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New Visa Requirements for Foreigners in Ecuador

Posted in: Living in Ecuador

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

Update (January 12, 2015): There is a new requirement for criminal background checks.

New Visa Requirements for Foreigners in Ecuador


The Official Register No. 504 on Tuesday, August 2, 2011 published the new requirement for foreigners that are requesting permanent residency in the country; they must present a Police Report from the country where they have resided in the last 5 years.

If the foreigner has stayed 90 days in the country and wishes to obtain permanent residency, they have the option to request an extension for another 90 days more until their residency is processed.  If they exceed this time period, they will be considered illegal in the country.

The Resolution also regulates that in order to have a visa 9-IV, the company must have a capital of $25,000.00 USD and that foreign citizens present the following:

  • The last 3 IVA payments;
  • The last tax payments;
  • Permit from the Fire Department;
  • Permit from the Municipality;
  • Certificate of  Employer Obligations from the Ecuadorian Social Security (IESS)
  • Sworn statement showing residence of the company with photographic evidence.

It is established as a requirement for obtaining the visa 12-VI nonimmigrant to present a certificate issued by the Superintendent of Companies stating that the company’s paid capital is $ 12,500.

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

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Meet the Author

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

50 comments… add one
  • Taylor May 10, 2014, 6:08 pm

    Hi all,

    Just wanted to mention that I am getting my professional visa in Manta. I am not using a lawyer. There is now a Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores office in Manta. It is located in the city center in the Banco del Banco building next to the Plaza Civica right across from the beach. As of May 2014, there is a very helpful person in the office who speaks English. His name is Juan Carlos. He can provide all the current information for what is required to apply for your chosen visa. The office is on the second floor of the building.

    I had to apply for the tourist visa first. The cost was $30 to apply and $204 when I get it. I was required to write a letter in Spanish stating I was applying for the visa for 180 days so that I could register my diplomas. I completed the visa application and provided 2 color copies of the main page and stamped page of my passport, a passport photo, a printout from my Paypal account (showing I had at least $340 per month of my stay), and a copy of my university transcript. I also had to supply a folder (carpeta) for my file. After I pick up my visa this week, I will then register my diplomas with SENESCYT. Supposedly there is a SENESCYT office in Manta as well. Then I will apply for the professional visa. Hopefully all goes well. Good luck to everyone else who is also going through the process.


    • Susan Jul 3, 2014, 1:39 pm

      Hi Taylor – I am in Cuenca and am considering going to Manta to obtain the residential visa, since I only have a local background check, not the state (not available in AZ). I am on a T3 that will expire on 7/25/14. Will they accept paperwork directly from a T3 status to application for residential visa, or is it required you have the 6 month residential extension first? Is there an email address for the person you mentioned who speaks English at the Manta office (Juan Carlos?). Also, is there a requirement that says you have to file for the visa not less than 30 days before the tourist visa expires?


  • jim worton Sep 1, 2013, 5:48 pm

    need info on retireing in Ecuador

  • Jean Cohen Jun 13, 2013, 12:26 pm

    Does anyone know if there is a time limit to how long in advance you can acquire your pensioner visa. Planning to move to Cuenca in approx.5 to 8 mos. and would like to apply for visa now and have it before moving.

  • Mark Morgan Feb 13, 2013, 12:01 pm

    Man, I’m jumping through hoops trying to get copies of my police background. In Florida (2 years) & GA (30). They flat out don’t do it here and not having much luck with GA.
    I’ve called the embassy & they say it’s very unusual for people to have this problem


  • Lynne Biggin Feb 10, 2013, 4:53 am

    Is it possible to extend tourist visa and stay in Cuenca indefinitely, perhaps after about 6 months just go to another country for a few days then return? Also my husband and I have a TESOL cert.4. Are we able to get a work visa and do a little bit of teaching? Can we get paid teaching from home without a work visa? How much does it cost for a tourist visa? Sorry about so many questions but living in South America is unfamiliar to us and we have only lived in Malaysia for 3 years on a tourist visa and only requirement is to leave the country every 90 days and visa is free. By the way we are Australians so I am not sure if the rules are different for us. Thanks for your help.

