Ecuador Temporary Resident Visas

There are several different types of Ecuador Temporary Resident Visas: Professional, Investor, Pensioners, Rentista, Dependent, etc. The qualifications and requirements vary for each type of visa so you’ll need to select the best option for your specific circumstances.

If you would like to discuss your visa options with Maite, please submit our Visa Agent referral form and we’ll send an immediate email introduction.

This article focuses on the types of visas that are available in Ecuador, as well as the process for obtaining a visa. These haven’t changed. However, we have an updated article and interview with Maité specifically covering the new visa laws that were passed in February 2021 that make it easier for expats to move to Ecuador: New Ecuador Visa Changes & What They Mean for Expats.

This is Part 11 in our series about living abroad in Ecuador. If you missed the other articles, you might want to Start Here…

General Requirements for Ecuador Temporary Resident Visas

There are a few general requirements for all Ecuador Temporary Resident Visas. You can read the detailed list on the government website here; however, here are the main things you’ll want to consider:

Ecuador Temporary Resident Visas

Passport Expiration

If your passport will expire during the 2-year visa period, we recommend renewing your passport before applying for the visa.

Ecuador no longer attaches physical visas to your passport. Instead, they issue electronic visas that are attached to your passport number. When you renew your passport, you’ll get a different number which means your visa will need to be electronically transferred to the new passport. This requires a $100 fee and an additional trip the visa office to sign paperwork.

There’s no harm in renewing your passport early and doing so will save you a lot of inconvenience.

Health Insurance

Health insurance is NO LONGER REQUIRED for any of Ecuador’s visas, including the 90-day tourist visa, and both the temporary and permanent residency visas.

Fingerprints & Background Checks

You’ll need to provide both State and Federal FBI background checks with your application. Ideally, your background checks will be squeaky clean, but if you have a minor offense with a reasonable explanation or if it happened a long time ago, it may not affect your application process.

These reports must be less than 6 months old when you file your visa application. If they are more than 6 months old, you will need to request them again and pay for the new reports so plan carefully.

Marriage License & Birth Certificates

For dependent visas, you’ll need a marriage license for a spouse or birth certificates for children. The apostille date on the documents needs to be less than 6 months from the date of the application.

You can register your marriage license in Ecuador at a Registro Civil office so it will always be on file and you won’t need to go through this process again. Ask your visa agent for help with this.

Ecuador Temporary Resident Visa Ministry Fees

Ecuador Temporary Resident Visas have two primary fees (as of 2020). The temporary resident visa application fee is $50 per person and is non-refundable. If your visa application is approved, the temporary resident visa fee is $400 per person.

Ecuador Temporary Resident Visa Types

All temporary residency visas in Ecuador are good for 2 years from the date of issue. You can review all of the visas types and their specific requirements on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility website.

How To Translate Websites to English from Spanish (or any other language)

Professional Visa

The Ecuador Professional Visa has the following requirements:

  • Monthly income of at least USD $400
  • An undergraduate or graduate degree from an approved university
  • A notarized diploma with an apostille
  • A notarized transcript with an apostille
  • A notarized letter with an apostille signed by a university official stating the diploma and transcript are valid

My temporary (and now permanent) visa is a Professional Visa, which means I still work, have regular income from outside Ecuador, and a degree from an approved university. You can find the approved university list here…

Amelia has a degree from The University of Phoenix, but that university is not accepted by Ecuador because the majority of classes are taken online. To qualify as an approved university, more than 80% of classes must be taken in a classroom setting and not online.

I went to the University of Kansas (Rock Chalk Jayhawk) for both my bachelors and masters degrees. When I graduated in the 90’s, online courses weren’t a thing yet, so I took all my classes in-person. This means Amelia is here on a dependent visa that’s attached to my professional visa.

We had to get an official diploma and transcript from KU for my most advanced degree (Masters). We also had to get a notarized letter from a university official stating my degree was valid. Then we had to send that to the GringoVisas office in Connecticut so they could get the apostille before mailing it to Ecuador.

Investor Visa

For the Ecuador Investor Visa, you need to invest $40,000 in an Ecuadorian CO-OP Certificate of Deposit (CD) for at least 2 years, the duration of your Ecuador Temporary Resident Visa. The new laws for this visa no longer have travel restrictions: You can leave Ecuador for as many days per year as you want during the first 2 years of your residency.

