Economic indicators and commercial profile. Customs requirements for the import of goods
The Republic of Colombia is the fourth largest economy in Latin America, according to data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), only behind Brazil, Mexico and Argentina.
In 2017, Colombia’s GDP grew by 1.8%, indicating a slowdown in the country with respect to previous years. However, Colombia is considered one of the new BRICs (emerging countries) and is expected to grow by 2.8% and 3.6% in 2018 and 2019, respectively (IMF). In 2017, despite the country’s low growth, GDP per capita grew by 9.5% to $6,289 and the unemployment rate remained at 8.6%.
According to data from the National Administrative Department of Statistics, the main origins of imports to Colombia are: The United States, with 28.7%, China 18.1% and Mexico 8%, while Spain accounts for 1.5% of the country’s imports.
In 2017, Colombia increased its imports by 2.64%, reaching a total of just under 46.08 billion dollars. Imports accounted for 14.86% of GDP in the same year.
The main types of goods imported into the country in 2016 were: machinery, chemicals and mineral products. In terms of specific products, oil refining accounted for 7.7%, automobiles for 4.3%, radio broadcasting equipment and computers for 2.9% and 2.6%, respectively, and packaged medicines for 2.9% of the total.
E-commerce forecast to reach $26 billion by 2021
While, in 2013, only 46% of Colombians were willing to buy over the internet, in 2018 it is now 63%. According to Statista, sales of up to USD 26 billion are expected to be reached in the country by 2021.
Documentation Required for Import
The customs authorities demand certain requirements be met for the import of goods. The shipper and the importer must be aware of these in advance to speed up the process and avoid possible problems or delays in customs clearance.
Once the goods arrive at Colombian customs, the authorities may require the presentation of certain documents and information, depending on the type of goods. This documentation includes the invoice, the transport documents and, in specific cases, phytosanitary certificates and certificates of origin, among other documents.
For the import of products to Colombia there are previous registrations to be carried out that must be taken into account in the cases where the imported goods are considered hazardous. Among these procedures is the registration of the product with the INVIMA (National Institute of Surveillance of Medicines and Food) in the case of food products, and with the ICA (Colombian Agricultural Institute). In addition, you can find out about the type of tariff in force depending on the product to be imported on the MUISCA platform.
In the case of goods entering through the postal service, Customs Declaration CN22 or CN23 will be used for customs clearance, depending on the type of shipment, which will already include the description and value of the items. These documents are issued by the postal operator at origin with the information provided by the sender and presented for clearance at the destination by the local exchange bureau, together with postal transport documents CN37 or CN38.
Normally, in the case of postal shipments, the local exchange bureau performs the clearance procedures before Customs on behalf of the importer, through an agile and simplified procedure enabled for this type of shipment. If you need more information on the advantages of the postal service over other modes of shipping take a look at our post Advantages of the Postal Service for the Transport of E-commerce Goods.
Prohibited and restricted articles, taxes and import duties
Colombian legislation places restrictions on certain products such cotton, tobacco, etc. just as there are products whose import is prohibited, or products with specific import quotas. Download the Cacesa Guide to Import Requirements in Latin America and access all the information on the requirements for the import of goods by postal customs in Latin America and avoid delays in the release of your shipments.