Colombia is a favorite amongst remote workers, freelancers and digital nomads in Latin America–and for very good reason! The country has a low cost of living, warm weather all-year-round, a free visa upon arrival and various residency programs.
Remote workers can stay for up to 180 days in Colombia visa-free, with many programs available for longer stays. Moreover, Colombia just launched a digital nomad visa that allows for a two year stay! Therefore, one can work remotely for a foreign company and truly live “the good life” in Colombia for years!
So don’t wait any longer to relocate to Colombia, and keep reading to find out how.
Remote Workers and Digital Nomads in Colombia
Colombia has been a hotspot for remote workers for a good decade now. The location is beneficial for anyone living in North America, as it’s only a short jaunt and the weather is warm and moderate year-round.
Here are some advantages Colombia has going for itself:
- A cheap cost of living
- A developed infrastructure that makes it easy to work remotely and move around
- Long-term residence options are available for tourists and other foreigners, such as expats, digital nomads, investors and remote workers
- A large digital nomad community in Medellin
The Weather in Colombia
Colombia’s weather depends on the altitude. For example, Colombian cities closer to sea level, which is about 80% of the country, have hot 80-degree days. The cities that have higher elevation and are closer to the Andes, like Medellín, tend to have comfortable 70-degree weather.
Medellin is the digital nomad capital of Colombia with the best weather for North Americans and Europeans. Nomads say that the weather in Medellin is almost perfect for the whole year. The city’s climate is warm and sunny without it being too hot.
Working remotely from Colombia for a US company
Colombia is also an attractive place for someone working for an American company. That’s because US citizens can escape the American winter for sunny Colombia only a few hours away by plane.
Another advantage is that those working for a US company in Colombia don’t have to pay taxes there, as long as they don’t stay more than 180 days in a year.
In Colombia, they can also carry out domestic work and business activities for up to 90 days visa-free. After that, they can extend their stay for an additional 90 days.
During that time, one would continue to be paid by their US employer. Therefore, you do not need a business visa to carry out your domestic professional activities while abroad.
Visa options to work remotely in Colombia
Colombia has many visa options for foreigners who wish to stay in the counntry for a short or long period of time.
Tourist visa on arrival
The big advantage of living in and working remotely from Colombia is the relatively relaxed immigration laws and visa requirements. Upon arrival, nationals of most western countries (e.g., citizens of the USA/EU/UK/Australia) are granted a 90 days visa-free stay in the country.
This type of visa is called a Colombian tourist visa, but it isn’t a formal visa. It’s just a stamp in the passport.
After that period, one can apply for the 90 days extension online, or at the immigration office (Migración Colombia) within the country, allowing an extension of up to 180 days.
Overstaying your visa after that can result in fines and even deportation.
Temporary residence in Colombia for remote workers
Colombia has many residency options for foreigners who wish to stay in the country for a period longer than the 180-day yearly maximum for tourists.
Colombian Freelance Visa M
If you want to work as an independent professional in Colombia, you can apply for an M freelance visa. However, many people confuse the Colombian freelance visa for an opportunity to work remotely in Colombia for foreign companies, yet this is not the case.
Hence, you must keep in mind that a Colombian freelance visa will allow you to work independently for a Colombian organization, but it doesn’t extend to international, non-domestic institutes that have no presence in Colombia.
Consequently, if your employer is located abroad, this visa won’t be an appropriate solution. This M-type Colombian freelance visa is granted to expats who want to practice their profession independently within the national territory.
However, foreign professionals can find a Colombian company that is willing to hire them in exchange for some allowance. Otherwise, registering themselves as a firm and hiring themselves as an independent freelancer can be another option.
The visa M for freelancers is granted for a maximum of three years.
Requirements to apply for the Colombia Freelance visa
To apply for the Colombian freelance visa, you will need to submit an electronic application to 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), thus you must show $9,085,260 COP (roughly $2,384 USD) every month (2021).
In total, the Colombian freelance visa costs $282 USD.
Colombia Rentista Visa (M)
Colombia’s Rentista visa is intended for foreigners who receive a fixed income from a source like rent, annuity, dividends or interest. This income must exceed 10 times the minimum monthly salary in Colombia. This minimum comes to roughly $2,384 USD, which goes for the freelancer visa as well (2021).
Income source requirements for the Rentista visa
Below are the acceptable sources of income to qualify for a Colombian Rentista visa:
- Payments from an annuity
- Payments from a retirement fund
- Rent 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 threshold.
