Complete Guide to Ecuador Travel & Relocation (GringosAbroad)

What Can I Bring to Ecuador?

If you are planning on moving to Ecuador you know it can get pretty complicated. Packing is always one of the last minute things that doesn’t get much thought – until the few days before you leave. At least that’s how it was with us – and is one of those things we wish we did differently. After reviewing this customs document, packing might move up your list of important things to consider. Here are a few pointers to help you prepare for your Ecuador relocation.

Last week as we returned to Ecuador from a trip to Canada, we were given the standard customs form on the plane to fill out. The list is long about what is allowable. The rules aren’t crazy or extreme, but there are two sections that you should be aware of: Pets and Electronics.

Please note: Text in italics is quote directly from Customs document, which explains the grammar/spelling errors – see image below.

Limits on Bringing Pets to Ecuador

The rule states a maximum of 2 pets can be imported (subject to sanitary regulations).

Limits on Bringing Electronics to Ecuador

Travelers or head of household may enter up to two (2) additional units, one (1) new and one (1) used, of the following portable articles:
  • Photographic camera, video camera, mobile telephone, electronic agenda, portable or non portable video game, electronic calculator, portable computer and its accessories (mouse, headphone, keyboard and other).
Also, all travelers or head of household may enter up to one unit (1) new or used, of the following:
  • Portable image reproducer, sound or video player, portable television up to 21 inches.
  • Desktop and its accessories (mouse, headphones, camera, keyboard and other).
  • Prismatic equipment, projector, monitor up to 21 inches and telephone, printer or fax.

The Bottom Line: Watch the amount of electronics you bring. While its unlikely that you’ll have a problem, if you are just bringing it for personal use, the law is in place that they could charge taxes and duties on everything in excess of these limits. I think everyone travels with more than 2 electronic devices: phone, camera, laptop, smart phone.

If you are bringing pets to Ecuador, this is a whole other issue. The Marshalls from Canada wrote a great post about bringing their dog to Ecuador.

Everything else is pretty standard. Personal use clothes, books, medicines, medical items, musical instruments and camping gear are all allowed.

Penalty and Fines for Bringing Excess into Ecuador

Should the traveler bring goods in excess of the limits mentioned above, these will be considered taxable items and should pay customs duties. In case of underage entering taxable items. parents or a representing would have to be responsible of paying the taxes. Additionally, would be considered as personal effects: goods (set or kit) which are not specified in the above mentioned, which don’t have restrictions whether is for volume, quantity or size, and its value not over US$500.

So the worst that would happen, it seems, is you could get a big bill for the items you are over limit on. Its worth checking with your lawyer in Ecuador before you depart, if you are concerned about the volume or type of things you want to bring.

allowable-to-bring-to-ecuador-customs

What can I bring back from Ecuador? Well that’s a whole other question.

An article by

Bryan is a journalist, photographer, expat and dad. He writes for Gringos Abroad (Ecuador travel & living) and Blogger Abroad (run an online business abroad). He also enjoys living in Southern Ecuador (South America) with his wife and daughter. Connect with Bryan on LinkedIn. Work with Bryan & Dena

More about: Ecuador Facts, Living in Ecuador

{ 91 comments… add one }

  • Kevin Crawford June 7, 2014, 8:36 am

    We have a large personal collection of movies burned to DVDs from Netflix that we hope to bring with us when we move to Vilcabamba in August. Will we have any problem with “intellectual property” rules for burned DVDs, or for the quantity (we have several hundred, accumulated over several years’ time, and absolutely irreplaceable, should they all become confiscated)?

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines June 7, 2014, 1:36 pm

      I think this could be a problem when crossing any international border. Why don’t you convert them to MP4 files and store them on your hard drive or in the cloud? Or you could just subscribe to Netflix once you’re here. :)

      You are over the limit for bringing dvds into Ecuador – regardless of the content.

      Reply
      • Kevin Crawford June 9, 2014, 9:23 pm

        Bryan – definitely NOT what I wanted to hear, but thanks for the warning, and for all of your other so-very-valuable information! The thing is, we’ll be retiring (on a shoestring!) when we move to our modest little plot of land just outside of Vilcabamba. As retirees, we expect to spend a pretty large amount of those latter-years’ time not “doing” much – that is, relaxing, reading, watching movies, etc – just the little things that we love to do now, in our very few hours between work and sleep, and to lose the many movies we’ve collected (75% of which we haven’t even ever had time to watch, yet – we’ve been “saving them for our retirement”!) would be devastating! Clearly, there is NO option for downloading, say, 500 movies and TV shows into mp4-format hard drives, or to “the cloud” (it would take the 3-4 years of “spare time” that it took to originally burn them!), and we only have till late August, when our move is scheduled. So, in short, is there any way around Ecuador’s (somewhat-capricious, it seems) regulations on something as silly as dvd movies, which can hurt no one? I think I have heard somewhere that there may be some “relaxing” of those rules for incomers with residency status. Can you speak authoritatively to that, at all? Thanks SO much!!!

        Reply
        • Jim June 10, 2014, 6:53 am

          Kevin, if I can offer my two cents. There are internet cafe’s in Vilcabamba where you could download movies every week or or every day if you want. Vilcabamba is a nice little town to spend some time in every couple of days for lunch or whatever. Be cautious of having tunnel vision, or thinking there is only one way to do something in Ecuador, such as bringing your movie collection, you could easily lose it at the border. You will need to be flexible and tolerant to be happy there but I’m sure you know that. You will find a lot of silly things in Ecuador, most won’t really affect you.

