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Ecuador Visa and Residency: Everything You Need to Know about the Many Options Available

Ecuador visa

Ecuador visa

There are many attractive features that make Ecuador an excellent destination for expats of all demographics.  One of the biggest advantages of relocating to Ecuador is its relative ease of obtaining an Ecuador visa.

Whether you’re a recent college graduate who wants to spend a few months abroad before entering the workforce, a young entrepreneur who wants to invest in tourism or real estate, or a retiree with guaranteed income from a pension or annuity, Ecuador has a visa suited to your particular situation.

Compared to a lot of Latin American countries, an Ecuador visa has lower income requirements.  The process itself also generally costs less (between $500-$1000), due in part to the fact that the quick turnaround time (two to four months) cuts down considerably on attorney fees should you decide to hire one.

An immigration lawyer is something you might want to consider, unless you’re only seeking a temporary visa.  Their help can be invaluable in sorting through the stipulations and requirements, obtaining and certifying the necessary paperwork, and dealing with the immigration officials who can often up and change the rules on a whim.

If your stay in Ecuador will be a short one, you can probably figure things out on your own.  This detailed guide will give you a great start, but you’ll still want to double-check everything with the Ecuadorian embassy or consulate in your home country before starting the process.

Ecuador Visas for Tourists

Under 90 Days (12-X Visa)

We should first note that, if you hail from the U.S., Canada, or most European countries, you don’t need to apply for a visa of any kind in order to visit Ecuador as a tourist.  All you need is a valid passport (good for the next 6 months), proof of your planned departure from the country (via air, land, or sea), and evidence of your financial solvency (like a bank statement).

As long as your total time in the country won’t exceed 90 days in any calendar year and you don’t plan to draw income from an Ecuadorian source, then you can get by as a tourist on merely your T-3 tourist stamp in your passport.

90-180 Days (12-IX Visa)

If you need to stay longer than 90 days you can apply for a 12-IX visa, which is good for an additional 90 days (for a total of 180), but only once in a calendar year. Common reasons for such a stay, besides tourism, include studying abroad, conducting research, participating in international sports, or even traveling for business (just not for an Ecuadorian entity).

You’ll still need to prove that you have sufficient funds to support yourself while in the country.  You can also provide a letter from any sponsor who might be providing you with support.  The cost for this visa is $50.

Ecuador visa photo by Roubicek

Roubicek

Ecuador Visas for Non-Immigrants

Also known as non-resident, these visas remain in force for a specified amount of time, usually a year or two, but can be renewed as long as your status is unchanged. You’ll just need to show up again with all the required paperwork and fees you provided the first time around.

Below are some common types of non-immigrant visas:

  • Student (12-V Visa) – Those studying abroad in Ecuador need only provide proof of their registration in an Ecuadorian educational institution, as well as proof of solvency.  Acceptable forms include a statement from a relative who’s supporting the student, proof of a domestic bank deposit to cover the student’s financial needs, and several others.  This visa costs $50 and must be renewed annually.
  • Work (12-VI Visa) – If you’re traveling to Ecuador for business, government, or other professional reasons, you’ll need documentation from your company, government, or other agency to verify your need to be there, as well as their financial support.  You’ll also need a labor contract certified by the Ecuadorian Labor Court, a work permit from the Ministry of Labor, and possibly a certificate from the Superintendency of Companies.  There’s also a $50 fee for this visa, and the length of its validity is dependent on your work requirement.
  • Volunteer/Missionary (12-VII Visa) – When traveling to Ecuador with a religious or volunteer organization, you’ll need a certificate from them stating why you’re there and describing what you’ll be doing.  You’ll also need copies of the decree showing the organization has been authorized to work in Ecuador, the rules of the organization, and the document showing who legally represents the organization in Ecuador.  This visa is free and good for two years.
  • Cultural Exchange (12-VIII Visa) – Foreign students and teachers are permitted a one-year stay in Ecuador and need only provide a copy of the application they submitted to the institution sponsoring their visit, as well as a copy of the organization’s agreement explaining their exchange program.  Teachers must also sign a statement to verify they won’t receive pay from an Ecuadorian source for their work abroad.  There is no charge for this visa.

