Ecuador’s new Digital Nomad Visa program unpacked

The South American nation of Ecuador is one of the latest countries in the world to launch an official Digital Nomad Visa. And we’re pleased to report that it looks pretty decent. Let’s get into the details below…

Boasting stellar beaches, tropical jungles and cooler mountain towns, Ecuador is a place we’ve frequently visited, and are quite partial to. Bordered by Colombia, Peru and the Pacific Ocean, Ecuador can be reached via direct flights from Miami in around 4 hours and 15 minutes.

Home to five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, around 2,500 animal species, and the famous Galapagos Islands, the country’s tourism sector ought to be booming. And yet, this is far from the case.

Visitor numbers have not grown significantly for at least the past decade, with tourism contributing just 6% of the country’s total GDP in 2019.

(And that was before Covid decimated the industry.)

Hence, it comes as no surprise that the country is now following in the footsteps of Brazil, Colombia and Costa Rica by launching a Digital Nomad Visa (DNV) to lure high-spending remote workers to their shores.

Cuenca, Quito and Loja all have growing American expat communities – and it’s especially popular among expat retirees. The cost of living in these places is really affordable – the country scores a “2/7 – Very Cheap” in the Sovereign Man Cost of Living Index.

It has therefore also become an attractive – and underrated – destination for digital nomads.

The capital of Quito, today, is home to over 100 coworking spaces catering to remote workers’ needs, while short term accommodation tends to be a lot more affordable than in many other “nomad hotspot” cities.

(Note: While Ecuadorian fixed-line internet speeds aren’t great – running at an average of 47.36 Mbps – it should be more than sufficient for remote workers.)

Let’s have a look at what’s required to apply for the program…

The program requirements at a glance

Formally known as the Concesión de visa de residencia temporal rentista para trabajo remoto (Visa Nómada), this temporary residency visa is issued with a 2-year validity.

The long-stay visa is issued for a period of up to two years (24 months), and can be renewed at subsequent 2-year intervals.

In order to be approved, you’ll have to meet the following requirements:

COUNTRY ELIGIBILITY: You’ll have to be a citizen from a country on the following list of 182 countries.

EMPLOYMENT SITUATION: You need to own a company incorporated outside of Ecuador, OR work for or provide services to a company or person outside Ecuador. (As with most other DNVs, you will NOT be allowed to get a local job in Ecuador under this program.)

MINIMUM INCOME: To qualify, you must be able to prove earning at least 300% of the national minimum wage (i.e. $425 x 3 = $1,275+ per month) for at least 3 months prior to applying. Add on an additional $250 per month per additional dependent applicant.

POLICE CLEARANCE: You’ll need to obtain a police clearance certificate from your country of origin or present residence.

HEALTHCARE COVERAGE: You will be required to have health insurance to cover you for the entire period of your stay in the country.

ADDITIONAL SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS: You’ll have to supply documentation demonstrating that you work for or provide services to an employer, client or company based outside Ecuador. And if you’re a remote worker with an employment contract, the contract must expressly state you can work remotely.

The cost of the visa is around $450 for the primary applicant.

You can submit the application online through the country’s Virtual Consulate site, and complete either a virtual or an in-person interview, depending on your local consulate.

You can expect the application to be processed in around 7 working days, after which you’ll receive an electronic visa (if you’re approved).

And as with most other Digital Nomad Visa programs, be aware that you will likely become liable to pay taxes in Ecuador if you spend more than 183 day per year there. Be sure to discuss your personal plans and situation with a knowledgeable tax practitioner.

(Sovereign Confidential members, feel free to reach out to us if you’d like the contact details of our vetted supplier on the ground.)

The bottomline

While many other Plan B residency programs are getting pricier and more stringent – or even disappearing – your Digital Nomad Visa options are proliferating around the world.

Boasting a low income requirement and long validity, Ecuador’s DNV should be on your radar if you’re looking for a Latin American adventure while working remotely.

And while many things remain uncertain in 2022, what remains unchanged is your ability to chart your own path and live a life you value. All it takes is the right guidance, a sense of adventure, and the will to take action.

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