Obtaining a visa always seems to be a complicated process, no matter what country you are going to, or coming from. After being messed around constantly by the British Ecuadorian Consulate while attempting to be granted a volunteer visa for my teaching position, I finally managed to receive one after crossing the Atlantic Ocean to America.
I was hoping that upon arriving in Ecuador, the visa registration process would be a much simpler process. Unfortunately, as I was kind of expecting, this wasn’t the case. So, for those of you who have to do the same, I hope the following information proves to be useful.
You have 30 days after arrival in Ecuador to register your visa. This is carried out by visiting the Direccion General de Extanjeria, located at 10 de Agosto in Quito (phone number is 02-2231022). I strongly recommend arriving here as early as possible. Opening hours are from 8am-1pm Monday to Friday. The nearest Trole (Electric bus) stop is Cuero y Caicedo, only a 2-minute walk away. If you are travelling into Quito and, like me, arriving into the main bus station, Terminal Terrestre, catching a taxi won’t set you back anymore than $3.50.
The Direccion General de Extanjeria is a fairly inconspicuous building and can easily be missed, even with ‘Direccion General de Extanjeria’ in big letters on the front. At the front of the building is a print shop. To reach the visa registration offices, you need to go up the side of the building and take the second door on your left. There are normally people standing outside the front who are kind enough to direct you if you are unsure. After taking the second floor, make your way to the fourth floor.
When reaching the fourth floor, you come face to face with two doors, both of which deal with visas in one way or another. Take the door on your left, which is for visa registration. Once inside, you can waste a lot of time (like I did!) standing in the wrong queue. The queue you need is situated next to what looks like a reception desk, with the toilet behind you.
Before entering this line, though, there are a number of things you need. Most importantly is the ‘Certificado de Visacion,’ the document given to you with your visa. Other than this, you need copies of your passport, entry stamp, a letter from your host organisation or landlord confirming your address and volunteer work, and, finally, a folder and envelope. The last two are vital, but without any of these, you will walk way empty-handed. Write your name, address, visa type, nationality, and passport number on the envelope and on top of this and place inside the folder all of the documents, including your passport.
None of the staff here speaks English, so if your grasp of Spanish is weak, I would suggest trying to find someone to translate for you, as the staff here show no mercy and seem to enjoy wielding their power and authority. If all the above papers are in order and correct, you will be given two slips of paper, which you will need to take to the nearest Banco International, where you have to pay the $10 charge for registering your visa. If you are normally tight with your money and think that paying this charge and registering your visa is not necessary, then you could face a nice $2,000 fine when trying to leave the country. The nearest Banco International is approximately a 15-minute walk south down 10 de Agosto, or two stops on the Trole, embarking at Santa Marta. The Trole costs $0.20 per ride, but be careful, as pick-pockets are rife on these buses. At the bank, hand the cashier the two slips of paper and the $10, and the two slips will be stamped and given back to you. You will need to return these slips of papers back to the Direccion General de Extanjerria.
Once back there, you will need to stand in the queue in the middle of the same room, which is normally the longest queue in the room. Hand the receipts back to the official, and in return you will be given a green receipt saying that you have paid and that the office has your passport. Also on this green card is the day that you have to return to pick up your passport, normally a 2-day wait and your visa registration number. This green card is now your identification if stopped by police, as travelling without identification is a prosecutable offence. I would also make copious amounts of photocopies of your passport just to be on the safe side.
Hopefully, when returning back to the Direccion General de Extanjerria 2 days later, it will be a much quicker and less hectic occasion. Upon arrival (the earlier the better again!), hand your green card to one of the resident police, who should then (fingers crossed) bring back your passport, complete with registration stamp in a couple of minutes.
Well, registering your visa is as simple as that! All you need to do now is take your newly stamped passport and a variety of other documentation to the Jefatura de Migracion in order to get your Certificado de Empadronamiento (Censo Card), which allows you to receive resident prices while in Ecuador. Not bad if you make the trip to the Galapagos Islands, where you can save yourself a small fortune.
If you have anymore questions about visa registration, feel free to email me.