          Reply
        • GGGallo July 17, 2014, 12:37 am

          I think it is silly that you are worried that Ecuadorian customs will confiscate your capriciously copied DVDs. Ya see, making copies is illegal. Taking them from you is legal, in any country. But don’t let that get in the way of your convenient scoff-law self-rightousness. Also, Ecuador has this thing called the internet, as Jim, in a comment below, brings to our attention.

          Reply
    • Howard Glassman June 10, 2014, 7:22 am

      Here is what the customs declaration form says you can bring. “Phonographic records, recording tapes, video-cassettes, laser disks, music or data disks, roll film carried by one person.” I bought a 250 disc carrying case from Best Buy. It has a handle and can easily be carried by one person or put in a suitcase that can be. So, in two weeks I’ll find out if the “letter of the law” applies or not.

      Reply
      • Kevin Crawford June 11, 2014, 8:02 pm

        Howard – that “carried by one person” loophole (if it IS a loophole!) may be the lifesaver! PLEASE write down my email address: qford@bresnan.net and let me know ASAP what you experience, please?! I can more easily shove 500 DVDs into a suitcase and buy new clothes there, than I can replace 500 irreplaceable DVDs!!

        THANKS SO MUCH!!

        Reply
        • Jim June 12, 2014, 6:53 am

          Kevin, if you are of average Ecuadorian size you should do OK with buying new clothes. But if you are taller or wider like I am, clothes that fit are almost non-existent. After we left Ecuador, I arrived at our next destination almost dressed in rags because I could not find clothes that fit. My efforts to find clothes that fit included shopping in major centers like the malls in Guayaquil, Cuenca etc.

          Reply
          • GGGallo July 17, 2014, 12:39 am

            Absolutely! Everyone over a certain size dresses in rags in Ecuador.

        • Howard Glassman June 12, 2014, 7:41 am

          I’ll know on June 25 when I fly down with my easy carry case of dvds

          Reply
          • Jim June 12, 2014, 7:51 am

            We had 80 CD’s disappear, but I was shortsighted and put them in checked baggage. They were probably stolen in Miami, but I have wondered if they were confiscated in Ecuador.

  • Sandy Bradford June 4, 2014, 8:32 pm

    Can I bring kitchen knives into Cuenca, Ecuador??

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines June 5, 2014, 6:25 am

      Yes. Just make sure that they are in your checked luggage. We brought a set of Victorinox kitchen knifes – one of the few household items we brought.

      Reply
  • hope m May 2, 2014, 5:20 pm

    UPDATE…I just got here yesterday Quito AirPort. I have read all the comments and most our TRUE and still current today. I was charged 35.00 percent as well as several others listed her apparently so that seems to be the consistent tax now.

    I am keeping that receipt in-case they try and charge me on the way out.

    I was upset because I got someone new or severely overwhelmed by the amount of people and he too tried to tax me on all the little personal items I was carrying to RUN UP MY TAX BILL. This did not make me happy one bit.

    I do not mind paying tax just be fair about it. I read all the blogs at least I thought I did and it said 12 percent import tax (before I found out about gringosabroad.com) no one likes to be blindsided you expect one thing and get another so the 12 percent NO LONGER APPLIES it is NOW 35 PERCENT and you should plan for it.

    I finally got a sweet young black haired lady that explained in Spanish to the other person after that things went FAST. She was a miracle I thought I was going to be there until my next Birthday until she got involved..didn’t catch her name but thank you, thank you, thank you. We agreed on a tax to be paid witch I thought was completely fair I paid it and left hoping to get to my adventure. I hear the country is beautiful with great people and I can not wait to meet everyone of them.

    Something also I found correct based on other post here is YOU GET ONE ITEM OR ONE SYSTEM FOR FREE that’s what I was told and that is what happened and apparently that is the case in some of the other people here. In my case laptop, speakers, cameras etc…IF YOU HAVE A SECOND item they will CHARGE YOU TAX ON IT so be prepared new or used it makes no difference. I don’t mind paying the tax JUST BE FAIR ABOUT IT. I thought once the woman got involved things moved very quickly and was very fair before the woman got involved I wanted to catch the next plane out of there but it took a very long time to get there. She was amazing I only wished I would have gotten her name for other foreigners so in case you had a problem you could ask for her and she would no doubt help out.

    I make a suggestion and encourage others if you receive good service get the name of the person who helped you and post it here that way others that come after you can get the help they need if they need it. The small black haired lady had I gotten her name probably would have saved other foreigners a whole lot of time and money and headache as she knew what she was doing and she was completely fair.

    Be prepared to Pay I have found out but don’t accept anything that is less than FAIR!

    I also agree with several other post here. They ask me for receipts witch most foreigners do not have especially years later god knows I don’t keep them. It was kind of a shock when the young lady said Ecuadorians keep all there receipts for a very very long time. I told the young lady ONCE THE WARRANTY RUNS OUT ON AN ITEM most foreigners get rid of there receipts. She really didn’t understand that but I thought it was cute to watch her try. I thought to myself they must have a whole lot of receipts. KEEP YOUR RECEIPTS IF POSSIBLE.

    It has been an adventure and I had not even left the airport.

    There website should reflect the 35.00 percent tax rate so people know what to expect.

    Again my suggestion is If you receive good service/fair service as in my case post the individual name as I am sure the small lady with black hair that helped me certainly could have helped you, speed things up, and saved you lots of money as she was completely fair with the tax.

    Now is the time to go to BANYOS I hear its a blast. I can not wait to get there.

