Legal Issues With Offshoring to Colombia

legal Colombia

Thinking about expanding your software development team beyond your borders to Colombia? Regardless of if you’re a lifelong entrepreneur or new to the game, there are hidden legal risks you need to mitigate. From data privacy laws to taxes and employment contracts, it pays (literally!) to have knowledge of the do’s and don’ts with offshore personnel working in Colombia. So buckle your seatbelt and get ready to take off on this exciting journey through the key legal aspects of offshore staff aboard!

Table of Contents

Doing Business in Colombia: Main Aspects to Consider

business in colombia

Doing business in Colombia is a great opportunity for companies looking to expand their operations and access cost-effective dedicated development teams. With a growing market, competitive labor costs, and an attractive investment environment, Colombia is becoming increasingly attractive to businesses around the world.

When beginning operations in Colombia, there are several legal considerations that must be considered. Companies need to ensure compliance with Colombian laws by registering with the relevant authorities such as DIAN (Directorate of National Tax and Customs Authority) and RUT (Register for Unified Tax). Companies also need to be aware of any relevant labor laws in order to ensure that their dedicated development team services comply with local regulations. Additionally, foreign companies should consider investing in legal advice in order to better understand Colombian business etiquette and the possible legal implications of offshoring operations to Colombia.

Apart from legal issues, companies looking to do business in Colombia should take into account the country’s economic outlook. The Colombian economy has enjoyed steady growth since 2002, when it began implementing economic reforms and encouraging foreign investment. In recent years, Colombia has also become an increasingly attractive destination for dedicated development teams due its cost savings when compared to other countries in Latin America and beyond.

Finally, companies doing business within Colombia should focus on building strong relationships with local partners and suppliers. This will ensure that they gain access to the best dedicated development team services at the most competitive rates while mitigating potential risks associated with working remotely on projects inside of Colombia’s jurisdiction. By cultivating strong relationships within the country, businesses can better understand local regulations as well as gain insights into potential opportunities for expansion within the country.

Overall, doing business in Colombia provides numerous advantages for companies looking for development team services at lower costs than those found elsewhere. However, businesses must remain aware of all relevant legal considerations before committing resources or personnel to Colombian operations and ensure that their team’s services comply with local regulations at all times. Building good relationships with local suppliers is also key for success when operating from within Colombia so that companies can maximize their operational efficiency while minimizing risk factors associated with remote working arrangements.

We are experts who can help your company cope with all the legal hassle of outstaffed software development.

Labor Laws and Employment Model

When offshoring software development services to Colombia, there are two main types of hire: labor contract with employee and service agreement with independent contractor. A labor contract is a legal document that outlines the terms and conditions of employment for an individual working in Colombia, including wages, holidays and other benefits. This type of hire is ideal for dedicated developers who will be working onsite at the employer’s premises.

A service agreement is an alternative type of hire for dedicated development teams in Colombia. Generally, this type of agreement outlines the specific services that are expected from the dedicated development team, as well as the rights and responsibilities of both parties involved. This type of hire is particularly suitable for dedicated software developers who will be working remotely or off-site.

employment model

To safeguard yourself from legal issues while offshoring in Colombia, both labor contracts and service agreements should include detailed clauses that clearly define the rights and responsibilities of all parties involved. Additionally, employers should ensure that their dedicated development team complies with local laws and regulations relating to wages, working hours and other issues related to employee rights. By understanding these legal issues associated with offshoring dedicated development teams services to Colombia, employers can ensure they have a compliant partnership that meets their specific needs.  ​

Moreover, Colombia has a number of different employment models available for dedicated development team services. The most common is the Employer of Record (EOR) model, which involves the team members being employed by an EOR in Colombia and then assigned to a customer on a dedicated basis. This is typically done through a service agreement between the customer and the EOR, which outlines the dedicated development team’s roles and responsibilities.