Ecuador Visas for Immigrants

Unlike non-immigrant status, immigrant (or resident) visas are issued for an indefinite period of time (as long as you continue to meet the requirements for the specific visa).  They also allow their bearers to seek employment in Ecuador, unlike their non-resident counterparts.

Examples of immigrant visas are as follows:

  • Pensioner (9-I Visa) – This visa option is available to people of any age who can prove income from a guaranteed source (like a pension or annuity) that equals at least $800 per month.  Another income option is a cash deposit in an Ecuadorian bank that generates the required amount of monthly cash flow.  Dependents are also eligible, but require an additional $100 each.
  • Real Estate Investment (9-II Visa) – Foreigners can qualify for this visa by either purchasing property valued at $25,000 or more or by purchasing a certificate of deposit in an Ecuadorian bank for the same amount (plus $500 for each dependent) for at least a one-year fixed term.
  • Industry Investment (9-III Visa) – Another investment option is to pour in at least $30,000 to an Ecuadorian enterprise, such as industry, agriculture, livestock, minerals, and more.
  • Professional/Technical (9-IV and 10-V Visa) – These visas are offered to company representatives or technical experts who are working under contract for a company based in Ecuador (10-IV) and professionals with college degrees who wish to work in Ecuador (9-V).  Applicants for the latter must have a degree that’s recognized by a local university and must also fulfill all other requirements for practicing their profession (i.e. exams and licensing).
  • Economic Dependence (9-VI Visa) – This Ecuador visa is granted to family members of applicants receiving the above visas, as well as dependent spouses of current citizens or those whose child is an Ecuadorian citizen.
Ecuador visa photo by Rinaldo W.

Rinaldo W.

General Ecuador Visa Requirements

In addition to the specific documents needed for the individual visas mentioned, the following Ecuador visa requirements may also be requested:

  • Passport valid for more than 6 months into the future
  • Police certificate from the applicant’s state of residency, detailing their criminal record
  • Medical certificate to verify the applicant’s good health
  • Two photographs
  • Visa application form
  • HIV test

Some Important Restrictions

While it’s relatively easy to obtain and maintain an Ecuador visa, the country does have a few quirky little nuances that you need to be aware of.

  1. If you overstay your 90-day tourist stamp on your passport, don’t think you’ll be able to just scoot right out of the country without anyone noticing. Instead, you’ll need to visit an immigration office to receive a stamp called a “salida” before you’ll be permitted to leave.
  2. While immigrant visas are issued indefinitely, you can lose them if you stop meeting the required criteria or if you fail to comply with one of the next requirements discussed.
  3. After being granted residency, you can’t be out of the country for more than 90 days (total) per year for the first two years.  The 90 days apply separately to each year and can’t be carried over.
  4. After your initial two years as a resident, you can’t stay out of the country for more than 18 months at a time without losing your resident status.
  5. If your visa depends on a deposit made in a local bank, you can lose your residency if you withdraw it.  The same applies if you sell the real estate you used to qualify, so any proceeds will need to be immediately reinvested.
  6. While some of these violations might not be immediately obvious, these Ecuador visa requirements are all reviewed when you go to renew your cedula (your Ecuadorian ID card).  So, while you may not be immediately ejected from the country for a violation, you will still be found out eventually.

Disclaimer

It’s true that the Ecuador visa requirements and application process are relatively straightforward and hassle-free.  However, we still don’t advise you go it alone, particularly when it comes to finding qualified investments or conducting other real estate or business transactions.

The services of a qualified attorney can make this already simple process even easier.  They can also save you a lot of time, money, and headaches.  Just make sure you choose someone who has plenty of experience with immigration issues, yours in particular.  

Check out local expat forums or blogs for recommendations on professionals who can help you.  And hop on over to our other Ecuador articles to learn more about the exciting things that await you once you arrive.

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34 thoughts on “Ecuador Visa and Residency: Everything You Need to Know about the Many Options Available

  1. Bernard Longman
    1

    We have booked a six month holiday in Ecuador, three months in Salinas and three months in San Clamente. We have just realised our first three months is 93 days and our second three months is 89 days (total 182 days) making us 2 days over the 190 days allowed. What can we do about this situation. We are a married couple of Pensioners. Thank you.
    Bernard and Diane.

