Doing Business with Colombia


Practical telephone numbers (emergency services, police, firemen, information lines, etc.)

Police, rescue service, firefighters: 123
Traffic police: 127
Information line: 113

Important web links and contacts

Office of the
President Presidencia

Ministry of the Interior
Ministerio del Interior
e-mail: [email protected]

Ministry of Justice
Ministerio de Justicia
e-mail: [email protected]

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores

Ministry of Economy and Finance
Ministerio de Hacienda y Crédito Público
e-mail: [email protected]

Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development
Ministerio de Agricultura y Desarrollo Rural
e-mail: [email protected]

Ministry of Health
Ministerio de Salud
e-mail: [email protected]

Ministry of Mining and Energy
Ministerio de Minas y Energía
e-mail: [email protected]

Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism
Ministerio de Comercio, Industria y Turismo
e-mail: [email protected]

Ministry of Transport
Ministerio de Transporte
email: [email protected]

National Planning Office
Departamento Nacional de Planeación – DNP

Tax and Customs Administration
Dirección de Impuestos y Aduanas Nacionales – DIAN
e-mail: [email protected]

Statistical Office
Departamento Nacional de Estadística – DANE
e-mail: [email protected]

Colombian Bank of Foreign Trade
Banco de Comercio Exterior de Colombia – BANCOLDEX
e-mail: [email protected]

trade and investment promotion agency

National Association of Colombian Entrepreneurs
Asociación nacional de empresarios Colombia – ANDI
e-mail: [email protected]

Colombian Agricultural Institute
Instituto Colombiano Agropecuario – ICA
e-mail: [email protected]

National Institute for the Surveillance of Medicines and Nutrition
Instituto Nacional de Vigilancia de Medicamentos y Alimentos – INVIMA
email: [email protected]

Colombian Petroleum Company – ECOPETROL


PaulSourcing: Ten Commandments for Doing Business with Colombia

The PaulSourcing agency has prepared ten recommendations for doing business with this territory for Czech entrepreneurs interested in business relations with Colombia. In 2020, it was supplemented with 4 current tips.

4 recommendations for entering the Colombian market during the coronavirus pandemic situation:

  1. Search for business partners The first step is to find suitable contacts for potential business partners in the local market. Unfortunately, there is no free database of this type in Colombia. And if it looks like it’s free, it usually redirects the person interested in the information to a paid portal. Classic search engines and keyword searches appear to be the best alternative, but here you often encounter a lack of information – many solid companies do not have high-quality websites (or do not have them at all). They often prove to be good tools for searching and contacting professional social networks such as LinkedIn. Information can also be obtained from the links at the end of this recommendation.In the first step, the foreign office of PaulSourcing Bogota (ZK Bogota) can help you with the use of its paid databases or with the help of contacts from the territory. To compile a basic longlist, you need the HS codes of the products that the company plans to import to Colombia. It is also a good idea to send any contacts from the local market that the company has acquired through its own initiative on the Internet, or from trade fairs and similar events.
  2. Selection of suitable partners The second step is the selection of suitable candidates from the first list. ZK Bogota recommends not focusing only on company size and expertise, the ideal partner in Latin America tends to be medium-sized, family-owned companies. These companies will support you with the greatest enthusiasm. Likewise, the major doesn’t have to be pivotal, as these markets are about personal connections.At this stage, ZK Bogota can support with knowledge of the local market and recommendations of partners, but from the industry point of view, a decision needs to be made on your side. It can also support its decision-making by checking a limited number of companies in paid databases (information, financial results, riskiness, etc.)
  3. Contacting The third step is to contact the selected companies by phone, send the materials by email and then verify interest in the product/service again by phone. Given the current situation in the country, this step is very complicated and is rather a matter of chance – every company now deals with business differently. Many companies either do not work at all or in a limited home office mode, and contacting key employees is very complicated, in some cases even impossible. Here it is worth emphasizing that even managers in important companies often do not speak English here. That’s why communication in Spanish is key.Here ZK Bogota can support you individually according to the situation, can try to contact companies or recommend the next course of action. If reaching out would not be realistic or appropriate in the current situation, he will pass this information on to you, and before the situation calms down he can support you in the following point.
  4. Preparation of materials During the entire process, it is advisable for the Czech company to prepare quality materials in the Spanish language (presentations, references, websites, etc.). It is important to focus on good Spanish, but also on brevity and conciseness of information. For the first e-mail, ZK Bogota does not recommend Czech exporters to send materials longer than one or two pages. Focus on more graphics and less text.ZK Bogota can help you adapt the materials to local customs and can also connect you with translators or recommend people for proofreading so that the text is really well prepared for the Colombian market.


