Many travelers are often confused about whether or not they should pay taxes at hotels in Colombia, but it’s very clear: if you’re a foreigner in Colombia traveling on a tourist visa (PIP5), you DO NOT need to pay IVA (19% value added tax) at ANY hotel in the country.
Tourists are given a PIP5 visa upon entering the country. Your stamp should look like this:
Foreign residents and anyone traveling on a business visa are not exempt from paying the tax. Other visa types that must be applied for in advance may qualify for the exemption depending on your hotel’s policy.
My Experience with the Hotel Tax
In my experience, about half of the hotels I’ve stayed at waive the IVA automatically and half try to push it through. When you’re paying, look over your bill to make sure you aren’t being charged for IVA. If you politely point out that you’re being charged, the hotel should adjust the bill for you without hesitation.
It’s not always that easy, unfortunately. There will be hotels that insist you pay the tax and come up with all kinds of excuses. As long as you are on a tourist visa, you show them your entry stamp, and the hotel is registered with the National Tourism Registry (which I understand is a requirement for every hotel in the country), they aren’t supposed to charge you for the tax.
Excuses I’ve heard are “the law changed last week”, “you didn’t buy a vacation package with us and the law only applies to vacation packages”, and “our hotel is exempt from this law”. None of these are true. Don’t let them take advantage of you.