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Colombia Identification Card: How Expats Get A Cedula De Extranjería

Unlock expat life in Colombia by obtaining the Cédula de Extranjería. This foreign identification card offers access to government services, including Colombia’s vaunted healthcare system. This guide provides the costs, benefits, and detailed step-by-step instructions in English to obtaining a Cedula de Extranjeria. minutes

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Published On: October 25, 2023

Latest Update: April 12, 2024

Colombian Identification Card - Cédula de Extranjería

About the author

Hi, I'm Marco Sison. I worked in finance for Fortune 50 companies before retiring early at 41 years old. I have been an expat for over 10 years, living in over 50 countries to show you the best ways to save, invest, and live in amazing countries outside the USA. I am a trusted resource on personal finance and overseas retirement for US News & World Reports, HuffPost, MSN Money, USA Today, ABC Network, Yahoo Finance, Association of MBAs, the iTunes documentary Seeking FIRE, and the Amazon Best-Seller- Abroad: Expats That Thrive.

QUICK SUMMARY- COLOMBIAN FOREIGN ID CARD

  • Cédula de Extranjería facilitates expat life, easing access to government services like public health insurance.
  • Obtaining the foreigner ID card costs 246,000 Colombian pesos, approximately $60 USD.
  • The application form is available online.
  • Scheduling a time to submit your application at a Migracion Colombia branch is also available online.
  • Some expats face difficulty securing Cédula appointments, especially in busy immigration offices.
  • It is sometimes easier to fly to a smaller city for an appointment vs. going to Bogota or Medellin immigration.

Overview: Cedula De Extranjería

The Cédula de Extranjería is a foreigner identity document issued by the Special Administrative Unit of the Colombian Ministry of External Relations (MINISTERIO DE RELACIONES EXTERIORES- Migration Colombia) to track civil registration data of expatriates in Colombia. The Cédula de Extranjería is specifically for foreign nationals with a visa valid for over three months.

A sample front and view of the sample Colombian Foreign ID.

The cedula is a valid identity document with a unique ID number and acts as a current identity card akin to a social security card. The cedula registration process ensures every expat moving to Colombia with a long-term visa is accounted for with a foreign ID card.

INSIDER TIP: Digital Cedula Citizen Card– Ignore any websites providing instructions to obtain a digital cedula. A digital cédula de ciudadanía is a Colombia citizenship card exclusive to Colombian nationals. 

Colombia Identification Card: How Expats Get A Cedula De Extranjería [Table of Contents – Click To Expand]

This post may contain affiliate links. I may get a commission if you purchase something using my link. Please note, there is NO ADDITIONAL COST to you. For more information, please see my disclosure.

6 Quick Tips To Prepare For A Move To Colombia

TIP 1. Understand Colombia’s visa policy- A decade of experience living abroad taught me that a country’s resident visa and permit situation can make or break a plan to move overseas. Chat with a Colombian visa attorney.

TIP 2. Know your health insurance requirements- Starting July 2022, the government requires all expats living in Colombia to purchase specific medical coverage that includes accidents, illness, hospitalization, disability, repatriation, maternity, and death. 

TIP 3. Save On Moving Costs– International moves can get expensive. Save hundreds of dollars by getting accredited moving companies to compete for your business. Fill out a quick form, sit back and let our moving partners get you five free moving quotes from trusted and reliable international moving companies.

TIP 4. Set up a Traveling Mailbox- Change all your critical mailing addresses to a traveling mailbox. Don’t lose an important tax return, bank statement, credit card, or government document in the mail. Sign up for a virtual mailbox, and you can keep a permanent US mailing address and check your mail via your phone or PC.

TIP 5. Prove your onward ticket- If you only have a tourist visa Colombia requires a mandatory departure ticket. You need a onward travel with a date leaving the country before your visa expires. Save money by using  an onward plane ticket for just $16

TIP 6. Pick up some Spanish Skills- The most common difficulty experienced by expats in Colombia is English being less common than expected. Only 4% of the country speaks English. You can get a free 7-day Spanish language crash course to make your move to Colombia easier.

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Is a Colombian Cedula de Extranjería a Visa Document?

No. Getting a Colombian Cedula de Extranjería is not the same as a long-term visa. The cedula is a foreign identity card for registered expats living in Colombian territory longer than three months (i.e., not for tourists with a visa-exempt passport stamp). A visa is a separate mandatory document granting permission to enter and stay in the country.

Both are official documents but serve different purposes in the immigration process.

INSIDER TIP: Migracion Colombia and Colombian Visas– To help confuse foreigners, Colombia has two separate government entities responsible for immigration issues. Migracion Colombia does not make decisions or issue visas. In the visa process, the immigration office deals with visa registration, manages visa extensions, issues foreign identity cards, grants temporary permissions to overstay and collects overstay fines.