    • 2

      Bernard and Diane, first, congrats for taking such a good, long look at Ecuador..How did you like Salinas? Check here for more info on extending your visas’ in Ecuador and any fines or frees which you might occur by over staying those 2 days. Check back and let us know how your trip went!

  2. 3

    Kudos to the viva team for a great job! I just got an approval for my visa but it is a 12-X tourist visa to Ecuador. Is it possible for me to apply for Residence Visa while in Ecuador on this 12-X visa? I plan to apply for Residence Visa but need this information of the possibililty while on 12-X Visa. You may also mosy kindly send your reply to my email address. Thank you very much!!

    • 4

      Hey Daniel, thanks for reading Viva Tropical and thanks for your approval! You asked if it was possible to apply for your residency visa while under a 12-X visa in Ecuador. Well, the good news is that your Resident visa can be obtained while in Ecuador on a tourist visa. The requirements to obtain a visa to live as a resident of Ecuador can be done by an attorney or an individual familiar with the required documents and process. The key is to have and/or bring the correct documents notarized and apostilled from the state/country you presently reside. Check out more info here..check back let us know how it goes!

  3. 5

    Hello, I would like to take permanent residence of Ecuador through their investment policy of $ 25,000. But since I am outside Ecuador, can I apply through their embassies or not. Or do I have to travel to Ecuador to make this kind of investment personally? Please guide.

  4. 6

    The missionary.volunteer visa has certainly never been free over the last seven years, and the volunteer visa only lasts one year, not two. The visa costs $150 plus $30 application fee. It requires a trip to Washington DC then 3 days sitting in that office in Quito, every year. Unless you have some information newer than January 2014? I sure hope so.

  5. 7

    HI Viva Team.. I just want to ask some questions? We are planning to take the t-3 in entering Ecuador, If I am already in Ecuador then I wanted to take the resident visa, is it possible?

  6. 8

    Hello,
    I am planning to go to ecuador with my wife. I will get visa to stay there for 6 months. But my wife will get on arrival visa to stay with me for 3 months. How can she will stay with me more 90 days after her first 90 days will expire. Is that on arrival visa can be extended? Or can she apply there for a new visa to stay there more 90 days after her first 90 days will over for on arrival visa. Or she needs to apply for dependent visa. What are documents required to apply for dependent visa.
    Please help me for this matter.

    Thanks,
    abhishek.

  7. 9

    Could anyone comment on how I would have my New York engineering bachelor’s degree validated in Ecuador? I am interested of a potential career move.

    Thanks

  8. Daniel Duggin
    10

    So, I’m trying to clarify….If my friend deposits $25,000 in an Ecuadorian state bank, she will qualify for a resident (pensioner) visa? Can she withdraw interest? I understand that a CD in Ecuador earns about 6.5%. Is that about right? What about the principle? Can she touch the principle? I get $1306 a month from Social Security, so I would qualify, right?

    • 11

      Hi Daniel! Thanks for asking. Here is the direct link to the Ecuadorian immigrant visa application site. It has the most up-to-date info..as it reads, yes she can withdraw interests, not principle. Hope it helps answer those questions!

  9. 12

    Is there a standard Medical Certificate form for travel to Ecuador? Also how recent does the background check and HIV test need to be?

  10. 13

    Thanks very much for such a useful article. Can you just clarify, if I get a residency visa, I can be out of the country for 90 days PER year for the first two years? I thought it was ninety days in total for the two years. Thanks for your time

  11. 14

    hi I am Julius from sri lanka I have plan tourist to ecuador what I need documents geting transit visa?

  12. 15

    I presently live outside Ecuador but have engaged an immigration lawyer via the Internet to process residence visa “via cable” for me while I am outside Ecuador. I have paid him half of the agreed service fee. He is to process 9 – II a Residence Visa (CD deposit/ investment visa). The man told me he has opened the account for the deposit. But he insists I should pay the 25000 Dollars into his own account and then he will withdraw it and put in to CD deposit account he has opened for me. I am apprehensive as to why the man will not send me the details of the CD account so that I can transfer the money right into the account.

