Archive for the ‘Visas & Immigration’ Category
Ecuador Eco Volunteer is now working with Kingdom Kichwa Hostel Quito.
The reason we have decided to work with this hostel in Quito is because we think its important to support and promote Ecuadors indigenous people.
This is not only true with our many volunteer programs but also for our ecotourism trips which help secure an alternative source of income for indigenous families and communities.
Kingdom Kichwa Guesthouse
Kingdom Kichwa Guesthouse will give you a taste of that authentic Kichwa Hospitality in the middle of Quitos Mariscal or “Gringolandia” – the cities nightlife and restaurant district.
The features and services offered at Kingdom Kichwa House include:
- friendly welcoming atmosphere
- fully equipped kitchen
- beer garden out back
- chillout area with fireplace
- comfortable beds
- super fast wifi
- hot showers
The hostel is also located close to the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores making it the perfect place if you are extending your tourist visa.
I am living in the hostel at the moment which means I can give newly arrived volunteers a detailed heads up about their upcoming volunteer experience with us.
Ive applied for and renewed my tourist visa a number of times over the years in Ecuador and I can tell you passing through the bowels of Ecuadorian bureaucracy is about as fun as passing a kidney stone.
The majority of countries can enter Ecuador without a visa for up to 90 days. If you wish to extend your trip for another 180 days the best visa to get is the 12-IX / 12-9 tourist Visa.
The process of applying for a 12-IX Visa is much faster now than in previous years and if you follow these tips ive learned from trial and error you will save yourself hours.
Follow this link for advice if you have overstayed your visa in Ecuador.
Complete the Paperwork the Day Before
– This article was written in April of 2012 and the steps to apply for a tourist visa may have changed since then. Check this page on the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores website for the most up to date requisites for the tourist visa.
- There is no way you will be able to complete the paperwork the same day as you apply for the visa. Save yourself a tonne of time and hassle by printing out the following papers the day before.
– Check that your passport is valid for at least six months in the future and make two photocopies of it.
- Have a photocopy of a flight ticket or bus ticket leaving the country. My return flight to Australia was from Argentina a year into the future which was accepted as a legitimate “proof of onward travel”
- Print out your bank account balance to prove you have solvency to stay in the country. This can be as easy as doing a print screen on your netbank account on the internet. Im not sure what the minimum amount of money in the bank is required but if you are worried you may not have enough its easy to fudge the numbers in photoshop.
- Download and print out a couple of copies of the Solicitud de Visa. Trust me its better to have a few of these forms spare than to make a mistake then have to run to the nearest cyber cafe and have to print it out again.
- Get some passport sized photos with a white background and remember not to smile. They do not like smiles in the Ministry of Exterior Relations. Bring some glue to stick the passport photo onto your Solicitud de Visa.
- The final thing that you can do on the day that you get the visa is the “Petición escrita” or Written Petition. You can get this printed out in about 5 minutes for 25 cents at the Cyber Cafe called COMPUWORLD down some stairs to the left of the front door of the ministry of Exterior Relations. Id recommend that you do not do this until you already have a Turno or Ticket with a number on it securing your place. The letter looks like this “Yo, John Smith, con passaporte numero M1234567, quiero aplicar para la visa 12-IX para realizar turismo en Ecuador.” with your name and signiture underneath.
How to Apply for a Tourist Visa in Ecuador
You can apply for a Tourist Visa in Ecuador in Quito and Guayaquil. The following will be a step by step process on how to apply for the visa Quito because ive only ever been to the Ministry of Exterior Relations there.
Step 1: Save yourself a few hours by waking up early and going to the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores between 7 and 7:30am.
Even by 7:30 there will be a long line outside the ministry but if you arrive any later you will have to wait a few hours longer or even have to come back the next day because they may not have time to attend you.
TIP: The best hostel to stay in the night before applying for a tourist visa is Kingdom Kichwa Guesthouse which is four blocks from the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores.
Step 2: You will be given a ticket with a number on it when you arrive inside. If you get in early the guards will tell you to go upstairs at around 8:30 where you wait on the second floor for your number to be read out. If you arrive after 8 you will have to wait downstairs for a few hours until the first group upstairs have been processed.
Step 3: When upstairs wait for your number to be read out then go to the immigration officer and give them the completed forms and papers. Be nice and courteous because these guys have to deal with frustrated foreigners all day and they also have the power to reject your visa application and make life hell for you.
Step 4: If you have completed the form correctly and have all of the documents mentioned above the immigration officer should give you a ticket to pay $30 for the Visa Application. Go down to the bottom floor and there should be a place up end of the room that says “Caja” which means cash register. Pay the $30 there and he will give you a receipt which you need to take upstairs.
Step 5: Once you have the receipt for the $30 you will be able to skip the queue in the upstairs room and take it straight back to the immigration officer who served you. He or she will then take a photo of you which will be printed out onto a sheet which you have to carry around for the week that the Ministry retains your passport. The officer will then give you a date for when you have to come back to the Ministry.
Step 6: After a week or so go back to the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores at around 3pm in the afternoon and pick up your passport and shiny new visa!
