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I will be flying into Medellín within the next few weeks. I purchased a one-way ticket, as I will be flying to Asunción after I leave Colombia.

I'm not 100% sure which city I will be flying out of, however, so I haven't purchased my ticket for Paraguay yet.

Will I be required to show proof of onward travel when I arrive in Colombia?

I am a US citizen, if that is important.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

I bussed in, but was not asked. However from experience, almost any country 'might' ask you for onward travel, and they seem more likely to ask at airports - as allowing someone into another country without an exit strategy, or allowing you into their country without a way out can lead to someone getting fined (an airline, for example).

What I've seen many people do (including myself) is just to buy a cheap bus ticket in advance, out the country. This gives me a valid exit if I choose to use it, and satisfies any questions that are asked.

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Timatic (the visa system used by many airlines) specifically states for a US citizen visiting Columbia :

  • Visitors traveling as tourist are required to hold proof of sufficient funds to cover their stay and documents required for their next destination.

Warning:

- Visitors, traveling as tourist, not holding return/onward tickets could be refused entry.

The key word here is obviously "could". Generally this means that it is at the discretion of the immigration official(s) and will depend on whether they believe you are intending to leave the country by/at the end of you maximum 90 days, and/or whether you have sufficient funds to do so.

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When I flew into Colombia, I noticed that neither the airline nor immigration asked me about return/onward travel.

However, during a couple of subsequent trips, my departure ticket was checked:

  • Before issuing my boarding pass to travel to Paraguay, the airline service rep asked for my onward flight number and entered it into her computer. When I got to Paraguay, however, the immigrations officer didn't seem concerned about it (nor about much of anything else, come to think of it :P).
  • During my layover in Panama, the immigrations officer was skeptical when I told her I planned to stay in the country just for the afternoon and wanted to see the boarding pass for my connecting flight.

It seems like there's two things to take away from this:

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First of all - every contract of carriage I've ever seen says it is the responsibility of the passenger to have the proper paperwork and it is not the airline's responsibility to provide return transportation of you are denied entry to a country.

I know this is an old thread but may be useful to others in 2016. I have traveled extensively to Colombia (maybe 12 trips since 2013) and I have never been asked about proof of onward travel or proof of finances by immigration authorities. I am a citizen of the U.S. and full time traveler working remotely, so I am almost always on a round trip ticket originating/returning to Colombia or a one way trip to Colombia. If you are ever asked just say you'll be traveling overland to Ecuador. It's possible but almost unheard of to book these buses in advance. They know this, a lot of people travel this way, so you shouldn't have a problem.

The airline may give you trouble departing the U.S. They want to see proof of return to the USA not proof of onward travel. I know it makes no sense. I'd say 50/50 chances in my experience (Jet Blue is the worst). I offer four possible solutions:

1) Make a "fake" return ticket confirmation from a different airline using real flight numbers and times. I used an old itinerary for a travel agent - text based. (Word of caution - one overzealous Jet Blue employee actually looked up the 6 letter confirmation code - for a different airline!)

2) Buy a fully refundable return ticket and ask for your refund as soon as you arrive in Colombia.

3) New laws give you 24 hours after you purchase a ticket to cancel it without penalty. With careful timing and a smartphone/airport wifi you can use this rule to get around the return ticket. I in case I have connectivity troubles in the airport I always have a trusted person who can cancel for me if necessary.

4) If you are on a long term trip, like a backpacker or something, look for the cheapest ticket returning to the U.S. that you can find, even if you have no intention of using it. I did this with a Caracus-Miami flight and it served me well for 12 months.

Good luck!

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