Doing Business in Colombia

Are you investing or establishing a new business in Colombia? Here is the most comprehensive guide that includes essential aspects that must be considered for your investment in the country. Download it here

Introduction to the PwC Doing Business guide for 2020


Colombia is one of the best-performing economies in Latin America. The stability and continuity, government policies and the independence of its economic organizations are an ideal environment for investment. The three sectors of the Colombian economy that presented a better performance were:

  • Financial and insurance activities (5.7%)
  • Public administration and defense (4.9%) 
  • Commerce, transport and tourism (4.9%) 

The main investment sectors are: Mining and oil, financial services and manufacturing companies and industries. Likewise, in 2019, Colombia obtained higher growth rates compared to other countries like
Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador and Peru.

The main objective of the Colombian Foreign Exchange Regime is to promote the internationalization of the Colombian economy. Colombian strategy to improve commercial relations, the country is currently negotiating and signing Agreements for the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments - APPRIs - and Free Trade Agreements - FTAs - that include chapters related toInternational investments include investments of foreign capital in Colombia (both direct and portfolio investments) and investments of Colombian capital abroad.

  • The inflow of the foreign direct investment
    (FDI) into Colombia grew by 25,1%.
  • In the period between January and September of
    2019, compared to the same period in 2018,
    going from 8,6 billion USD to 10,8 billion

Colombian legislation has focused on facilitating customs operations for the import, export and transit of merchandise by regulating the application of various forms of foreign trade. In 2019 a new Customs Code was enacted,
integrating all the standing customs regulations.
This new code is expected to provide more legal certainty and stability to importers and exporters. The main trade agreements that exist in Colombia are with: Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico, Cuba, the Caribbean Community, Chile, the United States, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, the Republic of Korea, the European Union and the EFTA States.

Labor Law in Colombia is regulated by the Constitution of 1991, the international treaties and conventions signed by Colombia, and by the Colombian Labor Code. Labor law is divided in two areas: Individual Labor Law, which regulates the relationships between employers and their employees, and Collective Labor Law. Labor contracts can be classified in different ways depending on their duration they are classified as follows:

  • Fixed term contract.
  • Contract for specific projects or works.
  • Transitory contract.
  • Open - ended labor contract. 

(*) Foreign workers have the same rights and obligations as Colombian workers.

Colombia regulates the entry and stay of foreigners in the country through an immigration regime. This chapter presents the regulations that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has established for citizens of restricted countries.
Colombian immigration law provides over twenty (20) different types of visas:

  • Business visitor visa.
  • Migrant visa as businessperson.
  • Migrant visa as a real estate investor.

The Colombian Tax System establishes taxes at the national and departamental. The main taxes at the national level are the income tax and capital gains tax, the wealth tax (temporary validity), the sales tax

  • VAT, the national special tax and The Financial Transactions Tax
  • Foreign entities are only taxed on their occasional income and earnings from a national source.
  • On December 27, 2019, Act 2010 of 2019 – the so-called Law of Economic Growth – was promulgated. This Law replicated the income tax rate for legal entities, with a rate of 32% for 2020, 31% for 2021 and 30% from the taxable year 2022.

(*) The Value Added Tax (VAT) is a national tax that mainly taxes the sale of goods, rights, provision of services, import of goods and games of luck and chance.

In Colombia, investment vehicles are supported by constitutional principles, such as the right to equality, the protection of free enterprise and private initiative. The preferred investment vehicle for foreign and local investors is the simplified stock company, widely known for its Spanish acronym S.A.S.
Under the law, commercial companies and other legal entities are required to meet 6 periodical obligations:

  • Renewing the mercantile registration.
  • Holding annual meeting.
  • Submitting financial statements to the Chamber of Commerce of the main domicile.
  • Reporting of financial statements.
  • Registeriing the control situation or business group.
  • Appointment of statutory auditor.

State contracting has a set of rules that regulate all the procedures carry out by State entities to conclude contracts necessary for the fulfillment of institutional functions, goals and objectives.
Disputes between individuals are resolved before the Ordinary Jurisdiction, while those in which the State intervenes must be resolved in the Administrative Litigation Jurisdiction.
In order to guarantee the principles of the administrative function, a series of contractor selection modalities have been established:

  • Public Bidding.
  • Abbreviated selection.
  • Merits contest.
  • Direct contracting.
  • Minimum amount
  • Agreements or Framework Price Agreements.


Daniela González Peña

Clientes y Mercados, Legal y Tributario, PwC Colombia

Tel: (571) 634 0555 Ext. 10296

Eliana Bernal Castro

Socia Fusiones, Adquisiciones y Estructuración de Proyectos, PwC Colombia

Tel: (571) 6340555 Ext. 10280

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