  • Craig Smythe Jan 23, 2013, 12:38 pm

    It there a minimum age requirement for a retirement visa to Ecuador?

  • Ed Nov 26, 2012, 4:44 pm

    I would like to know if one has ever been arrested, even for something minor,
    would this prevent them obtaining residency in Ecuador?

  • rajeshkumaruniyal Jul 3, 2012, 1:46 am

    i want resient visa ecudor. for live and work. please tell me good and cheap price ageant.

    • MariaPiaBlog Jul 3, 2012, 5:18 pm

      I went to ask about resident visa (that is for my fiance) in Foreign Ministry.
      Oficial overthere told us is no necesary an attorney or agent or anybody to put the application, people can do it themselves.
      If you are in Cuenca, the addres is Ordoñez Lasso Av Astudillo Building.

  • Eugene Hill Apr 18, 2012, 5:23 pm

    This is like all the other places thease kinds of pepole are pushing,after 60 or 90 days you have to leave if you apply for a visa to stay befor the visa can be aproved or disaproved your now breaking the law your 1st. visa has expired plus you need $25,000.00 ? I have a small mounthly retirment income if I had 25 thousand dollars socked away I wouldn’t be looking to up root to some country I know nothing about!Are you pepole nuts?Hell I am 65yrs.old aqll I’m looking for is nice pepole cheap living and peace some fishing when I am up to it the leagle part of what is described above swounds like a hell of an ordeal to go threw just to find a nice place to die !

    • Steven Morrey Apr 9, 2013, 11:25 pm

      I know this is a bit belated Eugene. Not sure why anyone didn’t respond to it earlier, perhaps because it’s not widely publicized.

      The two kinds of visa discussed here are for people who are of working age coming to Ecuador and looking for work. Or folks coming here to invest.

      If you read the description carefully, they are saying that the company you are working for must have $25,000 in paid in capital. Not that you have $25,000 laying around. There is also an investors visa option that requires you to have $25,000 laying around plus $5,000 for each dependent.

      You mention you are 65. This means (at least in the USA) that you should be qualified to recieve a pension of some sort. In the USA this would be Social Security, I’m not sure what they call it whereever you are at.

      That pension qualifies you for an automatic Pensionado visa. The requirements are a letter from a qualified pension plan stating you will be receiving at least $800/mo.
      This is a 9-I visa and a google translated page outlining what you must bring with you is located here…

      I hope that helps!

  • Nick Mar 26, 2012, 7:28 pm

    Anyone have an Idea How I can obtain a police report while being in Ecuador? HAs anyone done it while in ecuador?

    • Bryan Haines Mar 26, 2012, 8:50 pm

      Really depends on where you are coming from. The RCMP (Canadas National Police) would have produced the report for us, with us being here -but it would have taken up to 3 months. You should check with the police dept that has jurisdiction from where you are from and they’ll tell you. Some American friends were able to request them online.

      • Nick Mar 27, 2012, 7:48 am

        Thanks Bryan. Yes I am From San Diego. I will try to research.

        • Steven Morrey Apr 10, 2013, 12:00 am

          The problem isn’t getting it while in Ecuador. It’s getting it AND getting it apostilled. An apostille is different from a notary. It is a certification that says “The department that issued this letter/document, had the legal authority to do so and this document appears to be authentic.”

          You say you are from San Diego, the office of the Secretary of State of California is located at

          The page about apostilles for Californians is located at

          Note that a local police clearance won’t suffice, and neither will an FBI clearance. You need a statewide clearance from every state you’ve lived in for the last 5 years and that clearance must state that there is no record, for the last 5 years. This part is important. If you have a record in the last 5 years, then don’t bother trying to come, however you also don’t want to try and prove clean history back further than that either. It’s a waste of time, money and will only serve to confuse your situation. Also what matters here is arrests not convictions. This is why it’s called an arrest report.

