Ecuador Laws / Ecuador Residency Visa / Ecuador Tourist Visa / Moving to Ecuador

Ecuador Residency Visa: One Family’s Experience

We continually receive inquiries about Ecuador Residency Visas.  We share our experience as best we can, but with the continually changing landscape in this subject area, it is often hard to follow.

The following post is by Kirsten, one of the people who went on our last Intro to Ecuador Tour, and is now planning her transition to this beautiful country.   She does a great job of sharing her experience.

WARNING:  Kirsten’s experience may not be your experience, so don’t get too wrapped up in the details.  They tend to change.  But use her dialog as as a guide for the kinds of things you may need to do, or at least be aware of.

KIRSTEN WRITES–We just about have all our paper work together for our Ecuador Tourist Visa. (just need to get the Spanish translations of all the documents notarized) .  Now we just need a few more green backs! Needless to say we lost quite a bit with the crises!

So far I have gotten the following papers together for Grace (our attorney from Cuenca) and the Ecuador Embassy.  Everything you send out needs a self-addressed envelope included with postage prepaid.  If I sent something to be apostilled I also included a photo copy of our passports for identity.  Money for the state could be in a check form, while money for the embassy for the Ecuador Tourist Visa had to be in a Post Office money order.

To get finger print cards call the FBI at this number 304-625-5590 and ask for the cards to be sent to your address and then go to your local police station to get fingerprinted.  Documents for the most part are to be apostilled in the state that they were issued. For example, I had to send our marriage certificate back to Florida for the apostille.

All documents must be notarized before being apostilled. FYI an Apostile is an international recognized stamp meaning that your document is the original or legal copy. In other words it is a international recognized Notarization of a legal document.

To get a 6 month tourist visa you must apply at the Embassy. You must have a 6 month visa to apply for an Ecuador residency visa. They want $200 for a visa (each), $30 for application (each), and $40 (one time) for the letter they write (in Spanish) stating that you have enough money per month income.

So for two people it will cost a total of $500. To get the required info for a Visa 12-IX (6 months)go to and pull up the Servicios Consulares in Spanish (no english yet). (Another good website is sponsored by the national police. Click here  There is an English link)

The other costs are for Apostilles which vary from state to state($15.00 to $40.00 each), Notarization $5 to $20 each, police statements $10 to $30, translations $20 to $40 each document, and postage.  I usually registered everything.

Here is a list of all the documents for the Embassy and Attorney Grace that you need to get your Ecuador Residency Visa and Ecuador Tourist Visa:

Each document has to be notarized, then translated and notarized to state that the translation is from the original document, then apostilled.

Spanish letter stating you have enough monthly income from Embassy
Certificado de Visacion – from Embassy
Solicitud De Visa – from Embassy
Marriage Certificate
Police Criminal Record Check for each person – state police does this (local police can do it too)
Finger Prints for each
Health letter from doctor stating you are free of AIDS & any other
Communicable Diseases for each of you – you get a blood test – needs
to be a formal letter with doc’s stamp and signature
Document showing your monthly income (or available resources)
Round trip ticket for the Embassy – send photo copy
2 passport photos for Embassy for each of you and 4 for Grace

Due to bureaucratic ineptitude it took us a long time to get everything done. For example they did not tell us we needed documents to be notarized before they could get apostilled!  FBI forget to send cards! Etc. etc., you get the drift.  In the end it has taken us about 2 and a half months to get it all done, but we are well on our way to getting our Ecuador Residency Visa.

Hope this helps. Mind you I have not sent the stuff (photo copies of everything)
to  Grace yet. Who knows what she will still need? The residency visa application process will only take place when we go to Ecuador.



  1. Candice Bishop says:

    Hello everyone,

    Great detailed information.

    Is there any reason why one couldn’t bypass the residency red tape by just renewing their tourist visa every 90 days? What if I want to “try the country out” before I go to the trouble and expense of permanent residency?

    Thank you


  2. I am reading everyone’s response to residency visas and want to know are you applying for a 6 month visa first before going to Ecuador or are you just applying for residency in Ecuador???

  3. This is a good comment because in our experience, nothing relative to the Ecuadorian visa process is set in stone. Everything we have read and heard lately says that the 12-IX visitor visa is mandatory .

    What mandatory means is that you don’t have an attorney who is good friends with the director or a well placed employee in the Immigration department. It may mean that perhaps on the day you applied, the director was in a bad mood. It could mean that for a week, they decided to let anyone into the country without a 12-IX because they felt like it.

    Developing country bureaucracy cannot be figured out with your head in advance. The best solution is to find a good attorney, “at the time you are ready to apply” who has the ability to communicate with Immigration.

    The web and this blog will give you our best interpretation of current laws as we understand them. But ultimately, your results will depend on your attitude (impatience and arrogance absolutely do not work), your luck, and how well connected your attorney happens to be at the time you apply.

    So just make a decision that you are going to jump through the hoops as they come up with a smile on your face, and ultimately, sooner or later, you will get your visa. I know of no one who has started the process and held out with determination that hasn’t been successful. (doesn’t mean they are not out there, just that I haven’t heard of any)

  4. Carlos is Ecuadorian and lives there. Richard is a U.S. citizen, who last lived in Panama for the past 12 years, and last month moved to Ecuador, and within 2 months got his Residency Visa for Ecuador. Carlos (a very astute man) went through the process in assisting Richard. They did not need to get a 6-month (12-IX) visa to obtain residency visa. I read so much other info, and even spoke with the Ecuador embassy in Wash. DC who told me the 12-IX Visa is mandatory, pror to changing it in Ecuador to a Residency Visa. Can I get some help on clearing this issue up, please. Thanks in advance.

  5. The 9 month rule is still in force for the first two years. My attorney says it may be possible to obtain a waiver under special circumstances (such as a family emergency) but you’d have to ask for it in advance.

  6. As far as we know, the requirement is still in force, and we have not heard of any way to get around it.

    In fact, we have heard that if you stay out of the country by one day more than the 90 days allowed, they will revoke your visa.

    However, we have learned in Ecuador that anything is possible depending upon how good your attorney is at finding loopholes and who they know.

    Does anyone else have information about this?

  7. Can anyone comment on the requirement that one remain present in the country for 9 months per year for each of the first two years? Is this still true? Is there any way around this? Thank you.

  8. By the way, the medical clearance by the doctor is a requirement on the offical list, however, it’s not enforced. I never got a medical exam and I received by residency. My lawyer said it wasn’t needed (and he was right).

  9. I realize it’s a bit late to tell you, however, getting your criminal record in Florida is actually quite easy. It can be done from here in Ecuador and takes less than a week to receive it notarized/with apostle stamp. I learned how to do it the hard way after starting the process like you did looking at the local police and FBI. Neither are necessary. I got mine while living here in Quito. And without traveling back or mailing any self-addressed envelopes. Feel free to contact me if you want details how to do it.

  10. This information is very helpful, as is the entire Website. Thanks for all of the postings.