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Great New Information on Ecuador Visas

The information below on Ecuador Visas, short and medium term,  was extracted from  This forum provides a really a great service for expats living here and those contemplating living here.   If you have any interest in Ecuador, I highly recommend it.

I signed up for a summary email which comes a couple of times a day.  This gives me an opportunity to view the topics and click on the ones I want to read.  The moderator, A.T., does an excellent job of keeping the forum on topic, as well as providing great insight into Ecuador living.

The question following was posted by Morgan Holbrook, a friend of ours who is currently in Cotacachi.  We get frequent requests for this kind of information.   Just a word of warning.  Ecuador visa requirement can change like the weather.  So if you read this post six months from now (posted Dec. 2010), you may want to check again on the current requirements. 

Morgan quiries:

I am currently in Cotachi on a 90 day tourist visa and having a great time.  I love it here so far. I entered Ecuador on 12/01/10.

My fiance is joining me here on Christmas day. We want to stay longer so she has already purchased her return ticket for May 21, 2011 which is well beyond the 90 day visi maximum. Oooops! . My return ticket is dated 3.01.11 exactly
90 days from my entry date. I want to stay until May 21, 2011 too. Are we going to jail?

Any suggestions as to the most direct fix? Is my fiancee going to be denied entrance into Ecuador? All of this occurred yesterday, and apparently it really sounded like a good idea at the time. What to do now?


Morgan Holbrook

Hi Morgan,

You are not going to jail, but you do need to get a Visa extension. The requirements are listed here.

You can print out the application form in PDF format. You need to get photos, have a return flight reservation for a date after your current visa expires and have someone with a cedula (citizen or resident) vouch for you

This financial requirement is met by the person presenting their financial status at the local notary office and the notary drawing up the appropriate document. You should take with you color copies of the ID
page of your passport and the page that shows the stamp from when you last entered the country.

The requirements look pretty simple, but having gone through the process myself (filed in Guayaquil) it is good to have an attorney or facilitator work with you. Or plan to be patient and probably make several trips to the
foreign relations office to get everything filed.

Not sure how the office in Quito works, but here in Guayaquil they only take appointments on certain days of the week. Previously one could show up early in the morning and get a number to be attended later on that same day.
They then switched to a system where you need an appointment in advance.  Not sure what the current system is.

Maybe things are more efficient in Quito and it will be easier for you than it was for me! The good news is once everything is filed you are good to go for another 90 days.

PS – On the solvency requirement that you will see for both the 12-X and the 12-IX visas, “El extranjero deberá demostrar que posee solvencia económica para permanecer en el país.”, Carolina said that you need to show at least
$1,000 in your bank account in the US (or wherever); you can just pull up a printout from you online banking; that will suffice.

Amy said, “have someone with a cedula (citizen or resident) vouch for you financially. This financial requirement is met by the person presenting their financial status at the local notary office and the notary drawing up the appropriate document.”   I am sure either way will work.

You will also notice that the requirements for both the 12-X and the 12-IX visas say, “Copia del pasaje ida y vuelta.”. This return ticket home (vuelta) requirement corresponds to what Amy said, “have a return flight resevation for a date after your current visa expires”.

Another respondent to Morgan’s questions answered as follows:

Morgan – Here’s what I found out this afternoon from Carolina Veintimilla in the visa department at the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores here in Cuenca.

It pretty much lines up with what Amy said below, with some exceptions, specifically a full 90 day extension or not. Regarding Graham’s comment in a separate post, “The last I heard, you can get 3 – 30 day
extensions.”, that has definitely changed.

The bottom line is that you can get a 45-day extension if you go to a Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores here in Ecuador, or you can leave the country and visit an Ecuadorian Consulate, say in Peru (nearest Tumbes) or Columbia (nearest Ipiales), and get a 90-day extension.

In both cases you have to have to fill out a “Solicitud de Visa No Inmigrante” What you would be applying for is a 12-X visa ; the cost is a total of $60.

