How to get Ecuador residency visa?

If you’re not an Ecuadorian resident, you can spend in the country up to 9 months (6 month via business visa and 3 months – tourist visa), then you have to leave the country for at least 3 months.

If you’re interested in staying here for longer, you will have to apply for a residency type of visa. There are essentially three ways of getting the residency:

  • Investment (bank deposit of $25,000 or purchasing a property worth minimum $25,000) – Visa 9: III – Inversionista
  • Pension (you have to be a pensioner in your home country) – Visa 9: I – Rentista
  • Education (you have to hold at least master degree and graduate from a university that is recognized by Ecuadorian government) – Visa 9: V – Profesional

Each type of residency visa can be extended to one person traveling with you (so called amparo) – typically your spouse.

In this article I’m describing the 3rd way – by education. So here is the algorithm of obtaining Ecuadorian professional visa which grants you the residency.

Prerequisite 0 – verifying your university

First of all, you have to ensure that your university/academy is on the list of schools recognized by SENESCYT (La Secretaría de Educación Superior, Ciencia y Tecnología)It may still be possible to get through with a university/academy that is not on that list, but this would be more complicated process (which I’ll describe separately).

The most recent list is available here: http://www.educacionsuperior.gob.ec/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2015/02/Listado-actualizado-1611-2015.pdf.

You’ve found your university? Good, let’s continue.

Prerequisite 1 – business visa

To obtain any type of residency visa, you must have a business (180-days) visa first. To obtain it you have to visit an Ecuadorian embassy in your home country (or – if there’s no embassy in your country – you’ll have to get in touch with a nearest Ecuadorian embassy). Here is the list of all Ecuadorian diplomatic missions.

I won’t describe the process of getting the business visa, as it’s pretty straightforward. Just remember, the visa costs $200 for the main traveler and $50 for amparo.

Prerequisite 2 – documents

To start the process of obtaining visa 9:V – professional, you’ll have to prepare the following list of documents in your country:

  1. University diploma – the one that states your university name, your major, your academic title. Basically the one that proves you graduated from the university and you hold the title. This document should be legalized. Now, procedures vary from country to country, but legalization typically means that the ministry of education of your country should confirm your diploma (typically by stamping it).
  2. Certificate of good conduct – a statement that you have not been convicted. This should be as fresh as possible. Preferably get it just before you leave the country.
  3. Marriage certificate – if you want your spouse to get the residence as amparo. Again, this should have a very recent date on it.

All documents should be translated to Spanish by a sworn translator and then apostilled (including translations). An apostille is a stamp or a printed form issued by your country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs that allows the documents to be recognized by foreign agencies. It’s very important, as Ecuador won’t accept any document without apostille.

As you can imagine getting the documents will cost you money. How much? Difficult to say, as the costs vary from country to country.

Again, remember, it will be very difficult to gather those documents if you’re already outside your country. Prepare before leaving.




With your business visa valid for 180 days an the pile of documents you’re ready to arrive to Ecuador.

The plan

High-level plan of what needs to be done is this:

  1. Register your diploma.
  2. Register your business visa.
  3. Apply for residency visa.
  4. Cancel your business visa.
  5. Get your residency visa.
  6. Get cédula.

Registering your diploma

As soon as possible after your arrival, you should go to the SENESCYT. Most of major cities have a SENESCYT office, so most probably you won’t have to travel. Actually, before you go you should fill this form: http://www.educacionsuperior.gob.ec/wp-content/plugins/download-monitor/download.php?id=1610 with your data.

You will also need a color copy of your passport that would be confirmed by a notary (this will cost you $2-$4). Notaries offices are common in the cities centers and the confirmation procedure is very simple.

With your passport, the copy of the passport, the diploma and the form you go to SENESCYT and you explain you want your diploma to be registered. After scanning your documents, you will get a stamp on your form and will be informed that it may take up to 45 days to register. Now, these are working days, which means you’ll have to wait a least 9 weeks. Take that into account and don’t delay your visit at SENESCYT.

How would you know, you’re registered? Fortunately SENESCYT has a website where you can verify it:

http://www.senescyt.gob.ec/web/guest/index.php/consultas

You can enter either your name or your passport number.

Now, you just have to wait.

First visit at extranjería – business visa registration

So, after long time of waiting, your diploma is registered and you recognized as a valuable professional.  🙂

Now, you need to do a couple of things.

First of all, it’s possible that your business visa isn’t registered. How would you know? Check your passport. If it has a blue stamp from Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores Comercio e Integracion, it registered.

