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Ecuador: Visas and Immigration

A good understanding of the country you are relocating to is vital: Ecuador’s regions are quite diverse and offer a variety of opportunities for expats. Our article gives you a better idea of what to expect.
Ecuador has a stunning density of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Tourist Visas

If you’re going on a fact-finding trip before relocating to Ecuador or just visiting, most travelers will not need a tourist visa. You can find a complete list of nationalities that do require tourist visa 12-X on the website of the Embassy of Ecuador in Washington. These visas are valid for 90 days, and require a passport that is valid for at least six months, a return ticket, and proof of sufficient funds for your stay in the country.

Once you’ve decided to stay in Ecuador for a longer period of time, there are two broad visa categories for foreigners: non-immigrant and immigrant visas, which may also be referred to as “non-resident” and “resident” visas. You can find details on both categories below.

Other than the 12-X tourist visa, all visas can only be applied for before arriving in Ecuador. Even if you are already in the country, you will have to travel back to your country of origin to apply for the relevant visa.

Non-Immigrant Visas

The official category number for non-immigrant visas is 12. All visas listed below are for people who wish to stay longer than 90 days, and each has their own set of application requirements. For in-depth information on those requirements, you can contact the Ecuadorian mission in your home country directly, visit their homepage, or take a look at the informative Ecuador Explorer website.

The most common types of non-immigrant visas are:

  • 12-V: study visa
  • 12-VI: work visa
  • 12-VII: volunteer and religious visa
  • 12-VIII: cultural exchange visa
  • 12-IX: long-stay business or tourism visa

The most important and relevant visa for future expats is the 12-VI work visa. The Embassy of Ecuador in the Netherlands has all the important information on their website.

Immigrant Visas

The process of acquiring an immigrant visa for Ecuador is longer and more complicated. Immigrant visas are generally not tailored towards the “classic” expat, but rather retirees or investors. To check if this is the right visa for you, take a look at the Ministry of Tourism website.

Registering Your Visa and General Administration

All foreigners who don’t have a 12-X tourist visa and plan on staying more than 90 days have to register with Ecuadorian authorities within 30 days of arrival. There are two registration processes to go through after arriving in Ecuador: the non-immigrant visa registration (where applicable), and the registration for your censo.

If you have a non-immigrant visa other than the standard tourist visa 12-X, you have to register it with the Dirección de Extranjería in Quito. Apart from your passport and certificado de visación supplied by the Ecuadorian mission that issued your visa, you will need a large envelope, two passport photos, and some cash (approximately 4 USD) — partly to pay for the process, and partly to pay for various copies of your documents. If everything is in order, you should be able to pick up your passport within one to five business days.

The second registration with the censo is to get an ID card. To apply, you’ll need to visit the Dirección Nacional de Migración in Quito. The process is fairly quick and easy, and you can combine the two registration processes to save time. If you’re moving to another part of the country, this is also a great opportunity to explore the city for a couple of days.

When it’s time to renew your visa, you need to do so at least 30 days before it expires.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Jaromir Novy

"InterNations provided me with all the necessary information about Ecuador. It really helps to settle as expat in South America."

Adriana Rodrigues Zon

"With InterNations I met other Portuguese women in Quito quickly. We even play tennis together once a week."

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