An often-overlooked country in South America is Ecuador, which has some of the most amazing sights and culture in the world. Famous for the Galapagos islands, souring volcanos, and rich indigenous culture, Ecuador is quickly becoming the next Latin American hot spot for digital nomads.
In this article, we will break down everything you need to know about the Ecuador digital nomad visa. What are the tax requirements? How long can you stay? And most importantly, do you even qualify? Keep reading to find out more!
Does Ecuador Have a Digital Nomad Visa?
Yes! In 2022, after a long period of border closures during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ecuador released a digital nomad visa in an effort to revive the tourism industry. This visa is called the Rentista for Remote Work. And it allows digital nomads to live and work remotely in Ecuador for up to 2 years. This is your ticket to settle in this beautiful and vibrant country. Here are a few key points on the Ecuador digital nomad visa.
- The Ecuador digital nomad visa is valid for 2 years (can be extended for another 2).
- Altogether, the visa application will cost around $450.
- To qualify, you must make at least $1,350 per month ($2,550 for a couple).
- Digital nomads are exempt from paying taxes on any income earned outside of Ecuador.
- If you stay in Ecuador for more than 90 days for two years, you are eligible to convert the digital nomad visa into permanent residency.
Ecuador Digital Nomad Visa
In the past few years, Ecuador has been becoming a hidden hotspot for digital nomads in South America. Its low cost of living, delicious food, friendly locals, and spectacular nature have all been huge draws for remote workers. The Ecuador digital nomad visa makes this all the more easy, as you can now live in the country for up to 2 years! Here is everything you need to know.
Ecuador Digital Nomad Visa Requirements
- Your minimum monthly income must be at least $1,350, which is 3x the minimum salary in Ecuador ($450). This is raised to $2,550 for married couples.
- Health insurance coverage for the duration of your stay in Ecuador.
- You must pass a criminal background check from your home country or place of residence.
- You must work for a foreign employer or own your own (non-Ecuadorian) business. You CANNOT work for an Ecuadorian company with the Rentista visa.
- Your passport must be valid and have 6 months of validity as well as 2 full blank pages.
Who Can Apply for the Ecuador Digital Nomad Visa?
Citizens of 183 different countries are eligible to apply for Ecuador’s Rentista for Remote Work visa. The main requirements are that you must be able to prove you work remotely for a non-Ecuadorian company, and you must make more than 3x the minimum wage.
Documents Needed to Apply for the Ecuador Digital Nomad Visa
- Completed application form for digital nomad visa
- Bank statements/invoices proving that you make at least $1,350 per month.
- Proof of health insurance coverage for the duration of your stay
- A clean criminal background check
- Valid passport
- 2 passport sized photos
- Remote work contract or proof that you own a remote business
How to Apply for the Ecuador Digital Nomad Visa: Step-by-Step Guide
Feeling a bit overwhelmed about the digital nomad visa process? We don’t blame you. But don’t worry, we have you covered! In this section, we will walk you through each step of the application process, from filling out the paperwork to actually moving to Ecuador.
Step One: Make Sure You Meet the Requirements
The last thing you want to do is go through all the effort of applying for Ecuador’s digital nomad visa only to find out you don’t qualify. So, first things first, check that you meet the minimum income requirements.
Step Two: Get Your Paperwork in Order
As long as you work remotely for a non-Ecuadorian company and make more than 3x the minimum national salary, you likely meet the visa requirements. Next, you’ll want to get all of your documents prepared.
Step Three: Fill Out the Application
You have 2 options when it comes to filling out the Ecuador digital nomad visa application: completing the paper form and submitting it in person or completing the form online. If you choose to do the application online, you’ll need to head to the official government website, create an account, and fill out the proper application.
If you opt for the in-person application, you should fill out the paper application form and submit it to your local Ecuadorian embassy.
Step Four: Pay the Application Fee
Once you have submitted the application, you will pay the fees, which are $50 for the application fee and $400 for other visa and administrative fees.
Step Five: Attend an Interview with the Ecuadorian Consulate
You can apply for the Ecuador digital nomad visa in person (at the consulate) or virtually. Once you get to this stage in the visa process, you will be able to choose how to do the interview. During the interview, an immigration officer will look over your documents and ask you questions about your plans in Ecuador as well as your remote job.
Step Six: Enter Ecuador Once the Visa Is Approved
Once your information is submitted, your fees are paid, and you have completed the interview, all you have left is to wait. Generally, you should receive a decision about your digital nomad visa within 2 to 4 months. Keep in mind that it could take longer or even be approved in less time. It really depends on the number of visas in the backlog and the complexity of your case.
