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Ecuador Citizenship Requirements: Ecuador Naturalization Update

Posted in: Living in Ecuador

This post, with updated legal requirements for Ecuadorian visas for permanent residency, has been contributed by Nelson Idrovo, Attorney at Law. Along with his wife Grace Velastegui, Nelson runs Idrovo & Velastegui – a Cuenca Law Office.

grace-nelson-cuenca-law-officeEcuador Citizenship Requirements: Update

For permanent residents of Ecuador thinking of applying for naturalization after 3 years of residency, as of February 1, 2015, there is a new directive regarding the amount of time you can be out of the country.

For the naturalization process, you can only be out of the country a TOTAL of 90 days for the first THREE years of Permanent Residency. (Updated November 2, 2016)

Again, this new directive went into effect February 1, 2015.

If you are not interested in naturalization and remain as a permanent resident then the following still applies: In the first two years of residency you can only leave the country for 90 days in each year. After two years of residency you can be out of the country for longer periods of time.

Nelson Idrovo
Attorney at Law

This post, with updated legal requirements for Ecuadorian visas for permanent residency, has been contributed by Nelson Idrovo, Attorney at Law. Along with his wife Grace Velastegui, Nelson runs Idrovo & Velastegui – a Cuenca Law Office.

Have a specific question? Ask it in the comments below or contact Grace and Nelson directly.

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Meet the Author

Bryan Haines is co-editor of GringosAbroad - Ecuador's largest blog for expats and travelers. He is a travel blogger and content marketer. He is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Travel.

85 comments… add one
  • Katerina Feb 21, 2018, 7:18 pm

    So here is my dilemma, would love to get some advice on this. I used to have ecuadorian citizenship because my dad is Ecuadorian and I grew up there even though I was born in another country. My mother revoked my ecua citizenship when we moved. My father mentioned i am dual nationality in some documents but I’m not sure if she changed that as well. Would the process to get the citizenship “cédula” back be difficult or require me to live there? I’m going back for 2 weeks this summer.
    Thank you!

  • Angel Aug 21, 2017, 1:40 pm

    My husband is Ecuadorianian, and we currently live in USA with our son who was born in California. We will go to Ecuador Christmas 2017 and would like to apply for Ecuadorian citizenship for my son. Is it easier to bring all of our documents and apply in Ecuador or apply at the Ecuadorian Embassy in California? If it’s easier to apply in Ecuador, is there a way to make an online appointment? What types of documents do I need to bring? Thank you!!

    • Alicia Sep 6, 2017, 11:38 am

      It’s easier to do the paperwork in the USA. I did my son’s at the consulate located in Minneapolis. Trust me, when you get to Ecuador, they start asking for every paper to be translated, apostatized, and multiple copies (as they keep the matter how important your marriage certificate or birth certificate might be). Do it there. You should also do your Amparo visa (if you are staying for more than 3 months) in the USA (Amparo visa is the family member Visa). You will need current police and FBI reports, etc. which make doing the paperwork there easier as well.

    • Grace Velastegui Sep 12, 2017, 5:49 pm

      Dear Angel,
      If your son´s father is Ecuadorian, your son is considered Ecuadorian and you must register his nationality at the Ecuadorian civil registry or at an Ecuadorian Consulate in the U.S. You will need the father´s Ecuadorian cedula, your son´s birth certificate, and it would be a good idea to take your passport. The birth certificate must be apostilled and translated into Spanish.

  • Connie Lease May 24, 2017, 1:10 pm

    Good article , thanks and we want extra! Added to FeedBurner as well

  • hassan raza Feb 22, 2017, 7:24 pm

    i am ecuador resident and i am near to complete three years all time spended in ecaudor can i apply for ecuador citizinship … i had purchased property for my residency answer me please my visa is 911

  • A Pell Jan 28, 2017, 7:10 pm

    Are there mandatory vaccination requirements for living in Ecuador? Most information easily available pertains to travel or reccomendations by the CDC or other US governemnt entity. My family is interested in living abroad and would like to know the mandatory requirements, if any.

