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Guide to Obtaining Residency in Ecuador

Learn how to obtain a residency visa in Ecuador. Expats, Retirees and others who have navigated the process offer advice and guidance for newcomers in Ecuador.
Guide to Obtaining Residency in Ecuador

Obtaining a residency visa in Ecuador is not always easy, but our Guide to Residency in Ecuador gives newcomers an overview of the steps involved and advice from others who have already navigated the process.

  • Gather the necessary documents for residency application:
    • Valid passport
    • Proof of financial solvency
    • Proof of health insurance
    • Criminal background check
  • Visit the Ecuadorian consulate in your home country to apply for a visa.
  • Once you have your visa, travel to Ecuador and register with the Immigration Office.
  • Apply for a Tax Number at the Internal Revenue Service (SRI).
    • Fill out the application form and submit it to the SRI.
    • Provide the necessary documents, such as your passport and visa.
    • Pay the applicable fees.
  • Visit the Civil Registry Office to register your residency status.
  • Visit the Immigration Office to obtain your residency card.

What tips do expats have about residency and visas in Ecuador?

“Income of or in my case Education documents proof of ability to support yourself, passport. Very easy process when you hire an attorney. I would not want to try to do it on my own,” said one expat living in Cuenca.

“I have a volunteer visa good until January 2020 & will be getting a retirement visa. All documents must be “apostilled” and the translations must be apostilled. I found the consulate in Phoenix to be very helpful,” wrote a member in Cuenca.

“The biggest problem is that the rules change often in Ecuador. We started planning two years ahead. Still, the Visa “types” change along with eligibility. We currently have a two year temporary Visa. We are only allowed 90 days each year out of the country,” commented one expat who made the move to Cuenca.

“We received our 2 year visa in Chicago before we moved. In retrospect, it would have been easier to do once we were here as there are many facilitators able to complete the process faster and easier,” remarked one expat living in Cuenca.

“Ecuador has a Pensioner’s Visa which is easy to obtain with Social Security statement (min. $800 a month income), FBI and police reports. The process is not difficult and there are many attorneys and facilitators who can help. But it can be done personally too,” wrote one member in Vilcabamba.

“You can stay for 90 days with a valid passport (minimum 6 month validity from the expiration date). I refer everyone to attorney Floridalva Zambrano, Portoviejo office, for Visa/Residency information and assistance. The immigration laws change frequently,” commented one expat living in San Jacinto, Ecuador.

“As can be expected, this is a whole new experience in itself. My wife is Ecuadorian so the process should have been easy. It was not. I visited numerous offices in several cities and finally got my visa after four months. All I can say is bring your patience and be prepared to deal with zero logic,” mentioned one expat living in Ecuador.

“That is a tough one! We made some mistakes, but the best way if one would choose to live in the area where we are to go to Cuenca. We know an ex-pat that told us after we had some serious problems, that we should have been able to get everything done there instead of traveling to Machala or Quito.,” said an expat in Ecuador.

“The latest residency visas are a two year temporary deal that can then be exchanged for a permanent one. Rules for qualifying stayed the same as when I came 3 years ago, but the temporary visa was a new idea instituted in 2017. The requirements of background checks and proof of ability to support yourself are pretty straightforward. Canadians have had good luck at getting visas before they arrive but most expats I know have used an expediting service or lawyer since the actual rules can change,” remarked one expat in Ecuador.

“There are several types of permanent visa: Pensioner’s -based on $900 income for a couple or $800 for a single, Investment – CD in a bank or property for min. $40,000 value, Professional – need a college or university degree. With proper documents the process for residency is not that difficult,” said one expat living in Ecuador.

“Also, they may tell you to submit documents electronically but you WILL need them in paper versions. Visas are now electronic but Immigration requested a paper copy of my visa (and their ministry issued it!) which was NOT listed as one of the documents needed. You actually rarely use your visa once you obtain a cedula (ID card) based on the visa, not even for reentry to Ecuador once you have a resident visa. USA passport and cedula are all needed, except for at times, covid vaccine card. I took a photo of my cedula side by side with covid vaccine card and use the photo when needed. Bring extra original documents like birth certificates and marriage licenses and background checks, at least 3 originals of each and apostilled. Your background checks will be good until you return to USA, obviously you are not committing crimes there while you are living here. Expensive and difficult to get more documents while you are here sent from USA,” commented one expat who moved to Ecuador.

“In Ecuador, foreign nationals must obtain a visa prior to entering the country for any purpose. US citizens are eligible for a tourist visa that is valid for 90 days. This visa can be extended at the Migraci√≥n y Naturalizaci√≥n service office. To obtain a tourist visa, applicants must complete an online form and provide a valid passport, return flight ticket and proof of financial support. Those wishing to obtain residency must first obtain an authorization of residence from the Foreign Ministry. This must be done through an Ecuadorian consulate abroad before entering the country. To request an authorization, applicants need to provide a valid passport and birth certificate as well as documents detailing their purpose in the country and economic resources. After entering Ecuador with the authorization of residence, the applicant must then register with the Migration and Naturalization Service office and present additional required documents. The applicant must also undergo a background check by the authenticity of documents committee and sign declarations of nationality, residence, and other required documents. Once the residency application is approved, a residency card will be issued,” said one expat.

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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