This video by Ecuador.travel acts as a very helpful tutorial for applying!
Extending the Ecuador Digital Nomad Visa
The Rentista for Remote Work visa in Ecuador is valid for up to 2 years, but it can be renewed for an additional two years. In order to extend the visa, you will go through the visa process again and pay the $450 in fees. Once approved, you will be permitted to stay in the country for an additional 2 years.
If you stay in the country for at least 90 days each year for 2 years, you are also eligible for permanent residency!
Cost of Ecuador Digital Nomad Visa
There are a few costs involved with the Ecuador digital nomad visa. First of all, you’ll need to pay $50 to register and lodge the application. Once you submit the application, you will also be required to pay an additional $450 dollars for visa and administrative fees.
Other costs you should consider are the cost of a police certificate, translating documents into Spanish, hiring an immigration attorney, and purchasing international health insurance.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Digital Nomad Visa in Ecuador?
As mentioned above, the timeframe for the Ecuador digital nomad visa can vary significantly. This is a relatively new program that hasn’t seen a ton of applications, so it does not seem like the system has been streamlined yet. That said, you should generally hear back from the immigration office with a decision on your visa within 2 to 4 months.
Alternatives to the Digital Nomad Visa in Ecuador
If you work remotely and earn at least $1,350 per month, the Rentista digital nomad visa is the best option for you. That said, if you don’t qualify, don’t worry; there still may be an option for you to immigrate to Ecuador.
Jubilado Retirement Visa
This is really only a viable option if you are over the age of 65. That said, it is one of the easiest retirement visas to qualify for in the world. All you need to prove is that you have at least $800 per month in income, you are over 65 years old, and that you have a clean criminal record. This visa allows you to live in Ecuador for 2 years as a temporary resident and then switch to a permanent residency visa.
Ecuador Investor Visa
Another Ecuadorian visa that stands out is the investor visa. Other countries will ask for MASSIVE investments in order to gain residency. However, Ecuador only asks for a (relatively) small amount of $46,000. In fact, this is one of the smallest investments required for an investment visa in the world!
The investment can either be deposited into an Ecuadorian bank, invested in an Ecuadorian company, or invested in Ecuadorian real estate.
Can You Work in Ecuador as a Digital Nomad on a Tourist Visa?
While many digital nomads around the world are living and working in countries on a tourist visa, this is (most of the time) not allowed. In Ecuador, most nationalities can stay in the country for 90 days on a tourist visa. However, you are not allowed to work during this time.
It is technically illegal to work in Ecuador on a tourist visa. Even if you work remotely for a non-Ecuadorian company! This is why we recommend applying for the Ecuador Rentista digital nomad visa if you plan to work remotely in the country.
Tax Requirements for Digital Nomads in Ecuador
Perhaps the biggest draw for digital nomads to Ecuador is the tax benefits. Digital nomads are not considered tax residents in Ecuador, so you won’t have to pay any taxes. If you live in Ecuador on a Rentista Visa for Remote Work, you will only be liable to pay taxes on income earned from Ecuadorian companies, which you won’t legally be allowed to do anyway. This is a massive weight off most remote workers’ shoulders, as navigating international taxes can be a nightmare! Trust us, we know…
Is Ecuador a Good Place for Digital Nomads?
Over the years, Ecuador has been one of our favorite destinations for digital nomads. Here are the main pros and cons you should keep in mind if you decide to try out this oft-overlooked South American destination.
|Incredible diversity. Ecuador has everything you could imagine: bustling traditional markets, gorgeous cities, giant volcanoes, the Amazon, and, of course, the freakin’ Galapagos islands! There’s no limit to what you can explore in this country.
|Street dogs. There being a lot of dogs might not sound like such a bad thing at first glance, but there are so many dogs in Ecuador… specifically, semi-feral packs of street dogs that roam around looking for food. It is not only disheartening but, at times, scary, too.
|Relatively low cost of living. Ecuador is a great balance between being budget-friendly and having good amenities. When renting, you’ll find a lot of apartments come with housekeeping, which is a lifesaver. Plus, the food is really cheap, too!
|Blackouts. Ecuador’s infrastructure has improved a lot over the years, but that doesn’t mean you won’t experience some blackouts every now and again. Make sure you always have a stock of fresh water and candles ready!
|The weather. Many say that Ecuador is spring all year long. If you live in the mountains, the temperature is very mild all year long, so there’s no need for AC or heating. You’ll just need to get used to the rain.
|Water quality. Like many parts of South America, you cannot drink tap water in Ecuador. If you come from a country where this is the norm, this will take some getting used to!
|Food and chocolate. You’ll love Ecuador if you’re a fan of any of the following: seafood, soups, fresh fruits, and chocolate.
|Sun exposure. Being located on the equator, the sun can be incredibly harsh in Ecuador, so always lather up on sunscreen!