If it’s not registered you have to go to Quito to so called extranjería to register it. The office is located at 6 de Diciembre y La Niña.

Extranjería at 6 de Diciembre y La Niña
Extranjería at 6 de Diciembre y La Niña

You will have to take a turn ticker and wait. Then they will ask you to pay $4 for each visa you want to register, will keep your passport(s) and will tell you when you have to come back.

Certificado de Movimiento Migratorio

Meanwhile, you have to get a paper that lists all your arrivals and departures. You can get it in Ministerio de Movilidad Humana located in front of the Jardin mall at the Amazonas street. You will – of course – have to fill in a form (they’ll give it to you) and pay $5. You’ll get the paper immediately.

Second visit at extranjería – applying for the visa

Meanwhile, you can prepare another form – http://www.cancilleria.gob.ec/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/formulario-visa-inmigrante-doc.pdf.

You will also need a simple letter written in Spanish where you explain your reasons and motivations. Don’t worry – it can be really simple and it seems they don’t really care about it. However, it is a requirement.

OK, so let’s verify that you have everything you need:

  1. The visa form.
  2. The letter.
  3. Your passport (and a color copy).
  4. Your certificate of good conduct (translated and apostilled).
  5. Print-out from SENESCYT website with your information (simple print-screen is enough).
  6. Your diploma (translated and apostilled).
  7. Your marriage certificate (translated and apostilled) if you’re traveling with spouse.
  8. Certificado de Movimiento Migratorio
  9. A paper portfolio (they won’t accept without it).

Obviously it’s good the have copies of the documents just in case (they will take them away upon registration). You can also have a passport photo, but if you don’t – they will take one.

With this you can again go to extranjería (6 de Diciembre y La Niña).

First you collect your passport with the registered business visa, second you take a turn ticket, wait and apply.

After you have submitted your docs, you will have to wait approximately a week for the confirmation that you are granted the visa (they will send you and email).

So, again, waiting…

Third visit at extranjería – cancelling the business visa

If you got so far, congratulations, that means you have the email that says:

Le escribimos con la intención de notificarle que su trámite de VISA se encuentra APROBADO por lo que se solicita que se acerque a la Unidad de Extranjería a dejar su pasaporte para la emisión de la Visa, a partir del día de mañana.

You have to print it out, take your passport with you and go to extranjería again. You take a turn ticket and you cancel your business visa. They do it right away but they charge $50 for it.

With your visa cancelled you take another turn and you show them the email you got. You pay $320 for each professional visa. You leave your passport, so they can “process” (whatever they mean by that). You wait a week…

Fourth visit at extranjería – getting the residency and empadronamiento

You go at extranjería again. You show the email again, you get a turn ticket. You receive your passport back.

Congratulations! You’re an Ecuadorian resident! 

Now you probably want a cédula – an Ecuadorian ID card. While this is not required, as you’re already granted residency, having a cédula will simplify your life (and you can travel to Galapagos island without being charged $100 as if you were a foreigner).

In order to do so, you’ll have to get empadronamiento which is a document you get in extranjería and you can get it the same day when you receive your passport with residency.

You’ll have to fill in a form with all your personal data and pay $4. You’ll get the document straight away, but it will only be valid 24 hours later. You cannot use it for getting the cédula before 24 hours. 

First (and last) visit at Registro Civil

So, 24 hours passed. You’re good to go. Visit Registro Civil at Naciones Unidas y Amazonas in Quito, where you have to have:

  1. Your passport with your residency visa.
  2. A color copy of both passport and visa (preferably on one page).
  3. Empadronamiento (remember, it becomes valid after 24 hours after the issue).

You have to pay $5 for a cédula, get a turn ticket and wait (typical wait time is about an hour depending on the day). Then all your data will be entered into a computer, and they will take a photo of you (smile!). You will be told you have to wait 4 hours, but after 2,5 – 3 hours the cédula will be ready and you will be able to get it.

Well, that’s it. 🙂

Summary

If you don’t live in Quito – you will have to visit it 5 times. Sorry. This is Latin America. Generally the working hours of the offices are: 8:30-16:30, but the earlier you get, the more chances you have to get things done quickly.

No office will accept $100 bills. Get your change in advance. And always have some coins for copies.

Don’t trust the officials – ask twice, ask different people, verify answers, insist on getting an accurate answer.

Be prepared for costs. Just in Ecuador you will have to pay at least $400 not to mention the costs of translating your documents in your country and the cost of business visa which is a prerequisite ($200). This means getting an Ecuadorian residency can cost $700-$800 plus travels to Quito. But when you’re done with the process, you can enjoy your long stay at the equator. 🙂

 

54 thoughts on “How to get Ecuador residency visa?