    Reply
  • carla April 26, 2014, 9:53 am

    some of these comments are out of date or just completely wrong. I just got here 30 days ago on vacation thinking about relocating here witch I have decided not to do. I had a great time, beautiful place with GREAT people but its all so subjective at whoever is helping you at the time you get someone good you are OK you get someone bad or inexperienced you are SCREWED. I brought 1 solar panel and one small wind generator with me only two too charge my camping things as my friends and I love to camp outside and we were charged 140.00 tax at the new Quito Airport. What they said is you get one for free and everything else is taxed. I guess they have changed the rules according to the post. You ask for a supervisor in charge and they don’t get you one. I read all the post before I visited this place Banyos is GREAT and it said absolutely nothing about solar. So they are making up the rules as they go along and nothing is set in stone ITS ALL IN WHO YOU GET TO HELP YOU. They charged me as my ITEMS WERE NEW and not extensively USED. Everyone knows the older something is the value goes DOWN NOT UP especially in the TECHNOLOGY. I certainly was not going to throw my solar panel or wind generator away I would have nothing to charge my phone, laptop, or provide the lights at night. What people also need is the truth. Quality does not EXIST HERE. I tore the bottom of my shoe and went to a shoe repair place it last 3 days not even log enough to get me home. My charge controller went out and I had to go to a place called Guayaquil and search many, many stores as most people have no idea what you are talking about and when you find a store that has one its not up to specs either. PARTS MOSTLY LIKELY DO NOT EXIST!

    I was knew I was in trouble when I heard the words your rich you can afford it. I am 29 years old not rich in any form or fashion. That is the attitude here.

    Taxes are OK but TAX Equally and FAIR among all nationalities and TAX based on New and a reasonable TAX based on USED it should not be USED TAXED as NEW.

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines April 26, 2014, 2:56 pm

      It’s good to remember that you can’t really know a place after just a month. Quality does exist, but so does shoddy work – just like everywhere else in the world. You can get technology parts – you just need to know where to look and be willing to pay. We have never had trouble with Customs officials. Of course, we have always declared everything we were supposed to. If you don’t declare something you are supposed to then you will pay for sure.

      If something looks like commercial use – you pay tax right away. I bet they don’t seem many wind generators come through…

      Reply
    • jorge July 16, 2014, 4:39 pm

      I’m ecuadorian but grew up in the states and it is appalling how a lot of the times in ecuador they make up or apply the rules Willy nilly–while a lot of them dont make any sense at all….I just miss those great deals on all electronic devices they offer in the states-and everything else-that you just dont see here. Prices seem to be overinflated here –especially as of lately

      Reply
      • Jim July 16, 2014, 7:36 pm

        Jorge, I once found a tool a wanted to buy in Cuenca. It was about $1100. I priced it in the States at about $550. It cost about $450 or so to have it shipped and imported. In think the inflated prices are due to government import fees and shipping. The vendors aren’t getting rich…..at least I don’t think they are.

        Reply
  • bob April 20, 2014, 12:26 pm

    I found my experience very very rough and would certainly not recommend or do it again. As anyone who has traveled, visited, or volunteered in Ecuador knows the quality of merchandise is not good so people import things. The artical is correct you get one item free and the 2nd item you must pay tax even if its not listed here if you bring more then one item YOU WILL PAY as simply as that. Were the problem lies is they look it up on the internet looking for items that are new and you pay 35.00 percent no matter if its 1 year old or 10 years old. Remember you get one item free and the second item you must pay for. My problem is if they can not find your item on the internet due to being old or in my case extremely old you have to come to some sort of fair value. I don’t have a problem with tax everyone pays it on new items but to overvalue used personal items so people pay more tax is certainly not right. I did find a few people who did understand THE MEANING OF USED/OLD and were of great help and I really appreciated it they understood that items were not new and one should not be charged as if they were new items. If you have receipts NO MATTER HOW OLD THEY ARE I WOULD ENCOURAGE YOU TO KEEP THEM as you might need them if there is no one there to help out. Good Luck 35.00 percent is what they charge of new items or comparable items.

    Reply
  • Barbara Stiles April 7, 2014, 2:49 pm

    I’m concerned about the cameras and the memory card limits. I’m an AVID ameteur photgrapher. I’ve had 2 computers ruined and an external hard drive crash also. I save every single memory card now. I dozens of them with my original photos. Those I uploaded and saved in backup are lost forever.

    Can I do anything about bringing in my 7 years of memory cards? I also have 4 cameras I use. All I bought used and none are great, but they have different uses. If I could afford a good DSL, then I wouldn’t need all these cameras. I take 3 just to our local zoo when we visit! Any ideas on that? Thanks for your interesting article. Barbara

    Reply
  • George Gallo December 14, 2013, 6:41 pm

    Well, this did not help at all. Thanks. G

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines December 15, 2013, 10:27 am

      Well, what were you looking for?

      Reply
      • George Gallo December 16, 2013, 10:42 pm

        Thank you. What am I looking for? Information not vague non-facts. I know that this is a little harsh, but I have read your blog for at least a year and a half and I usually do not share your opinions. Now, on what I can bring to Ecuador; your comment was not clear. Anyone can copy what you did and as you stated, it wasn’t clear via translation or what ever. So…. Why post something that is supposed to be helpful and leaves readers no more informed? You seem to have much experience going to and fro. Your personal experience could be helpful. But have you ever tried to bring three computers, 3 cell phones, a Blue Ray Player and more at the same time. That is just an example. I believe that would be helpful. I have heard many stories about what other people bring into Ecuador. I think the “fear” is that one (me) will reach customs in Ecuador and have to pay import tax on items that are over the “limit,” and the cost of the tariff would be prohibitive. That is the question on point. Be specific and that would be helpful. Or, if you don’t know, Fine. Or why write it? I think that you take your blog more serious than a Facebook Post. I also read the comments on various subjects on your blog, and it seems so many people a satisfied with fluff. I will be in Cuenca for a few days before and after the 1st. You have a blog, you have a following; do the work (meaning interview tourists, expats, and citizens, probably more citizens). I have some personal experience with people reviewing from a narrow view. Example: we walk down a nice street and the whole town is nice. We walk down a desolate street and the town is not so nice. Now, for the final blow: I often find Gringos Aboard condescending to Ecuadorians and pandering to a pseudo-elite class. Thank you so much for taking time and responding, Sincerely and best wishes, George G. Gallo

