If you are tired of your daily life in the office, working remotely from Colombia can be a very attractive idea. One can enjoy a pleasant climate, vibrant culture and save money on daily expenses. So how exactly can one remain in Colombia while working online?
Remote workers and digital nomads can stay and work remotely in Colombia for up to 180 days visa-free. To stay longer, they can apply for one of the various residence permits. Therefore, one can work remotely for a foreign company and stay in the country for up to 180 days in a year without any issue.
Colombia is an exciting destination for digital nomads and remote workers. Moreover, the Colombian city of Medellin has already become an international hotspot for digital nomads in South America.
Read further to learn how you too can work remotely from Colombia and how one should go about it.
Why should you consider working remotely from Colombia?
The popularity of Colombia among digital nomads and remote workers has significantly increased in recent years. Medellin became one of the favorite hot spots for location-independent professionals. The city totally changed its reputation from being dangerous to becoming one of the most international spots in South America.
The main advantages of Colombia for remote workers and digital nomads are:
- Its beautiful nature with a diverse landscape
- Its cheap cost of living
- A developed infrastructure making it easy to work remotely and move around
- Long-term residence options available for tourists and other foreigners
- A large digital nomad community in Medellin
Colombia is so enchanting and beautiful. With its diverse nature, you can enjoy chilly mountains in one moment, and in the next, soak up the sunny beaches of the Caribbean. And let’s not forget about stunning Amazon forests, impressive coffee plantations, historical towns and ruins.
Furthermore, Colombians are among the friendliest and happiest people in the world. But be prepared to take some Spanish classes as most locals don’t speak English.
To be surrounded by like-minded people, head to Medellin, which hosts the largest rapidly growing community of digital nomads and remote workers.
It’s not yet extremely overcrowded with tourists, and you can live as a digital nomad among locals. Two main benefits of working remotely in Colombia, are:
- It’s summer all the year-round.
- The cheap cost of living. You can live comfortably on $1,000 a month.
Working remotely in Medellin, Colombia
We recommend Medellin as the best place to live and work remotely in Colombia. It’s also very easy to reach the destination. One can take a quick flight from many main American and Canadian cities.
Moreover, Medellin is rated as one of the top places for remote work in the Americas. As an American or Canadian, you will enjoy a similar time zone and inexpensive flights home.
The Medellin Community
Besides North Americans, many other nationals can be found in Medellin. It’s a truly international place with digital nomads from all over the world.
You can look forward to a lot of networking and social events such as meet-ups, language exchange clubs and more.
The cost of living in Medellin
Medellin is one of the most affordable cities in Latin America, and it’s cheaper than 86% of cities. In Medellin, you can live off a mere $700 per month.
Rent prices range significantly and can be as low as $250 for a small studio, to thousands of dollars for some modern rooftop apartment. Prices also depend on location and neighborhood.
A one bedroom furnished 85m2 apartment will cost around $660, but in neighborhoods like El Pobladocan, it can go for much higher. Utilities come to around $60 per month, plus $15 for the internet.
Eating out and groceries are inexpensive. For the best price, look into lunch menus and farmer’s markets. Lunch at an inexpensive restaurant will come to around $4-5. $300 is more than enough for your monthly groceries. Furthermore, transportation and entertainment are cheap as well.
Working remotely from Colombia for a U.S. company
As we’ve established now, Colombia is a very attractive place for someone working for an American company. U.S. citizens can escape winter for the sunny South American country and continue to do their job online without any issue.
In fact, working for a U.S. company is the most common way digital nomads make money in Colombia. When working remotely from Colombia, you don’t have to pay taxes unless you stay longer than 180 days in a year.
Concerning visas, foreigners with U.S. jobs will be able to work remotely from Colombia for up to 90 days visa-free. After that, they can extend their stay for an additional 90 days.
During this time, you can continue to work and be paid by your U.S. employer, meaning you don’t need a visa to carry on working.
Visa options to work remotely in Colombia
When a remote worker decides to extend their stay in Colombia, visa and residence permits are required.