The interest rates on the CD’s will shock you if you’re coming from the US where banks no longer pay meaningful interest. As of this writing, the interest rate on a 2 year CD in Ecuador is roughly 8.5% annually! That’s roughly $287/month in interest on your $40,000 CD!!!

You can leave the interest in the account so it compounds, but you are allowed by law to withdraw the interest income from your CD without invalidating your visa. However, you need to be careful when signing the paperwork with the COOP because they will default the application to prevent withdrawal of the earned interest until the CD end date. Be specific with them and tell them that you want to withdraw the interest every month, 6 months, or each year, whichever you prefer.

Bank deposits are only insured up to $32,000 so that means at least $8,000 of your investment will not be insured. You are not allowed to split the investment into different accounts or different banks to make up the difference, either. The entire investment must be in one account.

In lieu of a COOP CD, you can also purchase property to qualify for an Investor Visa in Ecuador. The only requirement is that the property be assessed by the government at more than $40,000.

IMPORTANT: The assessment value may be substantially lower than the purchase price. You can request a new assessment if the registered value is less than $40,000.

You are not allowed to transfer the investment without reapplying for the visa. So, for instance, you cannot use your CD to buy property. The investment must remain the same for the entire duration of the Temporary Resident Visa and cannot be changed or transferred.

Pensioners Visa

In order to get a Pensioners Visa, you need to show income for the remainder of your life of at least $400/month with no additional dependent income requirement (as of October 2020). This was recently changed, due to an oversight in the new visa laws, from $800/month + $100/month for each dependent. This may revert to the previous amounts in future updates to the laws and regulations.

Your income can be from Social Security, a pension, retirement accounts, annuities, etc. If you’re using Social Security for your income requirement, you’ll need an annual statement from the Social Security Administration (SSA) that’s signed by an SSA official and has an apostille at the federal (not state) level. Due to the pandemic, this process is taking 8 to 10 weeks so plan accordingly.

You can only be outside Ecuador for 90 non-consecutive days per year with this type of Ecuador Temporary Resident Visa.

Rentista Visa

The Rentista Visa is a relatively new type of visa, and due to confusion about how it works, not many have been issued.

It’s similar to the Pensioner’s Visa in that you have to prove you have a consistent monthly income of $400/month from either a 2-year lease agreement attached to a rental property you own, or a 2-year work contract.

The main difference from the pension visa is that you don’t have to show it’s income for life. You just need to provide your last 6 months worth of bank statements showing that the qualifying amount has been deposited each month.

You may also need proof of your work contract or employment that states you will continue to earn an income after you move to Ecuador.

Dependent Visa

A Dependent Visa must be attached to a valid Temporary Resident Visa and can be used for your spouse, children, parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, or any blood relative. The primary Temporary Visa must be issued before the Dependent Visa application can be filed.

Ecuador Temporary Resident Visas

Amelia is here on a dependent visa attached to my professional visa. As long as we stay married, she can maintain her dependent visa, but if I die or she leaves me for a Latin lover, she will need to get her own visa and start the entire process over. That’s the major downside to the Dependent Visa in Ecuador.

It took 3 months for my visa to be approved and issued after we filed the paperwork with the ministry. We filed it shortly after our arrival in October and my visa was available toward the end of January. Amelia received her dependent visa in mid-March.

There are no other special requirements for the dependent visa. However, you can only be outside Ecuador for 90 non-consecutive days per year with this visa type.

90-Day Tourist Visa

The 90-day Ecuador tourist visa is easy to get. Just come to Ecuador and it gets issued at passport control. It’s only valid for 3 months, but you can apply for a 3 month extension if needed.

The extension application has a fee that has increased from $100 when we moved here to $133. You’ll need to apply at the end of your 90-day tourist visa.

Other Visas

The four other types of Ecuador temporary resident visas are the work visa, volunteer visa, student visa and industrial investor visa. These are only temporary visa options and cannot be converted to permanent resident visas at the end of the 2-year term. If your goal is to become a permanent resident of Ecuador, it’s best to get one of the other visa types.

These types of visas aren’t popular with expats because they don’t lead to permanent residency, so we’re not going to cover them in this article.

Ecuador Temporary Resident Visa Process

There are lots of steps involved with getting your Ecuador Temporary Resident Visa, and it usually takes 3 to 6 months.

It can take 2 to 3 months just to get the background checks done in the US, sent for the apostille and mailed to Ecuador so keep that in mind when you’re planning your travel.

