After-sales service and customer support are decisive purchasing factors in Colombia. Government and private firms often request that their potential suppliers provide testimonials regarding client satisfaction with equipment and after-sales service.
“Warranty imports” are an important factor that supports after sales service in Colombia. Warranty imports that include replacement parts and components by a foreign manufacturer or supplier are exempted from Colombian import duties. Decree 2685 of December 28, 1999 is the new Colombian Customs Code that took effect on July 1, 2000. Per Section IV, Article 141 of this Code, all merchandise or goods that have been repaired abroad or new ones that will replace items previously exported because they were found to be damaged, imperfect, having malfunctions or with an unsuitable end-use, and are under warranty by a foreign manufacturer or supplier, may be imported into Colombia without the payment of import duties. This does not imply that used or remanufactured goods are permitted imports, however. The proposed U.S.-Colombia TPA has a specific chapter which would allow these imports.
All original import and re-export documentation should be kept and presented with replacement imports to clearly identify goods, together with a valid warranty document, transport documentation, etc. A warranty import process must be completed and import declaration documents presented within a maximum of one year from the date the items subject to repair or replacement were exported.
In some instances, Colombian Customs may authorize the import of replacement goods without the requirement of having previously exported the damaged goods or parts for replacement and/or repair. However, Customs will require a surety or warranty bond equivalent to 100 percent of custom duties paid, valid for one year from the date replacement goods are being imported. This would ensure that damaged goods would then be exported within the following month from the date replacement goods was re-imported.
Article 141 does not mention replacement parts - it refers to goods or products. However, the Customer Services Division of Colombian Customs has confirmed that this article covers all procedures for warranty imports including replacement parts and components. When processing damaged export parts and replacement import parts, the parts must be precisely identified, i.e. description of the items, their serial numbers, reference, etc.