Ecuador's Visa Updates 2021

Last Updated: 3rd March 2021
Written by Jason Scott
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Ecuador routinely updates visa requirements for tourist, temporary & permanent residency visas. They announced numerous changes in February 2021 that may affect you, so we've covered the most important updates below.

Not sure which Ecuador residency visas you may be eligible for? Our Residency Visa Calculator will guide you in less than 30 seconds. Go try it out 🙂

Editor's Note

1. Article 65 of the Human Mobility Law was introduced on the 5th February 2021 and is now in effect. It may still take some time for the accompanying regulations to be adopted by the migration offices around the country. As this is uncharted waters, we'd encourage anyone with doubts to contact their visa facilitator (or contact us for a recommendation).

2. There was one anticipated rule change where the 6-month Special Tourist Visa was to be replaced by a more flexible Business Visa. However, this rule has not yet come into effect and we don't recommend relying on this new visa.

3. If you want to apply for permanent residency, it currently is not clear how long you need to spend in Ecuador on your temporary visa. In particular, there is confusion as to whether you can spend any time outside of Ecuador at all. There is a new regulation expected to the passed during May 2021 that will address this.

We'll keep this page updated as news emerges.

Related Video: 8 Ecuador Visa Updates for 2021

Temporary Residency - Unlimited Renewals

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Temporary Visa Changes 2021 Unlimited Renewals
Old Laws Of Ecuador

Old Rule

  • Can only renew your temporary visa once
New Laws in Ecuador

New Rule

  • Unlimited temporary visa renewals

The temporary visa rules have been updated to allow for unlimited renewals. This applies to all temporary visa types such as the Professional, Investor, Rentista, Retirement, Volunteer, Student & Dependant. 

This matters to those that are on the fence about whether they should take the next step and apply for permanent residency. This change effectively allows you to keep your temporary residency for as long as you like, provided you're ok with renewing it every 2 years. 

If you're thinking about eventually becoming an Ecuadorian citizen, then it's still best to obtain permanent residency sooner rather than renewing your temporary residency a few times. 

The fees for renewing your temporary residency are the same as your original application. 

Temporary Residency Visas - More Travel Time

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Temporary Visa Changes 2021 Unlimited Time Outside of Ecuador
Old Laws Of Ecuador

Old Rule

  • Only allowed outside of Ecuador for 90 days every 12 months. $1200 fine if overstay outside of Ecuador for more than 90 days. 
New Laws in Ecuador

New Rule

  • No time limit on how long you can be outside of Ecuador

This visa change is a real bonus for digital nomads or anyone that works remotely from Ecuador.

The old rule limited temporary visa holders to a maximum of 90 days outside of Ecuador during each 12 month period. 

So now, it's theoretically possible to visit Ecuador and apply for your temporary residency. Then once you've received your visa & cedula, you can leave the country for say 1 year, and then return and either renew your temporary residency or apply for permanent residency.

I'm not aware of many other countries that offer this level of flexibility during temporary residency, so this change alone could really help drive more visits from digital nomads or really anyone that doesn't want to be tied down in one location for too long. 

This can also potentially give remote workers more ammunition to ask their current employer for permission to work from Ecuador as you now have complete freedom to spend as much or as little time in your head office. 

If you really value your travel freedom, then perhaps continuously renewing your temporary visa every 2 years is the best option. Why? Because permanent resident visas still have a maximum of 180 days every year allowed outside of Ecuador.

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Dependant Visas - Can Detach From Principle Visa Holder

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Dependant Visa Changes 2021 Principle Visa Holder Dies
Old Laws Of Ecuador

Old Rule

  • If something happened to the main visa holder then the dependant's visa is automatically canceled
New Laws in Ecuador

New Rule

  • If something happens to the main visa holder, then the dependent's visa is NOT canceled.

This update makes a lot of sense, especially given the difficult circumstances that dependants can find themselves in if they're no longer with the main visa holder. 

For example, a common scenario for a married couple of retirement age is to move to Ecuador and apply for a retirement visa. But, perhaps only one person is eligible because they meet the social security income requirements. Then, the 2nd person could still apply as a dependant of the main visa holder. It's also considerably cheaper than applying for 2 retirement visas. 

But, what if something then happens to the main visa holder? Perhaps they are in an accident and they pass away. What then happens to the dependant? Previously, this very difficult time was made even worse with the added stress of needing to figure out how they can legally stay in their adopted country. And, they only had 30 days to organize it or they'd need to leave the country. How stressful! 

There still might be good reasons to apply for 2 individual retirement visas, so I'd consider using a visa facilitator before making this decision. 

