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May 17, 2024

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May 10, 2024

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Intercountry Adoption


Country Information


Republic of Ecuador
Exercise increased caution in Ecuador due to civil unrest, crime, and kidnapping. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Updated with information about land border travel restrictions.

Exercise increased caution in Ecuador due to civil unrestcrime, and kidnapping. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Do not travel to:

  • Guayaquil, south of Portete de Tarqui Avenue, due to crime.
  • The cities of Huaquillas and Arenillas in the province of El Oro, due to crime.
  • The cities of Quevedo, Quinsaloma, and Pueblo Viejo in the province of Los Rios, due to crime.
  • The canton of Duran, in the province of Guayas, due to crime.
  • Esmeraldas city and all areas north of Esmeraldas city in Esmeraldas province, due to crime.

Reconsider travel to:

  • Guayaquil north of Portete de Tarqui Avenue due to crime.
  • El Oro province outside the cities of Huaquillas and Arenillas, due to crime.
  • Los Rios province outside the cities of Quevedo, Quinsaloma, and Pueblo Viejo, due to crime.
  • All areas south of Esmeraldas city in Esmeraldas province, due to crime.
  • The provinces of Sucumbios, Manabi, Santa Elena, and Santo Domingo due to crime.

Country Summary: Crime is a widespread problem in Ecuador. Violent crime, such as murder, assault, kidnapping, and armed robbery, is prevalent and widespread. The rate of violent crime is significantly higher in areas where transnational criminal organizations are concentrated.

Demonstrations occur frequently throughout the country, usually motivated by political and/or economic factors. Demonstrators routinely block local roads and major highways, often without prior notice which can lead to disruption in access to critical infrastructure.  

Outside of Ecuador’s major towns and cities, much of the country’s territory is sparsely populated and isolated. Government assistance may be very limited and can lead to significant delays for assistance to U.S. citizens in remote areas.

Land Border Restrictions: All foreign citizens entering the country via land border crossings from Colombia or Peru are required to present an apostilled certificate showing a lack of criminal record. Further information is available on the Ministry of Tourism’s webpage and at Ecuador.Travel. All U.S. citizens planning to enter Ecuador via a land border should comply with this requirement. See Travel.State.Gov’s Office of Authentications webpage and Criminal Records Check webpage for information on how to obtain a criminal record check and apostille from the United States. The U.S. Embassy and Consulate General in Ecuador cannot assist citizens crossing a land border in obtaining the required documentation.    

Read the country information page for additional information on traveling to Ecuador.

If you decide to travel to Ecuador:

Level 4: Do Not Travel

Guayaquil, south of Portete de Tarqui Avenue, due to crime.

The cities of Huaquillas and Arenillas in the Province of El Oro, due to crime.

The cities of Quevedo, Quinsaloma, and Pueblo Viejo in the province of Los Rios, due to crime.

The canton of Duran, in the province of Guayas, due to crime.

Esmeraldas city and all areas north of Esmeraldas city in Esmeraldas province, due to crime.

Transnational criminal groups and local gangs regularly engage in violent criminal acts in these areas, including indiscriminate attacks without warning in public spaces. Violent crimes have included murder, targeted assassinations, armed robberies, bombings, kidnappings, and assaults, among others. Violence in these areas has steadily increased in frequency and brutality in recent months, posing an increased security risk to U.S. citizens. U.S. government personnel are prohibited from traveling to these areas without prior authorization. As a result, the U.S. government is limited in its ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in these areas.

Level 3: Reconsider Travel

Guayaquil north of Portete de Tarqui Avenue, due to crime.

El Oro province outside the cities of Huaquillas and Arenillas, due to crime.

Los Rios province outside the cities of Quevedo, Quinsaloma, and Pueblo Viejo, due to crime.

All areas south of Esmeraldas city in Esmeraldas province, due to crime.

The provinces of Sucumbios, Manabi, Santa Elena, and Santo Domingo, due to crime.