The EOR model is beneficial to customers since it removes potential legal issues associated with offshoring to Colombia, such as tax compliance and labor laws. Additionally, it provides an additional layer of protection for customers by having someone local managing the dedicated development team services. It also ensures that customer data remains secure and confidential, since all activities are overseen by the local company.

hiring in colombia

Other employment models available in Latin America include direct hire or freelancing arrangements. However, these employment models have their own inherent risks that need to be carefully weighed before any decisions are made. For instance, when hiring freelance developers from Colombia, clients must ensure that they understand Colombian labor laws as there may be various protections provided to workers that need to be considered before engaging the freelancer. . Similarly, when entering into direct hire arrangements, employers must take into account potential liabilities associated with employing workers directly in Colombia.

Overall, the Independent Contractor Model provides an ideal solution for companies looking for offshore development teams in Colombia due to its cost savings and greater flexibility with legal issues compared to other models like employing full-time staff. Companies should weigh all available options carefully before making any commitments so as to ensure that they make the best decision for their business objectives.

Colombian Tech Workforce: Key Skillsets, Facts and Trends

Everything you need to know about building a high performing offshore development team in Colombia.

Independent Contractor Model

When looking to take advantage of dedicated development team services for offshoring, the Independent Contractor Model is a popular choice in Colombia. This model allows for quick onboarding and dedicated access to highly skilled talent at an attractive rate.

The Independent Contractor Model is advantageous as it allows employers to have more control over the legal issues associated with offshoring, such as labor laws, taxes, and intellectual property. Employers can choose to engage in short-term contracts that allow them to scale up and down their dedicated development teams quickly, depending on needs. Additionally, employers are not responsible for any additional costs or liabilities related to the employee’s work environment or social security.

The benefits of working with dedicated Colombian developers under this model include access to a global network of highly specialized experts who can bring expertise in various sectors, such as software engineering and data science. Furthermore, dedicated developers provide cost savings due to lower overhead costs than working with third-party providers. Companies also benefit from the independence of dedicated development teams since they don’t need to manage multiple vendors or worry about overlapping responsibilities across multiple roles. 

Overall, the Independent Contractor Model provides an ideal solution for companies looking for dedicated offshore development teams in Colombia due to its cost savings and greater flexibility with legal issues compared to other models like employing full-time staff. Companies should weigh all available options carefully before making any commitments so as to ensure that they make the best decision for their business objectives. 

Under Colombian law, the following criteria are necessary for establishing a relationship with an independent contractor:

1. No direct subordination.

The employer is allowed to examine the work done by the independent contractor, but cannot interfere in the execution of the individual tasks. Establishing a written agreement about the scope of services can help to avoid complications regarding work fulfillment. Companies may not demand any work or product related specifications outside the scope of the contract. 

2. No fixed workplace or fixed hours.

Colombia’s labor laws allow for a certain level of control over the working time of an independent contractor.   However, if you define fixed working hours or a set lunch time, your contract will appear more like a normal employer-employee relationship than an independent contractor.

3. No fixed salary.

Paying independent contractors hourly has gained popularity in Colombia because of the large number of software developers working remotely. Since there are no fixed salaries for an independent contractor, payments should be based on invoices submitted by the contractor. Both parties must also pay the taxes for the independent contractor relationship. In this model, clients are able to maintain a long-term working relationship with contractors, reimburse them for business expenses and not trigger employment status concerns according to Colombian law.

Colombian law provides many legal protections to workers in Colombia, including to individuals who work directly with a foreign company. The Pension and Social Securities Unit Colombia is extremely strict regarding foreign companies’ payroll obligations.  So be sure to take worker’s classification matters seriously. In addition to facing legal and financial consequences, you could also get sued by your misclassified contractors. As contractors can submit a complaint before the local Ministry of Labor requesting payment of unpaid salary and social security obligations.

Benefits of Independent Contractor Model

Cost savings

Independent contractors in Colombia typically charge lower rates than full-time employees, which can help companies save on labor costs. Companies also don’t have to worry about providing benefits or paying taxes for independent contractors, further reducing costs.


