Many North Americans are finding that the low cost of living in Central and South America are much more appealing than retiring or living abroad in tropical locations of the United States, such as Florida. Ecuador, the small country right on the border, is one of the impressive countries that offers a tropical paradise for a low low price.
If adventure, great climate, and low cost of living are what you are looking for, it’s easy to make Ecuador your new home. Like most countries, you can’t just stay for as long as you want. Knowing your residency options in Ecuador will allow you to make the right decision for your financial and lifestyle choices.
If you are a citizen of the United States, Canada, and most European countries, you automatically get visa-free travel for 90 days as long as you’re equipped with a passport that’s valid for at least 6 months, and you have proof of a plan to leave the country before 90 days.
There are visa options for those who want to spend time in the country but not live in Ecuador for very long. These visas include student visas, work visas, religious visas, and cultural exchange visas.
If you decide that 90 days, or a non-residence visa in Ecuador, just isn’t enough for you, your partner, or family, you can choose from the many Ecuadorian residency visa options. These visas grant you permanent residency, which means you can’t leave for more than 90 days out of the year during your first two years in the country. You also can’t be absent for more than 18 consecutive months after your second year.
The application process includes the following documents:
- A visa petition addressed to the Director General of Extranjería, signed by the applicant and an attorney
- A completed form “Solicitud de visa de inmigrante”
- Up-to-date passport
- A completed form “hoja de datos para la cédula” (a data sheet, subsequently used for your identity card)
- Two current passport-sized photos
- Visa and Application fees ($350)
Each document must be an original or notarized copy that has been translated into Spanish, if it’s not already. They need to have been obtained from authorities of you home country and authenticated by the Ecuadorian Consul.
Below are your different residency options to make living abroad in Ecuador a reality:
The pensioner visa (9-I) is available for retired people who receive a pension from their home countries. The required pension is only $800 a month. There is also a requirement of $100 per month for each dependent. To obtain the visa, you must provide retirement documents showing the monthly income that is certified by the provider of the funds and authenticated by the Ecuadorian Consul.
This visa can also be granted to a trustee of an annuity recipient who plans to live on cash deposited in the Central Bank of Ecuador or from the trust.
Ecuador is one of the many countries that allows foreigners to gain residency by investing abroad in different industries in the country. One investment type is real estate (9-II). The real estate investment requires a minimum of $25,000 or more.
You can also invest abroad in industry (9-III), for those who’d like to invest in agricultural projects, livestock, or minerals. They must bring capital that adds up to at least $30,000.
In order to approved for this Ecuadorian visa, you must prove your investment of $25,000 in real estate or $30,000 or industry.
The professional visa is great for people with looking to live abroad in Ecuador with college degrees, who would like to use their skills in their profession in the country. There is also a visa that is offered to technical experts who are working under contract for a company based in the country.
If you are the kind of person looking to use your college degree, it must be a degree that is recognized by a local university, and you must have passed requirements to practice in your field, such as a bar exam.
For the dependents of anyone holding any of the above visas to live abroad in Ecuador, the Ecuadorian government offers this option so the spouse, children, parent, grandparent, or sibling can live in the country with them.
If you want the convenience of traveling to South America without a visa, you may want to apply for Ecuadorian citizenship. Ecuadorian citizenship is also ideal for those who used investment for Ecuadorian residency. Having citizenship allows you to sell your asset and spend it as you wish.
To gain citizenship you must live in Ecuador with residency for three years and complete the process of citizenship. The whole process can take from 6 to 12 months and includes paperwork with written and oral tests.