October 17

Colombian Visas: An Introduction

Colombian Visas: An Introduction

Following up from our incredibly popular post “Choosing Your Colombian Visa” we have prepared the most complete Colombian visa guide available anywhere. “Colombian Visas: An Introduction” is intended to answer basic questions all prospective applicants have about the Colombian visa process including:

• What types of Colombian visas do I qualify for?
• What is the visa application process like in Colombia?
• What type of documentation will I need to apply for my Colombian visa?
• How much does will it cost to get a Colombian visa?

We hope this information is helpful to you. If you have additional questions regarding our Colombian visa services you can find out more information on our Colombian Visas information page.
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The information and materials on this blog are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Being general in nature, the information and materials provided may not apply to any specific factual and/or legal set of circumstances. We cannot guarantee that commentary posted by third parties is accurate. No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. Nothing on this blog is intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney, especially an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. If you require legal advice, please consult with a competent attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.

October 15

Choosing Your Colombian Visa: A Complete Guide

Choosing Your Colombian Visa: A Complete Guide

Many of our clients eventually require a visa to work, study and even conduct business in Colombia. We have prepared the following diagram in order to guide our clients towards the most appropriate Colombian visa options. Note that this diagram provides general guidelines only; you should apply for a Colombian visa only after having a formal consultation with a visa specialist who can identify the best visa strategy specific to your own situation.  Also, keep in mind that you may qualify for additional, little-used visas (e.g., medical visa, judicial intervention visas, etc…) depending on your needs.  Finally, note that the content in this diagram is consistent with Decree #0834 of April 24, 2013, as well as Resolution 4130 of July 5, 2013.

To access diagram click HERE.

We hope this information is helpful to you.  If you have additional questions regarding the subject matter in this post please access our Contact Form.

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The information and materials on this blog are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Being general in nature, the information and materials provided may not apply to any specific factual and/or legal set of circumstances.  We cannot guarantee that commentary posted by third parties is accurate. No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. Nothing on this blog is intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney, especially an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. If you require legal advice, please consult with a competent attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.

September 17

Managing Colombian Employees: Legal and Regulatory Obligations

Managing Colombian Employees: Legal and Regulatory Obligations

We have previously discussed tax obligations applicable to companies doing business in Colombia. This article aims to broaden the discussion by focusing on certain legal and regulatory obligations facing Colombian companies in an ever-changing changing business landscape. Note that this is a select list of obligations; actual legal and regulatory obligations will vary depending on the industry involved.

PAYROLL TAXES (“PARAFISCALES”)
As discussed previously, under Colombian law, businesses are generally obligated to pay certain payroll taxes when hiring employees. These businesses typically contribute approximately 9% of total payroll amount. These payments are distributed as follows:

  • • SENA (“National Learning Service”): 2%
  • • ICBF (“Colombian Family Welfare Institute”): 3% as mandated by Law 89 of 1988.
  • • Family Compensation Fund: 4% as mandaded by Law 21 of 1982.

Please check with your local accountant as these obligations may not apply to your business following the promulgation of Ley 1607 of 2012.

INTERNAL LABOR REGULATIONS
Pursuant to Articles 104 and 105 of the Substantive Labor Code companies are required to establish workplace policies and certain management guidelines that are intended to regulate labor relations within your business (“Workplace Policies”). Workplace Policies essentially serve as an internal regulatory framework that codifies specific rules, rights and obligations for both employer and employee. The documentation that is developed to comply with these regulations may specify certain sanctions in cases where employees do not comply with Workplace Policies. Note that employers can only apply sanctions mentioned in the Code of Labor and/or in the Workplace Policies documentation so long as these are consistent with local law.

Content
Below is a select list of issues that your company Workplace Polices should address:

  • •Work hours, overtime and nightshift policies;
  • •Training policies;
  • •Payment processing;
  • •Vacation policies;
  • •Medical examinations;
  • •Work safety rules; and
  • •Sanctions for failure to comply with Workplace Policies.

Applicability
In general, companies will be required to develop Workplace Policies where the total number of employees exceed:

  • • five (5) employees in commercial businesses;
  • • ten (10) employees in industrial companies;
  • • twenty (20) employees in agriculture livestock and forestry business; and
  • • Ten (10) employees for companies operated in a variety of industries.

Failure to Comply
It should be noted that a failure to establish Workplace Policies could lead to substantial penalties levied by Colombian government agencies. However, in practice, this only becomes an issue when a company faces legal action by former employees bringing unrelated claims.

OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH PROGRAM
Pursuant to resolution 1016 of 1989, Colombian companies are required to implement a general “occupational health program” in order to ensure that they are meeting certain expectations within the much more general categories of Preventive Medicine, Labor Medicine, Industrial Hygiene and Safety. These programs are designed to preserve, maintain and improve the individual and collective health of employees utilizing a comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach. Employers will be required to invest both financial and human resources to ensure the safety of their employees based on (i) the specific industry involved and (ii) applicable laws and regulations.

MEDICINE, HYGIENE, AND INDUSTRIAL SAFETY COMMITTEE
Pursuant to resolution 2013 of 1986, Colombian companies employing ten (10) or more employees are required to organize and manage a Medicine, Hygiene, and Industrial Safety Committee. As its name suggests, the principal focus of this committee is to promote measures that facilitate and encourage the health and safety of employees. The work of this Committee tends to go hand in hand with the “occupational health program” discussed above. Note that for companies that have less than ten (10) employees, the company must coordinate with such employees to implement policies that would have been managed by a formal Committee under different circumstances.

