Thursday, July 22, 2010

One Family´s Return Trip: El Dorado Airport

NO matter how many times I have flown into Bogotá, I always forget what a nightmare it is to get through immigration and customs. The night that we arrived 5 planes had arrived within 20 minutes and the line to go through immigration stretched the entire length of the corridor. So, I am going to give you the low down on making it through immigration as quickly as possible.

1. There are 4 lines. If you have children under 6, you can go through immigration quicker by going to the far left and walking past everyone until you get to the end of the shorter line. Here is a picture those are my boys walking past everyone. (There are bathrooms on the left near the front of the line, if you need them. I am happy to report that this time there were toilet seats and toilet paper.)

2. You will eventually make it to the front of the line. Make sure to have your passports ready. You will give them to the person at the booth marked DAS. Here is a tip based on our experience. There has been a lot of conversation about children that were adopted in Colombia entering Colombia on a foreign passport -- ie US passport. I can report that when presented with our son´s US passport -- which states he was born in Colombia--the DAS official asked for his Colombian passport -- so I am glad we brought it. He we are talking with the DAS official. I might add that you should not take pictures there as I learned upon taking this one. If you have an older US passport, they will direct you to wait in another line because their machines cannot read the old ones --learned this the hard way.
3. Proceed to get your suitcases. The signs may or may not be right. We arrived on Continental from Houston -- not American from Miami, but our cases were spinning here.
4. While one person gets the luggage, the other should take the passports to this booth that is in the same room as the luggage. Give your passports to the officer behind the window and you will not have to pay the exit tax when you leave the country. This only applies if you stay less than 60 days in Colombia.

5. Now you will go through customs -- DIAN. Here you present that paper you filled out on the plane. Then, they touch a button, if it is green, you can leave. If it is red, then you have to go through a more detailed inspection of what you are bringing into the country. In our case, we had to have our luggage x-rayed.
5. Then, you are free to leave. There are large crowds outside. If you want to take an authorized taxi, leave the airport to your right and look for the booth that says TAXIS AUTORIZADOS. There you will tell them where you are going and they will give you a paper that tells you the price. Then you get in line to take an authorized taxi. This should cost more than $8-10 US dollars.

6 comments:

Aimee Cordero said...

Very helpful. Thanks for giving such great tips.

Jane King said...

When we went back to Colombia for a visit with our daughter, in the airport on the way home security pulled her aside (AND she was only 15) and asked to see her Colombian passport.

I saw red. I told him, "Hell NO , she's an American citizen, so knock it off". Only I think I was ruder. After one glance at my face, they let her go. I was fuming. The adoption had taken us a year. My daughter had an American passport. That should be ENOUGH.

KateED said...

Thanks so much for this post. Our contact person went on vacation just as we are getting ready to pick up our son from Neiva in one week. So we are now alone in our preparations. This post answers so many of the questions that I was wondering about how it will be when we first get there. Just getting off a long plane flight, is not when one wants to be confused. THANK YOU for all this detail.

Jodie said...

Is this pretty much the same for a return trip as it would be for a family traveling for an adoption into the airport? Or can you not get the tax exemption if it is an adoption? Also, is the issue with USA passports only with kids born in Colombia? Or might there be an issue if you bring your Guatemalan born child in with a US passport instead of his Guatemalan one? Thanks

Connie said...

I didn't know about the tax exempt booth. We'll remember that.

PM said...

Any trip to Colombia's El Dorado airport will be the same. You can get the tax exemption at any time as long as you plan to stay less than 60 days. Unsure about the Guatemalan passport. Can only tell of our experience with our Colombianito.