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What’s a Cedula and How Do I Get One?

Editor’s note: We’ve covered the updated process on how to get a cedula in this article. We suggest following the updated process and not the process covered in the remainder of this article.


If you’ve followed the steps to get a professional visa (or another type of visa), you are now cleared for residency in Ecuador. Now, you will be required to take additional steps to register your visa and receive your national identification card, your cedula. In your final appointment at the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores in Azogues, you will receive the visa, with a photo, in your passport. Be sure to follow these steps to ensure the legality of your visa.

Please note that the following instructions are for obtaining a cedula in Cuenca.

Obtain the Certificado de Empadronamiento

Return to Cuenca’s Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores to complete the empadronamiento of your visa the following week. This procedure essentially gives clearance for you to be able to go for your cedula. This is exempted if you are applying for a dependant’s visa, since your legal guardian will already have been registered as a foreigner (extranjero) in Ecuador.

To complete the empadronamiento process you will need to bring:

  • Your passport with the new visa
  • A copy of your main passport page, and a copy of the new visa
  • The completed empadronamiento form (which will be e-mailed to you when your final visa appointment is offered)
  • Various documents specific to your visa (for example, the empadronamiento of a professional visa requires a copy of SENECYT’s confirmation of your university degree)
  • Birth certificate (apostilled by state of issue is recommended but not required) *the directions you will receive by email say to bring your birth certificate, but the ministry did not want to see mine while I completed the procedure
  • $10 cash

This procedure will take three business days to be completed. The ministry will give you a document that confirms you have completed and paid for the empadronamiento. You must keep this document. After three days you may move forward to receive your cedula.

Obtain your Cedula

The cedula will be your Ecuadorian identification card, and is required to enter and exit the country along with your visa.

To get your cedula, you will go to the Civil Registration office (Registro Civil) in centro (Calle Alfonso Jerves y Manuel Vegas). It is recommended that you go right when they open (8am) or later in the afternoon close to closing time (4:30).

As an extranjero, you will not be required to get a number at the information desk when you enter. Rather, you will follow these slightly different steps:

  1. When you enter the Registro Civil, head towards a pair of desks on the left side. If the attendants are serving others, an informal line will begin to start at the desks. Here you will present your certificado de empadronamiento and the attendant will check the system to see if your order for the cedula went through. Here you will receive a receipt slip for $5.
  2. You will take your receipt slip and step into line at the payment window. After paying the $5 the window attendant will give you a waiting number based on the service that you will get. Your waiting number will start with an “E” as it is an extranjero service.
  3. Once your number is called, you will go to the identified cubicle. You will present all of your documents and review that all personal data entered into the system is correct. You will have your picture taken (hair back, no jewelry, no smile), mark your fingerprints, and provide your signature. The security guard will take your file back to the first pair of desks, and you will be directed to a waiting area for your cedula to be printed.
  4. The waiting time for the cedula to be printed could take 1 hour. You will notice that Ecuadorians receive their ID cards within ten to fifteen minutes, but for extranjeros the process takes more time because the people at the pair of desks need to approve and submit all of your paperwork.
  5. Once your name is called, you will review your cedula at the call window to ensure that all data is correct. Once you have confirmed all information is valid, they will activate the chip of your cedula.

Here are the documents you will need to bring with you to the Registro Civil to obtain the cedula:

  • Passport with a copy of the main page and visa page
  • The empadronamiento document received from the ministry
  • Documents pertinent to the type of visa you have (for professional visa applicants, a copy of your university titulo confirmation from SENECYT; proof of investments or property holdings for those with investment visas, etc.)
  • $5 cash

Once you receive your cedula, you will have your official residency in Ecuador. You will be required to travel with your cedula and your passport if you enter and exit the country. Additionally, you will be required to present the cedula on a regular basis while making purchases, buying an alcoholic beverages, or taking care of official business, such as bank deposits or apartment leases. If you lose your cedula you will have to pay $15 to receive a new one.

7 Responses

  1. Bullet 3 above – titulo confirmation fron SYNECYT comes to you via email. This means it will probably fall into your Junk Mail folder. Obviously in Spanish, diligently watch for it as it only comes once!

  2. Has anyone else run into the need for a birth certificate, essentially required for the cedula if not the visa itself (only possibly, of course, since it was not required in this case)? If one is not able to get the cedula due to lack of a birth certificate (or whatever), will they still be able to leave the country?

    I thought I was all prepared to apply for my pensioner’s visa and the cedula was more of a formality once the visa was granted. You would, however, need a properly presented High School diploma, or above, if you ever wanted to apply for a driver’s license, but that was it.

  3. I wanted to confirm you meant that after procuring the visa, for the empadronamiento step for the cedula one needs to go to Cuenca’s Ministry office over by the Millennium Mall, as opposed to the Azoques ministry office one went to previously.

  4. Hi Kelly, I was born in Ecuador but have lived in the US for a loooong time! So much so that I have a very old cedula and need to renew it. Any chance you have info on what I need to take (and where) in regards to college diploma/education? And does it need to be translated? notarized, etc. I’m at a loss. Also, I’m married now. Would you know what I need to take to show that as well? Just marriage certificate? Anything else I’m missing? Everyone I speak to tells me something different. Very frustrating.

  5. Hi Kelly i have an issue, my cedula has expired can you please advise, I need to access my bank account in Ecuador i am an elderly person, thank you liz

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