If you're going to open a bank account in Colombia or if you're ready to buy a home or investment property, you will need to wire money to Colombia and into your new account or the account of the property seller.
Banks in Colombia are Cautious
The Colombian bank will check to see where the money is coming from to insure that it was acquired legally. Your transfer can be denied if the money is suspected to have shady origins.
The most important consideration is declaring the intended use of the money you are wiring. You can be fined up to 100% of the amount of the transfer if you use the money for other than its intended and stated purpose. If your actions are perceived as criminal--which includes the intent to avoid taxes--you will probably not escape the consequences. Wire transfers to Colombia are heavily regulated by Banco de la República, and it's important to follow their regulations carefully.
Sometimes people change their minds about how they are going to use the money after it gets to Colombia, which seems innocent enough--but the country doesn't see it that way. The bank will check up on the money even after a few years to make sure it met its originally intended purpose. If you can't prove that you spent the money the way you said you were going to, you will be faced with fines.
Another mistake people make is in thinking that just because the money originates outside of Colombia, it in considered a direct foreign investment and will count toward the five-year Colombian investor's visa. However, this is no longer true if you have been in Colombia for more than 183 days; at that point, the money is no longer considered to be a direct foreign investment. (Read more about investment legalizations.)
Don't change your money to pesos before wiring! All transfers occur in US dollars (even transfers coming from countries other than the United States) and will be exchanged to pesos upon arrival in Colombia.
There are lots of small third-party agencies who allow wire transfers, but they have limited support options and cannot help you register the transfer correctly. Keep in mind that when transferring large sums of money--more than $3,000USD per month--the regulations get considerably more complicated. These agencies do not cover large wire transfers for investments in Colombia.
There are five organizations that can legally handle money like this, from the local casa de cambio (money exchange) to the traditional banks. When wiring money to a property seller's account, for example--or to your own Colombian bank account--there's a good chance you will be transferring the money to one of these 10 largest banks in Colombia:
While there are no taxes on wire transfers per se, the fine print depends on the nature of the transaction. After you get your money to Colombia, you should know that the banks here charge various fees that you might not normally get charged by the bank in your home country. This includes transfers between Colombian banks. There is a .004% tax (that's 4 pesos per 1.000 pesos) on local transfers that everyone pays on every transfer.
How We Can Help:
It's important to have an expert assist in declaring correct registration of funds when you wire money to Colombia. Banks only make suggestions and cannot officially give you advice on how to declare your wire transfers. Banks are not responsible for paying government fines if a clerk gives you the wrong information, which is not an uncommon occurrence in Colombia.
Colombia Legal & Accounting deals with wire transfers on a regular basis. We would be happy to help you with your wire transfer to Colombia.