Don’t ring up Migracion Colombia if you have questions or need specific resident visa information- you may get incorrect or outdated information about the visa process. 

The Ministry of Foreign Relations or Colombian Consular offices located outside of Colombia are government entities trained on visa requirements and authorized to issue visas.

Benefits of the Cedula De Extranjería For Expats

With a Cédula de Extranjería, expat life in Colombia becomes less complicated. Foreigners can utilize public services and government websites that require a national identification document number.

  • You can open bank accounts in local banks with this valid document.
  • Get access to the Colombia public healthcare system (EPS) using this electronic card.
  • It is a required document for foreigners by many landlords to rent unfurnished apartments long-term.
  • Allows you to apply for Internet, TV, and telephone services, often requiring an electronic document.
  • Helps build a credit record in Colombia, acting as a physical document verifying your identity.
  • You get the privilege of domestic travel without carrying your foreign identity document.
A Fcaebook comment about Bancolombia with Cédula de Extranjería

Number of US Expats in Colombia: Estimated 60,000

Why Expats Need a Cédula De Extranjería?

For one, it’s mandatory if you have a long-term visa valid for more than three months. Two, the Cédula de Extranjería is a Colombian identification document, a certification of your legal residency status, and carries the official document stamp of authenticity.

Additionally, it acts as an adult identity card for any administrative process, like accessing government web services, registering for EPS public health insurance, banking, and credit building. 

Did You Know Most Expats In Colombia Need 3 Types of Health Insurance?

Starting in July 2022, the government passed a law requiring specific medical coverage for foreigners staying in Colombia. Click the button below to ensure you are legally staying in Colombia.

How To Get A Colombian Identification Card For Foreigners

Infographics on how to get your Cédula de Extranjería.

Step-by-Step Guide Cedula De Extranjería Application Process

If you’re looking to make your stay in Colombia smooth and official, getting your Cédula de Extranjería is your golden ticket. Getting a Cédula de Extranjería is a crucial step for any foreigner intending to integrate into the nation’s social and legal frameworks like any Colombian Citizen. This card, often seen against a white background in official photographs, is not merely an ID but a key that unlocks access to essential services, legal compliance, and smoother integration to life in Colombia.

Below is a guide to assist you in getting your Cédula de Extranjería or Foreigner ID Card:

To clarify the process, remember there are two websites you will need to access:

  1. Fill out the application form (Step 2)
  2. Schedule an appointment (Step 3)

1

Get A Blood Test

Strange but true, the entire process of getting a foreign adult identity card starts with knowing your blood type. Stop by any Colombian clinic (walk-ins are almost always available) and ask for a Cedula blood test. The cost for the lab work is less than $5. 

2

Fill Out The Online Cedula Application Form

Next up, it’s paperwork time! Head over to the FUT Form (Formulario Único de Trámites) on the Colombia migration office website. Luckily for non-Spanish speakers, the FUT is available in English.

Select ‘Cédula de extranjería’ and choose the nearest Migration Facilitator Center.

Migración Colombia's Procedures and Services Section

You’ll need to fill in your personal data, blood type, and emergency information and register as a foreigner. Please select the city where you’ll receive the Cédula de extranjería and attach a PDF with a photo of the main page of your passport and e-visa (keep it under 1MB). Ensure that the photo of your foreign identity card or passport is clear and visible.

Remember to fill in the captcha and hit accept! After completing the online Single Procedures Form ‘Formulario Único de Trámites’ (FUT), download the confirmation.

INSIDER TIP: Pick Up Your Cedula In Another City To Save Time- When filling out your FUT form, you can designate a different city to pick up your Foreign Identity Card. Choose a smaller city and avoid Bogota or Medellin to get your Cedula faster.

Appointment for Cedula de Extranjeros  Migracion Colombia in Bucaramanga

3

Administrative Process For Scheduling Your Online Appointment

Your next stop is the Migración Colombia scheduling website to make a Foreigner ID Card appointment. On the website, click on the Procedures and Services or “Trámites y Servicios” icon and then select “Agende su Cita.”

Migración Colombia's Procedures and Services Section
Migración Colombia's Schedule your Appointment section.

Remember to accept the Cookies pop-up to proceed!

Next, click on “Agendar cita,” and you’ll be on your way. You’ll need to select your Department, City, Venue, and Procedure – make sure to choose “Cédula de extranjería” for the Procedure.

Migración Colombia's Agendar Cita Section


You’ll need to select your Department, City, Venue, and Procedure – make sure to choose “Cédula de extranjería” for the Procedure (Will show as Foreign ID if you use Google Translate).

Migración Colombia's Calendar Section

Use the Calendario Button (Calendar in Spanish) to find an available appointment date. After picking a date, click on Buscar Button (Search or Look For) to find an available appointment time.