Is Ecuador Safe for Digital Nomads?
Important January 2024 Update: Unfortunately, Ecuador has recently declared a state of emergency due to the current outbreak of violence in the country. For this reason, there are rising concerns regarding the safety of Ecuador. For this reason, we would highly recommend postponing your trip to Ecuador until this danger subsides.
As with most South American destinations, you should always have a level of caution when going out and about in Ecuador. However, for the most part, most of Ecuador is safe to travel – especially compared to other parts of South America. There are some areas digital nomads and travelers are encouraged to avoid, such as Guayaquil. But if you stay within the well-traveled tourist destinations (Cuenca, Quito, Banos, and the Galapagos), you shouldn’t experience any danger.
With that said, as a general rule, it’s good to have some level of street smarts in order to avoid becoming a victim of petty or violent crime.
Best Places in Ecuador for Digital Nomads
If you’ve decided you want to make the move to Ecuador, one of the big decisions you’ll need to make is where to live. While there’s a huge list of potential places to live, here are some of the best places in Ecuador for digital nomads.
The third-largest city in Ecuador, Cuenca is an absolute gem of a city with a UNESCO-recognized center, filled with culture and plenty of things to do. The best part about living in Cuenca? It’s right by the Andes! Besides simply walking around to marvel at the colonial-era streets, you’ll find free concerts everywhere, plenty of shopping, affordable transportation, and more. Being a mountain city, Cuenca boasts mild weather all year round. It is relatively warm during the day and cool at night – the best of both worlds! There’s a reason Cuenca is the most popular expat destination in Ecuador.
Our personal favorite city in Ecuador is Quito. The capital city of Ecuador, Quito, is located in the Andes and is another UNESCO-recognized city. In fact, the historic center of Quito is the best preserved in Latin America! Just aimlessly walking around, you’ll be able to see gorgeous buildings both left and right. As Quito is located at 2,818 meters, you will need a couple of days to get used to the altitude. But the trade-off is that you get mild weather despite being located at the equator! In terms of what to do, Quito is incredibly well-located, with easy access to Mindo, Banos, Cotopaxi, and Otavalo. Plus, the city itself boasts a pretty rich nightlife!
Located at the base of the Cotacachi Volcano, Cotacachi is an up-and-coming expat and digital nomad destination. While it wasn’t very popular until recently, it has become more popular amongst those looking for a place with a low cost of living and mild weather all year round. Cotacachi is the destination for you if you like to live life slowly and don’t mind being somewhere with not too much to do. But if you are craving some action, Otavalo, the Colombian border, and Quito are not too far away!
Another small mountain town you should consider staying in in Ecuador is Vilcabamba. While Vilca has all the charms of being a small town, it still boasts all the modern amenities you’ll need, as it’s located just 45 minutes from Loja, a city of 250,000 people. Cuenca is also not too far; you can reach the city in just 4 hours. Despite its small size, Vilcabamba boasts a pretty sizeable expat population and plenty of cafes and restaurants. In terms of the weather, if you want something warmer and drier than Cuenca and most other mountain cities in Ecuador, Vilca is a great destination that boasts a more tropical climate.
Cost of Living in Ecuador for Digital Nomads
Ecuador is an affordable digital nomad destination with a much lower cost of living than the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and most European nations. A single person can comfortably live in Quito or Cuenca for less than $2,000 per month. And in smaller cities, you’ll find prices to be even less!
Rent is generally the most considerable expense in any destination, and the same is true in Ecuador. But if you are from a relatively expensive place, expect to pay much less. You can expect to pay around $200 to $550 for a furnished studio apartment in a safe area of Quito or $400 to $800 for a 1-bedroom apartment. You can even find luxury penthouse suites in the city with a pool and amazing views for less than $2,000 per month!