  • Ammar Dec 16, 2016, 7:12 pm

    can baby get citizenship by birth in Ecuador if we arrive there before?
    what will be the span of neutralization parents of the local child ?
    i hope you answer my question

  • Summer Dec 12, 2016, 10:04 pm

    I’m pregnant, and would like to relocate to Ecuador before the birth of my child. It is my partner and I, along with our 16 month old daughter. How does this work? Will we be able to stay over the initial 90 day period because of the baby? Are we required to stay for a certain amount of time after the birth before we are allowed to come back and visit family in the United States? Will the baby be required to be vaccinated (this may be a deal breaker for me)?

  • preet sandhu Dec 9, 2016, 2:44 pm

    hlo sir/mam

    i m coming here in tourist visa …i really like this country…i wannna live here permanently…plese give me information about…i am how to apply permanent resistance..pls

  • Eva Dec 2, 2016, 11:34 pm

    I understand after receiving your Ecuador permanent resident visa that the first two years, 90 days each year, absence is allowed. Starting the third year 18 consecutive months absence is allowed. Is the 18 months allowed within a certain amount of time? Are the first two years considered part of the 18 months? What is allowed after the 18 months? There is much conflicting information on this subject.

  • Mai Jul 25, 2016, 7:16 am

    Is it possible to apply for a permanent residency in Ecuador if i deliver my baby there? will it take time? can I find a job?

    I’m desperate.

    • Grace Velastegui Aug 10, 2016, 6:05 pm

      Dear Mai,
      You have the right to apply for residency if your child is born in Ecuador, but it is not automatic. You must apply for a visa 9-VI dependent visa, based on the fact your child was born in Ecuador. Once you become a legal resident, you are allowed to work legally in the country.

  • Randy Jul 16, 2016, 4:50 am

    My wife was born in Quito, Equador in 74. She does not have a birth certificate from Equador, although her US birth certificate states she was born in Ecuador. Her parents brought her stateside in ’83.

    Is there anyone that can guide us to prove her dual citizenship? (as she is a naturalized citizen).

    • Grace Velastegui Aug 10, 2016, 6:06 pm

      Dear Randy,
      If her parents are Ecuadorians, your wife has the right to Ecuadorian citizenship. Her parents´birth certificates should be registered in Ecuador.

  • Simon Wedge Jun 17, 2016, 3:41 am

    Good day,

    What are the requirements as in documents and process, after living 3 years in ecuador in order to apply for citizenship ?

    all the best

    • Grace Velastegui Aug 10, 2016, 6:09 pm

      Dear Simon,

      The first requirement for naturalization is you cannot have been out of the country for more than 90 days in the first 3 years of residency. If you left the country more than 90 days, you cannot apply for citizenship.

      You will need to show your economic solvency and provide a Police Report among other requirements.

      • Gary Sep 9, 2016, 4:42 pm

        I moved from USA to Ecuador on October 27, 2011 and entered on a 90 day visa. I had to return for 24 days to obtain the necessary paperwork and 6 month visa to apply for my residency. I finally obtained my residency 05/10/2012.

        I married an Ecuadorian April 2013.

        I returned to the USA for 24 days for vacation in 2014.

        I returned to the USA for 4 days for business in 2015.

        I am thinking about becoming a naturalized citizen of Ecuador. Since I have not lived in the USA for 5 years and have always maintained residency in Ecuador, will I need an FBI background check, State police report where I lived before moving to Ecuador 5 years ago, and an Ecuadorian Police check? My total time out of the country of Ecuador is 51 days.


  • Laura Apr 7, 2016, 3:14 pm

    I have been married to an Ecuadorian for seven years. We do not live in Ecuador. Can I still get my Ecuadorian citizenship while living abroad?
    Thank you,

  • warren Light Jan 31, 2016, 4:39 pm

    Grace, I understand that it takes about a year from application to obtain naturalisation. Can we travel outside of Ecuador while the application is being processed and exceed the 90 day restriction? We like to travel and think these restrictions are draconian.

  • Warren Light Jan 31, 2016, 4:25 pm

    Dear Grace, I legally changed my name in 1969 and have an Ecuadoran cedula in my changed name, but naturally, my birth certificate is in another name. This change was not because of marriage. 🙂 The name change records are 47 years old. What can I do to comply?

  • Gary Jan 27, 2016, 4:47 pm

    It would be nice to have a list of documents required for each circumstance when applying for citizenship. It does change for different situations. The best way to know is to go to the Ministerio and ask, collect the papers and then start the process.