    Please, advise me: (i) Is the man right in asking me to transfer the money into his account?

    (ii) Should I trust the man and do this transfer? I have never met him before.

    (iii) Is the correct way to do ” visa via cable”?

    I will deeply appreciate your advice.

    Thank you. Moses (Jamaica)

    • 16

      please refrain from doing so. the person must be a fake. there has been such incidents for people all over the world. either talk to an agency . check it directly with consulate. but for such visa residence 9- II you need to invest at least 25000$ …take action with care

  13. 17

    Hello,
    I am currently in Ecuador on a T-3 visa. If I want to apply for a voluneer visa do I need to apply from my home country? Or can this be done from within Ecuador or another country within south america?x

  14. 18

    Hello,
    My name is Tan. I’m Vietnamese and living in Vietnam now. Recently I’ve heard that Vietnamese citizens need not to apply visa for Ecuador if travelling under 90 days. Is it right? Because I’m planning a 10-day trip to Ecuador at the end of this year. If I must apply for Ecuador prior to my trip, whom or where can I contact inside my home country?
    Thank you so much for reading my letter. I’m looking forward to receiving your answers.

    Tan Le

  15. richard figley
    19

    I am interested in looking into living in EC. can I apply for a 9-1, stay for the 90 days to see if it works for me.

  16. sebin m joseph
    20

    Can i get the pr in canada with equador visa

  17. 21

    Hi. A friend and I are looking to move to Ecuador permanently and are currently considering our options when it comes to visas, however, I have a blanket question when it comes to immigrant visas concerning police records and that is that my friend has a DUI from Australia. Will this prohibit his application at all? Many thanks!

  18. 22

    hi im from iraq do i need a visa if i go to quito ?

  19. 23

    I am an indian and want to marry an ecuadorian girl in india . can i get the ecuadorian residency after marrying her in india. please reply

  20. 24

    please someone guide me on how to gain a residence permit in Ecuador

  21. 25

    We are considering retiring to Equador and wonder what the health requirements are?

  22. 26

    Can anybody here give me the name (title of organization) and maybe even a phone number of the proper office in ecuador to apply to get a visa? thank you.

  23. 28

    can u send me details o f optometrist
    job vacancy applicationfor this site

  24. 29

    i am a school teacher from India with 8 years of teaching experience… i am 35 years old and unmarried. Am i eligible to apply for PR visa in Ecuador?

  25. 30

    This is a recommendation for Sara Chaca and her law firm, Ecuador Visas & Containers, whose website is found at http://www.ecuadorvisas.com, in assisting Expats in obtaining Residency visas and Cedulas.

    Our experience had the potential to be a complete nightmare, and had it not been for Sara, we would have probably gone back to the U.S. with our tails tucked between our legs. To begin with, BEFORE WE HAD MET SARA, we made two trips to Miami to talk to the people at the Ecuador Consulate to find out what we needed to do and then to pick up our visa’s prior to leaving the states. The consulate referred us to a woman that worked at the Banco Del Austro there in the plaza down from the consulate. She is an Ecuadorian citizen and she translated and notarized all our documents after we had them Apostilled. On our second trip, we picked up the translations.

