Editor's note: This article has been contributed by our friend, Ian. Whilst this guide specifically focuses on how to extend your tourist visa in Cuenca, it's a very similar process if applying at other migration offices around Ecuador. You can download the extension application form.
Ecuador may not be a big country but there is definitely plenty to see. With beautiful cities, mountains, jungle, and beaches, 90 days in Ecuador may just not be enough to see it all. But did you know how easy it is to get a visa extension in Ecuador?
Well, don’t worry. For a small fee and just a little paperwork, the Ecuadorean government will let you stay for another 90 days if you wish.
As I had been enjoying Ecuador so much and traveling rather slowly, I decided I was going to get a visa extension in Ecuador for another 90 days. I happened to be in the city of Cuenca when my 90 days were up. This turned out to be a great place to take care of things.
I will walk you through the process of how to get a visa extension in Cuenca. But I can’t guarantee it will be this easy everywhere. To be honest, if you have survived 90 days in Ecuador already then you are probably smart enough to figure out this process without too much help.
If you can speak Spanish, a quick visit to the government of Ecuador's website will tell you most things you need to know. The most important thing on this page is the list of immigration offices that you can go to, to extend your visa.
Supposedly you can extend your visa online, and also download the paperwork you need on this site. When I applied for my extension, neither of these features were working. As long as you are not staying too far from an immigration office, I think a quick trip there is probably the easiest way to take care of things.
My closest immigration office was at the airport in Cuenca. This was an easy bus ride from the house I was staying at. If you are staying in downtown Cuenca, the Tranvia will drop you right at the front door for only 30 cents. You can even walk there in about 30 minutes, or just a 5 minute walk from the main bus terminal.
I arrived at the immigration office on the morning of my 90th day in Ecuador. Well, that was a mistake. You actually have to wait until your visa has expired and you are in the country illegally. Only then can you apply for an extension! You don’t have to actually extend your visa on your 91st day in the country. I was told there is a 30 day grace period for you to take care of things. But as I was close by, I did it on the morning of day 91.
Luckily the women at the Cuenca office were very friendly and helpful on my first visit and let me know everything I needed for the next day:
The lady gave me the correct form to fill out for the next day. It is such a simple form you may not find it worth downloading and printing ahead of time.
To obtain the color copy of my passport, she directed me to one of the restaurants in the nearby food court of the airport. Lomos Restaurant has a copier under the counter and will give you a color copy for just 50 cents.
The most helpful part of visiting a day early was that she gave me a payment slip for the bank. She filled out all of the details for me and gave me the address of the nearest bank.
You can make the payment at any Banco del Pacifico. But I chose to pay at the one she told me was closest. The fee for 2021 is $133.33. Why this amount you may ask? It is based on the minimum wage in Ecuador and the fee is a third of that amount.
The lady was very, very specific in that the fee must only be paid on the same day that you plan to extend your visa. Do not go into the bank and pay the day before!
So on my 91st day, I headed back into El Centro. I headed straight to the Banco Del Pacifico that I was told about. It is about a 15-minute walk from the airport, or a quick Tranvia or taxi ride if you prefer.
Now if you have been in Ecuador for 90 days already, then you have probably noticed the huge lines outside the banks every day. I showed up, fully expecting to be waiting for an hour or more in one of these lines. Well, I was pleasantly surprised. Shocked. No line at all! After a quick temperature check at the door, I was directed straight to the counter. The bank teller knew exactly what I was there for. Within a couple of minutes, I was walking back to the airport to get my visa extension.
The immigration office is on the second floor of the Cuenca airport. It’s just to the right of the stairs leading up there. Cuenca airport is very quiet and you should have no problem finding it.
It is open Mon – Fri from 8 am to 4.30 pm. Both times I visited, I walked straight up to the counter with no waiting. That’s probably something to do with how few tourists there are in the country at the moment. During normal, non-covid times, I expect things might take a little longer.
The lady at the counter remembered me from the day before. She took my passport, completed form, color copy of my passport, and the bank receipt. Within less than 5 minutes I was out of there with another 90 days in Ecuador in my hand. Getting a visa extension in Ecuador really is that easy!
Your visa extension just comes printed on a piece of paper. Nothing is actually put in your passport. Be careful not to lose this expensive piece of paper.
Also, remember that you cannot leave the country and re-enter with this extension. It is not good for multiple entries like your original visa. Once you leave, you will not be able to re-enter Ecuador until one year after your original entry date.
How was your experience extending your visa in Ecuador? Was it as easy as mine? Did you do it in a different city. Let me know your experiences in the comments below.