Steps and Requirements to Import into Colombia

15 minutos de lectura

Before knowing what the Requirements to Import in Colombia, we must know what its meaning is for that country.

In this sense, importing is the service of moving goods within the country to finally be legally marketed throughout the national territory.

Importing allows differentiating the products that exist within a country, because you can obtain items that are not manufactured regularly in certain regions, states of a country, giving an incentive to local companies to supply the population, thus generating more competition within the commercial and industrial zone, avoiding dependence on imported goods.

In the same vein, there are different types of import, among them we can mention:

Types of Import

  • Ordinary Import; It is the simplest import, it is mainly based on obtaining foreign products that are legally marketed within a country. Its features include:
  • It has a free disposition.
  • The merchandise does not have a time limit to remain in the territory, that is, it can complete its commercial cycle within the country.

  • Short-term; It is carried out to import merchandise that meets specific needs. Its features include:
  • The maximum term will be six months, extendable for up to three additional months, and in exceptional cases up to three more months.
  • In this kind of temporary importation, VAT will not have to be paid.
  • Long term; It applies to the importation of capital goods, accessories, parts and spare parts, as long as they arrive at the port in the same shipment. It is characterized by:
  • The maximum term of duration is five years.
  • Customs taxes will be deferred in semi-annual installments.
  • Temporary importation for active improvement Temporary importation for active improvement of capital goods; It allows the suspension of customs taxes on the temporary importation of capital goods, their parts and spare parts, destined to be re-exported after having been subjected to repair or conditioning, in a period not exceeding six months, extendable for the same period.
  • Temporary import for industrial processing; It is the type of import most used because it allows the temporary importation of raw materials and supplies that are going to be subjected to transformation, processing or industrial manufacturing by industries recognized as Highly Exporting Users (ALTEX) and Permanent Customs Users (UAP). .
  • Temporary import in development of special import systems (Plan Vallejo); Through these programs, the importation of merchandise such as capital goods, raw materials, supplies and spare parts is allowed with certain tax benefits.
  • Duty free import; it is that it is carried out by means of an agreement, in which customs restrictions do not necessarily have to be present. It is characterized by:
  • Have foreign merchandise.
  • They are carried out purely through agreements
  • The merchandise may be restricted, and in some cases they have restrictions in some ports.
  • Reimport for liabilities; It is about the return of merchandise, this return may be due to technical or presentation failures. In this process, the company that sends the product assumes the shipping costs and in turn reimburses the money equivalent to the defective product (s). Its features include:
  • The merchandise has free disposal, due to the collection of tax duties, for being previously an export and finally for having attributes added by its forwarding.

What is the Importance of Importation?

It is essential to take into account that there are various factors that make this economic activity important, because they allow the development of countries, economically and socially.

In this sense, the main advantages that importing provide are the following:

  • Generates competitiveness; This occurs thanks to the fact that the products (merchandise) are internationalized, which produces greater competition among the world’s entrances.
  • Provides jobs; Taking into account the number of people necessary to import, it is important to have collaborators in each state of the country to facilitate the process.
  • Incentives to make agreements; These agreements are generally made by several states of a country, which sometimes unifies them.
  • Develop the market; It encourages the creation or development of companies dedicated to importing or, failing that, stabilizing specialized markets in the international marketing area.
  • Improve quality; Motivated that imported products are made with materials that are mostly not found in the locality, the companies that play the role of competition, strive to provide the population with superior quality products.
  • Increase income; It allows the country to receive income through the mandatory fees for said activity, which results in the development of the country.

Before importing

Globalization has allowed the exchange of goods, which do not necessarily have to be of first necessity.

When we speak of globalization, we refer to the process that occurs at an economic, technological, political, social, business and cultural level that allows the union of the markets of different countries, which feeds national and international relations.

In this sense, economic globalization in Colombia has facilitated the exchange of goods between countries, thus allowing importation, provided that the products to be imported are not considered prohibited in the Constitution of Colombia and that the body that nationalizes said goods, said body is the National Tax and Customs Directorate (DIAN).

It is essential to know the steps for the importation and nationalization of merchandise when carrying out a commercial operation, because an import consists of the entry of merchandise into the national customs territory from the rest of the world or from a free zone, in order to to remain in it permanently or temporarily, in compliance with a specific purpose.

Before importing, it is necessary to know the necessary documents to carry out this economic activity, among them are:

  • Registration in the chamber of commerce.
  • Have Unique Tax Registry (RUT)
  • Tax Identification Number (NIT) in the DIAN.
  • In case of importing food, medicine, cosmetic, cleaning and hygiene products, the corresponding registration must be processed at INVIMA.