Transnational criminal groups and local gangs have sporadically engaged in violent criminal activity in these areas, with violence increasing in recent months. U.S. government personnel are directed to exercise extreme caution and maintain increased vigilance when traveling in and around these areas. 

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.


Hague Convention Participation

Hague Adoption Convention Country?

Hague Convention Information

Adoptions to the United States from Ecuador and from the United States to Ecuador are possible.

See our section on Adoptions from the United States for more information on the process for adopting a child from the United States. 

Ecuador is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Intercountry adoption processing in Hague countries is done in accordance with the requirements of the Convention; the U.S. implementing legislation; the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA); the IAA’s implementing regulations; and the implementing legislation and regulations of Ecuador.

Ecuadorian law does not allow an Ecuadorian child to travel to the United States to be adopted. Therefore, prospective adoptive parents must obtain a full and final adoption under Ecuadorian law before the child can immigrate to the United States.

Ecuadorian law gives preference to adoptions to Ecuadorian nationals living in Ecuador. Intercountry adoptions are limited to exceptional cases which involve children with disabilities and/or older than four years of age and/or groups of siblings who have not been able to be placed with local families. Prospective adoptive parents seeking to adopt a blood relative in Ecuador (such as a nephew, niece, grandchild, or great-grandchild) should contact the Ecuadorian Central Authority prior to beginning the adoption process.

Note: Special transition provisions apply to adoptions initiated before April 1, 2008. Read about Transition Cases.

U.S. Immigration Requirements

To bring an adopted child to the United States from Ecuador, you must meet certain suitability and eligibility requirements. USCIS determines who is suitable and eligible to adopt a child from another country and bring that child to live in the United States under U.S. immigration law.

Additionally, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee under U.S. immigration law in order to be eligible to immigrate to the United States with an IH-3 or IH-4 immigrant visa.

Who Can Adopt

In addition to the U.S. requirements, prospective adoptive parents need to meet Ecuador’s requirements to adopt a child from Ecuador:

  • Residency: There are no minimum residency requirements to adopt in Ecuador. However, both prospective adoptive parent(s), if applicable, must be present to complete the adoption in Ecuador. This process typically takes 6 to 8 weeks. Once an adoption decree is issued, at least one parent is required to remain in Ecuador with the child to complete the adoption process, usually an additional week.
  • Age of Adopting Parents: If married, both parents must be over 25 years of age and have been married for more than three years. There must be an age difference of at least 14 years and no more than 45 years between the younger parent and the child.
  • Marriage: Both single and married individuals may apply to adopt. Ecuadorian law only recognizes opposite sex marriages. An unmarried (single, widowed, divorced) adoptive parent may only adopt a child of the same sex, unless the National Adoption Agency issues a favorable report for adoption of a child of the opposite sex. Priority is given to married prospective parents. 
  • Income: Prospective adoptive parents must demonstrate the means to support the physical, emotional and financial needs of the child. 

Who Can Be Adopted

Because Ecuador is party to The Hague Adoption Convention, children from Ecuador must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the adoption may take place only if the competent authorities of Ecuador determine placement of the child within Ecuador has been given due consideration and an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interest. In addition to Ecuador’s requirements, a child must meet the definition of Convention adoptee to be eligible for an immigrant visa to bring him or her to the United States.


  • Abandonment: Children who have been declared abandoned by a judge are eligible for intercountry adoption. The abandonment is formalized with a decree called “Sentencia de Adoptabilidad.”
  • Age of Adoptive Child: The Central Authority matches children of all ages. However, children older than four years have adoption priority. 
  • Sibling Adoptions: The Central Authority prioritizes the adoption of sibling groups.
  • Special Needs or Medical Conditions: The Central Authority prioritizes the adoption of children with special needs or medical conditions.
  • Waiting Period or Foster Care: Matching periods range from several months to years.  

How to Adopt

WARNING: Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Ecuador before a U.S. consular officer issues a letter (referred to as a Hague Adoption Convention “Article 5 Letter”) to Ecuador’s Central Authority. The letter is issued in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from Ecuador when all Convention requirements are met and the consular officer determines the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States. Read on for more information.

