Visas in Ecuador are a complex and ever-evolving matter. If you are just coming as a short-term tourist, however, the “visa” process is quite simple: Foreign guests entering Ecuador receive a 90-day T3 tourist stamp upon entry. This is NOT a visa, it is simply a stamp in your passport. When entering Ecuador as a foreigner*, you simply get 90 days to be a tourist, no official visa required.
Unlike some South American countries, your tourist stamp cannot be renewed by simply leaving the country and returning. Essentially, don’t plan on “re-upping” your 90 days when you leave and re-enter Ecuador from a neighboring country.
The 90-day T3 tourist stamp is valid through a 365-day period (not a calendar year), regardless if or how often you leave and return to Ecuador. What does this mean? It means that starting on the date of your initial T3 stamp, for the next 365 days you can be in Ecuador for up to 90 days (without obtaining an official visa).
The T3 tourist stamp is a fairly sweet deal because:
- It is free of charge
- It does not require any paperwork or visits to embassies/consulates
- It is given upon arrival at the border (for most nationalities)
- The 90 days within the year-long period do not have to be used consecutively
To demonstrate that last point, here is an example:
You come to Ecuador on Feb. 1, 2013 and receive your T3 tourist stamp. You stay for one month while seeking out property, then return to the U.S. You’ve now used 30 days of the 90 allotted. Until Feb. 1, 2014, you have 60 days left on your T3 stamp that you can spend in Ecuador. If you return before 02/2014, you will be entering with that original 90-day stamp.
With careful planning, a foreigner in Ecuador could reach BOTH their 90-day and 365-day limits at the same time. (This can only be done if you have been living/traveling elsewhere for the majority of the 365 days since receiving the your T3 tourist stamp). If you do reach your 90-day and 365-day limits at about the same time, this would allow you to leave Ecuador and receive a fresh T3 tourist stamp upon re-entry.
Just make sure you don’t find yourself still in Ecuador past your 90 days, as you could get fined for leaving with an expired T3 stamp.
Sound complicated? It can be, and many people send us questions regarding their specifically complicated situations. If you understand that you only have 90 days for the next 365 days from your initial entry, and that these 90 days don’t have to be spent consecutively in Ecuador, you shouldn’t have too many issues.
If you need more than 90 days within a 365-day period, there are other options. The most popular is to apply for a 12-IX visa. Once that visa has expired, you must leave Ecuador or face hefty fines.
Questions or comments? Have a story to share regarding visa issues in Ecuador? Please register and comment below.
[*Not all nationalities are awarded the 90-day T3 tourist stamp upon arrival: the exemptions are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Somalia].