Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

  • Reviewed: 23 February 2017, 16:39 NZDT
  • Still current at: 25 September 2017

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Extreme Risk

There is extreme risk to your security in the cities of Buenaventura and Tumaco due to high levels of drug-related criminal activity and we advise against all travel.

High Risk

There is high risk to your security in the departments of Arauca, Caquetá, Cauca (except the city of Popayán), Chocó, Guainía, Guaviare, Meta, Nariño (except the city of Pasto), Norte de Santander, Putumayo, Vichada and rural areas of northern Antioquia, southern Bolívar, southern Cordoba and southern Valle del Cauca due to the presence of illegal armed groups, drug-related criminal activity and threat from kidnapping. We advise against all tourist and other non-essential travel to these areas.

There is high risk to your security within 20 kilometres of the border with Venezuela in the departments of Boyaca, César and La Guajira due to the presence of illegal armed groups and drug-related criminal activity and we advise against all tourist and other non-essential travel to these areas.

Some Risk

There is some risk to your security elsewhere in Colombia due to violent crime, the threat of terrorism and kidnapping. We advise caution. 

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Local travel
Illegal armed groups involved in drug production are active throughout Colombia and present a significant risk to safety. Armed groups have been linked to kidnapping, terrorism and violent crime. In some parts of the country, the authority of the Colombian state is limited and travel can be dangerous. The risk is highest in remote and rural areas and in any area where drugs are cultivated.  

We recommend New Zealanders avoid travel outside the main routes and to remote areas. Main routes are generally safe during daylight hours although we advise against travelling them at night. We recommend flying between major cities and minimising the use of vehicles for trips through rural areas. In addition, we recommend you seek up-to-date advice from the local authorities before you travel to remote areas and monitor local media as the security situation may change quickly.

Travellers are also advised to avoid crossing the borders into and out of Colombia by land. Political tensions between Colombia and its neighbours, and the presence of drug traffickers means the border areas are subject to armed security activity and may be closed at short notice.  

Unexploded landmines and ordnance present a danger in Colombia. We recommend you remain on well-used roads and paths as mined areas are often unmarked.

Kidnapping
Despite significant reductions in recent years, there is still an ongoing risk of kidnapping throughout Colombia. Foreigners may be specifically targeted. If you decide to travel to areas of high risk, we strongly advise seeking professional security advice. 

Express kidnappings also occur in Colombia, where individuals are forced to withdraw funds from automatic teller machines (ATMs) to secure their release. To reduce the risk of this occurring we recommend you use ATMs which are located within bank branches and during daylight hours only. Many cases involve victims that have been picked up by taxis hailed from the street - we recommend you use pre-booked taxis.

Violent Crime
Crime rates are high in Colombia. Violent crime remains prevalent and petty and street crime is a problem in urban and tourist areas.

We advise against travelling alone or at night and recommend you avoid wearing or displaying valuables, such as jewellery and mobile devices. No resistance should be given if you are the victim of an armed robbery, mugging or carjacking as this could lead to an escalation in violence. Victims have been killed and injured while resisting perpetrators.

There have been reports of criminals in Colombia using drugs to temporarily incapacitate victims and commit robberies or assaults. These may be administered through food, drinks, cigarettes, aerosols, and even paper flyers. Victims become disoriented quickly and are vulnerable to crime, including robbery and assault. Do not leave food or drink unattended or accept any food or drink from strangers or recent acquaintances. If you suspect you have been affected by such drugs, seek immediate medical attention.

Terrorism
Although the situation has improved in recent years, there remains an ongoing threat from terrorism throughout Colombia. This threat extends to major cities and public places, where there have been a number of explosions in recent years, including in Bogotá. On 19 February 2017, a bomb explosion near a bullfighting ring in Bogotá injured at least 30 people.

New Zealanders in Colombia are advised to be particularly cautious around government buildings, military establishments, transport infrastructure such as airports and public transport, commercial facilities and entertainment centres, all of which are potential targets for terrorist attacks. We recommend being security conscious at all times and following the advice of local authorities.

Civil Unrest
Protests, demonstrations and strikes occur occasionally in Colombia. Localised civil unrest can often be accompanied by roadblocks and disruption to transport networks. New Zealanders are advised to avoid all rallies, protests and demonstrations, as even those intended to be peaceful have the potential to turn violent. You should monitor local media for any upcoming demonstrations and follow the advice of local authorities.

General travel advice
New Zealanders travelling or living in Colombia should have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place that includes provision for medical evacuation by air. We recommend you contact your insurance provider to ensure you have appropriate cover for Colombia.

New Zealanders in Colombia are encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Travel tips


The New Zealand Embassy Santiago, Chile is accredited to Colombia

Street Address Isidora Goyenechea 3000, 12th Floor, Las Condes, Santiago, Chile Telephone +56 2 2616 3000 Fax +56 2 2951 6138 Email embajada@nzembassy.cl Web Site http://www.mfat.govt.nz/chile Hours Mon-Fri 0845-1300, 1400-1715 hrs

New Zealand Consulate Bogotá, Colombia

Telephone +57 1 213 2827 Mobile + 57 310 230 7795 Email pearsonannette1@gmail.com

See our regional advice for Central/South America

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Accredited New Zealand Embassy Chile

Street Address
Isidora Goyenechea 3000, 12th Floor, Las Condes, Santiago, Chile

Telephone: +56 2 2616 3000

Fax: +56 2 2951 6138

Email: embajada@nzembassy.cl

Website: http://www.mfat.govt.nz/chile

Hours: Mon-Fri 0845-1300, 1400-1715 hrs

Related advice from other countries

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