The European Union and Ecuador are moving towards eliminating the Schengen visa requirement for Ecuadorian nationals who wish to visit the Schengen Area for short-term stays. By eliminating the Schengen visa requirements for citizens of Ecuador, Ecuadorians would be able to travel visa-free to any of the 26 member countries that are part of the Schengen Area including France, Spain, Italy, Germany and Austria.

Ecuador requested visa exemption for its citizens

At this time, citizens of over 60 countries are able to travel to the Schengen Area visa free. Many of these, are Latin American nations including, Peru, Chile, Brasil, Costa Rica, and Colombia.

According to Foreign Minister José Valencia, Ecuador has the support of 12 european states, in addition to a verbal agreement of two other member states for the elimination of the visa by the end of 2019. On Friday July 12th, 2019, the Netherlands supported the elimination of the visa Schengen for Ecuador. While in Paris, on July 11th, French President Emmanuel Macron said that the Ecuadorian request to eliminate the visa requirement seemed “legitimate” to him.

José Valencia indicated that before the end of 2019 the European Union will take into consideration the request for the visa exemption. During a radio interview, he said, "We have spoken with European authorities and we think that in September or October we could be ready for it to be adopted (the cancellation of the visa request) and it could take effect in November."

The foreign minister said that this waiting period would be good for the country due to internal procedures, including the implementation of the biometric passport which is a requirement the EU has for countries that are visa exempt. Valencia added, “in Ecuador, that decision fits perfectly, because that would be the time we need for the implementation of the biometric passport. The technological adaptation will be ready by the end of 2019."

In January 2017, Ecuador signed a Multiparty Commercial Agreement, following Peru and Colombia, in hopes of getting the visa requirement eliminated. Ecuador has been in negotiations with the European Union for the past three years.

The request for the omission of the Schengen visa was first made in 2016, but at that time there was no favorable response. In January 2018, the President of the Ecuadorian Republic, Lenin Moreno, announced that the formal request was made again, through the Spanish government.

Will Ecuadorians be able to travel to the EU visa free?

If the Schengen visa requirement for Ecuadorians is eliminated, nationals of Ecuador would be able to travel to the Schengen Area visa free. However, if the visa requirement is eliminated, Ecuador will become an ETIAS eligible country. This means that Ecuadorian citizens will need to apply for the ETIAS visa waiver in the year 2021.

The ETIAS visa waiver is a travel authorization that the European Union is developing and getting ready to implement in 2021. ETIAS will be available to citizens of over 60 countries that can currently travel to the Schengen Zone without a visa.

Ecuadorian citizens will need to meet the ETIAS requirements, which include having a valid biometric passport. Eligible travelers will be required to complete an online application form with their personal information such as full name, date of birth, citizenship and country of first entry.

Currently, Ecuadorians need to go to an embassy or consulate of a Schengen Member country to request the Schengen visa. To get this visa to travel to Europe, applicants are required to present several documents, such as marriage certificate, bank statements, work contract, as well as a valid passport. At this time, the Schengen Visa fee costs 60 Euros.

Ecuadorian national authorities believe that the elimination of the Schengen visa will benefit Ecuador and the EU. It will generate economic, social, cultural and political advantages.