VacciNO: Vaccines given in Colombia are not currently valid in the UK

By Oli Pritchard September 25, 2021

International travel from Colombia remains difficult as some countries do not recognise the country’s vaccines.

If you got your vaccines in Colombia, the UK won't recognise it. Photo: Emma Newbery
If you got vaccinated in Colombia, the UK won’t recognise it. Photo: Emma Newbery

The United Kingdom is refusing to recognise vaccines given in Colombia as legitimate. For a few weeks now, the country only recognises vaccines administered in the UK, EU, South Korea, NZ, Australia or the US. Vaccine tourists also face trouble, as US-administered vaccines are only recongised if the person is US-resident.

The move doesn’t only affect Colombia, but dozens of countries around the world. What’s particularly problematic for Colombia is that it is also on the UK’s red list. That means that travelling directly between the countries means either ten days in a government-approved quarantine hotel at a cost of £2,285 (around COP12 million) upon arrival in the UK, or ten days in an amber list country, followed by ten more days in self-isolation at a UK address.

Read all coverage about the coronavirus in Colombia

The move has stoked fury and indignation worldwide. A range of countries have issued press releases condemning the move. It’s widely seen as discriminatory – not helped by the fact that the UK government is being coy over the reasons for the ruling. The main reason given to The Guardian was “wider considerations”. Many see xenophobia in the move, but there’s also genuine concern over the possibility of falsified documents.

Plus, given the case numbers in Colombia have been falling in recent weeks, many who want to visit the UK question the need for Colombia to stay on the red list. Especially since Spain has downgraded Colombia’s risk level.

Entering other countries from Colombia

It’s not only the UK that has expressed concern over foreign vaccination programs. A month ago, on August 23, Spain lifted a temporary measure that had seen non-resident travellers from Colombia, Bolivia and Namibia blocked from entering the country. That was put in effect because Spanish authorities had found a high number of falsified documents among travellers from those countries. Colombia is now on Spain’s medium-risk list, meaning quarantine is not necessary (at time of writing).

The European Union

Much of the EU have similar measures to Spain, but check with individual countries before travel. Theoretically, vaccinated travellers are all welcome, but individual countries have different rules concerning quarantine etc. Colombia is not currently accepted on the EU digital COVID passport system. 


If you’re heading to Australia, you’ll face a 14-day hotel quarantine, no matter where you’re coming from. And you’ll need a visa as well, no tourists allowed. 

The US and Canada

The US requires a negative test 72 hours before travel, but nothing more. Canada does recognise Colombian vaccination, but you will need to get it translated into English or French and upload it to the Canadian system. You’ll also need to make a quarantine plan just in case, and present a negative test within 72 hours or a positive test between 14 and 180 days.