  • Publicly accessible information and databases :
  • SECOP II– online platform used for the contracting of all state purchases, contains a list of current state contracts of any nature
  • DANE- Colombian Statistical Office. On the website, it is possible to download statistics in individual categories related to, among other things, industry, foreign trade, etc.
  • DIAN– website of the National Directorate of Taxes and Customs. The possibility of searching for import conditions, customs, VAT, mandatory certificates and registrations for importing goods to Colombia.
  • Ministries, government organizations and associations :
  • Ministry of Finance
  • Ministry of Defense
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Ministry of Energy
  • Ministry of Trade and Tourism
  • Ministry of the Environment
  • Ministry of Informatics
  • Ministry of Transportation
  • Ministry of Science
  • National Infrastructure Agency
  • National Colombian Trade Association
  • Investment Promotion Agency
  • Columbian Banking Association
  • Energy Planning and Mining Unit
  • Printing
  • Portafolio- a leading newspaper providing economic and business information and news. It comes out in both physical and digital form. Without registration, the number of articles is limited to 7. After registration, no restrictions.
  • Semana– a weekly magazine providing economic analysis and expert opinions. It offers 7 articles for free. Others paid.
  • El tiempo- this is another newspaper and a serious source of information. Newspaper with the largest circulation within the country. The electronic version is free.
  • El espectador– a newspaper published in print and digital form. Source of serious information. Some of the content is free, some of it is a premium subscription.

Ten Commandments for Trading with Colombia

  1. Adopt a looser concept of time It takes longer to negotiate a deal and to sign a contract than in Europe. Arm yourself with patience, persistently remind yourself and don’t be surprised if your partner sometimes takes an “un-European” long time to answer.
  2. Offer solutions and financing Don’t be afraid to ask what the partner is dealing with, try to help with a comprehensive solution to the problem, and casually mention that you could supply the necessary equipment or product. Also, by offering financing, you get many points to the good.
  3. Don’t blame or joke about being late Be aware that a Colombian rarely comes to a meeting on time, but you should be punctual.
  4. Be sure to call . A personal meeting is always best. But if you are going to send an important email, call after two or three days to see if it arrived in order. The popularity of calling and using instant message applications is not slowing down.
  5. Don’t be afraid of casual conversation Although the weather and traffic jams are still welcome topics, football is an even better topic. Other suitable topics are family, cuisine and the beauty of the Colombian nature.
  6. Don’t get angry about being called a “gringo “Expect to be referred to as a “gringo” a lot. It is the designation of Americans and Europeans who speak English and are not understood by the locals. Don’t take it the wrong way, use a sense of humor and don’t try to get back at them.
  7. It won’t work without Spanish Although young people try to learn English, most Colombians don’t speak English, often even the executives. It is necessary to have promotional materials, presentations and websites in Spanish. Try to learn at least a few phrases in Spanish.
  8. Check the product name Check that the name of your product in Spanish is not a derogatory or ridiculous word (if that is not the purpose).
  9. Don’t criticize the situation . If your partner talks to you about this topic, convey your reservations diplomatically and by adding that there are other problems in the Czech Republic and elsewhere, or by pointing out how the country excels in something else.
  10. Find a local intermediary Find a suitable local distributor. You can also set up your own Colombian SAS company (Sociedad por acciones simplificada). PaulSourcing’s foreign office can help you find a local partner or start a company.

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