Temporary Dependant Visa - Less Eligible Relationships

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Dependant Visa Changes 2021 Eligible Relationships
Old Laws Of Ecuador

Old Rule

  • A dependant could be a non-immediate family member such as a grandchild 
New Laws in Ecuador

New Rule

  • A dependant is now limited to a spouse and/or kids only

They've decreased the types of relationships that are now eligible for the dependant visa when applying for temporary residency.

The previous rule allowed for a wider range of relationships such as grandchildren, brothers, brothers-in-law etc that could obtain a dependant visa. 

But now, you'll only be able to obtain a dependant visa for your: 

  • Spouse - whether through marriage or common law; or
  • Kids - evidenced via a birth certificate

Note, this is different from the rules for permanent residency which have not changed and still allow for wider relationships. 

Permanent Residency - Less Travel Time Years 2+ 

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Permanent Residency Visa Changes 2021 Maximum Time Outside of Ecuador
Old Laws Of Ecuador

Old Rule

  • After 2 years of permanent residency, only need to visit Ecuador once every 5 years to maintain permanent residency status
  • $1,600 fine if more than 180 days outside of Ecuador during the first 2 years
New Laws in Ecuador

New Rule

  • After 2 years of permanent residency, your visa will be canceled if you spend more than 2 years outside of Ecuador. 
  • $200 fine if more than 180 days outside of Ecuador during the first 2 years.

This update mainly affects those that spend little time in Ecuador, but still wanted to keep their options open.

The first 2 years of your permanent residency have also changed a little bit. You're still allowed a maximum of 180 days outside of Ecuador each year for your first 2 years. But, the fines have now been significantly reduced if you do overstay more than 180 days outside of Ecuador.

Before, they were 4x the minimum wage of $400 ($1,600), but now they are only 0.5 x minimum wage ($200). 

But, the previous rule allowed for an incredible amount of freedom to spend time outside of Ecuador and still maintain your permanent resident status. You could basically just fly into Ecuador for 1 day, then fly out and then keep your permanent residency status for another 5 years. This clearly doesn't help the Ecuadorian economy, so I'm not super surprised that they've rolled this back to a more reasonable 2 years. 

Tourist Visas - Reduced Fines for Overstaying

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Tourist Visa Changes 2021 Penalties for Overstaying
Old Laws Of Ecuador

Old Rule

  • Fine of $800 & 2-year ban if overstay
New Laws in Ecuador

New Rule

  • Fine of $200 OR 1-year ban if overstay

The catalyst for this rule change appears to be the many people that were effectively stranded in Ecuador during the COVID pandemic.

Many visitors on tourist visas could not leave the country and were forced to stay and then apply for tourist visa extensions. But, what happens once that 90-day extension expires? You either had to apply for a different visa or accept the $800 fine and the 2-year ban on entering Ecuador. 

This new rule eases that burden on these visitors that have either:

  • Failed to arrange another visa (including at tourist visa extension) after their initial 90 days; or
  • Did obtain the tourist visa extension but then failed to apply for temporary residency after their additional 90 days. 

They now have the option of accepting a one-year ban on entering Ecuador OR paying the $200 if they want to re-enter within the one-year period. The $400 fine will automatically be voided after one year. 

I applaud the Ecuadorian government for using common sense and decreasing the fines for overstaying during the pandemic. Let's hope they don't increase the fines again anytime soon. 

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No Health Insurance Needed for Visas (but...)

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Visa Changes 2021 Health Insurance
Old Laws Of Ecuador

Old Rule

  • Proof of health insurance was required for temporary & permanent visas
New Laws in Ecuador

New Rule

  • Health insurance is NOT required for visas. But, it's still needed for your Cedula.

You should have health insurance whilst living in Ecuador. This can be either private or public (IESS). 

Health insurance was previously a requirement before any temporary or permanent visa was issued. They've now gone away with that is, but have introduced a substantial caveat - you still need to have health insurance before they'll issue your cedula.

A cedula is like a driver's license that you carry everywhere with you and you'll quickly memorize your number because everyone asks you for it when you buy anything or do anything official like open a bank account

You normally receive your Cedula after you've received your temporary residency. So, the effect on most applicants will be the same. You're going to need health insurance as you'll definitely want your cedula. 

Possible Rule Change

All of the preceding rule changes mentioned have now come into effect. The following is an anticipated rule change that is not yet in effect. We've been in contact with the Ministry (late March 2021), and they have confirmed that

  • The Special Tourist Visa no longer exists
  • The Business Visa has not yet come into effect and they don't know when/if it will.

