Straddling the border between Central and South America, Colombia is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. From the country’s high altitude sprawling capital Bogotá to the Caribbean island San Andres, Colombia offers some of the best natural resources in the world. The country is known for its robust education system, which makes it an appealing place to build out a local employment hub.
Colombia has fairly simple remote work laws that allow both citizens and foreigners to work remotely in the country, either from home or a co-working space like WeWork in Chico. Thanks to the boom of remote work in Colombia, more companies are setting up a remote work hub in the country.
Here, we’ll break down the advantages of businesses building a remote work hub in Colombia as well as what information expats and citizens should know about working remotely within the country.
Companies can build a remote work hub in Colombia of 1 to 100+ workers using a global EOR provider like Via, all without having the founder, CEO, or HR team step foot in the country.
Colombia has one of the most educated populations in Latin America. Bogotá, Medellín and Cartagena all have a growing tech industry where you’ll find some of the best talent working in areas like digital marketing, manufacturing, startups, technology, finance, and other areas.
If you partner with an EOR like Via, you can set up a remote hub in Colombia and avoid the timely and costly process of entity setup for an in-country office.
An EOR is responsible for local HR processes, such as:
Maintaining compliance with local employment laws and other regulations
Drafting employment contracts in the correct language
Managing payroll and taxes, including withholdings and deductions payments as well as things like 13th month payments
Administering local benefits, such as private health insurance and mental health resources
Registering with local social security institutions, foreign tax authorities, and other government institutions
Navigating sticky situations, including terminations and severance (layoffs in the US are much different than layoffs in Colombia)
Colombia straddles the border between Central and South America, making it an ideal country for companies who want to access both regions from larger US cities like Los Angeles and New York. Building a remote hub in Colombia creates more business opportunities.
Colombia’s literacy rate is 95%. The population also has a huge number of bilingual English speakers, thanks to the large number of native English speakers who teach ESL in the country.
Right now, many of the workers in Colombia have experience in design, data, and engineering.
The government of Colombia welcomes companies doing business in the country and offers a number of tax incentives:
Preferential rates to investors that boost the economy
Tax exemptions for certain sectors
Colombia operates under the Colombian Standard Time Zone all year and doesn’t observe daylight savings. This time zone makes Colombia a perfect location for North American businesses who want to access the South American market, and vice versa.
For European and Asian countries, the central location and Colombian Standard Time Zone gives a wider range of availability to North and South American customers. If you onboard employees in Colombia remotely, you won’t have to deal with the headache of hiring in the US and other Latin American countries.
Colombia recently introduced legislation creating a new remote work visa as well as clarified laws surrounding those who are already living in Colombia and working remotely.
For citizens, Law 2121 regulates and specifies the conditions for Colombian citizens who want to work remotely, either from home or a co-working space.
Under Law 2121, general regulations for both employer and employee include:
Both parties must agree to the employee working remotely
Employee contracts can be carried out from the remote location
Consent on any agreement must be through a data protected electronic signature
Use of “One time passwords” are strongly encouraged as authentication
Employee will lose their right to transportation stipends
Employee can work from anywhere; however their location must have stable internet, be agreed upon by both parties, and approved by the Occupational Hazard Administration
Agreements on any documents must by through an electronic signature provided by the employer through secure systems
Remote employees that act as caregivers to minors under 14, relatives with disabilities, or adults over 60 have the right to create a schedule that fits their caretaking needs as long as the employer approves.
Companies are also required to pay for all the operational costs for remote workspaces, including electricity, internet, and water.
All of the above regulations apply to permanent Colombia residents, employers, and foreign companies who hire remote workers in the country.
For foreigners looking for a lower cost of living and better work/life balance, Colombia is a great choice for both digital nomads and remote workers. Cartagena was listed as a great city where people can live and work cheaply, for instance. Foreigners are able to enjoy both the seaside towns and islands alongside the cosmopolitan cities like Bogotá and Medellín.
Colombia has a much lower cost of living compared to other countries. Colombia has around an 85% lower cost of living compared to the United States.
You can rent a 3-bedroom apartment in a high-rise building in Colombia for around 1,200 USD per month, while this figure barely covers monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in most major cities throughout the US, Canada, and Europe.
A lower cost of living allows both citizens and expats to move to Colombia for work and live a much less stressful life.
Colombia has 18 public holidays, including Semana Santa for Holy Week, as well as its own Carnival Festival in Barranquilla, which is the second largest Carnival in the world behind Brazil’s.
A new visa was recently passed in Colombia allowing digital nomads to come and live in the country for a specified period of time while working remotely from their home country. Compared to countries like Costa Rica and Spain, the visa is fairly simple to qualify for.
Applicants will need to provide:
A valid passport that has an expiration date at least 3 months after arrival in Colombia
A letter from their employer proving that they work for that company and that they know the nomad is planning to move to Colombia
Copies of bank statements that prove they make at least $684 USD/month
The Colombia digital nomad visa will be good for up to 2 years.
Even if you’re working remotely for a Colombian based company, you’ll still need to be approved for a work visa before entering the country.
“M” type visas are what a foreigner who wants to work remotely for a Colombian employer would apply for. “M” type visas are valid for 3 years.
After 5 years of holding an “M” visa, workers are eligible for type “R” visas which allows you to become a permanent resident in Colombia.
Right now, there are a ton of remote companies hiring for remote jobs located in Colombia. Use job board sites like Flexjobs and GlassDoor to find comprehensive lists of available work-from-home jobs.
Popular remote jobs in Colombia include:
Virtual English teachers
Popular companies hiring remote workers in Colombia include:
Via helps you manage local HR processes for direct employment such as work visas & permits, benefits, payroll, background checks, and more. Our team of local labor lawyers and on-the-ground experts ensure that your company remains compliant while expanding abroad. As your employer-of-record/entity in Colombia, Via assumes responsibility for employment liability, so that you can focus on what matters: recruiting and managing your team.
Yes, you do need a visa to work remotely in Colombia. If you’re working for a company outside of Colombia as a digital nomad, you will need to apply for the digital nomad visa that is good for up to 2 years. If you’re wanting to find a job at a Colombian company, you will need to apply for the work visa that fits your situation. Work visas in Colombia are good for up to 5 years depending on the circumstances of your application.
Yes, you can work for a US-based company from Colombia. You will need to show the proper documentation and approval from your employer before applying for Colombia’s new remote work visa.
Yes, you can live in Colombia and work for a US based company. You will have to have the proper authorization from your US employer and provide all of the required documents. The Colombian remote work visa is good for up to 2 years.
Yes. In many countries around the world, you can work remotely from your home country while living in that country. These people are normally called digital nomads, and need to apply for a specific visa based on their work and living circumstances.