Colombian nationality: the foreigner’s guide to obtaining it

Colombian Nationality

Do you love Colombia so much you want to officially be a part of it?  Do you want to stay in the country indefinitely without having to worry about the hassle of obtaining a visa?  Was at least one of your parents born in Colombia?  If you answered yes to all three questions, then you might want to consider getting your Colombian nationality!  And for the fastest processing, do it in Bogotá!

If you are the child of a Colombian citizen by birth, you are eligible to get nationality (if this doesn’t apply to you, you can still apply for a number of visas, including a Student Visa or a Work Visa)!  The process to get Colombian nationality is relatively easy, allows you to bypass the visa nonsense and gives you the freedom and flexibility to stay for as long as you’d like!

Bogotá is the quickest and easiest place to get this done because it’s where everything would be sent for processing anyways if you were to do it elsewhere.  You just need the right documents, a few office visits, some patience and a conversational level of Spanish to communicate with officials (get prepared with some Spanish classes).

Documents needed:

·     Certified copy of your birth certificate

·     Apostille of the certified copy of your birth certificate (must be obtained in your home country, you can NOT go to your country’s embassy for this)

·     Translation of the certified copy of your birth certificate by an official translator (for a directory of approved translators, check with the Ministry of Exterior Relations here) ·     Proof of your blood type (I used my old cédula de extranjería – foreigner I.D. card)

·     Photocopy of both sides of your Colombian parent’s cédula (I.D. card)

·     Photocopy of I.D. and signature page of your non-Colombian parent’s passport*

·     Professional passport photos (you need at least six)

* If both of your parents are Colombian, I would imagine the process is the same and you would just submit a photocopy of both their cédulas instead of the passport of the non-Colombian parent

The process

You can choose any of the Civil Registry (Registradurías) offices in Bogotá to go to, but whichever office you start this process with, you must stick with until you receive your cédula, otherwise, you have to start over. The good news is this whole process is free!  You will, however, spend money on the required documents because chances are good that you don’t already have the Apostille handy and that costs money, as does the translation.

How to Obtain Colombian Nationality as a Foreigner
© Photograph by Registraduría Nacional Colombia

The first step is to go to the Registraduría with all your papers and tell the information desk you’d like to process your nationality and get your first-time cédula.  That person will check your documents (but not keep them) to make sure you have them all and then they will direct you to another desk where someone will fingerprint you and ask you some basic questions for a background check.  And that’s all that will happen this visit.

The office will call you when they have the results, which should take about a month.  This means you need a working phone, so don’t forget to get a Colombian SIM card!  Then you simply wait.  If you don’t hear from them in that amount of time, I would recommend going back to the office and inquiring about the status.

Once you receive word that you’ve cleared your background check, you have the green light to go back to that same office and bring in all your documents to be submitted.  You will also need to bring a Colombian with a civil registry (i.e. a Colombian citizen) to vouch for you at the appointment and they will also have to submit a copy of their cédula, front and back, with your papers.  I recommend going first thing in the morning because this visit will last a couple of hours. You won’t have to do much at this appointment, mostly more waiting around.  At the end of it, they will issue you a contraseña (your temporary I.D. while you wait anywhere from 1-3 months for your actual cédula to arrive) and your civil registry paper (ask for an official copy of it too because you will need it for your passport)!

The office I used:  Registraduría Auxiliar La Candelaria

Carrera 7 #17-75, Locale 10 and 11

Hours:  8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Lunch from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.)

How to Obtain Colombian Nationality as a Foreigner
© Photograph by Rachel Arrieta

Getting a Colombian passport

With your newfound Colombian citizenship, you can now get yourself a Colombian passport!  There are two offices in Bogotá you can go to for this, just check the Cancillería’s website.  All you need is the official copy of your Civil Registry paper, your contraseña and your home country’s passport (to verify you entered the country legally). Like the Registraduría, I recommend going in the morning when they open.  The passport office is much quicker and processing can be done in about an hour.  You’ll get a number and wait to be called before you sit down with someone who will take your paperwork and do the rest of the work.  You just need to decide between the ordinario passport with 32 pages ($165,000 COP or $59 USD) or the ejecutivo with 48 pages ($255,000 COP or $91 USD). Once they finish, it’s a 24-hour turnaround so you can go back the next day to pick up your passport!

How to Obtain Colombian Nationality as a Foreigner
© Photograph by Felipe Pinzón

Office I used:  Sede de pasaportes en Barrio Chapinero

Calle 53 #10-60

Hours:  8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

It’s a relatively simple and straightforward process to nationality as long as you have all the right documents in order.  Once you finally get your cédula and passport, it all becomes real and is the greatest feeling!  If you are planning on residing in Colombia for a while, you might want to consider setting yourself up with health insurance and a bank account (it’s a lot easier as a citizen!).

It was about four weeks from the time I first walked in with all my paperwork to the moment I was handed my contraseña and passport (and less than two months after that, my cédula was ready for pickup).  I originally tried to do it outside the capital and ran into several issues that were dragging out the process.  So I abandoned the original office I went to and got it all taken care of in Bogotá, where it was more streamlined.  I’m so glad I did because I had already left the country and come back, which meant I only had the 90 days the tourist visa allows and I knew I wanted to stay longer!  Whatever your reasons for pursuing citizenship, I hope you love being an official Colombian as much as I do!  Welcome to the dual nationality club! Got any specific questions?  Ask away!  Tell me what you plan to do with your newfound nationality in the comments and be sure to follow my articles on!  Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media for all things Bogotá related.

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