Commerce Visa - More Flexibility After Tourist Visa

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Special Tourist Visa Changes 2021 Replaced with Business Visa
Old Laws Of Ecuador

Old Rule

  • The most common visa after your initial tourist + extension was the Special Tourist Visa. This was valid for 180 days, but you could only apply for it once every 5 years.
New Laws in Ecuador

New Rule

  • New Commerce Visa gives you 180 days, but you can apply for it every year

The first 180 days in Ecuador are pretty straightforward for citizens from most countries. You obtain a tourist stamp when you enter which is valid for 90 days. Then, a Tourist Visa Extension is easily obtainable for another 90 days. 

But, now what happens after these initial 180 days? You can apply for a temporary residency visa if you're ready. However, for many (myself included) it can take quite a while for you to even gather all of your documents, have them apostilled, and then finally sent to Ecuador. 

In the meantime, your visa clock doesn't stop ticking, so it may be necessary to obtain some sort of bridging visa. The previous best option for this was the Special Tourist Visa. This visa was valid for 90 days, but you could only apply for it once every 5 years - which means it's really not practical to use it any more than once. This visa has now been repealed. 

The new Commerce Visa is much more practical as it allows you to spend 180 additional days in Ecuador every year! I believe the 'commerce' requirements are pretty loose, but as it's a new visa it's still hard to say what activities will be eligible.  

Final Words

Wow, that is a lot of visa changes to comprehend. Do these changes affect you? Feel free to let us know in the comments below.

And, if you haven't checked out our Residency Visa Calculator, we suggest spending the next 30 seconds doing exactly that.

Got Questions?

If you have any questions about these changes or are not clear about the visa requirements in general, feel free to reach out and we can put you in touch with our recommended visa facilitator.

We've been trying our best to answer your questions in the comments. But honestly, it's getting a little out of control. We're effectively giving free mini-consultations based on your personal circumstances. If you do value our work and would like to support us (and this site), please consider buying us a Coffee Tree for our family's eventual farm.

Note, providing a donation does not guarantee a response to your visa question, but it will provide a small additional incentive for us to do so. This token amount (it's only like $5+) is really just an acknowledgment of our work.

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80 comments on “Ecuador's Visa Updates 2021”

  1. This is great news well presented Jason! Those limitations with the Temp Visa were the primary reasons I was not considering applying.

    Although they are not calling it a Digital Nomad Visa (they should) it will now be one of the most affordable and flexible DN visas in the world!

    1. Thanks Siobhan. Yes, lots more flexibility with these temporary residency visas. I think it will be a long time before Ecuador embraces any sort of digital nomad visa and I'm actually a little on the fence as to whether they are a good idea as they generally hike up the income requirements. If they don't, then I'm all for it. My full opinion if you're interested is in this article.

  2. Major bummer for us... We have had our visa for 9 years now. We were thinking of moving somewhere else for a few years, and then returning before our 5 years was up. Suddenly cutting that to 2 years is a royal PITA...

    It doesn't say how long we must stay upon returning inside that 2-year mark. Can we just pass through immigration and catch the next plane out, perhaps on our way to some other country we are visiting?

    1. Hey Burt - I know these changes do decrease some of the flexibility with the time allowed outside of Ecuador. There is no minimum amount of time required for your visit to Ecuador to keep the visa afoot. So long as you pass through immigration once within 2 years you shouldn't have any issue maintaining your visa. As you've been in Ecuador for 9 years, perhaps it's worthwhile applying for citizenship as this would give you the flexibility you desire?

  3. Thanks for the excellent write-up. This is good news for people with temporary visas.

    A question- I have my Rentista Visa...when the 2 years are up and I want to renew, do I have to go through the full process again? FBI fingerprints, birth certificate, divorce decree, etc. (all of these bing apostilled).

    Thanks.
    Brad

    1. Hey Brad - No, you don't need a new set of documents to renew the temporary resident visa. You'll only need to obtain a new criminal report from abroad if you spent more than 90 consecutive days outside of Ecuador. Of course, the other option is to apply for permanent residency rather than renewing your temporary residency. Let us know how you get on 🙂

  4. I have asked several people and no one can give a clear answer, but do you know if this applies to people who already have their temporary visas or to people who get their temporary visas after this new law? We got our temporary visas in September 2020 and would love this to apply to us!!

    1. Hey Heather, unfortunately, the new laws only apply to temporary residency visas obtained after 5 Feb 2021. I know it's a bit of a downer as I'd also like to be able to take advantage of these changes, but alas I cannot. Note, the changes to the permanent residency visas apply regardless of the date the visa was obtained (I know this may not affect you - but it may be helpful for others).

