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What Can I Bring to Ecuador (and Back)? Ecuador Customs Legal Limits

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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 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 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. 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.

allowable-to-bring-to-ecuador-customs

What Can I Bring Back From Ecuador?

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

market-gualaceo-ecuador

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:

“Hi! We are flying into Guayaquil in 2 weeks en route to the Galapagos. We have to stay over in Guayaquil.  We have a hotel booked/Hampton Inn. I am worried when we land.  I keep hearing horror stories (that we shouldn’t check bags/they will be stolen), warnings about taxis.  Is there anything you can tell me that will help us?  I feel a little worried.  Thanks!”

ecuador safe checked luggage
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!

ecuador safe checked luggage

Moving day (July 2009) with our mountain of ugly luggage

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:

What's the Guayaquil Airport Like?
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