  • Ernest Jan 15, 2016, 4:47 pm

    Just wish to asked what it takes as a clergy to obtain a citizenship here iin Ecaudor, Just after obtaining a residences. I mean how long I’m to wait befor I request for a citizenship. Thanks.

  • James Robinson Nov 26, 2015, 6:11 pm

    Does the 3 years with less than 90 days out of country apply if you have residency and you marry an Ecuadorian? In other words, can the naturalization process be expedited by marrying an Ecuadorian?

  • Anhar Nov 15, 2015, 2:38 am

    Dear sir,

    I’m from Yemen, I would like to ask for the citizenship,is it allowed for yemeni people to have it? how can i get it ? how much i have to pay?

    thank you,

  • RaShar Hardin Thomas Oct 15, 2015, 11:55 pm

    I want to be a permanent citizen and have six minor children. What steps do i take ? I plan to move Equador in July 2016,so i can not apply until 2019 ? Thanks!

  • Jocelyn Sep 20, 2015, 12:28 pm


    The date on my Cedula is February 2, 2013. I should have the three years by February 3, 2016. I have NOT been out of Ecuador for even one day during that period of time. If I want to apply for citizenship, do I need an FBI report since I did not have to have one for the original retirement visa. Will the Ecuadorian police check over the past three years be enough? Since I cannot apply until 2016, will Ecuador issue new 2016 requirements?

  • Khurram Sep 15, 2015, 5:42 am


    My name is Khurram, working in a MNC (Pharmaceutical) as a Manager Planning in Supply Chain having 16 years working experience. I am interested to get a foreign citizenship for better future of our family. I want an information regarding citizenship terms and conditions / formalities specially business perspective. Waiting of your positive feedback.


  • Melissa Jenkins Sep 7, 2015, 9:19 pm

    Hi Grace, I want to apply for my citizenship, in the requirements it says translations have to apostilled. So if I translate my birth certificate, where do i need to get it done. Can a notary here in ecuador notarize it, or does it have to be done in a US embassy?

  • James Jul 27, 2015, 5:17 pm

    Dear Grace, I’ve seen from several sources that its possible to apply for naturalization beginning the third year. Some sources say after 2 1/2 years . Gringopost says “beginning 3rd year”. Do you have any information you can confirm if its allowed and specifically for Cuenca. Thank you for your time.

  • Lin Neal Jul 13, 2015, 5:42 pm

    My husband and I arrived in Ecuador Jan. 2012 planning to retire in Ecuador. My husband stayed in Ecuador and I returned to the US to work and get our home ready to sell April 2012. My husband began his residency Visa process which took months without him getting anywhere keeping his passport for months…even with an attorney. Turns out the problem was that they could not process his Visa without processing my Visa at the same time. He could not leave the country to visit me without his passport. What I had to do was mail my passport while in the US to our attorney here so both our visas could be processed at the same time. When my husband came to visit me in September 2012 in the US, he brought me my Ecuadorian Visa. However, I did not arrive in Ecuador until mid December 2012. Did my 90 Days per year begin when I arrived in Dec. 2012? I have not or will not be our of the country for more than 30 days thru Dec. 2013, Dec. 2014 and Dec. 2015. With this time frame, am I currently qualified for Citizenship? I am not sure how this works since I received my Visa before I arrived in Ecuador Dec. 2012.

  • Mr, k Jul 9, 2015, 8:37 am

    Hello that good,

  • Akar May 30, 2015, 5:03 pm

    thank you for the useful info but could you please help to let me know the following
    1- is the refugee can get benefit of this citizenship ?
    2- what the procedure to apply for refugee case and what kind of resident he will be granted ?
    Thanks in advance

  • Hussein Apr 4, 2015, 4:59 pm

    thanks for urs answers , they r very useful
    Im pharmacist from Iraq ..i want to go to ecuador ad refugee because war here and im threatened here
    im asking about benefit to be a refugee in ecuador and when ecuador accept my case i will be a refugee and at the same time perminent resident and wait 3 years to gain citizinship.and as a pharmacist does I have good chance to work there?
    thanks for urs time.