  1. Dear Sir

    Your info was very fruitful. I really want to appreciate to open up the things which many people donot.

    I am James an INDIAN citizen. I am planning to come to Ecuador under Professional visa. I have completed my

    Diploma in TESOL from UK. Do I need to get an apostille on this Diploma from UK in order to get a job in Ecuador?

    Please reply me

    Thanks

    1. Denny,

      yes, you need to get it apostiled in UK to start the process of getting the visa. Getting a job will be a different thing I’m afraid, as having the professional visa will not guarantee you the job.

  2. Thank you so much for this information, I have been searching for this for a long time! I am an American and I will be moving to Ecuador with my boyfriend. We will be arriving in Quito with our 12-IX visas then I plan to get the 9-V professionals visa, we will get a civil union and then he will be able to get the dependent visa.

    I’ve been told that he will not be able to apply for the dependent visa until I receive my professionals visa, is that true? I’m a little concerned because I have also been told that the background checks from state and federal are only valid for 90 days.

    If this is the case, will he have to return to the U.S. to get another background check even though he will have been in Ecuador that entire time? Also, do you know if the process to get the dependent visa is pretty straight forward and can he start the process while I’m waiting on my visa to be granted.

    Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you so much for your help and for putting this information together!
    -Hayley

    1. Hayley,

      in fact, the dependent visa process is a part of getting the profesional visa. You put your spouse’s name on the form along with yours. They are valid 90 days, which should be sufficient for starting the process. Then it doesn’t really matter how long the process will take.
      Other thing is that most of the officials are not very strict with the dates, so don’t worry. It’s a standard procedure.

  3. On this post you had mentioned that you would discuss what to do in the event your university/academy is NOT on the list of schools recognized by SENESCYT (La Secretaría de Educación Superior, Ciencia y Tecnología). I was unable to locate the discussion of that subject. Where can I go to obtain that info?

    Thanks much.

    1. Hi Sue,

      this is a bit more complicated than I thought. I’m still working on getting the info. Please keep on checking.

  4. Will a any major be accepted for an education visa or is there a list of acceptable ones from the approved university?
    Thanks

  5. Is 6 month visa is necessory? As I need a visa to visit ecuador. So i will be having 3 month visa? Will that also be fine? as it will be a visa and not T3 stamp.
    My degree is in the list and we are thinking to send our title 1st to the visa facilitator/lawyer who can register on our behalf and once we are in ecuador we can apply for professional visa?
    Do u think 6 month visa really needed?

    Degree can be of any professional and major? as far as the university in the list?

    1. Nadeem,

      as far as I know, the 6 monthts visa is a hard requirement. The 3 months visa is just a tourist visa, and it’s not enough to start the process of getting the residency.
      Yes, the degree can be of any professional and major if the university is on the list.

      1. Thank you so much Bart.
        I already send my degree for registration and still waiting. Actually I did it through the visa facilitator without my presence in Ecuador with authorization letter. It is taking really longer.. we send end of March still waiting. Maybe because of the earthquake?

  6. Hello Bart,
    Thank you – good useful info! I’m applying for the 9-V visa and currently waiting for my apostilled diploma to arrive from SUNY. I reside in West Palm Beach, Fl with plans of moving to Cuenca in Oct 2016. Can I register my diploma with SENESCYT by mail from the states? I can’t seem to find the application form on their website. Can you assist me? Also, what other documents would I need to attach to this form?
    Thank you,
    Ada

    1. Hi Ada,

      as far as I know, you need to present the apostilled diploma personally at SENESCYT. It’s not possible to register with email. That is: it was not possible back then, when I registered mine.
      As for documents, you only need your diploma and translation (apostilled) if you’re university is on the list. Obviously you need to present your passport upon registering the diploma. I’ll try to get some more information when I’m close to SENESCYT in Ibarra.
      ¡Que te vaya bien!

  7. Hello Bart
    I am an Indian citizen and IT professional. I have worked in USA and UK earlier. I m planning to get Ecuador residency …9-V. Plz tell me when you were in Ecuador and during the time you registered your business visa and applied for 9-V, how did you manage your money, did you use an international credit/debit card or you had local bank account or just used cash.

