The Department of Foreign Affairs strongly recommends that comprehensive travel insurance, including medical insurance, is obtained before travelling to Colombia.
Travellers should note that the Irish government does not provide funds for emergency medical repatriation or for repatriation of remains.
Colombia has recently been suffering heavy rains which have affected large areas of the country, and the country is also subject to volcanic and seismic activity which can prove dangerous. Travelers are advised to monitor the situation closely and seek local advice where appropriate.
Safety and Security
The Department of Foreign Affairs advises that travellers to Colombia exercise a high degree of caution. You should be aware that the security situation in Colombia is constantly changing and that you could be at serious risk in many parts of the country. There is a risk of kidnapping and crime throughout many parts of the country. Although the terrorist threat in most urban centres is now relatively low, the threat is still real.
Colombia is affected by landmines and unexploded ordnance. Mined areas are frequently unmarked. You should be aware of potential dangers when visiting remote locations or venturing off the main roads.
Politically-driven and criminal violence is a serious problem in Colombia. Attacks, including bombings, continue to occur.
Although the incidence of kidnapping in Colombia has decreased in recent years, it remains a serious problem. Foreign nationals are potential targets for kidnapping. You should take particular care when travelling alone, using automatic teller machines (ATMs), or travelling in or near tugurios (slum areas). The number of "express kidnappings", where victims are abducted and forced to withdraw funds from ATMs before being released, continues. Failure to comply with the perpetrators’ demands has in some cases resulted in serious injury or death.
Foreigners have been robbed and assaulted after accepting "spiked" food, drinks, cigarettes or chewing gum and after being sprayed by aerosols containing incapacitating chemicals.
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. Homicide rates in the city of Cali are especially high. You should be cautious on city streets, especially after dark.
Petty crime, such as pick pocketing and bag-snatching, occurs in Colombia, including at the airport in Bogotá and near hotels. Take care of your personal belongings and avoid obvious displays of wealth.
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.
You should avoid hailing taxis on the street and should book them through hotels or by phoning a reputable taxi company.
Drug trafficking is a serious crime in Colombia and drug smugglers face severe penalties, usually receiving long term of imprisonment. Do not handle drugs in Colombia. Pack you luggage yourself and keep it with you at all times. Do not carry anything through customs for anybody else.
Local Laws and Customs
For entry requirements for Colombia, please contact the nearest Colombian Embassy or Consulate.
Since 1 January 2007, Irish tourists who wish to visit Colombia temporarily do not require a visa. Entry requirements change from time to time, therefore it is advisable to check these requirements with the Embassy.
It is advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you. During your stay you should carry a photocopy of your passport at all times.
In the event that your passport is lost or stolen, obtaining a replacement passport can take up to three weeks, due to time and distance factors. Take all precautions necessary to keep your travel documents secure at all times.
Natural Disasters and Climate
The level of activity of the volcano Nevado Del Ruiz has been raised to level II meaning a probable eruption in days or weeks - travelers to the area should pay careful attention to all warnings issued and follow the advice of the local authorities.
On 2 January 2010 the Galeras Volcano in Nariño Department erupted. The Department of Foreign Affairs strongly recommends against all travel to the department of Nariño and the city of Pasto and La Florida. If, against our advice, you are in the vicinity of the volcano, you should pay careful attention to all warnings issued and follow the advice of the local authorities."
Since 9 November 2008, Cerro Machin in Tolima Department (approx 17km west of Ibague) has been showing signs of increased instability resulting in the evacuation of residents in the immediate vicinity. Travellers to the area should pay careful attention to all warnings issued and follow the advice of the local authorities.
Please be aware that Colombia is in an earthquake zone and is also subject to volcanic eruptions.
Additional Country Info
Driving and road standards are variable in Colombia. Travel by road outside the major cities, including by public transport, is dangerous.
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 to take adequate precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes.
Dengue Fever is endemic to Latin America and the Caribbean and can occur throughout the year. In 2007 there was a marked increase in the number of reported cases of dengue across the region. Take precautions against being bitten by Dengue carrying mosquitoes, which are active throughout the day.
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 Certificate. You should confirm with the authorities of you next destination whether they require a certificate following your visit to Colombia.
A H1N1 Virus (Swine Flu): Latest Information
For up to date information on the epidemic in Colombia, please visit the website of the Colombian Ministry of Social Protection:
DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR MISSIONS