Verify your availability, and confirm your selection by clicking the Agendar Button to choose and schedule your appointment time.

You’ll get a reminder to fill out a FUT form from Step 2 and bring your mandatory documents to your appointment.

Migración Colombia's Calendar Section

You’ll need to complete all your personal details of your appointment – date, time, and location are pre-filled and cannot be changed. Click on the CAPTCHA to finalize the entire process. Make sure to mark your calendar and attend your scheduled appointment.

Migración Colombia's FUT Form

4

Get Your Cedula De Extranjería Mandatory Documents Together

Ensure that your passport and other application documents are in order, and check if your long-term visa is still valid. You’ll need:

  • Original passport and photocopy of your passport’s bio page (the one with your picture, passport number, and details)
  • Photocopy of your Colombian Visa or most recent passport-entry stamp
  • RH blood test showing your blood type (Only required if this is your first Cedula application)
  • A photocopy of any previous Colombian identification card
  • Receipt of payment (cash or credit card at the Immigration office)
  • The Formulario Único de Trámites confirmation below in Step 5

5

Remember my reminder in Step 2 to download the ‘Formulario Único de Trámites’ (FUT) confirmation? you listened to me, right?

Colombia Cedula Application Form Submission Confirmation

You’ll need to print out this receipt and bring it along to your appointment with the Immigration Department. This is a mandatory document to ensure your application process continues smoothly.

6

Attending Your Appointment

Arrive at your designated time at the Migracion Colombia office you selected in Step 3. Each office has a different intake and check-in process. Generally, you’ll check-in, confirm your information in the system, and then wait until an immigration officer calls your number.

The immigration authorities will check your foreign passport, mandatory documents, and FUT form. After confirming your information, head to a different line to get your fingerprints scanned, photograph taken, and signature recorded. After paying the Cedula fees (currently 246,000 COP or roughly $60 USD), the immigration office will write your Cedula number and the current date on your passport.

The written Cedula number in your passport is not a valid Colombian Identifiation Document. You’ll use this written number to check when your Colombian identification card is ready.

INSIDER TIP: Receipt of Payment– You can only pay using a debit or credit card at the Immigration branch. If you have to pay cash, head to a Banco de Occidente, pay the fee, and bring a payment receipt with you to your Cedula appointment.

7

Pick Up Your Foreign Identity Card

You can check this website using your Cedula number to see if your Foreign ID card is ready. The entire process takes up to 10 business days but varies on how busy your migration office is.

After confirming your Cédula is printed and ready for pickup, head to your designated Immigration Services Facilitation Center (CFSM). No appointment is necessary this time; however, you will need to bring your passport with the Cedula number written inside.

8

Using Your Foreign Identity Card

After receiving your Cedula, you can sign up for a Colombian bank account, sign long-term leases for an apartment, and get access to EPS Colombian Healthcare.

Did You Know There Are 3 Types of Colombian Health Insurance Needed By Most Expats?

Starting in July 2022, specific medical coverage is required to legally stay in Colombia. Fill out the form to learn more from an insurance specialist. This is a FREE No-Obligation Service.

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More to Know When Applying for a Foreigner ID Card

Has anyone successfully scheduled an appointment with Migracion Colombia for Cedula de Extranjeria through their website?
I’ve been trying the online scheduling system, and it requires me to select a date, validate, and so on… so far all days for the next month or so are full. – José Antonio Madriz

INSIDER TIP: Avoid Bogota and Medellin Immigration- Many expats have been unsuccessful in finding any available Cedula appointments, even looking out months in advance. If this happens to you, try choosing a less “busy” immigration office (List of towns with Migration Service Centers). You may find availability by flying to a nearby smaller town with open appointments, and sometimes, the delivery time for the Cédula might be quicker in smaller towns.

Appointment for Cedula de Extranjeros  Migracion Colombia in Medellin

For appointments today, the soonest I can make an appointment in Medellin is nearly one month away.

Appointment for Cedula de Extranjeros  Migracion Colombia in Bucaramanga

Contrast the appointments I can make in two days in Bucaramanga, which is only a one-hour flight ($50 USD) away.

Additional Cedula De Extranjería Document Requirements

INSIDER TIP: PDF File Requirements- Document current format must be a black and white PDF no larger than 5 MB total file size. If you need to compress your files, here is a PDF tool that can convert and reduce the file size of your documents to meet the Migracion Colombia website requirements.

Infographics on how to get your Cédula de Extranjería.

My experience getting a Colombia Identification Card as a US Expat

I recommend getting your Cédula de Extranjería on the same day you pick up your Colombia Visa. After arriving for my appointment, I submitted my documents and paid the processing fee.

After that, they processed my application form and took my photo and fingerprints.