Ecuador’s Adoption Authority

Subsecretaria de Protección Especial
Ministerio de Inclusión Económica y Social

The Process

Because Ecuador is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Ecuador must follow a specific process. A brief summary is given below. You must complete these steps.  Adoptions completed out of order may result in the child not being eligible for an immigrant visa to the United States.

  1. Choose a U.S. accredited Adoption Service Provider approved to operate in Ecuador
  2. Apply with USCIS for Determination of Suitability to Adopt
  3. Be matched with a child by authorities in Ecuador
  4. Apply to USCIS to determine the child’s eligibility for classification as a Convention adoptee
  5. Full and Final Adoption of child in Ecuador
  6. Apply for an immigrant visa for your child in order to return home

1. Choose a U.S. accredited Adoption Service Provider Approved to Operate in Ecuador

The recommended first step in adopting a child from Ecuador is to select an Adoption Service Provider accredited in the United States to provide such services. Only these agencies may act as the primary provider in your case and are responsible to act in accordance with The Hague Adoption Convention and U.S. laws and regulations. Learn more about Agency Accreditation.

To obtain updated information regarding which U.S. Adoption Service Providers are authorized by the Ecuadorian Central Authority, prospective adoption parents may contact the U.S. Consulate General in Guayaquil or the Central Authority directly.

2.  Apply with USCIS for Determination of Suitability to Adopt

After you choose an accredited Adoption Service Provider, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt by the responsible U.S. government agency, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), by submitting Form I-800A. Read more about Eligibility Requirements.

Once USCIS determines you are “eligible” and “suited” to adopt by approving the Form I-800A, your adoption service provider will provide your approval notice, home study, and any other required information to the adoption authority in Ecuador as part of your adoption dossier. Ecuador’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Ecuador’s law. This process may take up to one year, or longer.

3.  Be Matched with a Child by Authorities in Ecuador

If both the United States and Ecuador determine you are eligible to adopt and the Central Authority determines a child is available for adoption and intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests, the Central Authority in Ecuador may provide you with a referral for a child. The referral is a proposed match between you and a specific child based on a review of your dossier and the needs of a specific child in Ecuador. The Central Authority will provide a background study and other information, if available, about the child to help you decide whether or not to accept the referral. Prospective adoptive parent(s) must express acceptance of the referral in writing. Each family must decide whether or not it will be able to meet the needs and provide a permanent home for a particular child. If you accept the referral, the Adoption Service Provider communicates the decision to the Central Authority. Learn more about this critical decision.

4.  Apply to USCIS to Determine the Child’s Eligibility for Classification as a Convention Adoptee

After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval for the child to immigrate to the United States (Form I-800). USCIS will make a provisional determination as to whether the child meets the definition of a Convention Adoptee and will be eligible to enter the United States and reside permanently as an immigrant.

After provisional approval of Form I-800, your Adoption Service Provider or you will submit an immigrant visa application to the Consular Section of the U.S. Consulate General in Guayaquil, Ecuador. This is the only designated location for issuing immigrant visas in Ecuador. A consular officer will review the Form I-800 and the visa application for possible visa ineligibilities and advise you of options for the waiver of any noted ineligibilities.

5.  Full and Final Adoption of child in Ecuador

  • NOTE: For children adopted by two parents, Ecuadorian law requires both parents travel to Ecuador for the official integration period with the child and for the initial court date. Only one parent is required to remain in Ecuador following the initial hearing with the judge. Should one parent choose to return to the United States, the departing parent must go to an Ecuadorian notary to prepare a travel authorization to be then presented to the court for final adoption paperwork. The Family, Childhood and Adolescence Court Unit (Unidades Judiciales de Familia, Mujer, Niñez y Adolescencia) will annotate its authorization for the one parent to travel out of Ecuador with the adopted child. 

