Ecuador: The New Human Mobility Law – Challenges & Opportunities

Last Updated: 20 February 2017
Article by Paul Peña

In Ecuador, the new Human Mobility Law became effective on February 6th, 2017. This new law applies to foreign nationals.


Foreign nationals can enter Ecuador as tourists without a previous visa and only with their passports. The Ecuadorian immigration authorities will determine which foreign nationals will need a visa to enter the country.

Currently, foreign nationals of the following countries will need a visa prior to entering Ecuador:  Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Senegal and Cuba.

The new Ecuadorian law recognizes as a principle the right of people to move freely around the globe, regardless of their nationality or place of origin. There are no criminal penalties for immigration violations; all immigration violations will have an administrative penalty.

Foreign nationals admitted as tourists must have health insurance, and they must carry an ID or passport at all times during their stay in Ecuador.

Foreign nationals who have a permanent resident visa must register an address at the Ecuadorian Civil Registry Office.

Citizens of UNASUR countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela) will be able to stay in Ecuador as tourists for up to ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY (180) days, and they will be able to get in and out of Ecuador with their national ID´s (no passport will be needed).

People of other nationalities can stay in Ecuador as tourists for up to NINETY (90) days, and for a fee (not defined at the moment) they can extend their stay in the country for an additional NINETY (90) days. The receipt must be presented at the moment the extension is requested.

There is a new special tourist visa that is valid for ONE (1) year. It can be requested only once in every FIVE (5) years.

There are new resident visas: permanent and temporary. Both types of visa holders must register either in the Social Security System or have private health insurance.

People who have a temporary resident visa may stay out of the country for up to NINETY (90) days. In case of extending their time outside of the country, they will have to pay a fine or may lose their visa.

People who have a permanent resident visa may leave the country for up to ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY (180) days per year during the first TWO (2) years of having obtained the permanent resident status. As of the third year, there will be no time limit for them to be able to remain outside the country; however, if they are absent for FIVE (5) years without having returned to Ecuador, they will lose their visa.

If they stay outside the country for more than ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY (180) days, they will have to pay a fine if this has happened for the first time. If it happens for a second time, the resident visa will be cancelled.

People who may apply for Ecuadorian citizenship are:

  • Those who have resided in Ecuador for at least THREE (3) years.
  • Those who are legally married to or are in a common law union with an Ecuadorian citizen for at least TWO (2) years.
  • Minors who have been adopted by an Ecuadorian citizen.   


The following visas are available:

  • Temporary resident visa.- Valid for TWO (2) years and can be renewed only once. There are THIRTEEN (13) categories for this visa: worker, rentier, retired, investor, scientist or academician, athlete and artist, religious community member, volunteer, student, professional, resident by agreement, dependent, and international protection.
  • Special temporary resident visa: Applies to special cases which are defined by immigration authorities.
  • Permanent resident visa.
  • Diplomatic visa.
  • Tourist visa.- For those who need a visa to enter to the country.
  • Special tourist visa.- Valid up to ONE (1) year.


Under the new law, foreign nationals who want to reside in Ecuador must first apply for a temporary residence visa valid for TWO (2) years. Before this visa expires, they will have two options: to renew the temporary visa only once or to apply for a permanent resident visa.

In some cases, foreign nationals will be able to apply directly for a permanent resident visa: those who get legally married to or are in a common law union with an Ecuadorian citizen; relatives of an Ecuadorian person; or relatives of foreign nationals who have a permanent visa (children, parents and in-laws).

The 90-day restriction for temporary residents can be very inconvenient, because many people often need to stay out of the country for a longer time due to work or business reasons.

The law does not define which activities a tourist may be engaged in, but it establishes that tourists may not work. We have to wait for immigration authorities to clarify this matter further.

The law does not define which immigrant category is permitted to be engaged in business activities. We will to wait for immigration authorities to clarify this matter.

All visas that have already been issued prior to the enactment of this new law are not affected by this change.  However, once these visas expire, visa holders will have to apply for a new visa according to the new law.

In the next few weeks, immigration authorities will determine if there are any additional requirements for each type visa.

VIVANCO & VIVANCO has the biggest and more robust immigration practice in Latin America with wholly-owned offices in SEVEN (7) countries.  Contact us for more information:

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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