  • Grace Velastegui Feb 26, 2015, 5:49 pm

    The rule to be eligible for citizenship is that on the last three years of being a resident you had not overpassed 90 days out of Ecuador.

  • Ann Dowdy Feb 24, 2015, 6:10 pm

    Have all the replies been private? I would like to know the answer to everybody’s questions. Is that possible? Also, another question: Does one’s cedula/visa need to be renewed? Or is it permanent?

    Thank you

    • Grace Velastegui Feb 26, 2015, 10:24 am

      The answers to the questions will appear below each question. In response to your questions; You do not need to renew a Residency visa, they are permanent but Cedulas do, they expire every 10 years.

  • Laurie Feb 24, 2015, 8:31 am

    Thank you for your time. As of June 10, 2014 we have a Cedula. After the first two years have passed what are the requirements for time in Ecuador the 3,4,5, 6,7, 8 9 and tenth year. Once ceduala expires is it is to renew as long as you do not allow it to expire? Gracias

    • Grace Velastegui Feb 26, 2015, 10:32 am

      After the second year of beign a resident you can leave Ecuador for up to 18 months without loosing your resident’s status and yes, as long as you keep your status you need to renew your cedula through a simple process.

  • Ann Dowdy Feb 23, 2015, 4:42 pm

    Thank you for placing this information on your website. I am interested in naturalization, but as of April, after a business trip to the US, I will have been out of the country for 65 days over a two year period.
    When I reach the 3 year deadline and if I have exceeded the 90 day limit, does that mean I have to start all over again?

    Thank you,

    • Nelson Idrovo Feb 24, 2015, 2:43 pm

      If you want to apply for Ecuadorian citizenship and you are out of the country for more than 90 days in three years, you will have to wait another three years and be within the limitation to apply for naturalization.

  • Roger Oberdacker Feb 23, 2015, 8:32 am

    What are the advantages and disadvantages of being an Ecuadorian citizen?

    • Grace Velastegui Feb 26, 2015, 12:26 pm

      Everything; once you are admited as a resident you have all the rights and obligations an Ecuadorian has and you no longer have to keep the guaranty of your residency in place.

    • RAQUEL SCHULLO Oct 20, 2016, 7:51 pm


  • Nelson Feb 22, 2015, 2:18 pm

    Good afternoon , my name is Nelson , I migrated to the states 1974 when I was 4 years old, My father petition for us to migrate to the states with legal green card.Remind you that my father was there since 1966.He Naturalize 1980 , I was underage, 12 years old. Even though he was in the process of getting a divorce , he always paid child support. My father and mother divorce, and in the divorce paper he gave legal custody only of my sisters to my mother,the reason why was because I was allready over age 18 years old!, I have all the tax papers and child support documentation proving that my father was part of our life, I was force to leave behind my son , daughter , older brother , 2 younger sister, mothe and father .Both of my parents are naturalize citizens and my 2 younger sister were born in the states , and my brother naturalize in the states, could you please help me to see if I could ever get a chance to get back to my home town, I never been in Ecuador and its really hard for me to adapt, even thou I been here for 7 years . “I thought I was an Naturalize American”.

  • Tomas Feb 21, 2015, 8:48 pm

    I am already a subscriber to the newsletter….I have a question. I have been coming to ECUADOR for 5
    OR 6 YEARS. ALWAYS ON A 90 day tourist visa, 4 TIMES !!!!….THEN PAYING FOR A SIX MONTH

    • Grace Velastegui Feb 26, 2015, 12:37 pm

      As long as you respect the one year period you can continue coming to Ecuador and extending your stay each year.

  • R. Dalleave Feb 21, 2015, 7:57 pm

    I too would like answers to the above questions. But also: After the first 2 years of residency, if you’re NOT hoping for citizenship, how long can you be out of the Country?

    • Nelson Idrovo Feb 24, 2015, 2:54 pm

      At the moment, starting in the third year of residency, you can be out of the country up to 18 months. However, it is suggested not push this to the limit, but return before 18 months is up.

  • Carol Van Alstine Feb 21, 2015, 5:55 pm

    Hey, I see many, many questions and NO reply from you, whats going on?

    • Bryan Haines Feb 21, 2015, 10:41 pm

      Don’t worry – the lawyers will respond but it is the weekend. They will answer the questions the first of the week.


