Fire and rescue services
Call 123 or go to the hospital.
Call 112 or go to the local police station.
Exercise a high degree of caution in Colombia overall.
Exercise a high degree of caution in Colombia overall due to terrorism and civil unrest.
Do not travel to areas within 20km of Venezuela and Ecuador, except the Pan American Highway crossing at Ipiales or to the cities of Buenaventura and Tumaco.
Do not travel to:
Reconsider your need to travel to the departments of Antioquia (except Medellín), Arauca, Caquetá, Cauca (except Popayan), Chocó (except its capital Quibdó and the whale-watching towns of Nuqui, Bania Solano and Capurganá), Guainía, Guaviare, Meta, (except Villavicencio and the tourist site of Caño Cristales), Nariño (except Pasto and the border crossing of Ipiales), Norte de Santander, Putumayo, Valle de Cauca (except Cali) and Vichada.
Reconsider your need to travel due to the high threat of terrorism and criminal activity to:
Full travel advice: Safety
Full travel advice: Health
Full travel advice: Local laws
Full travel advice: Travel
Violent crime and gang activity is common.
'Express kidnapping' also occurs. Criminals abduct people and force them to withdraw funds from ATMs before releasing them. People in taxis are a common target. Don't resist or you may be killed or injured.
Robberies and assaults take place after victims accept spiked food, drinks, cigarettes or chewing gum.
Thieves use drugs, such as scopolamine, either by aerosol spray or paper handouts. These drugs can cause serious medical problems, including loss of consciousness and memory loss. Hotspots include nightclubs, bars, restaurants, public buses and city streets.
Hikers are sometimes robbed at gunpoint, including when hiking on trails in and around Bogotá. Reduce your risk by hiring a reputable, experienced tour guide.
The most dangerous departments (provinces) include:
Risks are lower in these departments:
Drug-related criminal activity creates danger in:
In these areas, criminal groups attack, extort, kidnap, detonate car bombs and damage infrastructure.
To protect yourself from violent crime:
Always be alert to your own safety and security.
If you suspect criminals have drugged you or your fellow travellers, get urgent medical help.
Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and bag snatching, is also common. This occurs in major tourist areas, including at the airport in Bogotá and near hotels.
Organised criminals operate in urban areas, including Bogotá and Medellín.
Criminals pose as police officers, both in Bogotá and in popular tourist towns. People have reported harassment, theft and extortion.
Be alert on public transport. Don't leave your luggage unattended, in overhead bins or under the seat on buses.
Terrorist attacks remain a significant threat, even though security has improved.
Attacks could occur anywhere and at any time in Colombia.
Possible targets include:
The most well-known terrorist groups, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional (ELN):
A temporary ceasefire between the Government of Colombia and the ELN ended on 9 January 2018. After this, the ELN resumed attacks against government and economic targets.
Explosions occur throughout Colombia, including in Bogotá.
Some recent attacks include:
Terrorists, criminals and armed gangs operate from small towns and rural areas. This creates danger for travellers. Armed gangs are called 'BACRIM' in Spanish.
Violence due to the BACRIM has spilled over into major cities. These groups are involved in drugs, extortion, kidnapping and robbery.
To protect yourself from terrorism:
If there's an attack, leave the area as soon as it's safe. Avoid the affected area in case of secondary attacks.
Colombia has one of the highest rates of kidnappings in the world.
Criminals sometimes kidnap and murder foreigners, including children. In recent years, criminals have kidnapped several Australians.
Most kidnappings are for ransom. Groups such as the FARC and the ELN in rural areas are involved in kidnapping.
If, despite the risks, you travel to an area where there's a threat of kidnapping:
The Australian Government's longstanding policy is that it doesn't make payments or concessions to kidnappers.
The National Liberation Army guerrilla group (ELN) has called for an armed strike across Colombia from 6am 14 February to 6am 17 February. It threatens to attack people who don't follow its instructions to remain at home or at their place of work during this time, especially those travelling by car or boat. Expect roadblocks. The Colombian Government has placed the military and police on the highest state of alert. Exercise a high degree of caution. Contact your airline or tour operator to see if this will affect your travel plans. Monitor local media and follow instructions from local authorities.
Public protests and events that draw large groups of people can turn violent. Strikes are also common.
Protests and rallies may occur during elections.
This can affect local transport. Protesters or criminal groups may set up roadblocks, especially in rural areas.
If you visit areas affected by strikes and roadblocks, you may be unable to leave for days or weeks.
Get advice on current road closures from the Colombian Highway Police information line. Call 767.
