Upon arrival in Ecuador, citizens of the United States, Canada, and much of Europe will be issued an automatic tourist visa, typically valid for 90 days. Check the stamp to make sure you know how many days they gave you.
You can extend your 90-day stay one time, for an additional 90 days.
If you want to stay longer than 180 days as a tourist, you can get a special tourist visa at the consulate, in advance of your trip, for up to one year. You can apply for such a visa once every five years.
The Ecuadorian residency process generally requires that you hold a temporary resident visa followed by a permanent residency visa.
You apply for Ecuadorian residency at a local immigration office in Ecuador; the process is no longer done at a consulate in your home country.
All documents which are issued outside of Ecuador must be authenticated by the country of origin. Depending on the country of origin, you’ll use either the apostille process or consular legalization.
Any document that is not in Spanish must be translated into Spanish. The translator must certify the translation as correct, and their signature must be verified by a notary.
One big advantage of residency in Ecuador is that you can import your household effects, duty-free. Your attorney will guide you through this process, where timing is critical and strict adherence to the rules is required.
Note that the importation of household effects for expats is not specifically addressed under the new immigration law or the new regulations (except for returning Ecuadorians) published in August 2017. Permission to import household effects is granted by the customs law, rather than the immigration law.
The Temporary Resident Visa allows you to stay in Ecuador for up to two years and can be renewed one time only.
On a Temporary Resident Visa, you may be absent from Ecuador no more than a cumulative total of 90 days per year. They will forgive one violation of this rule, provided you pay a fine of three times Ecuador’s minimum wage. For 2018, the fine would be US$1,158.
Ecuador charges a non-refundable, US$50 application fee for each applicant. In addition, a visa fee of US$400 is due when the visa is granted. The only exception to the US$400 fee is the dependent visa (amparado) which is US$200.
There are 13 types of Temporary Resident Visas; the most commonly used by expats are these:
The general requirements for temporary resident visas (regardless of which kind you’re asking for) include:
In addition to the three general requirements above, here are the requirements that are specific to each type of visa…
Trabajador (work visa):
Rentista (those with income from abroad, or from Ecuadorian sources):
Jubilados (retirees with a pension):
Ecuador’s minimum wage is US$386 per month for 2018, and is increased each year in January.
For this visa, a dependent must prove their relationship to the primary visa-holder. The primary visa-holder’s required income must be sufficient to add the number of dependents who also want to come in under that same visa. For example, if the primary visa holder may be required to have an income of US$800 per month plus an additional US$100 for each dependent.
Permanent Residency (Residencia Permanente)
To be eligible for permanent residency, most people will need to have been temporary residents… but not everyone.
To qualify, you need to meet only one of the following four requirements:
To apply for permanent residency, you’ll need to provide:
Residency visa applications are made at an immigration office within Ecuador rather than at a consulate. There are offices all over the country.
You may not be absent from Ecuador for more than 180 days per year, for each of the first two years. They will forgive one violation of this rule, provided you pay a fine set at four times the Ecuadorian minimum wage. For 2018—at a minimum wage of US$386 per month—the fine would be US$1,544.
After the first two years, you may be absent for up to five years without losing your residency.
Again, all documents which are issued outside of Ecuador must be authenticated by the country of origin. Depending on the country of origin, you’ll use either the apostille process or consular legalization. Any document that is not in Spanish must be translated into Spanish. The translator must certify the translation as correct, and their signature must be verified by a notary.
Permanent residents must have private health insurance, or they must opt in to Ecuador’s social security system (ISSS) within 30 days after granting of their visa. They will not issue the order for your cédula (national ID card) until you’ve presented evidence of health insurance.
As with the temporary visas, you’ll pay a non-refundable, US$50 application fee for each applicant. In addition, a visa fee is US$500 for holders of temporary visas. Those who qualified based on marriage, civil union, or parentage will pay US$200. Special deals also exist for citizens of Venezuela and Mercosur countries.
Anyone who has resided in Ecuador for more than five years will have the right to vote, and they may also hold public office.
Ecuador recognizes dual citizenship.
Although permanent residents are allowed to vote and run for office, only citizens are allowed to import a vehicle duty-free as part of their household effects. The law allows for importation of cars up to five years old, which are valued at less than 60 times the minimum wage. At US$386 for 2018, the maximum value of the vehicle would be US$23,160. Ecuador’s customs laws grant a special exemption for vehicles of the handicapped, of any nationality.
Ecuador has one of the quickest citizenship programs we know of. You can become a citizen after only two or three years of continued residency.
Citizenship is granted in Ecuador by means of a naturalization letter (Carta de Naturalización). For expats, the naturalization letter is generally granted for two categories:
In order to qualify, you’ll need to be able to recognize Ecuador’s patriotic symbols (flag, seal, etc.); pass an interview, during which you’ll have to describe your motives for wanting to become a citizen; and show how you’re going to support yourself in Ecuador. While there is no requirement in the law that the applicant speak Spanish, you’ll probably fail the interview if you speak no Spanish at all.
You must not have been absent from Ecuador for more than 180 days per year for each of your first three years of permanent residency. (This restriction does not apply if you are qualifying by having an Ecuadorian family member or by marrying an Ecuadorian citizen.) You must also not have been sentenced with any crime or served jail time in Ecuador.
Ecuador recognizes both jus soli and jus sanguinis without limitation, so children born in Ecuador can claim citizenship without exception, as can those born abroad to at least one Ecuadorian parent. In fact, citizenship can be claimed up to the third degree of consanguinity, meaning if you’ve got at least one Ecuadorian grandparent, you are eligible to claim citizenship.