Ecuador is one of the most lenient countries in the world with its Visa on Arrival Policy. This means its much easier to write which countries CANNOT enter Ecuador without a Visa than writing out the plethora of countries permitted. If you are from the following countries you are required to organize your Ecuadorian Visa beforehand:
Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia.
If you are not from any of the countries above (judging from the Google Analytics of this site thats pretty likely) then you do not have to worry about getting a Visa beforehand. If you do happen to be from any of the countries above the reason for the restrictions was probably due to a problem with human trafficking originating from these countries which I mentioned in my post about Advice About Overstaying Your Visa in Ecuador
The only Visa Requirements for the rest of the world is that you have:
1) A passport valid for at least six months after you arrive in Ecuador.
2) Proof of onward travel, such as a plane ticket back to your home country.
3) Demonstrate you have sufficient funds to stay in the country.
When I last took a flight from Sao Paolo to Quito at 3am in the morning the plane company Copa Air almost refused to let me board unless I bought another ticket to a third country right then and their. I argued with the lady at the airport saying that was stupid I had been to Ecuador many times before and never needed proof of onward travel because I normally travelled to Colombia by bus.
She said they couldnt accept that unless I had the bus ticket to Colombia with me at that moment and we continued to argue – she said the air company would be fined if I arrived and was refused entry which is why they enforced this rule of proof of onward travel. Fortunately I remembered my eticket from Buenos Aires to Sydney that left 8 months later and asked to use the internet to show her. She accepted and I saved myself $350.
Make sure you do not make the same mistake.
When I got to Quito Airport the officials didnt ask for proof of onward travel or for me to whip out some bank statement to demonstrate sufficient funds. They just said “Welcome to Ecuador” and stamped my passport for a 90 day stay.
This doesnt mean you should neglect the 3 Visa Requirements mentioned above because so much depends on the mood of the official at immigration in the airport. Its better to be safe than sorry .
Click here for a step by step guide to getting a tourist visa in Ecuador
Thinking about a change of scenery? Move to Ecuador! Here is an interesting article on Natural News that states Ecuador emerges as world’s most affordable retirement haven which I completely agree with after having lived here on and off for two years. Ive also lived in other Latin American countries like Brazil and Bolivia but I keep on returning to Ecuador which I consider my second home outside of Australia.
In fact, I think its possible to live in Ecuador on a budget much lower than the $850 stated in the article. Cities like Cuenca and Quito which are very popular amongst expatriates can be expensive (comparably speaking to other cities in Ecuador) but if you were to consider moving to the often overlooked but incredibly beautiful Riobamba you will no doubt spend much less.
Rent in Riobamba for a nice apartment is between $100 to $200 per month. For lunch you can get a delicious soup, a main course of chicken and rice, and a glass of juice for $1.50
The article states $200 per month for ¨Entertainment¨ and I wonder if what the writer really meant was ¨Beer¨ – A longneck 1 litre beer is normally about 80cents at a shop and $1.50 in a bar in Riobamba (a little more expensive in Quito and Cuenca) but much cheaper than Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Argentina, and even Bolivia. Either way, its easy to have fun and go out on the cheap wherever you are in the country.
Overall, Ecuador is a phenomanly beautiful country and an easy place to settle down with – so why not take a leap of faith and buy that plane ticket??
Hey guys i’m writing this post from the beautiful beach town in the North of Peru called Mancora!
Unfortunately I had to leave my beloved Riobamba behind because I accidentally overstayed my Ecuadorian Tourist Visa and I was unable to renew it with the Ecuador Volunteer Visa.
Its not too big a deal however because Wlady will be taking care of things on the ground while I work on Ecuador Eco Volunteer website remotely making sure things like the blog are updated regularly with volunteer experiences and interesting facts and stories about Ecuador.
Advice About The Ecuador Volunteer Visa and Tourist Visa
A word of advice to anyone already in or coming to Ecuador regarding their visas – all visas in this country whether its the Ecuador Tourist Visa, Ecuador Volunteer Visa, or the Ecuador Student Visa are measured in DAYS not MONTHS. I carelessly believed my 180 day Ecuador Tourist Visa would run out on January 6th because I got it on July 6th – that many of the latter months of the year have 31 days never even crossed my mind until it was too late.
Even if you have merely overstayed your visa in Ecuador for one day the fine is $200, overstay your visa for longer periods of time without a good excuse and that fine can increase to $2000.
When I was in Ecuador three years ago it was much easier to renew a visa and just a short trip over the border could guarantee you a few more months. Now however, it is much harder to go to Peru or Colombia on a “Visa Run”, that is, spend a few nights in a foreign neighbour and come back to Ecuador with another three month visa. Whether you are successful or not depends on the whims of the border patrol who stamp your passport.
How to Avoid Paying a Fine if you Overstay Your Ecuador Visa
From what i’ve researched these lax visa laws have been tightened in the last two years because Ecuador was turning into an human trafficking hub especially for Chinese nationals being smuggled into America. There are also economic reasons that these $200 – $2000 fines are almost always enforced because its very lucrative for the government.