COMMITTEE OF LABOR COEXISTENCE
Pursuant to resolution 652 of 2012, Colombian companies are required to create and operate a so-called, “Committee of Labor Coexistence” which has as its main focus the prevention of workplace harassment. This obligation applies to all companies, regardless their number of employees.

We hope this information is helpful to you.  If you have additional questions regarding the subject matter in this post please access our Contact Form.

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The information and materials on this blog are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Being general in nature, the information and materials provided may not apply to any specific factual and/or legal set of circumstances.  We cannot guarantee that commentary posted by third parties is accurate. No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. Nothing on this blog is intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney, especially an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. If you require legal advice, please consult with a competent attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.

September 4

Buying Real Estate In Colombia: Things to Expect

Buying Real Estate In Colombia: Things to Expect

Over the past decade, the real estate market in Colombia has caught fire. Following a devastating recession in the 1990’s Colombian real estate is now one of the most important growth sectors of the Colombian economy.

Foreign investors have taken notice. From the purchase of single condominiums to the purchase of substantial tracts of land by private equity firms as preparation for intensive farming ventures, foreigners have plunged into the Colombian real estate boom with gusto.

Given the intense interest in this topic we wanted to provide you with a summary of steps that you may need to take whenever you invest in real estate in Colombia. Note that the following applies in a typical real estate transaction; expect additional steps/requirements depending on the specifics of the transaction.

COLLECT KEY DOCUMENTATION

Prior to making a formal offer to purchase a property it is imperative that you gather all the relevant documentation on the property and the seller. Much of this can be obtained from the seller directly, though it is a good idea to obtain it from public sources to assure the impartiality of the information. Key documents including:

  • Property Certificate: this is the “certificado de tradición y libertad” and shows the current status of the property, ownership info and other data.
  • Property Deed: this can be provided by the seller directly.
  • Property Tax Bill: at a minimum, you should have the most recent bill.
  • Seller’s “Cedula”: this is the national ID card of the seller.
  • Miscellaneous: we usually counsel our clients to request “all relevant” documentation from the seller. Sometimes this yields unexpected information (mortgage documentation, property valuation data, etc…) that may be critical in making an informed investment decision.

CONDUCT LEGAL ANALYSIS 

Once you gather the necessary documentation it is imperative that you hire an independent attorney to conduct a proper review of the proposed transaction. At a minimum, the attorney can conduct a thorough title search and determine if there are any liens and/or encumbrances on the property. We recommend that you avoid using the seller’s attorney or attorneys recommended by seller’s agent. We have actually received reports of fraudulent conveyances involving less than reputable attorneys/real estate agents. Bottom line, the focus at this stage is to identify any potential title defects and/or other transaction impediments.

PERFECT TITLE

If your attorney uncovers any title defects and/or any other issues you can then negotiate with the seller accordingly. This could involve payment on past due property taxes, delinquency on existing mortgages or even competing ownership claims on the subject property. Keep in mind that per Civil Code, art. 1893 et. seq., the seller is obligated to help buyer cure any potential imperfections in the title. It is also during this time that the buyer may consider applying for a mortgage to finance the purchase of the property.

NEGOTIATE INTENT TO PURCHASE CONTRACT

Once you understand the lay of the land and all purchase terms have been negotiated you should draft a “Promesa de Compraventa” contract. The purpose of this contract is to clarify all essential transaction terms prior to the actual transfer of the property. Per Civil Code, art. 1857 et. seq., you must clearly identify the property that is being acquired with its delineated area and boundaries, the purchase price, the method of payment (how, where and when the payment will be effectuated), the date of the delivery of the property, relevant transaction costs (taxes, notary fees and registration costs) and other important terms.

REGISTER PUBLIC DEED

You will need to register the Intent to Purchase Contract with the local notary where it is formally registered and approved, a process that could take approximately two weeks. Note that the seller must pay all property taxes while both parties are required to pay a notary fee. The following is a summary of fees and costs applicable to the purchase of a property valued at COP$1,000,000,000:

  • “Retencion en la fuente” (Seller): COP$10,000,000
  • Registration (Buyer): COP$5,000,000
  • Notary fees: COP$3,600,000
  • Revenue fees: COP$10,500,000

TAKE POSSESSION

The date of “entrega” will be specified in your Intent to Purchase Contract. On that date, the property should be completely vacated and be ready for the intended use, as specified in the Contract. Buyer will be responsible for all expenses related to the property as of the date of delivery.

REGISTER PROPERTY

Once the public deed has been signed by the notary, it must be submitted to the Registration Office in order for the new owner to be registered as the formal owner in the Property Certificate. The parties must pay a registration fee and a government tax. The registration procedure takes approximately two weeks.

We hope this information is helpful to you.  If you have additional questions regarding the subject matter in this post please access our Contact Form.

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The information and materials on this blog are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Being general in nature, the information and materials provided may not apply to any specific factual and/or legal set of circumstances.  We cannot guarantee that commentary posted by third parties is accurate. No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. Nothing on this blog is intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney, especially an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. If you require legal advice, please consult with a competent attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.