          For California the only place to get the document you need is the California Department of Justice.

          You need to order it, then take the original along with your passport into the Secretary of States office in either Sacramento or LA. You can mail it, but the turn around is much slower and the documentation is a bit more onerous.

          Once it’s apostilled you will need to have it translated and then the translation itself will need to be notarized. The recommendation is to have the translation and notary work done here in Ecuador.

          Considering the turn around times involved your tourist visa would expire long before you got all that done. So it’s best to get that out of the way as soon as possible.

          Oh and for the record. If this is your first time in Ecuador, you can qualify for One 90 day extension of your tourist visa at no charge. I know this because I’ve done it. They will not however issue additional tourist visa’s beyond that point and to qualify you must show that you have $1,000 in the bank (a simple print out of a bank statement does suffice here), and you must show a copy of a plane ticket or itinerary indicating you have the means to leave BEFORE the 90 days is up. Also you must do it within 1 week of your visa expiring and you do need to register your visa and your presence.

          When I talked to the immigration lady, she indicated that the clock resets on tourist visas at the anniversary of the expiry, not the anniversary of issuance. This means if you come in January and leave in July, you have to wait until next July to come back (on a tourist visa).

          For Canadians your mileage may vary here, but I think what is said about states also applies to provinces. I have friend who is from Ontario and he had an RCMP clearance and they aren’t accepting it as being sufficient (even though it’s apostilled). I’m going to take a leap of faith here and assume that this will hold true for any country that is a federation of otherwise independent states.

          I plan to document my journey here because there is so much information out there that is either patently incorrect, not applicable, or out of date. But in the meantime, please, please learn to read Spanish fluently and pay attention to this website.

          Because requirements change frequently depending on the needs of the government.

          I hope this has been helpful!

  • tony Mar 17, 2012, 6:57 am

    March 17 2012
    Is it true that the $25.000 investment (in the form of CD or real estate) required for residency has been increased. If so what is the new number? What is the best source for reliable information?
    Thank you

    • Bryan Haines Mar 18, 2012, 5:05 pm

      Hey Tony – I don’t think so. I haven’t heard anything like that. You should contact the lawyers above to confirm. We used them for everything…

    • MariaPiaBlog Mar 19, 2012, 10:04 am

      Hey Tony!
      You can go to Ministerio Relaciones Exteriores (available in Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca)and ask.
      We went to Ministerio Relaciones Exteriores in Cuenca and we asked about that situation and the Functionary told us about what we can to do..
      Ask yourself some Functionarys Goverment.
      Sorry for my english.. I am learning:)

  • Nards Barley Mar 12, 2012, 3:38 pm

    I think it is a disservice to the readers of this blog to NOT make clear in the article that the police report be apostilled in the United States or OR recognized by the Ecuadorean Consulate.

    Unless this attorney updates this article to mention this fact, I would say you should take your business to another attorney when in Cuenca. I think it negligent and even dishonest on her part to state that you need a police report, but not mention the additional requirements associated with getting it, before you make a long trip to Ecuador to live.

    • Bryan Haines Mar 12, 2012, 4:14 pm

      I think dishonest is a pretty strong word, don’t you? The majority of documents that need to be brought to Ecuador when applying for residency need to be apostilled or legalized – depending on your country of origin. I agree that it should be mentioned, and I’m going to pass this on to the lawyer. There are a dozen other requirements that must also be met and that aren’t mentioned here. The purpose of this post was to advise of a few new changes, not to be an exhaustive list of the requirements.

      I think negligent would better describe someone moving to Ecuador without having checked with a lawyer as to the current requirements. The rules here are in constant flux and they need to be confirmed at the time of application.

