Opening a corporate bank account in Colombia
is an essential step in starting a business in Colombia. In fact, without that bank account, you will not be issued a business license.
You will likely find setting up any type of bank account in Colombia to be one of the most difficult and frustrating tasks you will encounter as you establish yourself in this country. Hopefully we can take a little of the mystery out of the process. Colombia Legal & Accounting has been helping foreigners set up bank accounts, apply for Colombian visas, and transfer money, among other immigration processes, for years, and we will be happy to put our experience to work for you.
You will first need to get a pre-taxpayer ID number (the pre-RUT) from the DIAN, which you will use to open your new corporate bank account in Colombia (RUT stands for registro único tributario.) Starting a checking account could take a few days (or longer), during which time the bank will check your company information thus far and verify that the funds you are depositing were acquired legally. (Be sure you understand all the rules regarding wire transfers. The process is heavily regulated in Colombia, and failing to take the proper steps could result in investigation and fines, as well as extra time, stress, and frustration.) There will be a minimum deposit that could vary from bank to bank.
You can also expect a background check, just as with a personal account. The bank will see that you have no outstanding warrants. Certain criminal histories, such as those relating to drug trafficking, money laundering, and other financial crimes, could result in your account application being denied. This could mean, as it has for some people before you, having to choose another country in which to open your business.
Your Cédula and the Permanent RUT
As with a personal bank account in Colombia, you will also need a Colombian identification card, the cédula, to open a corporate bank account. There are some exceptions to this rule--for example, if you are employed by a Colombian company and are receiving regular payments, you can open the account with just your passport.
However, if you're intending to stay in Colombia long-term to run your business, or if you plan to come back and forth, you will need a cédula anyway and you should start that process. Our office can help you with the paperwork required to obtain a cédula as well as with setting up your business.
After your corporate bank account is established, DIAN will issue the permanent tax ID for your corporation.