Carolina explained to me that the reason thatyo u only get 45 days if you apply here is because the law is different in
the two situations; we didn’t expand on that.

With the 12-X visa you get  either the additional 45 days or 90 days tacked on to your original entitlement of 90 days on the T-3, so you end up with a total of 135 days or 180 depending on the situation. After that there are no more extensions.

Another option is to solicit a 12-IX visa using the same “Solicitud de VisaNo Inmigrante” form. That will get you 90 days if you solicit it here in Ecuador at an MRE, or 180 days if you get it at a Consulate in Peru or Columbia (actually any country outside of Ecuador). The cost for that is $230.

The above is from the horses-mouth (MRE) today.  (Dec. 22, 2010.)  I took good notes. We repeated everything in English and Spanish.

If you deal with someone like Carolina in the MRE in Cuenca you shouldn’t need a lawyer. She is definitely there to help expats with their “visa tangle”.

With your situation, you wouldn’t be able to extend your March 1st visa expiration extended to that May 21st date that you are shooting for with the 45-day option with the 12-X.

You would either have to make a quick trip to Peru or Columbia and get the 90 days, or apply for the 12-IX. With your
fiancé entering on December 25th, her T3 would run out on March 25th. The 45-day option wouldn’t get her to the May 21st date either.

Your fall back option is to just stay until you want and pay a $200 fine when you leave. They are not going to prevent your departure or put you in jail. Of course, you will be an illegal alien though for awhile. – Gerard

One last thing I forgot to mention. If you apply for the 12-X or the 12-IX visa at the MRE here in Ecuador, you have to do it 30 days prior to the expiration of your T-3. They will issue the visa for the date so it picks up
where your T-3 ends, but you have to apply 30 days prior. If you go out of the country to Peru or Columbia the 30 day prior rule doesn’t apply.

Thanks to the People at Ecuador_expats yahoo groups for getting out this valuable information–Gary



  1. This is more of a question, a person wanting to retire in Ecuador onj a retirement Visa, do they need a round trip ticket, if so, WHY!

    • Because that’s the way it is. If you don’t want to come back, buy a one way ticket in the states, then purchase another return ticket that is fully refundable. Then go to the airlines office in Quito and get a refund. It will often take a few weeks to get your refund. Ecuadorian customs will not check your return ticket. Only the issuing airlines will do that check because they are required to do so.

  2. Linda Kean says:

    I meant to write 12-IX visa. Is there a website in English that lists all current requirements for Tourist 12-IX 6 month tourist visa?

  3. Linda Kean says:

    I went to the link above submitted by Lilly and it was in Spanish. Is there an English translation?

  4. Linda Kean says:

    I have 80 days left of a T-3 Visa. My year expires June 8, 2013. If I return to Cuenca before it expires, can I apply for a X-IX 6 month Visa around the time the T-3 expires? Will the 6 months begin June 8, 2013? Do I need a lawyer to do this? Thank you.

    • Hi Linda,

      I have heard there is a new visa office in Cuenca that has English speaking employees. The word is that you do not need an attorney. You should begin your process right away, at least talking to the office to find out what you need to do. I would not wait until the t=3 is ready to expire as it takes some time to get everything done.

  5. My friend is doing some documents at extranjeria and registro civil right now (February – March 2012) and she told me her observations. I think it will be useful for you.
    First observation
    1) before fall 2011, you gave your lawyer your docs and she/he would do everything for you, pretty much without your presence. Not so since fall of 2011.
    2) Now it is TRAMITE PERSONAL, meaning that no tramitadoras/ros, including lawyers can obtain or submit docs for you without your presence.
    The personnel at public offices (Registro Civil, Extranjeria, etc), including bosses are almost completely changed. There were waves of layoffs October-November 2011. A few thousand people were replaced in public offices and now it is mainly young faces with better attitude (as it is possible in Ecuador) and better customer service and better organization of these services.
    They (Extranjeria) have a webside now with all requirements for every type of visa.
    1)you have to go here–2.4/application/BonitaApplication.html?locale=es#task=Emision_de_Visas–2.4–10737–Servicios–it737ab1a2-6823-40bf-8a03-45ae1b05f542–mainActivityInstance–noLoop
    2) get registered
    3) receive number (online – in your e-mail box)
    4) print out instructions and follow them
    There is no way around it. Your lawyer right now will be just a very costly translator and helper.
    They re-designed the system for people to do it themselves and to get rid of corruption and faulty visas.