  5. Hey, I was wondering about the $400 dollar fee. Could I pay that fee and re enter Ecuador I’ve been gone for about 3 month and really need to go back. But i overstayed (112 days). TIA

    1. Hi Bryan - if you want to come back within one year, then you'll need to pay the fine for overstaying (currently $200) at Migración. the fine for overstaying has been reduced to $200 and needs to be paid at Migración before you can return. You can have someone in Ecuador pay it on your behalf. I know some visa facilitators also offer this service (contact us if you want a recommendation). The other option is to simply wait out the one-year ban, but I understand this may not be your preferred option.

  6. In an earlier comment you said a background check to renew a temp visa was not needed if you spent less then 90 days abroad.

    Does that also apply if you currently have a resident visa but plan to apply for a permanent visa later this year?

    1. Hey Carol - I believe so yes. I had to get a new criminal check when I applied for Permanent Residency, but that was only because I was outside of the country for more than 90 days (due to COVID).

      1. I don't understand. You say a change was
        "New Rule
        No time limit on how long you can be outside of Ecuador", and here you seem to say it's 90 day limit.

        1. The old rule did limit temporary residencies to spend maximum 90 days outside of Ecuador and still maintain their visa. The new rule does not have these restrictions. Does that clarify it for you?

  7. Hey a quick question. On Monday 5th of april i have got a cita to get my profesional visa. Now however i read a out this "commerce visa" for additional 180 days. Could you tell me how much does it cost and what are the requirements to get it? Have a great day

    1. Hey Przemek - I believe this change is still making its way through the system. There is also the chance that it's been scrapped completely and will never see the light of day. Bottom line is that this visa does not have any history - so I would suggest sticking with the proven temporary residency visa path you're currently on rather than changing courses now.

  8. Interesting changes. I live in Ecuador since 1996 always with en investment visa. Two years ago I got the permanent residenca without requierements, my question: the new visa was issued May 19,2019, so I can leave Ecuador after May 19, 2021 for maximum 2 years? I'm german so I'm not interested to get ecuad. Citizenship.

    1. Hey Kornelia - yep, that's my understanding. But, if you did need to spend more than 180 days outside of Ecuador within your first 2 years, then the fine has been reduced to $200 - which might be much cheaper than making a special trip back to Ecuador just for this.

    1. Hey Lisa - the changes to both temporary and permanent residency laws apply to all visa categories, including investor visas. Is there a particular question you had in mind?

  9. Hi im interested in becoming a permanent resident in retirement which is not for 10 years. Is it possible for me to just go for a 1 weeks vacation and apply for temporary residence go back home and wait for approval etc or would I need to stay there an extended period of time? Then in say a year i could come back and apply for permanent residence and just pay the $200 fine the first 2 years and come back every other year to maintain permanent residency until im ready to move down for good.

    Is this possible or will i run into problems? Thanks and sorry for the long message.

    1. Hey Jason - I like your long-term thinking. However, a lot can change with the visa laws in 10 years, so I wouldn't necessarily recommend this approach. Your biggest hurdle right now are the permanent residency requirements - you need to have your temporary residency & reside in Ecuador for 21 months before you can apply for it. So, this means you'll need to commit to staying here longer than your current plan allows. You could theoretically keep renewing a temporary residency visa every 2 years, but if you aren't going to be spending much time here, then it may not be worthwhile as you can already get your first 6 months in Ecuador every year easily just with your initial 90 tourist stamp + 90 day tourist visa.

  10. I’m on the fence about obtaining Dual nationality (USA/Ecuador), so that’s not a priority at the moment for me. And while travel flexibility is a high priority, with COVID, travel is more complex now. So now, with these changes coming it seems that renewing my Temp. Visa is the best option for now. Then, renewing every two years after this first renewal. So how does this scenario look to you: First off, My Temp. Visa was issued Jan. 23, 2020. OK, since I’m allowed one renewal under current law. QUESTION: is this CORRECT? Then, just renew my temp. Visa for an additional 2 years. Then, watch to see if the rule change allowing 2 year temp. Visa renewal takes effect. Then simply decide to renew or change to permanent status at some point down the line when the renewal comes due? Does that sound doable? QUESTION: What docs./fees are required to do a simple temp. Visa renewal? I did not get my Cedula after issuance of my Temp. visa, since we went into lockdown immediately after issuance of my visa. I plan to obtain a cedula now. QUESTION: Is a cedula required to renew my temp. Visa? And finally, I do not have IESS insurance. I plan to obtain it as soon as I have my Cedula. However, QUESTION: I’m being told I must show six months of Insurance “history” prior to applying for a permanent visa. Is this also required for renewing a temp. Visa?

