Marriage and Divorce
Marriage and Divorce in Ecuador
A marriage that is valid under Ecuadorian law is generally valid in any state of the United States. Marriage of American citizens in Ecuador must be performed in accordance with Ecuadorian law. Please note that Dual nationals (American/Ecuadorian citizens) who wish to marry in Ecuador need not marry as U.S. citizens in order for their marriage to be recognized in the United States. They may instead marry as Ecuadorian citizens – a process which incurs less time and expense than the process to marry as a U.S. citizen. The below information is therefore relevant to dual citizens who still wish to marry as U.S. citizens and to U.S. citizens who do not hold dual nationality with Ecuador. In addition, this is for general information purposes only, since the interpretation of Ecuadorian laws and regulations does not fall within the competence of the U.S. Embassy.
An American citizen who wants to get married in Ecuador must establish, to the satisfaction of the Ecuadorian authorities, that he or she is free to marry under the laws of the state of his or her residence in the U.S. Additionally, Ecuadorian law requires non-residents of Ecuador to reside in Ecuador for 75 consecutive days prior to the date they wish to marry. Exceptions are granted if the non-resident has Ecuadorian children; in that case they may marry before 75 days by having an interview with the Chief of Marriages at Civil Registry (Jefe de Matrimonios at Registro Civil). If authorized, they can get married in what is known as “Marriage by Exception” (“Matrimonio por excepcion”).
If two foreign nationals wish to marry in Ecuador, they must also have valid Ecuadorian nonimmigrant visas (known as “12 Visas”, such as a student, employment, volunteer, cultural exchange, business, etc.). If one foreign national possesses a valid permit for tourism purposes, known as a T-3 permit, the marriage cannot be approved, unless his or her status is changed to a 12-X or a 12-IX visa by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. If a foreign national and an Ecuadorian wish to marry in Ecuador, the foreign national must have a valid “12 visa” as well.
Nonimmigrant visas may be requested at an Ecuadorian Consulate or at Ecuador’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, if the applicant is currently in Ecuador. The specific procedures for each nonimmigrant visa, as to the requirements, are available on the visa page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Commerce and Integration’s website.
To be legal, all marriages must be performed by an Ecuadorian civil authority (Registro Civil); religious ceremonies do not have legal validity under Ecuadorian law. Civil marriages between an American citizen and a non-national are only permitted to be conducted in the cities of Quito or Guayaquil, at the following locations:
- Amazonas N37-61 y Naciones Unidas esq. Tel: (593)(2) 381 42 90 (Quito)
- Av. 9 de Octubre entre Pedro Carbo y Pichincha. Tel: (04)3 802-300 (Guayaquil)
Marriage by exception (“Matrimonio por excepcion”) is only permitted to be performed in the city of Quito. Be advised that marriages entered in other provinces are neither legal nor recognized by Ecuadorian authorities.
In order to complete a legal marriage, the Ecuadorian Government requires the following documentation for foreign, non-residents in Ecuador:
- A copy of the entry stamp (“Movimiento Migratorio”) issued by the Ecuadorean Bureau of Immigration (“Direccion Nacional de Migracion”) in order to prove that the applicant has been legally in Ecuador for at least 75 days before getting married.
- Valid passport with a valid nonimmigrant visa (original and copy).
- Notarized certification of nationality and marital status (translated if applicable). To obtain this document:
- It may be obtained in the country of nationality and authenticated by apostille in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of said country, or authenticated at the Embassy/Consulate of Ecuador in said country, or authenticated by an apostille at the appropriate Central Authority in the United States under The Hague Convention; or,
- It may be obtained in the Embassy/Consulate of the corresponding country in Ecuador, and notarized at the same Embassy/Consulate.
- Documents to prove the legal termination of any previous marriages (divorce, death, or annulment certificates). Foreign documents must be authenticated by an Ecuadorian Consul abroad (not in Ecuador) or an apostille and accompanied by a certified translation into Spanish. The certification of the translation must be prepared by an Ecuadorian Consul in the United States or abroad, an Ecuadorian Civil Court or a Notary Public in Ecuador.
- One adult witness for each person, with a valid photo-ID card and voting certification (original and a copy).
The Ecuadorian Civil Registry requires the following documentation in order to perform a marriage:
- Affidavit for Marriage (PDF 11kb) granted by the Embassy or Consulate of the applicant’s country of origin. Click on the U.S. Embassy’s web page for Notarials for more information.
- Valid passport with a valid Ecuadorian visa (original and a copy). Foreigners with resident status in Ecuador should also present an Ecuadorian national photo ID card (also known as Cedula de identidad).
- Documents to prove the legal termination of any previous marriages (divorce, death or annulment certificates). Foreign documents must be authenticated by an Ecuadorian Consul abroad (not in Ecuador) or an apostille by the appropriate Central Authority in the U.S. or other country under The Hague Convention and accompanied by a certified translation into Spanish. The certification of the translation must be done by an Ecuadorian Consul in the United States or abroad, an Ecuadorian Civil Court or an Ecuadorian Notary public (in Ecuador).
For updated information about marriages in Ecuador please visit the Ecuadorian Civil Registry’s website.
Please contact the nearest Ecuadorian Consulate in the United States if you wish to get married in Ecuador and have additional questions regarding local marriage requirements.
Immigration of Alien Spouse to the United States
The alien spouse of an American citizen does not automatically acquire United States citizenship through marriage. S/he must obtain an immigrant visa to be able to immigrate to the United States.
For further information on immigration; please visit the Alien Spouse of a U.S. Citizen page of our Immigrant Visas Section.
Divorce in Ecuador
Divorces are generally arranged with the assistance of a lawyer because the process is complex. Depending on the circumstances, various documents (such as the marriage certificate, birth certificates, financial documents, etc.) must be submitted to the local court that is handling the case.
The Embassy provides a list of Ecuadorian attorneys (PDF 412kb) for your reference. The Embassy assumes no responsibility for their professional ability and integrity.