The Colombian Professional Board of Engineers (COPNIA) — the public entity responsible for authorizing, inspecting and monitoring engineers in Colombia — has sent requests to certain employers to produce a report to verify that all local and foreign engineers are compliant with registration and license requirements. If requested, the report must be produced within 15 business days of COPNIA's notification.
Employers must email COPNIA a list in Excel format of Colombian and foreign engineers and similar professionals who are regulated by COPNIA and directly employed by the Colombian company through a labour or services contract. The list must contain the following information for each individual:
- Complete name of employee;
- Employee identification number;
- Confirmation of profession according to university degree;
- Current job title at the Colombian company;
- Start date with the Colombian company; and
- E-mail address.
Extensions beyond the 15-business day deadline may be granted if the company notifies COPNIA of the reasons for the delay and provides a tentative date to respond with the complete information.
Result of Non-Compliance or Violations
COPNIA will contact employees who do not have the proper permit or license so that the relevant application process can be started.
COPNIA can suspend engineers who violate COPNIA’s rules and may present its observations to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Colombia (Migración Colombia), or other competent authorities.
Permits Required for Engineers
Engineers must obtain one of the following permits to work in Colombia:
- Permanent Professional License for engineers (matrícula profesional);
- Certificate of Professional Registration for related and auxiliary professionals;
- Certificate of Registration for foremen; and
- Temporary Professional Permit for engineers (permiso profesional).
Engineers must obtain the relevant permit or license even if their position or title is not related to their engineering background.
What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals
COPNIA has stated that this verification process is an updating exercise and that it has no intent to sanction non-complying employers that obtain the proper permits for their employees. However, since COPNIA can notify immigration authorities of its findings, employers should be prepared for audits by immigration authorities.
Employers and employees should ensure they comply with the reporting deadline and any other requests from COPNIA.
Employers should also verify that their foreign employees have the proper visa and professional permit, degree validation and/or professional licenseand should contact their immigration professional to ensure employees are licensed with the proper professional authority.