Battling the language barrier was a challenge, but overall, the process was efficiently managed by the Colombian government.

Processing times vary depending on how busy your immigration branch is, but waiting time is usually between 5-15 business days. After Migracion Colombia notifies you that your Cedula is ready, you can follow the same steps above to make an appointment to pick up your Cedula. You can do walk-in appointments for a Cedula pickup, but be prepared to wait.

How much does it cost to get a Cedula De Extranjería?

Obtaining a Cédula de Extranjería costs 246,000 Colombian pesos, which roughly translates to about $60 USD using the foreign exchange as of this post.

This fee includes all processing and document handling. Keep in mind that you can pay these costs directly at the Migracion Columbia office with a credit or debit card.

How long does the Cedula De Extranjería application process take?

The Cédula de Extranjería application process may vary depending on the immigration office you apply through. A Cédula de Extranjería appointment took a little over two hours at the Medellin Migración office because the waiting time was over one and a half hours.

After submitting your cedula application, counting from the next working day, it usually takes about ten calendar days.

Should I use a Colombian lawyer to get my Cedula?

It’s not necessary to hire a lawyer to get your Cédula. The process is rather straightforward. However, if you tend to be overwhelmed by bureaucracy or if you have limited Spanish proficiency, you might find a lawyer helpful.

For most expats, the cost of hiring a lawyer is worth the convenience. Click the RED “Let’s Talk” button below to speak with a Colombian attorney.

What to learn the best and cheapest way to legally stay in Colombia? Tired of conflicting information and endless researching on the visa requirements?

Colombia offers more than 30 different types of visas available, each with a different purpose, duration, and eligibility. Don’t navigate the complexities alone- My Colombian legal partners have decades of experience helping expats

 

Click now to access expert support and quick answers to your visa questions. Save time, avoid complications, and take the hassle out of moving to Colombia.

Key Takeaways- Getting a Colombian Cedula

The Cédula de Extranjería serves as the foreigner’s ID card in Colombia. It’s specifically for foreign nationals with visas lasting over three months, not for Colombian citizens. Expats benefit from it by accessing public services (like cheap health insurance), opening bank accounts, and smoother integration into Colombian society (like renting an apartment).

The application process involves scheduling an appointment, completing the ‘FUT’ form, and paying a fee. While a lawyer isn’t necessary, it can be helpful for those navigating bureaucracy.

FAQs- Colombia Identity Card For Foreigners

Do my spouse or children also need a Cedula De Extranjería?

Yes, they do. Dependents holding a visa for more than three months must obtain a Cédula de Extranjería. This includes your spouse and any children. As of 2014, all minors aged 3-18 must also hold a Cédula de Extranjería if their parents have a visa valid for more than three months.

What should I do if my Cédula is Lost or Stolen?

Don’t panic if your Cédula gets lost or stolen. Simply follow these procedures:

  • Report the loss immediately to the police.
  • Request a duplicate cedula from Migración Colombia’s duplicate request website.
  • Follow the ‘Duplicate’ instructions.
  • It would help if you had your cedula number, email address, and the city and venue of the immigration office where you will collect your new Colombian Identification Card.
  • Complete the 245,000 COP / $60 USD payment prior to picking up your duplicate cedula at your closest Banco Occidente branch.
  • You can also save time and hassle by paying online if you have a Colombian bank account.

How long is a Cedula De Extranjería valid for?

The Cédula de Extranjería’s validity aligns with your visa’s duration term. For example, if you are granted a 2-year Colombian digital nomad visa, then your Cedula De Extranjería is also good for 2 years.

However, if you’ve been granted a Permanent Resident Visa, your cédula is still only valid for a maximum of five years. Even with a valid permanent residency visa, your Cédula expires every five years and must be renewed at a Migración Colombia office.

How long can I be outside Colombia and keep my Cedula De Extranjería validity?

Your visa and your Cedula De Extranjería go hand in hand. Typically, if your visa expires or becomes invalid, your Cedula may no longer be valid. Most visas in Colombia only allow you to be out of the country for less than six months; otherwise, you lose your visa and, subsequently, your Cedula.


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About the author

Hi, That's me. I'm Marco Sison. I am a survivor of the corporate rat race. I started Nomad FIRE to show you an alternative to the stress and grind of 70-hour weeks to pay off a mortgage, student loans, and countless bills. After getting laid off in 2015, I said screw it all and retired early at 41 years old. I have traveled the last eight years to over 50 countries to show you the best ways to save, invest, and live in amazing countries for 70% less cost than the US. I have been featured in: US News & World Reports, HuffPost, MSN Money, USA Today, ABC Network, Yahoo Finance, the iTunes documentary Seeking FIRE, and the Amazon Best-Seller, Abroad: Expats That Thrive. [view press...]