    1. Hey BT - that's a lot of questions, but I'll try to help you out.
      1) Cedula: You'll need health insurance in order to obtain your cedula. I suggest you obtain this first.
      2) Temp Visa: The new temporary visa rule changes do not apply to you, so you have one renewal. I would not suggest waiting to see if they will change (ie unlimited renewals for older temporary residency visas). You may find yourself needing to reapply for a new visa rather than renewing (renewing is a much simpler process).
      3) Permanent Residency: If you're already in Ecuador, and likely to be here for 21 months during your temporary residency visa, then I'd suggest the better long-term option for you would be to apply for permanent residency. I know travel is important to you, but as you've said it's more difficult right now, so perhaps it's the perfect time to bunker down in Ecuador to ensure you can obtain your permanent residency.

  11. So you can’t get a temporary visa and leave you must stay there 21 consecutive months to apply for permanent residency?

  12. Muchas gracias. So IESS first in Loja (I was told I need a cedula to buy it!) Then Cedula in Machala, then criminal history check in Guayaquil. Etc. and go for perm. Visa, got it! I’ll report back on how I do.

    1. BT - I'd suggest getting your cedula first. But, they may require you to have private health insurance before they issue it. I'd check with your Migracion office in Machala to check how long you'd need private health insurance for before they'll give you the cedula. You may need to prepay 3-6 months private health insurance & take the letter they provide to say you're covered (ie Ecuasanitas or similar).

    1. Dena - these are the most recent substantial updates to the visa laws, yes. They tend to make large updates every 3-4 years. Are there likely to be smaller, more recent changes that aren't covered here, yes. We've focused on these changes as they are the ones that will likely affect expats the most. We'll cover any future substantial updates as they come to light.

  13. I overstayed my visa by 2 days. I am in the process of getting the $200 fine. After I pay this, will I need to apply for a visa or will I automatically get my 90 days back?

    1. Abbie - after you pay the fine you shouldn't have any restrictions when re-entering Ecuador and your normal entry rules should apply. ie If you're from one of the countries that need a visa to enter Ecuador, then yes, you'll need a visa. I suggest you read this article about Ecuador's general visa requirements 🙂

  14. Hey Jason. Thank you for this information- it is more than helpful!

    I live in the US. I just started the process of registering my degree with SENESCYT (going for the professional visa in the future). However, I don't actually plan to relocate too Ecuador until a couple more years.

    With that being said, would it make sense to go ahead and apply for the professional visa once I'm approved in SENESCYT (since there is no time frame on how long you can be outside of Ecuador now)? Would there be any issues in doing this?

    I ask because I'll be in Ecuador for three weeks this summer. So, I am trying to get an idea if going ahead and applying for the professional visa while I am visiting would make things more convenient moving forward in the future before I physically relocate.

    1. Thanks Dusty. You can theoretically get a temporary residency visa now and renew, but I wouldn't go through this process & expense until I know that I want to move to Ecuador (I've done this with another country and it didn't work out so well...). If I was in your shoes, I would:
      a) Visit Ecuador for 3 weeks as you've planned
      b) Decide if Ecuador residency is something you want to pursue.
      c) If so, start planning your date of entry.
      d) Gather all of your documents for the professional visa (including criminal check)
      e) Bring these to Ecuador with you and then apply for your visa. If you run out of time with your tourist visa, you can always apply for a 90 day extension which should be ample time for you to get your residency visa.

  15. Thank you for all the information. Do you have the specific resolution number or specific law that details the changes in the penalties for overstaying on a tourist visa?

    1. Hey Micheal, I do not. This change came from the visa facilitator that we use and we've confirmed with the ministry. If you have any doubts, then I suggest also confirming with your closest migracion office. If you are able to dig up the resolution then please feel free to share 🙂

    1. Thanks Michael - This doesn't appear to be updated with the overstay fine of 0.5 basic salaries though. It still mentions 1 basic salary is the fine (but in practice it is currently 0.5).

    1. Hey Geoffrey - my experience is that you can always find someone to do anything cheaper. I've found visa facilitator fees generally range between $500-$2000. I don't suggest choosing a facilitator solely on price though as I don't believe this is necessarily a reliable indicator of quality in this type of market. Look at their track record and reputation. Of course, the cheapest option is to apply for the retirement visa yourself rather than through a facilitator. It really depends on your risk profile. I generally only recommend those with advanced Spanish apply for the visa themselves as there's quite a bit to the process.

    1. Good question Matt. They did reduce the types of relationships that can obtain dependant visas, but I'm not sure if they made any changes to exclude adult children from obtaining dependant visas through their parent(s). I'd suggest checking with a visa facilitator on this question before making any decisions.

  16. Today is my 91st day in Ecuador and I extended my visa this morning for 90 days (until July 19). My husband is from Ecuador and I plan to apply for the amparo visa once I have all my supporting documents. I am going to the USA in June to get my background check and apostille my documents. I will return to Ecuador July 21, two days after my visa extension expires, but plan to apply for the amparo visa ASAP. I’m concerned I will have issues entering Ecuador. What are my options?