In this sense, before importing we must know:

Procedures to Import:

  • Consult the customs tariff of your product. Check it out here
  • Have your registration as an importer in force before the Chamber of Commerce.
  • A market study must be previously carried out where the price of your product in the international market, international transport cost, nationalization costs must be analyzed.
  • Verify in advance the tariff subheading of the importation of your product through the customs tariff or with the informal help provided by the Information Center.
  • In the case of imports that are of an amount greater than USD 1,000, they must have the import registration in the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Commerce, in addition to the digital signature, import registration.
  • When imports are less than USD 1000 $ Registration in the Chamber of Commerce and the RUT.
  • When making imports, the transfers abroad must be in the corresponding currencies and with the intermediation of banks or financial corporations.
  • The ideal will be cContract a transport company that is responsible for the transfer of the merchandise to Colombia.
  • The respective import declaration must be made:
  • In the event that the import value is equal to or greater than USD 5,000, they must make the respective Andean Declaration of Value in Customs.
  • On the other hand, legal entities that individually import that do not exceed one thousand US dollars (USD 1,000), will act personally and directly through their legal representative or attorney-in-fact.
  • Natural persons who carry out imports that individually do not exceed the amount of one thousand US dollars (USD 1,000) must act personally and directly.
  • You must verify the terms established for international negotiation (INCOTERMS), and in case you have to pay the value of international transport.
  • Contract the transport company with which said costs will be defined for the transfer of the merchandise to the most convenient Colombian port.
  • Store the merchandise in the corresponding customs warehouse, while it is nationalized.

Steps to Import

Colombia has a geographical location that allows agreements and imports with most of the countries in the world, so if you want to import into Colombia you must follow the following steps:

  1. Locate the tariff subheading.
  2. Register as a RUT importer
  3. Study the market.
  4. Identify the producer to import.
  5. Carry out the corresponding procedure before the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism: if Import Registration is required.
  6. Verify the exchange procedures applicable to imports.
  7. Validate the nationalization process.
  8. Calculate import costs.

Location of the Tariff Subheading

The first thing to do is locate the subheading of the product or merchandise to be imported, through a customs tariff consisting of 10

digits, by means of which obligations can be verified, and tariffs to be canceled taking into account the type of merchandise.

It is important to know that DIAN is the only body authorized to determine imports into Colombia.

The code you can verify here

Register as a RUT importer

It is essential to belong to the common system, be registered in the chamber of commerce and have the only tax RUT, which specifies the type of import to which it belongs, and the type of product it imports.

Market research

It is important to carry out a complete analysis of the market to which it will belong, taking into account the product to be imported, at the same time as the consumer to whom the product is directed. In this sense you must:

  • Detect market variables, which may affect the viability of the commercialization of the product to be imported.

Therefore, it is essential to be aware of the economic and political situation of the country, in this case Colombia, allowing to detect the possible changes to which the import strategy would be affected.

  • Investigate the current supply and demand of the products to be marketed, to verify their viability in economic matters.

You must take into account the competition, both in similar and equal products, that is, know prices, production levels, quality, access to the product.

  • Analyze consumer behavior.

It is necessary to know your purchasing power, as well as the frequency with which you purchase products, both in the present and in the future.

Identify the Product to Import

The main thing is to know which aspects make the difference of the product to be imported with those that already exist in the market to which it is going to be introduced, prioritizing its possible uses within society, since this last requirement is demanded by the entity. The customs officer verifies it and proceeds to legalize the merchandise, which will automatically enter the country.

The requirements mentioned above must be presented as follows:

  • A list must be made where the fundamental aspects of the product will be listed, such as: the brand, its reference, and the model. Additionally, how it is consumed by the market.
  • You must supply the technical sheet of the product, that is, it will be in charge of listing the physical and technical specifications, in this sense, the sheet must contain the following data: materials, ingredients, components used for its realization.
  • In the same way, it must contain the physical-chemical characteristics of the product, in order to determine its based on its component could cause allergies, adverse reactions or diseases in any consumer. In the case of a food product, its nutritional information must be verified.
  • The shelf life of the product must be defined.

When talking about useful life, it is the time in which the product can be consumed by society, or failing that, the time in which the good decreases its quality.

  • It must have the signs that indicate whether the imported merchandise is new or used.
  • Its mode of storage and distribution must be indicated.

It is important to point out that all the aspects mentioned above are essential to be able to register the product for effective importation.

  • It should be consulted if the product is subject to registration before entities such as ICA, INVIMA, Ministry of Mines, Ministry of Environment-ANLA, Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Agriculture, Superintendency of Surveillance and Private Security, Superintendency of Industry and Commerce, National Mining Agency, AUNAP, among others.

In case the product is not subject to any prerequisites, no import registration authorization is required.

