Colombia allows foreign exchange transfers to move freely in and out of the country. Financial authorities apply strict reporting requirements for both current transfers and foreign investment, but there are few limits on international money transfers to Colombia or from Columbia. The Colombian peso (COP) is fully convertible and free floats on the market.
All foreign exchange transfers must be made through the official currency market by authorised foreign market intermediaries (FMI), which include commercial banks, financial corporations and foreign exchange agents. Starting in October 2014, Colombian authorities require standard supporting documentation - including customers contact and bank account information - for all foreign exchange payments denominated in Colombian pesos.
Foreign exchange can be easily obtained through the official currency market for foreign settlements related to trade and investment, but we recommend consulting an expert to be sure to comply with payment and transaction reporting deadlines. Individuals may carry a maximum of US$10,000 or its equivalent in other currencies in or out of Colombia at one time.
Forex transactions that take place on Colombian platforms consist almost exclusively of COP-USD conversions, which amounted to US$3.1bn per day in April 2013, according to data from the Bank for International Settlements.
Colombian residents are free to establish forex accounts with financial institutions abroad with funds obtained through the formal currency market. If these funds (referred to as compensation accounts) are used in forex transactions related to trade or investment coming in or out of Colombia, the account must be registered with the central bank. Payments between Colombian residents are required to be made in COP. However, a measure introduced in 2013 allows residents to send and receive payments in foreign exchange using compensation accounts held abroad.
Non-residents are permitted to hold foreign currency accounts in Colombian banks, though residents are not, with the exception of multilateral organisations, foreign agents, and transportation, travel or other internationally-focused businesses.
Colombia's central bank, Banco de la Repblica, is the country's primary monetary and financial authority. The central bank uses inflation targets as the anchor of its monetary policy and intervenes occasionally in order maintain inflation, and therefore price stability, within a target range.
A separate financial supervision agency, the Superintendencia Financiera de Colombia (SFC), oversees the regulation of the banking and capital markets, with the goal of maintaining financial stability, ensuring compliance with national regulation and developing the securities market. The SFC is also responsible for ensuring financial consumer protection.
The SFC oversees the fulfilment of foreign exchange transactions by financial intermediaries, while the the Colombian Taxes and Customs Authority (DIAN) oversees foreign exchange operations that arise from imports or exports of goods and services.
Colombia is a strong driver of international trade and relies heavily on smooth operation of the foreign exchange market. The country has signed or is negotiating more than a dozen Free Trade Agreements (FTA) and is one of the founding members of the Pacific Alliance, a regional grouping established in 2011 with Mexico, Chile and Peru to promote trade and economic integration.
The government has continued to open up the economy in the last five years; Colombia received a record level of US$16.8bn in foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2013, making it the fourth largest destination in the region after Brazil, Mexico and Chile. Few restrictions apply to FDI in Colombia, including real estate purchases. Most investments must be declared to the central bank, after which foreign currency may be freely imported and converted to COP, and investment capital and proceeds can be freely remitted in most cases. Certain restrictions apply to foreign firms in the oil and gas industry, including an exchange tax applied to investment profits that are transferred out of the country.
The Colombian peso (COP) can be abbreviated as COL$ or simply using its official $ symbol. One peso is made up of 100 centavos. The Banco de la Repblica issues banknotes in values of $1,000, $2,000, $5,000, $10,000, $20,000 and $50,000, and coins in values of $50, $100, $200, $500 and $1,000.
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