    1. Hey Linsey - before these changes I would have suggested the Special Tourist Visa as a bridging visa to give you an additional 6 months whilst you get your Amparo application together, but this has been removed and there is still no replacement. You could potentially apply for the Amparo visa whilst in the US, but you may need to wait longer than you'd like before you can return to Ecuador. I'd suggest reaching out to a visa facilitator to provide concrete options based on your circumstances. You're welcome to contact us if you require a facilitator recommendation.

  17. Hi Jason,

    Thank you for all of your amazing help to everyone!

    I have been in Ecuador for 2.5 months and my initial 90 days finished on 7th may. I want to stay until July (2 more months) and was thinking to extend. I heard that if I extend then I cant come back for a year anyway from the date I exit..... so now I have just read this that I dont need to extend I can instead overstay and take the option for the 1 year ban?

    I am actually thinking this could be better because then of I decide to come back before 1 year I can pay the €200 and return. Is that correct? Or do I pay the fine anyway of I overstay?

    So

    1. Hey Jenni - thanks for the kind words.

      Yes, you can technically overstay your tourist visa and only pay the $200 should you decide to come back within a year (you'll need to arrange to have someone pay this fine inside of Ecuador). However, by overstaying your visa you are putting yourself at risk (you are effectively an illegal immigrant at that point). It may be a small risk, but I would not recommend this path and always suggest opting to get another 90 days via an extension.

  18. Good evening. What happens if you overstayed the 180 days what’s the fine or penalty thank you. I don’t want to leave

    1. Hey Francis, I assume you're currently on a tourist visa extension as you mention 180 days. The fines for overstaying have been updated as we've covered in the article. $200 fine or ban from entering for one year.

  19. Hey Scott, thanks for commenting on my comment using a link to this page.
    What I've seen here corresponds to the letter what I've seen other places.
    I personal think the OP for that discussion isn't correct on his interpretation of the new visa laws.
    Regards
    Michelle

    1. You're most welcome Michelle. We're happy you're getting value from our content and appreciate your efforts in sharing it 🙂 The new laws aren't necessarily black and white, especially when it comes to each Migracion office implementing them. Our approach is to welcome all constructive feedback in the pursuit of providing the most accurate information possible.

  20. Hi Jason,

    I am not sure if you can help me on this. I received my permanent visa in 2012 and have an Ecuadorean cedula. When I left Ecuador in 2017, the rule was that you could be out of Ecuador for up to 5 years at a time but then had to return, if even for one day. I have been out of Ecuador since June, 2017 but was planning on returning within the next year so as to keep my permanent visa. This new rule, about permitting only 2 year absences, may affect me. Do you know if the rule on 2 year absences for permanent visa holders is retroactive or is it only applicable to people who apply for permanent visas after the effective date of this new law. Any info would be appreciated. Thanks.

    1. Hey Michael, unfortunately these latest changes to the permanent residency visa are currently retroactive. It doesn't matter when your permanent residency was obtained. Obviously, this leaves people like you in a very awkward spot and there have been some talks of challenging the retroactivity of these news laws. I'm hoping we get clarity on this over the next 2-3 months, but I'm also not holding my breath. I'd suggest contacting an immigration lawyer or visa facilitator if you want more clarity given your individual circumstances or if you potentially want to challenge this new law.

  21. Thanks Jason for you input. I'll wait a while and check again, as I have a year before I need to act.

    1. Perfect. Good to let the dust settle a bit. Although, with the new President we're likely to see some more changes.

  22. Hi Jason, a great site and so much valuable information for everyone, thank you for all your good work and advice.
    I am a resident of Ecuador, but my girlfriend is Mexican and has almost finished her 3 months visa, we were going to get the extension but she only needs another 28 days before returning home, and we heard that there was a 30 day grace period that would technically allow her to stay and then leave before the 30 days were up and therefore not need an extension or pay overstay. Do you know if that is correct?

    1. Thanks David. If your girlfriend doesn't get the extension, she will most likely receive a fine upon departure. If this fine isn't paid within the first 30 days of her overstay (ie you'll have 1-2 days max once she leaves to pay it at Migracion), then she'll receive the 1 year ban from entering Ecuador. If she's planning on coming back within the 1 year, then I'd definitely suggest getting the extension or paying the overstay fine. The extension is cheaper ($133 vs $200).

  23. Thanks for the info. I live in Cuenca and just went to the Azogues office to inquire about applying for a Permanent Visa (I've had a Temporary Investor Visa for 1 year and 9 months). I was told I have to re-apply for the Temporary Visa and then apply for the Permanent after I've been in Ecuador 2 years in a row. Today is May 14, 2021. Any chance they will change these new rules.