To protect yourself during periods of unrest:
The government and the FARC struck a peace agreement in late 2016 after decades of armed conflict.
The peace agreement is Colombia-wide but some FARC elements haven't signed on.
Peace negotiations between the government and other rebel groups continue.
Some small factions may still attempt to disrupt the peace process. They target attacks on government buildings and security forces.
In some regions, the security situation could deteriorate rapidly.
The Venezuelan Government has closed its land border with Colombia until further notice.
Ongoing political tensions with neighbouring countries mean border closures can happen at short notice.
Don't attempt to cross the Venezuela-Colombia border by land, even if it's open.
Some volcanoes are active. Get advice on recent volcanic activity from local authorities if you plan to go hiking.
Colombia can experience tsunamis.
In the Indian and Pacific Oceans, large, destructive tsunamis happen more often. This is due to large earthquakes occurring along major tectonic plates and ocean trenches.
Many parts of Colombia experience heavy rainfall. Landslides, mudslides and flooding are common. This can affect travel to some parts of the country.
Monitor the news and ask for local advice before entering affected areas.
Coastal areas of Colombia can experience hurricanes.
If a hurricane is approaching:
If there's a hurricane:
To stay safe:
Register with the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System to receive alerts on major disasters.
Get comprehensive travel insurance before you leave. Your policy needs to cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. The Australian Government won't pay for these costs.
If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. This applies to everyone, no matter how healthy and fit you are.
If you're not insured, you may have to pay many 1000s of dollars up-front for medical care.
Consider your physical and mental health before you travel, especially if you have an existing medical condition.
See your doctor or travel clinic to:
Do this at least 8 weeks before you leave.
Not all medication available over the counter or by prescription in Australia is available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.
If you plan to bring medication, check if it's legal in Colombia. Take enough legal medicine for your trip.
Carry a copy of your prescription and a letter from your doctor stating:
Yellow fever is widespread in Colombia. Yellow fever is a potentially fatal virus spread by mosquitoes. It's prevented by vaccination. Get vaccinated before you travel.
Zika virus is widespread. If you're pregnant, the Australian Department of Health advises you to discuss travel plans with your doctor. Consider deferring non-essential travel to affected areas.
Malaria is a risk in all areas below 800m, which excludes Bogotá.
Other insect-borne diseases that are a risk include:
To protect yourself from disease:
Get medical advice if you have a fever, muscle pain, rash or severe headache.
Many areas are above 2500m, including Bogotá (2640m).
You may suffer altitude sickness above 2500m, especially if you ascend quickly.
Altitude sickness can be life-threatening. It can affect anyone, even if you're physically fit.
You're at more risk of altitude sickness if you:
If you plan to travel to high altitude areas, see your doctor before you go.
HIV/AIDS is widespread. Take precautions if you take part in activities that put you at risk of infection.
Waterborne, foodborne and other infectious diseases are common, including:
Serious outbreaks sometimes occur.
To protect yourself from illness:
If you're bitten or scratched by an animal, get medical help straight away.
Get medical help if you have a fever or diarrhoea.
The standard of medical facilities in private hospitals in Bogotá and other major cities is reasonable.
Services outside major cities can be limited.
Treatment at private clinics and hospitals is expensive.
Doctors and hospitals expect cash payment or confirmation of travel insurance before treating you. This includes emergency care.
There are 3 hyperbaric chambers:
If you become seriously ill or injured, you may need to be evacuated to a place with better facilities. People are usually evacuated to the US. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.
You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that may appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling.
If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Colombia has severe penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs. This includes long sentences in local jails.
It's illegal to take photos of military bases and strategic sites.
Some Australian criminal laws still apply when you're overseas. If you break these laws, you may face prosecution in Australia.
The Colombian Government expects Colombian citizens to enter and exit on a Colombian passport or other valid Colombian travel document. This includes dual nationals.
You could face delays at immigration if you're a dual national but you don't have a Colombian travel document.
If you're a male dual national aged over 18 years, you may be required to complete national service if you visit Colombia.
If you're visiting for tourism and plan to stay for 90 days or less, you generally won't need a visa to enter Colombia.
Immigration officers can refuse your entry, even if you meet the criteria for visa-free entry. They may ask you to show proof of return or onward travel.
For other situations, you'll need to get a visa before you travel.
Entry and exit conditions can change at short notice. Contact an embassy or consulate of Colombia for details about visas, currency, customs and quarantine rules.
If you're travelling through the US, you must meet US entry or transit requirements.
