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I plan on visiting Colombia in March. However, an acquaintance just told me that having Colombia in my travel history can hurt me when I apply for visas of other countries - particularly USA, Canada, and European countries.

I am not sure why they suggested this idea. But I want to make sure that there isn't any truth to it so I don't jeopardize future travel.

Does anyone know if visiting Colombia hurt one's travel history?

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    Perhaps they're thinking of District of Columbia. – Strawberry Jan 14 at 12:13
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    Only chance is when you are returning you might go through additional check because of narcotics. Other than that enjoy your time in Colombia. – DumbCoder Jan 14 at 13:25
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    @Strawberry What? Why would visiting DC hurt someone's travel history? And DC isn't even a country... – user428517 Jan 14 at 17:15
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    Say you have a British passport, visit Columbia, then one year later the United States: you're good. Say you have an Afghan passport, visit Columbia and immediately go to the United States: if you attended an academic conference in Columbia, you're good; if your purpose was "tourism", well you've just been flagged. You'll have some explaining to do. Not all passports are created equal. – PatrickT Jan 14 at 20:30
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    @Strawberry #1 we can't read your mind. #2 OP is almost certainly not a native English speaker, and so doesn't get your joke. IOW, you stop thinking everyone is a Westerner. – RonJohn Jan 14 at 23:17
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Not at all. It's not on a list of banned countries either.

Source: I've travelled to at least 80 countries, including Colombia, Cuba, Iran, Uzbekistan, Zambia and other odd countries.

Post-Colombia, I actually flew directly into the US. I got a lot of questions as I'd only been in Bogota for 3 days, but once I passed those, it was all good.

The only one that's caused me problems is Iran, the law change after I went by Obama's administration meant that I now can't get an ESTA for the USA for 5 years, and would need to apply for a proper visa and have an interview.

My last job in Australia required me to have background checks done, as I needed permission to be on an airport tarmac. That was also unaffected by my travels.

Regarding the ones you've mentioned, since Colombia I've been to the US, Canada and several European countries without problem.

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    It can be cause for delays at the border, however. I have a friend who spent a year in Ecuador working with Engineers Without Borders and, following the work term, toured around South America and Europe before returning to Canada. Having Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, Columbia, Chile, and Amsterdam stamps in his passport did mean he ended up detained for questions and additional screening when entering Canada - and he was even a citizen. There was ultimately no issue, but it is something to consider. This was 10-15 years ago, but the obvious concern was drug trafficking. – J... Jan 14 at 18:42
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    @J... Amsterdam is not a country and what you would get is a Schengen Stamp. Even if it's marked Amsterdam as an entry/exit, I hardly see what conclusion one can made, since it's one of the major aerial entry/exit point of Europe (it's actually the busiest european airport by aircraft movement ) – zakinster Jan 15 at 13:45
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    @zakinster Yes a schengen stamp where the dominant word says Amsterdam. Like I said, that alone wasn't the issue, it was the overall travel history. I believe there were also stops in Taiwan, Thailand, few other places. In any case, the point was that there were many drug hotspots and the total travel history was sufficient to raise suspicion, justified or not. – J... Jan 15 at 14:01
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    @zakinster Arriving on a flight from Amsterdam is enough to get you sniffed by several drug-dogs in some airports. I got detained in Reykjavik (Iceland) for 5 hours in 2009 just because the guy I had sat next to on the flight had smoked marihuana the day before and enough of the smell had transferred to me to make the dogs go off on me as well. Was a really nice way to start my holiday. – Tonny Jan 15 at 23:16
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No, this is absolutely false!

I'm British, and my wife is Colombian. We go to Colombia quite a bit and we've both travelled (separately and together) to all these countries.

A few specific examples:

  • I've flown to the US directly from Colombia several times
  • We lived in Germany for two years, flying several times directly to and from Colombia. Colombians themselves get a 90 day visa waiver on entry to the Shengen area
  • My wife flew to Canada last year

By the way, enjoy Colombia, it's incredible!

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Yes it can, in combination with other factors.

I'm Canadian and I crossed from the US into Mexico by motorcycle about five years ago. I was in Mexico for about four months and during that time, I took a flight to Bogota, Colombia to attend a tech conference.

When I crossed back from Mexico to the US at El Paso, I was handcuffed, detained, searched, and questioned. According to the agent, there were a combination of factors that caused them detain me... Mexico, Colombia, my mode of travel, etc. that added up to a red flag. I had no contraband was was admitted to the US after a couple of hours.

Since this event, when flying to the USA, I am always pulled in for secondary screening and in one case they searched all of my luggage carefully and questioned me about Colombia and narcotics for about 30 minutes.

I've heard of others in my extended network who've experienced similar.

I'd say that while you likely won't suffer any problems just for visiting Colombia, you may run into problems if there is anything else about your profile that attracts attention.

It's a shame, since as others have pointed out, Colombia is a great destination.

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    Handcuffed? Wow! I suppose you had other background red flags except visiting Colombia – Suncatcher Jan 16 at 10:54
  • Nothing in my background... some of the red flags were not obvious, like cold tablets, diarrhea medicine, and dental floss. I think the main thing is that the agent thought it was weird to travel around Mexico by motorcycle. – cleaver Jan 16 at 14:13
  • I suppose medicine could be suspected of being some other substance in disguise, but I'm really struggling to figure out the dental floss angle. Are the cartels known for strangling people with dental floss? Is waxed or unwaxed more suspect? – Jacob C. says Reinstate Monica Jan 16 at 20:45
  • (P.S. I'm not trying to mock you for suffering that unnecessary indignity, just the absurdities in the system that inflicted it.) – Jacob C. says Reinstate Monica Jan 16 at 20:45
  • @JacobC.supportsGoFundMonica My guess is the the dental floss container in more than the dental floss itself. – DKNguyen Jan 16 at 20:56

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