    1. Hey Thomas - I hear you. There's a lot of confusion on this and it still needs to be clarified by the Ministry. We are expecting an updated regulation to cover this point, but it's hard to say when exactly. I'm still hopeful it will happen sometime during May, but certainly no guarantees. The most likely outcome is that the new regulations won't be applied retroactively (ie will apply to new visas only), but we need to sit tight. Great that you got in early, as you still have a few months on your current visa for this to play out. Definitely have a backup plan though.

  24. Hi Jason I've already overstayed for 12 days and don't have a flight back home yet. can I pay the 200$ fine now and keep staying in Ecuador?

    1. Hey Johnny, do you mean you've overstayed your original 90 days or you've overstayed your 90 day extension? If you've just overstayed your original 90 days, then you can get a 90 day visa extension. If you've overstayed your extension, I'm afraid you're out of luck and your current best shot at staying in the country is applying for temporary residency - but this requires significant time & cost to organize.

  25. Hi Jason,

    How easy is it to get Ecuadorian citizenship? I heard some people say you need to spend 3 years before you can apply for it, while others say you need to wait 5 years. How long do I need to wait to get citizenship?

    1. Hey Adam, 5 years total is generally correct (2 years temporary residency + 3 years permanent residency). You can potentially skip ahead a little bit if you're marrying an Ecuadorian, but this is another topic. The Ecuadorian government is currently making it a little harder to obtain permanent residency, so if this trend continues, I'd be looking to obtain it sooner rather than later.

  26. Thanks Jason. How much of this time do you need to stay in the country? Will traveling frequently negatively affect your chances of getting citizenship?

    1. That is a very difficult question to answer right now. Why? Because some Migracion offices are interpreting a recent law change to mean that you are ineligible for permanent residency if you spend just one day outside of Ecuador whilst on your temporary residency. We're waiting on this interpretation to be confirmed or overturned - hoping we get this confirmation soon (ie within 30 days). I suggest checking back in then (or sign up for our newsletter as we include these types of updates there too).

  27. Hi Jason!

    Thanks for the great detail! I just got back from the Ministerio in Azogues where I was trying to renew my cedula. Here's what the woman there said:
    1) you can't apply for a cedula renewal if there is less than 6 months on your current visa.
    2) you can't apply for a permanent visa if you left Ecuador at any time during your temporary visa, even if, as in my case, you started your temporary residency in October of 2019

    1. Thanks for your input Sally! Yes, many expats are currently waiting with bated breath for clarification on whether they will grant permanent residency to those that have left Ecuador during their temporary residency. We're waiting on updated regulations to clarify this point.

  28. Interesting discussion. I arrived in Ecuador on October 11th 2020, and renewed my tourist visa while waiting for retirement temporary residency papers to arrive. Apostille for FBI took 5 months from December to May. Had appointment for Special Tourist in Manta changed to Business. Still waiting for that. Made appointment in Guayaquil for residency Visa on July 20th, and plan to go to Migracion to pay the overstay fine on the day before to regularize status. Not sure how things will pan out, or whether I will have to leave country and re-enter, as this could invalidate the apostilled background checks which are dated since my arrival in Ecuador.

    1. Yeah, I hear you Jonathan. It can be very confusing. Hope your appointment goes smoothly on the 20th July. Let us know how you get on. Also, don't hold your breath for the Business visa - as far as I know, these are not being processed yet

      1. Sure, I will let you know. The business Visa application now seems redundant as I have received the apostilled documents from FBI and Social Security for the temporary residency. I have no desire to leave Ecuador and no plans to do so, but really don't want to have to take the documents that I have now obtained to submit to the consulate in Bogota when I can submit them in Guayaquil.

        I also have a medical condition for which it was recommended by my Ecuadorian vascular surgeon to not fly at the time of the expiration of my second 90 days, as there could be potentially fatal consequences, but whether the doctor's letters can have any effect on the Visa process, I don't know, but I imagine that presenting them would not do any harm, and might possibly help.

        1. Well, I had been told by a immigration attorney firm that advertises widely online that it can assist people to get visas in Ecuador that I would not be able to apply for the temporary residency retirement Visa, but would have to pay an overstay fine of $400 and leave the country and apply overseas from a consulate.

          However I went to see migracion to plead my case, and in fact I did not have to pay a fine, and only had to pay $5.50 for a letter of certification of migratory movement. So now I am good to go to my appointment in Guayaquil next week to get my temporary residency Visa which I made through one of the Visa offices in the building next to the gold building in Guayaquil, who charged me $200 for translating and certifying a couple of documents.

          I have only two words for the relatively high priced immigration attorneys, and the second word is "you".

