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Colombia Flag of Colombia

Pre Arrival:  Charts | Docs
Arrival:  Pilots
Communications:  Pratique | Pre-Arrival
Cargo:  Stevedores
Facilities:  Fuel
Local Info:  Time | Holidays | Weather
Shore:  Banks | Customs
Crew:  Leave | ID Cards
Misc:  General | Authority
Report:  Report
General Information for Colombia
Capital City: Bogota.
Nationality: (noun) Colombian, (adjective) Colombian.
Population: 43,677,372.
International Direct Dial Code: 57.
Number of Internal Airports: 116.
Major Languages Spoken: Spanish.
Currency: 1 Colombian Peso (COP) of 100 Centavos.
Main Industries: Textiles, food processing, oil, clothing and footwear, beverages, chemicals, cement, gold, coal and emeralds.
Territorial Sea: 12 n.m.
Other Maritime Claims: Continental Shelf: 200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation. Exclusive Economic Zone: 200 n.m.
Coastline Extent: 3,208 km.
Climate: Tropical along coast and eastern plains; cooler in highlands.
Natural Resources: Petroleum, natural gas, coal, iron ore, nickel, gold, copper, emeralds and hydropower.
Natural Hazards: Highlands subject to volcanic eruptions; occasional earthquakes; periodic droughts.
Terrain: Flat coastal lowlands, central highlands, high Andes Mountains, eastern lowland plains.
Average Temperatures: 
Month High Low
January 20° C 8° C
June 23° C 10° C
September 18° C 8° C
CHARTS:  Colombian charts and nautical publications are produced by Centro Investigaciones Oceanograficas e Hidrograficas del Caribe (CIOH). Online chart catalogue available at (follow link from Hidrografia, cartografia then venta de cartas).
DOCUMENTS:  The following, or as advised otherwise, should be available on arrival at the first Colombia port:
1 Ballast Water Report Form
2 Bonded Stores Lists
2 Crew Effects Declarations
5 Crew Lists
   International Load Line Certificate
1 Last Port Clearance
1 Maritime Declaration of Health
4 Nil Lists
   P&I Certificate of Entry
3 Ports of Call Lists
2 Provisions Lists
4 Ship’s Particulars
   Ship Safety Equipment Certificate
   Ship Safety Radio Certificate
   Ship Sanitation Control (Exemption) Certificate
2 Stores Lists
1 Vaccination List.
Failure to present the above documents will result in vessel’s delay in port until all documents are presented to the satisfaction of the local authorities. Additional costs for vessel’s account. Master should confirm with Agent before arrival that all documents will be ready on arrival.
Port State Control inspection of safety and anti-pollution equipment may take place on board vessel without notice. Any item of equipment found to be missing or defective will result in vessel being held in port until the situation is resolved. If such items cannot be procured locally, departure clearance will only be granted until the next port, where the situation can be rectified.
PILOTAGE:  Pilotage is compulsory for all vessels over 200 g.t. The pilot must be requested by the Agent at least 24 hours in advance. Berthing preference will be given as follows:
  1. warships
  2. passenger vessels and mail boats on a fixed itinerary
  3. vessels with livestock and perishable cargoes
  4. passenger vessels not on a fixed itinerary
  5. vessels loading cargo for export
  6. vessels discharging cargo for import
  7. tankers
  8. coasters
  9. vessels carrying explosives.
PRATIQUE:  The Pan American Sanitary Code:  Established by the signatory governments of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, United States of America, Uruguay, and Venezuela, being desirous of entering into a sanitary convention for the purpose of better promoting and protecting the public health of their respective nations, and particularly to the end that effective cooperative international measures may be applied for the prevention of the international spread of the communicable infections of human beings and to facilitate international commerce and communication. Full details available from the Pan American Health Organization website. www.paho.org/
Bills of Health: 
  1. The Master of any vessel or aircraft which proceeds to a port of any of the signatory governments is required to obtain at the port of departure and ports of call, a Bill of Health, in duplicate, issued in accordance with the information set forth in the appendix and adopted as the standard Bill of Health.
  2. The Bill of Health will be accompanied by a list of the passengers, and stowaways if any, which shall indicate the port where they embarked and the port to which they are destined, and a list of the crew.
  3. Consuls and other officials signing or countersigning Bills of Health should keep themselves accurately informed with respect to the sanitary conditions of the ports, and the manner in which this code is obeyed by vessels and their passengers and crews while therein. They should have accurate knowledge of local mortality and morbidity, and of sanitary conditions which may affect vessels in port. To this end, they shall be furnished with any information they request pertaining to sanitary records, harbours, and vessels.
  4. The signatory governments may assign medical or sanitary officers as public health attaches to embassies or legations, and as representatives to international conferences.
  5. If at the port of departure there is no consul or consular agent of the country of destination, the Bill of Health may be issued by the consul or consular agent of a friendly government authorised to issue such Bill of Health.
