How to open a bank account in Colombia

How to open a bank account in Colombia

Decided to move to Colombia? What an amazing choice. It is a place of friendly people, excellent beaches, food (and coffee) that alone should be enough to entice a move. There are many other facets of Colombia that makes it a destination for foreigners including the relatively low cost of living, the ability to open and thrive with a business and invest on its coastal boom towns too.

So if you just landed there or if you are thinking of making the move, you will need to establish a financial life. Here is how to open a bank account in Colombia.

Documents needed to open a bank account in Colombia

You will be required to present a set of documents in order to open a bank account in Colombia and once with these in hand the process should be fairly straightforward. Most banks will give you a debit card that you can use right away and you will be granted mobile and online banking access too.

  • Passport and visa that establishes you are a legal resident
  • Cédula de extranjería, a ID for foreigners.
  • Proof of address such as lease agreement or utility bill
  • Contact details of your employer
  • If you are a freelance you will need to provide proof of income such as bank statements and invoices

You will be required to make a minimum initial deposit that you must make at the time of the account opening. You are required to provide proof of source of the income if it does not come from traditional employment.

Can I open a bank account in Colombia as a non-resident?

It is not possible to open a bank account as an non-resident in Colombia because you are required to have the cédula de extranjería. Since you cannot get this ID card with a tourist visa, you would have to have a work visa. The same applies for opening a bank account from abroad, but the exception is that your bank may have a correspondent relationship with a local bank or your bank may be part of a global banking conglomerate.

Best banks in Colombia

With a mature banking industry there are many options for expats to choose from between local banks and international retail giants with global recognition. We recommend you stick to known names and larger institutions because it is more likely you will encounter English speaking relationship managers and even documentation available in English.

  • Banco Colpatria: With over 200 branches in Colombia and additional strength as an organization since the recent merger with Scotiabank, this could be a good option for expats. They have a full set of products and services including current and savings accounts, investor and wealth management service, mortgages and loans, insurance and all the major debit and credit card labels.
  • Corpbanca:with 300 branches and over 600 ATMs, this is a convenient banking option. Their accounts come with online and sms banking, debit and credit card offers, multi-currency accounts and all the traditional offers including loans and insurance.
  • BancoAV Villas: With a history that started in the early 70s, this is a well established local bank that connections to the construction industry still lingering from its early days. They have however branched off from the construction business and gained traction in the retail business thanks to a full set of offers including current and savings account and cards of all major labels.
  • Banco Caja Social: with a large focus on SMEs this is could be a good option for expats as a stable bank with long history and local clout. They have a full set of accounts for you to choose from but their website is not in English.

We advise you call the banks you choose to setup appointments because this will make the process much easier as they will be able to prepare documents for you. This also will get you an English speaking relationship manager to help out.

Watch out for excessive charges hidden within the fine print of your contract. You can be hit with charges for closing your account, fees for off network card use and certainly for currency conversion when using abroad.

The virtual bank account alternative

Transferring money abroad from Colombia is expensive when you use a bank

If you need to regularly send money abroad and you are using your bank, you could be paying 10% in total charges and fees (from the total transaction) and not knowing about it. This is because currency conversion is expensive with banks because they have to cover their operational costs and interbank fees. For example, it is typical that a 10 thousand euro transfer to India only produce 9000 euros or so worth of rupees when it gets to India. In other words, you pay 1000 euros for a 10K transfer!

You will be glad to hear there is a much more affordable alternative with a virtual bank account by B2B Pay. You get 9900 euros worth of rupees in India. You save 900 euros on every transaction. Plus you get your own IBAN in Europe that works just like a normal European bank account and you can use it to send and receive money within the EU for free and send money anywhere in the world in 33 currencies for a small 1% flat fee.

How to open a bank account in Europe

We have a few guides to guide you through the process of opening a bank account in multiple European countries and explaining why a virtual bank account with B2B Pay may be a better alternative if you are transferring money outside of Europe and taking advantage of a better rate.



How to open a bank account overseas

We have a few guides to guide you through the process of opening a bank account in multiple countries all over the world and explaining why a virtual bank account with B2B Pay may be a better alternative if you are transferring money outside of Europe and taking advantage of a better rate.


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