Hacking Colombia: Notarías

Colombia still uses a lot of paper documents and having them notarized is a fact of life here. In this article, we explain how the process typically works…

Tramitología is what they sarcastically call the documentary requirements of just about any registration or legal process here. It could be for a government registration or for something between businesses and/or individuals (Ex: a lease), but just as sure as the earth revolves, you’ll have to head down to a notaria to validate your paperwork!

Here’s a list of some transactions that usually require a visit to a public notary…

  • A power of attorney (un poder)
  • Authentication (autenticacion)
  • Statement under oath (declaración bajo gravedad de juramento)
  • Civil registers (registros civiles)
  • Promise of sale (promesa de compraventa)
  • Signature authentication (reconocimiento de la firma)
  • Marriage (matrimonio)
  • Mortgages (hipotecas)
  • Divorce (divorcio)
  • Public documents (escrituras públicas)
  • Last will (testamento)

Typically, notarías have names like “notaría primera de Medellín” emblazoned on them. The “primera” can change to segunda, tercera, and so on, or they can use the number, for example 10. Some notaries are conveniently located inside malls.

The layout of a notary public office here is usually one where you enter and a receptionist will give you tickets for the desks you have to visit within to complete the various transactions you require, for example, if you need your signature witnessed or copies of official documents need to be stamped. Each employee you visit will give you a receipt for the amount, often just a handwritten slip of paper, you’ll have to pay. Once done with your transactions, you go to a wicket and pay your fees. In addition to the above, there may be a “turno” (turn) number system.


  • Where your signature is required, your fingerprints may also be required, so expect to leave with blackened fingers!
  • Where there’s 2 parties involved, say as in a lease, the lessor may hand you the lease already notarized for his part, it does not need to be all done in the same notary office.
  • Notary fees are generally inexpensive.
Photo by Colombia Dreaming
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