  6. “Office that now provides immigrant visas ” works as normal since fall of 2011. People I know did some legal matters there(Extranjeria and Registro Civil) and they said that there is more order at these offices now than ever before.
    Goverment got rid of old bureacrats last fall, literally, laid off few thousand of them and now everywhere at the goverment’s offices (Exranjeria, Registro Civil, etc) you can see young (ish) faces and decent customer service.

  7. I just assembled this run-down on the situation with Ecuadorian visas as of 28 February 2012 and hope it helps people!

    Things are changing ALL the time – and very quickly…!

    ECUADOR VISAs – Tourism, Investment, Overstaying, Extensions, Changing Status, Working as a Professional

    What follows is a list of information about visas in Ecuador which I wish I had been given – and knew – over a year ago. In short, the visa system in Ecuador is very complex. There are no less than four offices which deal with visas and migration issues in Quito alone; various other offices do many things related to immigration and migration, too. When I asked my friend who is an attorney what is the logic behind it, he said, “There is none.” When I asked him more, he said, “You know, we ‘streamlined’ our system about 8 years ago by turning to a developed country with a model we could copy.” “Really?” I asked, “which country.” “The United States,” he said… So – yes – Ecuador’s immigration system purportedly represents its attempt to emulate the US immigration system!

    Consequently, I wanted to share what I know under a series of topics to help those who may need to deal with what is most certainly among the most complex in the world — or at least one where attorneys can make a fortune because nobody can make heads or tails out of it. :-)

    In terms of background, I originally came to Ecuador as a tourist. I then returned to pursue volunteer work with the international NGO I run. Later, I decided to return to get a “professional” visa. And finally, I decided to invest US$30,000 in Ecuador (in furtherance of some NGO development projects I sought to initiate. I had to extend my visa at least once; I almost overstayed; and I tried to get investment and professional visas (after arriving on a tourist visa).

    The Embassy of Ecuador in Washington, DC, gave me information about how to do this; it was incorrect. Representatives of several Ecuadorian consulates gave me advice and information; they, too, were incorrect. Individuals in Quito at different offices gave me different information, depending on the office they worked at. Phones were not answered. E-mails were not answered. Letters were not answered. :-) What I learned was through a huge amount of trial and error!


    – Inconsistency. Different websites from different embassies and consulates and Ecuadorian offices will list conflicting information and requirements for the same things. Some will say you need a medical certificate for a certain type of visa; others won’t. Some will say that you need to have a police certificate; others won’t. Some will charge US$220 for a 6-month tourist visa (“12-IX”) (e.g., in the US), while others will charge the equivalent of over US$400 for the same 6-month tourist visa (“12-IX”) (e.g., in Australia).

    – Incompatible hard copy lists & patience. You may also find some offices giving you “hard copy” lists listing different sets of requirements from what you will find listed on-line. The only way to confirm which list is correct is to go to the office and confirm what they want. Even then – and even after you may have submitted everything on the list (as I did!) – you may still be rejected and told to give more (as I was!).

    – Impossible to follow-up with human beings. It is virtually impossible to get any response to a phone call, letter, or e-mail to any office in Ecuador. So don’t waste your time. You will just have to “hit the streets” and go to the offices. You will note I have listed addresses below for all key offices for this purpose. (Embassies, in contrast, may reply to you; but their information – as I found – was generally all wrong.)