Procedure before the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism: if required Import Registration

This procedure is carried out only through the web. Enter the official portal here

This procedure has several steps according to the import value, which are detailed below:

  • For Import of goods whose value is greater than or equal to USD30,000, the following must be done:
  1. Acquire Certificate or Digital Signature. Among here
  2. then enter the previous link in the section: User Registration and register to obtain: Username and Password.
  3. Enter the same link, but in the section: Help / Imports and there download the programs and user manuals.
  4. Fill out the Import Registry online at, Entering through the Imports module, once prepared, the corresponding payment must be made electronically.
  5. The Import Registry value for every 1800 characters is $ 30,000.
  • For Import of goods whose value is less than USD30,000:
  1. Registration in the VUCE Group, Calle 28 No. 13 A 15, Floor 16, in Bogotá from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, upon request for an appointment by email:, with RUT.
  2. The VUCE Group assigns you a username and password.
  3. Preparation of the import registry through the VUCE System, enter here
  4. Payment of the Electronic Import Registry.

The Importer who uses the Customs Agency or Special Agent to fill out the Import Registration, must give him a signed power of attorney and send it to this company or person to register it in VUCE and the system enables it., to do the import records.

For those companies or people who have a digital signature and want to keep a database of the records made, they can acquire the VUCE Application at the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism that will facilitate the transfer of data, for a value of three SMLMV.

Goods whose value is greater than USD1,000

When the cost of the merchandise to be imported is equal to or greater than USD 1,000, a certificate or digital signature must be acquired.

To acquire the digital signature you must enter here

Subsequently, the programs and user manuals must be downloaded.

Goods whose value is less than USD1,000

When the cost of the merchandise to be imported is less than USD 1,000, the following is due:

Fill out online import registration, chamber of commerce certificate and RUT.

In the event that you have a customs agency or special attorney, this must have a signed and registered power of attorney on the page of the Single Window of Foreign Trade (VUCE).

What is the Exchange Procedure for Imports?

To carry out imports within the legal framework, that is, what the Constitution of Colombia establishes, it is important to know the established regimes.

In this sense, the exchange regime clearly establishes the obligation to channel payments from exchange market intermediaries authorized by law, such as: commercial banks, financial corporations, among others.

Therefore, the importer must send abroad the currencies corresponding to the import payment.

However, before making the payment you must proceed to fill out the following form.

Click here

Other Procedures

Consult the terms of international negotiations through INCOTERMS where you can determine items such as:

  • The scope of the price.
  • When and where the transfer of risks on the merchandise from the seller to the buyer occurs.
  • The place of delivery of the merchandise.
  • Who contracts and pays for the transport.
  • Who contracts and pays for the insurance.
  • What documents are handled each part and its cost.

In the event that the merchandise must be transported while it is nationalized, the company is hired and it is indicated in which place the merchandise will be stored pending its nationalization.

Nationalization process

  • Once the merchandise is found in Colombia in the customs warehouse, it is recommended to request authorization to carry out pre-inspection prior to the presentation of the Import Declaration and other documents.
  • If the import value is equal to or greater than USD 5,000, the Andean Declaration of Customs Value must be completed.
  • The liquidation of customs taxes (tariff and VAT) is done through the Import Declaration.
  • According to the Customs Statute, the following may act directly before the DIAN: legal persons that make imports that individually do not exceed the FOB value of one thousand US dollars (USD 1,000) and natural persons that make imports that individually do not exceed the FOB value of one thousand US dollars (USD 1,000).

For the release or withdrawal of the merchandise, once the customs taxes have been canceled, you must go to the Authorized Customs Warehouse and present the following documents, and protect them for a period of five years:

  • Commercial invoice.
  • Packing list
  • Import Registration or License
  • Certificate of origin
  • Import Declaration
  • Transport document
  • Andean Declaration of Customs Value
  • Certificates, this applies only when it comes to imports whose amounts are higher than a thousand US dollars (USD1,000), you must hire the services of a Customs Agency, to carry out this process.

In this sense, imports of samples without commercial value, which are those goods declared as such, which must be covered by a corroborating invoice.

For this type of merchandise, it is not necessary to register or import license, just in case the merchandise with no commercial value (due to the type of product) warrants it.

However, although they are exempt from processing some collections, they must cancel customs taxes, which is established in the corresponding tariff subheading.

Importation cost

In addition to the costs incurred to import products, there are other economic obligations that are essential to import into Colombia, among them are:

  • Tariff position of the product.
  • Customs attributes.

It is important to know if there are customs agreements that reduce the payment you must make for imported merchandise.

  • International transport.
  • Insurance
  • Aguanas agency commission.
  • Stationery expenses.

Do not forget that if the merchandise remains for a period greater than ninety days, it will be identified as abandoned, and to remove it you must cancel an amount equivalent to 5% of the total import value, including interest.

And in case of not removing it, it will be passed to the auction section.

On the other hand, if there is any damage to the merchandise, look for receipts and insurance so that the supplier can respond for the damage caused.

As mentioned previously, the documents must be kept for a period of five years, established by the Colombian legal framework.

Do not forget to keep in mind the requirements to import into Colombia

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