        Reply
        • Bryan Haines December 17, 2013, 6:06 am

          I don’t understand your complaint. You ask for facts and yet that is all that this post is – a list of the legally allowed items. The post is called: What CAN I Bring to Ecuador? not What did someone once bring to Ecuador? Fluff is a random story of someone “getting through” Customs once with a bag full of prohibited stuff – giving the idea that everyone else can do the same. This post shared the allowable limits based on the customs form that is given out on the inbound flight. I’ve only seen this list during travel, which is why we published it for our readers.

          If you read the post comments, you would have seen a number of responses where I comment about what has been our actual experience and that of other expats. For example, in my comment from March 30, 2012, I explain some of the electronics that we traveled with in our move.

          If you want to avoid paying duties and taxes on your move, you should read this post again. These are the legally allowed limits for items coming into Ecuador as personal belongings on a flight. Anything above this limit could be subject to duties or confiscation.

          Reply
  • Jeamme November 21, 2013, 1:30 pm

    Does anybody know whether we are allowed to take spices into Ecuador. If yes, do they HAVE to be sealed?

    Reply
    • Melita Vega December 17, 2013, 3:47 pm

      Here’s hoping I don’t get villified (after reading some of the comments above), but when it comes to bringing in foods, I’d be careful about bringing in things that are not properly sealed. I recently came back into Ecuador after a trip to Canada carrying a 5lb block of some equisite Greek cheese which caused me to get stopped for screening not only in the States but also upon landing in Quito. All was ok, as it was sealed processed cheese and all, but I’m not sure if the customs officers would have been so understanding if it wasn’t sealed. Better to be safe than sorry…(I future if Canadian customs officials also frown on bringing un unsealed foreign foods, why would Ecuador be any different?)

      Reply
  • Chris K. October 15, 2013, 10:26 am

    I hope this thread is still active…. we’re coming at the end of the year and have been trying to figure out what to do with our tech situation. We have a so-so laptop and a pretty nice desktop I’d like to keep, but my spouse would rather buy a new 2nd laptop. Our plan is to max out our 280lbs of checked baggage on the way down with the (subjectively) most important stuff and some clothing; with what we have left over, we’re going to sub-divide into stuff we want to have shipped down after a few months and stuff our friends/family will mule-over to us on their future visits.

    Is it worth packing the desktop computer up for travel on the plane with us (probably as an extra charge checked bag) or should we have it packed up to be shipped after a few months?

    Would it be be better/easier/cheaper to take the components out of the chassis (wifi, gpu, HDs, RAM) and buy a new chassis/motherboard down there and build a new computer?

    This might not be the thread for these questions, but thanks for the write up and all the comments.

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines October 16, 2013, 5:05 pm

      A friend who recently moved to Cuenca removed all the insides and left his case home. When he got here, he bought a case for $50 and rebuilt his computer. The motherboard, etc went in his carry-on luggage.

      I bought a desktop computer here (a few years ago now) and it was $600. I’ve since upgraded ram and the video card with parts ordered online from the US. Laptops are expensive here, but I haven’t found desktops to be the same high price. We are looking at purchasing a second desktop in a few months because my wife’s laptop is starting to fail.

      Reply
  • Hector Vega September 27, 2013, 4:18 pm

    I have had Nothing but problem with the Ecuadorian, This is to all you can ship all of your thing, But if they want it they are going to kept it And at the end it is going to cost you as they think that we are all made of Money, I just shipped 2 Flat screen TV, Tools , Our clothes and photos , $4000 to ship total Value about $3500 they want $15,000 more because they never give you answer on why but they well issue you a Bill $87 dollar a day for there own delay

    Reply
  • Steve Accomando September 15, 2013, 10:54 pm

    I have a question… I’m a musician. How many of my guitars can I bring? And what about my amps and pedals?
    I have 2 Les Pauls… 1 Strat… 1 Acoustic/electric… A Digitech RP1000 switching/pedal… Fender Frontman 212R amp… assorted cables and wireless hook-ups.

    First off… are there rock bands in Ecuador I can join? And… can I get the above equipment in?

    Thank you,
    Steve Accomando

    Reply
  • John August 25, 2013, 10:38 pm

    Hey!
    We live in Calacalí and will be going to the States to visit family this fall for four months.
    On our wish list of items to bring bike is a mountain bike. I cannot find anywhere the rules for importing a bicycle. I see temporary permits but nothing more than that. Help please!

    Reply
    • Leroy Smith March 31, 2014, 4:43 pm

      The allowable items on the customs form posted here allow “Sport items that can be carried by one person”.
      A bicycle can certainly be carried by one person, wether in a box or otherwise.

      Reply
  • Jean Cohen July 23, 2013, 7:05 am

    Hi Bryan,
    I’m moving to Ecuador within the next few months and wonder if anyone can recommend the best way to ship personal items, such as electronics, some clothes, Christmas items, kitchen items etc. if you do not plan to ship a container. What experience have they had with pallets, air freight or whatever method available? Thanks for any help. Also where can you get a customs list?

    Reply
  • Jean Cohen June 29, 2013, 10:07 am

    Does anyone know the requirements for shipping personal items in a container? Is it true that every item in a box or container must be itemized seperately and given a value on the packing list? How about if you decide not to bring everything and buy it there, but still want to ship a few things? Is there anywhere to get a customs list of what you can or can’t bring? Thanks for any help.

