visa

Here’s What You Need To Know About The New Ecuadorian Immigration Law

The new 2017 Immigration Law of Ecuador, also called the “Human Mobility Act” (known in Spanish as “Ley de Movilidad Humana”), has now been officially implemented, and is currently in full force in virtually every respect.  This new Ecuador Immigration Law serves as the replacement of the previous Immigration Law in Ecuador, and was created and passed to decrease the number of categories and make immigration to Ecuador a more simplified process.  Whether that goal has been achieved or not,  it still remains to be seen, and surely there will be many different opinions on the subject as we move forward.

Ecuador Tourist Visas (Ecuador Visitor Visas):

Ecuador’s new immigration law permits two separate types of temporary visitors:

  • Tourists/Visitors* – Individuals who are intending to spend up to 90 days in Ecuador on a FREE Visitor Visa (also called an “Ecuador Tourist Visa T-3 Stamp”), plus individuals who are intending to spend in excess of 90 days in Ecuador (generally on a combination of a FREE Tourist Visa and a PAID Tourist Visa Extension that can be obtained while here on one’s first free 90 day stay in Ecuador)
  • Persons in Transit* – Individuals en route to their final intended destination (typically through an Ecuadorian Airport), that are simply passing through Ecuador, without the intention or act of staying/lodging in Ecuador

*Any person who visits Ecuador with the sole intent of carrying out tourism related activities is NOT permitted to be employed or work in Ecuador for any Ecuadorian company or organization. This rule does NOT apply to one’s ability to work remotely by computer or phone while here in Ecuador, carrying out the duties of their own job, business or organization that is officially domiciled outside of Ecuador.

As indicated above, a FREE Tourist Visa is valid for 90 days, and is generally provided automatically on arrival to Ecuador to persons from countries who do not need to present anything else other than their valid Passport from their country of origin. Some notable country exceptions to this FREE 90 day Tourist Visa currently include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Senegal and Cuba.  Also as stated earlier in this article, Tourists have the option to apply for an additional 90 day Tourist Visa Extension. In the case that a Tourist wants to remain in Ecuador for a more substantial duration of time, the Tourist may also apply for a special class of extension that will provide them with an additional 180 day period as a Tourist in Ecuador (it is important to note that such special class of extension can only be granted to a Tourist one time in every 5 year period, so simply put, this is NOT a way to stay in Ecuador year round).

“Ecuador Residency Visa” Types (for those wishing to reside in Ecuador)

Currently, two different types of Ecuador Residency Visa’s exist.

  • Temporary Residency Visas
  • Permanent Residency Visas 

Temporary Residency Visas (valid for 2 years of Residency):

Any person who wishes to remain in Ecuador for a more substantial duration of time, needs to apply first for and receive a type of visa that allows them to be a Temporary Resident of Ecuador for up to two years, on what is aptly known as a “Temporary Residency Visa”.  A person on a Ecuador Temporary Resident Visa is permitted to leave Ecuador up to 90 days in their first year of Temporary Residency, and once again up to 90 days in their second year of Temporary Residency – failure to adhere to this 90 day requirement in each of one’s first two years of Temporary Residency (counted from the date that a person’s Temporary Residency Visa stamp is placed into their foreign issued Passport), will result in the cancellation of their Temporary Residency Visa by the Ecuadorian Government.

If during or following one’s Temporary Residency in Ecuador, the Temporary Resident desires to leave Ecuador for a protracted period of time (or leave Ecuador forever), they are free to depart if they have no need to ever return to Ecuador for any reason or purpose.  However, if in such case, a Temporary Resident does return to Ecuador after a protracted absence from the country (and in so doing had lost their Ecuadorian Temporary Residency Visa), then they will either need to re-enter Ecuador on a new Ecuadorian Tourist Visa and/or need to apply for a new Ecuador Temporary Residency Visa, depending on the circumstances and timing of their protracted departure from Ecuador to determine if, or what type, of new visa Ecuador may require.