      • Rebecca McCleskey Feb 23, 2015, 7:23 am

        Dear Bryan,

        Thank you for your reply. There are many questions and Grace is out of the country. We will answer all the questions as soon as possible, but it may take a bit longer than usual.

        Thank you for your patience.

    • Rebecca McCleskey Feb 23, 2015, 7:26 am

      Hello everyone,
      There are quite a few questions to answers and we will get to them as soon as possible. Grace has been out of the country, but will be back soon. Thank you in advance for your patience.

      Assistant, Idrovo & Velastegui Attorneys

  • Karen Lehane Feb 21, 2015, 4:43 pm

    I am a Canadian visiting Cuenca from January 1st, 2015 until mid-March. I understand that as long as this is less than 90 days I do not require a visa. I was planning on returning to Cuenca for 60 days next year.A U.S. traveller has told me that the 90 day permissible stay is over TWO years and that I could only apply April 1st,2016. Please clarify.

    Thank you so much!
    Karen Lehane

    • Nelson Idrovo Feb 24, 2015, 2:50 pm

      Dear Karen,

      You are allowed to enter with your passport and receive 90 days per year without a visa. Of course, if you wish to stay longer periods of time you need to apply for a visa.

    • Grace Velastegui Feb 26, 2015, 12:43 pm

      The law allows a 90 day stay per year without a visa. There is no limitation on the amounts you repeat this.

  • Lee Feb 21, 2015, 2:20 pm

    During the 1st two years of residency, the 90 days of absence runs from the issuance date of residency visa, or the calendar year? Not clear, and thank you.

    I can’t imagine that this new regulation on citizenship is targeted at anyone other than gringos. Contrast this with Chile’s law, which makes it easy to get citizenship. Of course, it takes 5 years in Chile, but Chile is not xenophobic.

    • Grace Velastegui Feb 26, 2015, 12:52 pm

      In order to maintain your residency the 90 days of absence runs from the date of issuance of the residency visa in Ecuador.

    • Grace Velastegui Feb 26, 2015, 4:11 pm

      The 90 days of absence runs from the issuance date of the residency visa.
      Ecuador is not xenophobic in fact they welcome imigration. Their imigration law may differ but that does not mean we are xenophobic.

  • denis cruickshank Feb 21, 2015, 10:55 am

    it appears that you can still be out of the country for a total of 180 days in the 1st 2 years of permanent residency but then you would have to wait 3 years more before applying for citizenship …

    • Grace Velastegui Feb 26, 2015, 1:17 pm

      The part about the 3 years wait before applying for citizenship is correct. Remember that to in order for you not to lose your residency the restriction to leave the country is 90 days per year during the first two years.

  • Paul Feb 21, 2015, 10:53 am

    Please explain about getting permanent residence visa / Citizenship. I can pay any amount of fees.
    Please email :

    • Nelson Idrovo Feb 24, 2015, 2:56 pm

      Dear Paul,

      We will be happy to discuss the residency/citizenship process with you. Please contact us directly at our email address or if you are in Cuenca we will be happy to set up an appointment. Thank you.

  • Noel Feb 21, 2015, 10:49 am

    Hi Bryan,

    A bit of topic, but how long does the rainy season last for? I’ve been monitoring the weather in Cuenca for the past while and it has practically non-stop rain and looks like continuing for the next week. Is it not very damp and miserable at the moment?
    I have read a lot of comments here and there on the subject of heating. Some people say you don’t need it and others say you do. What is your experience?



    • Rebecca McCleskey Mar 3, 2015, 11:03 am

      Actually, it is quite dry at the moment. There is a saying in Cuenca that there are 4 seasons in just one day as the weather can change rapidly. Regarding a heater, much depends on where you live and your sensitivity to cold. Many who live in or around the city center do not need heaters and get by with an extra blanket on the bed. On the other hand others who live higher in the mountains may prefer to have heating especially at night, but it wont be needed all year, mostly during June, July and August as these are the colder months.

  • Marjorie Grillo Feb 21, 2015, 10:43 am

    Appreciate the update on citizenship. Besides the time requirement, are there exams or other qualifications we need to pass. Thank you for your assistance.

    • Grace Velastegui Feb 26, 2015, 2:50 pm

      Not at thi point. They will interview the applicant to test his Spanish ability.