    Reply
    • Melita Vega September 27, 2013, 5:32 pm

      Having been through the shipping container process only two years ago, yes, indeed – everysingle item in the container (whether it’s shower curtain rings or a frying pan) must be listed and valued according to the box it’s in. Each box must be properly labelled and numbered, and a sheet must be handed over to the shipping company, who will then hand it over to the customs agent – who will then use it as a reference when deciding to open a random box and verifying the contents using the list. Within certain limits like electronics and household devices (ex. bring only one washing maching and one dryer per household, no chemicals though), you can pretty much bring most of your used and new possessions (guns are a whole different ball game). Not sure about bringing other items outside of the container, but I imagine the same duties and taxes apply.

      Reply
  • Tara June 15, 2013, 2:14 pm

    I’ve been searching around for info on bringing a desktop computer to Ecuador (Cuenca), and I can’t find any specifics. Did you carry one with you? Is it cost-prohibitive to order one and have it shipped? I have a laptop, too, but living without my desktop would be tough… :-) Thanks for your insights!

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines June 16, 2013, 7:24 am

      We brought laptops with us. Since we arrived we bought a desktop computer. A friend left his case in Canada and brought all the components (motherboard, hard drive, video cards) and bought a case and power supply here.

      Reply
    • Jim June 16, 2013, 8:24 am

      I brought my desktop with me, but considered it a piece of checked luggage. The box size worked good for that. I bought 2 heavy duty vinyl straps to ensure it couldn’t be broken apart. I wrote fragil all over the box. It got here intact and I had no problems. But, I likely would not do it again due to the potential risk of having it damaged. I would bring the components and then have them built into a system here as you can easily get cases and power supplies.

      Reply
  • Terry May 19, 2013, 12:20 pm

    Oh, WOW. My husband and I would love to make Ecuador our home. But it seems that the move could be quite problematic. I think my main concern would be my dog. She is a 95lb American Bulldog. Is there any restrictions on the size of the pet? She is a huge part of my family and I can not leave her behind. Any info would be so appreciated.

    Reply
    • Jean Cohen November 21, 2013, 2:01 pm

      We are in the process of moving to Cuenca right NOW. My daughter has a 60 lb. boxer and he FINALLY arrived in Quito on Monday – Nov. 18th. Make sure you do a TREMENDOUS amount of checking in advance because a boxer, along with any kind of bulldog and it seems like a million other breeds are considered a “flat nose” animal and considered at risk of breathing problems or heart problems and the airlines just don’t seem to want to fly them. It was a 3 month nightmare and he finally had to be certified as a service dog in order to have a flight any shorter than 19 hours.

      Reply
  • Jon May 14, 2013, 10:05 am

    Does anyone use any online grocery stores to import food stuffs for personal use? My son is craving salt and vinegar crisps and Penguins (from the UK). There is an online store (http://www.britishcornershop.co.uk/) that will do the job (and get me some peshwari naans). They send the package via UPS, and I’m wondering if this would be subject to the same astronomical charges for importing packages that the Ecuadorian Post Office charges. Does anyone have any experience of this?

    Reply
  • larry January 31, 2013, 12:49 pm

    can i bring one box of Arm & Hammer baking soda into ecuadore?

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines January 31, 2013, 1:04 pm

      We brought baking soda for friends. It’s a good idea to bring it – because we have yet to find baking soda in Ecuador.

      Reply
      • Jim January 31, 2013, 1:06 pm

        Baking powder is sold in Ecuador though not easy to find. We’ve been buying it a local tienda here in Vilcabamba that brings it in bulk and repackages for retail sale.

        Reply
        • Jon May 14, 2013, 10:03 am

          Baking powder can be found in any supermarket in Ecuador – I forget what it’s called but it’s something horno – and in a white plastic can with a red top. I’ll check when I get home and add the name here.

          Reply
          • Carlos May 16, 2014, 5:25 pm

            Polvo de hornear o Polvo para hornear its called and you can find it at any supermarket or even small tienda.

    • Melita Vega July 17, 2014, 9:24 am

      Actually, baking soda (the Arm and Hammer type that is good for scouring the kitchen sink and deodourizing shoes) is not sold at Supermaxi or Coral Centro. The last time I ever saw it in the supermarket was 10 years ago, and I heard they stopped making it because it was being used to smuggle illegal drugs in and out of the country. However, you can find it at the Botica Olmedo (a classic, old school pharmacy that specializes in selling chemical compounds) on Juan Jaramillo Street in the Historic Centre – it’s just labelled “Sal de Vichy” and is sold in brown paper bags of 250 grams each. It costs about $2.50 or so. I was sooo happy when my mom told me where to find it!
      (Nothing scrubs your pots better without damaging them…)

      Reply
  • Donna McNicol January 26, 2013, 5:41 pm

    Interesting discussion…we’re concerned with bringing in two point ‘n shoot cameras plus hubby’s Go Pro for his scuba diving, three laptops (now talking about updating the two big ones into one newer shared one), 2 Kindle e-readers and 2 Kindle Fires, 2 iPods, 2 iPhones. Seems like we’d be way over the limit, just wondering how often this happens as an issue and do we have to list these on some form when we enter the country.

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines January 27, 2013, 6:18 am

      I haven’t heard of anyone having trouble when bringing personal goods, but it sure looks like you will be over. I met a couple last night that arrived the day before – they only thing they had to pay duties on was their television ($100). And they had multiple computers, cell phones, etc. The problem is that Aduanas can charge taxes/duties, or even confiscate goods, if you bring in more than the allowable quantity. It doesn’t mean they will – but they can…

      On the form, you have to note if you have more than the allowable rate. The last time we entered, there wasn’t anywhere for a list – just a checkbox. Then you (might) get to go over everything with an agent if they choose you.