The independent contractor model allows companies to hire developers on a project-by-project basis, giving them more flexibility to scale their workforce up or down as needed. This can be especially useful for startups or small businesses that may not have a consistent workload.

Access to top talent

By working with independent contractors, companies can tap into a larger pool of talent and find developers with specific skills and expertise that may be difficult to find locally.

Reduced administrative burden

Independent contractors are responsible for their own taxes and benefits, which means that companies don’t have to worry about managing payroll or other administrative tasks.

Faster time-to-hire

Hiring an independent contractor is typically faster than hiring a full-time employee, as there is less paperwork and administrative overhead involved.

Overall, the independent contractor model can be a great option for companies looking to hire offshore developers in Colombia. It offers cost savings, flexibility, access to top talent, and reduced administrative burden, making it an attractive option for many businesses.

All About Taxes in Colombia

All persons or entities that do business in Colombia must pay income taxes; different entities are required to pay different amounts. A distinction is also made between the personal income tax and the corporate income tax. An independent worker operating in Colombia will have to choose between paying one of these taxes. If an independent worker operates as a company, he will be required to pay corporate tax. On the other hand, an independent worker who works as an individual entrepreneur or freelancer will have to pay personal income tax.

Unidad de Valor Tributario (UVT)

In 2006, the Colombian government established the tax unit called Unidad de Valor Tributario or UVT for short. As of 2021, this unit is equivalent to about 39,575 pesos for a single fiscal year. In Colombia, the fiscal year is the same as the calendar year. Taxes will be calculated on all income made in this period. Colombia also employs a progressive taxation system. This means that contractors’ taxes are calculated based on the income they earn in a year. In addition, Colombia has a tax exemption threshold of 1090 UVT (36,140,040 Colombian pesos = 7565 USD $) for independent workers. Anyone earning less than this will be tax exempt.

El Régimen Simple de Tributación (RST)

The Simple Taxation Regime (hereinafter RST) is a system for the payment of taxes that is declared annually and paid with bimonthly advances through the electronic systems of the DIAN and which can be accessed voluntarily by both individuals and legal entities that meet the requirements found in here: 

Natural persons who develop a company, including liberal professionals, or legal persons of a corporate nature, whose partners or shareholders are natural persons residing in Colombia.

  • That in the previous taxable year they had obtained gross income, ordinary or extraordinary, less than 100,000 UVT. In the case of new companies or legal entities, the registration in the unified tax under the simple tax regime - SIMPLE will be conditioned to the fact that the income for the year does not exceed these limits.
  • Tax Statute.
  • That they comply with national and local tax obligations.

Taxes: professional, consulting and scientific services in which the intellectual factor predominates over the material, including liberal profession services.

income tax colombia

Risks to Avoid With Independent Contractor Model

While this can be a cost-effective solution, there are some legal issues associated with offshoring to Colombia that must be taken into consideration before embarking on such an endeavor.

One of the primary legal risks associated with dedicated development teams in Colombia is the potential for misclassifying workers as independent contractors. Colombian labor laws require that any individual providing services via dedicated development teams must be classified as an employee, which carries certain rights and obligations for both employer and employee. Failure to properly classify dedicated developers as employees could result in legal penalties or other sanctions imposed by the Colombian government. That’s why it’s crucial to get professional legal assistance from advisors like we have at TurnKey.

Our advisors have mechanisms in place to ensure you mitigate risks when working with Independent Contractors. Additionally, when hiring through Turnkey, we remain solely responsible for all potential risks that are related to the performance of the contract. Thanks to our experience, we can anticipate legal pitfalls and eliminate possible risks when working with your offshore team.


Additionally, it is important to ensure that all independent contractors working on dedicated development teams have valid work permits and professional credentials prior to beginning work. This ensures that dedicated developers are qualified to provide the necessary services and protects employers from potential infringement issues or accusations of illegal labor practices.