    1. Arun,

      all good questions! I think I need to write an article about it. But some quick answers beforehand:
      1) as far as i know, now you don’t need the business visa to start the process of getting residency. My friends will be doing this very soon and I’ll update the article accordingly. What you do need from your country are other documents: good conduct certification, marriage cert if you need one.
      2) I’m working part-time for a London-based company. As a Polish citizen I have bank account in Poland. They offered me a number of currency accounts (one in GBP, one in USD) and they issued a debit card for the USD account. I get my money to the GBP account, I use an online currency-exchange service and I wire USD to my USD account. Then I pay with the Polish debit card. I can use it also to get money from ATM. Neither local bank nor my Polish bank charge for anything. The online currency exchange service charges 0.2% for every exchange. Not bad.
      I also have an account in a local Ecuadorian bank to pay electricity/phone bills.

  8. Hi Bart,
    Thank you very much for the info. This is the most detailed and informative article I have found.

    You mention on prerequisite 1 that it is necessary to have a business visa first in order to apply for any type of residency visa, but then Hayley wrote on December 2 that she is planning to apply for professional visa in Ecuador using her 12-IX visa, which is a tourist visa and not a business visa. Is that possible?

    I am Ecuadorian citizen and my girlfriend is planning to come to Ecuador long term. She has a Masters degree recognized by SENESCYT, but her bachelors degree is not from a registred university. Can she apply for a professional visa?

    thanks!

    best,
    Kev

    1. Hi Kevin,
      I have some information from Ecuadorian Embassy in Berlin that those regulations have changed and now you can apply for the Professional visa with only a tourists visa. So yes, that is possible according to the Berlin embassy.
      If your girlfriend’s master degree is recognized by SENESCYT – it’s all that matters. They won’t be interested in the bachelor.

      Que te vaya bien!

  9. Hi this is ramesh from UAE nationality Indian I am very happy of seeing your articles. I much interested to migrate from UAE to Ecuador. Whether business visa or visit visa is helpful to have an PR visa .can you help me to getting PR visa. I am much expecting reply from you. Thank you

  10. If you don t want permanent residency in Ecuador, you can still remain in the country past the 90 to 180 days you ll get as a tourist. Here are the non-resident visa options available.

    1. To my knowledge: in a year you can be in Ecuador up to 9 months without resident visa (3 months of tourist visa then 6 months of business visa) and then you have to leave).

  11. Hi Bart,

    Thanks a ton for the detailed info.

    Just one query though.
    I wish to migrate to Ecuador with my family of 4, which includes 2 kids.
    Will I be able to obtain residency for the kids as well?

    How is life there by the way?
    Are you enjoying it?
    How is the weather?

    Best Regards,
    Philip

    1. Hi Philip,

      yes, you’ll be able to obtain residency for all your family members as amparo.

      The life here is great as long as you can live without certaing arrangements and things. I found latin culture very different from the European one. I do enjoy it, but sometimes I miss certain things. I think life here is less busy, more relaxed and generally more pleasant.

      The weather is great here in Ibarra – it’s everlasting spring. But you can choose from anything between hot weather in the coast and the cold of Carchi. Up to you really.

      Cheers,
      Bart

  12. Hi Bart,

    Really informative article, thanks a lot. I am moving to Quito in September, planning on gettnig the 12-IX visa and then applying for the 9-V with my degrees. A few questions I hope you could help me with:

    – I have read a lot about documents being notarized and apostilled. Could you explain to me what process I should go through for my documents (degrees, birth certificate, criminal check etc) in terms of the order? Should I get all my documents translated and then notarized and then apostilled? Or some other order?

    OR

    Should I get my original documents notarized and apostilled here, and then get the notarized translation done once in Quito?

    Thanks in advance,

    Daniel

    1. Hi Daniel,

      you should:
      1) get your documents apostilled. Not sure how it’s done in your country. In mine, the ministry of foreign affairs will glue a piece of paper on them with a stamp.
      2) then you should get your documents translated by a sworn translator.

      No need to notarize them.

      Que te vaya bien!

  13. Hello sir,
    I found in internet that’s Ecuador is visa free country for India up to 3 months. It is possible to apply professional visa during this period ?

    1. Hi VIGNESHWARAN,

      yes, in fact the regulations have changed and now you only need 3 months touristic visa to start the process. Remember, you have to have all your university documents translated and apostiled.

  14. Hi there,
    I am an Indian, with uk masters planning a business in Ayurvedic(herbal medicine & therapies) health care in Ecuador,thereby long residency . How can It be done. Well, wondering to know the prerequisites for the same. How fast can I start the process?
    Any funds to be maintained in the account or in total how much does it costs.? Your suggestions are very much appreciated

    TIA
    Aswathy

    1. Hi Aswathy,

      the investment visa will cost you $25,000 which you need to maintain at a bank deposit. The process is rather straightforward but you need to be here in Ecuador to start it. You can come with tourist visa (i.e no visa).

