- Normal precautions
- High degree of caution
- Avoid non-essential travel
- Do not travel
- Safety and Security
- Local Laws and Customs
- Natural Disasters and Climate
- Additional Information
- Embassy Contact
General COVID-19 Travel Advisory in Operation
General advice to avoid non-essential travel and ‘Normal Precautions’ list of exemptions:
In accordance with Government policy, which is based on official public health advice, the Department of Foreign Affairs continues to advise against non-essential travel overseas. This includes Great Britain but does not apply to Northern Ireland. It also includes all travel by cruise ship.
Travel to a very limited set of locations is exempted from this advice. Individuals arriving into Ireland from these locations will not be required to restrict their movements upon entry. These locations currently have a ‘normal precautions’ (“green”) security status rating. As of 4 August 2020, these locations are:
Inclusion on the list is based on the current epidemiological situation and related public health information in each location. The list and related travel advice will be reviewed on a fortnightly basis, based on advice from officials, including public health experts. Any updates or changes will be based on Government decisions. The latest updates will always be uploaded first to this General COVID-19 Travel Advisory. Country-specific tabs will be updated subsequently, and as quickly as possible, but this advisory is the primary source of information for the latest version of the list. The above list was updated on 4 August following the latest review.
If you are considering travelling outside of Ireland:
Irish citizens travelling to locations with a ‘normal precautions’ (“green”) rating are advised to follow the public health guidelines of the local health authorities and to continue to practice physical distancing measures, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette etc. The security rating for all other locations remains unchanged at either to ‘avoid non-essential travel’ (“orange”) or to ‘do not travel’ (“red”).
The purpose of the Department’s Travel Advice is to provide information to the general public so that individuals can make informed decisions for themselves. The COVID19 pandemic continues to accelerate internationally, and there are significant risks associated with international travel. Citizens should be aware of the possible limitations to any consular assistance that could be provided. Any citizens who are considering travel abroad are advised to monitor closely our travel advice and we recommend that citizens download our TravelWise App and follow us on Twitter. Citizens travelling abroad should also register with their local Irish Embassy or Consulate and regularly check their website and Twitter accounts for details of any local public health measures and travel restrictions.
Should you need to travel for essential reasons, you should inform yourself about any requirements in place in the destination to which you are travelling. Flight restrictions and route cancellations are happening on a daily basis worldwide and there is no guarantee that air routes will continue to operate as scheduled. Testing and restrictions may be imposed or may already be in place in other countries. It is important to check with your insurance provider on coverage at this time.
What to do on entering Ireland from abroad:
The Irish Authorities advise anyone coming into Ireland, apart from Northern Ireland and individuals arriving in Ireland from locations with a security rating of ‘normal precautions’ (“green”), to restrict their movements for 14 days, and this includes citizens and residents returning to Ireland. Restricting your movements means staying indoors in one location and avoiding contact with other people and social situations as much as possible. To ensure that this is being observed all passengers arriving to Ireland from overseas are obliged to complete a mandatory Public Health Passenger Locator Form and to submit it to the relevant authority at their port of entry. For further details please see the Irish Government Advice Page. Exemptions are also in place for providers of essential supply chain services such as hauliers, pilots and maritime staff. Check the Irish Government Advice Page for full information on these requirements and further advice on returning from abroad.
Where to go for more information:
We continue to make updates to our online travel advice for over 200 countries and recommend that you download our TravelWise App and follow us on Twitter. If abroad you should register with your local Irish Embassy or Consulate and regularly check their website and Twitter accounts for details of any local public health measures and travel restrictions.
Avoid non-essential travel.
Security Status Last Updated: 15 March 2020
The security situation is volatile in many areas of the country, and at all times you should pay close attention to the warnings issued by the Colombian authorities.
Latest travel alert
COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus
As part of Colombia’s emergency response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Government has declared a national health emergency, and international flights are not permitted to leave or arrive in the country until at least 1 September 2020. Inter-municipal travel within Colombia has been restricted until further notice and land borders are closed. Quarantine measures have also been introduced across Colombia. These vary according to region; citizens should check with local authorities to get information on restrictions in place in their locality.
All citizens should check the Colombian Ministry of Health website for up-to-date figures and information. A special app for the virus in Colombia, CoronApp - Colombia, is also available to download and regional helplines have been opened for those seeking more information on the virus as well as the national helpline: 01-8000955590.
Be alert to common signs of COVID-19 infection: respiratory problems, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
Seek medical advice if you experience these symptoms.
HSE medical advice to protect yourself from getting COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is below. Please note that in Colombia, it is obligatory to wear face masks in public places.
• wash your hands properly and regularly with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub
• cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough and sneeze
• put used tissues into a bin and wash your hands
• touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
Additional information on COVID-19 can be found via the following links:
Measles outbreaks have been reported in 2020 in Colombia, with the border region with Venezuela registering the highest numbers of cases. The World Health Organisation recommends that travellers get vaccinated against measles at least 15 days prior to travel. WHO advice for international travel in relation to measles can be found here.