  • Jakob Feb 21, 2015, 10:13 am

    This has been giving me headaches for years, because it puts people like me in limbo. If you have work activity that requires international travel (say you travel 3 days out of every week to conferences or clients) your entire life and family can be Ecuadorian, yet you won’t be able to maintain even residency. You will be condemned to living as a tourist as long as you want to work no matter what.
    Countries like Canada have a clause for residents that counts travel for business as time spent in the country. This makes good business sense, as it keeps the taxes in Canada. Ecuador is missing out on tax revenue and creating a nuisance for some of us. It’s a lose/lose. I hope they figure it out one day.

  • Warren Feb 21, 2015, 9:25 am

    Hola, How strict is the Equadorian gov’t regarding a legal situation that happened years ago? I’m almost considered a senior citizen now, and have no interest is causing any kind of situation in their country. Thank-you.

  • Grace Barnett Feb 21, 2015, 9:19 am

    A friend recently told me that his understanding was that you now also have to speak Spanish in order to apply for citizenship. Is this true, and if so, speak Spanish to what extent? Thank you

    • Grace Velastegui Feb 26, 2015, 4:15 pm

      They are not strict about the Spanish, they enterview the applicant to make sure they can get by.

  • an Feb 21, 2015, 9:05 am

    Is this retroactive for those who have already been here for 2-3 years, or does it apply for those arriving now and in the future?

    • Nelson Idrovo Feb 24, 2015, 2:46 pm

      It applies to anyone applying for citizenship.

  • Teresa Feb 21, 2015, 8:52 am

    Does purchasing property still qualify you for citizenship?

    • Grace Velastegui Mar 3, 2015, 10:45 am

      No, the citizenship process is quite distinct from residency. You can purchase property and apply for permanent residency, but it does not qualify you for naturalization.

  • Shawn Feb 21, 2015, 8:44 am

    We are Canadian couple living common law and wanted to know if my spouse could be considered as a dependent under the pension status?. I understand it has to be $800US
    a month plus an extra $100 for the dependent? Does it have to be actual pension income from the government or could it be from a bank Registered Retirement Income Fund or other source that would be acceptable from our investments? Many thanks for your help, I went to the Visa office yesterday and they were not able to give me any info and said just bring papers.

    • Grace Velastegui Feb 26, 2015, 4:18 pm

      The law does not specify it has to be from Social Security. It says the income has to be permanent and from a stable source.

  • Miriam Feb 21, 2015, 8:16 am

    Hi there,
    Thank you for your informative news letter.
    I will have my visa (retired) for 2 years on August 15, 2015.
    Exactly what hapens after that? Do I have to be in-country
    on that date?
    The change in the citizenship requirements was quite a surprise,
    already preventing me and others from applying. Is there a chance
    that the old law would apply to those who had their visas before the
    effective date of the new law?
    Thank you for your kind assistance,

    • Grace Velastegui Feb 26, 2015, 4:25 pm

      Dear Miriam,
      The imigration law has not changed, actually it is very old and this restricted number of days is how the regulation is currently being inforced for citizenship applications.

  • Robert Annis Feb 21, 2015, 8:06 am

    what if, being here for two years , that i have been out of country longer thna that? Am I no longer eligible or will that only be since Feb 1 ,2015

    • Grace Velastegui Feb 26, 2015, 4:36 pm

      Under the current circumnstances you are not elegible for citizenship. You will need to wait three years now.

  • Bruce Feb 21, 2015, 7:36 am

    Thanks very much to all of you for this post. I do have a question. If I have already spent more than the allowed ninety days outside of Ecuador in the first three years, can I apply for naturalization as soon as I have accumulated three years during which I have not exceeded the ninety day rule? For example, if I spent 90 days outside of the country in my first year, 10 days in the second and 10 in the third, could I apply after completion of the fourth year?

    Thanks for all your helpful articles.

    • Grace Velastegui Mar 3, 2015, 10:55 am

      Yes, you need to accumulate a minimum of 3 years with 90 days or less out of the country. So in your example, if you are out 10 days in the 2nd year and 10 days in the 3rd year and do not exceed the limit in the 4th year you can apply for naturalization at the end of the 4th year.

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