Friday, April 20, 2012

Ecuador residency (CEDULA) - I just received my Residency Card after just 4 1/2 months!

I started reading Blogs from Expats living in Ecuador over a year ago and I read that many Expats had to wait up to 11 months to receive their Cedula's.

I started my Residency process a week after I arrived here in Cuenca with:

Nelson Idrova & Grace Velastegui, Specialize in Residency Visas
Office phone: 593-7-2842225

I wrote about the beginning process of getting my Residency in my first Blog after arriving in Ecuador.

I presented all the necessary paper work to Nelson & Grace on December 7. 2011 along with a deposit for their services.

Their service fee is $1300 for a single Residency Card.
The Government filing fee is $350.
Translation into Spanish and notarizing English paper work $145.

On my third month I received my Residency Visa stamp in my Passport and had to go to Quito within 30 days.

So here I go off to Quito!

I was met at the Quito Airport by Nelson & Grace's assistant Adrianna who just speaks Spanish, so I got lots of practice. She drove me directly to the Immigration Office and I provided her with $50 for filing fees. When we entered the building I noticed several people sitting in a waiting room, but we walked over to one of the Immigration Officers and she presented my paper work and within 20 minutes I received my Non-Censos Certificate  to present at the Registro Civil Office for my Residency Card.
At this time the Immigration Office is out of official paper for the Censos cards which is usually required before getting the Cedula Card.
I may still need to get a Censos Card when they have the paper but I can get this in Cuenca.

Next stop was:

Here we entered the new Registro  Civil Office building now complete with new computers.

There were many people waiting for their number to be called, but once again Adrianna walked over to one of the officers and presented my paper work. I sat down, signed some papers, had my photo and prints taken and within 30 minutes I was out of there. I have heard many stories from other Expats who say they waited up to 8 hours for their number to be called and some even had to return the next day. I guess it pays to have Great Attorneys!

The next day at 4 pm I returned to pick up my new Cedula Card which is good for ten years and then it can be easily renewed unless I decide to become a Citizen of Ecuador which I can do after three years.

There is a immigration office in Cuenca now with English speaking representatives who will help you get your cedula without an attorney.

Here are some Q & A's about Ecuador visas:

Now that there is a visa office in Cuenca there is no need to have to go to Quito for your visa and you can go to the visa office on your own or use a solicitor which can save you a lot of money rather than using an Attorney. 

I recommend CATSA travel agency:

For all your holiday needs contact CATSA in Cuenca, Ecuador 
  1. . Documents translated into Spanish and notarized
    . Assistance with acquiring cedula or any visa and Ecuadorian citizenship

  2. . Attorney available for all legal matters 

  3. Call Bryan Vidal: U.S. 305-897-0346 / Cuenca 074103952 / Cell 0994923033 - e-mail:

Now that the business is done it is time to go and have some fun!

I stayed two nights in the Mariscol District, which turned out to be the party area of Quito. I stayed at the Red Bean Hostel which was a Restaurant with a few rooms up-stairs. This was $60 for two nights and included breakfast.

The next morning Bryan's cousin Anna met me for breakfast.

After breakfast Anna had a friend  who picked us up in his car and for $6 an hour drove us around Quito. The traffic in Quito is unbelievable, and I thought it was bad in Cuenca!

We stopped at a market place to do some shopping:

And then we drove up the hill to El Teleferi de Quito to a gondola lift that took us up the Pichincha Mountains to Cruz Loma (4050 meters) 14,000 feet.

Up the mountain we went!

Quito is 9,300 feet with a population of 2.7 million people. There are a total of 15 million people living in Ecuador and about 12,000 Americans.

We finally reached the top.

                 And headed for the Restaurant to get warm!

Here I found Coca leaf tea, my first cup since 75'

What a great view of Quito.

We stopped at a local Mall for dinner and then headed back to my Hostell.

I decided to take a walk around the Mariscol District and being Friday night there were many people out having a good time. I met Jhover, a tour guide in Galapagos! It is a 2 1/2 hour flight from Quito to the Islands and cost $540 round trip, but with my Cedula I will get $150 off and entrance to the Park on Galapagos will be $10 instead of $100!

And off to the Del Bar Q Happy Hour Bar for a couple drinks to celebrate my new Ecuador Residency. A couple at 9300 feet is all it takes!

 I was surprised at how many of the bartenders spoke English and they were all very friendly. I will be back here again next time I am in Quito.
I could not believe how many different drinks they made with fresh fruits. They assured me there was a guy in the back squeezing fresh fruits into juice as we spoke! These bartenders were great and I recommend the Mariscol Bar Del Q Happy Hour Bar for anyone visiting Quito!
The next morning Anna picked me up with her friend Juan and drove me to the Airport, she even brought me a box of Coca tea!

