Today, we’re unraveling the secrets of extending your tourist visa. Join me and Kim on this journey as we navigate one of the most commonly requested services for expats in the process of making Cuenca their home.
Kim has spent a couple of months in Ecuador and she’s considering making it her permanent home and reached out to us to look at properties to purchase. As a little “yapa” or extra, I took her through the visa extension process so she could comfortably spend more time in Cuenca and search for her ideal property.
Hopefully, you can also use this step-by-step guide to extend your tourist visa in Cuenca.
Understanding Ecuador’s Tourist Visa Extension Process
Tourist Visa Extension Basics
Here’s a common scenario: you’ve spent an incredible 90 days soaking in the beauty of Ecuador, but you’re hungry for more. I’m here to guide you through the basics of extending that tourist visa, granting you an additional 90 days to explore, experience, and fall deeper into this remarkable country.
Time Limitations and Travel Plans
Residents of the majority of countries do not need to obtain a visa in advance of arriving in Ecuador. You’ll be provided a tourist stamp upon entry which grants entry for your first 90 days.
During these first 90 days, your time effectively “stops” if you leave Ecuador. For example, let’s say you take a 2-week holiday in Peru and then come back. These 2 weeks will NOT count towards your 90-day allowance.
However, this is different for your second 90 days. If you took the same 2-week holiday to Peru, time doesn’t “stop” and you’d effectively have 2 weeks less you can spend in Ecuador.
So, plan your trips accordingly and try to maximize the advantages of time “stopping” on your original 90-day tourist stamp.
When to apply for your visa extension (updated mid-2023)
You now need to apply for your visa during days 80 and 90 of your tourist stamp. They may even let you apply for it a bit early (ie from day 70). This is such a welcome change from the previous rules.
Under the previous rules, you needed to apply from day 91. This was awkward and stressful as your visa had technically expired. Even though you do have a 30-day grace period, it still didn’t quite feel right and we’re very glad that they’ve changed this rule.
Step-by-Step Guide to Extending Your Tourist Visa in Cuenca
1. Gather Required Documents
You’re going to need the following:
- Your passport
- Color copy of key passport pages: main photo page and the page that shows the date of entry.
- Application form – feel free to complete it before you arrive. Use “Turismo” as the reason for extending. Maybe bring a spare copy with you just in case.
2. Visit to the Migration Office
Now I’d suggest making your way to the Migration Office. Whether you choose the tram, hop on a bus, or opt for the classic taxi ride, the office awaits on the second floor of Cuenca’s Airport. Not in Cuenca? Here’s a list of migration offices around Ecuador you can use.
The idea of this visit is to show your completed application form to the migration officer, get their feedback on it, and then action any advice you’ve received. You can potentially skip this step if you’re certain you know the correct amount to pay and the process hasn’t changed recently.
The migration officer may give you a small piece of paper with the address of the closest Banco del Pacifico.
3. Visit to Banco del Pacifico
You won’t be able to pay the visa extension fee at migration. For this, they’ll send you to Banco del Pacifico to pay. The closest branch is near the Chola Cuencana roundabout, right here.
The current fee is one-third of the Ecuadorian basic salary. When we did this extension for Kim, the basic salary was $450, so the visa fee was $150. However, the basic salary is increasing to $460 in 2024, so the fee will increase to $153.34.
You can also expect a small transaction fee of something like 50 or 60 centavos.
Also, be sure to grab the Comprabante de Transaccion which you’ll need to show migration as proof that you’ve paid.
4. Back to Migration for Finalization
With documents in hand and that golden receipt from Banco del Pacifico, return to the Migration Office. Here, you’ll receive your “Comprobante de Prorroga” – your ticket to spending another 90 days in Ecuador. Take a moment to confirm your departure dates and the start of your next chronological year as this is when you’ll be allowed back into Ecuador during your NEXT visit.
Optional: Online Application and Considerations
There’s an optional route – the digital journey. Consider applying online for your visa extension, but Ecuador’s e-charms might not be for everyone. For a process as simple as extending your Ecuadorian visa, I would suggest just doing it in person as it only takes a couple of hours.
I don’t consider the Ecuadorian government to be digitally savvy, meaning the website may be down or not functioning properly. The best case scenario is it will likely take you an additional day to apply – ie you likely won’t be able to apply online and receive your extension the same day.
Kim is now free to explore for another 90 days
Kim was happy with the outcome as she now has more time to find her ideal Cuenca apartment to purchase. We didn’t charge Kim for assisting with the visa extension process as she is a real estate client.
However, we do need to be careful with expectations here. Whilst we often find ourselves going above and beyond for clients like Kim, we can’t guarantee that we’ll be available to help with your visa extension. But, you’re always welcome to ask and if we cannot assist, we’ll be able to put you in touch with a quality service provider who can.
Extending your stay in Ecuador is one of the easiest bureaucratic processes you’ll find. With this guide, most will find these steps can be taken by themselves. Of course, if you do need help, feel free to contact us and we’ll point you in the right direction.
Now you can easily enjoy 180 days in Ecuador each year. Go and make the most of it!
