Sunday, October 12, 2014

Visa Extension For Ecuador

The maximum number of days you can stay in Ecuador on a tourist visa is 180 days per year if you are a national of the: US, Canada, UK and Australia. The list of countries could be long but I just mentioned the few that I know off for sure.

Traveling with an American passport, I did not need to apply for a visa when entering Ecuador the first time I visited. At the airport I got a tourist visa which was basically a stamp on my passport allowing me to stay in the country 90 days, within these 90 days I could leave the country and re-enter but the days I was out of the country would not be counted against my given 90 days which does make sense.

After my 90 days were up I left the country and went to Peru not thinking I would come back to Ecuador but as you know by now, I did end up coming back. I had to apply for a visa extension in Lima where they have the Ecuadorian embassy and the process was actually not as grueling as I assumed it would be, here is a list of the documents I needed for this process:

An original passport photo - Good thing before I started my travels I had taken 6 passport size pictures just incase I would need one and this came in handy at this particular time.

Written Petition directed at consulate - I had to write a petition letter stating why I wanted to come back to Ecuador and indicating what type of visa I wanted, in my case it was the 12-X visa which would allow me to get back into Ecuador for another 90 days. I kept my letter short and specific, you don't need to write too much. Point to note though, this petition letter has to be in Spanish and if your Spanish is a bit shaky you can always use google translate to help you out.

Original Passport - This is self explanatory but keep in mind that your passport has to be valid for at least 6 months so check up on the expiration date to make sure you are good. I have a few years on mine before it expires so I was all good to go.

Copy of Passport page with photo and entry stamps - Make a copy of your passport page that has your photo and details. Also make a copy of the page that has the stamps you got when you entered and left Ecuador. The copy can be in color or black and white, I had mine in color but also included a black and white copy just in case.

Copy of flight out of Ecuador - I had to provide evidence of my flight out of Ecuador once my 90 days were up. This part was a bit tricky because I didn't have exact dates of when I was going to leave Ecuador and I wasn't sure if I would leave the country by bus or flight. Good thing I came to find out that you can go to the Copa Airlines website and make a flight reservation without paying and this can be your evidence of your flight out of the country. The reservation is held for 24 hours (or is it 48 hours?) by the airline and if you don't pay it's canceled, you don't even need to provide any billing information. Once I made my reservation I printed out the page and used it as evidence of my flight out of the country. I also included a copy of my flight into the country.

Bank Statement - You have to provide evidence showing that you will be able to support yourself while in Ecuador so a copy of the latest bank statement is needed as proof of your financial means.

Money - For my 3 month visa extension I needed $60 so make sure you have this in cash and in American dollars because that's the currency used in Ecuador. Make sure the bills are new or in good condition because apparently banks here can be very fussy about old bills and may reject them.

Once all the items from the list above had been gathered, I needed to have them arranged in a punched folder in the order of how I have presented them above.

Unexpected Occurrences

Of course some times there are things that come up which you did not anticipate so this is what I experienced.

Invitation Letter - In my petition letter I had mentioned that I was going to be staying with my host family in Ecuador, this one guy from the embassy told me I needed an invitation letter from them. Good thing this other Ecuadorian guy I had met at the embassy was able to hook me up with an invitation letter so I included this in my paperwork. If you plan to stay in a hotel or hostel just be sure to print out your reservation as back up just in case it's required even though this is not included in the list of requirements.

Full Amount - I had read somewhere that the required $60 is paid in two installments, the first $30 when you turn in your documents and the last $30 when you come to pick up your visa. Shock on me when the full amount was requested all at once and I had only carried $30 for the first installment. I had to go to an ATM and get cash real quick and rush back to the embassy before closing time.

That's it folks, in the end I got my visa within two days and I was ready to travel back to Ecuador without any issues.

Random Thoughts of The Day:

Try not to overstay in Ecuador and go past the given number of days allowed in the country. I had a friend who overstayed for a day and she was told she could not enter the country again for the next 12 months! I have also heard that you could be fined or end up in jail. You best believe I don't plan on overstaying my visit!

At the Ecuadorian embassy in Peru I met this seemingly nice Ecuadorian business man, he is the one who actually helped me out with an invitation letter when I needed it. Anyway, as I was waiting for the embassy to re-open after lunch I accompanied him to downtown Lima as he went on a buying spree of stock for his business, he took me out to lunch telling me to chose whatever restaurant I wanted and not worry about the bill as he would take care of it. I was a bit uncomfortable but he kept saying I am like one of his kids and not to worry, he paid for my taxi and made sure that I was taken care off at the embassy before he left. He told me that since I speak English and he imports and exports drinks between Miami and Quito, he needed someone that speaks English and some Spanish so if I didn't mind I could work with him and he would pay me. I was actually excited at this new prospect and I thought what a great opportunity it would be. When I got to Quito I contacted him but unfortunately dude turned out to be a creep. It was a 360 degree turn from the perfect and professional gentleman I had met at the embassy in Lima. Turns out this married father of three had other agendas that I was not willing to be a part of, I was disappointed and so disgusted. I really thought he was genuine but I guess I was naive.

I remember when I was buying my flight ticket out of Ecuador to go to Peru I had opted on buying a two way flight because it was cheaper than a one way flight, I think the airline had offers going on at the time. This was months ago and as my host was helping me with the flights we picked a random date for a return flight because we both figured I wasn't going to use it anyway, it was just for the sake of getting the good deal on prices. Well, that return flight came in handy because that's what I used when I came back to Ecuador this time round to be with my boyfriend, and to think when I first bought this return flight he was not even in the picture. Flights to Ecuador were super expensive so the return flight I initially had, saved me big time!

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