Permanent Residency Visas (generally valid for a lifetime of Residency):

For any person whose intention  is to become a long-term Resident of Ecuador (i.e. for more than the two year period of Residency that is granted to any Temporary Resident of Ecuador), a type of visa known as a “Permanent Residency Visa” exists for that purpose.  A person on a Ecuador Permanent Resident Visa is permitted to leave Ecuador up to 180 days in their first year of Permanent Residency, and once again up to 180 days in their second year of Permanent Residency – failure to adhere to this 180 day requirement in either of one’s first two years  (counted from the date that a person’s Permanent Residency Visa stamp is placed into their foreign issued Passport), will result in the loss of one’s Permanent Residency Visa.

That being said, after one’s first two years have been completed on their Permanent Residency Visa, a Permanent Resident is permitted to leave Ecuador for up to 5 years and not face any monetary penalty, nor any loss of their Permanent Residency Visa.  Plus, any person who has been a Resident of Ecuador for at least 5 years is permitted to vote in any Ecuadorian election and/or run for public office in Ecuador.  A Permanent Resident is additionally permitted to apply for Ecuadorian Citizenship and get an Ecuador Passport, once they have been a Permanent Resident of Ecuador for at least three years ( to see other requirements and restrictions regarding Ecuadorian Naturalization, feel free to read my other article on GringoTree, titled, “ECUADORIAN CITIZENSHIP: HERE IS WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW”),

Any SINGLE qualification that is met by a person from the following list of eligible classes under Ecuador’s new Immigration Law, allows a person to apply for a Permanent Residency Visa in Ecuador:

  • Any person who has legally been on a “Temporary Residency Visa” for at least 21 months (subject to the above indicated maximum exit requirements of 90 days per year)
  • Any person who is, or becomes married to, an Ecuadorian citizen (assuming of course that the marriage wasn’t arranged or fraudulent)
  • Any person who is directly related by blood to an Ecuadorian citizen or any other person who presently maintains Permanent Residency status in Ecuador (as evidenced by an authentic birth certificate showing the direct blood relation)
  • Any person who is a minor dependent (under the age of 18) or who is a disabled dependent of any other person who presently maintains Permanent Residency status in Ecuador (as evidenced by authentic dependency/disability documents and/or birth certificate too if applicable)

Ecuador Health Insurance Requirement

(ONLY for “long term” Tourists, Temporary Residents & Permanent Residents)

A Tourist who spends no more than 90 days in Ecuador during any given year, does NOT need to show proof of health insurance or travel insurance here in Ecuador.  However, any person who wishes to acquire a Tourist Visa Extension (which would entitle that person to remain in Ecuador past 90 days in any given year), must obtain and provide proof of having a health insurance policy (or a travel health insurance policy) in Ecuador that will cover them for the entire duration of their stay in the country.  As well, any person desiring to be or become a Resident in Ecuador (Temporary Resident and/or Permanent Resident), will also need to provide proof of having a health insurance policy in Ecuador.  Most private health insurance plans in Ecuador currently range in cost from around $60-200 per month for an individual, depending on one’s age and/or health condition.  The Ecuadorian Government’s Health Insurance system, (IESS), is at times restrictive for foreigners to be able to afford or utilize (not being Ecuadorian Citizens themselves), and so in my experience, a high quality private insurance policy issued here in Ecuador is less expensive and easier for Expats to access and benefit from.

All in all, still being a fairly new law at hand – in and of Ecuador new visa laws, Ecuador visa requirements and Ecuador visa types, the Human Mobility Act of Ecuador remains subject to new interpretation/reinterpretation by the Ecuadorian Government, and so it is best to check back regularly as to the applicability and/or enforce-ability of its provisions.  As always, make sure to consider your options, and to consult with competent legal counsel, prior to making an actionable decision for the benefit of yourself and your family.

Naturally, if you have any questions, feel free to email me directly at [email protected].  Thanks for reading !

