So you finally did it. You made the move to Cali! Everything is going great: you made friends, found a great place to live, and have finally figured out how to get to all of your favorite spots. There’s only one problem: you feel like you spend your whole life waiting for the Mío to come.
The Mío, Cali’s bus system isn’t the worst thing to exist, but it’s not the most efficient either. On the plus side, you’re rarely packed in like a sardine, but you could wait 30 minutes for the bus. Or you could wait one minute. And you never know, so the result is you end up leaving really early and either just make it or are super early to your destination. If you don’t need to travel much then it’s not a problem. However, if you need to travel a lot it can really affect your quality of life.
So what’s the solution? Taking Uber or taxis everywhere is one option if you can afford it. Another option is to live closer to your job. Here we’re going to talk about a third (and fun!) option: getting a motorcycle or scooter.
Before moving to Colombia, and even while I was living in Bogotá, getting a motorcycle never crossed my mind. When I arrived to Cali I was amazed by the amount of motorcycles and enjoyed riding on the back of my friends’ bikes. Everything sort of fell into place and here I am 2 months later zooming through traffic (carefully, of course!) with my very own motorcycle.
It’s incredibly easy to get a motorcycle license in Cali…like too easy. Whether that’s good or bad I’ll let you be the judge. All I know is I took some questionably easy medical tests and 15 days later I had a license. Here’s a step-by-step guide to how to get your motorcycle license:
- Make sure you have a legit form of Colombian identification. If you have a cedula extranjeria then you can get a license. If you don’t, you can’t…or not a legal one anyways.
2. Go to El Tránsito Municipal and find a school. There are other schools around the city, but most of them are near the transit office. It makes it a lot easier when you have to go back and forth and it makes it easy to compare prices between different schools. They’ll offer you a class, but the class isn’t required to get the license. It’s about $400.000 cop (about $130) more. I opted to take the class since I didn’t know how to drive a motorcycle. The practice helped a little, but they only let you drive back and forth on an abandoned road. If you have a friend who can teach you it’ll be much more helpful and you’ll save a good amount of money.
3. Take the required medical tests, fill out the necessary paperwork, and pay the fees. You’ll have to take about five different medical tests. It’s easy but it takes some time. The paperwork is very minimal and the fees will vary depending on the school so ask around. In total it should be around $200.000 cop (about $70) for the license and the medical tests.
4. Wait 15 days. The school will give you a certificate and then you can go to El Transito Municipal, fill out a few forms, and voila! You have your license.
Yes, it’s really that easy.
Important things to remember:
Be suspicious of anyone offering you a license for a cheaper price than normal. It’s probably fake.
Make sure all of your documents for you motorcycle are up-to-date. The documents you need are your license, a SOAT (which is the insurance for the vehicle), the certificate showing that the motorcycle has been inspected, and the registration (which comes in the form of a plastic card and is called the tarjeta de propiedad). Documents (except the registration) are generally good for one year.
Beware of fotomultas. Some traffic lights in Cali have cameras that automatically fine you for speeding, running red lights, and stopping past the white line.
Drive defensively and with caution. Traffic in Cali can be a little hectic so always make sure you know what’s going on around you.
Buy some rain gear for rainy season.