  6. The Bill of Health should be issued not to exceed 48 hours before the departure of the ship to which it is issued. The sanitary visa should not be given more than 24 hours before departure.
  7. Any erasure or alteration of a Bill of Health shall invalidate the document, unless such alteration or erasure shall be made by competent authority, and notation thereof appropriately made.
  8. A clean Bill of Health is one which shows the complete absence in the port of departure of cholera, yellow fever, plague, typhus fever, or of other pestilential disease in severe epidemic form, liable to be transported by international commerce. Provided that the presence only of bona fide imported cases of such disease, when properly isolated, shall not compel the issuance of a foul Bill of Health, but notation of the presence of such cases will be made under the heading of "Remarks" on the Bill of Health.
  9. A foul Bill of Health is one which shows the presence of non-imported cases of any of the diseases referred to in 8. above.
  10. Specific Bills of Health are not required of vessels which, by reason of accident, storm or other emergency condition, including wireless change of itinerary, are obliged to put into ports other than their original destinations, but such vessels shall be required to exhibit such Bills of Health as they possess.
  11. It shall be the duty of the Pan American Sanitary Bureau to publish appropriate information which may be distributed by port health officers, for the purpose of instructing owners, agents, and masters of vessels as to the methods which should be put in force by them for the prevention of the international spread of disease.
Other Sanitary Documents:  Every vessel, carrying a medical officer will maintain a sanitary log which will be kept by him, and he will record therein daily: the sanitary condition of the vessel, and its passengers and crew; a record showing the names of passengers and crew which have been vaccinated by him; name, age, nationality, home address, occupation and nature of illness or injury of all passengers and crew treated during the voyage; the source and sanitary quality of the drinking water of the vessel, the place where taken on board, and the method in use on board for its purification; sanitary conditions observed in ports visited during the voyage; the measures taken to prevent the ingress and egress of rodents to and from the vessel; and the measures which have been taken to protect the passengers and crew against mosquitoes, other insects, and vermin. The sanitary log will be signed by the Master and medical officer of the vessel, and will be exhibited upon the request of any sanitary or consular officer. In the absence of a medical officer, the master shall record the above information in the log of the vessel, insofar as possible.
Equal or similar forms for Quarantine Declarations, Certificates of Fumigation, and Certificates of Vaccination, set forth in the appendix (not reproduced), are hereby adopted as standard forms.
PRE-ARRIVAL INFORMATION:  Vessel should submit the following information to the Colombian maritime authorities, via Agent, at least 5 days [prior to arrival at any Colombian port.
  1. destination and ETA
  2. year vessel built
  3. vessel type
  4. IMO number
  5. registered owners
  6. flag
  7. port of registry
  8. official number
  9. call sign
  10. name of P&I Club; Certificate of Entry number and expiry date
  11. IOPP Certificate number; name of issuing company or State; issue and expiry dates
  12. last port of call
  13. next port of call
  14. LOA
  15. beam
  16. draft
  17. d.w.t.
  18. g.t.
  19. n.t.
  20. arrival drafts
  21. ISM Certificate number; name of issuing company or State; issue and expiry dates
  22. Document of Compliance, name of issuing company or State; issue and expiry dates
  23. ship’s security level
  24. name of CSO, including telephone number and email address
  25. name of SSO, including telephone number and email address
  26. CSR number; name of issuing company or State
  27. Total number of crew (including Master) on board
  28. Master’s name
  29. Minimum number of crew required
  30. Ship Sanitation Control (Exemption) Certificate number; issue and expiry dates
  31. Ship Safety Equipment Certificate – expiry date or next annual inspection date
  32. Ship Safety Radio Certificate – expiry date or next annual inspection date
  33. Ship Safety Construction Certificate – expiry date or next annual inspection date
  34. International Load Line Certificate – expiry date or next annual inspection date.
Capitanias de Puerto:  Office hours are 0800–1700 (LT), Monday to Friday.
Barranquilla: CF Erick Bermy Guayana Labrador. Tel: +57 (5) 349 2572. Fax: +57 (5) 349 2626. Cp03@dimar.mil.co
Buenaventura: CF Juan Carlos Roa Cubaque. Tel: +57 (2) 242 3702. Fax: +57 (2) 243 4447. Cp01@dimar.mil.co
Cartagena: CN Juan Francisco Herrera Leal. Tel: +57 (5) 664 8740. Cp05@dimar.mil.co
Covenas: CF Pedro Javier Prada Rueda. Tel: +57 (5) 288 0221. Fax: +57 (5) 288 0303. Cp09@dimar.mil.co
Santa Marta: CN Jorge Enrique Sarmiento Morales. Tel: +57 (5) 421 0739. Cp04@dimar.mil.co
Tuamco: CC Andres Mauricio Zambrano Gracia. Tel: +57 (2) 727 2788. Fax: +57 (2) 727 2785. Cp02@dimar.mil.co
Turbo: CC Edwin Antonio Parada Cabrera. Tel: +57 (4) 827 2025. Fax: +57 (4) 827 4038. Cp08@dimar.mil.co
STEVEDORES:  Supplied by the port authorities although it is often necessary to employ extra labour through the Agent, due to the fact that gangs are seldom complete. At weekends, gangs required for Monday must be ordered by 1000 hrs. on Saturday. Masters should bear this in mind when sending their ETA.