The main other expenses digital nomads can expect to pay in Ecuador are food and transportation. Groceries are also reasonably affordable and should only set you back $50 to $70 per week. If you prefer to eat out, you can find delicious local lunches (“almuerzo”) for less than $4 per plate. Or if you prefer Western food, it’ll set you back $8 to $12.
Healthcare in Ecuador for Digital Nomads
Ecuador has good health care standards, and the system is generally very affordable for foreigners. Ecuador has a public healthcare system (IESS). But you won’t automatically qualify for the program since you won’t be paying taxes or employed by an Ecuadorian company. That said, you should already have international health insurance in Ecuador, as it is a requirement when applying for a visa. If you decide to stay in Ecuador for the long term, you can eventually apply for permanent residency, at which point you will be able to use the public health system.
Check out our guide to the best digital nomad health insurance companies for our top recommendations.
Best Coworking Spaces in Ecuador
Of course, as a digital nomad in Ecuador, you might be on the hunt for a coworking space. To help you get started, here are a couple of the best coworking spaces in Ecuador:
- IMPAQTO Coworking (Quito and Cuenca) – From $100 to $170 a month. Amenities include meeting rooms, high-speed internet, unlimited water, tea, and coffee, lockers, networking, and more!
- Coworking Cuenca (Cuenca) – From $65 a month. Amenities include free wifi, coffee, desks, tables, networking, and more!
- Selina (Quito, Cuenca, Montanita, Banos, and Amazon Tena) – Selina is the biggest coworking space and digital nomad accommodation company in Latin America. Pricing varies and may be included in your stay if you book accommodation with Selina.
How to Find a Place to Live in Ecuador
Wondering what to do once you have your visa? Your next step is to find a place to live in the country! It can be a challenge to know where to start. So, here are some tips for finding the best places to live as a digital nomad in Ecuador.
- Furnishings: The last thing you want to do is have to purchase a ton of furniture for your apartment when you first arrive. Luckily, there are tons of pre-furnished options in Ecuador.
- WiFi speed: Ecuador generally has fast WiFi speeds, but certain neighborhoods or apartments may lack this. Make sure to check with the landlord and ask them if you can test the wifi connectivity before moving in.
- Location, location, location: Most major cities in Ecuador are relatively safe. But it is important to choose a safe area to live in. Research the best neighborhoods of the city you plan to move to and make sure to only look for apartments in these areas.
- Building amenities: Most apartments in Ecuadorian cities are well-serviced, with pools, gyms, and security, and some even have cleaning services. Ask your landlord about the building amenities before you sign a contract or move in.
Where to Find Apartments in Ecuador?
Finding a good place to live in Ecuador is not overly difficult, but you’ll need the proper resources for your apartment hunt. Here are the best ways to find an apartment as a digital nomad in Ecuador.
Join Facebook Groups
As weird as it sounds, probably the best way to find a place to live in Ecuador is through Facebook. Join the below Facebook groups and check out the offerings there or advertise yourself as a model tenant! You can also check out Facebook Marketplace for listings near you.
- Ecuador Expats
- Departamentos de Renta Solo Norte Quito
- Arriendos, Alquileres, Cuenca – Ecuador
- Arriendos Quito
Word of Mouth
If you already know someone in Ecuador, we highly recommend reaching out to them to ask if they can help you find a place to stay. If they are renting themselves, they can easily ask their landlord to see if there are any other available properties in the area. In Ecuador, you can also find in-person advertisements for available apartments, which is when word of mouth can come in super handy as well.
Rental Listing Sites in Ecuador
One of our most preferred methods of finding a place to stay in any country is through the country’s rental listing sites. Here are some sites to check out when looking for a place to stay in Ecuador:
Travel Accommodation Sites
As a general rule, we do not recommend travel accommodation sites for digital nomads. You usually pay a heck of a lot more for the convenience of these sites, and they come with some ethical concerns, too. For these reasons and more, travel accommodation sites should really only be used when you are traveling.
With that said, these sites can come in handy when you first move to a new country. You can use them as a base to start searching for longer-term apartments. Here are some travel accommodation sites you should check out:
Top tip: Rent an Airbnb for about a week and message the landlord to see if they would be open to renting the apartment to you off-platform. You can easily get a much cheaper price when using this tip!
Ecuador: An Adventure Traveler’s Dream!
As you travel to the heart of the equator as a digital nomad, you’ll find yourself not only chasing Wi-Fi signals but also chasing waterfalls in the lush Amazon rainforest, swimming with sea lions in the Galapagos, or exploring the vibrant markets of Otavalo. I mean… what more could you want?