Need to know – How to Receive Money Transfers from Abroad to Colombia

by | Mar 27, 2019 | Knowledge Center | 2 comments

International payments from abroad to Colombia can be a nightmare. The currency market is regulated by the Colombian Central Bank (‘Banco de la República’) who has control over the exchange of Colombian Pesos with foreign currencies. International transfers in and out of the country need to be reported to the Central Bank. Incomplete or erroneous information on the reporting formats can result in a delayed transaction and in extreme cases fines and sanctions.

Banks usually act as intermediaries of the exchange market, so it is with them that the process of importing foreign currency has to be managed. There are also other financial institutions with a banking license that handle international currency transactions (so-called ‘comisionistas de bolsa’ such as Alianza Valores S.A.).

The growing number of online solutions for international transfers (Xoom, WorldRemit, Transferwise etc.) are a good option if the transfer is addressed to a natural person and small amounts. However, they are not a valid option for Colombian companies who have to meet stricter reporting requirements and usually deal with amounts that exceed the allowed limits of these online solutions.

A foreign company receiving an international transfer needs to carry out the following process:

  • Once your bank notifies you of the arrival of the foreign currency amount, you must contact the money desk of your bank to negotiate the exchange rate. Depending on the amount you might have a small room of negotiation. If you do not like the rate the bank offers you at the time of calling (i.e. spot rate minus the bank’s fee which depends on the amount and institution), you can wait for the rate to improve. Most institutions will give you between 15 and 60 days before you have to make the exchange.
  • After the exchange, you will have to fill in a form for the Central Bank providing information such as:
    1. The company to which the money transfer is addressed
    2. The amount received
    3. The exchange rate negotiated with the money desk
    4. The reason for receiving the money (the information to be filled in varies depending on the reason for the transfer, such as investment, loans, payment of goods or services, guarantees etc.)
    5. The official 4-digit code assigned to the reason of receiving the money
  • Depending on the reason for receiving the money you will have to provide additional information such as a loan agreement (stipulating the duration, interest and other conditions of the loan), the commercial invoice issued to the client abroad, the number of the export declaration, etc.
  • In most cases, the form and supporting documents have to be sent to the bank on the same day the exchange rate was negotiated. Otherwise, the negotiation will become void and has to be repeated on a later day.

 

How to avoid exchange rate losses: foreign currency accounts offered by Colombian banks.

There are no foreign currency accounts in Colombia. As previously mentioned, the Central Bank controls all in-and outflows of money. However, it is possible for a foreign company located in Colombia to have an account in US Dollars or Euro abroad with a Colombian bank. Different banks choose different jurisdictions to offer this option: Bancolombia in Panama, Banco de Occidente in Barbados, etc. This option can be attractive for foreign companies who send and/or receive lots of funds abroad and want to limit their exchange rate exposure.

Opening such an account is a pretty straightforward process. But depending on the activities tied to the foreign currency transactions in this account (whether it is only to pay or be paid for services vs import / export-related transactions), the reporting requirements can become very extensive and are only worth it for large amounts. On top of that, any mistake in the reporting can result in hefty fines and sanctions.

Ongresso helps foreign companies to establish themselves in Colombia. By managing their Back Office, we help our clients meet local regulations and keep compliant. This includes managing their international transactions and the correct reporting of foreign funds with the Central Bank. For a complete overview of the services we offer, please write us at info@ongresso.com

 

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Phone: +57 317 441 0629

Ongresso Colombia

Medellín:
Cra. 41 # 9-60 Office 202
Phone: +57 (4) 501 73 78

Bogotá:
Cra. 7 # 116-50

Phone: +57 317 441 0629

Ongresso Perú

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Jr. Monte Rosa #256,
Office 502

Phone: +51 962 206 868

 

2 Comments

  1. Wendy Zhou

    Dear Sirs,

    We just incorated entity in Colombia, and have opened bank account with BBVA, however we were told that it will take around one month for us to receive the money, that is, money can be deposited in our account in one month’s time. we would like to cofirm the correctness.

    Thank you very much and appreciate your prompt reply in advance.

    Wendy

    Reply
    • admin

      Hi Wendy, it is correct that sending money from abroad to a newly established corporate account in Colombia can take some time as this transfer will have to go through the bank’s compliance check. One month seems rather on the higher side but would not be unusual based on our experience. If you need assistance with money transfers, accounting/tax or legal advice in Colombia, please don’t hesitate to contact us via our contact form or by sending an email to contact@ongresso.com

      Reply

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