Colombian Customs

Editorial Note: In April, I took a month off in Medellin. For me, this meant an interesting and diverting month. For you, this means 30 days of posts about my vacation. I’ll try to make them somewhat amusing.

Colombia’s government encourages tourism. Colombia will grant a tourist visa (up to 60 days) at the airport to any citizen of a country which appears on a very long list. Their customs form is short. (Albeit a little confusing: one of the questions asks whether the visitor is bringing any “goods of animal or plant origin”. I assumed they didn’t mean things made out of, say, cotton or leather, and checked “no”.)


Still, Colombia does have some history with smuggling, and so customs checks people and luggage coming into the country. They x-ray the luggage, and do a peremptory little pat-down of the people.

What I found funny about the whole thing was that I was wearing cargo pants when I went through customs. And all my pockets were just crammed full of stuff. There’s some of it to the right.

Do you think the customs guy showed the slightest interest in what, exactly, all those pockets were stuffed with? Nope. Not a glimmer of interest. If I’d had $40,000 in $100s taped around my waist I’d have been screwed, but if I’d had a pound and a half of platinum in my pocket I’d have been (so to speak) golden. (Let’s not even get into gems. And as for drugs … I don’t want to play into hurtful stereotypes, but does “carrying coal to Newcastle” ring a bell?)

So, here’s my advice for anyone who wants to smuggle items into Colombia on his person: Pockets. Know them, use them.

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One Response to Colombian Customs

  1. Pingback: Hablan Español | Things that were not immediately obvious to me