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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Lost In Translation! Trying to get residency. UPDATE - 16 Feb 2014 (in red text)

We've been here in Cuenca for almost three full months and it was early in the second week that we first visited the residency office.  We were feeling nervous and yet overly confident at the same time.  We'd been in contact with the Ecuadorian Consulate in Montreal for a stretch of time and felt that we had done our due diligence and had everything in order.

Boy were we wrong!  It seems that communication between the consulate and the immigration department is, well, let's say it's lacking.  (It doesn't help that requirements seem to change like the weather here.)  We had outdated items, missing items and items that were never required in the first place.  It was basically a debacle.  As mentioned in a previous blog, our marriage certificate was "expired", as were our criminal record checks.  Apparently, Ecuadorians have one piece of paper that shows everything on it, so there is a certain "timeliness" that comes with paperwork. Our system of certification is mysterious to them.

Anyhow, we were required to get new criminal record checks and a marriage certificate.  The girl (I can hardly call her a woman, as she it quite young) at the residency office kindly gave us a list of requirements and tried to explain where we had gone wrong.  This is difficult as our Spanish was negligible and her English, while fairly good, doesn't have the depth of vocabulary necessary to explain requirements in fine detail.  (I think she might disagree with me.)

So we ordered the required items, contacted the Ecuadorian Consulate in Montreal to get the paper work we were missing and spent a fairly obscene amount of money on couriers etc. (You can't get postage paid return courier envelopes here in Ecuador, so we had to use a family "emissary" to at on our behalf.)

Round two: despite horrendous delays with our DHL package, we finally received our paperwork back; notarized and apostilled and we headed down to the residency office once again.  Nope, still wrong.  Some of the new documents weren't legalized. (Despite the paper she provided us stating that it wasn't necessary.)  So we've now couriered (using UPS this time) documents back to the Ecuadorian Consulate in Montreal once again,via our long suffering emissary.  Sigh.  (There's also a tricky issue with a 1x2 inch stamp on the back of our criminal record checks, which I'm not sure whether we've fixed or not.) 
Bottom line, here's what you currently need to get your pensioners visa as a Canadian (I would assume that this also applies to other countries)  Please note THIS MAY CHANGE RAPIDLY AND FREQUENTLY so don't be surprised  if you need something else down the road:

1. Your passport must be valid for more than 6 months

2. You will need colour copies of your passport picture page, your entry visa and registration of visa (the copies need to be notarized by an Ecuadorian notary...not a notary in Canada) Good news is that the notary only charges $1 per page. (I will also note that our checklist specifies a Cuencano notary.)

3. Criminal record checks (at this point in time you have somewhere between 90-180 days from the date it's printed before it expires - this is a hotly debated issue and I can't find anything in writing to confirm anything more specific)
     a) the original criminal record check need to be legalized by the Ecuadorian Consulate in Canada (ECinC) closest to you
     b) the criminal record check also needs to be copied (preferably in front and back!), this copy must be notarized and then sent to the DFAIT (Department of Foreign Affairs, Immigration and Transportation) to be apostilled.  (A happy red stamp that takes approximately 15 business day to get back once the DFAIT receives it.) Trust me, it will take at least the full 15 days. 
    c)you must also have the notarized, apostilled colour copy of the criminal record check legalized by the Ecuadorian Consulate
    d)The notarized, apostilled copy needs to be translated either by an approved translator in Canada and also legalized by the consulate or you can have the document translated here in Ecuador (I'm unclear on whether the Ecuadorian Consulate in Canada will legalize a document without a translation)

4. Certificate of Migratory Movement (certificado de movimiento migratorio) which you get here in Ecuador.  These are only valid for 30 days.

5. Proof of your retirement income from whomever is supplying it (we had a company letter)  This also need steps a through d in item 3.
     a) In addition (I believe because funds are in Canadian dollars) you will also require a "Protocolizacion" this is a letter from the ECinC that verifies that it meets the dollar requirements of a pensioner visa, this is accompanied usually by a copy or the original letter

6. For women only, or so I believe, a Marriage Certificate (this cannot be more than 120 days from the date it was printed)  This needs to follow the same procedure as your criminal record check including apostillization!

7. Letter of Request (in Spanish) they give you a letter sample when you register your visa (if you do so).  It includes your personal information and reason for wanting to live in Ecuador.  The letter must be dated for the day you submit your application at the residency offices.

8. Application this is available on the Ecuadorian government website.  Do NOT date the application or sign it until you're in the office. 

These documents need to be presented in the order listed on the check list.  (Items 7 & 8 actually come first in the process.)   You will likely have to get several sets of coloured copies of various things, so keep small bills ready, you will also have to buy a file for the residency office to keep your documents in. (They keep the file that you have to buy.)

Hope this helps in some way! We'll let you know if anything else comes up after we go in for attempt's supposed to be the charm.


  1. Your Criminal Record section seems to indicate that you have to send the document (or documents) into the EC Embassy twice. Is this correct?

    1. Just for clarity see section 3 a) & 3 c).

    2. Ah, Mike, you are correct, to try and clear this up, you should only send items to the consulate once, but both the original criminal record check and the colour copy (notarized and apostilled by the DFAIT) need to be legalized by the Ecuadorian Consulate. Hope that helps!