      1. Hey Bart,
        Hope you are fine there!!!!
        Thanks much for your reply. Well, what you say about applying for a professional visa?. I have done Bachelors in Ayurveda medicine & surgery from India& MBA from UK. Have read some articles, regarding registering degree with Senecyst & thereon. But can I get the degree approval from India?& later on move to Ecuador to apply for Visa 7 PR. Please share your views.

        1. I’m pretty sure the MBA will get you the visa. If you’re concern about degree from India, check whether your university appears on the list of approved universities at scenesyt pages.

  15. Thank you so much Bart.
    I want to apply Pr visa but I have 2 question, first my wife has HIV, is there any blood test and do we have any problem in this case?
    And my 2nd question is: if I will qualify Pr visa and move to Ecvador and stay there, after how long we will take Ecvador passport ?
    Thanks

    1. Hi Mohd,

      there’s no health check-ups requirements on getting the visa. No blood tests.
      I think you can apply for the passport after 3 years of residency, the requirement is you can’t leave the country for more than 3 months in that period and pay for the passport. I’ve heard the fees are around $1000 per person.

  16. Hello Bart;
    Thanks for you article it is really helpful… I would ask you I got a B.Sc in chemistry (is approved university in the list) and analytical Biochemistry Diploma from another university (which is not approved in the list) would I get the residence and what about jobs there?? and the income? thanks.

    1. Hi Yahia,

      If you get your title registered through SENESCYT (which I think won’t be a problem) then you’re will surely get the residence. The income varies very much. The minimum wage is around $360 at the moment. But professionals, school and university teachers, doctors and government agencies’ employees will get much more. The costs of living are much lower than in Europe or States especially if you live outside two major cities (Guayaquil and Quito). You can rent a decent house for $250/month and fuel and transportation is cheap. Stay tuned for an article about costs of living. I’m preparing one.

      All the best,
      Bart

  17. Hi, BART

    I appreciate your effort for replying each comment.

    I am from India and have collected all the paperwork, just need to know that how to register a foreign degree with SENESCYT.

    1. Hi Daxx,

      you need somebody to physically deliver all your papers to a SENESCYT office. I don’t recommend sending it via post as it takes forever.

  18. Hello Bart;
    I am sreekanth from india planning to move ecuador pr (9 v visa).
    My degree is not in the list and how much cost will incur on accommadation and visa charges
    and how many days required for getting pr visa?

    1. Hello Sreekanth,

      if you university is not listed, you’ll have to apply for the VISA on an individual basis. Basically SENESCYT has 45 working days to process your form. Normally, a 3-month touristic VISA should do for all the paperwork.

  19. Hi Bart
    I am living in India and holding Bachelor degree from Gujarat university. I checked the Senescyt list and my university name is not thr.
    Is it possible to apply for PR visa in Ecuador?
    Also what abt the work opportunity in Ecuador?
    Do we need to learn Spanish first?
    Thanks
    Aditi

    1. Hi Aditi,

      first of all, you have to speak Spanish to live in Ecuador. Nobody really speaks any other language. There are very few people who can communicate in English. The economy is not so good here at the moment. English teachers, IT engineers and specialists can find jobs, but costs of living are relatively high. There is a quite big Chinese community and lots of Colombians taking advantage of the USD-peso rate, but other than that not many people come here to search for jobs.
      If your university is not on the list, you can apply for residency based on an investment ($25.000 + $500 for the spouse).

      Thanks,
      Bart

  20. Such wonderful information. Thanks so much Bart.

    I can apply for residency either through investment or profession/education. I have a Master of Education from an approved university and years of teaching experience, so I hope to find work teaching. However, I will soon be sixty. Is age an issue with getting residency or securing a job? Do you recommend the professional or the investment route to residency?

    Many thanks,
    Kelly

    1. Kelly,

      sixty is new fourty. 🙂 Don’t worry, the age should not an issue. I recommend the professional route. The visa itself costs the same, and you don’t have to freeze your cash.
      There is a high demand for teachers here.

      All the best,
      Bartek

  21. Hello Bart, thank you very much for this post, it’s really helpful.
    I’m planning to move to Ecuador in May and i have a Bachelors degree that’s already in the list.
    My question: is this enough or do i need to have a Masters degree?

    Regards,
    Khaled

  22. Hello Bart,

    I Krunal patel from INDIA, I wat to come Ecuador for professional visa, but my university is not listed. so what i have to do.
    please reply

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