Ecuador Visa

The Ecuador Visa

The Ecuador Visa for retirement has recently become part of the subject of new laws enacted in February 2017. There has been little promulgated so far with respect to regulations which will give practical effect to these new laws.

It is unlikely that there will be any great changes to the required documentation for applications for both temporary (tourist - Golden Rule) and permanent residence visas. These details have therefore been, for the moment, left unaltered on this site.

Much of the information still available on other sites refers to the  pre-2017 situation. There are some sites which do make reference to the new laws and these may be helpful. Links to such sites are provided below. For definitive answers on matters of procedure and on fees reference must be made to the nearest Ecuadorean embassy.

Some Useful Links

These links are in no particular order and are in varying detail. They are identified by number only.  It is very much a case of just looking to see if anything useful can be gleaned with respect to the Ecuador visa for retirement and temporary (tourist) visas.

2017 -2 : 2017 -3 : 2017 -4 : 2017 -5 : 2017 -6 : 2017 -7

2017 -8 : 2017 -9 : 2017 -10 : 2017 -11

Beware of sites dated after February 2017 but which refer to detail and material which originated before the new laws were published. The official Ecuadorian web site has also undergone some extensive revision and some pages are evidently (by their non-availability) still under construction. Patience is the quality needed in these circumstances.

Synopsis of New Laws - (post 2017)

The government of Ecuador has just promulgated a new set of laws governing entry to that country. These laws cover all kinds of entry for all purposes. The New Mobility Law or “Ley de Movilidad Humana” is in effect now. However, the accompanying and necessary regulations which govern the administration of the law have not yet been published. All current applications for visas have been suspended until the Ministry has determined the exact requirements for each type of visa.

The new law repeals all previous legislation dealing with entry to the country and consolidates the legal framework for entry to Ecuador for transients, tourists, residents, and applications for naturalisation. The situation with respect to applications “in progress” is unclear.

Retirees considering a move to Ecuador will have to re-assess their needs. It may be that the minimum requirements of desired personal freedom may no longer be available in Ecuador or that the new two-stage process for permanent residency is too onerous or unsuitable. Eventually, it will be necessary to investigate how this new law and any others relating to different details of life in Ecuador or movement to that country varies the rights of new immigrants, specifically retirees, so far as earning capacity and capital movements are concerned.

The new law sets out some twelve categories (including retirement) specifying who can apply for the new “temporary residency" relevant to the Ecuador visa for retirement. This temporary stage is now necessary before an application for permanent residency can be made. The temporary visa must be held for 21 months and holders may not be absent from the country for more than 90 days each year. This period increases to 180 days each year for permanent residents for the first two years of residency. After this period it is possible to be absent for up to 5 years.

After 3 years as a permanent resident is it possible to apply for naturalisation. No period of absence from the country prior to applying for citizenship is now specified.

It is unlikely that the required documentation to support any application will change substantially. It must be anticipated that other changes will occur as the new regulations are instituted to enforce the new law. This may well include a limit on the number of countries whose citizens can enter the country but there has been no suggestion as yet that this will happen even though it is what the U.S.A. wants to enforce.

These changes to Ecuadorean law reinforces the fact that all retirees must look carefully at the personal freedoms that may need to be relinquished, even temporarily, to settle in a new country. The care required in making financial arrangements is emphasised by these changes. Where governments are concerned nothing is set in concrete. It is up to individuals to protect themselves physically and financially and this is especially vital for retirees. There is usually little time for a retiree to recover once adverse circumstances have occurred.

The Ecuador visa for retirement is still probably worth obtaining. The laws do not change the attractiveness of the country, physically, nor the nature of its people.

Important change confirmed

All residents and applicants must have health insurance covering them in Ecuador. They have until early November 2017 (90 days from August 3rd 2017) to provide proof of insurance to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Cover may be provided by the public insurer, IESS – The Ecuadorian Social Security Institute (Instituto Ecuatoriano de Seguridad Social) – or by a private company. 

It can also be confirmed that all tourist must have travel insurance that covers them in Ecuador. This requirement, although now applicable, will not be enforced at the point of entry until early March 2018. It is of course sensible to have travel insurance at all times.

The situation is the same with regard to the book "How to Retire in Ecuador". Relevant changes to the text will be made as details of the implementation of the Ecuador visa for retirement become available.


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The Ecuador visa for retirement is one of a comprehensive set of visas available for would be residents. There are a number of immigrant visas but the relevant Ecuadorian web page, although listed, is not currently available. Applications for residency can be made only from within the country.

Ecuador allows visitors from most countries visa free access for up to 90 days. Compliance with the “Golden Rule” (take no irrevocable action without first visiting the country at least once) is, therefore, easy.

The above mentioned changes with respect to travel insurance for toursits/visitors should be noted. Although an enforcement date of March 2018 for travelers has been suggested this new compulsory requirement is now the law and it could be enforced at any time.

A tourist visa can be changed to a more suitable temporary stay visa, a “12-IX” visa, in order to complete the application for permanent residency. This visa may be obtained at an embassy or consulate overseas or in the Ecuador. It is necessary to have this visa in order to make application for permanent residency. Although still for just 90 days as is a normal tourist visa it can be extended while in the country.