      • Maria Pia Blog Mar 12, 2012, 5:02 pm

        Please, dont trust in any attorney in Ecuador.
        Im helping my gringo fiance to get clear information about residences requirements, his lawyer was told him many lies… Attorneys knows American People dont speak spanish and try take alot money from foreigner people.. Please, if somebody wants to live in Ecuador try find good friends here, and ask your friends about what your attorney said.
        Oh..something else.. You dont need get your visa en Quito, Guayaquil is other place where you can get it. The place in Guayaquil is Gobierno del Litoral in Francisco de Orellana Avenue, near San Marino Mall.

        • Bryan Haines Mar 12, 2012, 5:20 pm

          Wow – I’m sorry that you’re having a hard time with the legal process.

          It is unfair (and untrue) to suggest that all the lawyers in Ecuador are dishonest and untrustworthy. Of course there are bad ones – just like everywhere else in the world. But that doesn’t mean they are all bad.

          There are more factors than just honesty. Language, clients giving incorrect information and the changing laws all make a lawyers job challenging.

          I hope you can get your visa situation fixed.

        • Steven Morrey Apr 10, 2013, 12:04 am

          I understand you can also get it in Libertad & Cuenca now as well. I did see an office in Libertad the other day. Wish I had known about it before I spent so much back and forth time between home (Montanita) and Guayaquil.

    • Grace Velastegui Mar 13, 2012, 11:52 am

      The post was general information that came into effect to let people know what was published by the government and we quoted from the official government post. Legalization of documents differs from country to country. Apostilles are required for documents originating in countries under the apostille treaty; other countries not under this treaty must have documents legalized by the nearest Ecuadorian Consulate or Embassy. We suggest for further information, the individual research the current list of requirements pertaining to their type of residency application.

  • MariaPiaBlog Feb 3, 2012, 1:37 pm

    Hey Guys!
    My boyfriend is born USA and he is living in Cuenca 2 years ago, he is retired man. Now he received in his email something about new requeriments for visa. (He dont has visa or residence) You know some link where we can check something else about new requirements?
    Your post is very able, but He is retirement. he dont has company and IVAs or something similar.
    May you helpme please?

    • Grace Velastegui Feb 6, 2012, 11:05 am

      I am sorry we don’t have enough information from you to completely answer your question. However, if your boyfriend has been living in Ecuador for 2 years and does not have legal status, he must return to his country of origin. He cannot get legal status within Ecuador.

      If you would like more information, you are welcome to make an appointment and bring his passoprt so we can make a better assessment of the situation.

  • Tom Oct 10, 2011, 2:21 pm

    I live in the US and am receiving Social Security Disability since 1998 (I was 28 years old) I’m currently 49 my question is does this qualify for residency pensioners visa? I looked all over the net and haven’t seen this question asked before. Thanks in advance.

  • John Sep 11, 2011, 2:36 pm

    Hi all,
    I am selling my house and was planning to move to Ecuador soon.

    But my question is ””’ do I need to maintain an address in the US””” even after I apply for a permanent Visa in Ecuador? Doesn’t make a lot of sense to pay $800.00 a month, for a non occupied place here, when I would be staying in Ecuador indefinably.

    Would this be acceptable solution? I sold a house on Land Contract but I am still the owner of record. Could I just put up a mailbox on that property and get my mail there, and call it my US residence address? This would be a physical address that never changes for as long as I need a physical address. My Bank here also needs a physical address. I would not have to pay rent this way and could stay anywhere if I later visit in US. So many things are just not clear as to what is required for a move to Ecuador. Thanks:

  • Heather Aldrich Aug 14, 2011, 11:29 am

    Does the police report need to be apostilled?

  • Henry M Campora Aug 11, 2011, 2:54 pm

    Iam retired can i take a permanent visa without the 25.000 fee or is this for people doing busisness in ecuador i will be looking to rent a home there

  • TerryE Aug 10, 2011, 3:51 pm

    Heard this morning that one of the top Quito emigration attorneys can get the necessary report through Interpol there. Might be worth checking out…………….

  • John and Mary Aug 10, 2011, 9:14 am

    Thank you, that’s good to know. We were planning on bringing police reports with us, just in case. Is this a report that is date sensitive or can we get it a few months ahead of when we will be moving to Ecuador? My to-do list just keeps getting longer and would be nice to start marking items off. Thank you again Grace for responding to these comments.

