An Ecuador visa will be issued on arrival for citizens of the United States, Canada, and much of Europe. This tourist visa is 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. Get this, in advance of your trip, it’s valid for up to one year. You can apply for such a visa once every five years.
The Ecuadorian residency process follows two steps.
First you need to hold a temporary resident visa. Once you have this you can apply for a permanent residency visa.
The application for residency needs to be in Ecuador. You must head to your local immigration office. If you are not fluent in Spanish, bring someone who is. You can no longer apply for residency in your home country.
Documents such as police check certificate, need to be authenticated. 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. Don’t attempt to go it alone. Timing is critical and you must pay strict adherence to the rules.
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. You may renew this only once.
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 2020, the fine would be US$1,200.
Ecuador charges a non-refundable, US$50 application fee for each applicant. In addition, a visa fee of US$400 is due on receiving the visa. 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…
Ecuador’s minimum wage is US$405 per month for 2020. It is likely to increase to US$415 in 2021.
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 cover any dependents.
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 must make residency visa applications at an immigration office within Ecuador. You can no longer visit a local 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 2020—at a minimum wage of US$400 per month—the fine would be US$1,600.
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. If not, they must opt in to Ecuador’s social security system (ISSS) within 30 days after granting of their visa. You will not receive 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.
Although permanent residents may vote and run for office, only citizens can import a vehicle duty-free. This counts towards 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$400 for 2020, the maximum value of the vehicle would be US$24,000. 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.) and pass an interview. During the interview you will need to state motives for becoming a citizen. You will also need to provide proof of income. If you cannot complete the interview speaking Spanish you are almost certain to fail.
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 have a clean criminal record.
Ecuador recognizes both jus soli and jus sanguinis without limitation. Children born in Ecuador can claim citizenship without exception, as can those born abroad to at least one Ecuadorian parent.
In fact, you can be eligible for citizenship up to the third degree of consanguinity. This means if you’ve got an Ecuadorian grandparent, you are eligible to claim citizenship.
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