View full video transcript
How to Extend Your Ecuador Tourist Visa in Cuenca [Transcript]
Hola. Today we’re showing you how to extend your tourist visa in Cuenca, Ecuador. Let me introduce Kim. Kim has decided that Cuenca may be her forever home, so she needs to spend more time here checking out various real estate buying options. But her initial 90 days in Ecuador will soon be up, so she wants to obtain a tourist visa extension for another 90 days. Hola, Kim.
Hi, my name is Kim and I came to Cuenca to work and I absolutely fell in love with the city and I need to extend my visa so that I have more time to look for property to maybe move here.
Thanks a million, Kim. Let’s go get you this visa extension. But before we jump to the migration office, we really should cover some of the basics, like the process and requirements. Citizens of most countries are allowed to spend up to 90 days in Ecuador when they enter with just their passport. You’ll be granted a tourist permit for 90 days. You can then apply to stay in Ecuador for a further 90 days once this time is almost up. When I say most countries, there are a small number of countries that need to obtain a tourist visa before they enter Ecuador. Here’s a list of these.
Something that often confuses tourists is whether or not time stops when they leave the country. Time does stop on your original 90-day entry, but it does not stop when you obtain the 90-day extension. This can have substantial practical limitations on your travel plans. For example, let’s say you’re in Cuenca and you’re thinking of taking a two-week trip to the beach in Mancora, Peru. I’d suggest doing this in your original 90 days because these two weeks will not be included in your current 90-day allowance. But if you took the same trip on your 90-day extension, you’d basically have two less weeks that you’d be able to spend in Ecuador.
The other main issue that can trip people up is when you can actually apply for the visa. Under the old rules, there was some sort of system constraint that effectively forced us to apply for the extension from day 91. Yes, that was after your current tourist stamp expires. And this was pretty awkward as even though there is the 30-day grace period after the original 90-day permit expired, it still left you in a little bit of a limbo and we’re really glad that they’ve now changed this. The new rule from the middle of 2023 is that you need to apply for the extension during days 80 to 90. This makes so much more sense to us.
Let’s now walk through the process for extending your visa in Cuenca.
Step 1: Gather the documents
You’re gonna need the following. Your passport, a color copy of key passport pages – we’re talking about the main photo page and the page that shows the date of entry. You need an application form and you can definitely fill this in before you arrive. And we do suggest using under the reason for extension: “turismo” and there is a link to this form in the description below.
Step 2: Visit Migration Office
This is located on the second floor of Cuenca’s Airport. The tram stops at the front or you can get a bus or taxi. I like to visit the migration office and show the form to the customs officer and confirm the fees and other details have not changed. They may also provide you with a little handout with the details you need to pay the fees at Banco del Pacifico.
Step 3: Visit Banco del Pacifico
The closest Banco Pacifico is currently near the Chola Cuencana roundabout right here. The current cost of this extension is a third of the Ecuadorian basic salary. The basic salary in 2023 is $450 so the visa extension costs $150 in 2023. However, this basic salary will increase next year and so we don’t know exactly by how much at the moment, but you can expect a slight increase in the tourist extension fee for 2024.
You’ll also pay a small transaction fee to Banco del Pacifico. It’s not much, I think it’s less than a dollar – fifty, sixty cents or something like that. But just be sure to grab the Comprabante de Transaccion which you’ll need to show migration as proof that you’ve actually paid. And it looks something like this.
Step 4: Back to Migration
Provide your migration officer with all your documents, including the receipt from Banco del Pacifico. Once approved, they’ll provide you with that Comprabante de Prorroga which you will then keep with your passport. Whilst at migration I’d also suggest you take this opportunity to confirm the dates you need to leave Ecuador. You can do this simply by asking the migration officer. It’s also a good idea to confirm when you’re chronological year starts, as this is when you’re going to be allowed back into Ecuador for your next 90-day visit.
But let’s rewind just a touch. You can potentially skip step number two if you’re confident that you have all the correct information and go straight to Bank of del Pacifico to pay. I guess I just have a healthy distrust of these types of processes here, so I generally prefer to ensure I have exactly what migration wants before I make any sort of payment. Now maybe this is overkill for you, it’s completely your call.
And on a similar note, it’s also technically possible to apply online for your visa extension, but anything digital really isn’t the government’s strong suit. So for simple processes like this, I just find it easier to get it done in person on the same day. You can of course apply online if you want. You may have to take a little bit more time to do so, but you just do what is right for you.
There we have it. It took a few different stops. But we were able to get Kim’s visa extension on the very same day with relatively minimal amounts of fuss, at least for Ecuadorian bureaucratic standards. Kim now has an additional 90 days to find her dream property in Cuenca. After these 90 days, she will need to apply for a temporary residency visa if she wants to spend more time in Cuenca before her chronological year resets.
And for complete transparency, we didn’t charge Kim for this service. She’s a real estate client of ours and so we often throw in little yapas like this for our clients. And I’m not guaranteeing that we’ll be able to personally help with your visa extension, but you’re always welcome to ask and we’ll at least be able to point you towards capable providers that can help you.
I really hope you got some value from this video. If so, please like and subscribe as it really does help our message reach more people. Of course, if you’re in the market to buy or rent in Cuenca, you can view our current listings here. Or feel free to reach out to us with your preferences and we will do the searching for you. Links to these services are in the description.
Have a brilliant day. ciao.