Step 1: Fingerprints

The first step in the process of getting your Ecuador Temporary Resident Visa is getting your fingerprints taken. We had ours taken in Cuenca Ecuador on our exploratory trip in 2017, but you can also have them taken back in the US.

Step 2: Background Check

Once we had our fingerprint forms, our visa agent requested the background checks from the FBI Identity History Summary Checks website.

Step 3: Visa Specific Requirements

Professional Visa

You need to request a notarized diploma, transcript and the official university letter stating your documents are real. Then it needs to get an apostille.

Dependent Visa

If you’re applying for a dependent visa, you’ll need to get a certified copy of your marriage license and send it for the apostille. Your children and other relatives will need to have their birth certificates sent for the apostille.

Investor Visa

For the investor visa, you’ll need to invest in CD at an Ecuadorian COOP for at least 2 years, or purchase property that you intend to keep for the duration of the temporary resident visa. You can wire funds directly to an Ecuadorian bank from a US bank.

You will need to open the CD in a COOP such as JEP because banks like Banco Guayaquil require an Ecuador government ID (cédula) to open an account. You can open an account at a COOP with just your passport and your investor visa application.

Pensioner Visa

You need to request a letter from the SSA stating your monthly income and you’ll need to provide monthly income statements.

Step 4: Request an Appointment with the Ministry

You can go to any of the ministry offices in Ecuador to submit your application, but some have longer waits than others. Cuenca is one of the busiest offices in Ecuador so it can take 3 to 4 months just to get an appointment date to submit your application.

We went to Machala to submit our temporary visa application because the wait for an appointment was only 2 weeks. It can take several months to get appointments in the busier offices in Cuenca, Quito and Guayaquil.

Step 5: Fill Out and Notarize the Visa Application Form

The visa application form is in Spanish and must be filled out in Spanish. Once it’s filled out, you’ll need to go to a notary to have it notarized. You need to sign the application in front of the notary after showing him or her your identification.

 Ecuador Temporary Resident Visas

Step 6: Submit Your Application

Once you have your completed visa application form and all the other required documentation with apostilles as needed, go to the ministry office on the date of your appointment to submit your application. You’ll need your passport as identification. This process is different if your visa will be issued in your home country. Your visa agent will help with that process.

Step 7: Wait

We submitted my Ecuador temporary resident visa application at the end of October when we first arrived in Ecuador, but didn’t receive it until the end of January. It took 3 months to get approved and printed.

Due to the constantly changing laws and delays when we applied for our temporary resident visas, we were here in Ecuador for several months beyond our 3-month tourist visa without our temporary resident visa. Since the application was in-process, we technically weren’t illegal aliens, but it sure felt like we were! Thankfully we didn’t need to leave the country during that small window or it might have been difficult to get back in.

Step 8: Get Your Visa from the Ministry

Once your visa is approved, the government issues an electronic visa that is digitally attached to your passport number. They no longer attach a physical visa sticker to your passport. Again, if your passport is about to expire, we recommend renewing it first before applying for your Ecuador temporary resident visas.

Step 9: Get a Cédula

After we received our temporary resident visas, we took them to the government office in Cuenca to get our cédula, which is our official government issued identification card. It looks like a driver’s license, only it doesn’t allow us to drive.

It took about an hour to get the cédula and the cost was $5. You are not required to get a cédula, however, your expat life in Ecuador will be much easier and you’ll have more banking options available to you if you have one.

Hopefully, you found this lengthy article about the Ecuador Temporary Resident Visas helpful. If you see others asking about this complex process on social media, please share it with them. And if you spot any inaccuracies or outdated rules, please let us know so we can keep this up-to-date.

HUGE thanks to Maité from Gringo Visas for not only helping us with both our Temporary and Permanent Resident Visas, but for taking the time to answer a bunch of questions for this article about the new visa requirements in Ecuador.

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25 replies
  1. Ed Cyr
    Ed Cyr says:

    Excellent article on the visa requirements. We are going through the process with Maite @ GringoVisas. We started back in June. The pandemic slowed the process with getting things done in the States. Hopefully in Nov. we will have our visas in hand. GringoVisas is an excellent visa facilitator.

  2. Hannah
    Hannah says:

    Hello! How do I pay the $50 application fee? Is it paid through a deposit with BanEcuador prior to the appointment to submit the documents? Thank you so much!

    • Live Abroad Now
      Live Abroad Now says:

      You pay the $50 fee in cash when you submit the visa application on your application date. We’re not aware if they allow bank transfers.

