GringoPost | Ecuador: Experience of visa, overstay and export of pet

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Experience of visa, overstay and export of pet

This is an informational post regarding my experience with an investment visa, overstaying on a temporary resident visa, and leaving Ecuador with a pet to Europe. Once again, this is from my personal experience while living in Cuenca for three and half years and leaving two weeks ago. Also, I will not mention names of people I spoke with or advice that was given by attorneys, government personnel, or facilitators. The only reason for sharing this is to shed some light on the repetitive questions that I see on this post daily.

Let me start by saying that I am not giving advice on what is right/wrong or legal/illegal. I have discovered and/or met many people here in Cuenca that “claim” they are experts or “know the law” and really don’t. The laws change from day to day, written or not, as many of you have experienced, myself included.

First, my permanent resident visa was allowed by the minimum investment of $25K, three years ago. This was obtained by myself (no attorneys or facilitators) and I did not speak Spanish. Yes, I did have to have my documents translated into Spanish by a third party that incurred an expense. However, the rest, I believe, I did myself. I may have asked a couple of questions of people on addresses or the location of places of where to file or pick up certain data. Once I opened the Certificate of Deposit (CD) and completed the registration of the CD with the Central Bank and obtained my cedula, I never registered or updated my CD again. I continued to receive and withdraw my interest on a monthly basis without touching the principal or renewing anything on an annual basis, in spite of the new laws and increase of the CD amount which was increased in 2018 to 27,020. At maturity, every year, my CD automatically rolled over at the current interest rate at that time. I was told that I needed to renew my CD on an annual basis, during maturity, and go thru the steps of registering with the Central Bank and to file with the ministerio, similar to what I did the first time, which for me, I did not. Nothing happened to me when I went to leave Ecuador, nor did anything happen to me when I left and returned to Ecuador during my three and half year stay. I traveled every year in and out of the country for at least a couple of months each year without any questions or sanctions because of my “lack of renewal”. Upon the date of maturity of my CD this year, which carries a 7-day grace period, I was able to withdraw the funds via wire to my U.S. bank account which was completed in less than 24 hours. I asked the bank manager if I needed to cancel my Visa (since an attorney told me I needed to do this) first before I could withdraw my money and the bank manager said “No”. The bank has no affiliation or reporting requirements to the Ministerio in any way. Theoretically, if I withdrew my investment visa, I should no longer have a permanent resident visa based on (investment) because the investment is withdrawn. I was told by an attorney that I first needed to cancel my Visa, which now requires an appointment, which then will give a person a 24-72-hour window to get out of the country because the visa becomes invalid at this point. I was also told that a Permanent residency visa holder doesn’t automatically revert to a T-3 Tourist visa. One has to apply with of course, a fee. This means you would have to cross the Border to Peru or some other country if you need to return and request your funds or hire an Attorney or facilitator and give them power of attorney for a few hundred dollars and they would be able to do it for you. (Not True) Since the agencies don’t talk to one another, you can do this all yourself and no one is reporting anything to anyone.

Next, overstaying on a temporary visa: My partner, who is a citizen from another South American country was here on a temporary visa. Different rules apply to citizens from South America vs. North America. First, a temporary visa provides a two year stay which I believe can be renewed once or twice, not sure on that. However, while in the process of obtaining a permanent residency visa (which he was) one is not allowed to travel outside the country of Ecuador for longer than 30 days, without securing a background check from the respective country. This was never disclosed to us or written anywhere on an official site when applying for the permanent residency visa for a non U.S. Citizen. We traveled to Europe for 2.5 months, well within the 90 days allowed per year. However, since we were in the E.U. and traveling via train thru many countries, we were never in one of those countries for longer than 30 days and the trainlines do not stamp passports when crossing into another country (such as France to Switzerland) or (Spain to France). This could be hard to prove (residing in the different countries) unless one has hotel receipts that show the name of the person staying there and if the hotel was under another person’s name, it would be impossible to prove. Also, if you are staying with friends or relatives in those countries, how does one prove their stay at those residencies? Therefore, our solution was the background check from the country to where we flew into (per instructions from the Ministerio in Azogues) which was Spain. From my research, a person cannot obtain a background check in Spain unless you’re a resident of that country, which of course he was not. This information was disclosed to the person at the ministerio in Azogues and this person told us it was not their problem, too bad and offered no alternatives. As a result, this led to my partner’s temporary visa expiring before he could obtain the permanent residency visa. By the time we were ready to leave Ecuador, his temporary visa was 90 days expired. We were prepared to pay the overstay fee/penalty. However, when leaving Ecuador, Border Control asked why the 90 day overstay in Ecuador and my partner replied, “trying to sell things and get things in order”. As a result, he was not fined nor told he couldn’t come back. (Nothing happened).

Lastly, leaving Ecuador with a pet had some challenges, but was the smoothest of all. I have to give a “shout out” to my Veterinarian and his staff at Clinica Veterinaria Mora. All the paperwork that is required when transporting a pet (dog) out of Ecuador to another country, in my case (Europe, not the US.) is not only time consuming, but costly. Our dog obtained all the required immunizations, microchip, rabies titration (the longest one to wait for test results, about 3 months) and health certification in a timely manner before departure. This process has to be done in an order that allows enough time for test results and completing the required forms to enter another country. Requirements are different from country to country. Needless to say, Dr. Mora completed his portion of the health certification, flawlessly, and nothing further was required by the Department of Agrocalidad of Ecuador, other than to pay the exit fee for the pet, which we did the day before we left. Keep in mind this has a time limit as well. Also, our departure was out of Guayaquil.

I’m sure there may have been a better forum to let folks know of our experience, but I felt this is read by a lot of expats on a daily basis and wanted to share. Who knows, it may help someone who is tackling some of the same questions or hunting for an answer. Also, just because this is what happened to me doesn’t mean it will happen to you. It’s Ecuador! Rules and laws change daily, written or not so don’t be afraid to take a chance and do things yourself. Hope this helps.

Thank You,