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 EcuadorThe rule states a maximum of 2 pets can be imported (subject to sanitary regulations).
Limits on Bringing Electronics to EcuadorTravelers 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).
- 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 number of electronics you bring. While it’s 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, smartphone.
If you are bringing pets to Ecuador, this is a whole other issue.
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 EcuadorShould 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. It’s 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.
What Can I Bring Back From Ecuador?
What can I bring back from Ecuador? Well, that’s a whole other question.
What can you bring back from Ecuador?
Aside from dollar value information, which depends on your country of residence, the same rules apply to everyone.
You can not bring cultural artifacts, animal products, including coral, bones, live or stuffed animals, etc. For current information, be sure to check with the Ecuadorian customs office.
It is a serious offense to attempt to export a restricted item.
- U.S. Customs allow for $800 worth of duty free goods per person, every 30 days. Included in this can be up to 2 liters of alcohol. For detailed and current rules, please visit U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
- Canadian Customs allow $500 worth of duty free goods per person, after a seven day trip out of Canada. You may include 40 oz. of wine or liquor or 24 12-oz containers of beer or ale. For detailed and current rules, please visit Canada Customs and Revenue Agency.
- For New Zealand travel and customs information, please contact Customs Service.
- Citizens of Australia should contact Australian Customs Service for travel and customs information.
- Residents of United Kingdom can receive specific information from HM Customs & Excise.
Have a tip to share? What has been your experience? Join us in the comments!
Is it Safe to Check Bags When Flying Into Ecuador?
A reader recently asked the following question about the safety of checking bags on flights into Ecuador:
We read the same things before moving to Ecuador.
We were concerned about it, but we moved with our full allotment of six bags (2 bags each). Because most luggage is a plain black color we decided to buy luggage that stood out. We figured that if someone was going to try to walk away with a bag, it wouldn’t be the purple or fluorescent green one. As we planned our move, we bought the ugliest bags that we could find.
Our Ugly (and Safe) Luggage
While we didn’t lose any bags, it is hard to tell if it actually worked. I don’t know if there was really a risk of losing a bag. But we did leave the airport with all our stuff.
In the photo, you can see the ugliest and most mismatched set of luggage ever. We had bright red, yellow, pink and green. We did have two solid black bags – which we wrapped in a bright yellow cinch strap and added colored handles. Who would want these bags? And who would risk walking out of the airport with one? We could easily identify our bags at 500 meters!
Don’t forget to weigh your luggage before heading to the airport. You’ll hit your max weight faster than you might think. Here’s our guide to choosing the best luggage scale for travel.
Luggage Claim Slips
We have been through lots of airports and Ecuador is the only one that we’ve seen that controls baggage leaving the baggage claim area. When baggage is checked, you’ll receive little claim slips – usually stuck on your boarding pass.
When you arrive at your destination they will always check that you have an equal number of slips and bags.
Sometimes they check that the numbers correspond. This is a solid deterrent to a thief – and I would say a response to previous problems.
Make sure that you keep your baggage claim slips!
Packing For Thieves (And Inept Airlines)
Because we were aware of the possibility of losing a bag, we packed differently. Instead of packing two bags per family member, we spread all our stuff out across all the bags. That way, if a bag was lost, it wouldn’t be everything from just one family member.
We continue to pack this way. And, unfortunately, we still have a really ugly set of luggage. It does turn some heads (especially our affectionately named “booger bag” – the florescent green roller bag). We have taken dozens of flights within Ecuador and 4 international trips in the past five years and we haven’t lost anything.
Baggage theft is a concern at most airports. In researching this post, I found an article about an Ecuador-to-New York smuggling ring that stole valuables from lost luggage at JFK airport in NY. I haven’t heard of recent problems at Ecuador airports.
We have covered GYE taxis and accommodations in past posts. If you are concerned about taxis in Guayaquil, we recommend using a hotel shuttle. It is safe, painless, and free!
More reading: 16 Best Anti-Theft Backpacks and Locks
Now it’s your turn!
What has been your experience with baggage coming into Ecuador? Have you had problems? What do you do to keep your stuff safe?
Please share your comments below:
- About the Author
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Hi, I’m Bryan Haines. And I’m a co-founder of Storyteller.Travel. I’m a traveler and photographer.
I also blog about photography on Storyteller Tech.
Sunday 4th of July 2021
Hi, thanks for the article. How much tax/custom fees do they ask on for example a 150 euro phone as a third phone?
Friday 4th of May 2018
Hi, I live in Ecuador. My friend is coming to Ecuador and I would like her to bring a kit of power tools more or less 600$ USD dollars. I saw that you can bring tools that you use for your profession. How will the ecuadorian customs will verify that information? What are is your best advice so my friend can bring that kit of power tools here? (it's 6 different new power tools) thank you so much
Thursday 11th of April 2019
I am a solo traveller. Am i right in understanding from what is explained that i can carry my two cameras, one camcorder, one cell phone, one laptop and two external hard drive?
Monday 25th of September 2017
I will be visiting Ecuador soon, primarily to visit child development centers. I'm planning to take small backpacks of gifts for four children, in addition to a gift of ~50 pairs of shoes for the centers to distribute according to need. I've found plenty of info about personal-use items and commercial items, but nothing yet about charitable gift items. Any idea where I should look for such info?
Wednesday 5th of April 2017
My daughter who lives in Ecuador has asked me to bring a small gasoline powered lawn mower. Are there restrictions for me to bring it? will I have to pay taxes to the Ecuadorian government? It weighs approximately 50 lbs, which is the maximum weight the airline allows.
Tuesday 28th of March 2017
I am planning to bring a year's supply of all my meds when I arrive in Ecuador next month on a residential visa, and since I am moving for the long term, will have 4-5 suitcases. United will charge me a reasonable amount for the extra baggage. Hopefully the baggage won't be a problem at customs when I arrive. My meds include some mild anti-anxiety meds and sleep aids...what's the best way to document their legitimacy? A letter from the doctor on letterhead, with a Spanish translation of the letter, and copies of the original prescriptions...would that suffice? I don't want to have them confiscated. Other meds - any thing I have to be mindful of? Thanks!
Friday 31st of December 2021
@LisaAnne01, from personal experience ecuador don't bother you about meds all that much I think because most meds are sold without a prescription except for options and psychotropic. I have brought tons of bottles of those meds and they never cared. The biggest issue I had in the past was because I brought most of my akeup with me when I moved and yea its in the hundreds and shampoo or big liquid bottles. The liquids like a big shampoo bottle it's like a flag if they see it on the xray when leaving ecuador I have been called to the checked in luggage area because they needed to ope. My bag because of my shampoo and conditioner. Ecuador doesn’t have vegan cruelty-free stuff so I bring a lot of liquids haha