I am creating this Ecuador FAQ page to respond to many common questions. I get emails almost daily with a variety of questions about Ecuador...many specifically about moving to Ecuador. If your specific question is not here, feel free to send me an email.
Q. How long can I stay in Ecuador as a tourist?
A. The tourist stamp you receive when entering Ecuador is good for up to 90 days (T-3). You can also apply for a tourist visa which is good for six months (12-IX). You can combine both options for a total stay of up to 9 months per year.
You can enter on either the 12-IX or the T-3...however if you are short on funds you may be better off entering on the 12-IX because you must prove you have a certain amount of money to cover your expenses for the six months.
You can only obtain each of the above ONCE per 365 days. So if you do not have residency after this time you must leave Ecuador or you will have a nine month penalty during which you will not be allowed to enter the country.
Some claim you can combine the 12-X visa as well, but I have yet to hear of that actually working.
For a detailed explanation of your choices for staying longer see this page.
Q. What are my options for residency?
A. The most popular visa options are the Pension Visa, the Professional Visa or the Investment Visa.
Q. What do I need for the Pension Visa?
A. Number one: a monthly pension of at least $800. A variety of other documents are needed, but if you don't have the $800/month there's no need to explore this option further.
Q. I don't have a pension, how can I live in Ecuador?
A. The Professional Visa is the best option for those without a pension, if of course you have a university degree that is recognized by the Ecuadorian government.
If you don't have a university degree, your best option is the Investment Visa. However it requires an investment of $25k in real estate, business, or deposited into a savings CD.
If you don't have that kind of money...look for an organization that needs volunteers and can sponsor your visa. You will more than likely still need to pay you own way to Ecuador and your living expenses in addition to volunteering regularly. This is not a residency visa and will expire after two years.
Q. Do I need a lawyer or facilitator to obtain a visa?
A. No. The visa process does not require any lawyer signatures.
The one part I would suggest using a lawyer for is the letter requesting the visa. You must state the laws that support your request, so a lawyer can help here. We obtained my letter for $5. You can read about my visa experience here.
There are now offices in every province of Ecuador where you can do most of your visa paperwork. So thankfully you no should no longer have to travel back and forth to Quito a million times like I did. :)
People who do not cope well in situations demanding unending patience or who's Spanish is very limited might also want to consider hiring help.
Q. Should I obtain my visa before moving to Ecuador?
A. There are facilitators that can obtain your visa before you leave your home country for Ecuador. But this is not always necessary. You can usually obtain your visa during your first six months in Ecuador, so a 12-IX visa is sufficient to finish the process in Ecuador without the help of facilitators.
Q. Can I ship my stuff to Ecuador?
A. Yes. Once you have a residency visa you can import one container of belongings tax free. Learn more about this program.
Q. Can I ship a car to Ecuador?
A. Yes, but unless you are a returning Ecuadorian citizen you will have to pay import tax.
Q. Can I own land in Ecuador?
A. Yes, foreigner have the same rights as Ecuadorians when it comes to owning land.
Q. Where is the best place to live in Ecuador?
A. That depends on what YOU like. A friend of mine said that there is a place for everyone here in Ecuador. I disagree, but only a little bit. There will be people who just don't like living here, but if the simple life appeals to you, you can find somewhere you love in Ecuador.
I suggest narrowing down the country by region. Some people hate the cold (check out the coast and/or jungle). Others hate the heat (stick to the mountains). Then narrow by the kind of amenities you expect in your new home town. As a general rule, the larger the city/town the more amenities you find. A large expat community will also usually mean more amenities.
Once you've narrowed down your options, come down and visit several places. Stay for as long as you can in each area. Look for a vibe you enjoy!
Q. How much does it cost to live in Ecuador?
A. Again this depends on where you live. We (a family of three) still get by on $500/month without rent. But we live in Tena. Rent is still on the lower side. Food and other consumer goods do tend to be more costly since most things are trucked in. However there isn't a large array of costly pastimes.
Life in Cuenca or Quito is considerably more expensive due to higher rent costs and a larger variety of activities...including the mall and other shopping options! :) Read more about cost of living in Ecuador.
Don't see your question in our Ecuador FAQ list? Feel free to contact me.
For additional resources for expats in Ecuador, see this page of my favorite Ecuador websites.
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