How To Open a Bank Account in Colombia As A Foreigner

With this comprehensive guide, discover how to open a bank account in Colombia as a foreigner, including tips, limitations and requirements.

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Are you thinking about moving to Colombia, or are you in Colombia and want to start laying down roots? 

Opening a bank account in Colombia is essential in managing your finances if you plan on being a resident or doing business in Colombia. While obtaining a bank account as a foreigner in Colombia may appear complex, it has become more streamlined with the availability of online and mobile banking options. In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to open a bank account in Colombia, addressing key questions and providing valuable information.

Can you open a bank account as a foreigner in Colombia?

 Yes, as a foreigner, you can open a bank account in Colombia. However, certain requirements need to be met, and specific documentation is necessary. 

Typically, you will be required to obtain a Colombian ID card for foreigners, known as the "Cédula de Extranjería." To obtain the Cedula, the foreigner will first need to obtain a visa. It is important to note that this ID card cannot be obtained on a visa that is granted for less than 180 days in the country. 

"A common question we receive from clients is that they want to open a bank account to start saving money for a future purchase here in Colombia. Unfortunately, unless you're starting a business or have a RUT number, this typically isn't possible without obtaining a visa first. The first step of opening a bank account is to obtain a visa and Cédula de Extranjería."

Daniela Cordoba

Lead Attorney, Colombian Visa Services

Do you need a Cédula de Extranjería to open a bank account?

Yes... and no. 

If the foreigner has done commercial activity in Colombia, For example, purchasing a property, and they have filed to obtain a RUT number, the foreigner may be able to open a bank account in Colombia without a Cédula de Extranjería. 

Therefore, unless you have commercial activity in Colombia,  the Cédula de Extranjería is essential for any foreigner wishing to open a bank account. 

What is the process for opening a bank account? 

To open a bank account in Colombia, you must gather the required documents. These documents include the following: 

  • Proof of identity (passport and visa)
  • Cédula de Extranjería 
  •  Proof of address (e.g., utility bills or rental agreements) 
  • Proof of income. Some banks may require a minimum deposit, and you may need to specify the source of your funds if they are not from a paycheck.

The first step is to visit a bank branch in person to initiate the account opening process. The bank will conduct a background check and may ask compliance and security questions during the process. 

Having a fluent Spanish speaker or translator with you can facilitate clear communication.

Once you have submitted all the necessary documents and completed the application form, the bank will review your information and verify your eligibility. If everything is in order, you will receive a debit card, granting you immediate access to your account.

Are there any Limitations For Opening A Bank Account As a Foreigner? 

As of 2023, Colombian banks are not allowing customers to make foreign transfers in the first 6 months of opening the account. Therefore, you cannot transfer funds from your home country to the Colombian bank account for 6 months. However, you will be able to make deposits. 

What banks are available? 

Colombia offers a range of banks that cater to foreigners. Some notable banks include Bancolombia, Davivienda, Banco de Bogotá, Banco Agrario de Colombia, Banco de Occidente, Scotiabank Colpatria, and Banco Popular. Bancolombia is by far the most popular and widely used bank in Colombia. 

It is advisable to opt for larger and well-known institutions when selecting a bank, as they offer a more reliable account opening process. Exploring their websites, assessing available options, and contacting their customer service teams for further assistance can help you make an informed decision.

What are the benefits of opening a bank account in Colombia?

Opening a bank account in Colombia as a foreigner comes with several advantages. Firstly, having a local bank account allows you to pay bills, services, and goods in the local currency, avoiding excessive exchange rates and fees associated with international transactions. 

Additionally, if you are working in Colombia, your employer can directly deposit your salary into your local bank account, simplifying financial management.

Furthermore, the rise of online and mobile banking in Colombia has made financial transactions more convenient and accessible. Banks like Bancolombia, Banco de Bogotá, and Scotiabank Colpatria offer user-friendly online platforms and mobile banking apps, enabling you to perform transactions, transfer funds, and track your savings from the comfort of your home or while on the go.

Having a local bank account in Colombia provides a sense of financial stability and security. You can easily manage your finances, monitor your expenses, and build a banking history, which may be beneficial for future endeavors such as obtaining loans (though a true credit system like in the United States doesn't exist). 


Opening a bank account in Colombia as a foreigner is a necessary step to establish your financial presence in the country. By providing the required documentation, visiting a bank branch in person, and fulfilling the minimum deposit requirement, you can gain access to the various banking services available. 

From online and mobile banking convenience to paying bills and receiving direct deposits, having a local bank account offers practicality and financial stability as you embark on your new life in Colombia. 

Choose a reputable bank that meets your needs and embrace the opportunities that come with effective financial management in this vibrant and diverse country.

Daniela Cordoba
Founder and Lead Attorney

Daniela Cordoba is a lawyer specializing in immigration and commercial law. Daniela Cordoba has helped individuals and businesses live and operate in Colombia for over a decade. She also has training in compliance with the respective accreditations to serve as Compliance Officer.

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