Check your visa requirements with your nearest embassy or consulate of the United States before you travel.
You'll need a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate to enter Colombia. Some airlines may want to see one when you leave.
Find out about returning to Australia after exposure to yellow fever.
The Puente Internacional de Rumichaca border crossing between Colombia and Ecuador is closed from 10pm to 6am.
Allow enough time for border-crossing formalities.
An entry stamp at this border crossing can only be processed within the Migration Colombia office. This must be done in a face-to-face interview with at least one of the travellers.
Immigration office hours are Monday to Friday from 8am to 12pm and 2pm to 5pm.
Don't pay someone to do this process for you. If they give you a forged entry stamp, officials could charge you with a criminal offence.
Check your entry stamp carefully. Officials will fine you if you stay in the country longer than your entry stamp allows.
You need to pay an airport tax when you leave.
A child who is a Colombian citizen or resident travelling alone or with 1 parent must carry:
Both documents must be translated into Spanish and notarised by the Colombian Embassy or Consulate in Australia.
Contact the nearest embassy or consulate of Colombia well before you travel.
Some countries won't let you enter unless your passport is valid for 6 months after you plan to leave that country. This can apply even if you're just transiting or stopping over.
Some foreign governments and airlines apply the rule inconsistently. Travellers can receive conflicting advice from different sources.
You can end up stranded if your passport is not valid for more than 6 months.
The Australian Government does not set these rules. Check your passport's expiry date before you travel. If you're not sure it'll be valid for long enough, consider getting a new passport.
Your passport is a valuable document. It's attractive to people who may try to use your identity to commit crimes.
Some people may try to trick you into giving them your passport. Always keep it in a safe place.
If your passport is lost or stolen, tell the Australian Government as soon as possible:
You must get an entry stamp in your passport if you enter by land. If you don't, Colombian officials could force you to go back to the border to get the stamp.
You can use emergency passports to enter, transit and exit Colombia. They must be valid for at least 6 months from when you enter.
The local currency is the Colombian Peso (COP).
Declare amounts over $US10,000 in local or foreign currency when you arrive. This covers all forms of currency, not only cash.
You can change US dollars and euros in exchange bureaus and commercial banks.
Major hotels and tourist places accept international credit cards.
ATM and credit card facilities are more limited in rural areas. Contact your bank to make sure your cards will work in Colombia.
Credit card fraud and robbery at ATMs is common. See Safety
Transport and tour operators don't always follow safety and maintenance standards. This includes adventure activities, such as diving.
If you plan to do an adventure activity:
If proper safety equipment isn't available, use another provider.
To drive in Colombia you need both:
You must get your IDP before leaving Australia.
You're 3 times more likely to be killed in a vehicle accident in Colombia than in Australia.
Other risks when you travel by road, particularly in rural areas, include:
Not all areas with landmines are marked.
Illegal armed groups set up roadblocks. This happens in places including:
Many parts of Colombia experience heavy rainfall. Landslides and flooding are common and may affect travel.
Get advice on current road closures from the Colombian Highway Information line. Call 767.
To reduce your risks while travelling by road:
If you travel to Parque Nacional Tayrona, don't venture inland. Stick to beach areas and resorts.
Check if your travel insurance policy covers you when using a motorbike, quad bike or similar vehicle.
Always wear a helmet.
Criminals frequently rob taxi passengers. You're more at risk when travelling alone and hailing taxis from the street.
Use a phone dispatch service or taxi service app to book a licensed taxi. Ask for help from staff at hotels, hostels, restaurants or entertainment venues.
Public transport isn't always safe. Criminals frequently target buses.
Criminals acting as bus company staff tell people to put their personal belongings in the overhead bins. As soon as they're distracted, criminals steal their belongings. Many Australian travellers have been robbed like this.
To reduce your risks on public transport:
International cruise liners visit Cartagena.
Travel on river craft is dangerous. Boats are often overloaded and lack lifesaving equipment.
Always wear a life jacket, even if others don't.
DFAT doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths.
Check Colombia's air safety profile with the Aviation Safety Network.
Depending on what you need, contact your:
Call 123 or go to the hospital.
Call 112 or go to the local police station.
Always get a police report when you report a crime.
Your insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.
Contact your provider with any complaints about tourist services or products.
Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.
For consular assistance, contact the Australian Embassy in Bogotá. You can only visit the Embassy by appointment.
Check the Embassy website for details about opening hours and any temporary closures.
In a consular emergency, if you can't contact an embassy, call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on:
Be the first to know official government advice when travelling.