      Reply
      • Howard Glassman July 21, 2013, 9:52 pm

        So, what does “traveler or head of household” mean? Can my wife and I only bring in 2 electronic devices between us? We’re planning to bring in a laptop, an ipad, a nook and a wireless router. Would that put us over?

        Reply
  • Julie January 20, 2013, 4:05 pm

    Thanks for all the great info. here. We will be traveling from the U.S. to visit our friend for a week who lives near Loja Ecuador in April. We have had requests for items to bring from the U.S., but I want to make sure we will actually be able to bring them into the country without having them confiscated at the border. I have tried several online searches, but keep getting different answers. One of the requests is for a particular liquor, as well as some wine. One web site said 1 liter p.p. was allowed, somewhere else I saw 2 liters, and on your form above it says 5 liters. Do you know if the 5 liters is accurate for 2013? The other request involves a dried cooking spice and an herb that is unavailable in Ecuador, but readily available here at every grocery store. As long as its dried and sealed, it should be okay, right? If you have any knowledge about this I would appreciate it.

    Thank you,
    Julie

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines January 22, 2013, 1:44 pm

      Hi Julie – I haven’t brought alcohol into Ecuador so the only source I have is the form. We traveled out of Ecuador a few months ago and the form was identical to the one in the post. I am confident that spices in a package, un-opened and labeled will be fine.

      Reply
  • Guy January 7, 2013, 9:02 pm

    Hi Bryan & Dena. A very simple question that I don’t see an answer available. For a 2-3 month holiday to Ecuador can one get by with no Spanish skills. I am kind of old & don’t learn very fast anymore. Is this covered anywhere?

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines January 8, 2013, 1:14 pm

      Yes, many expats come and don’t speak any Spanish at first. An English/Spanish dictionary will help – as will having accommodations (at least short term) worked out before you arrive.

      Reply
      • Jim Cohoon January 8, 2013, 1:18 pm

        I have to give my whole hearted agreement. We even took a couple of trips to Peru via the famed Hauquillas border crossing with only a few words of Spanish. And you will pick up some Spanish without even trying.

        Reply
  • Natalie January 6, 2013, 9:47 am

    Will I be ok bringing a new computer to a friend who lives in Ecuador?

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines January 7, 2013, 6:59 am

      Yes, you should be fine. The rules state: one new and one used.

      Reply
      • Lisa April 12, 2014, 9:50 am

        Does that apply to a new 28″ flat screen TV as well? (in my checked bag) for personal use?

        Reply
        • Bryan Haines April 12, 2014, 10:43 am

          You’ll be charged duties for import on the TV. As the form notes, you are limited to 21″ or smaller. Also, if you don’t declare your TV when you enter the country, they can take it or make you ship it out of the country.

          Reply
  • Guy December 25, 2012, 1:08 am

    Hi Bryan. I am slightly Crippled from a car accident years ago. I can walk, but am limited to short distances. I am on medication for pain control, Yes Strong ones. I am not sure if you should post this, but I would appreciate an answer. I will have all the paperwork from my pain Specialist Dr. Is this medicine safe to bring with me ? Am I safe to have it there. Thank You again for your Wonderful Site. What part of Canada are you from. I am in Edmonton. Thanks ! Guy

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines December 25, 2012, 6:47 am

      I’m not sure what you mean about safety. Bringing it with you on your flight is probably fine (if you have the paperwork with you – and it is in personal use quantities) but I wouldn’t walk around town with it. That goes for anything of high value, and is the same as in most cities around the world. If you are concerned about bringing it across borders, you should check before you buy your tickets. I expect an Ecuadorian lawyer can get the specifics for you.

      We are from Nova Scotia.

      Reply
  • MaryAnn August 10, 2012, 11:17 am

    Bryan, when I retired I had 2 specific places in mind where I could live reasonable well on my income: Mexico and Ecuador. I am now living in Mexico and I like it but there are negatives. I was actually more enchanted with Cotacachi, Ecuador until I was told I couldn’t bring my car or my furniture or household goods. I am 68, I sold about 90% of my furniture when I left the USA. The few things I have left I want to keep including my 32 inch flat screen TV, my DVD collection and my 2 computers and my mattress and linens and all of my dishes, pots and pans etc. And of course some personal items that make a house a home. Per the information above I can’t bring anything with me? My lease here expires June 2014 and I want to move on with Ecuador being my first choice. Laws change every day, please tell me that some of the import laws have changed. If not how much money would I need to pay the fees? Thank you for all of your useful information!

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines August 12, 2012, 1:10 pm

      This post addresses things that you can bring as personal items on a flight. When you get a residency visa, you get exceptions that allow you to bring greater variety of personal items. You should check with an immigration lawyer to confirm the current rules.

      Reply
  • Suzanne Trimble July 25, 2012, 2:11 am

    Hi Bryan! Your site and facebook page are becoming my bible it seems, haha. Good job, thank you for taking the time to help others with this exciting transition. Ok…..after reading all of this and people’s comments, I understand the above rules are about entering the country with suitcases. Since you didnt ship belongings maybe you don’t know about those restrictions and one site that did, didnt seam reasonable. Mainly because it said no creams as in toiletries. (Yikes…I bought some expensive stuff in Vegas recently and no way will I use it in time for the move)
    Anyway, I am going to contact the lawyer you recommend and will say you sent me. I read you said musical instruments are fine….my husband has a lot of those, at least 10 items for playing and recording. We sure hope that wont be an issue. We also was about to buy a new large screen tv. That 21″ idea was just for suitcase entrants I hope. Plus values over 2000.00…not sure I understand that, if it means that is the high value allowed. We have been recording vids to hard dive as you suggested. Thanks for your help. Suzanne

    Reply
  • Harriett May 15, 2012, 10:20 am

    My husband and I are thinking about retiring to Ecuador. Is it possible to bring heavy shop equipment into Ecuador. (Milling machine, 10 foot metal lathe, etc.

