Corporate Bank Account Colombia

How to Open a Corporate Bank Account in Colombia

In Colombia, just like in any foreign country, it can be frustrating trying to open a corporate bank account. Corporate bank accounts can take a lot of time to open, and in many cases, this delay will end up costing you money. However, it is an essential step to complete when starting a business in Colombia.

Opening a corporate bank account in Colombia involves navigating through various legal and financial requirements specific to the country’s banking system. Understanding the documentation needed, such as proof of business registration, identification, and financial statements, is crucial to expedite the process.

In fact, without that bank account, you will not be issued a business license. It is therefore important to know when and where to start. In this article Biz Latin Hub offers an analysis.

Doing business in Colombia a Market Snapshot. Infographic by Biz latin hub
Doing business in Colombia, a market snapshot. Corporate bank account in Colombia.

2 Types of Corporate Bank Accounts in Colombia

There are two main types of corporate bank accounts you should consider opening. A checking account and a savings account. 

  • A checking account is the most popular option for individual and corporate banking. It is useful for everyday transactions such as withdrawals and transfers. 
  • A savings account is beneficial if your business has funds it is not using. Your funds will grow as they accumulate interest, but the account may come with more restrictions. 

Banking Options in Colombia 

There are several local and international banks in Colombia that provide good options for foreign companies looking to open corporate accounts. Ultimately, the bank you choose will depend on your particular business needs. However, these are some popular options: 

  • Banco de Bogotá
  • Bancolombia
  • Davivienda
  • Banco Popular
  • HSBC 
  • Citibank 
  • JPMorgan Chase
  • BBVA

Our recommendation: You should choose a bank with good international relations. Banks such as Bancolombia, Banco de Bogota and CitiBank are excellent choices in the Colombian banking sector, known for their wide range of financial products and services tailored to the needs of both domestic and international companies.

4 Steps for Opening a Bank Account in Colombia 

Once you have chosen a provider to bank with, you are ready to begin the process of opening a corporate account. In Colombia, this process can be summarized into five steps: get a pre-taxpayer number, wait for the bank to check your company information, make a minimum deposit, and take out a cédula. 

Once you have completed each of the steps and your corporate bank account is established, the DIAN will issue the permanent tax ID for your corporation. At this point, you are ready to begin business operations.

To open a bank account in Colombia you must follow these 4 steps:

  • Step 1 – Get a pre-taxpayer number (the pre-RUT).
  • Step 2 – Wait for the bank to check your company information.
  • Step 3 – Make a minimum deposit.
  • Step 4 – Take out a cédula.

Below is more information on each of the steps outlined above. 

1. Get a pre-taxpayer number (the pre-RUT)

As your first step, you will need to get a pre-taxpayer ID number (the pre-RUT) from the DIAN. (RUT stands for registro único tributario.) The DIAN is the tax and customs authority in Colombia. 

Once you have obtained the pre-RUT, you should present it to the provider of your choice, along with the additional required documentation and ask that they open a corporate account for your company. 

Some key aspects about opening a corporate bank account in Colombia. Highlights to keep in mind, an infographic by Biz Latin Hub.
If you are planning to do business in the coffee-growing country, keep in mind these key aspects on opening a corporate bank account in Colombia.

2. Wait for the bank to check your company information

Once the bank has received the pre-RUT and other necessary documents, it will check your company information and verify that the funds you are depositing were acquired legally. This process can take a few days (or longer). 

To avoid problems, be sure that you understand all the rules regarding wire transfers. The wire transfer process is heavily regulated in Colombia, and failing to take the proper steps could result in investigation and fines, as well as extra time, stress, and frustration.

You can also expect a background check, just like when you open a personal bank account.

The bank will see that you have no outstanding warrants or unpaid bills. Certain criminal histories, such as those relating to drug trafficking, money laundering, and other financial crimes, could result in your account application being denied.

This could be serious enough to force you to choose another country in which to open your business. Hopefully this doesn’t apply, since background checks can add time to the application process.