The requirements and procedures to obtain the Ecuador visa for retirement are clearly set out in both government and private web sites. It is possible that applicants will need to be in touch with the Ecuadorian embassy or consulate in their home country so a list of such representation is useful.

There should be no expectation that anything other than Spanish will be spoken at any government office in Ecuador. Any lack of fluency in that language is a good reason to employ a local attorney for the application process. A list of local lawyers in Quito and Guayanquil is given here and there is a less formal indication here of how to contact a lawyer in Cuenca.

Ecuador Coat of Arms

Although the documentary requirements for an application for the Ecuador visa are easily understood it should be noted that authentication procedures are also precisely described. Authentication needs are exactly enforced and any error will result in delay in the acceptance of an application. This, together with the fact that applications must be made no later than 30 days prior to the expiration of the current visiting visa which can make for a tight time schedule, is another reason to employ a local attorney. Compensation for this fairly severe schedule is, perhaps, in the fact that the procedure is completed usually in 4 – 8 weeks. This is a very short “approval” period compared with many countries where official dealings can take many months.

If any further persuasion is needed to employ a local lawyer it may be in the need for the less than usual document of proof of the civil status of “single person”. Such a document is not available from many governments. Also regulations can change without warning as can the fees that must be paid. A local attorney can deal adequately with such matters and is usually up to date with recent or pending variations in rules.

Documents Required for the Ecuador Visa

It is important to have all necessary authentication done before traveling to Ecuador. Application can be made at an embassy or consulate for a 12-IX visa prior to leaving for Ecuador or a standard tourist visa may be converted to this type of non-immigrant visa when in the country.

The necessary documents for an application for the Ecuador visa for permanent residence are:

  1. A signed visa petition addressed to Director General of Extranjería
  2. A completed application form
  3. Two notarized copies of a valid up-to-date passport with its current legal status attested to by the notary
  4. A data sheet (subsequently used for the ID card application)
  5. Two passport photographs
  6. The appropriate fees (always check for current information on this point)
  7. Letter from the pension or annuity paying authority confirming the entitlement to the appropriate income for life. The level of income is determined by the Immigration Advisory Board at the time of the application.
  8. Criminal background check. Police Clearance certificates are now required to cover the past five years of residency abroad and must be provided by both federal and state authorities where appropriate. This expanded requirement was mandated in 2014 by the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Movilidad Humana. Certificates must not be more than 90 days old. (some sources suggest 180 days is satisfactory but it is always best to err conservatively).
  9. Marriage certificate if appropriate and/or document proving the ending or dissolution of the relationship (divorce decree, death certificate)
  10. Proof of health insurance valid in Ecuador. This is now a mandatory requirement and appropriate documents (certificate of insurance) must be submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by early November 2017 (90 days from 3rd October 2017)

There is a particularly local requirement:

If single, the meaning is that one has never been married. A government certificate confirming this civil state is necessary. If such a document is not available from the home government a sworn statement authenticated by an Ecuadorian notary will be acceptable.

All documents must be newly issued copies from the authority which issued the original items. All papers must be notarized and apostilled in the state/country where issued. Translation into Spanish will be necessary but this is best done in Ecuador.

Applications must be submitted not less than 30 days before the expiration of the current visiting visa. It is interesting that no birth certificate is mentioned. However, it may be as well to cover all bases and obtain a fully authenticated birth certificate. All of the above documents must be available, as appropriate, from all who will accompany the primary applicant including dependent minors.

The Process for Obtaining the Ecuador Visa

The full process should be completed in 4 – 8 weeks after receipt of a full set of correctly authenticated documents by Director General of Extranjería/Immigration Advisory Board. With a completed hoja de datos para la cédula and set of fingerprints, taken in Ecuador, an identity card can be issued. A fingerprint card from a non-Ecuadorian source is not acceptable. The cedula needs to be renewed every ten years.

Ecuador is more restrictive with regard to international movement than many countries. During the first two years of residency no more than 90 days may be spent outside of the country. After than no more than 18 consecutive months may be spent abroad.

General Comments

The acquisition of citizenship is often not a priority for retirees. In Ecuador the residency requirements in order to apply for citizenship are very strict and quite restrictive. Residency for a continuous period of three years with no more than 90 days absence from the country is necessary as citizenship qualification. Dual citizenship is not recognized by Ecuador except so far as Spain is concerned. This does not mean that a previous citizenship is lost on acquiring Ecuadorian citizenship. This depends upon the other country. Some countries do not recognize or permit the relinquishment of their citizenship. Greece is such a country and it is very difficult and expensive to give up citizenship of the U.S.A.

Acquiring Ecuadorean citizenship requires the submission of set of documents similar to those required when applying for residency. The process is much more expensive and can take as long as 7 months to complete. If a residency visa is other than a 9.I visa there may be good business reasons for obtaining Ecuadorean citizenship. As stated this is not usually necessary or a priority for retirees.


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