- Normal precautions
- High degree of caution
- Avoid non-essential travel
- Do not travel
- Safety and Security
- Local Laws and Customs
- Natural Disasters and Climate
- Additional Information
- Embassy Contact
High Degree of Caution
Latest Travel Alert
The security situation is volatile in many areas of the country, and at all times you should pay close attention to the warnings issued by the Colombian authorities.
June 2023 – Colombian authorities are monitoring the Nevado del Ruiz volcano, located between the boundaries of Caldas and Tolima, which has been showing signs of seismic activity since March 24, 2023. Authorities have indicated that the volcano activity decreased and decided to lower the alert level from orange to yellow. Further information is provided in the Natural Disasters and Climate tab.
July 2023 – Colombian health authorities have reported a dengue outbreak with 53,000 cases recorded in municipalities such as Meta, Tolima, Cundinamarca, Sucre, Santander, Cesar, Norte de Santander, Atlantico, Cordoba and Guajira. Citizens visiting a tropical or subtropical area, should use insect repellent, wear loose clothing, sleep under a mosquito net and be aware of their environment. Dengue mosquitoes breed in still water in urban areas.
General Travel Advice
Irish citizens don't require a visa to visit Colombia for periods of up to 90 days. When entering the country, they may need to provide evidence of return or onward travel.
A valid passport is required for travel to Colombia. Irish passports should have a minimum validity of 6 months. Passport cards cannot be used.
All passengers arriving in Colombia are required to register their details on the Colombian government’s CheckMig application within 72 hours prior to boarding an inbound or outbound flight.
Entry and exit requirements are subject to change. All citizens should consult the Colombian Ministry of Health and/or consult their local Colombian Embassy for up-to-date information on updates in entry requirements.
Citizens can also follow the Embassy on Twitter@EmbCol_Ireland to ensure access to relevant updates and alerts.
The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.
You can contact the emergency services in Colombia by dialling 123.
In the event of an emergency, you can contact the Irish Embassy in Bogotá. Contact details can be found under the "Embassy Contact" tab. If you phone outside of working hours, leave us a message giving:
- Your name;
- The reason for your call;
- Where you are now;
- Your contact details (mobile phone number or phone number of where you're staying).
We regularly monitor these messages and one of our staff members will be in contact with you.
We advise Irish citizens in Colombia to remain vigilant if in the vicinity of large gatherings and to monitor local news at all times.
The Colombia-Venezuela border region is currently volatile. We strongly advise against all travel to Colombia's border regions with Venezuela until further notice. You should not use any of the Colombia-Venezuela land crossings.
Our tips for Safe Travels:
- Get comprehensive travel insurance that covers all your planned activities.
- Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly if there’s an unforeseen crisis like a natural disaster or a family emergency.
- Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates.
- Read our ‘Know Before You Go’ guide.
Safety and Security
Safety and Security
Safety and security
Safety and security
Crime is prevalent in Colombia and you should take sensible precautions.
Petty theft, such as pick-pocketing and bag-snatching, is relatively common in Colombia, including at the airport in Bogotá, on public transport, and near hotels. Take care of your personal belongings and avoid obvious displays of wealth. Avoid using your mobile phone on the street. Credit card and ATM fraud occurs, as well as card overcharging, especially in popular tourist areas.
There have been reports, including in Bogotá, of bogus policemen approaching foreigners to inspect documents or foreign currency. If approached, you should avoid handing over money or documents, unless threatened, and try to stay in busy areas.
Street crime is a problem in major cities, including Bogotá, Medellín, Cali and Santa Marta. Mugging and pickpocketing can be accompanied by violence.
The use of drugs by criminals in Colombia to subdue their victims is relatively frequent. Drugs such as scopolamine can be administered through food, drinks, cigarettes, aerosols and even paper flyers, and can temporarily incapacitate the victim, leaving them vulnerable to robbery and other crimes. Citizens should be particularly vigilant in bars and nightclubs, where in particular young women have been reported to target foreign men with scopolamine.
Where possible, plan how you will travel to and from your destination. Only use pre-booked taxis. Avoid travelling on your own or at night, especially at border crossings or areas where there are few other people around.
Though the security situation in Colombia has improved in recent years, terrorism and serious criminal activities remain significant threats.
The threat comes from the National Liberation Army (ELN), dissidents from the demobilised FARC guerrilla group (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), and other illegal armed groups. In January 2019, the ELN conducted a bombing on a police academy in Bogota, killing 23 people.
