Doing business

Business culture

Business tips

Initial correspondence with potential business partners should be in Spanish, as letters in English are more likely to be given lower priority.

The level of proficiency in English can vary among Colombian business executives - many understand and read more fluently than they are willing or able to speak, and therefore an interpreter may be useful.

Address people by their title and surname, or use Señor, Señora. 'Doctor/Doctora' is often applied to any accomplished or educated person, regardless of whether or not he or she has a Ph.D. or is a medical doctor.

Personal contacts do play a special role in Colombia and can make the difference between finding an open or closed door.

In Bogota, business attire is mostly suit and tie for men and suit or dress for women; evening functions are similarly dressy unless advised otherwise. Attire is less formal in most other Columbian cities (Medellin, Cali, Cartagena, Barranquilla, etc.) where the weather is much warmer. Colombians view a person's clothing as an indicator of status; err on the side of conservatively well dressed.

Setting up in Colombia

Finding the right partner

Partnerships and agreements such as joint venture partners offer advantages for Australians wishing to operate in Colombia. Austrade Bogotá can assist with partner searches reducing the time taken to locate potential business contacts.

In market representation

Local distributors, agents or representatives can facilitate business however finding the appropriate person or company to represent your company’s goods and services requires market insight and knowledge. Austrade Bogotá can assist with market representation via services which include due diligence, access to credit checking agencies and reference checks.

Banking and finance

Colombia’s banking system is advanced and internationally focused. Bogotá hosts several multi-national banks including HSBC and Scotia Bank. The federal bank is the Banco de La Republica.

Opening accounts without the correct documentation and resident papers may be difficult.

Global financial services are also available in Colombia with KPMG and Grant Thornton amongst the better known financial institutions.

Bogotá publicly listed companies trade on the Colombian Stock Exchange or the Bolsa de valores de Colombia (BVC).

Links and resources

Government, business and trade

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism
Presidency of Colombia
Proexport

News and media

El Tiempo
El Espectador

Please note: This list of websites and resources is not definitive. Inclusion in this list does not imply endorsement by Austrade. The information provided is a guide only. The content is for information and carries no warranty; as such, the addressee must exercise their own discretion in its use. Australia’s anti-bribery laws apply overseas and Austrade will not provide business related services to any party who breaches the law and will report credible evidence of any breach. For further information, please see foreign bribery information and awareness pack.