Visa regime in Colombia
Nationals of around 100 countries don’t need a visa to visit Colombia and stay for up to 90 days in 180 days. Americans and EU citizens can benefit from this rule. Nevertheless, if they decide to live and work remotely from Colombia for the long term, they must apply for a relevant visa.
It’s also necessary to have a valid passport, and in some cases, proof of a return flight as well. This may be requested at the airport. Some nationals will need to apply online for a tourist E-visa or a classic visa at the embassy. Check this website or the website of the Colombian embassy in your country to learn whether you need one or not.
The tourist visa will be valid for 180 days, and a stay for up to 90 days is possible. Besides this visa option, Colombia has over 30 different types of visas for foreigners, so you have a strong chance to prolong your stay in the country. In fact, tourists can extend their stay without leaving the country.
Extend a tourist visa
Most people can enjoy a visa-free 90 days stay in Colombia. Moreover, they can extend this period for another 90 days. Hence, you will get 180 days total in this beautiful country.
It’s an ideal period for remote workers and digital nomads who don’t want to deal with visa applications. A visa-free stay means you will receive a three-month tourist visa when entering the country. It’s also called a Colombian tourist visa, but it isn’t a formal visa. It’s just a stamp in the passport.
After its expiration, foreigners can easily extend it for another three months at the Colombian migration authority, which can be found in all larger cities. You only need to fill out an application and pay the equivalent of around $30 USD.
Alternatively, you can travel to a neighboring country and receive the next three months visa on your return to Colombia. Visitors cannot stay in Colombia on a tourist visa for more than 180 days in a 12 month period. Overstaying your visa can result in fines and/or deportation.
Temporary residence in Colombia for remote workers
Luckily, Colombia has many residency options for foreigners who wish to stay in the country longer than the yearly maximum of 180-days as a tourist.
Colombian Freelance Visa M
If you want to work as an independent professional in Colombia, you can apply for an M freelance visa. Although it should be said that many people confuse the Colombian freelance visa for an opportunity to work remotely in Colombia for foreign companies. This is not the case.
You must keep in mind that a Colombian freelance visa will allow you to work independently for a Colombian organization. It doesn’t extend to international, non-domestic institutes which have no presence in Colombia.
Basically, if your employer is located abroad, this visa won’t be an appropriate solution. The M-type Colombian freelance visa is granted to expats who want to practice their profession independently within the national territory.
Foreign professionals can find a Colombian company willing to hire them in exchange for some allowance. Registering the firm and hiring themselves as independent freelancers can be another option.
The visa M for freelancers is granted for a maximum of three years.
Requirements when applying for the Colombian Freelance visa
To apply for the Colombian freelance visa, you will need to submit an electronic application through the government’s visa website. The entire process takes around 30 minutes to complete and requires you to submit the following information:
- A scanned copy of a valid passport or travel document.
- A scanned copy of the entry stamp to Colombia and copies of any previously held Colombian visas.
- Two recent 3×3 photographs, facing the camera, in color and against a white background.
- A visa application letter detailing your intentions of being an independent worker in Colombia, for how long and why.
- A professional resume detailing your experience and background within your profession.
- Scanned copies of at least 3 certificates showing your educational and professional attainment for your occupation. These documents must be apostilled, translated and/or legally recognized by an appropriate authority.
- References from Colombian employers who have an interest in procuring your independent services.
- The previous 6-months of your personal bank statements. These must prove that you’ve been earning over 10-times the Colombian minimum monthly wage ($908,526 COP). You must show $9,085,260 COP (roughly $2,384 USD) every month (2021).
In total, the Colombian freelance visa costs $282.
Colombia Rentista Visa (M)
Colombia’s rentista visa is intended for foreigners who receive a fixed income from a source such as annuity, rent, dividends or interest. This income must exceed ten times the minimum monthly salary in Colombia. Like the freelancer visa, that should be roughly $2,384 USD a month.
This visa is the optimal solution for remote workers and digital nomads in Colombia. However, this option is only suitable for someone with some additional or passive income beyond their salary.
