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Colombia – Self-Employment

Colombia is a country with a growing economy and a welcoming environment for expats who are interested in starting a business or working for themselves. In this article, we will discuss self-employment and start-ups in Colombia, including how it works for expats, how to register as self-employed, how to start a company, and incentives available to encourage entrepreneurship.

How Self-Employment Works for Expats in Colombia

Self-employment in Colombia is open to anyone, including expats. As a self-employed person, you will be responsible for managing your business, filing your taxes, and providing for your own benefits such as health insurance, retirement savings, and other benefits. As a self-employed person, you will have greater flexibility and control over your work schedule and the types of work you take on.

Expats who want to work as self-employed individuals in Colombia will need to obtain a work permit, which allows them to legally reside and work in the country. The work permit application process will depend on the type of work you want to do and the requirements set out by the Colombian government.

Registering as Self-Employed in Colombia

To register as self-employed in Colombia, expats will need to follow these steps:

  1. Determine your business structure – Before registering, you will need to decide on the legal structure of your business. You can choose between a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or a limited liability company (LLC).

  2. Register your business – You will need to register your business with the Colombian government, including obtaining a Registro Unico Empresarial (RUE) and registering with the local chamber of commerce. You can do this online through the Chamber of Commerce website.

  3. Obtain necessary permits and licenses – Depending on the type of work you will be doing, you may need to obtain additional permits and licenses at the national or municipal level.

  4. Set up your bookkeeping and tax reporting system – As a self-employed person, you are responsible for keeping track of your income and expenses and filing your taxes on time. You may want to hire an accountant or use accounting software to help you with this.

  5. Set up your benefits – As a self-employed person, you will not be eligible for employer-sponsored benefits such as health insurance or retirement savings. You will need to set up your own benefits, such as purchasing private health insurance or contributing to a retirement savings plan.

Can You Work as a Digital Nomad in Colombia?

Colombia is becoming an increasingly popular destination for digital nomads. To work remotely in Colombia, expats will need to obtain a work permit and ensure they comply with local laws and regulations. It is recommended that expats work with a local legal expert to ensure they are in compliance with all relevant laws and regulations.

How to Start a Company in Colombia

Expats who want to start a company in Colombia will need to follow these steps:


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  1. Determine your business structure – You will need to decide on the legal structure of your business, which could be a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or a limited liability company (LLC).

  2. Register your business – You will need to register your business with the Colombian government, including obtaining a Registro Unico Empresarial (RUE) and registering with the local chamber of commerce. You can do this online through the Chamber of Commerce website.

  3. Obtain necessary permits and licenses – Depending on the nature of your business, you may need to obtain additional permits and licenses at the national or municipal level.

  4. Set up your bookkeeping and tax reporting system – As a business owner, you are responsible for keeping track of your income and expenses and filing your taxes on time. You may want to hire an accountant or use accounting software to help you with this.

  5. Set up your benefits – As a business owner, you will not be eligible for employer-sponsored benefits such as health insurance or retirement savings. You will need to set up your own benefits, such as purchasing private health insurance or contributing to a retirement savings plan.

Incentives or Programs for Expats in Colombia

The Colombian government offers a range of incentives and programs to encourage entrepreneurship, including for expats. Some of these programs include:

  1. ProColombia – This organization provides information and support to businesses that are looking to invest in Colombia. They offer services such as market research, business matchmaking, and promotion of investment opportunities.

  2. Fondo Emprender – This program offers funding and support to entrepreneurs who are starting new businesses in Colombia.

  3. Small Business Administration of Colombia – This organization provides a range of services to support entrepreneurship, including advice on business planning, financing, and marketing.

  4. Zonas Francas – Colombia has designated several “free trade zones” that offer a range of benefits to businesses, including tax incentives, streamlined administrative procedures, and access to a network of professional services.

Expats who are interested in starting a business or working for themselves in Colombia should explore these programs and services to determine which ones may be right for them.

Self-employment and start-ups are a viable option for expats in Colombia. Whether you are looking to register as self-employed, start a company, or work as a digital nomad, Colombia offers a wealth of opportunities for entrepreneurs. By following the steps outlined in this article and exploring the incentives and programs available, expats can take advantage of the opportunities available and build successful businesses in Colombia. It is recommended that expats work with a local legal expert to ensure they are in compliance with all relevant laws and regulations.


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