    We took those documents to the Miami consulate and they legalized every document. We opted for the 180 day visas instead of the free 90 day visas as we were thinking it would give us more time in case of any snags in the process. Well, when we arrived in Quito, immigration stamped our passports and we were off to Cuenca, none the wiser. All was going as planned until we went down to the Ministerio to apply for our residency visas. When we got to the desk with our legalized documents in hand, they refused every one of our documents because the notary stamp that the Ecuadorian Consulate’s translator/notary used was in English, not Spanish. And, the guy behind the counter made me very angry when he took my original marriage license and waved it in the air saying it was ridiculous. It was over 20 years old (my original) and that it didn’t prove that we were still married. They wanted one that was 30 days or less in age. It did not matter that it was certified by the county and Apostille by the state, translated, notarized and legalized by the Ecuador consulate in Miami, they would not accept it here in Cuenca. We were told we were going to have to go back to the states and get a new marriage license. I then told him that if I ordered a new license that it would look exactly like the one he had in his hand and would not prove that we were still married and that he needed to tell me exactly what he wanted to prove we were still married. He got angry and told me we had to leave the Ministerio. We left and I told my husband we had better get an attorney to handle this mess. This struck fear in the both of us as we had read the horror stories about the experiences of others in hiring an attorney and the money it cost them, the long drawn out processes….. So we went on Gringo Tree and started mulling through the recommendations. I called a couple of people from the recommendations and the last one I called was Sara Chaca. I was immediately struck by her kindness and understanding of our situation so we scheduled a meeting. It certainly helped that she spoke enough English that we could communicate effectively with her. So, we started the process. We went to the Migratory Police to obtain our Migratory Movement reports. Remember me mentioning going through immigration in Quito? Well, they stamped our passports T-3. That is for the 90 day visas that are free when you enter the country, not the 180 day visas we paid for in Miami and actually had. Well, that had to be corrected. Sara took us to the notary and got a special power of attorney, flew to Guayaquil and got that mess corrected. She was with us every step of the way. We did not have to go anywhere or do anything that she was not by our sides. And we must have gone to the Ministerio office a minimum of 12 times throughout the process. There were a couple of times that she couldn’t be with us but Gabby was there in her place. Gabby speaks very good English and is as sweet and kind as Sara. The both of them have the patience of saints too. Not something I am known for.

    Oh, I almost forgot. As for the marriage license, Sara’s husband, Adam, is from the states and I think it might have been him that got us a new marriage license and had it Apostilled and overnighted here to Cuenca. Each time we went back to the Ministerio, there was a problem to be fixed. I truly believe this was because of the first impression we made and the guy there held a grudge against us for making him angry. I’ve since learned that I am a guest here in this country and I should act that way and leave my old stress filled habits there in the states as they are not well accepted here. Yes, it was an experience to get our Residency Visas and our Cedulas. If it weren’t for Sara, we would not be here. I would recommend her, and have many times already, to anyone that needs help. She is amazing and one of the kindest, most helpful, honest and fair people you could ever want to meet.
    She could easily triple what she charges and still be well worth the cost. I never felt like I was being taken advantage of by Sara. That is saying a lot because after our first experience at the Ministerio, that experience left me very defensive and guarded.

    Sara took all the stress out of the rest of the process and I feel like I’ve made a friend for life in her and the entire office where she works. By the way, they also bring containers of household goods into Ecuador if you need those services too. They also have someone in their office that you can talk to about health insurance and prescription drug discount cards.

    Sara’s Email Address is: [email protected] and her website is http://www.ecuadorvisas.com

  26. 31

    If I have impaired driving record will that keep me from getting a residence visa in Ecuador?

  27. 32

    hi ….
    i have planned to make trip to ecuador in T3 visa. while staying in ecuador with t3 visa can i able to apply for PRvisa…..? is this possible..? if possible means how many days it will take over dr..?

  28. 33

    Hello Everyone, just wanted to share my story about getting our pension visa, it was a lot of work doing it from Ecuador so I advise you to start the whole process when your still in your home country — as most of you guys know there is a 6 month gap from getting your documentation issued & Apostilled and submitting your paperwork. The second thing the whole document process that has to be done in the U.S also takes time — so plan ahead. I didn’t want to deal with the headaches of handling my documents so we hired this agency in DC called Elite Documents (www.elite-document.com) and they handled my paperwork to include Apostilles and sent to here in Ecuador. I did hire a facilitator in Cuenca whom can help process my paperwork as i truly had so much to deal with my container coming in and getting settled in our new place. If any one needs some pointers or what to know more about our move don’t hesitate to contact me and I would be glad to help answer your questions if I can .

  29. Harish Kumar
    34

    how much time it takes to get professional visa or investor visa for main applicant and how much time to get Cedula after getting the visa, What happens to the dependent visa, how much time does that take to get. And if before applying the Dependent visa PCC issued from one country gets expired due to time taken in getting main applicant visa, does Dependent need a new PCC from the same country again or the same PCC will be used for process. Thanks

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