  • John C. A. Manley Aug 9, 2011, 7:38 pm

    Thank you very much for the information.

    It sounds like the business capital of $25,000 is to match the property visa option of $25,000.

    I have been self-employed for 7 years. Earning all my money writing for business clients over the internet. Most my clients are in the U.S. (I live in Canada).

    I was hoping that since all my income comes from out of country that it would be easy to get a business visa. My business certainly does not have (or need) $25,000 worth of capital. As a freelance writer I work from home in a spare bedroom.

    I make about $5,000-7,000 a month. So I didn’t think I’d be a threat to the local economy, just a help.

    We’ll be coming for a three month trip starting in December. I’d like to book an appointment with your firm to discuss my options. Sounds like I might as well buy $27,000 worth of property, if the business visa option is not an option any longer without $25,000 worth of capital.

    Again, thank you very much for the information.

  • Dwight Z. Aug 9, 2011, 3:03 pm

    I’ve had these checks done a couple of times when I felt it necessary to flee the country (just kidding). Here’s what it looks like if you don’t have a record at the FBI. (Sorry if the html doesn’t work)

  • Grace Aug 9, 2011, 2:56 pm

    You can go to your local police station and request this report.

  • John and Mary Aug 9, 2011, 2:34 pm

    PS I believe its called the 10-1 visa

    • Grace Aug 9, 2011, 2:59 pm

      Hi, thank you for your question. You can go to your local police station and request this report. The government has not specified where this report should be issued, but in our experience the local police report has been accepted.

    • Grace Aug 9, 2011, 3:01 pm

      All residency visas are type 9. They are named after Article #9 of the law regarding residency applications. In the past they were known as type 10, but that is no longer accurate.

  • John and Mary Aug 9, 2011, 2:31 pm

    Has there been any changes regarding the pensioner visa ?

    • Grace Aug 9, 2011, 2:55 pm

      The only new requirement for the pensioner’s visa is the police report.

      • Sherril Aug 29, 2011, 3:47 pm

        I am turning 55 in December of this year and am already retired. As I was self-employed, I have no company pension and am not yet old enough to qualify for a government pension. I receive well over the $800 minimum monthly income required by the Pensioner Visa, but as I receive it in the form of dividend income, and not as official pension income, I was told by the Ecuadorian Consulate that I would not be eligible for the Pensioner Visa.
        Since I have read that immigration rules are not always applied consistently from one office to another, I am wondering if anyone knows if dividend income or possibly regular withdrawals from a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (Canada)) might be accepted in place of income from an official pension?

        Thanks, Sherril

        • dave friebolin Jan 12, 2013, 1:51 pm

          not true if you can prove your income through bank statements it can be done from here in Ecuador or started in the states if you need help with this please contact me thanks Dave

          • Paul Mar 20, 2013, 11:39 am

            Dave I’m in Texas thinking about movin there. Any help on what it would take would be appreciated. Thank you

        • gianna giavelli Dec 29, 2016, 5:29 pm

          I would suggest to formalize your income with a annuity that pays out 850 a month, which is about 80,000 for 10 yrs

  • Cassie Aug 9, 2011, 2:28 pm

    Thanks so much for the information and it couldn’t come at a better time. We are planning on moving to Ecuador within the next three months and any and all information is priceless. Can anyone clarify what constitutes as an official police report and how do we obtain one?

  • Jim Cohoon Aug 9, 2011, 1:26 pm

    Thanks for the timely update. Very much helpful.

  • elmonica Aug 9, 2011, 12:15 pm

    “they must present a Police Report from the country where they have resided in the last 5 years.”

    I guess this would be a good place to start in obtaining that information, although I don’t think the FBI has a record of everyone’s arrest history:

    I suppose another option is to request a history from the state you live in. I don’t think there is any official report that ties together all jurisdictions in the U.S. together.

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