Update (Great news):
Colombia has started offering a visa exemption (yes, that also means free entry) to Indians who hold a Schengen C/D visa (should be valid for 180 additional days) or any class of US visa (except transit, same validity rules apply). You get to stay 90 days in Colombia with this exemption. This is incredible news for people backpacking in Latin America as now Ecuador and Colombia have become hassle free for Indians to access. I hope Brazil and Peru follow soon!
Here is the official update from the immigration authorities in Colombia. The relevant info is presented in Article 3. Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese citizens with Schengen or US visas may enter Colombia without applying for a visa. The Colombian consulate published this document which clearly specifies that Indian nationals (amongst others) who have a valid visa or residence permit from the United States (EEUU in Spanish) or a Schengen visa do not require a visa to visit Colombia.
Colombia is an amazing country to visit! We went there in June 2014 to celebrate Zara’s birthday and spend time traveling the country. A visa for Colombia is fairly easy to get (and very quick for Indians) because their systems are quite organized and streamlined.
I applied for my Colombian visa in Santiago, Chile. The visa process was fairly simple and they required the usual gamut of stuff:
- The visa form (filled online through a rather slow system, your visa type as a tourist will be TP-11, make sure you fill the right type)
- Flight reservations in and out of Colombia
- Hotel reservations for the duration of the stay (refundable/post-paid booking.com style are fine)
- Means of financial ability (bank statements should be okay, credit card copy and statement may also work)
I filled up the form online and set up an appointment for myself. I went to the consulate armed with all my documents. I was given a token at the reception and then asked to wait. Here’s the catch. You should ask at the reception to go and pay your visa fees prior to getting a token. They may advise you to do so as well. Head to the bank they specify and pay the visa fees, then come back to the Consulate and get your token.
Back at the consulate, I got a new token and I waited for my turn while watching Shakira videos on the big screen in the waiting area. Oh, this time things were much more complicated because I planned the trip to Colombia as a surprise for Zara so there was no “Spanish translator” available. I was on my own!
Just my luck that when I finally got my turn to meet the lady who processes visas, she would only speak Spanish! In fact, she INSISTED that I speak Spanish, even though she understood English alright. Well, so I went on in my broken Spanish explaining my situation. Then, she wouldn’t accept my bank statement in English! She kept saying that it has to be in Spanish. I said “Pero, los números son los números, ¿no?” (but, numbers are numbers, no?). She didn’t agree, neither did she find it funny.
Luckily I had my work contract with me at the time (we live in Chile..) so she was happy to look at it. She said she would go ask the consul. The consul of course said “Give him the damn visa!”. So she came back, suddenly much more friendly, and said she’ll do everything.
She even started recommending places for me to see, etc. Thankfully, India is on the list of ‘approved’ countries for Colombia. This means that Indians can get their visas on the same day, it’s fairly straightforward.
We were traveling for 3 weeks as per my tickets and they issued a visa for an extra 6 days. So I had my visa within half an hour.
In the end, the visa was fairly easy to get. I’m not a big fan of the fact that they issued a 27 day visa when I paid for 90 days, but our plans were fairly fixed so it was alright in this case.
It’s possible to even get a Colombia visa when you are not in your country of residence since they did not ask for any residence specific documents. You may be hassled for a Spanish bank statement, or you may not, but it’s worth a shot!
Colombia is a wonderful country to visit and should be on everyone’s list!