    – Incomplete / incorrect information on websites. You will find websites from Ecuadorian government offices – as well as foreign Embassies and Consulates – listing lots of information and contact details for different Ecuadorian offices. Often, these are incorrect, incomplete, or outdated. So you need to be careful. I have listed the current addresses of all the offices below as of the date of this posting.

    OVERSTAYING. (i.e., in case you just want to give up after trying to follow the rules!).

    – Fines & Penalties.
    There are no fines for overstaying; rather, you are barred from re-entering for nine months.
    This means – you guessed it: If you’re visiting Ecuador and don’t think you’ll come back for a while, you should just overstay and not waste your time getting any official “extension.”


    If you want to follow the rules and not overstay, then…

    – Where.
    Go to the Ministry of Foreign Relations (Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, Comercio e Integracion) located at Av.10 de Agosto y Carrión.

    – How (Process / Costs / Waiting Time) – For 3 Month “12-X” Extensions.
    If you go to the website, you will find the words “En construcción” under lists of requirements for many types of visas with no information whatsoever. If, however, you go to the office they will give you little slips of paper which list the following things for a simple tourist visa “12-X” (3 month) extension:
    – Personal letter – in Spanish – addressed to the Senior Economist of the Department of Foreign Relations Ricardo Patino explaining why you need the extension and asking him to help you;
    – Visa application form with two color passport photos (with a white background) available at (if the site is working and you can connect; often I couldn’t);
    – Passport with a minimum of 6 months left;
    – Copy of the Passport;
    – Copy of bank statement confirming you have at least US$1,000;
    – US$60 for both the (a) application for the visa (US$30) and (b) visa itself (US$30).
    It will take a minimum five business days (!) to process the visa.

    – How – For 6-Month “12-IX” Extensions.
    You can get a six-month “12-IX” extension to a “12-IX” 6-month tourist visa if you have one already which you obtained from abroad. In this case, you need to provide more documents, including a police clearance certificate which you ALSO had to present when you obtained the visa initially. (Why do you need to show it again when you showed it already to get the visa you have? Well, it makes no sense, really, but that’s what they want!)
    You will also need to pay US$230 — the same price of the visa in the U.S. (though note that it is the equivalent of over US$400 in Australia!).

    – How – For Working Visas and other “more complex” types.
    If you want to go down this route, more power to you! I met no less than three foreigners when I visited the office all of whom were trying to obtain more “complex” visa types. And they had some amazing stories to tell. One woman from the Netherlands had to return to the office eight times – each time for a minimum of 8 hours each (and she still didn’t have any visa in hand!). A man from the UK shared that he was there one day when the computers went down and everybody was sent home after waiting over six hours. An Ecuadorian attorney I know shared that it took him over 2.5 years to get the office to process a spousal visa (it was for a same-sex couple and apparently the office reps did not want to follow Ecuador’s law re: gay couples).
    When I was there, it took me about 5 hours to finally see a woman who, after 5 minutes, told me that she could not help me, didn’t want to help me, and sent me away quite quickly before taking a coffee break. I surmised she might have just been having a bad day, but after the stories I head about the office and the people who work there, it seems that quite a lot of people at this office seem to have a LOT of bad days…every day… :-)

    CHANGING VISA TYPES & RESIDENCY – e.g., Investment visas

    – Where.
    Unlike the visas above, a different office deals with Investment & Residency visas: The Office for Foreigners. (i.e., Dirección General de Extranjería) located at Av. 10 de Deciembre (Building No. N26-05), Between Avenidas Colon y La Nina in Quito.