3. Make a minimum deposit 

Once the bank has approved your company as a customer, you will be required to make a minimum deposit. The minimum deposit requirement will vary from bank to bank. Take this into account when choosing where to open an account. 

4. Take out a cédula

In most cases, to open a company bank account in Colombia, you will need a Colombian identification card, the cédula. (This is also the case when opening a personal bank account.)

There are some exceptions to this rule, for example, if you are employed by a Colombian company and are receiving regular payments, you can open an account with a foreign passport. Using a foreign passport to open a bank account in Colombia involves complications.

If you are intending to stay in Colombia long-term to run your business, then you will need a cédula, especially if you are working. Biz Latin Hub has extensive experience in providing Visa’s Bank Accounts and cédulas, we specialize in helping businesses set up while minimizing the amount of stress they go through.

We can take care of the paperwork required to obtain a cédula and help you set up your business.

Common Questions on Opening a Corporate Bank Account in Colombia

Based on our extensive experience, these are the common questions and doubts of our clients on opening a company bank account in Colombia:

1. Can I open a corporate bank account online in Colombia?

No, you can not open a bank account online as all documentation must be signed with wet ink and delivered to the bank both digitally and physically. We always recommend appointing a legal representative based in Colombia because some of the required actions must be performed before the branch in a physical branch of the bank. 

2. What documents do I need to open a company bank account in Colombia?

Normally, the bank will ask for the application form, the articles of incorporation, and the identification documents of the shareholders and legal representatives. If the bank sees it relevant, they will ask for additional documents.

3. Who can have access to a company bank account in Colombia?

Bank account access can be granted by the account owner through the virtual platform of the bank with a physical security token device. Some banks in Colombia will provide an online platform in both Spanish and English, but most are only in Spanish. 

4. What is the best bank in Colombia for foreign companies? 

In most cases, we recommend using one of the larger banks which have significant experience with international commerce, provide a broad service offering, and have a large number of branches and ATMs. These banks are Banco de Bogotá, Bancolombia, and BBVA.

5. Why do companies open bank accounts in Colombia?

A bank account is a must for all companies in Colombia. The bank account will allow you to complete operations, including paying taxes, payroll, local suppliers, and all domestic transactions.

6. Does Colombia have banking secrecy?

Yes. Banking secrecy is a constitutional right in Colombia.

Biz Latin Hub Can Help You Open a Corporate Bank Account in Colombia

At Biz Latin Hub, we provide integrated market entry and back-office services throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, with offices in Bogota and Cartagena, as well as over a dozen other major cities in the region. We also have trusted partners in many other markets.

Our unrivaled reach means we are ideally placed to support multi-jurisdiction market entries and cross border operations.

As well as knowledge of how to open a corporate bank account in Colombia, our portfolio of services includes hiring & PEO, accounting & taxation, company formation, bank account opening, and corporate legal services.

Contact us today to find out more about how we can assist you in finding top talent, or otherwise do business in Latin America and the Caribbean. Or read about our team and expert authors.

How to open a Corporate Bank Account Colombia infographic by biz latin hub
How to open a corporate bank account in Colombia. Biz Latin Hub key services.

The information provided here within should not be construed as formal guidance or advice. Please consult a professional for your specific situation. Information provided is for informative purposes only and may not capture all pertinent laws, standards, and best practices. The regulatory landscape is continually evolving; information mentioned may be outdated and/or could undergo changes. The interpretations presented are not official. Some sections are based on the interpretations or views of relevant authorities, but we cannot ensure that these perspectives will be supported in all professional settings.
Accounting Team Colombia

Accounting Team Colombia

Accounting Team Colombia is the Biz Latin Hub leading experts on doing business in Colombia. The Team writes on the news, doing business, accounting, and changing regulations. The team are experts on auditing, local taxation, international taxation, payroll processing, payroll compliance, IFRS and financial advisory services. Read more about them here. You can contact Accounting Team Colombia via our "contact us page".

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