• New Law Replaces Visa Categories; Imposes Identification and Registration Rules
  • March 13, 2017
  • Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
  • A new law effective immediately imposes new rules on foreign nationals, including a new requirement to carry travel identification or a passport while in Ecuador, mandatory registration at the Ecuadorian Civil Register and health insurance coverage for tourists. The law also creates new visa categories for temporary and permanent residents and tourists.

    New Identification and Registration Rules

    The new identification and registration rules include the following:
    • Foreign nationals must carry their travel identification document or passport during their stay in Ecuador.
    • Nationals of the following countries can enter and exit Ecuador with their national identification instead of their passport, as was previously required: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.
    • Foreign nationals who have a permanent visa must register their address at the Ecuadorian Civil Register.
    • Tourists must maintain health insurance coverage during their stay. Further details on insurance are expected to be issued with the related regulations.

    New Visa Categories

    The new law also creates two new visa categories, permanent and temporary, to replace the previous work and residence visa system. 
    The temporary residence visa is valid for two years and renewable once. It offers 13 subcategories, including one for foreign workers under local payroll, another for those under foreign payroll, and another for investors, among other categories.

    New Tourist Visas

    Under the new law, nationals of the following countries can remain in Ecuador for up to 180 days as a tourist: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, 
    Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela. All other nationals can remain in Ecuador for up to 90 days as a tourist. Most nationalities do not require a tourist visa to enter, though there are 10 nationalities that do require a tourist visa.

    Foreign nationals will be eligible to apply for a new exceptional tourist visa (under the temporary stay category) once every five years.
    Work activities are not allowed under tourist status; however, the law does not define whether business activities can be performed under tourist status. This is expected to be outlined in further regulations. 

    Visas issued under the former system will remain valid until they expire, at which time, the visa holder will be required to apply under one of the new visa categories.

    What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

    Currently, immigration authorities are only accepting visa applications under the new categories from dependents of valid visa holders. 
    Once further related government regulations are issued, the submission window is likely to open up to all applicants.

    Foreign nationals seeking entry into Ecuador should contact their immigration professional to discuss the impact of the new law. Foreign nationals should expect process and requirement changes for their visa applications, which could result in processing delays during the transition period and new fees related to new visa processes.

    Those already in Ecuador should register their address and ensure they comply with the new health insurance rules.