  3. Sal
    Sal says:

    Well written, organized, informative, and great article. Thanks for sharing the information. Very useful and helped answer many questions for a wide range of users. Just a note of appreciation. This help goes a long way because not too much information exists for moving to Ecuador. Best wishes & hope to meet you guys one day in the future 🙂

  4. mary wilber
    mary wilber says:

    What happens if visa requirements change after you already have your temp visa, or even your permanent visa? for example, for pensionado, say you get in on the $400 requirement and then it returns to $800 at some point? And for investor, not too long ago it was under $30,000 and now is $40,000… what happens to folks if they don’t meet new requirements but already have their visa on old requirements? Would you have to leave? Muchas Gracias!

    • Live Abroad Now
      Live Abroad Now says:

      Once your visa is issued, future changes to the laws don’t apply to you. Those requirements are only reviewed during the visa application process.

  5. Michael
    Michael says:

    “ You can register your marriage license in Ecuador so it will always be on file and you won’t need to go through this process again.”

    Do you know the name of the Agency, Department, or Ministry where you need to register a marriage license in Ecuador?

    • Live Abroad Now
      Live Abroad Now says:

      It’s our understanding that most banks pay similar interest rates based on the amount of the deposit and the length of the CD.

  6. Dr. Greg Anderson
    Dr. Greg Anderson says:

    Hey guys,

    As near as I know, you DON’T always need to get an FBI and Federal background check for your criminal clearance. I have not lived in the US since 1990, and the last time I spoke with the local Ecuador Consulate here in Thailand, since I have lived in Thailand for 18+ years, my background check is done local here with the Special Branch of Royal Thai Police. It is a national check here in Thailand that determines if you have any criminal background. Last I had it done 3-years ago, it was squeaky clean! 🙂

    • Live Abroad Now
      Live Abroad Now says:

      That is correct. You only need the FBI background check if you have been back to the US. If you’ve been in Thailand for 18 years, you don’t need any state or federal checks from the US, but if you fly through the US and get your passport logged into the system, then you may be required to provide US background checks.

  7. Barry Hayden
    Barry Hayden says:

    Its much harder to get into Ecuador than it is the US it seems. What’s the best airlines to get there from the US?

  8. Kierra
    Kierra says:

    Hello. My husband and I are trying to figure out the longer term visa thing. We think the rentista visa can apply to our situation but not quite sure. We’re in our 20s and have about 10k in savings. My husband’s father will be supporting us in this country. Could he be considered the legal source of our 400$ monthly income? If so how would we go about proving this in a legal way? If rentista doesn’t apply then which visa would more so apply to us with a person in the US supplying our income?

    • Live Abroad Now
      Live Abroad Now says:

      You would need to talk to a visa agent to figure out the best type of visa for your situation. Your husband’s father may be able to claim you both as dependents, which might be the best option if that’s possible. I don’t think the Rentista visa will work for your situation, but you really need to ask an expert.

  9. Dennis J Cruz
    Dennis J Cruz says:

    Can I earn my temporary residency in Ecuador If I deposit $40,000 in an Ecuadorian CD I live off my large savings nest egg I do NOT earn income.
    I’m 50 years old u.s. citizen probably will be getting my social security at age 62 but now I have no earned income but live very comfortably on my savings

    • Live Abroad Now
      Live Abroad Now says:

      As far as we know, you don’t need to show monthly income statements for the investor visa, but you really need to speak to a visa agent for the current rules.

  10. Kris
    Kris says:

    Hi there. Thanks for the informative article!
    For the investor visa, is it correct that the only document you’ll need apostilled before you arrive would be the police record check, right? (stuff like birth cert/passport copy don’t need home country apostille, right?) All other necessary docs can be furnished/translated/notarized when in Ecuador, is that correct?

  11. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    Hello! Thank you for such a thorough write up. This is SO helpful! I wanted to ask:
    1. What airline did you find to be the most pet friendly when flying to Ecuador? We have 2 black cats. 😉
    2. I would be applying for the Professional Visa. When requesting a notarized diploma, transcript, and letter signed by my university official stating the diploma and transcript are valid; does this documentation get mailed directly to the office to be apostilled FROM the university? Or is it sent to me to send to the office to be apostilled?
    3. Does the Visa process require you to show a certain amount of seasoned funds in your bank account?
    4. Do you see any expat communities with kids? I’m a single parent of a fun and energetic 12-year old son. 🙂
    Thank you again for your insights!


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