The health risk information presented here is summarized from Shoreland Travax®, a decision-support tool used by health care providers to perform a detailed health risk analysis based on specific locations, individual travel styles, and traveler risk behaviors. Travax provides practitioners current, independently researched malaria risk and prevention recommendations in a map-based format that goes beyond the annual WHO and CDC statements included here. Not included here are current reports from Travax of disease outbreaks or environmental events that may pose elevated risks to travelers’ health and safety. The Providers section of this site offers a directory of health care providers who utilize Shoreland Travax for travel health counseling. Learn more about the detailed reports and maps available from these practitioners (includes links to samples).
Colombia is a developing nation but is in the upper half of the world's economies. Located in northwestern South America along the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea, its climate is tropical on the coasts and eastern plains and cooler in the highlands.
See also: Library article for Yellow Fever
An official yellow fever vaccination certificate may be required depending on your itinerary. Vaccination is usually recommended if you’ll be traveling in areas where there is risk of yellow fever transmission.
A vaccination certificate is required for travelers aged ≥ 1 year coming from countries with risk of YF transmission. Note: This applies to airport layovers longer than 12 hours in these countries.
Supplementary requirement: Colombia requires vaccination (given at least 10 days prior) or a valid waiver (age ≥ 60 is a recognized contraindication) for all persons, including travelers from all countries, entering: all municipalities in the departments of Amazonas, Arauca, Caquetá, Casanare, César, Guainía, Guaviare, La Guajira, Meta, Putumayo, Vaupés, and Vichada; the municipalities of Santa Marta, Ciénaga, and Aracataca (Magdalena Department); the municipalities of Convención, El Carmen, El Tarra, Teorama, Cucutilla, Sardinata, Tibú, El Zulia, Cúcuta, Abrego, Arboledas, Bochalema, Hacarí, Ocaña, Pamplonita, San Calixto, San Cayetano, and Santiago (Norte de Santander Department); the municipalities of Encino, Puerto Wilches, Bucaramanga, Barrancabermeja, Charalá, Coromoro, El Playón, Floridablanca, Girón, Piedecuesta, Rionegro, Sabana de Torres, Socorro, and Surata (Santander Department); the municipalities of Cantagallo, Morales, San Pablo, and Simití (Bolívar Department); the municipalities of Paez and Para (Boyacá Department); and the municipalities of Acevedo, Algeciras, Garzón, Guadalupe, and Suaza (Huila Department). Proof of vaccination must be carried at all times. Passengers may be required to show proof of vaccination at time of check-in or prior to boarding domestic flights to the designated areas.
- Official Status: listed by WHO as a country where YF transmission risk is present.
Depending on your itinerary, your personal risk factors, and the length of your visit, your health care provider may offer you vaccination against hepatitis A, hepatitis B, influenza, measles, mumps, rubella, rabies, or typhoid fever. Routine immunizations, such as those that prevent tetanus/diphtheria or "childhood" diseases, should be reviewed and updated as needed.
See also: Library article for Malaria
The following is current information as reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
WHO—International Travel and Health (current online update, Country List)(2017) Malaria risk is high in some municipalities of the departments of Antioquia (Apartadó, Turbo, Neococli, San Juan de Urabá, Arboletes, Cáceres, El Bagre, Tarazá, Zaragoza, Segovia Nechi, Caucasia, Remedios and Mutatá), Bolivar (San Pablo, Tiquisio, Talaigua Nuevo, Cantagallo y Norosí), Cauca (Guapi, Timbiquí and López de Micay), Chocó (all municipalities), Cordoba (the municipalities of Tierralta, Puerto Libertador, Valencia and Monteliebano), and Nariño (Tumaco, Barbacoas, Roberto Payan, Mosquera, El Charco, Magui Payan, Santinga, Pizarro, Santa Bárbara de Iscuandé). A lesser risk exists in some municipalities of Amazonas, Caqueta, Guaviare, Guainia, Meta, Putumayo, Vaupes, and Vichada. Resistance of P. falciparum to Chloroquine and Sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine have been documented.
- Recommended prevention in all risk areas: C – Risk of P. falciparum malaria, in combination with reported chloroquine and sulfadoxine–pyrimethamine resistance. Mosquito bite prevention plus atovaquone–proguanil or doxycycline or mefloquine chemoprophylaxis (select according to reported side effects and contraindications) a
aAlternatively, for travel to rural areas with low risk of malaria infection, mosquito bite prevention can be combined with stand–by emergency treatment (SBET).
WHO Country List footnote: When available, the date of the most recent update or confirmation is indicated in parentheses in the country list. If no date is indicated, the most recent update or confirmation was provided before 2013.
CDC—Health Information for International Travel (current online edition)Areas with malaria: All areas < 1,700 m (5,577 ft). None in Bogotá, Cartagena, and Medellin. (See Map 3-24).
- Estimated relative risk of malaria for US travelers: Low.
- Drug resistance4: Chloroquine.
- Malaria species: P. falciparum 50%, P. vivax 50%.
