“Kathleen, some time ago a friend introduced me to one of your mails in which you said it was possible, when a tourist visa expired, to cross the border for about a week and then return to the country and renew it. I’m thinking of Ecuador. Is this still possible?”
–Marc G., United States
Yes, this is still possible but not as common or as easy as it once was. Border runs used to be the norm for expats from Panama to Thailand. Today, in most countries where you might be thinking about hanging around beyond the term of a tourist visa, immigration authorities are more serious and more sophisticated and fees and penalties for overstaying a tourist visa are harsher.
Border running in the traditional sense is done on the ground; you travel by bus, say, across a ground border. Ecuador has but two borders—Colombia to the north and Peru to the south. I wouldn’t recommend crossing from Ecuador to Colombia as the regions of those two countries on either side of that border aren’t generally safe for the typical traveler. That leaves Peru, which could be possible but a hassle.
Also, Ecuador limits not only the number of consecutive days you can spend in the country as a tourist but also the total number of days you can stay in the country as a tourist in any given year.
Better to invest in legal residency. It’s certainly easier but also cheaper in the long run.
Continue Reading: Choosing A Jurisdiction For Backup Residency Overseas