Visas & Embassies
The flag of Ecuador
Passport stamp from the equator, Ecuador
Ecuador maps with guidebook
Galapagos catamaran for a short cruise
Students listening to volunteer teach abroad
Flight to Galapagos

Visas are not needed for visits to Ecuador for up to 90 days.  For longer trips, apply for a visa at your nearest Ecuadorian Embassy or Consulate.  A visa lawyer or agent is not necessary but might save time.

Visas, Embassies and Consulates

Visa regulations in Ecuador can change without notice, so check with your nearest embassy or consulate and get the information in writing before you apply for a visa.  Some of the visa requirements, such as a police report, may take up to 6 weeks or so to obtain.  The Ecuador visa and consulate information on this page is given in good faith based on personal experience and does not replace advice from the consulate.
Visas are not required for tourists of most nationalities staying in Ecuador up to 90 days (as of June 2008), but it is best to check the latest situation directly.  It used to be possible to extend visas for a further 90 days, this does not now seem to be allowed.  Note that guidebooks written before June 2008 are now out of date in terms of information about visas for Ecuador.  Since 2010, nationals of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan and Somalia require a visa to travel to Ecuador, and Chinese citizens should apparently contact their embassy before travelling.
For 91-180 days, i.e. 3 to 6 months in Ecuador, a 12-IX (commerce) visa from your local Ecuadorian consulate might be your best bet - ask them.  It is likely to cost around $230.  
For a stay of more than 180 days, you probably need the cooperation of an organisation in Ecuador, who will need to guarantee to cover any debts you run up or any costs involved in your deportation if necessary.  Needless to say, most will not undertake this responsibility lightly.
For the latest information on how to apply for a visa, if you need one, see the government's Ecuador visa information (in Spanish) and then contact your local Ecuador Embassy or Consulate, who may have additional requirements to those listed by the government site.  
The Embassy of Ecuador in the UK is at 3 Hans Crescent, London SW1X 0LS, round the back of Harrods.  Telephone 0207 7584 1367.  The Consulate of Ecuador in London is completely separate from the embassy and is at 1st Floor, Uganda House, 58-59 Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DX.  Don't just drop in, they prefer you to phone or make an appointment to visit.   Telephone 0207 451 0040 between 3-5pm weekdays - they do not answer the phone outside of these times.
For visas, it is usually the Consulate that you need and the current visa requirements are on their website.  For specific questions, you can telephone.  To apply for a visa, you need to phone to make an appointment, which they will not usually arrange for more than a week after your phonecall or more than a couple of weeks before you travel.  Visa appointments seem to be in the mornings and passports can often be collected at 5p.m. the same day.  The consulate usually want to see your flight ticket or booking in order to grant the visa.  If you're not sure you meet the visa requirements (for example, whether your income will be considered sufficient for a tourist visa), phone beforehand to ask, thus avoiding a traumatic day of phoning Ecuador asking for additional documentation or financial guarantees at the last minute.  
Staff at the Ecuadorian Consulate in London were kind, helpful and proactive about suggesting alternative visa options or acceptable evidence, but very strict about documentation.  In particular, of the 2 types of "permission to operate" that community enterprises can legally use, only the "certificado ministerial" was acceptable to the Consulate for a volunteer visa.  The commonly used "escritura publica" for an "associación de cuentas en participación" was rejected.  The certificado ministerial can take weeks to obtain, so your sponsoring organisation must have this before you apply for your visa.
See a list of other Ecuadorian Embassies & Consulates around the world, as listed by the government of Ecuador, to apply for a visa to visit Ecuador from your country. 
Visas usually need to be registered with the Extranjería within a month of arrival in Ecuador.  Allow sufficient flexibility in your itinerary as this might take a few days.  The Extranjeria in Quito is currently (late August 2011) at 6 de Diciembre N26-05, between Colón and La Niña, and is open from 8a.m. to 4.45p.m., Monday to Friday.  A fee of $10 is payable, ask at the Extranjeria for the bank account number and which bank to pay at.   Take the receipt, copies of the relevant pages of your passport and the original "certificado de visación" given to you by the Consulate, plus a folder and clip (carpeta con bincha) and envelope, to the Extranjeria along with your passport.  You will be told when to collect your passport, which might take up to 3 or 4 days.  
As of June 2012, it appears that the "censo", a type of ID card which used to be obligatory, has been abolished.  Check with Migración, diagonally opposite El Jardin Mall, on Amazonas y República or phone them on (02) 2257 290 ext. 104.  As a replacement for the censo, you can take a photocopy of the details page and visa page of your passport, with $4, to the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores (see below) and ask for an "empadronamiento".  This may perhaps get you discounts in Ecuador, especially on a trip to the Galapagos Islands.
If you need a new or different type of visa once you are in Ecuador, gather all the required paperwork, then go to the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, Comercio e Integración at 10 de Agosto y Carrión in Quito.  Take a book and be prepared to spend the best part of several days getting things sorted out, a month before your existing visa expires.  For visas, you usually need to arrive before around 8am in order get a place in the line to then be allocated a number which then permits you to wait much of the morning to hand in your application (or be told that something is missing from it).  The queue starts to form around 6a.m., but don't arrive any earlier than that for safety reasons (it will still be dark, and cold).
If you are asked for a police records check when you apply for a visa, take your passport and $5 to the office at Amazonas y Roca - the process is quick and efficient and the staff are helpful.
Visa services, e.g. using a visa lawyer or agency to apply for your visa, should not be necessary and may be costly.  However, if you speak no Spanish at all, or are very busy and applying for a business visa, using a visa agent may smooth the process.  A visa lawyer is unlikely to get visas processed any faster, but may be able to do the tedious waiting around for you (though of course you will be paying for this).  It all depends how valuable your time is to you.  No matter what you are told by people hanging around the queue outside the office, it is never obligatory to use an agent to apply for a visa for Ecuador.

Ecuador Visas, Consulates & Embassies
Contact details for Ecuador Consulate and Embassy in London, Ecuador visa information, visa registration at the Extranjeria and Censo at Migración in Quito.  How to apply for a visa for Ecuador.  Visa services are not necessary though a visa lawyer may be able to help with more complicated situations.  Note that no responsibility can be taken for the content of external links or for reliance on any of the suggestions or information on this site.  Visa information can change at short notice and the advice of the consulate should always be sought.  Note that guidebooks written before June 2008 have out of date information about visas for Ecuador.