Reciprocity Tax for Canadians
Colombia Strikes Back
Imagine having a free trade partner whose citizens must leap through hoops just to get a tourist visa to visit your country. Add to this a requirement and expense to fly to their capital city to pay to have biometric markers (photos and fingerprints) taken. It doesn't make sense to penalize a trading partner, yet Canada is doing just that to Colombia citizens.
As of September 2013, adding insult to injury Canada required Colombians to fly to Bogota, go to a centre that the Canadian government has contracted and pay to have the biometric markers taken.
Fast forward to October 2, 2014. The European Union, by a vote of 523 to 41 lifted the visa requirement for Colombian citizens to the 26 Schengen visa countries. This is before their free trade agreement goes into effect.
Colombia has finally said enough. Effective December 1, 2014 Canadians, between the age of 15 and 78, entering Colombia will be required to pay a reciprocity tax. The cost is 160.000 Colombian Pesos or approximately $88.00 Can and is valid for only a single entry into the country. Travellers can pay with a credit or debit or in cash (but only in pesos). Any visitor unable to pay the fee will be refused entry. Current visa holders and diplomats are exempt as well as any individual transiting through to airport to another country. Visitors to Cartagena and/or San Andres, Providencia or Catalina will not be affected.
The official document which is resolution 2146 of 2014 - Official Diario No. 49.282 of September 22, 2014 states ''por la cual se establece un cobro para el ingreso de nacionales canadienses por efectos de reciprocidad frente a los sobrecostos ocasionados por la imposición de datos biométricos a los nacionales colombianos.'' Basically this ''tit for tat'' action is proportional to what the Canadian government is charging Colombians (even though it is an indirect cost) for the biometric markers.
In 2014, between January and September, approximately 32,000 Canadians visited Colombia so if nothing else, this will be an excellent source of revenue for the Colombians, until the Canadian government can enter the 21st century and drop the tourist visa requirements for their free trade partners, the Colombians.