The Colombia-Venezuela border region is currently volatile. We strongly advise against all travel to Colombia's border regions with Venezuela until further notice. You should not use any of the Colombia-Venezuela land crossings.
If you are planning a future trip to Colombia, we suggest you learn as much as you can about Colombia before your trip from travel agents, tour operators and guide books. The best help is often close at hand, so if you have problems when you're in Colombia, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.
You can contact the emergency services in Colombia by dialling 123.
In the event of an emergency, you can contact the Irish Embassy in Bogotá. Contact details can be found under the "Embassy Contact" tab. If you phone outside of working hours, leave us a message giving:
- Your name
- The reason for your call
- Where you are now
- Your contact details (mobile phone number or phone number of where you're staying)
We regularly monitor these messages and one of our staff members will be in contact with you.
Our tips for safe travels:
- Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities.
- Add an alert for your destination within the TravelWise App.
- Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly if there's an unforeseen crisis like a natural disaster or a family emergency.
- Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates.
- Read our 'Know Before You Go' guide.
Safety and Security
Safety and Security
Safety and security
Politically-driven and criminal violence is a serious problem in Colombia. Attacks, including bombings, continue to take place. Political demonstrations can occur in the capital city of Bogotá and throughout the country. These can be confrontational and occasionally turn violent. You should monitor local media and avoid all demonstrations.
There is a high risk of kidnapping from both terrorist and criminal groups. While Colombians are the primary targets, foreigners can also be targeted, especially those working for (or perceived to be working for) oil, mining and related companies. Take particular care when travelling alone, using ATMs, or travelling in or near tugurios (slum areas).
You should regularly reassess your security arrangements and consider carefully any travel around the country.
Colombia is affected by landmines and unexploded ordnance. Mined areas are frequently unmarked so be aware of potential dangers when visiting remote locations or venturing off the main roads.
The Colombia-Venezuela border region is currently volatile. We advise against all travel to Colombia's border regions with Venezuela until further notice. You should not use any of the Colombia-Venezuela land crossings.
To cross by land between Colombia and Ecuador, you should only use the crossing on the Pan-American Highway, at Ipiales. Do not stop en route between the border and Pasto.
Avoid crossing between Panama and Colombia by land. The 'Darien Gap' is a dangerous area renowned for the presence of several illegal armed groups, illegal migration, and drugs trafficking. There is no road crossing between Colombia and Panama.
Crime is prevalent in Colombia and you should take sensible precautions.
Street crime is a problem in major cities, including Bogotá, Medellín, Cali and Santa Marta. Mugging and pickpocketing can be accompanied by violence.
There have been reports of criminals in Colombia using drugs to subdue their victims. Drugs can be administered through food, drinks, cigarettes, aerosols and even paper flyers, and can temporarily incapacitate the victim, leaving them vulnerable to robbery, sexual assault and other crimes.
Where possible, plan how you will travel to and from your destination. Only use pre-booked taxis. Avoid travelling on your own or at night, especially at border crossings or areas where there are few other people around.
Though the security situation in Colombia has improved in recent years, terrorism and serious criminal activities remain significant threats.
The January 2019 bombing in Bogotá has seen tensions between the Colombian Government and terrorist group ELN heightened given that peace talks have permanently broken down.
A high level of caution should be exercised against street crime in major cities such as Bogotá, Medellín and Cali. 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. Exercise caution on city streets, especially after dark.
Foreigners have been known to be victims of 'express kidnapping', which can occur after hailing taxis on the street.
Criminal gangs are active in all of the Departments where coca is cultivated, processed or transported, as well as in many cities. The risk is particularly significant in rural areas near the borders with Panama, Venezuela and Ecuador; in the Parque Nacional Natural de La Macarena in the Department of Meta; and the port towns of Buenaventura in the Department of Valle de Cauca, Turbo in the Department of Antioquia and Tumaco in the Department of Nariño.
Petty theft, such as pick-pocketing and bag-snatching, is relatively common in Colombia, including at the airport in Bogotá, on public transport, and near hotels. Take care of your personal belongings and avoid obvious displays of wealth. Avoid using your mobile phone on the street.
Foreigners have been robbed and assaulted after accepting 'spiked' food, drinks, cigarettes or chewing gum and after being sprayed by aerosols containing incapacitating chemicals.
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.
Lost or stolen passports
If your passport is lost or stolen, it can take up to three weeks to get a replacement, due to time and distance factors. So please take extreme care with your passport and other personal documentation. Getting a replacement passport will be easier if you are able to provide a copy of the lost or stolen one, so keep photocopies of your passport.
If you're a victim of a crime while in Colombia, report it to the local police immediately. Many insurance companies will only compensate loss from theft if you can provide a police report. Contact us at the Irish Embassy in Bogotá if you require assistance.