The process for finalizing the adoption in Ecuador generally includes the following:

  • Role of Adoption Authority: The Central Authority oversees the entire adoption process and issues the Certificate of Conformity (Article 23 letter).
  • Role of the Court: After the integration period, provisional custody is awarded to the prospective adoptive parents. The orphanage will issue a report attesting to the compatibility and bonding of the child and the prospective adoptive parents. The report is reviewed by the Technical Adoption Unit and then the Adoptive Service Provider files the petition before the court. The judge will review the application, including the integration report, all supporting documents, psychological reports and financial statements. The prospective adoptive parents will then appear in court to finalize the adoption. The adoption decree becomes final three days after issuance. At that point, the adoptive parent(s) can obtain a birth certificate for their child from the Civil Registry Office. The new birth certificate will include the name(s) of the parent(s) and the new name for the child as per the adoption decree. With this new birth certificate, the parent(s) (or the Adoption Service Provider on their behalf) can obtain an Ecuadorian identity card (cedula) and an Ecuadorian passport for the child.  
  • Role of Adoption Agencies: The Government of Ecuador requires prospective adoptive parents work through an accredited U.S. Adoption Service Provider that has signed an agreement with the Government of Ecuador. The agency can provide you with an estimate of costs associated with the adoption process. A list of these agencies may be obtained from the U.S. Consulate General in Guayaquil. Before traveling to Ecuador, we recommend you confirm with the Adoption Service Provider the services they provide in-country. Although the Ecuadorian government requires Adoption Service Providers assist and guide you through the adoption process in Ecuador, families report differing levels of support.
  • Time Frame: Once in Ecuador, following the issuance of the Article 5 Letter, the process generally takes approximately six to eight weeks. 
  • Adoption Fees: In the adoption services contract you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency should itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process. The Central Authority does not charge for administrative processing.
  • Some of the fees (excluding airfare and lodging) specifically associated with adopting from Ecuador typically include: translations, notarial services, a new birth certificate, an Ecuadorian passport, and a medical exam fee, all of which typically adds up to about $400. 
  • Documents Required: Note:  For any documents from the United States, certifications, notarizations and apostilles must be completed in the United States before the prospective adoptive parents travel to Ecuador or prior to submitting the application for adoption. Translations may be completed while in Ecuador. Additional documents may be requested at any stage of the adoption.  
  • The following documents are required by the Central Authority:
    • Original birth certificates for the prospective adoptive parent(s)
    • Marriage certificate, if applicable
    • Divorce certificate(s), if applicable
    • Death certificate, if the prospective adoptive parent is widow(er)
    • Copy of passport(s)
    • Copy of the applicable state law regulating adoptions in the prospective adoptive parents’ state of residence
    • Copy of the Home Study Report submitted as part of the I-800A
    • Police reports from the place of residence of the prospective adoptive parents
    • Job letters verifying employment and salary   
    • Latest available Income Tax Return
    • Adoption Service Provider certification of Suitability to Adopt for prospective adoptive parent(s) 
  • Authentication of Documents: You may be asked to provide proof a document from the United States is authentic. The United States and Ecuador are parties to the Hague Apostille Convention. U.S. public documents may be authenticated with Apostilles by the appropriate U.S. Competent Authority in the United States.

6.  Apply for an Immigrant Visa for your Child in Order to Return Home

Once your adoption is complete, you need to apply for the following documents before your child can travel to the United States:

Birth Certificate

Once the adoption is finalized, apply for a birth certificate for your child. The Adoption Service Provider should be able to assist you obtaining the new birth certificate from the Civil Registry.

Ecuadorian Passport

Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a passport from Ecuador. You can apply for an Ecuadorian passport for your child at any of the passport offices throughout the country.  The passport fee is $90 and passports may be processed and ready the same day.

Certificate of Conformity (Article 23 Letter)

The Adoption Service Provider will deliver the adoption decree to the Central Authority in order to obtain a Certificate of Conformity (Article 23 Letter). This letter will be required at the time of the immigrant visa interview. Verify all of your biographical information and the biographical information of your adopted child is correct.

