ATTENTION AMERICAN RETIREES! My wife is a native of Guatemala and we’ve traveled frequently throughout South America. So when we decided to retire in Ecuador (Champagne lifestyle, beer budget!) we thought we knew our way around the Visa system (colloquially the Gringo Visas) and what to do. We didn’t. First I would like to say this… DON’T DO IT YOURSELF… you need a knowledgeable attorney. We tried to do it ourselves by visiting the embassy and filling out the paperwork and submitting everything. Things are just done differently. Your tone matters. Your paperwork cleanliness matters. Your clothing matters. Your attitude with the staff matters. But all of that goes away when handled by a competent, in-country, Spanish speaking, attorney.

I don’t really know HOW they do it, I just know that our life became easier and smoother and un-stressful when we hired an attorney to get our Gringo Visas (Ecuador Visas).

We used a gorgeous young lady, Sara Chaca, from To begin with, she treated us with grace and respect. When we tried to approach the local officials ourselves we were made to feel like inconsiderate, “ugly Americans”, by everyone we dealt with. And look, I’m sure we violated many local customs and social norms in trying to do it ourselves, so let me plead guilty to that. But Sara was like a heaven sent angel. Her company has offices in both the US and Ecuador. She told us exactly what documents we needed. She took care of speaking with and dealing with all officials. There was nothing confusing. There was no language barrier. There was no concern about accidentally breaking some unknown law. There was NO PROBLEM!

Gringo Visas AttorneyBut I do wish that we had started out working with her instead of trying to do it ourselves first. We had to fly back to the US to get our Gringo Visas, because we had been mis-informed at embassy about what paperwork was needed. Before Sara began helping us, all we heard was “No” a copy will not work, and “No” a fax will not work, and “No” your wife cannot sign the affidavit, “No” a civil notary is different from an attorney notary, etc. etc. etc. Hiring a knowledgeable attorney for this was the best money I ever spent. They also have a terrific accountant on staff to help with filing taxes, and inexpensive enough that we use her to pay our bills, fees and even our tab at the grocery store. Everything just flows more easily when a local, well trained, experienced advocate does things for you. I strongly encourage you to just talk to Sara… the initial consultation is free and you’ll find out how much you don’t know and how to get on with your retirement in paradise!