Becoming Ecuadorian, All You Need to Know!

Nov 5, 2022 | 0 comments

August is an important month for Ecuadorians. The First Cry of Independence is celebrated on August 10th every year and is a day that signifies freedom for many Ecuadorians. Ecuadorians carry a lot of pride in their nationality and every year more and more foreigners want to become Ecuadorians.

When you have a permanent residency visa, you are granted about 90% of the rights of an Ecuadorian citizen. The only thing that is not included is the ability to hold an Ecuadorian passport, the right to vote, and the right to be elected in local elections.

In any case, the naturalization process has undergone some changes since February 18, 2022. Here we have included a summary of these changes:

The following persons qualify to apply for Ecuadorian citizenship by naturalization:

1.    Foreign persons with a permanent residence visa who have domiciled in Ecuador on a regular basis for at least three years, as of the date of entry on the application
2.    Persons recognized by the Ecuadorian State as refugees and stateless persons who have remained in the country for at least two years

The process and requirements to apply for naturalization in Ecuador for the above mentioned persons are:

1.    Regular and continuous residence in the country with a permanent residence visa. This means that during the first 3 years of permanent residence the holder should not be outside of Ecuador for more than 90 days total
2.    Apostille birth certificate
3.    Have general knowledge of history, geography, culture and current news in Ecuador
4.    Speak and write in Spanish
5.    Possess legal income in Ecuador
6.    Be up to date in their obligations with the Ecuadorian State, Internal Revenue Service, IESS and Municipality
7.    Explain in an interview the reasons why one wishes to acquire Ecuadorian nationality. This requirement is very important because the person must be prepared with a speech about the significance of being Ecuadorian.

Those who are over 65 years of age at the time of applying for naturalization do not have to demonstrate general knowledge of history, geography, culture and current news in Ecuador, but they must speak and write in Spanish.

NOTE: It is important to remember that the letter of naturalization can only be requested within Ecuadorian territory.

Naturalization by marriage or common-law marriage (civil union)
Foreigners who meet any of the following conditions may apply for naturalization by marriage or common-law marriage:

1.    Those who have an officiated marriage in Ecuador, with an Ecuadorian person, may apply for naturalization 2 years from the date of its officiation and when a domicile has been established in the country
2.    Those who have officiated a marriage with an Ecuadorian person abroad may apply for naturalization 2 years from the date of registration with the General Directorate of Civil Registry of Ecuador and provided that a domicile, at the date of filing the application, is established in the country
3.    Those who are in a de facto union with an Ecuadorian person can apply for naturalization 2 years after the date of officiation is registered with the General Directorate of Civil Registry of Ecuador and provided that their domicile is established in the country.

NOTE: The administrative procedure of authorization and issuance of the letter of naturalization in these 3 above-mentioned cases may not exceed ninety days from the date of filing the application.

But, in practice, the naturalization process usually takes between 18 and 24 months:

1.    Provide proof of temporary or permanent residence at the time of filing the application and keep it valid during the naturalization process
2.    Provide a birth certificate with complete data including the names of the applicant’s parents
3.    Possess a marriage certificate or de facto union duly registered by the General Directorate of Civil Registry and Identification and Registration of Ecuador
4.    Explain in an interview the reasons for which one wishes to acquire Ecuadorian nationality
5.    Stay up to date in obligations to the Ecuadorian State

Naturalization of children or adolescents born abroad to a naturalized Ecuadorian mother or father:
Children and adolescents born abroad will receive Ecuadorian naturalization once their mother or father have been declared Ecuadorian by naturalization. They must be registered by the Ecuadorian father or mother in the General Directorate of Civil Registry, or in diplomatic missions or consular offices, and will retain Ecuadorian nationality as long as they do not express their will to the contrary.

Naturalization of foreign persons for having rendered relevant services to the country:
A foreign person who has remained in Ecuadorian territory for more than 3 years and has rendered relevant services to the country may acquire nationality by naturalization. The granting of nationality for relevant services to the country is granted by the President of the Republic.

IMPORTANT NOTE:
The granting of the letter of naturalization is a sovereign and discretionary act of the Executive Party. This means that if for any reason the authority decides that the person should not obtain Ecuadorian nationality, it can refuse the request.

The most common causes for denial of Ecuadorian citizenship by naturalization are:

1.    Failure to comply with the requirements set forth in this Law
2.    Having received an enforceable conviction for any of the crimes listed in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court; for any crime under Ecuadorian law whose penalty of imprisonment exceeds five years; as well as for the crime of illicit trafficking of controlled substances
3.    Being considered a threat or risk to internal security according to the information available to the Ecuadorian State

Renunciation of Ecuadorian nationality:
Persons who have acquired Ecuadorian nationality by naturalization and those who have acquired nationality by adoption or by naturalization of their parents, once they have reached the age of eighteen, may renounce their Ecuadorian nationality.

The naturalization process is a process that should not be taken lightly. We highly recommend that at the time of obtaining a permanent residence visa you know whether or not your plans are to apply for Ecuadorian citizenship. This is because many documents must be prepared in advance, especially regarding the documentation of proof of income in Ecuador.

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