Arrest of a U.S. Citizen

U.S citizens are subject to the local laws and regulations while visiting or living in Colombia.

If you are arrested overseas or know a U.S. citizen who is, ask the local authorities to officially notify the U.S. Embassy as soon as possible.  You can contact the American Citizen Services unit in Bogota by emailing or by calling 1-275-2000 during normal business hours. Outside of office hours, contact: 1-275-4021.  If you are calling from outside of Colombia, please dial: (57) 1-275-2000.

What the Embassy CAN do:

  • Provide a List of Local Attorneys – here
  • Contact family, friends, or employers of the detained U.S. citizen via written permission with a Privacy Act Waiver (PAW), form DS-5505
  • Visit the detained U.S. citizen as soon as possible after being informed of the arrest;
  • Visit the detained U.S. citizen while imprisoned;
  • Provide reading materials and vitamin supplements, where appropriate;
  • Ensure that prison officials are providing appropriate medical care;
  • Provide a general overview of the local criminal justice process;
  • Upon request, ensure that prison officials permit visits with a member of the clergy of the religion of the detainee’s choice; or
  • Establish an OCS Trust , if necessary, so friends and family can transfer funds to imprisoned U.S. citizens.

What the Embassy CANNOT do:

  • Get U.S. citizens out of jail:
  • State to a court that anyone is guilty or innocent;
  • Provide legal advice or represent U.S. citizens in court;
  • Serve as official interpreters or translators; or
  • Pay legal, medical, or other fees.

One of the highest priorities of the Department of State and U.S. embassies and consulates is to provide assistance to U.S. citizens incarcerated abroad. The Department of State is committed to ensuring fair and humane treatment for U.S. citizens imprisoned overseas. We stand ready to assist incarcerated citizens and their families within the limits of our authority in accordance with international, domestic, and foreign law.

For more information on Colombian laws, contact the U.S. Embassy in Bogota or the Consular agency in Barranquilla before you travel or visit the Colombia Country Information page, here.