Cargo in a damaged condition or showing signs of pilferage will not be handled until inspected by a port official and ship's officer, leaving on record the actual condition of the cargo.
Containers are discharged or loaded as all other cargo, though if they are stuffed or unstuffed immediately this must be done with the port labour provided.
Opening and closing of hatches, and the rigging of gear, is done by a gang of riggers. The ship's crew can do this work, but it is advisable to use union labour.
FUEL:  Requests for bunkers must be made to Agents at least 1 week in advance.
TIME:  GMT minus 5 hours. Daylight Saving Time is not observed.
LOCAL HOLIDAYS:  1 January (New Year's Day); 8 January (Epiphany); 19 March (Saint Joseph's Day); Holy Thursday; Good Friday; 1 May (Labour Day); 21 May (Ascension Day); Corpus Christi Day (Thursday after Trinity Sunday); Sacred Heart Day (19 days after Pentecost); 2 July (Feast of Saints Peter and Paul); 20 July (Independence Day); 7 August (Battle of Boyaca Day); 15 August (Assumption Day); 12 October (Columbus Day); 5 November (All Saint's Day); 8 December (Immaculate Conception Day); 24 December (Christmas Eve); 25 December (Christmas Day).
WEATHER/TIDES:  Natural Disasters:  Earthquakes occur regularly in Colombia. In the event of an earthquake you should monitor local media reports and follow the advice of the authorities. You can find a real-time earthquake map and further information about earthquakes in Colombia on the website of the US Geological Survey. www.usgs.gov/natural_hazards/
Also see General
BANKS:  US Dollars and Euros are widely exchangeable. Use credit and debit cards with caution and are advised to keep receipts. When using an ATM, try to do so during business hours at a location inside a bank, supermarket or large commercial building. You should be particularly vigilant before and after using an ATM on the street; robberies are common, especially at night.
CUSTOMS:  Customs regulations in force from 1 July 1992 stipulate that:
  1. All cargo on board a vessel destined for Colombia must be manifested.
  2. The Manifest (cargo/freight) together with freighted copies of Bills of Lading must be given to Customs authorities before vessel's arrival.
  3. Cargo not covered by Manifest may not be discharged. If discharged, same will be immediately confiscated by Customs.
Violations of the aforementioned regulations can result in fines of up to 100% of the cargo value as determined by Customs authorities. Similar fines will be levied for discrepancies found in the Cargo Manifest, as well as for short-landed or overlanded cargoes, in cases where fault lies with the carrier and no reasonable explanation is provided. When the Cargo/Freight Manifest does not comply with all the requirements (as established by Customs authorities) the carrier will be fined the equivalent of 20 minimum wages (about USD3,000.00 as of July 1992).
SHORE LEAVE:  Despite improvements in security, it is advisable to exercise a high degree of caution in Colombia because of the high threat of terrorism and criminal activity. Street crime is a particular problem in major cities. You should avoid unnecessary travel to deprived areas of all Colombian cities.
There has been an increase in criminal activity in urban areas since 2010. You should remain vigilant and be aware that crimes such as mugging and pickpocketing are often accompanied by violence. Foreign visitors present a tempting target to thieves, pickpockets and drug traffickers. When walking in urban areas avoid any unnecessary display of wealth; only use pre-booked taxis. Where possible, it is sensible to plan how you will travel to and from your destination and to be wary of unsolicited approaches from strangers. There have been several cases of assailants using drugs to subdue their intended victims. These drugs can take effect extremely quickly, allowing an assailant to rob the victim and escape before the attack can be reported. Never accept offers of food, drink or cigarettes from strangers no matter how friendly or well-dressed a person appears. You should remain vigilant, particularly when visiting or staying in public places used by expatriates and foreign travellers, and in the vicinity of government buildings and military establishments.
All but essential travel to the port of Buenaventura in the department of Valle de Cauca should be avoided. Illegal armed groups and criminal gangs are active in this notoriously violent Pacific city.
Also see General
IDENTIFICATION CARDS:  Carry a photocopy of the data page and Colombian visa from your passport at all times, plus copies of other important documents. These should be kept separately from the originals, and copies left on board vessel. Enter your next of kin details in the back of your passport.
Also see General
GENERAL:  Information obtained from the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office website. Updates available from www.gov.uk/fco/
AUTHORITY:  Direccion General Maritima (DIMAR), Carrera 54, No. 26-50 Of. 102 CAN, Bogota, DC, Colombia. Tel: +57 (1) 220 0490. Fax: +57 (1) 220 0490. dimar@dimar.mil.co http://www.dimar.mil.co Contact: M Jefe, Transporte Maritimo (Fluvial Internacional).