Income source requirements for the rentista visa
Acceptable sources of income for a Colombian rentista visa include:
- Payments from an annuity
- Payments from a retirement fund
- Rent payments from rental properties
- Interest received from loaning money
- Dividends or interest payments from investments in companies
- Disability payments from an insurance settlement
- Payments over time from the sale of a business
Salaries or commissions won’t be accepted as income sources for a rentista visa. If you are a retiree, you can obtain a Colombian retirement visa with a lower income requirement.
Documents required for the Colombian rentista visa
- A photocopy of the first page of your valid passport
- A photocopy of the page of your passport with the last stamp of entry to or departure from Colombia
- A photocopy of any previous Colombian visa if that applies to you
- A passport style photo of your face against a white background, sized at 3×4 cm
- A certificate issued by a public entity or private company, specifying the amount of income paid to the applicant
- International health insurance policy certificate showing valid coverage in Colombia for at least one year. The coverage amount must be at least $60,000 USD.
Apply for a rentista visa
One can apply for a Colombian rentista visa online, and pick it up at a Colombian consulate. In fact, any Colombian visa can be collected at consulates around the world.
In the U.S., Colombia has embassies or consulates located in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, Newark, New York, San Francisco and Washington DC.
The validity of the rentista visa will depend on the validity of your health insurance, but typically, a visa is issued for one year. Read more about the Colombian rentista visa here.
Colombian digital nomad visa
Unfortunately, Colombia doesn’t have a digital nomad visa yet. However, at the end of 2020, the government has announced plans to implement one.
The new law was issued on December 31, 2020, where Colombia’s national government charged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to issue a special immigration regime for digital nomads and remote workers.
They claim that a “visa for digital nomads in Colombia will be easy to obtain, require less paperwork than a regular work visa and allow legalizing of a worker’s status without necessarily being linked traditionally with a company.”
This will make Colombia a center of remote work in the framework of the so-called “fourth industrial revolution,” or era of digitization.
Health insurance in Colombia
Colombia requires health insurance for any type of application. The minimum coverage of the policy is:
- $35,000 USD for Visitor (V) visas
- $60,000 to $70,000 USD for Migrant (M) visas
- $100,000 USD for Resident (R) visas
Remote workers in Colombia will become tax residents after staying for more than six months in a tax year. If you stay less than 183 days, you will not have to file a tax document or pay taxes there.
Taxes in Colombia
Colombia’s income tax rates are progressive up to 39%. Non-residents are liable for income tax at a flat rate of 35%. Residents, those who have a resident permit and spend more than six months in a year in Colombia, are taxed on worldwide income. Non-residents however are taxed only on their Colombia-source income.
Residents in Colombia are required to file income tax returns. Capital gains such as inheritances, gifts and proceeds from the sale of real estate are also subject to tax.
Income from the sale of shares through a stock exchange however isn’t considered occasional earnings and is thus tax-exempt.
Social security in Colombia
Employees pay 3.875% and 4% of salary for pension and health contributions respectively.
The best cities in Colombia to work remotely
Choosing a city to live in and work remotely from is a crucial step when moving abroad and setting up your remote office. Colombia is a diverse country and will meet the needs of any traveler.
Beach and sea lovers can look into Cartagena or Santa Marta. Nightlife and music fans will love it in Cali or Medellin. Folks who were made for megacities should go to Bogota.
Nonetheless, Medellin is the top-rated city for remote workers and digital nomads in Colombia. We recommend choosing this city, especially for your first time in this fantastic country.
Get a remote job and work from Colombia
To work remotely from Colombia, you will need a suitable job and an employer compliant with the fact you are working abroad.
Here at Support Adventure, a remote MSP staffing company, we’re known as the expat outsourcing company as we hire talented people from around the world who want to work online from anywhere.
We mostly have IT positions open for helpdesk support, as well as admin assistance and service delivery coordination. So don’t wait and apply for a remote job with us here on our IT support jobs page!