“Kathleen, I’m planning a trip to Ecuador soon. If I were to stay in Cuenca for three to six weeks, would I need any type of visa?”
–Nancy M., United States, Overseas Retirement Circle Member
Ecuador will give you a visa good for up to 90 days when you enter the country, but you have to tell them you’ll be staying that long. Generally, immigration in this country grants you entry into the country for just a little longer than however long you say you’re planning on staying (again, up to 90 days maximum). For example, if you say you’re staying for a week, they might stamp a visa for 14 days in your passport.
An attorney in Ireland once told us a story (this was years ago but probably still valid) about how he had traveled to the Galapagos with his wife and daughter. The daughter was older than 18, so she went through immigration on her own. The immigration officer asked her how long she would be in Ecuador. She said three days, thinking that the Galapagos was another country. The immigration officer gave her a visa for three days.
When the girl mentioned this to her father (before they were away from the immigration area), he sent his daughter back to tell the guy she had misspoken. The immigration officer told her it would be okay. It wasn’t. When they went to leave the country, immigration told the girl she had overstayed her visa and had to pay a fine.
When arriving in Ecuador, I recommend telling immigration that you intend to stay longer than you do, just in case of any emergency or change of plan.
Ecuador isn’t the only country where immigration operates this way. Many countries automatically grant you the maximum allowable days when you enter–30 days in Belize or 180 days in Panama, for example. But not all. Some countries, including Ecuador, indicate some other, fewer number of days based on how long you say you’ll be in the country.
Continue Reading: Going Local Versus Retiring To An Expat Community Overseas