Citizenship in Ecuador is relatively easy to get, especially compared to the U.S. and many other countries. There are also several benefits of becoming an Ecuadorian citizen.
Ecuador Citizenship Application Process
Once you live in Ecuador for a total of 5 years, first on your 2-year temporary residency visa, and then at least 3 years on your permanent residency visa, you’ll be eligible to apply for Ecuadorian citizenship.
The application process is straightforward. You’ll need to submit an application for citizenship, then pass a multiple choice test, and finally, an oral test with a ministry agent.
Both the multiple choice and oral tests are in Spanish, but the questions are always the same so the answers can be memorized ahead of time.
Once your application is approved, you’ll receive an Ecuadorian passport. The entire process takes 6 to 12 months.
Is Dual Citizenship Allowed?
You are NOT required to renounce your U.S. citizenship after receiving your Ecuadorian citizenship; both countries allow dual citizenship.
In fact, most countries with a few exceptions allow dual or multiple citizenship.
Benefits of Becoming an Ecuadorian Citizen
There are several pros of becoming a citizen of Ecuador.
If your permanent residency is tied to an Investment CD or Property, you’ll no longer need to keep the investment once you become a citizen.
You can dispose of the investment after you receive your permanent residency; however, you will never be able to apply for citizenship. If you later decide you want to become a citizen, you’ll need to start the 5-year clock over with a 2-year temporary visa and then a 3-year permanent visa.
Freedom of Travel
Once you have your Ecuadorian citizenship, you can leave the country as often and for as long as you wish. There are not travel restrictions like there are with most of the permanent residency visas.
No More Visa/Passport Transfers
Your permanent residency visa never expires so you won’t need to renew it. However, your passport does expire so you’ll need to transfer your visa to your new passport number when it does. This process has a fee and requires a trip to the ministry office.
You also may need to show that you still own the investment tied to your Investor Visa.
Citizens can fasttrack dependents directly into a permanent residency dependent visa without the 2-year temporary visa.
Ecuador has a very relaxed definition of the word “dependent,” so you can bring anyone who is a blood relative or married to a blood relative to Ecuador as a dependent. That means you can bring your children, parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, cousins and anyone married to one of them.
Immune to Visa Law Changes
Ecuador is notorious for changing visa laws on a whim, and sometimes retroactively. If you become a citizen, you will no longer need to worry about some future law invalidating your visa, or requiring you to jump through new hoops.
No Visa Required for LOTS of Countries
Perhaps the best reason to become an Ecuadorian citizen has to do with visa-free travel. You’ll be able to travel to/from most South American countries, and most countries where Americans must have a visa.
Here is a complete list of countries where Ecuadorians can travel without a visa (as of May 2021):
El Salvador Haiti
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
Downsides of Becoming an Ecuadorian Citizen
We feel the pros far outweigh the cons of becoming a citizen of Ecuador; however, there are two things to consider before you apply.
Spanish Citizenship Test
Even though you can prepare ahead of time, it might be very stressful to take a multiple choice and oral test in Spanish with a ministry agent, especially if you aren’t fluent in Spanish.
Voting is Mandatory
You’re allowed to vote as a permanent resident after living in Ecuador for 5 years. However, as a citizen, you’re required by law to vote in every election if you’re between the ages of 18 and 65.
If you really don’t want to vote, you can pay a fine that’s equal to 10% of the monthly minimum wage, which is currently $400, so the fee would be $40.
If your plan is to stay in Ecuador for the rest of your life, obtaining citizenship is probably a good idea. The process is pretty easy to navigate, and the pros far outweigh the cons.
If you would like to discuss your citizenship options with Maite, please submit our Visa Agent referral form and we’ll send an immediate email introduction.
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