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines May 16, 2012, 12:36 pm

      Great question. If you import it with your other household goods, it is probably okay. You should check with a lawyer to be sure that it wouldn’t be classed commercial. If it is, you could be looking at significant taxes/duties or even rejection of the shipment.

      Reply
    • Jim May 16, 2012, 12:49 pm

      If I can offer my two cents. Milling machines and large metal lathes seem easily accessible here. It might be worth considering selling prior to leaving and then purchasing new or used here in Ecuador.

      Reply
  • Bill Riordan March 30, 2012, 5:31 pm

    Yikes! I am really concerned about my camera equipment. Two Canon DSLR’s, a bunch of lenses, 6 16gb cards, and various other peripherals. When I have traveled to Ecuador, I have carried most of my stuff and had no problems. I also have at least 100 DVDs of images as well as 4 external hard drives of images. Will I be looking at a major problem if I try to bring this stuff with me? Honestly, photography is how I plan to spend a good deal of my time in Ecuador. Thanks Bryan.

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines March 30, 2012, 5:43 pm

      Hi Bill – I’m not sure. We traveled with just one dSLR and 2 point-and-shoots, a digital video camera, 3 laptops, 4 external hard drives, 50 dvds. They didn’t even blink. I think the concern is commercial importation. But don’t take my word for it. You should check with a lawyer – you could either pay a large fee (tax) or lose some gear. Not a good situation.

      Bryan

      Reply
  • Malcolm Reding March 4, 2012, 4:55 am

    Your comment on a 2 pet restriction means 2 pets per person. It you read the Ecuadorian regulation it says that.

    Reply
  • Robert Adapter October 18, 2011, 10:56 am

    Wow, I can’t believe all the restrictions in traveling to Ecuador, especially about the electronics. In today’s world, to me, at least, that seems almost impossible. In the article you quoted their policies about bringing a “computer and its accessories”. Do you know if power adapters are included under that? And what about adapters that are non-computer related, like universal adapters or 90 degree adapters. Are those considered electronics (meaning would they be one of the only 2 items you can bring)?

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines October 20, 2011, 6:12 am

      I really don’t know. What everyone has noted, as has been our experience, is that printed requirements are seldom enforced – but they are occasionally enforced. The emphasis seems to be on # of computers, cameras and cell phones – complete electronic devices.

      Reply
  • Tom Dravis September 9, 2011, 7:17 am

    Bryan, Thanks for the valuable information about what to bring. We are coming in about 6 weeks for 17 days to check out Cuenca and Salinas to see if we will like it as a possible retirement location. In the information, you provided, I did not see anything about appliances.. I have heard that they are verry expensive there. Are we allowed to bring new appliances with us when we/if we move there. I know there could be duties and taxes due on it as well. Lived in Canada for 20+ years and currently living in Kentucky so I know most of the rules about duty and taxes. Let me know when you can. Tom

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines September 9, 2011, 8:22 am

      Hi Tom, the list is in reference to things you would bring with you on your flight. I suppose you could bring a coffee maker or toaster, but anything bigger/heavier could be difficult. We have found large appliances to be very well priced. We bought a Samsung and Whirlpool washer and dryer for less than $1000. Both are large capacity – I know we couldn’t do that in Canada. Our coffee maker – very simple with a little clock cost over $50 – which seemed very high compared to Canada. I think it would have been just $20.

      If you are thinking about shipping appliances, you should talk with a lawyer about this. In my opinion, you are better of just buying it here.

      Reply
    • Sue Woods September 9, 2011, 9:48 am

      Tom, I couldn’t help but notice that a fellow Kentuckian was coming to Cuenca. My husband and I have been here for 4 1/2 months. We would love to visit with you when you come. Please email me at suewoods5946@gmail.com so we can make some plans when you come. Hasta luego, Sue Woods

      Reply
  • Jim Cohoon September 9, 2011, 7:17 am

    After talking about some of the difficult experiences in bringing things or pet’s to Ecuador I should mention, we love Ecuador and it’s people. It’s a great place to live if you can get past the details of getting and staying here.

    Reply
  • Lionel Riley September 8, 2011, 8:53 pm

    Hi Bryant,
    I’m moving to Cuenca in a couple of weeks and like to thank you for the update on bringing in electronic items. I’m still not clear on the quantities. I have a total of 3 computers. I have two laptop computers. One is a 15″ that I’ll be using as a desktop. The other is a 10.1″ netbook to be used for travel. I have a third desktop, an old MacMini that I was planning to use as a backup desktop. The two desktops will be using the same mice,keyboard and led monitor. Is that one computer too many?

    Reply
  • Jim Cohoon September 8, 2011, 8:00 pm

    An oversight on my part cost us about 60-70 CDs, music and movies. Or they were stolen from our suitcase. Somehow they didn’t arrive here with us. We did get here with our 2 cats but that was dicey at times, in both Miami and Quito. I’ll never attempt it again if I don’t have to. When it comes to detailed rules like traveling with pets, the airlines proved themselves quite incompetent. I’m not making that statement to be cynical, they really were incompetent so be prepared for an ordeal if bringing pet’s from Canada.

