Mark has exactly five days left of work (until he officially retires from UPS and it looks like those remaining five days will be spent as snow days!), so we're taking the opportunity to get our paperwork in order.
There are many types of visas for Ecuador, but we are applying for the pensioner's visa. That means a 9-1 residency. You need to show proof that you have Social Security or a pension from a reliable source. It must be $800 plus $100 for each dependent. There are other ways you can qualify for this type of visa including those who are living off a trust (but that's another blog post!).
For a pensioner's visa, we need the following:
All documents must be original copies. We will take our criminal records to the notary, have them notarized, and then to our Secretary of State in Harrisburg to be apostilled. All of our documents must be apostilled FIRST before we go to the Ecuadorian Consulate in Philadelphia to get our documents legalized. The legalization stamp will be placed on the back of our original documents.
I'm not sure why, but our health record is not part of the process which astounds me. So just in case they decide to change the law, we will get that done as well. It's better to have too much documentation than not enough! There's nothing worse than showing up at the Consulate without all the necessary documentation.
Actually all of this can be done once you are in Ecuador, except the criminal record -- that has to be done before you leave (notarized and apostilled). Once in Ecuador, that important piece of documentation cannot be obtained for you. I should never say never because I guess, you could just hop back on the plane and go get it (but who wants to do that?!).
After everything is notarized and apostilled, we will take the documents to our local Ecuadorian Consulate in order to get the documents legalized (by placing a stamp on the back of each document). I have read that all documents in English must be translated into Spanish. Any bi-lingual notary can perform this task; however, I have not found this to be a consistent finding through my reading, so we still need to check into that.
By the way, having lived in a foreign country (Sicily) has been a great advantage for us. With few exceptions, we went through the exact same process except we needed immunization records and also a health document notarized.
We have an accordion file with labels for everything. If you are thinking of making this journey, I suggest you do the same. Have birth certificates, marriage certificate and all important documents in one place. And just for "kicks and giggles" make copies of everything!
If they call for more snow, we're set...we've got lots of paperwork to keep us busy. So bring it on...
Until next time...hasta luego!
Connie and Mark
P.S. I'm learning as I go, so please realize this is our journey to Ecuador and yours may be totally different. Only you can determine what type of visa is best for you.