INFO: Border Crossing – Venezuela – Maicao, Colombia


Route Maracaibo, Venezuela – Quebrada Valencia, Colombia (6,90)
Distance 345 Km
Travel Time 11 hours (4 hours at border)
Road Conditions Good tarmac, bad near border (VEN)
Weather Hot, clear
Terrain Flat, coastal
Food and Petrol Maracaibo, Maicao
Accommodation Camping, Quebrada Valencia

Towing a vehicle with a tree branch – Venezuela-Colombia border…

A good asphalt road takes you out of Maracaibo, past some sea-level beach-land and then through some dry savannah type region to the border between Venezuela and the Colombian town of Maicao. The last few kilometres before the border are pretty bad though.


Around the border there are plenty of chaps ready to exchange your currency. Also there are some guys offering to help you smooth out your migration process by showing you the way to the various border offices. Not really necessary.

The migration police and customs offices are almost all right there at the border crossing, EXCEPT the Venezuelan customs (SENIAT) office, which is about 7Km before the crossing itself. (We missed this so we had to take a drive back there to go the exit paperwork.)

The exit stamp and customs exit procedure for Venezuela was quick and easy.


Colombian entry stamp (90 days) equally easy but the customs office (DIAN) was closed for lunch between 12:00 and 14:00. This meant a long wait under a tree in front of the office.

But this gave us time to arrange other necessities:

1. Colombian DIAN requires a carbon copy of your chassis number, which a guy there will happily do for a small fee. (he uses CC-paper, CD-wallets and sticky tape to do it – very interesting!)


2. You need SOAT insurance in Colombia, so we checked out what’s on offer. At the border there is a little office which sells SOAT. They wanted 130000COP for 3 months. (We didn’t buy, thinking it would be cheaper elsewhere, but had to work hard to find it later… see below!)

At Maicao you will find people selling probably the last bit of cheap fuel you’ll be getting for the rest of your trip. As I recall it they wanted 20000COP for 10 litres, they sell it from large plastic jerricans.


SOAT INSURANCE: We eventually found a SOAT insurance in Barranquilla, but we had to do a lot of riding around to find it. Many supermarkets and petrol stations sell it, but only for a yearly contract. You have to go directly to a main office of one of the big insurers to get a shorter term – we got it at Seguros del Estado and the cost was about 60000COP for 2 months (about 17USD/month). Oh, and fantastic friendly service from the lady there, thank you! As I recall she even served us “out of hours” (for some reason these companies generally deal with moto insurance before 11:00 so try to get there early.)

Here are some addresses for insurance offices:
Seguros del Estado – Carrera 58 / Calle 70 – 136 (We got it here! Easy and excellent service!)
La Previsora – Carrera 50 / Calle 79 – 30


The general advice is to cross and get away (about 100Km away) from the border region as quickly as possible because it’s “not safe”. You may therefore choose to get your insurance in Barranquilla as well – check out the office at the border and make up your own mind whether it looks legit or not, I don’t know. There are several military checkpoints on the way but they were in our cases always friendly and waved us on. I wouldn’t be too optimistic on finding the short term SOAT in Santa Marta though (?).

There are Colombia Road Map and Tourist Destinations Guides available at many of the Peaje (Toll) offices on the highways, for around 15000COP. For us this turned out to be probably our best buy in Colombia. It’s excellently laid out, packed with information about the various places you can visit and what awaits you there, also there are plenty of detailed road maps showing break-downs of distances and altitude profiles and so on. Better still, some of these can be extracted for ease of use.
GET ONE, and be sure to pass it on to another friendly road traveller when you leave the country!