If you're planning to drive in Colombia, you should be extremely careful. Driving and road standards are variable. Travel by road outside the major cities, including by public transport, is dangerous. If you want to drive:
- Bring your international driving license and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and you risk being detained, fined or banned from driving if caught
- Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you're stopped at traffic lights
Where possible, plan how you will travel to and from your destination. Only use pre-booked taxis. We strongly advise against hailing taxis from the street.
Hiring a vehicle
If you're hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you're allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.
Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).
Local Laws and Customs
Local Laws and Customs
Local laws and customs
Drug trafficking is a serious crime in Colombia and drug smugglers face severe penalties, usually receiving long terms of imprisonment. Don't handle drugs in Colombia. Pack your luggage yourself and keep it with you at all times. Don't carry anything through customs for anybody else.
Homosexuality is legal but not widely accepted, especially in rural areas.
Military or strategic government sites
Photographing of military or strategic government sites is not allowed.
Age of consent
It is a serious criminal offence to have sex with a minor (under 18 years old).
Natural Disasters and Climate
Natural Disasters and Climate
Natural disasters and climate
Colombia is in an active seismic zone, which can prove dangerous. If you're travelling to or living in Colombia, make sure you know what to do in the event of an earthquake.
Colombia is also subject to volcanic activity. If travelling to volcanic zones e.g. Nevado Del Ruiz, the Galeras Volcano in the Nariño Department or the Cerro Machin in Tolima Department, you should pay careful attention to any warnings issued and follow the advice of the local authorities.
Colombia is prone to heavy rains, which can affect large areas of the country, particularly in the Andes regions and during the rainy seasons of April to May and October to November. Pay close attention to the warnings issued by the Colombian authorities.
Entry requirements (visa/passport)
Irish citizens don't need a visa to visit Colombia for periods of up to 90 days. When entering the country, you may need to provide evidence of return or onward travel.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of six months from the date of entry into Colombia. Entry requirements change from time to time, so check these requirements with the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Colombia.
If you're travelling through the United States of America, you'll need to meet US entry/transit requirements. Check your visa requirements with a US Embassy or Consulate well in advance of travel.
It's advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you. During your stay you should carry a photocopy of your passport, the passport page containing your Colombian visa (if applicable), and the passport page containing your entry stamp, at all times.
Medical facilities in Colombia vary widely in quality. In larger cities, private clinics usually provide good quality care, whereas public health facilities and those in smaller cities may be of poorer quality.
Before you travel, you should make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation. Foreign nationals who violate immigration laws in Colombia (e.g. by overstaying a visa) will not be permitted to access Colombia's public health system.
Depending on your country of origin, Colombian authorities may require you to hold a yellow-fever vaccination certificate in order to enter the country. Such certificates are also mandatory to enter certain high-risk regions and national parks.
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 vaccination certificate. You should confirm with the authorities of your next destination whether they require a certificate following your visit to Colombia.
There's 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 after arrival, take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes by using bed nets and repellents, and wearing closed shoes, long sleeves and trousers.
Dengue fever is endemic to Latin America and the Caribbean and can occur throughout the year. Take precautions against being bitten by Dengue-carrying mosquitoes, which are active throughout the day.
A moderate risk of transmission of the Zika virus (a dengue-like mosquito-borne disease) exists in Colombia, though it is worth noting that mosquitoes transmitting the virus are unlikely to be found above 2,000m (6,500ft). Pregnant women or women planning a pregnancy are advised to postpone all non-essential travel to Colombia. Irish Citizens especially those with a weakened immune system or women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant are advised to follow guidance available on the website of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) at http://www.hpsc.ie/A-Z/Vectorborne/Zika/.
Cases of chikungunya virus have been reported in Colombia. As with other mosquito-borne viruses, all precautions should be taken to avoid bites.
Tap water is safe to drink only in Bogotá. In all other areas of Colombia, you should drink only bottled water and avoid ice in drinks.
Travellers to many parts of Colombia, including Bogotá, are at risk of developing altitude sickness. Get advice from your doctor before you travel, particularly if you plan to carry out activities such as hiking in high-altitude areas.
The Embassy operates an out-of-hours service for Irish citizens requiring emergency consular assistance. If you are in need of such assistance, you should dial (1) 657 6060 (from a Colombian landline), 031 657 6060 (from a Colombian mobile number), or +57 1 657 6060 (from an Irish phone number) and leave a message on the system. This system is checked regularly and a member of Embassy staff will contact you as soon as possible.
When leaving your message, remember to state your name, the nature of the problem, your current location, and the details of how the Duty Officer can contact you (e.g. leave your mobile phone number, or the phone number of the hotel/hostel where you are staying).
Alternatively, you may contact the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin at +353 (0)1 408 2000.
Embajada de Irlanda
Edificio Tierra Firme
Cra 9 #115-30
Consular services are provided by appointment only, from 9am to 12pm on weekdays: contact us to make an appointment.
Get travel and medical insurance
Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.
In case of emergency, you can contact us by telephone on +57 1 657 6060 (from an Irish phone), (1) 657 6060 (from a Colombian landline), and 031 657 6060 (from a Colombian mobile number).