Colombia - Commercial Guide
Due Diligence

Provides advice on how to perform due diligence and in what areas it is necessary for a U.S. company. Includes information on the U.S. Commercial Service International Company Profile service.

Last published date: 2019-10-13

U.S. companies should take care in selecting their Colombian partners. U.S. small and medium-sized businesses can save time and money by contracting with the U.S. Commercial Service to perform an International Partner Search (IPS) to find pre-qualified global partners who express interest in their products and services. The U.S. Commercial Service can generate a customized International Company Profile (ICP) to evaluate your potential business partner. Researched and prepared by our trade specialists, ICPs enable U.S. small and medium-sized businesses to more effectively assess overseas companies. To contract for an IPS or an ICP, visit's list of U.S. offices to find the closest U.S. Commercial Service office.

Prohibition against doing business with Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs)
On October 21, 1995, then President Clinton signed Executive Order 12978 entitled "Blocking Assets and Prohibiting Transactions with Significant Narcotics Traffickers,” which blocks all property subject to U.S. jurisdiction in which there is any interest of members of the various Colombian drug cartels. In addition, the order blocks the property and interest in property of persons who have been determined to play a significant role in international narcotics trafficking centered in Colombia or determined to materially assist in or provide financial or technological support for, or goods or services in support of, the narcotics trafficking activities of persons designated in the Order. It is illegal for U.S. citizens to buy, sell, trade, give away, or otherwise engage in transactions involving persons and companies designated pursuant to the Order, who are referred to as Specially Designated Nationals or SDNs.

A list of the names of such persons and companies is available from the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) website. The U.S. Commercial Service recommends that companies check the OFAC list every three months at a minimum and conduct an ICP on their business partner once a year to ensure compliance with the guidelines.

U.S. companies and individuals doing business in Colombia should be aware of the above Executive Order aimed at curtailing the money laundering operations of the Colombian drug cartels. SDNs include entities or individuals directly involved in the drug trade, companies or front companies they own, and companies or individuals, which supply or do business with any of the preceding. U.S. companies found doing business with SDNs will be notified by OFAC to cease and desist. Failure to do so can result in financial penalties and criminal prosecution. Most established Colombian companies are not involved in the drug trade. Nonetheless, in addition to doing financial background checks on potential business partners, U.S. companies should also contact OFAC to obtain the most current listing of SDNs.

The Colombian government regulates the financial, commercial, credit and services personal information managed by information companies through the “Habeas Data” law (Ley 1266 of 2008). One of the most important changes is that, before the law, bad “behavior” on the personal, financial, and commercial obligation history was maintained for at least four years in the information management companies’ databases. This law ensures every person’s right to clear bad credit history information after a year in order to have access to credit and services in the financial and commercial sectors. Otherwise, in many cases, it was necessary for a person to wait for four years to have access to those services and credit.