Written and Revised by Sara Chaca, Attorney – Abogada
April 1st, 2018
While most Expats who move to Ecuador simply desire a stress-free life or restful retirement, following their many years of hard work in and of their country of origin (i.e. typically having previously been from the US, Canada or Europe), some still continue to (or newly) feel the itch to not let go of their urge for doing and creating things, even in their now “new home away from home”. And so, to those who aspire and inspire to reach and make something of themselves and their ideas here in Ecuador itself, this document’s contents has been assembled in and for your favor, and as well, in respectful salute of your refusal to stop being, doing and making to your heart’s content!
And so now, in line with those aspirations of so many Expats who can and will admired for their vision, please note that firstly, ALL actual importers must obtain an Ecuadorian tax id number (“RUC”) that is issued by the Ecuadorian Internal Revenue Service (otherwise known as “SRI”), and then inscribe oneself in the “Servicio Nacional de Aduanas del Ecuador” (or “National Customs Service of Ecuador” – otherwise known as “SENAE”) via a ‘Token’ (that being a USB Flash Drive) which is obtained in person at the Registro Civil (“Civil Registry”) office of either Cuenca, Quito or Guayaquil. This particular process itself, needs to be coordinated via obtaining an appointment at the applicable Civil Registry office, that is made via the website of the Banco Central, and which is typically scheduled at the Civil Registry office via the Banco Central’s online system at least 10 business days in advance, and is done so through the use of a portal accessible on the Banco Central’s website). The necessary documents and requirements that you need in order to provide to the Banco Central for this specific purpose (as referenced above), are as follows:
Once you complete the above with the Banco Central via its above referenced website portal, on the day/time of your arrival to the Civil Registry office, you will need to pay a fee to the clerk there of around $80 in cash, for them to provide you along with your above mentioned Token. Within 3 business days following the receipt of your Token at the Civil Registry office, you are then permitted to register with SENAE via their online system known as “ECUAPASS”, as per a portal accessible on their website. Each time you begin a new registration procedure (“tramite”) on the ECUAPASS online system, there will typically be around an 8 business day delay for you to be able to import more of (or import for the first time) your product(s) to Ecuador.
Please note that the desired or necessary form of company, corporate constitution, accounting methods, number of partners for any importer or product creator and container shipping costs/procedures is and shall be beyond the scope of this article.
Thus, the following documentation is generally required for purposes of importing products into Ecuador:
In conjunction with the documents listed above, ALL shipments to Ecuador must also include detailed weight information, including net weight and individual gross weight of each product. Labeling in Spanish is generally also required.
If your business plan is alternatively to export products from Ecuador to any other country(ies), whether for a self-created product or for an already existing product in Ecuador that you didn’t self-create, then you must STILL comply with the above mentioned procedures, in addition to complying with each destination country’s own individual requirements (for which you’ll generally need to contract the services of a specialized customs agent in each such country in order to do so). This is besides the fact that to be able to export ANY type of food product from Ecuador to any other country, you’ll need to additionally comply with the rules of the internationally respected “Food and Agricultural Organization” (FAO) for norms related to edible products. And as well, in order to export products outside of Ecuador, you can/will also need to register as a shipper with the Ecuadorian government’s online system known as “Exporta Fácil” (i.e. for the export of products having a maximum value of up to $5000 and a maximum shipping weight of 30 kilograms for each individual shipment). Becoming an exporter of and from Ecuador can take up to several months, naturally depending on the type of product(s) and a number of other factors.
If your plan, however, is to instead create a new product here in Ecuador itself (i.e. thus not actually importing a product from another country to Ecuador), then in that such case, you will INSTEAD of the above mentioned procedures, need to alternately engage in separate registration/certification procedure(s) with that of the “Ministerio de Industrias y Productividad” (or “Ministry of Industries and Productivity”) via the applicable portal accessible on their website (the specific portal varies based on the type of product and procedure you wish to engage in). In addition, for self-created food products themselves, the Ministry of Health must also grant prior authorization (sanitary registration or notification) for imports of processed foods, food ingredients, beverages, cosmetics, pharmaceutical products, reagents, natural products and pesticides. This registration process typically takes up to 30-60 days, but can vary considerably, again depending on the type of product(s) and a number of other factors.
In conclusion with respect to the above, naturally there are (and will be in the future) multiple other facets, factors and considerations in and of Ecuadorian Import law and such (i.e. in June of 2018 the list of products with Harmonic Codes for Import purposes to Ecuador will beneficially open up and expand), notwithstanding other possible import taxes and regulations anew (including both expected and unexpected changes thereto), and so the above should only be utilized and relied upon as a general guide, rather than in the context of a “how to book”. Finally, competent Ecuadorian legal counsel, in complementary coordination of their own contracted food engineer (for food products) and/or industrial engineer (for non-food products), is highly recommended for any pursuit with respect to the importation or creation of any product(s) in or for Ecuador, especially when done so with the primary intention being one of “for profit”.
Sara Chaca (Attorney – Abogada) is a seasoned Ecuadorian Lawyer, who principally serves Expats in making their moves to Ecuador, as well as for any legal issues that arise or become actionable for her Expat clients to undertake in their new lives here in her beautiful country. Sara resides in Cuenca with her family, which consists of her American husband and 2 daughters (as well as her parents and siblings), and when not working, she enjoys spending time with her family in Cuenca’s majestic Cajas Mountains and local parks & fairs of Cuenca, plus visiting the coast as well as the many gem towns of Ecuador. Sara’s personal email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and her personal cell phone number is 099.296.2065. Sara has a less than 24 hour first response policy, in that if you email or call her, she WILL return your first email or first phone call in less than 24 hours (more typically closer to 24 minutes). Most importantly, all first time consultations with Expats for any type Visa or Legal matter(s) are always FREE OF CHARGE.