27 Responses

  1. I think in this sentence:
    A person on a Ecuador Permanent Resident Visa is permitted to leave Ecuador up to 180 days in their first year of Temporary Residency, and once again up to 180 days in their second year of Permanent Residency – failure to adhere to this 180 day requirement in either of one’s first two years (counted from the date that a person’s Permanent Residency Visa stamp is placed into their foreign issued Passport), will result in the loss of one’s Permanent Residency Visa.
    That the first use of “Temporary” is supposed to be “Permanent.”

  2. Unless I missed it, this article does not address two issues. The first is on a Temporary Visa. If you leave the country in the first 2 years, when you apply for your Permanent Visa, I am of the understanding that Immigration will require all new documentation (ie: FBI report, State report, SSA benefits letter). Also, the article does not address whether health insurance is required for people who have held a Permanent Visa prior to the change in the law. I would appreciate the writer answering these questions.

      1. “It depends on the type of Visa you are applying for.”
        No, it doesn’t because only one is based on income which is a pensioners visa and it’s $800 a month minimum.

        1. Untrue. The income requirement for a Professional Visa is different. Currently, at least $375 per month (this amount can change up to $500).

  3. We are currently away from ecuador, but we lived there from June 14 2014 with very little time away fro the country.
    We lived there on a permanent resident visa.
    All that time we knew and read that the time away from the country in your frist 2 years was 90 days a year-so it is shocking that in fact it was 180 days!
    And the allowance to be away for 5 years after a 3 year residency- I really need to double check on that, seems too generous.
    Of course, it would help me and my husband, since we still have a property in US, which sat vacant all the time while we lived in Ecuador, but we never heard or read of such lengthy stay allowance after 3 years. Seems not logical, since Ecuador provides immigration to their country for the purpose of capturing the monthly income of the new residents , which is coming from outside Ecuador. Why would the law encourage people to be away for 6 months, then 5 years, going away and spending their money elsewhere- this is the reason I would need to double check on correctness of this information.
    Otherwise, Thank you for posting!
    Anybody can verify this information is correct? Thank you!

    1. these are NEW rules for people applying for their temporary or permanent residency and written by a lawyer in Cuenca who has spent a great deal of time researching the law so we could provide it for our readers. If you have any doubts I would advise you get in contact with Sara directly at the email on the bottom of the article.

  4. I wish someone would tell Ecuadorian Immigration about this, I just passed through and asked them about this and they stated only 90 days abroad the first two years not 180!

    1. This is the clearest rundown of the new laws I’ve come across, and I’ll trust Ms Chaca to have gotten it right since this presentation is pretty direct and unambiguous. What is not covered and perhaps another subject, is how those of us with recent, pre-2017 permanent residency visas, are effected. First, there is the requirement for health insurance, which we seem to have skirted, at least as a matter of not having to prove it since we already have our visas. Another question, which Marian hits around, is how long we can leave Ecuador during our first two years: “90 days for the first two years” is the usual phrasing, but would that be 90 days a year (for 180 over 2 years), or 90 each? OR, would we be subject to the new requirements? 180 days is 6 months per year! It’d be a hassle for the immigration people to differentiate between requirements for visas issued at different times, so I really wonder how this will be implemented.

  5. My reading of article 65 of the law as passed in February (I read the official Spanish document when it first came out) is that you have to violate the days -out-of-the-country provision twice before your permanent residency visa can be revoked, and not ‘in either of the two years’ as a permanent visa holder. Has this changed?

  6. “The Ecuadorian Government’s Health Insurance system, (IESS), is at times restrictive for foreigners to be able to afford or utilize (not being Ecuadorian Citizens themselves), and so in my experience, a high quality private insurance policy issued here in Ecuador is less expensive and easier for Expats to access and benefit from.”
    1. I’m not clear what that means. One main attraction for me is the $70/mo healthcare I have read about. Is this not, or no longer, real? I am 71 and have some health problems.
    2. I have been living in the Philippines the last 10 years. Are requirements like FBI clearance going to be needed from there also or just US? Where can I find a decent list of those requirements?