A high level of caution should be exercised against street crime in major cities such as Bogotá, Medellín and Cali. You should avoid unnecessary visits to deprived areas of all Colombian cities. In Bogotá, you should be vigilant in areas to the south of Candelaria and to the west of the airport road as these parts of the city are particularly dangerous. Exercise caution on city streets, especially after dark.
Foreigners have been known to be victims of 'express kidnapping', which can occur after hailing taxis on the street.
Criminal gangs are active in all of the Departments where coca is cultivated, processed or transported, as well as in many cities. The risk is particularly significant in rural areas near the borders with Panama, Venezuela and Ecuador; in the Parque Nacional Natural de La Macarena in the Department of Meta; and the port towns of Buenaventura in the Department of Valle de Cauca, Turbo in the Department of Antioquia and Tumaco in the Department of Nariño.
There is a risk of kidnapping from both terrorist and criminal groups. While Colombians are the primary targets, foreigners can also be targeted, especially those working for (or perceived to be working for) oil, mining and related companies. Take particular care when travelling alone, using ATMs, or travelling in or near tugurios (slum areas).
You should regularly reassess your security arrangements and consider carefully any travel around the country.
Demonstrations and protests take place regularly throughout Colombia, especially in large cities. These can be confrontational and can turn violent rapidly. You should avoid large crowds, political rallies, demonstrations and any large public protests or gatherings.
Protests and demonstrations can lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Protesters or criminal groups may set up roadblocks, especially in rural areas.
You should monitor local media for updates and follow the advice of local authorities.
The Colombia-Venezuela border region is currently volatile. We advise against all travel to Colombia's border regions with Venezuela until further notice. You should not use any of the Colombia-Venezuela land crossings.
To cross by land between Colombia and Ecuador, you should only use the crossing on the Pan-American Highway, at Ipiales. Do not stop en route between the border and Pasto.
Avoid crossing between Panama and Colombia by land. The 'Darien Gap' is a dangerous area renowned for the presence of several illegal armed groups, illegal migration, and drugs trafficking. There is no road crossing between Colombia and Panama.
Colombia is affected by landmines and unexploded ordnance. Mined areas are frequently unmarked so be aware of potential dangers when visiting remote locations or venturing off the main road.
Lost or stolen passports
If your passport is lost or stolen, it can take up to three weeks to get a replacement, due to time and distance factors. So please take extreme care with your passport and other personal documentation. Getting a replacement passport will be easier if you are able to provide a copy of the lost or stolen one, so keep photocopies of your passport.
If you are a victim of a crime while in Colombia, report it to the local police immediately. Many insurance companies will only compensate loss from theft if you can provide a police report. Police can take a report of a crime from you in person in any local police station known as CAI (Centro de Atencion Inmediata). You can also file an online police report on the National Police website
Contact the Irish Embassy in Bogotá if you require assistance.
Hiring a vehicle
If you are hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you are allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.
Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).
Where possible, plan how you will travel to and from your destination. Only use pre-booked taxis. We strongly advise against hailing taxis from the street.
If you are planning to drive in Colombia, you should be extremely careful. Driving and road standards are variable. Travel by road outside the major cities, including by public transport, is dangerous. If you want to drive:
- Bring your international driving license and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and you risk being detained, fined or banned from driving if caught
- Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you're stopped at traffic lights
Local Laws and Customs
Local Laws and Customs
Local laws and customs
Drug trafficking is a serious crime in Colombia and drug smugglers face severe penalties, usually receiving long terms of imprisonment. Don't handle drugs in Colombia. Pack your luggage yourself and keep it with you at all times. Don't carry anything through customs for anybody else.
Homosexuality is legal but not widely accepted, especially in rural areas.
Military or strategic government sites
Photographing of military or strategic government sites is not allowed.
Age of consent
It is a serious criminal offence to have sex with a minor (under 18 years old).
Natural Disasters and Climate
Natural Disasters and Climate
Natural disasters and climate
Colombia is in an active seismic zone, which can prove dangerous. If you're travelling to or living in Colombia, make sure you know what to do in the event of an earthquake.
Colombia is also subject to volcanic activity. If travelling to volcanic zones e.g. Nevado Del Ruiz, the Galeras Volcano in the Nariño Department or the Cerro Machin in Tolima Department, you should pay careful attention to any warnings issued and follow the advice of the local authorities.
June 2023 – Colombian authorities are monitoring the Nevado del Ruiz volcano, located between the boundaries of Caldas and Tolima, which has been showing signs of seismic activity since March 24, 2023. Authorities have indicated that the volcano activity decreased and decided to lower the alert level from orange to yellow.
Volcanic ash may cause disruptions to flight availability and airport operations.
