COVID Entry Requirements for Colombia: What You Need to Know
International travel is a bit of a headache right now. Although I’ve taken multiple domestic trip, I’d only been out of the country once since the pandemic started. This was a visit to Istanbul last fall. I specifically chose Turkey since there were no testing or quarantine requirements at the time. However, I just got back from a trip to Colombia and thought I would detail the COVID entry requirements for Colombia and my experience in the country.
Navigating additional travel requirements can be intimidating. Previously, you just needed a valid U.S. passport to enter. Now there are COVID-19 testing requirements, which is one of a few additional hurdles. What’s more nerve-wracking, though, is the potential for requirements to change.
COVID Entry Requirements for Colombia
The COVID entry requirements for Colombia as of January 19, 2020 are the following:
- Travelers arriving to Colombia must present negative results from a COVID-19 PCR test administered no more than 96 hours prior to departure.
- However, airlines may allow the boarding of travelers who do not have this test, provided they state under oath that they were unable to take a test or obtain the result within the required timeframe. In these cases, the Colombian government will require testing and/or isolation upon arrival in Colombia.
- Proof of completed Check-Mig health form. This must be completed for both entry to and exit from Colombia.
I thought I was up to speed on the requirements to enter Colombia. But that changed just a few days before departure when I checked the Colombia COVID information page again and found this:
- Are U.S. citizens required to quarantine? Yes.
Well that’s a problem. Reading further, you find:
- The Ministry of Health has announced that all inbound international passengers must have a negative COVID-19 test result. Travelers arriving to Colombia must present negative results from a COVID-19 PCR test administered no more than 96 hours prior to departure. However, airlines may allow the boarding of travelers who do not have this test, provided they state under oath that they were unable to take a test or obtain the result within the required timeframe. Travelers are expected to quarantine for 10 days or 7 days with a negative test 3-5 days after arrival.
- The Colombian government will require testing and/or isolation upon arrival in Colombia for travelers unable to obtain test results prior to travel.
By my reading this meant that you only need to quarantine if you’re unable to obtain a PCR test within 96 hours of departure. So it’s a qualified yes.
Getting COVID-19 Tested
The turnaround time for COVID testing at our local CVS is about 2-3 days, so I figured this was a safe option. I booked a test for the very end of the day on Tuesday, knowing that the samples would be shipped out either that night or early the next morning on the first United flight to the Bay Area. The lab results came back Thursday morning, about 40 hours later. This was better than I expected.
COVID-19 test: Check.
The other requirement is to fill out the Check-Mig online form. This is a pretty easy process. However, I forgot to fill it out earlier in the week like I intended and showed up at the Delta counter to check in for my flight without it. Whoops. The agent was patient and let me fill it out on my phone then and there. You need to provide the details on the final page to the airline.
Two of the questions on the Check-Mig form asked if you would be “willing to quarantine” if needed. I very honestly answered no. This didn’t seem to make a difference (which I assume is because I answered yes to having a PCR test taken within 96 hours of departure). I was still provided the form confirmation.
Departing Atlanta and Arriving in Bogotá
I had to provide all the required documentation (passport, COVID-19 test within 96 hours of departure, and Check-Mig form) in SFO. Both health forms were re-checked in Atlanta by Delta staff. They announced several times for customers to see the gate staff who would mark your boarding pass once they’d checked all required documentation. Travel restrictions right now has to be so much extra work for the airlines.
I figured everything was in order since I was allowed to board the flight. I’ll admit that the ambiguous quarantine requirement on the state department website still had me worried. Would I be able to enter the country? I’d find out in Bogotá.
Immigration turned out to be the easiest experience ever. I provided the COVID-19 test form and my passport to the officer. My assumption was that the Check-Mig would be pulled up automatically since it is tied to your passport number. A minute later he stamped my passport with a nonchalant “bienvenidos” and I passed through into the country.
My Experience In Bogotá
There are some additional restrictions in Bogotá you should be aware of, if you visit the capital. The primary one is the nightly curfew. The citywide curfew from 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM that was in place during my stay has been lifted, but some establishments must still close by 11:00 PM. That’s plenty late, in my opinion. Again, restrictions are constantly changing. Cases peaked and are now dropping in the capital.
Some museums and public establishments are limiting capacity based on your ID. I had no trouble getting into museums as a foreigner, but I did go on the “wrong” day based on the last digit of my passport number.
Most restaurants, museums, and tourist locations are open, albeit some with limited capacity. The Museo de Oro requires booking ahead of time as they are only allowing small group tours. You’ll need to book at least a week out.
I’ll admit that I thoroughly enjoyed my week in Colombia. It’s a great country, with friendly people. I hope to return and visit other areas. While Bogotá is still under a curfew, this isn’t a major hassle unless things change for the worse. Most of the tourist sites are open, and you can enjoy eating in restaurants. There are very few foreigners in the capital, though. I was asked more than once if I was an extranjero. Yup. I sure am. I only met one other American while in Bogotá.
Cartagena is different. I saw far more tourists, and there were a good number of guests at the Hyatt Regency, but likely still far fewer than pre-pandemic.
Even though you need to navigate the COVID entry requirements for Colombia, the country is currently welcoming tourists. Just expect temperature checks, hand sanitizer, masks, and other COVID-19 protocols everywhere.
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