    1. Addressing the cost of IESS, which is voluntary for those with a resident visa. The newest regulation, so that foreigners pay their fair share, is approx. 17% (and a few tenths) of income. That is about equivalent to the combined employer/employee contribution. That includes pensions, from what I have read. There is no maximum (like for SS in the US), and as far as retirement benefits, you have to have 15 years of work history.
      In my opinion, there needs to be a middle ground. The low amount you cite is based on the minimum monthly wage in Ecuador.
      Please correct me if I am wrong, as I am not in that situation…yet.

  7. My wife and I just got kicked out of Ecuador. Last week we tried to get a 90-day extension in Quito and we’re told that the new law was not yet implemented and they couldn’t grant us an extension. We had to leave the country. So we took a bus to the border with Colombia and tried at the Ecuadorian consulate in Ipiales, Colombia. They said they can only give a work, student or volunteer visa there. We went back to the Ecuador border and pleaded with a director for an extension and were told no, because at this moment the new law is not in effect they cannot do it for us and we are not allowed back for another 9 months. We left two bags of clothes in our apartment in Quito and it looks like we’ll have to abandon them.

  8. We have a home on the coast of Ecuador. We have owned it for 4 years. The value far exceeds the minimum required value to qualify for an Investors Visa.

    Furthermore we have been advised that the 17% is based on the income of the highest paid “pensioner” and that a dependent/wife or husband or child is accessed at $100 as long as the total amount of pension provides at LEAST $800 per month for each person’s living expenses.

    For example: The husband has a monthly pension of $2000 and the wife has a pension of $ 1500. The 17% would be based on the husband’s income and the wife would pay 17% of $100 . Correct?

    We have been advised that the 17% of income required to be able to be eligible for EISS insurance does not pertain to us because we would be applying for an Investors Visa if we decided to apply for temporary and then permanent residency.

    Because we have made a significant investment in Ecuador real estate, we have been told that the rate we would be charged for EISS insurance is less than 17% of retirement income.

    Is this an accurate interpretation of the new law as it applies to the Investor Visa?

  9. Hi,
    could you please confirm, if this “SPECIAL TOURISM VISA” is in place as of 24 November 2017? it seems to be not there, may be temporarily removed from their consular section. please confirm.
    I am an Indian national utilized 84 days “Visa of arrival” out of 90 days. i want o visit Ecuador again. please suggest which visa i can apply for? and what is the procedure to get the visa. i want to stay for another 2 months.
    Please respond.

  10. We are going to the USA fir a month in 2018.
    Should we at least get a Police report that we were not involved in any Police mattet during that time…just in case??? Thx Joe

  11. what happens if i over stayed my period in Ecuador and i want to leave the country when my tourist visa extension expired..
    what challenges or fine can i face when i try to leave the country through the airport.

  12. I’ve been in Ecuador legally under tourist visas, work visa 6-7 years. And finally a RESIDENCY VISA ( having quito based lawyers firm helping with this visa – with terrible or simply NO advice on the law & process of getting the visa 9-II they costs were rediciosly high US$2.000,00.
    As I am about to get the two year period with the residence visa 9-II am I able to retrieve my policy (cash) for the US$26.000,00 I first gave them initially then process of year two was a great surprise when discovered I could not retrieve my Policy obviously a great failure of lawyers.
    Summary
    I need funds to buy a car or start business hence as after 2 years (2weeks away) & also have celular. Can I retrieve this Póliza from Central Bank of Ecuador (after 2year mark).
    if not when can I retrieve the Póliza ?? Surely they don’t keep it until my death (as I wanted to contiue living in Ecuador for the rest of my life…..
    It doesn’t make sense calling it an investment visa (9-II) if I can’t use the funds directly or as a guarantee for private bank, partners in business etc etc. I could employ immediately 2 staff and the intention is over a 100 staff in 1.5-2years.

  13. Hi I have a permanent visa how can I go about buying a car here in Ecuador? Or help regarding regulations about that. It seems like I keep getting mixed answers here but nothing solid. Can you help in this regard? Thanks!

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