Because I felt very hard done by that my $200 fine didn’t match the crime of overstaying my visa in Ecuador by a matter of days my girlfriends friends mum made me a doctors certificate saying I was too sick to travel on the day. I was skeptical that it would work and while heading towards the southern border of Tumbes I asked the bus driver advice and he nonchalantly suggested I privately slip $20 into my passport as a bribe.
Now while I have little qualms about getting a fake doctors certificate (something akin to “chucking a sickie” to get off work in Australia) to avoid a fine, paying a bribe on the other hand is to me utterly unethical and completely unacceptable – I would have sooner paid the $200 fine than play apart in the corruption of this already very corrupt world.
Fortunately the doctors certiciate worked and I avoided the $200 fine. So those incriminating photos taken over new years when my visa ran out actually never happened because I was actually in hospital with grade three gastroenteritis hehehe
The Downright Dangerous Border Crossing Between Ecuador and Peru
I have been through some pretty dodgy border towns in my travels around the world but I have to say that Tumbes on the Peru / Ecuador border takes first prize for most dangerous. It has become a magnet for corrupt cops and unscrupulous con artists that have become very sophisticated in ways to rip you off.
One of the reasons that border crossing is so dodgy is because of the 5 kilometer stretch of “no-mans-land” between the two borders – Ecuador and Peru have been to war many times before and the general mistrust between the two nations meant they both believed it best to have a buffer separating them.
This no-mans-land makes it impossible to walk across the border, especially with an heavy backpack, so your only two options are taking a bus or taxi. My strong recommendation is to take a direct bus over the border because they shuttle you to both immigration checkpoints and there is safety in numbers. Yesterday I took the CIFA International from Guayaquil to Mancora for $11 and it was a breeze, i’ve heard the Ormeno buses are safe and comfortable as well.
Don’t even think about getting a taxi and this is why….
My Experience: Corrupt Cops and Con Artists
Four years ago while traveling into Ecuador from Peru I ended up trapped in the back of a taxi while three big Peruvians and a corrupt cop tried to extort me for money in exchange for my “protection”
Normally I have the street sense to avoid those types of situations but i was tired and groggy after a 20 hour nightbus and broke all my own rules. The first warning sign of the incoming trap was when the taxi driver stopped to give his two amigos a lift down the road, relax man relax they said when i told them i was uncomfortable sharing a taxi “these guys you can trust, they like family”
The three men then began to pander my ego with praise “wow your spanish is really good, i bet the chicas latinas love you” and I started to think, hey these guys aren’t that bad, they seem pretty cool! They also played on my fears telling me how dangerous the border is, to not trust anyone (except them of course) that my passport could be pimped on the black market for $2K.
After getting the Peruvian Exit Stamp we headed towards the Ecuadorian border and turned down a back alley where a cop mysteriously appeared in the window, his corrupt open paw reaching in toward me for money. Now the taxi driver had said he would get me to the Ecuadorian immigration and a bus for $5, now he was saying I had to pay $100 to this police man for my own protection “there are lots of dangerous people around here”
My heart raced with adrenaline as I realised the consequence of this experience but I acted calmly, confidently and talked firmly, appearing to have grace under pressure even though I was scared inside. I argued and argued saying I was not going to pay $100 and they said “why don’t you believe us? we are your friends, this is for your own protection, we dont want something to happen to you! why would we lie to you?”
Complete intimidation but I stood my ground and I was proud my Spanish (at the time it was very average) was flowing confidently and forcefully. I argued them down to $50, then to $30 “give me $10 and i’ll give you two $20 notes” The corrupt cop gave me $10 and I held it up to the light and he said “el billete no es falsa” – the notes not fake – and I replied how can I tell? how can I tell your uniform is real? and gave the note back to him indicating I knew that he was a lowly con artist parading around as a cop and this really pissed him off.
After arguing I gave up and decided to pay $25, gave it to the cop who disappeared and at that very moment the three Peruvians in the car said “now you’ve paid the cop you have to pay us $10 each” and our argument began again me saying no thats bullshit I just paid the cop. I said if one of you take me to the bus you promised me then I will pay him $30 – a lie – and the guy in the front said no you have to pay us each $10 now because we are going our separate ways – more bullshit.
I then forced my way out of the car and pulled my bag out of the boot saying I will pay one of you when we get to the bus. One of the big Peruvians followed me into a crowd of people where we happened to pass that corrupt cop and I pointed and shouted “corrupto! corrupto!” to make him squirm while I felt more confident in the company of the crowd.
I walked faster and dodged through a few people and lost that morally bankrupt blob of a man and a few minutes later found another police man and told him “one of your compañeros is corrupt!” and he laughed and shooed me away. After a further five minutes in the baking hot sun I arrived at the Ecuadorian Immigration, got my exit stamp and got on a bus to Cuenca. I sat next to a foreigner and the first thing he said which indicates how widespread these scams on the border are “how much did you get done by the cops on the border?”
The English guy introduced me to a website called couchsurfing, and serendipitously speaking the second couchsurfer I ever met after him was Wlady – if it wasn’t for that turn of events and for couchsurfing Ecuador Eco Volunteer would not exist. I’ll save the next part of this story for another blog post!