Colombia is much more than just a tourist destination. It is also an attractive country to invest in and conduct business. However, entering the Colombian job market is not easy, even with a residency permit. In order to get hired, the company in Colombia has to carry out the same procedures as if they were hiring you from another country.
If you work for an international company, and want to work in Colombia, you need the following:
- A valid job contract
- A certificate from the Chamber of Commerce approving your employer
- A letter from your company stating that you are contracted to return to the country where you were working before, after activities in Colombia have come to an end.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is now actively inviting businessmen to Colombia. They are given a visa that is valid for 4 years so that they can develop their contact list and participate in meetings. They cannot, however, stay in the country for a period of more than 6 months at once.
Certain jobs in Colombia are, however, easier to find. One example is English teaching jobs
English language teaching is the most common industry for expats in Colombia. This can either be in a language school, or giving private lessons. You should be able to find a job in this sector if you are a native English speaker. Be aware that it is not a very easy job to do. If you want to find a job before going to Colombia, visit TEFL and English teaching websites for further information.
The payment for English classes can be very low and it can be difficult to make a living. This especially applies to language schools, so you should look at teaching at least some private classes. You could start teaching in a school and find clients for private lessons, look in local newspapers, or post announcements in universities and schools.
Private lessons also have some disadvantages. You have to adapt to the free time of your students, so be prepared to have classes very early in the morning or very late in the evening and on weekends. Private class students are also more likely to cancel classes, in which case you won’t get paid, whereas in an academy, there will be certain rules as to payment if a class is cancelled by the student, that cannot be rearranged.
Although you are not allowed to work without a proper work visa in Colombia, some language schools do not ask for one. Some language schools even prefer foreigners not to have a visa, as this means they can pay in cash and avoid taxes. There will be a lot of jobs like this available, but be aware that working without a work visa is illegal and there are many risks involved.
Hiring an expatriate
If a company wants to hire you, they should submit a detailed document which shows the salary being offered, including all taxes and an explanation on why aren’t they hiring a Colombian. This procedure can take up to 2 months according to the Administrative Department of Security, DAS and 3 or 4 days according to the Ministry of Social Protection (Ministerio de Protección Social).
For more information about the visas and permits you need to work in Colombia, read the Visas and Permits section of our guide.
Setting up your own company
It is easier to set up a company than get a job in Colombia. It still requires a lot of patience. The most difficult part of creating your own company is opening a bank account. There are many requirements for opening a bank account (see our Money section), and you will have to complete an application form. Once again, this can be a long process.