Finally, dedicated developers may not always have access to the same legal protections afforded to standard employees under Colombian law due to limited job security or other contractual restrictions. Ultimately, it is essential that employers carefully review all laws and regulations pertaining to offshoring teams before entering into any agreements or contracts with dedicated professionals in Colombia.  By properly understanding and following legal guidelines with the help of TurnKey, a dedicated development team can be a cost-effective, efficient way to accomplish software development initiatives.

Transfer of Intellectual Property Rights

If you are working with an independent contractor model in Colombia, the law stipulates that you will not be able to transfer any IP rights directly from the contractor to your company. This means that any intellectual property created by the independent contractor during their contracted services will remain the contractor’s property and will not be available for use or further development by your organization.


However, if you choose to enter a partnership with a Colombian dedicated development team provider like Turnkey, then IP rights can be transferred from them to your business, allowing for appropriate ownership and control over those assets. In this case, it is important to have clear contractual agreements in place outlining how IP rights will be managed throughout the duration of the cooperation and beyond. The contract should specify which party owns what rights, when they are granted, and how they can be used after completion of the contract. Additionally, any joint copyright or patent applications should also be included in these agreements.


Turnkey agreements always include IP assignment clauses drafted by a team of professionals to ensure all relevant IP rights will be duly handed to the Client with no additional steps. IP rights are transferred to TurnKey and TurnKey safely and conveniently transfers the rights to the Client.

Overall, if you are considering offshoring software development services to Colombia, it is essential that you understand all relevant legal issues relating to IP rights before making a decision. By having clear contracts in place outlining who holds what IP rights and when they can be transferred or exploited, both parties can ensure their respective interests are protected throughout the life of their partnership.

How TurnKey Can Help You Overcome Any Legal Issues When Hiring in Colombia

turnkey legal

The TurnKey team can help companies looking to hire offshore developers in Colombia overcome any legal issues by providing the following services:

  • Legal Advisory Services: The team provides legal guidance and advice on employment laws, labor regulations and tax requirements, helping employers comply with local and international labor regulations.
  • Contract Drafting & Negotiation: The TurnKey team is experienced in drafting contracts that ensure both parties involved are adequately protected, as well as helping to negotiate terms that are mutually beneficial.
  • Research & Due Diligence: The TurnKey team can provide comprehensive research on potential candidates, performing due diligence checks to evaluate their background, qualifications and experience before making an offer.
  • Onboarding Support: Upon hiring offshore developers in Colombia, our team offers expert assistance throughout the onboarding process, from creating payroll records and tracking employees’ progress to ensure all administrative paperwork is up-to-date.

Overall, the TurnKey team is well-equipped to handle all legal aspects related to the hiring of offshore developers in Colombia.  Enabling companies to focus more time on managing their team without worrying about compliance or other associated risks.

If outstaffing your software development to colombia sounds like too much hassle, give turnkey a call. We specialize in hiring the best and brightest offshore software developers.

Why does a US company consider hiring offshore talent from Colombia?

A US company may consider hiring offshore talent from Colombia due to lower labor costs, a large pool of skilled workers, and favorable time zone differences.

Can the US do business with Colombia?

Yes, the US can do business with Colombia. Colombia has a growing and competitive software development industry, with a skilled workforce and favorable labor costs, making it an attractive offshoring destination for US companies seeking software development services or talent. Many US companies have already established partnerships with Colombian software development firms to leverage their technology expertise and talent.

What is the legal framework in Colombia?

The legal framework in Colombia is based on a civil law system, with the Colombian Constitution being the supreme law of the land. The Colombian legal system is governed by the judiciary, which includes the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, and Council of State. Colombia also has a Legislative branch composed of the Senate and the Chamber of Representatives, which are responsible for creating legislation. Additionally, Colombia has an Executive branch headed by the President, who serves as both the head of state and the head of government. The country is divided into departments, municipalities, and districts, with each having its own jurisdiction and administration.

March 27, 2023

TurnKey Staffing provides information for general guidance only and does not offer legal, tax, or accounting advice. We encourage you to consult with professional advisors before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business or legal rights.

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