    Aside from that, the one thing we left ourselves short on was warm clothing. We are living at 9400 feet which really isn’t working for us. Cuenca is at about 8200-8300 feet and it is noticeably warmer when we go down into the city. It doesn’t help that the house we are renting is all concrete, lots of ceiling height glass and no heater. I’d say warm clothing and really good shoes should be at the top of the priority list.

    Reply
  • Eric Lutz September 8, 2011, 7:44 pm

    Thanks Brian for the info. I’m sorry i never got to have a little talk with you.I have been under the weather all summer. Maybe you Dad told you. listen to this strange tale, i actually had a funny dream about Drew last night. it was rather funny. TTYL PS give our love to wife and daughter.

    Reply
  • g quick September 8, 2011, 7:25 pm

    We had decided to move to Ecuador a couple Months ago and I could not
    answer all my questions what I could and could not bring and in the case of Money and Precious Metal I found as many as 3 conflicting answers. I also noted that a Lawyer is necessary to open a Bank account,,,,RED FLAG ! Also had difficulties determining what these people do for their Money and how much their Charges are. I just don’t like to be in a vulnerable position nor surprises. So we just decided to stay put for now and look some more maybe…..G

    Reply
  • g quick September 8, 2011, 7:16 pm

    We had decide to move to Ecuador a couple Months ago and I could not
    answer all my questions what I could and could not bring and in the case of Money and Precious Metal I fould as many as 3 conflicting answers. I also noted
    that a Lawyer is necessary to open a Bank account,,,,RED FLAG ! To handle
    a Visa…..RED FLAG, among other things…..A

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines September 8, 2011, 10:21 pm

      Sounds like you had unhelpful lawyers. It is not necessary to have a lawyer to open a bank account. I’ve done it. It is not uncommon to hire a lawyer to assist with the visa process – regardless of what country you are in. If you are fluent in Spanish and the local laws, I expect you could submit your own application. I know of at least on foreigner who has done it on her own.

      Sorry you had such a hard time. Ecuador isn’t usually as difficult as you experienced. Its a good idea to get all the info before making a move.

      Reply
      • Jim Cohoon September 9, 2011, 7:10 am

        The Marshalls post above about bringing your pet to Ecuador is very good information. But it leaves me wondering how we got our cat’s here. Maybe the airline “incompetence” I spoke of in my other reply was a good thing. We simply went to our local vet who is licensed by government, treat and inspect the cats and then provide us is with basic documents certifying the cat’s health and this is what the airlines told us we needed. What saved us was the stamped pet collar tag with the vet’s license number.

        Reply
        • Bryan Haines September 9, 2011, 8:25 am

          You make a good point. Just because the laws are in effect doesn’t mean they will be enforced. Especially here in Ecuador, for example, we’ve seen police turn a blind eye to things that a person would be ticketed for in Canada. Glad you got your cats through okay – I’ve heard similar stories. And others about people who had a nightmare, because they didn’t have all their papers in order.

          Reply
  • John and Mary September 8, 2011, 6:50 pm

    Welcome back, hope you all enjoyed your visit back home. Great article..I see that I have to eleminate some items on my to-go list. I was going to bring more than 10 cd’s with us. Wondering if that includes dvds. Looks like some of our musical instruments will have to left behind also. This list must be fairly new, didn’t see a custom list like this on our trip down in 2009. Well, we have to contact our lawyer this month so thanks to your article I have additional important questions to ask. Thanks for the heads up

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines September 8, 2011, 10:22 pm

      Hi John and Mary – we ripped all our cds and dvds to a hard drive and brought that with us. We have hundreds of movies and albums but without all the physical disks. Might be an idea. Your lawyer will be able to clarify this for sure.

      Thanks for reading!

      Reply
      • John and Mary September 10, 2011, 2:50 pm

        Thanks ! For some reason I didn’t think of doing that. Again keep up the excellent posts, you really cover a lot of subjects that other site fail to do.

        Reply
        • Bryan Haines September 11, 2011, 8:05 am

          Thanks John and Mary – really appreciate your feedback.

          Reply
      • Mary and John November 12, 2011, 5:30 pm

        Do you mind me asking which hard drive you used… all the ones I’ve checked out have negative feedback, more bad than good. Hate to buy one, take the time to burn everything then have it crash and burn after using iy a couple of times..thanks

        Reply
        • Bryan Haines November 12, 2011, 10:26 pm

          Hi Mary and John, I have 5 of a few different brands. I would recommend buying two identical drives and mirrroring them. That way, if one fails, you have a back up. I have also copied all of my digital files (video, photo and music) onto my desktop computer (which I bought here). For brands, I recommend Western Digital and LaCie – just check the specific models for reliability. I haven’t had any trouble with them.

          Reply
    • Suzanne Trimble August 12, 2012, 2:43 pm

      I have been emailing two dif lawyers in Cuenca, one being Grace from this page. They all said the musical instruments are fine and we have a lot of those. They also said the 20 solar panels are fine if we prove they are part of our household goods, such as having the other parts I suppose. The size of the tv does not seem to matter and the fact we use monitors that are also tv flat screens does not matter either. Ours are big. So thats cool. The only disc item that didnt matter how many you have is video games…prob because they cant be duplicated. We are recording all movies and music discs to hard drive and our itunes acct. We are going to use Ecuador Relocation Service. Once a deposit is made, they provide you with a wealth of information and take care of everything once you properly pack your belongings. We are not at that point yet but they answer emails that match up to what Grace has said.

      Reply

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We are a Canadian family of 3 living in Ecuador since 2009. We blog about life and travel in Ecuador. If this is your first visit, start here. Interested to work with us? Read more about Bryan & Dena

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