          Fortunately I dodged paying these people $1,500 or more for their dubious services, but others should be warned.

          1. Hey Jonathan, great that you managed to solve your own visa issue! I understand your frustration though. I don't know your full circumstances, but I can say that many visa issues in Ecuador are not black and white. Different migration offices can interpret the regulations differently, which can lead to a lot of confusion. Is your appointment in Guayaquil for a temporary residency retirement visa? How long did you overstay? Feel free to keep us updated on how your appointment goes next week 🙂

          2. Thanks, Jason. Everything you say is true!

            Executive summary--I went to the visa appointment in Guayaquil yesterday and the result was not too bad. I didn't get the visa, but they told me to go to Migracion and pay an overstay fine, then make another appointment.

            Full story--The lady I saw at Window 15 spoke English, sort of, but we had our discussions in Spanish as I prefer to speak my bad Spanish rather than try to understand their bad English.

            After the appointment I went to Migracion and they told me to pay $200, and then to Banco de Pacifico and paid $200 plus 59 centavos, then back to Migracion and got a stamped paper to add to my file to say that I had paid the multa of $200.

            I then went back to the visa agency (Nivelservi, building next door to Ministerio Exterior "gold" building) that had got my docs translated and notarized ($180) and put together my visa manila file ($20), and asked them to make another appointment for me. They were unable to do so, because I already had an appointment that same day! But said they would do it on the next day, but actually when I got home I was able to do it online myself and have an appointment for August 18th--the fine is good for 30 days, so within the time. It takes almost 30 days to get an appointment in Guayaquil.

            So bottom line: Not necessary to pay $400 multa and leave the country.It should be plain sailing now as the docs have all been checked.

            Background information--Just for background and in answer to your questions. I entered Ecuador on October 11th, a few days after they abolished quarantine for entry. I obtained a 90-day extension on Jan 10th which expired April 7th. After than time I tried to apply for Special visa or Business visa to bridge the gap while I was waiting for FBI apostille. (This is how I came into contact with the 'rogue' visa assistance agency that advertises in English.)

            I had applied by mail for an FBI apostille in July 2020, but had received no response by December, so I sent in a further request that was mailed in the US on December 21st. I received the apostille in late May, then it took a couple of weeks more to have it couriered to me. I made my appointment for the temporary residency visa (retired) on June 20th and received an appointment for July 20th.

            Commentary--The process is certainly confusing, and you will get different responses from different Migracion offices, or even different employees, if, for example, one employee has gone for lunch!

            However in my opinion, other than paying to get documents translated and notarized in Ecuador, I do not see any purpose in paying big bucks to the visa facilitators who advertise in English, as they will not necessarily have your best interest at heart. Of course, this will depend on your budget, and if $1500 is small change to you, then you might as well use the service. However they cannot do the most difficult part for you, which is obtaining an FBI background check with apostille, because during the pandemic express service for apostilles is not available and the processing time is several months. (This could change at any time as normal apostille service in Washington DC will presumably be resumed sooner or later.)

            Around the Ministerio del Exterior office in Guayaquil there are several visa agents that do document preparation for relatively modest fees. As soon as you get out of your taxi, several people will approach you! The only catch is that they may not speak English, so you might need to take an interpreter with you if your Spanish is not up to it.

            When you actually go for your appointment your paperwork will stand or fall on its own merits and there is no advantage in having someone from the visa agency go with you.

          3. Hey Jonathan, thanks for providing the detailed write-up of your experience. Great that you got yourself another appointment. Hopefully you'll get your residency next month. I agree, you can definitely do the visa process yourself. For me, the question comes down to how you value your time in trying to figure the process out. It's easy to mess it up and then you have to get documents re-apostilled etc. Did you try to contact other visa facilitators? It sounds like you may have only enquired with the most expensive one only. Perhaps it's possible that the value exchange may have been there with a more economical facilitator. I know it certainly was for me as I spent a lot of time running around to various migracion offices and had a hard time getting progress without assistance.

  29. Hi Jason,

    My ecuadorian wife, who I married about 4 years ago in Cuenca, wants to get divorced asap. We separated recently because there wasn't harmony in our relationship and we agreed to stay married so that I could apply for citizenship once I had an apostilled FBI check. I am in US right now getting those documents in order to apply for citizenship upon return but she wants to get divorced now because she is tired of waiting for me to have what I need to apply for citizenship. It took me months to get here and it will still be a couple of months until I am ready to return. I currently have a visa de amparo but I am concerned that if she were to get divorced while I am not there that my visa would be terminated. Is that true? Would I lose my cedula and my ability to apply for citizenship? In that case can I still return to ecuador on some other type of visa? Thank you.

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