Driving in Colombia can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but before getting behind the wheel, it’s important to know the rules and regulations regarding driving licenses for both locals and foreign nationals. In this article, we’ll discuss the general rules and procedures for obtaining, renewing, and exchanging a driving license in Colombia, as well as the penalty system for motoring offences.
General Rules for Foreign Nationals
Foreign nationals visiting Colombia can drive using their valid foreign driver’s license for up to 90 days from the date of arrival. If they wish to drive beyond this period, they must obtain a Colombian driver’s license. To do so, they will need to take a written and practical driving test, regardless of their previous driving experience or license.
Exchanging a Foreign License
There is no agreement in place that allows foreign nationals to simply exchange their license for a Colombian one. However, if the foreign national has a valid driver’s license from certain countries, they may be exempt from taking the driving test.
The countries that have a reciprocal agreement with Colombia are: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Italy, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Spain, Switzerland, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
Foreign nationals from these countries can obtain a Colombian driver’s license by presenting their valid foreign driver’s license, passport, and proof of residency in Colombia. They will also need to pass a medical exam and pay a fee.
Obtaining a Colombian License
Foreign nationals from countries that do not have a reciprocal agreement with Colombia must take the written and practical driving test to obtain a Colombian driver’s license. The test is in Spanish, so it is important to have a good understanding of the language before taking the exam.
To take the test, foreign nationals must first obtain a learner’s permit, which requires a valid foreign driver’s license, a passport, and proof of residency in Colombia. They will also need to pass a medical exam and pay a fee.
Once they have the learner’s permit, they can schedule the written and practical driving test at a local driving school or at the transit authority office. The written test consists of multiple-choice questions, while the practical test evaluates the driver’s ability to operate a vehicle on the road.
Renewing a Colombian License
Colombian driver’s licenses are valid for 10 years. To renew a license, the driver must visit a transit authority office and provide their current driver’s license, a valid ID card, and proof of payment of the renewal fee. If the license has expired, the driver must retake the written and practical driving tests.
International Driving Permit
An International Driving Permit (IDP) is recognized in Colombia and can be used in conjunction with a valid foreign driver’s license for up to 90 days. After that period, a Colombian driver’s license is required to drive in the country.
Penalty System for Motoring Offences
The Colombian government takes driving safety seriously, and penalties for motoring offenses can be severe. Depending on the nature of the offense, penalties may include fines, imprisonment, license suspension or revocation, and vehicle impoundment.
Here are some examples of the penalties for motoring offenses in Colombia:
- Driving without a valid driver’s license: The penalty for driving without a valid license in Colombia is a fine and a possible license suspension.
- Speeding: The fine for speeding in Colombia varies depending on the degree of the offense, but it can be as high as 30 minimum daily wages.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs: Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious offense in Colombia, and penalties can include fines, imprisonment, and license suspension or revocation.
- Failing to stop at a red light or stop sign: Failing to stop at a red light or stop sign can result in a fine and the addition of points to your driver’s license.
- Reckless driving: Reckless driving can result in a fine, license suspension or revocation, and imprisonment.
It’s important to note that penalties can vary depending on the circumstances of the offense and the discretion of the law enforcement officer. It’s always best to follow traffic laws and drive safely to avoid any potential penalties.