure financing for the importation from an authorized financial broker.
Financing of the importation must be registered at the Banco de la República within 6 months counted from the date of the bill of lading.
Step 3: Value Declaration
Filing of a Declaración de Valor en Aduanas [Customs Value Declaration] 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 fee for obtaining a copy of the form can be paid at a branch office of Banco Popular or at the offices of the DIAN . The form itself must be requested at a DIAN office.
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 4: 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, a Declaración de Importación [Import Declaration] form must be requested at a DIAN office and the form’s fee may be paid there or at a branch office of the Banco Popular.
Once filled out, the importer must bring the import declaration form to an authorized financial entity in the city that corresponds to the Colombian customs office where the goods have been landed. At the authorized financial entity, the importer should proceed to pay the applicable customs duties.
Step 5: 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 other documents: transport documents, original copy of the value declaration, as well as the original of the Certificate of Origin and Certificate of Conformity, if required.
Withdrawal of the goods will then be authorized by the customs officer 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. For more information on the procedures that apply under the above import modalities, contact the MINCOMEX at www.mincomex.gov.co
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