It's a good idea to get familiar with the currency used and payment methods available in Colombia before you plan vacation activities like whale watching in the Pacific, snorkeling in Providencia and Santa Catalina, boating on the Caño Cristales river, or a visit to the wonderful Coffee Cultural Landscape; that way, you'll have peace of mind and avoid any last-minute issues.
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For further information on the Colombian peso, visit the country's Bank of the Republic site.
The Colombian peso is the country's legal tender. It is generally identified with the abbreviation COP, and you'll find that the official peso symbol ($) is used locally.
A wide selection of banknotes and coins are used. You will find 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 peso coins and 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000 peso banknotes, highlighting Colombia's wealth and diversity. Get to know them!
The 2,000 Colombian peso bill
The design of this banknote features an image of artist Débora Arango and an illustration depicting the Caño Cristales river, also known as the river of seven colors.
The 5,000 Colombian peso bill
This banknote features renowned poet José Asunción Silva, a depiction of the Colombian moorlands, a puya plant and a bumblebee.
The 10,000 Colombian peso bill
This new banknote features an image of anthropologist Virginia Gutiérrez, alongside an illustration of the Amazon region, a Victoria lily and an Amazonian tree frog.
The 20,000 Colombian peso bill
This new banknote features the face of President Alfonso López Michelsen, with illustrations of the La Mojana canals, a sugar apple, a zenu pendant and a Colombian "vueltiao" turned hat.
The 50,000 Colombian peso bill
With this banknote, Colombia pays tribute to its Nobel prize-winning author, Gabriel García Márquez; the Lost City, indigenous home of the Tayrona people; the magpie snail; and the hummingbird.
The 100,000 Colombian peso bill
This newly minted banknote features President Carlos Lleras Restrepo, the Cocora Valley and its wax palm tree, the Amazonian motmot bird and the tropical purple Tibouchina lepidota flower.
Official information available in Colombia's Bank of the Republic site.
Methods of payment
In the country's main tourist destinations, such as Bogotá, Santa Marta, Barranquilla, Cali, Medellín, Cartagena, San Andrés, Pereira or Bucaramanga, as well as in other cities, you can pay for your purchases in cash, or with debit or credit cards.
Credit cards can be used in all department stores and in some smaller stores also. The most widely accepted cards are Visa and MasterCard first and foremost, but also American Express and Diners Club.
Before using your debit or credit cards in Colombia, make sure you verify you have sufficient funds available for your travels and inquire if your bank is going to charge you a commission for withdrawals made abroad.
All foreign tourists are entitled to VAT refunds on products purchased, such as local crafts, toys, linens, household appliances, footwear, leather goods, jewelry, emeralds, etc.
Where can you apply for your refund?
You can apply at the offices of the DIAN (National Tax and Customs Department), located in the international sea, land and air ports, or at the Special Border Development Unit checkpoint.
What do you need to do?
Come in person with your VAT refund application.
Fill in the necessary forms.
Bring your original passport and a copy thereof or, otherwise, an entry permit proving your migratory status.
A copy of the receipts for your purchases.
For details on the VAT application process, visit the National Tax and Customs Department's site.
Now that you know about our local currency and the different payment methods available in Colombia, you can come and enjoy all that the most welcoming place on Earth has to offer. Learn more here!