IS MY DRIVING LICENSE VALID IN COLOMBIA?
According to Article 25 of Law 769 of 2002, driver’s licenses issued in another country that are valid and which are used by tourists or individuals in transit on national territory will be considered valid, allowing them to be used to drive legally in Colombia. Therefore it is important that you ensure your driver’s license is valid and in good standing prior to your visit.
Any foreigner entering Colombia on a tourist visa is permitted to drive with the valid driver licence from their home country. Expats living in Colombia will need to apply for a national licence, which includes theory and practical exams and a medical exam.
Legal Requirements for Driving
The minimum legal age to drive in Colombia is 16, while the minimum age to rent a car is 23. Depending on your visa type, a valid driver’s licence may either be from Colombia or your home country and must be accompanied by a copy of your passport and entry stamp. Third party liability vehicle insurance is the minimum standard and compulsory for all drivers.
International Driving Permit
According to the Ministry of Transport, foreign drivers are not required to have an international driving permit. If staying in Colombia on a 90-day tourist visa, a valid foreign driver licence is all that is needed. When driving as a tourist, always carry a copy of your passport and the page with your entry stamp. This will prove you’re a tourist, therefore, are not required to have a local driving licence.
If renting a car be sure to check the specific requirements of the car rental agency. Some providers do list an international driving permit as a requirement, though many travellers admit to never having been asked for this document. If this is the case, they can be purchased for a nominal fee through an automobile association in your home country.
National Driving License
Expats living in Colombia on a TP visa are required to get a local driver’s licence in order to drive legally. The process isn’t difficult, though it is time-consuming. There are four steps to acquiring a Colombia Driver’s Licence.
Register with the National Transit Registry (Registro ÚnicoNacional de Tránsito or RUNT)
This is the national registry for all Colombian drivers. They will ask for a copy of your cedula (resident ID), a passport sized photo, and fingerprint. This step must be completed before you can complete any other step.
Driving Aptitude Certificate (Certificado de Aptitud enConducción)
This document certifies that you have passed a theory and driving test. Certificates are only issued through accredited driving schools. This means that even if you already hold a valid foreign driver licence, you must take driving and theory classes and tests in order to obtain a certificate. It will then be uploaded to the RUNT national registry.
Certificate of Health (Certificado Médico de Aptitud Física)
This examination includes a hearing, visual, and hand-eye coordination test, as well as basic questions about your medical condition. Exams and certificates are issued by an entity called the CRC (Centro de Reconocimiento de Conductores), and they will upload results directly to the RUNT driving registry. Be sure to wait until you’ve completed your Driving Aptitude Certificate as the medical exam is only valid for 30 days.
Receiving your driver’s licence
Take the documents above, along with a copy of your cedula (resident ID), to the local transit office. Your driver’s licence will be printed on site.
Good to know:
Many driving schools simply issue the aptitude certificates for payment, with no actual classes or tests. Because of this, there will be a new driving and theory test introduced in 2018. Resolution 1349 from the Ministry of Transport will establish a new entity (Centros de Apoyo Logístico de Evaluación or CALE) to conduct both practical and theoretical exams.