Doing Business In Colombia

  1. Colombia’s overall Doing Business 2013 ranking is 45 out of 185 economies, recording a decrease of 1 point compared with last year.
  2. According to the latest Enterprise Surveys (2010), the top 3 obstacles to running a business in Colombia are Access to Finance, Practices of the Informal Sector, and Tax Rates. 70.9% of firms report competing against unregistered or informal firms, compared to the regional average of 62.3%.
  3. In the World Bank Governance Indicators (2010), Colombia ranks between the 40th and 60th percentiles for all indicators, with the notable exception of the Political Stability indicator, for which it ranks below the 10th percentile.
  4. Colombia’s economic freedom score is 68, making its economy the 45th freest in the 2012 Index. Its overall score is the same as last year, with improvements in business, labor, and monetary freedom offset by worsened scores in government spending and freedom from corruption. Colombia is ranked 8th out of 29 countries in the South and Central America/Caribbean region.

Source: World Bank


Visa Information

Nationals of some countries, including most of Western Europe, the Americas, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, don't need a visa to enter Colombia. It's a good idea to check this before your planned trip, because visa regulations change frequently.
All visitors get an entry stamp or print in their passport from Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad (DAS; the security police responsible for immigration) upon arrival at any international airport or land border crossing. The stamp says how many days you can stay in the country. The maximum allowed is 90 days, but DAS officials often stamp 60 or just 30 days.
Make sure you get an entry stamp or you'll have troubles later. Official money changers and banks will want to see your entry stamp, as will police if there are any problems. When departing the country, if you don't have a stamp you'll also have to pay a fine (around US$60) and get a salvoconducto (literally, 'safe conduct') from a DAS office. Similarly, make sure you have a departure stamp or there will be trouble the next time around.
Visa extensions
You are entitled to a 30-day extension (costing US$25), which can be obtained from DAS in any departmental capital. The new 30 days begins from the end of the visa already stamped in your passport (so there's no need to wait to the last minute). Most travelers apply for an extension in Bogotá.

Business Etiquette

Meeting and Greeting

* It is courteous to shake hands both upon meeting and departing. 
* Men should wait for a woman to extend her hand. 
* Greetings should take some time - ensure you engage in some small talk, i.e. ask about family, health and business. 
* Eye contact is viewed positively.
* Wait for the other party to initiate a change to first names. 

Business Cards

* It is a good idea to try and have one side of your business card translated into Spanish. 
* Include any university degrees or qualifications as this is valued. 
* Treat business cards with respect. 

Business Meetings

* Although there may be an agenda, meetings do not always follow a linear path.

* An agenda will serve as a starting point and after that issues are addressed as an when.
* Relationship building is crucial - it may be a good idea to invest time in establishing trust for the first few meetings.
* Time is not an issue in meetings - they will last as long as they need to last. Do not try and rush proceedings.
* Colombians are termed as 'indirect communicators' - this means there is more information within body language and context rather than the words, i.e. if you ask someone to do something and they reply 'I will have to see', it would be up to you to read between the lines and realise that they can not do it.
* The reason for this way of communicating it to protect relationships and face.
* This means people that are used to speaking directly and openly must tame their communication style as it could cause offense.
* Although they can be indirect, Colombians can also become very animated. This should not be mistaken for aggression.
* Avoid confrontation at all cost. If someone has made a mistake do not expose it publicly as this will lead to a loss of face and a ruined relationship.  

General Business Hours