Ecuador Visa and Residency Information

Residency In Ecuador

Entering Ecuador

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.

Residency Visas

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.

Temporary Residency (Residencia Temporal)

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:

  • Trabajador (workers)
  • Rentista (those with income from abroad or from Ecuadorian sources)
  • Jubilados (retirees with a pension)
  • Investionistas (investors)
  • Amparado (for dependents of other visa-holders)

The general requirements for temporary resident visas (regardless of which kind you’re asking for) include:

  • Passport: You must have a passport from your home country that won’t expire for at least six months.
  • Movimiento Migratorio: This is a record of your movements in and out of Ecuador (movimiento migratorio), available from the immigration office.
  • Background Check: Ecuador requires a background check from your country of origin, or the country where you have lived for the past five years.

In addition to the three general requirements above, here are the requirements that are specific to each type of visa…

Trabajador (work visa):

  • A document that proves the economic solvency of your employer.
  • An employment contract.
  • In the case of entrepreneurs, you must show the means to support yourself (and your family) in the near term.
  • If you’re working for the government or a public institution, you must also show the authorization from the entity you’ll be working for.

Rentista (those with income from abroad, or from Ecuadorian sources):

  • Proof of legal income, sufficient to support you and your family. The law does not specify an amount. (The required amount prior to the new law was US$800 per month.)
  • An official document that shows how the foreign income is derived.

Jubilados (retirees with a pension):

  • Proof of legal income, sufficient to support you and your family. The law does not specify an amount. (The required amount prior to the new law was US$800 per month.)
  • An official document from the entity that is paying your pension.

Investionistas (Investors):

  • Proof of legal income, sufficient to support you and your family.
  • If you are qualifying with a bank deposit or other financial instrument, proof that you have deposited the required amount in an authorized Ecuadorian financial institution. The required investment is 70 times the minimum wage (US$27,020 for 2018).
  • If you are qualifying with a property, your property deed. The required investment is 80 times the minimum wage (US$30,880 for 2018).
  • If you have invested in an Ecuadorian company, proof of your investment. The required investment is 70 times the minimum wage (US$27,020 for 2018).
  • If you started a business, proof of your capital investment. The required investment is 70 times the minimum wage (US$27,020 for 2018).

Ecuador’s minimum wage is US$386 per month for 2018, and is increased each year in January.

Amparados (dependents):

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:

  • You can be the holder of a Temporary Resident Visa for at least 21 months;
  • You can be married or have a civil union with an Ecuadorian citizen;
  • You can be a disabled person who is dependent on an Ecuadorian citizen or permanent resident;
  • You can be related to an Ecuadorian citizen or permanent resident, by at least the second degree (i.e., you share a grandparent).

To apply for permanent residency, you’ll need to provide:

  • Passport: You must have a passport from your home country that won’t expire for at least six months.
  • Movimiento Migratorio: You’ll also need a record of your movements in and out of Ecuador (movimiento migratorio), from the immigration office.
  • Background Check: Ecuador requires a background check. If you’ve been in Ecuador on a temporary visa, you can get this from the local police station in Ecuador. For others, you’ll need a background check from your country of origin, or the country where you have lived for the past five years.
  • Income certification: You must show that you have continued means to support yourself and any dependents.

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.

Citizenship And An Ecuadorian Passport

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.

By Naturalization

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:

  • Residents who have resided in Ecuador for three years, or
  • Residents who are married or have a recognized permanent civil relationship with an Ecuadorian citizen, who have resided in Ecuador for two years.

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.

By Decent

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.

More Resources From Ecuador