Other than for random, one-off real estate investment opportunities, Ecuador has never been high on my list of top offshore destinations.
This country is top budget lifestyle choice, no question… but it’s never been a place to think about planting an offshore flag… with one important and notable exception.
Obtaining Ecuadorean citizenship is surprisingly easy… as long as you can meet the residency requirement, which, again, is about as straightforward as it gets.
Ecuador offers several residency options, including one for pensioners and another for investors.
Qualifying For Residency In Ecuador As A Pensioner
To qualify as a pensioner (that is, for the pensionado visa), all you need to do is prove a minimum monthly income of US$400. That’s the lowest minimum income requirement offered by any country in the world… making Ecuador the most affordable place in the world to establish residency.
All you need is proof of the US$400 per month income… plus a clean police report, copies of your passport, two photos, a birth certificate, and, if relevant, a marriage certificate… and you’re set.
Qualifying For Residency In Ecuador As An Investor
The financial requirement to qualify for residency as an investor is similarly appealingly low. You need to invest only US$40,000 in a two-year CD at an Ecuadorian financial institution or in real estate in the country.
The investment (in a CD or real estate) must be maintained for as long as you hold your temporary residency permit. This means that, if you invest in real estate, you can’t sell the property without disrupting your residency status.
Other Ways Of Qualifying For Residency In Ecuador
If you’re not certain you want to own real estate in Ecuador indefinitely and aren’t ready to park a large sum in a CD in an Ecuador bank, you can apply for permanent residency after 21 months of temporary residency.
While Ecuador has eliminated in-country time requirements for temporary residency permits, they still place restrictions on how long a permanent resident can be out of the country.
Specifically, during your first two years as a permanent resident in Ecuador, you can’t be out of the country for more than 180 days during either of those years.
Once you’ve been a permanent resident for three years, you’re eligible for naturalization.
Like the financial requirements to qualify for residency, this one for citizenship is very competitive. Most countries require five years of legal or permanent residency, depending on the country, before you’re able to apply to become a citizen.
The even better news is that you can expect to be approved for citizenship in less than a year… and without taking a test. Most countries require, at a minimum, that you pass an exam on the country’s history, geography, politics, etc., in the local language.
Again, that’s not the case in Ecuador.
As a travel document, an Ecuadorean passport isn’t a top choice. With your Ecuadorean passport, you’d be able to travel to fewer than 90 countries visa-free, including most of Latin America, some of Africa and Asia, and only a couple of countries in Europe.
However, Ecuador allows dual citizenship for citizens of many countries, including the United States and Canada.
You could use your Ecuadorean passport when traveling in Latin America and your current passport when traveling to Europe.
Editor, Offshore Living Letter