Import Tariffs: Most of Colombia’s duties have been consolidated into three tariff levels: 0 percent to 5 percent on capital goods, industrial goods, and raw materials not produced in Colombia; 10 percent on manufactured goods, with some exceptions; and 15 percent to 20 percent on consumer and “sensitive” goods. Many agricultural commodities are benefiting from the FTA as almost 70 percent of current U.S. farm exports to Colombia became duty-free and the remaining tariffs will be eliminated within 19 years.
Import Duty: About 80 percent of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial products to Colombia became duty free immediately on May 15, 2012 when the FTA between the United States and Colombia entered into effect. For remaining products the tariffs will be phased out over 10 years. Key U.S. exports gained immediate duty-free access to Colombia. Many agricultural commodities also benefit from the Agreement, as more than half of current U.S. farm exports to Colombia became duty-free immediately, and virtually all remaining tariffs will be eliminated within 15 years.
Import Requirements and Documentation: The importer must submit an import declaration to the DIAN (Customs). This declaration includes the same information contained on the import registration form and other information such as the duty and sales tax paid, and the bank where these payments were made. This declaration may be presented up to 15 days prior to the arrival of the merchandise to Colombia or up to two months after the shipment’s arrival. Once the import declaration is presented and import duties are paid, customs will authorize the delivery of the merchandise. Most of Colombia’s foreign trade procedures have been streamlined through the Unified Portal for Foreign Trade (VUCE), which gives users access to forms, online payments and follow-up on requests and processes related to an import or export operation. Products that require special documentation include: vegetables, plants, fruits, animals, gold, emeralds, oil, coal, nickel, platinum, textiles, products exported through the General System of Preferences (GSP), and products exported through any free trade agreement.
Customs Regulations: When exporting to Colombia, make arrangements with a Customs Agency to receive the merchandise and clear it through customs. Customs officials are responsible for inspecting merchandise to verify that the description and classification are consistent with the importer’s declaration. A customs inspection group often performs after-clearance random investigations to detect fraud, foreign exchange irregularities, and tax evasion. Major customhouse brokers have a customs office in their own bonded warehouses where most clearance procedures are completed before the merchandise is delivered to the customer.
U.S. Export Controls: U.S. exporters should be aware that the U.S. Government may prohibit the export of certain products to Colombia or require an export license. The Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) Office of Export Enforcement licenses most controlled product and technology exports. Licenses are required for certain high technology items or technology transfers and items with dual use potential (commercial items which could have military applications). In recent years there have been increased restrictions on the export of precursor chemicals to Colombia, due to concerns they may be utilized by narcotics traffickers to produce drugs.
Source: The International Trade Administration (ITA), U.S. Department of Commerce www.export.gov