Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.
Dear subscribers / readers.
After returning home in Curaçao, reality kicked in. There is an administrative part of our dream: we must finalize the payments for the purchase of the property in Peñol, pay for and finalize the plans for the cabañas, get the permits to start building and get a visa to obtain a “cedula de extranjeria” (Colombian ID for foreigner) to be able to open a local bank account. No… you cannot just go to a bank with your passport and open a savings account at a Colombian Bank. Not sure why, but we thought, being Dutch, which means having a European passport, would automatically allow us to setup base anywhere. At least that is how it works in Europe and the Dutch Caribbean. Not in Colombia. After a bit of research, it became clear that, we need to sort out a heck of a lot of paperwork before we become operational. To give you an example: sending money from Curaçao (or any other country) to Colombia is only possible in one of the major currencies like USD.
How to pay for your purchase without risking being ripped off by the seller was another challenge. Unfortunately, our Colombian friends did not have this experience, so they were not able to give us all the answers. A big difference is that they have a bank account in Colombia already.
When the money arrived in Peñol Colombia both we and the seller need to give a whole bunch of documents to the bank, complete various forms and negotiate a rate with the bank before the money is made available to the recipient of the account. We were already in Curaçao when the first transfer took place. When the money arrived, bank requested the recipient for us to send him pay slips, account statements for the past 4 months, letter from our employer etc etc. We were not amused cause salary and account information are personal and confidential. We finally were able to work around this request and send the documents via mail directly to the bank. After 2-3 days of back and forth, the money was released.
We were determined to have our own bank account for the next transaction, which was due in July 2021. Good thing is that we all share a friend called Google. Our Google searches directed us to many sites where expats from many countries shared their experiences and advice.
Not all the hits were equally useful for our specific purpose. We were looking for legal advice, specifically for ex-pats. We needed in-depth and step by step guidance for transferring large sum of money, setting up a bank account and getting a visa as a foreign investor. Facebook, “NOT Liked” by many (pun intended), turned out to be useful in this case. Theo, being the social media expert found a page called “Nederlanders in Colombia”. As we all know, the Dutch can be difficult sometimes; they always know everything better ;-). And they ask a lot of questions. Theo researched the page looking for useful tips for us, while ignoring the questions regarding cheap restaurants, cheap transport, cheap insurances etc.
We started to read all his articles. He proved to be the page we had been looking for. He was our expat expert. His blogs had the answers to all our questions, like how to apply for a visa, what visa would be best for us (you can choose from over 5 types of visa and you have to be careful not to miss any of the important pre-requisites) and last but not least, he posted links directing us to the people who could help us with expat specific legal advice, for example Medellin based companies like Expatgroup.co and Angela Berrio – Insurance Broker, who offer help and information related to purchase of real estate, opening brokerage accounts, full guidance with visa application, health, homeowners, car and life insurance and travel insurance etc.
We did some additional research and decided to contact the Expat Group to get some better advice about buying property in Colombia and getting our Colombian visa’s.
We were just in time to prevent a big headache . It appeared that as a foreigner investing in Colombia, you need to register your investment with the Colombian Central bank (Banco de la Republica), in order to be eligible for a visa application. Imagine… if we had not done so, we would have had a property in Colombia registered to our name, but would have not been able to live there to enjoy it.
For a small fee, we could send them all our legal papers related to the purchase of the property, the banking forms and evidence of our travel dates to make sure we had not stayed more than we should have, which could have also jeopardized the Visa process.
Luckily our investment was just enough to apply for the M-Visa (investment in real estate), the supporting legal documents looked fine, but needed some finetuning with regards to the registration with the central bank. For a type M-Visa you need a certificate from the Banco de La República to confirm the legality of the payments done for the investment. You can’t just go there with a bag of money and buy property if you need an investment visa to live there (unless you are retired or married to a Colombian citizen, you can apply for other types of visa) In addition, the deed of ownership should reflect that amount as well. There we almost made a mistake. It is legal and customary for the Colombians to register their purchases against the lower cadastral value of the property, instead of the commercial value. For us to prove that the investment is sufficient for the visa-M application, we needed to register the commercial value. This resulted in a much higher notary cost for the signing of the deed and a much higher tax for the purchase, than the seller was willing to pay. Thanks to the advice of the Expat group and help from our Colombian friend, we were able to correct the deed of ownership before it was registered legally. Unfortunately, we cannot start the visa application till we have the legalized proof from the Register that the property is in our name. The process will take a bit longer than expected but hey… everything happens for a reason. We just need to go with the flow.
After signing you have to wait another 7 to 10 days for the purchase tax calculation to be ready. After which you can pay the purchase tax and register the property in Marinilla, Antioquia. She also managed to meet with the potential contractors about the new roads that lead to our property, the design of the cabins, the clearing of the terrain and planning of other landscaping activities, discuss the paperwork for the constructions permits and licenses etc. etc. On September 10, 2021, our wingman went to Marinilla, to register the deed of ownership. Now we must wait for 1 to 2 months to get the authenticated deed back and have the proof of ownership legalized. One thing we learned now is exactly how to make transfers to the seller’s bank account in Colombia and register the funds as an international investment with the Banco de la Republica in Colombia. We will not bother you with the details here, but feel free to send us a message in the contact form if you want to know more. In our next blog Yut-Mie will share some fun highlights of her stay and her birthday celebration in Guatapé, Antioquia. Interested in our previous blog? You can find it here
Yut-Mie and Theo