U.S. Immigrant Visa

After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, visit the U.S Consulate in Guayaquil, Ecuador for final review of the case, issuance of a U.S. Hague Adoption Certificate, final approval of Form I-800, and your child’s immigrant visa. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you.  As part of this process, the consular officer must be provided the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child, if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage. Read more about the Medical Examination.

Once you have the documents listed above, you or your Adoption Service Provider may request an immigrant visa interview by emailing the request and a copy of the child’s passport biographical data page to The Consulate prioritizes adoption immigrant visa requests. The Consulate will also provide information on how to update the child’s information for his immigrant visa application (DS-260).

On the day of the interview, you and your child should come to the Consulate in Guayaquil at your scheduled time and bring:

  • Child’s Ecuadorian passport
  • Child’s birth certificate
  • Certificate of Conformity (Article 23 Letter)
  • Final adoption decree
  • Medical examination
  • Immigrant visa processing fee of $325

For Ecuador, immigrant visa cases are only processed at the U.S. Consulate General in Guayaquil. 

Child Citizenship Act

For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States:  A child will acquire U.S. citizenship upon entry into the United States if the adoption was finalized prior to entry and the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

*If your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important you take the steps necessary so your child does qualify as soon as possible.  Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting.  Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

Traveling Abroad

Applying for Your U.S. Passport

U.S. citizens are required to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Ecuador requires U.S. passports have at least six months validity beyond the travel dates.  Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.

Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.

Obtaining a Visa to Travel to Ecuador

In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are affixed to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for Ecuador, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.

Staying Safe on Your Trip

Before you travel, it is always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.

Staying in Touch on Your Trip

When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to enroll with the Department of State. Enrollment makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in Ecuador, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.

Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

After Adoption

Post-Adoption/Post-Placement Reporting Requirements

Ecuador requires a minimum of five post-adoption reports to be forwarded to the Ecuador’s Central Authority during the first two years after the child’s adoption at the following intervals: four months, eight months, twelve months, eighteen months, and twenty-four months.

We urge you to complete all post-adoption reports in a timely manner.  

Post-Adoption Resources

Many adoptive parents find support after the adoption helpful. There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families. There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family, whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.

Here are some places to start your support group search:

Note:  Inclusion of non-U.S. government links does not imply endorsement of contents.

Contact Information

U.S. Consulate General in Guayaquil
Mailing Address:
Department of State
ATTN: Immigrant Visa Unit
3430 Guayaquil Place
Washington DC 20521-3430

Street Address:
Calle Santa Ana y Av. José Rodríguez Bonín
Guayaquil, Ecuador
Tel: (011-593-4) 371-7000
(011-593-4) 371-7000 (after hours emergencies)

Ecuador’s Adoption Authority
Autoridad Central del Ecuador en Materia de Adopciones Internacionales
Plataforma Social Gubernamental de Desarrollo Social, Sur.  Piso 6to
Avenida Amaru Ñan,  Barrio Quitumbe
Quito, Ecuador S170146   
Tel: +593-2-398-300
Tel: +593-2-257-308

Embassy of Ecuador
2535 15th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20009
Tel: (202) 234-7200
Fax: (202) 667-3482

Ecuador also has consulates in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Newark, New Haven, New York, Phoenix, and San Francisco.

Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State
CA/OCS/CI, SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, D.C.  20522-1709
Tel: 1-888-407-4747

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about filing a Form I-800A application or a Form I-800 petition:
USCIS National Benefits Center (NBC):
Tel:  1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-913-275-5480 (local); Fax: 1- 913-214-5808

For general questions about immigration procedures:
USCIS Contact Center
Tel:  1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)

Last Updated: February 15, 2024

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Quito
Avigiras E12-170 y
Eloy Alfaro
Quito, Ecuador
593-2-398-5000 or 593-9-9788-3222
No Fax

Ecuador Map