- Recommended chemoprophylaxis: Atovaquone-proguanil, doxycycline, or mefloquine.
4 Refers to P. falciparum malaria unless otherwise noted.
See also: Library article for Travelers' Diarrhea
High risk exists throughout the country, with moderate risk in deluxe accommodations. Food and beverage precautions may reduce the likelihood of illness.
Travelers should carry loperamide for self-treatment of diarrhea and, if risk is moderate to high, an antibiotic to add if diarrhea is severe. Consult a knowledgeable health care provider regarding which antibiotic is appropriate for you and most effective for your destination.
Insect- and Arthropod-Borne Diseases
Other Disease and Health Risks
The material below includes information from the U.S. Department of State (DOS), U.K. Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), Global Affairs Canada (GAC), and Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), as well as from additional open-source material. Standard safety precautions that apply to all international travel can be found in the Library article Safety and Security.
Consular Travel Advice
Due to terrorism, drug trafficking, and other ongoing security concerns, Australia (DFAT) advises avoiding travel to Buenaventura (Valle del Cauca Department), Tumaco (Nariño Department), Chocó Department, and within 20 km (13 mi) of the border with Venezuela and Ecuador and advises reconsidering travel (or avoiding nonessential travel) to the departments of Antioquia, Arauca, Caquetá, Cauca, Guainía, Guaviare, Meta, Nariño, Norte de Santander, Putumayo, Valle del Cauca, and Vichada. U.S. (DOS), U.K. (FCO), and Canada (GAC) have more limited warnings.
High risk of attack by domestic terrorist groups exists throughout the country, including Bogotá. Targets may include domestic and international organizations and businesses; public places and events, including those frequented by tourists; and transportation systems.
High risk of violent crime (armed robbery, sexual assault, carjacking, and murder) and petty crime exists in Bogotá (particularly in La Candelaria, Ciudad Bolívar, Kennedy, and Usaquen neighborhoods; Soacha, Cundinamarca Department; on nearby nature trails; and at El Dorado Airport), Medellín, Cali, and other cities throughout the country. Risk of violent crime exists in Cartagena and San Andrés y Providencia Department.
Kidnappings by criminal groups occur in rural areas throughout the country. Targets may include foreigners (especially Westerners), including foreigners working for oil and mining companies.
Express kidnappings to force cash withdrawals at ATMs occur throughout the country.
Scams involving counterfeit currency and false identity (such as criminals posing as police officers) have been reported.
Risk exists of robberies and/or assaults occurring after consuming intentionally drugged food or drink; tourists are frequently targeted. Scopolamine, via aerosol spray or paper handouts, is commonly used to incapacitate victims.
Protests and demonstrations frequently occur in major cities throughout the country, especially in Bogotá, and have the potential to turn violent without warning. Bystanders are at risk of harm from violence or from the response by authorities. Disruption to transportation, free movement, or the ability to carry out daily activities may occur.
Armed conflict occurs and a dangerous security environment exists throughout the country, especially in rural areas.
Lost City in Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta (Magdalena Department) or Caño Cristales in Parque Nacional Natural de la Macarena (Meta Department): only visit with trained guides.
Passenger boats may be unsafe, including ferries, small crafts, and speedboats. Decline water transportation in vessels that appear overloaded or lack personal flotation devices or life jackets.
Rent water sports equipment from reputable operators. Scuba dive only with personnel certified by PADI or NAUI, and use equipment only from PADI- or NAUI-certified dive operators.
High risk of traffic-related injury or death exists. The road-traffic death rate is 12 to 24 per 100,000 population. The rate is < 10 in most high-income countries. Speed laws are poorly enforced. Driving at night is not advised. Seek local advice before traveling on roads outside urban areas after dark.
Avoid public buses due to safety and security concerns, including armed robbery.
Many taxis are unsafe. Use taxis from official ranks or dispatched via smart phone app or radio from a reputable company. Ascertain the license or identification number of the dispatched vehicle.
Traffic flows on the right-hand side of the road. Travelers (including drivers and pedestrians) accustomed to traffic moving on the opposite side should be vigilant when navigating traffic.
U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has determined that the civil aviation authority of this country oversees its air carriers in accordance with minimum international safety standards.
The hurricane season is from June through November in coastal areas along the Caribbean Sea. The rainy seasons are from March through June and from September through November. Floods, mudslides, and landslides may occur.
Seismic and volcanic activity frequently occur.
Selected Embassies or Consulates in Colombia
- United States: [+57] 1-275-2000; co.usembassy.gov
- Canada: [+57] 1-657-9800; www.colombia.gc.ca
- United Kingdom: [+57] 1-326-8300; www.gov.uk/world/organisations/british-embassy-colombia
- Australia: [+57] 1-657-7800; colombia.embassy.gov.au
Colombia's Embassies or Consulates in Selected Countries
- In the U.S.: www.colombiaemb.org
- In Canada: www.embajadacolombia.ca
- In the U.K.: reinounido.embajada.gov.co
- In Australia: australia.embajada.gov.co
HIV testing is not required to obtain a tourist, work, or residence visa.