If you are travelling to any of these areas:
• Monitor local media for the latest updates.
• Remain vigilant and follow the advice of local security authorities and/or your tour operator.
• Be prepared to modify your travel arrangements or even evacuate the area on short notice.
• Wear a mask in areas that are affected by volcanic ash.
• Notify family and friends of your whereabouts.
• Register with the Department of Foreign Affairs here.
Volcanic activity in Colombia is monitored by Colombia’s Geological Services (Servicio Geologico Colombiano, SGC).
Further information regarding potential evacuation routes can be found here.
Colombia is prone to heavy rains, which can affect large areas of the country, particularly in the Andes regions and during the rainy seasons of April to May and October to November. Pay close attention to the warnings issued by the Colombian authorities.
Irish citizens don't need a visa to visit Colombia for periods of up to 90 days. When entering the country, you may need to provide evidence of return or onward travel.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of six months from the date of entry into Colombia. Entry requirements change from time to time, so check these requirements before departure with the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Colombia.
In many cities and municipalities, the wearing of facemasks is no longer mandatory in certain indoor and outdoor spaces. It is still required in elderly homes, hospitals, public transport and indoor spaces at educational facilities. Citizens should check with local authorities for up-to-date information on any restrictions that may be in place in their locality.
Medical facilities in Colombia vary widely in quality. In larger cities, private clinics usually provide good quality care, whereas public health facilities and those in smaller cities may be of poorer quality.
Before you travel, you should make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation. Foreign nationals who violate immigration laws in Colombia (e.g. by overstaying a visa) will not be permitted to access Colombia's public health system.
Travellers to many parts of Colombia, including Bogotá, are at risk of developing altitude sickness. Get advice from your doctor before you travel, particularly if you plan to carry out activities such as hiking in high-altitude areas.
Tap water is safe to drink only in Bogotá. In all other areas of Colombia, you should drink only bottled water and avoid ice in drinks.
Yellow fever vaccination certificate is required to enter Colombia for travellers aged 1 year or over arriving from Brazil, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda and for travellers having transited for more than 12 hours through an airport from the countries mentioned above. Such certificates are also mandatory to enter certain high-risk regions and national parks.
If you intend to travel on to neighbouring countries in Latin America from Colombia, you may not be allowed to do so without production of a yellow-fever vaccination certificate. You should confirm with the authorities of your next destination whether they require a certificate following your visit to Colombia.
There is a high incidence of malaria in low-land tropical areas, particularly in Choco and north-western Antioquia. You are advised to take medical advice on anti-malarial medication prior to travel, and after arrival, take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes by using bed nets and repellents, and wearing closed shoes, long sleeves and trousers.
Dengue fever is endemic to Latin America and the Caribbean and can occur throughout the year. Take precautions against being bitten by Dengue-carrying mosquitoes, which are active throughout the day.
There have been outbreaks of Zika Virus (a dengue-like mosquito-borne disease) in Central and South America and the Caribbean. Irish Citizens especially those with a weakened immune system or women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant are advised to follow guidance available on the website of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC).
Cases of chikungunya virus have been reported in Colombia. As with other mosquito-borne viruses, all precautions should be taken to avoid bites.
Ayahuasca (yage) ceremonies
Spiritual cleansing and ayahuasca ceremonies, offered by shamans and other individuals, have led to serious illness, injury, assault and even death. Ceremonies involve consuming substances that are not regulated and can cause medical complications and severely impair cognitive and physical abilities. Spiritual cleansing or yage retreats often take place in remote areas, making access to medical attention difficult for those who need it.
The Embassy operates an out-of-hours service for Irish citizens requiring emergency consular assistance. If you are in need of such assistance, you should dial (1) 657 6060 (from a Colombian landline), 601 657 6060 (from a Colombian mobile number), or +57 1 657 6060 (from an Irish phone number) and leave a message on the system. This system is checked regularly and a member of Embassy staff will contact you as soon as possible.
When leaving your message, remember to state your name, the nature of the problem, your current location, and the details of how the Duty Officer can contact you (e.g. leave your mobile phone number, or the phone number of the hotel/hostel where you are staying).
Alternatively, you may contact the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin at +353 (0)1 408 2000.
Embajada de Irlanda
Edificio Tierra Firme
Cra 9 #115-30
Consular services are provided by appointment only, from 9am to 12pm on weekdays: contact us to make an appointment.
Get travel and medical insurance
Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.
In case of emergency, you can contact us by telephone on +57 1 657 6060 (from an Irish phone), (1) 657 6060 (from a Colombian landline), and 031 657 6060 (from a Colombian mobile number).