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 Bogota 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 kidnap from both terrorist and criminal groups. There is a high risk of kidnap 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 Venezuelan government has closed several major border crossing points between the Venezuelan states of Tachira and Zulia and the Colombian departments of La Guajira and Norte de Santander until further notice due to concerns about security and smuggling. You should avoid crossing from Colombia into Venezuela by land.
Crime is prevalent in Colombia and you should take sensible precautions.
Street crime is a problem in major cities, including Bogota, Medellin, 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.
A high level of caution should be exercised against street crime in major cities such as Bogotá, Medellin 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. 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.
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. And you can contact us at the Irish Embassy in Mexico City if you need help.
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
You should avoid hailing taxis on the street and should book them through hotels or by phoning a reputable taxi company.
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).
Wed, 04 May 2016 15:06:24 BST