    – What You Need.
    Depending on the type of visa, you will need to show a bunch of documents – mostly superfluous, illogical, or just plain bureaucratic, depending on the type of visa you want. For the SIMPLEST of visa types — a CD minimum US$25,000 investment — you will need to show the following:
    (1) ORIGINAL PASSPORT & VISA stamp. You can have ANY type of visa now to apply for an investment visa or to change your visa status (note that this was NOT the case in 2011 where you needed a minimum of a 6-month “12-IX” visa);
    (2) ORIGINAL Certificate Confirming Your Investment. You should be given this by the bank where you made the investment.
    (3) NOTARIZED COPIES of the Passport ID page, visa stamp, and Investment Certificate noted above. You can get documents notarized just a few blocks from the Foreigners Office at:
    Dr. Alfonso Freire Zapata
    La Nina N26-169 y Av. 6 de Deciembre
    Floor no. 11 — Office no. 1103
    Tel. 2543-939; E-mail:
    Each “certified” page will cost US$2.25 and you may need to come back the next day to get them.
    (4) APOSTILLED Police Certificate from where you have spent the most time the last five years ISSUED NO MORE THAN 90 DAYS before you submit your application forms. As it often takes a long time both to get the basic certificates – not to mention getting them Apostilled (or Certified by the Ecuadorian Embassy in your country if your country did not sign the Hague Convention) – this is tricky! You need to time things right! And there is rhyme or reason to what different countries do… In Australia, the whole process takes about 4-5 WEEKS; in Canada, upwards of 2-3 MONTHS (!); and in Ecuador (amazingly enough!) just 10-15 MINUTES while you wait :-)
    Note that if you have a visa which you required you to ALREADY submit a police certificate (e.g., “12-IX” 6-month tourist visa issued in the U.S.), it doesn’t matter: you STILL need to get ANOTHER certificate. This of course makes no sense whatsoever, but… well… this is the rule! So you would be advised to get MORE THAN ONE COPY of every certificate you get just to play it safely…!
    Also, if you have been in Ecuador a while (or even if you haven’t), you should ALSO probably get a police certificate from Ecuador to ensure “all your ducks are in a row.” You can get this “Certificado de Antecedentes Personales” at:
    Police Archive Registry
    Av. Amazonas N21-175 y Rosa
    Edificio Rio Amazonas
    It costs US$5 and you get it on the 2nd floor – – take the stairs to the left as you enter the front door. It’s the one thing you can find which is issued very efficiently – only 10-15 minutes. So go get it!
    (5) TRANSLATIONS of anything not in Spanish. This must be done by someone who does not have a “personal interest” in your case – and folks at language schools may be able to help you. I went to a language school where a friend-of-a-friend had taken some classes and I paid the director US$20 to come with me to the Notary Above for about 45 minutes as he simply signed MY OWN translations. What you ultimately need to present is (a) the ORIGINAL documents (in the foreign language); (b) the TRANSLATIONS (signed by the “translator”), and (c) additional forms which the translator will sign (and the notary will give you) stating that the translator can attest that the translations are… well… translations! :-)
    EACH translated “confirmation” page from the Notary is a whopping US$22.
    (6) MOVIEMENTO MIGRATORIO Document. This basically says when you have entered and left Ecuador. Is this information in your passport? Sure. Is there any logic as to why you need this? Nope. But you need it and can get it at:
    Migration Police Office
    On Av. Rio Amazonas southwest of the intersection of Av. Rio Amazonas & Av. Republica (near the southwest corner of Parque Carolina)
    It costs US$5 and you need to present your passport; depending on the queues, you can probably get it in 20-30 minutes.

    – Making your Investment in Ecuador.

    You would think this would be simple: You go to a bank, wire the money, and open your CD at a bank :-)
    Not so in Ecuador :-(
    In Ecuador, only those with permanent visas and Cedulas (i.e., National IDs) can open accounts and get account numbers; however, you may need an account to get your CD; and you will also need the CD to get your permanent visa…. (You can see that this ends up sending you in a permanent circle!)
    There are two solutions:
    (1) Wire the funds to an Ecuadorian friend’s account and withdraw the funds IN CASH. If you bring the cash to BANCO PICHINCHA, they will give you a CD. You will, of course, need to say how you got the cash, but they will do it! (I carried a bag with US$30,000 in it (in $10 bills) which I had obtained after sending the money to my friend’s account at PRODUBANCO. While PRODUBANCO would not give me a CD, BANCO PICHINCHA would… Go figure!)
    (2) Visit BANCO TERRITORIAL at Av. 12 de Octubre N24-774 y Coruna Edificio Urban Plaza, Piso 15 and ask to see Maria Fernando Naranjo. I have been told that she will open up accounts for foreigners (even though nobody else anywhere else can…and everybody else says that this is illegal. Why Maria can do it and nobody else can is anybody’s guess; but why question something which works? Maria can be reached at:

    WORKING AS A PROFESSIONAL – Obtaining a “Professional” visa

    The Office for Foreigners will process these visas. However, you need to first get your degrees from abroad certified in Ecuador. You can do this by authoring petitions to the Director at the SENESCYT Office located at:
    Dr. René Ramírez
    Secretario Nacional de Educación Superior Ciencia, Tecnología, e Innovación (SENESCYT)
    Av. 9 de Octubre 624 y Carrión
    Quito, Ecuador

    A few points are worth highlighting regarding this process:
    – EACH degree you want certified will require a SEPARATE cover letter addressed to Dr. Ramirez – along with a fee of US$50;
    – EACH needs to be certified and APOSTILLED (or certified by an Ecuadorian Embassy) in the COUNTRY of ORIGIN where it was issued.
    – The man who is the “gate keeper” on the ground floor of SENESCYT’s office will do everything he humanly can to try to AVOID helping you and finding excuses why SENESCYT cannot help you. (I saw him turn away nine people in a row — before he then turned me away — when I first visited :-)
    – You CANNO T get SENESCYT to confirm any degree with a “tourist” visa of any sort; thus, if you want to change from a tourist visa to a professional visa, you basically… well… can’t do it. Note that (a) the Foreigners Office will tell you that it IS possible and send you to SENESCYT; then (b) SENESCYT will then send you to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to change your visa type to anything non-tourist related; and (c) the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will send you BACK to the Foreigners Office or SENESCYT saying the Ministry cannot help you because you want a permanent visa which the Ministry cannot give you! (Again, you’ll be going around in circles – LOL!)
    How do you get around this? Well, I just gave up and went for another visa type… :-)

    Hope all this information helps those trying to navigate the Ecuadorian VISA system. I guess two words really are in order at the end of the day:

    • Thanks for the good information. We have been told that the Office that now provides immigrant visas will be transferred to a new government ministry on April 1, 2012. I want to change my visa from an investment visa to a retirement visa. Our attorney, Gabriela Espinosa in Quito, told us to wait until after April 1, as it is currently very difficult to get any work done in the existing immigration office.


  8. Excellent information on this blog…This is my situation, and I would appreciate advice. I have my ticket for Ecuador; specifically, Guayaquil via Quito on the 2nd of April. I plan to apply for a resident visa sometime soon after my arrival, and have these documents which I will be bringing with me….. My Social Security offiicial statement norarized by my bank with an income of over $1000 a month, my health exam report, and police report. Also, I will be bringing my BA and M.Ed. degreees, which were apostiled 20 years ago in the countries of Peru and Colombia where I was employed by schools. They are also apostliled by the Sec. of the State of Iowa. I would be deeply grateful to hear from anyone on my chances of getting a resident visa there, despite the fact that I will be applying in Ecuador, without some of the documents apostiltzed at the Ecuacorian Consulate here in the U.S…….I understand it’s risky. Thank you in advance for you comments…Galen

  9. Gerard Tretton says:

    Hi Gary – Glad you like the forum. It is very dynamic, that is for sure. You mention though that A.T. is the moderator, and he’s not. A.T. is a long term member of the group and an invaluable contributor. I have been the moderator since March. – Gerard

    • Hi Gerard,

      Sorry for that. Anyway, the main point is that I appreciate the group and appreciate your work. You do a good job of keeping the posters on topic. I highly recommend the forum to anyone who is considering Ecuador, or who is already living here. Keep up the good work.

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