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Ecuador - Visas

In 2017, a number of legal and regulatory changes occurred in Ecuador. An important principle to note is that migrants who settle in Ecuador under temporary residency visas can obtain permanent residency status after 21 months.

Everyone applying for and obtaining temporary and permanent residency status will receive an identity card. The card’s validity, which will be between two and ten years, is dependent on your circumstances, as assessed under the regulations.

Health Insurance

From 10th September 2018 you must, by law, have adequate health insurance when you enter Ecuador, which must not expire at any time whilst you remain there.

For anyone enjoying a holiday, medical cover as part of your travel insurance policy will usually be sufficient. Watch out for any exemption clauses though; an accident while scuba diving or paragliding might not be covered.

If you are working in Ecuador, contributions made from your wages and your employer to the state health scheme will usually provide sufficient cover. If you are living in Ecuador but not working there, then you are solely responsible for making your own healthcare insurance arrangements.

Further information on this topic can be found in our article Will Ecuador's New Mandatory Health Insurance Rules Affect You?

Staying In Ecuador Visa Free

Most visitors are welcome to arrive and stay in Ecuador for up to 90 days each year without a visa. Once you have reached the 90-day limit, you can only stay if you have obtained a visa. Otherwise, you must leave and not return for six months, unless you obtain a visa for the next arrival.

When you enter Ecuador, your passport will be checked. It must have at least six months’ validity remaining. You may be asked questions about the nature of your visit and asked to show evidence of your booked departure. A stamp will be added to your passport with your date of arrival, so the 90-day limit can be checked in the future.

Nationalities Who Must Obtain A Visa For A 90-Day Stay

There are a number of countries whose citizens will be prevented entering Ecuador unless they hold a valid visa, even for short trips.

People from the following countries will need a visa:

● Afghanistan ● Bangladesh ● Cuba ● Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) ● Eritrea ● Ethiopia ● Kenya ● Nepal ● Nigeria ● Pakistan ● Somalia ● Senegal

Obtaining A 12-IX Visa To Work In Ecuador

Ideally, you should obtain your visa to work in Ecuador before you arrive in the country. However, sometimes it is easier to obtain work when you apply in person. This mean that if you have the funds, you could try looking for work during your initial 90-day visa-free stay and then apply for the 12-IX visa when you have been offered a job.

If you are obtaining a visa from your home country, you can make an appointment with the nearest Ecuadorian consulate. You do this by emailing a request for a visa appointment. You should receive a reply with an appointment date and list of documents needed within a few days. An application form will also be attached, which you must print double-sided. Sometimes your appointment will be within a week of your initial email.

A police record check is an essential document to submit as part of your application. You must obtain one from the police records of every country you have lived in for the past five years. In the UK, the Disclosure and Barring Service can sometimes send their certificates within 24 hours. However, if you apply in the same period that many staff are being appointed to new school posts nationwide, the service will take longer. The rules say the certificates will be issued within 12 weeks, but such a long wait is unusual.

Your police record check must be no more than three months old when you submit it. Therefore, you may choose to undertake this process shortly before, or on the same day as you contact the Ecuadorian consulate requesting a visa appointment.

On the day of the appointment, take along your passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate if appropriate, your three most recent bank statements and recent proof of your address. Carefully read the email the embassy or consulate sends you to see if further proof is needed.

The process will run more smoothly if your employer sends documentation to you which you can take along to the interview. This should show the offer of employment, as well as the terms and conditions of your new job. Print outs of emailed documents are fine.

Don’t forget to bring along the application form the consulate emailed to you. This should be printed double-sided and then completed with no omissions.

You should also bring along a photocopy of every single document, including the completed application form. Two colour passport photos which comply with the regulations (such as no hat, glasses or laughing) are also essential.

If you have purchased your flight to Ecuador, bring along proof that you booked a return flight.

You will have to pay fees for a 12-IX visa, which you can do when you arrive for the interview.

After the interview, your passport will be retained for a few hours. You will be told what time to collect it from the consulate. So plan to do something flexible nearby in the intervening time.

Return to the consulate at the correct time, and you will be given your passport and an important certificate. You will need the latter to receive your visa when you report to the regional government building in Ecuador.

Obtaining A 12-IX 180-Day Visa To Extend Your Stay In Ecuador

This is a good visa for those who have decided to enjoy travelling in Ecuador for more than the 90-day visa free allowance. You can apply as a tourist for up to a full year’s stay. This is also the first step to obtaining the right to stay as an investor or retiree.

You can apply for the 12-IX 180-day visa from the Ecuadorian consulate in your home country or when you are in Ecuador itself. However, in both cases you will need to apply in person; this is not an online process. If you are already in Ecuador, start applying at least two weeks before your initial 90-day period has expired.

Complete the application form in full, with no omissions. Supply a full colour passport photo which complies with the regulations.

You must also attach a letter, written in Spanish, stating your reasons for applying for the visa. Include your name, address and passport number, specify the visa for which you are applying, the amount of days you intend to stay and the reason for your visit.

Get colour photocopies of your passport picture page and the passport page with the stamp showing the date you arrived in Ecuador.

You also need a copy of your bank statement or an online printout showing that you have enough funds to support yourself. A minimum of $2,000 is required. The statement needs to be in Spanish, so call your bank and ask for advice about this.

You also need to show proof that you intend to leave Ecuador at the end of the visa period. This means providing evidence of your booked flight out of the country.

The application will take several days to process. You pay an application fee when you apply and a much higher fee when you return to receive the visa. A married couple can obtain a visa together for a lower fee, but in this Roman Catholic country, unmarried couples must make separate applications.

At the end of the visa period you are required to leave the country. You cannot return for the next nine months without obtaining a new visa.

Advice From Expats Moving To Ecuador

Keith and Tina Paul, who moved from the United States to Cuenca in Ecuador, made sure their paperwork was in order before they emigrated, and believe this was an important factor for a successful move.

“We did most everything prior to the move. We got our Ecuadorian resident visas and shipped a container. Once we got to Ecuador, we were already residents and our container came a week later. We even brought our two small dogs. We had all the pet paperwork in order, so we had no problems. I think the research and planning we did was what made the entire move go so well,” they explain.

What Happens If You Overstay In Ecuador?

The stamp in your passport on entry is clearly marked with the date. Therefore, all officials in Ecuador can see when you arrived.

Under the new Human Mobility Organic Law, introduced in 2017, if you have remained in the country too long, you will have to pay a fine before you leave. This will be based on the specific offenses you have committed and calculated according to set rates.

The authorities also have the right to deport you. This is an administrative process and they do not have to obtain an arrest warrant. However, they would prefer you to leave voluntarily, and you will be given the option to do this.

If you decide to leave without paying the fine, you will be barred from re-entry for two years. The only exception will be if you successfully apply for a consular visa from overseas, at least one year after you left Ecuador.

Read more about this country

Expat Health Insurance Partners


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