Consequently, by providing income from one of the aforementioned sources, you will be qualified for the Colombia Rentista visa.
Documents required for the Colombian Rentista visa:
- Photocopy of the first page of your valid passport
- Photocopy of the page of your passport with the last stamp of entry or departure of Colombia is located
- Photocopy of previous Colombian visa, if applies
- Passport style face photo with a white background, sized at 3*4 cm
- Certificate issued by a public entity or private company, specifying the income paid to the applicant and the amount
- 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 via an embassy or consulate.
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 usually, a visa is issued for one year. Read more about the Colombian Rentista visa here.
Colombia digital nomad visa
Good news! Colombia now has a digital nomad visa. One needs to earn at least $684 USD a mobnth to qualify and pay a fee of $177. This will allow you to stay in Colombia for two whole years, which is much better than what other digital nomad visas allow.
Click here to apply on the official website.
Don’t forget about health insurance
Colombia requires health insurance when applying for any visas. The minimum coverage for a 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
Taxes while working remotely in Colombia
Remote workers in Colombia will become tax residents after staying in the country for more than six months within a tax year. But if you stay for 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 in Colombia are required to file income tax returns. Capital gains, such as any inheritance, gifts and proceeds from the sale of real estate, are subject to taxation.
However, income from the sale of shares through a stock exchange 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 the most important step when moving abroad and setting up your remote office. But because Colombia is a diverse country, we are sure it will meet the needs of any traveler.
For example, beach and sea lovers can look to Cartagena or Santa Marta. Nightlife and music fans will love it in Cali or Medellin. Folks who are made for megacities should go to Bogota.
1 – Medellin
Medellin is the second-largest Colombian city after Bogota and it is well-known among digital nomads. In fact, it’s even regarded as one of the top digital nomad hotspots of South America.
As a remote worker in Medellin, you will enjoy:
- A warm climate all year round (22-23 C)
- beautiful mountains
- lush nature
- great transport system
- variety of coworking areas
- free wifi in public areas
- great coffee shops and restaurants
- low cost of living
- unique culture
Medellin is becoming more and more popular with remote workers. It’s commonly compared to Thailand’s Chiang Mai and Bali’s Canggu, with around 30,000 people working remotely in Medellin according to a 2018 study.
Medellin has a population of around 3 million people, and it is a perfect size for someone looking for a city vibe that isn’t too overwhelming.
The city has everything that you’ll desire, including year-round nice weather, great restaurants and bars, and vibrant nightlife. Cool new hot spots are forever popping up in the city as well.
Food is also inexpensive, and people with all budgets will enjoy great options.
With more and more remote workers moving to Medellin, the digital nomad community is thriving in the city, making Medellin the largest digital nomad and expat community in the country.
Furthermore, it’s the safest city in the state. In this regard, you’ll have a much better quality of life in Medellin than you would in other parts of Colombia.
With a little over 8 million inhabitants, Bogota is the largest city in Colombia. The capital of Colombia is the cultural and economic center of the country. Here you can enjoy a varied gastronomic offering, attractive nightlife, shopping, business centers and coworking spaces.
But the city seems to be gigantic in comparison to Medellin. Bogota is a great travel base for exploring other parts of Colombia.
There is also much sightseeing to do in Bogota, including impressive museums. The nightlife scene is a must-go as well.
The one downside is that some parts of the city are dangerous, especially for travelers, so you need to be careful. But don’t let that deter you. Around 64,000 people work remotely from Bogota, so there’s your confirmation that it is an incredible city.
3 – Cali
Cali is the third biggest spot for remote workers and digital nomads in Colombia, with around 13,500 people working there remotely. Cali has a population of around 2.2 million, and it’s quite the vibrant city.
Located at around 1,000 meters above sea level, it tends to have a warm midday and afternoon, while nights are cool with Pacific Ocean breezes.
If you have always dreamt of learning how to dance salsa, Cali is the place for you. The city is known as the world capital of salsa, which keeps the music going long into the late hours of the early morning.
Cali is also well known for historic landmarks and architecture, as well as exquisite street food. Despite all these treasures though, the digital community isn’t as big there compared to Medellin.
Get a remote job and work from Colombia
To work remotely from Colombia, you will need a suitable job and an employer who is compliant with the fact you are working abroad.
We here at Support Adventure are known as the expat outsourcing company as we hire talented people from around the world who want to work online in IT.
We mostly have positions open for helpdesk support, dispatching and occasionally admin assistance. So if you have experience or interest in IT, don’t wait and apply for a remote job with us!