Step 0: Before you can register your visa, you need to obtain a visa, no? Things I needed to gather so that I could get a visa are as follows: a doctor’s note verifying that I would be fit for travel, a copy of my police record, a letter from my bank vowing that I would be able to support myself financially while in Ecuador, two-hundred and thirty dollars (es muy caro), my passport, the correctly filled out application forms (I quadruple checked them), copies of my plane ticket, and 2 passport sized photos (I went to Walmart to have these photos taken- fyi, you’re not allowed to smile in them [sad, I know]). I sent all of this in at the beginning of September, using Express Mail envelopes (and I had to include a self-addressed envelope)- adding $36 to the already hefty $230 price tag, and it was returned to me about two weeks later. The entire process, if you already have your passport, takes almost two months (factoring in making appointments with doctors, putting in requests for certified police records, etc.) When I received my self-addressed envelope toward the end of September, I gleefully ripped it open to find my Visa application stamped and my passport containing not just a new stamp, but an entire page filled in with details of my Visa. “I have my Visa, I have my Visa, yeah yeah yeah!” and I thought I was good.
However, the day after I arrived to Quito, while we chatted over our simple hostel breakfast, Felicia told me about her difficulties with registering her Visa and I kind of turned my head (the way my dog does when she’s perplexed). “Come again?” Yes, all that work in Step 0, that’s not the end of it. I swear to all things holy that nobody at the Ecuador embassy told me that I needed to register my Visa. I’ve since looked on the website and cannot find it there either. If I never would have had this conversation with Felicia, I would have entered the airport in January, happy at the thought of seeing my loved ones for just about a week (remember I have to go back the the states for the first week in February for the UNI Overseas Teaching Fair) only to merrily hand my passport to one of the officials and, in return, have him glare at me and tell me that I failed to register my visa and therefore had to pay a $200 fine. Thank goodness for Felicia and her Swedish Embassy that informed her of the importance of registering her visa! Because it’s difficult to find consistent, correct information on registering a visa in Ecuador, I’m going to explain, in detail, how it’s done:
Step 1: Obtain the following items: original passport, a copy of the page in your passport that contains your visa and the entry stamp, a colored copy of the picture page in your passport, a carpeta con brinches (folder with claspes inside), and the Certificado de Visación (one of the forms you filled out when applying for your visa that was returned to you mostly looking the same, except for the addition of a nice, shiny stamp- do not make the mistake I made and neglect to bring this with you to Ecuador [I figured my Visa was in my passport, but no]… thanks to my mom and the US Postal Service for helping me avoid the potential nasty airport situation mentioned above).
Step 2: These are instructions for getting your visa registered in Quito. It can also be done in Guayaquil (but those are the only two cities in Ecuador). Again, within 30 days of arriving, head to the Dirección General de Extranjería on 6 de Diciembre, between San Ignacio and La Niña (it’s on the west side of the street) at around 9 am. I believe it is only open in the morning, so, really don’t be too late. There are so many different addresses online for this building. I can tell you from experience (I went to one of the addresses [Juan León Mera y Patria] and it was not at all right), that my address is correct, as of November 21st, 2011. Here it is on a map (but it’s north of San Ignacio- sorry, I marked that incorrectly)
6 de Diciembre is a pretty major road and it’s easy to use the inexpensive (25 cents) trolleybus (los troles) system to reach this building, or you can take a taxi for anywhere from 2-5 dollars, depending on where you’re coming from. You should have your folder with you, and in it should be all the documents from step 1. Wait in line for a minute, then when you get to the front, tell the clerk that you have everything you need in order to register your visa, but that you need to make the deposit at Banco Internacional. The clerk should give you a receipt or paper that gives you information on how to fill out your deposit slip.
Step 3: Walk out of the building, turn left, and turn left on the street La Niña. There you have Banco Internacional (on your left). It opens at 9 am, which is why I’m advising you to not be too early in all this (today, I had to wait for about half an hour outside the bank). Go inside and grab a deposit slip. Use the paper you were given a minute ago to fill this out correctly, then wait in line to make your $10 deposit. Felicia and I were talking about how much more complicated this is in Ecuador than it would be in our home countries- this going to another building to pay the processing fee nonsense, but it’s not that difficult. Once you’ve made your deposit, keep your deposit slip. Head back to the Dirección General de Extranjería, show the clerk your documents and deposit slip, and you will be given a number.
Step 5: Hand everything to the employee. She will hole punch all the papers that you brought and stick them into the clasps of your folder. She will then fill out a piece of paper, hand you the carbon copy, and tell you to present it tomorrow when you come to retrieve your passport.
Step 5.5: Spend the afternoon enjoying Quito! I’ll write (and it will be much more interesting than this) on this step in my next post.
Step 6: Return the next day and get your passport, which will contain a Ecuador visa page that is now enhanced with a registration stamp. Done!