Back to Cuenca, Bryan met me at the Airport. I have been very fortunate to meet Bryan and his family, they are all fine people. He has an Aunt from North Carolina who taught him English, who is a very nice Lady. I have met his Mother, brother, a few cousins and two other Aunts.
It is great to be around so many happy - fun Ecuadorian friends.
 I have befriended a couple of Expats, guess I need to attend more Expat parties and meet more gringos.

Great to be back in Cuenca!

Cuenca is a bit lower altitude then Quito at 8200 feet and I am finally adjusting to it. I even walk my 5 kilometers everyday and go to the gym a couple of days a week. Which I am off to now!
Until next time I wish everyone a great day! BIENVENIDOS!


  1. Hey Gary. We are so glad you became Ecuadorian. It was amazing. I've seen a lot of people who go through this paperwork and they take longer to get their residency. You have been so lucky. Congratulations my new ECUADORIAN friend!!!

  2. Hi Gary,
    Congratulations! You know how envious I am. Hopefully things will continue to pan out and I will be celebrating my very own cedula next to you on a barstool! Great blog!

    1. Gracias Amigo! There are lots of bar stools here!

    2. Hey Gary,
      Congrads! I've enjoyed your Blog & am plannng a trip to Cuenca this summer to explore relocating there. I have so many questions & would like to get your advice & direction. I've tried sending you an e-mail, I hope I was successful! Thanks in advance, for your help.

    3. Anything I can do let me know!

  3. Hi Gary,

    I live in Florida but my mother was born in Ecuador. I have already had by birth certificate translated to spanish last time I was in Ecuador. I then had my New York Birth Certificate certified in New York and Apostilled in Albany. Any ideas what I do now ?? She is willing to come here and I am willing to go there, but we dont know which or what to do next ! Thanks for any help. My email is

  4. Hi Gary,
    I discover your blog .. and I envy you. I am in the process to find a way to buy something in Cuenca : fisrt to come here in Vacation, and transform after for my retirement. I plan to come in Cuenca in the six comig months, a chance to meet you ? I am from Canada - Montreal.
    My best regards

    1. Please let me know when you are here!

  5. Hi Gary,
    I have enjoyed - and learned from - reading your posts. I have been to Ecuador twice, taking all my paperwork for residency. First time on the coast, second time in Cuenca. I am a fifty-five year old single Canadian male, finding it hard to find a place for me in Canada after some experiences. I hope you do not mind me asking something; it may not relate to you, but you may know of experiences with other expats. Do some single expats struggle with the issue of loneliness there? I am a people person, but for various personal reasons I seem to struggle with this issue most of my life, and getting older seems to make it worse - and if lonely here in Canada despite efforts, certainly in a foreign country... I guess that is the number one concern blocking me from the final plunge to decide to stay in Ecuador. I would have private messaged you with this, but didn't seem possible, and maybe others might appreciate this issue. my email: (123zoltanatgmaildotcom)
    (A second lesser thing: you mentioned you got your residency within a year; I thought it took three years - or is it that you cannot leave for more than a few days within the first three years?)

    1. You are still young at 55 compared to many expats here although I do have a couple of friends your age that teach. Getting older is no fun for anyone I find after many years of being surrounded by friends that I started spending lots of time alone, which I don't mind to much. In Cuenca there are a few expat parties where you can meet although you will find that you don't have a lot in common with to many of them but will make friends with a few.
      One thing I started when I moved here is a healthy lifestyle with gym and walking and watching what I eat which is hard to do with my sweet tooth and I am struggling to lose a few more pounds. Also I do have a few good Ecuadorian friends that I enjoy spending time with. Please let me know when you are here and we can meet for coffee. I have met a few blog readers here on vacation or some moved here and seem to be happy.

  6. Hi Gary, thank you for the helpful info. Can you keep dual citizenship ( USA & ECUADOR)

    and can you share your thoughts on the need to own a car ( used) and the cost and insurance?

    Thank you, Julie in Phoenix

    1. You can become a citizen of Ecuador after three years of residency and keep your US citizenship. I will probably just keep my residency card which is good for ten years then can be renewed!
      I did get by without a car for two years then decided to get one which I love. Cars are expensive here but mechanics are very affordable.

  7. Gary how long did it take you to adjust to the altitude?

    1. Brent I have asthma so I will never be totally adjusted to the altitude. We have 20% less oxygen up here. But I was living at 5500 feet before I moved here for a year so that might have helped but when I got here I was running out of breath every block! Now I still do but seem tp caught my breath sooner now! It you have high blood pressure this might not be the place for you!