A cedula in Ecuador is a government issued photo ID card that looks like a drivers license, but it doesn’t allow you to drive. You are not legally required to get a cedula; however, your life will be much easier if you do since banks require one to open an account, most stores will ask to see it when you use a credit card, and you’ll need a cedula to apply for the public IESS health insurance.
Currently, private health insurance is required to apply for a cedula. After 3 months, you can then apply for the public IESS health insurance.
Once you have your temporary residency visa and private health insurance, you can apply for your cedula at any time. Upon application, you’ll receive the Orden de Cedula document, which is valid for 30 days and costs $10 (as of June 2021).
You’ll need to appear at the nearest Civil Registration Office (Oficina de Registro Civil) within 30 days of receiving the Orden de Cedula to get your photo and fingerprints taken. It costs $5 and takes about an hour to get your cedula and be on your way.
Your cedula will be valid as long as your visa is valid. So for a temporary residency visa, it will be valid for 2 years and it will state that you’re a temporary resident.
Once you get your permanent residency visa, you’ll need to get a new cedula, which will be valid for 10 years and it will state that you’re a permanent resident. When you go to renew it at the 10-year mark, you’ll need to show that your visa support (e.g. investment, pension, etc.) has remained in effect during your time as a permanent resident, you’ll need to show proof of health insurance, and you’ll need to show that you have not been outside the country for more than the allotted time, which varies by visa type. You’ll need to pay the $10 document fee for the Orden de Cedula and the $5 cedula fee.
We carry a laminated copy of our cedula for credit card transactions and as our form of ID for most interactions. We also have photos of our cedulas on our phones. We carry copies so we’re less likely to lose the originals because they’re a hassle and time-consuming to replace.
To replace a lost or stolen cedula, you need to reapply for the Orden de Cedula and show your visa support, health insurance, and proof that you haven’t been outside the country for longer than the allowed time. You also need to pay the $10 document fee and a $16 cedula replacement fee.
While a copy of your cedula will work for most ordinary interactions, you will need to original for government, legal and financial interactions.
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