How to move to



Find A Job

Ecuador is a fascinating country, and currently popular among retirees, but employment opportunities for expats are limited. You will need a work permit in order to work legally in the country and this can be complex to obtain. Your best option for getting a job in this South American nation will be to teach English, but we will look at some of your options below, including volunteering, for which there is a substantial demand.

You will require a work permit (a non-immigrant work visa or Trabajador) in order to work legally in Ecuador, unless you already have a residency permit, in which case you will be allowed to work. The country has a low rate of actual unemployment, but is considered to have a high rate of underemployment, so finding casual work, for example in the hospitality industry, can be difficult. Recently the lower end of the labour market in Ecuador has seen an influx of Venezuelans, but in addition to this, local companies are encouraged to prioritize jobs for Ecuadoreans.

You may also wish to look at vacancies in international companies with branches based in Ecuador: the low cost of living will be an advantage when offset by an international salary level. If your current employer has offices in the country, you can also consider applying for a secondment.

To apply for a working visa, you will need to supply the following:

• your passport
• a written petition in favor of yourself signed by your employer
• a copy of the employment contract
• official documentation proving the category for which your job title applies

You may need to supply some additional documentation as well: for example, proof of solvency. If you have an employer lined up, then they are likely to be able to assist you with the application process. You will also need to apply for a working visa if you are self employed.

You will need to pay a fee for your visa application.

Teaching English (TEFL) is in constant demand and language schools in the cities, such as Quito, regularly undertake overseas hire. However, you should note that the pay tends to be low – it will provide you with a salary you can live on locally, but will not give you much opportunity for saving. However, the cost of living is also relatively low (one reason why Ecuador is a popular retirement choice).

Teaching Mandarin is also growing in popularity, so if you have a qualification in this language, you may find vacancies applicable to you.

If you are a member of a skilled profession, such as medicine or the sciences, you may also have an advantage.

Being bilingual in Spanish and English will be helpful. Translation services are also often in demand.

If you want to seek work in the tourism sector, this is limited, and you will need to speak Spanish. Most hospitality vacancies come up in July/August, or in the winter. Eco-tourism is becoming increasingly popular in Ecuador, including jungle tours. Salaries tend to be relatively low, but you may find that accommodation is included, thus leveling out your pay.

In addition, volunteering in Ecuador is popular among gap year students, for example, but you may need to pay a fee in order to become a volunteer and it is unlikely to form a stepping stone into paid work.

Typical working hours are an 8 hour day for a 5 day week, thus 40 hours per week. Working hours vary but will usually begin somewhere between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. and extend into the evening. Retail tends to start and end later, and education (in private language schools, for example) tends to begin and end earlier in the day.

The minimum wage is currently $386 per month. Remember that employers will deduct a percentage for your social security each month. As a TEFL teacher, you can expect to earn from $400 – 1500 per month, depending on whether you are teaching in a private school or a university.

You will also be entitled to many of the same rights as an Ecuadorean citizen, including severance pay, which must be made regardless of the circumstances.

You will be eligible for 12 weeks paid maternity leave, with 25% of your salary being paid by your employer and other 75% paid by social security. You will also be entitled to 9 months of shortened work days (6 hours rather than 8).

Annual leave is legally set at 15 days after 1 year of employment. After 5 years of employment, you will be entitled to 1 extra day per year up to an additional 15 days. There are 12 national holidays.

Your spouse will need to make a separate application for a work permit and the same provisos apply to them with regard to the relative difficulty of finding work.

Job Vacancies

You can make speculative applications, but some expats recommend that you seek work when you are actually on the ground in the country, rather than looking for work online.

Applying For A Job

A one page CV/resume will be acceptable but expats recommend that you deliver your details to a company in person, since the personal touch is valued in this country. Make sure that your CV/resume and any qualifications have been translated into Spanish (you may also need to have your qualifications apostilled, especially if you are applying to a university for a teaching post, for instance).

A degree of ethnic discrimination sometimes occurs in the country and there have been calls to end workplace discrimination, but Ecuador has a way to go before this is fully the case.

Qualifications And Training

If you are intending to teach English in Ecuador, you will need a TEFL certificate and a Bachelor’s degree. If you have a Master’s qualification or upwards, it is suggested that you seek work at university level rather than in a private school.

Apply For A Visa/Permit

In 2017, a number of legal and regulatory changes occurred in Ecuador. An important principle to note is that migrants who settle in Ecuador under temporary residency visas can obtain permanent residency status after 21 months.

Everyone applying for and obtaining temporary and permanent residency status will receive an identity card. The card’s validity, which will be between two and ten years, is dependent on your circumstances, as assessed under the regulations.

Health Insurance

From 10th September 2018 you must, by law, have adequate health insurance when you enter Ecuador, which must not expire at any time whilst you remain there.

For anyone enjoying a holiday, medical cover as part of your travel insurance policy will usually be sufficient. Watch out for any exemption clauses though; an accident while scuba diving or paragliding might not be covered.

If you are working in Ecuador, contributions made from your wages and your employer to the state health scheme will usually provide sufficient cover. If you are living in Ecuador but not working there, then you are solely responsible for making your own healthcare insurance arrangements.

Further information on this topic can be found in our article Will Ecuador’s New Mandatory Health Insurance Rules Affect You?

Staying In Ecuador Visa Free

Most visitors are welcome to arrive and stay in Ecuador for up to 90 days each year without a visa. Once you have reached the 90-day limit, you can only stay if you have obtained a visa. Otherwise, you must leave and not return for six months, unless you obtain a visa for the next arrival.

When you enter Ecuador, your passport will be checked. It must have at least six months’ validity remaining. You may be asked questions about the nature of your visit and asked to show evidence of your booked departure. A stamp will be added to your passport with your date of arrival, so the 90-day limit can be checked in the future.

Nationalities Who Must Obtain A Visa For A 90-Day Stay

There are a number of countries whose citizens will be prevented entering Ecuador unless they hold a valid visa, even for short trips.

People from the following countries will need a visa:

● Afghanistan ● Bangladesh ● Cuba ● Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) ● Eritrea ● Ethiopia ● Kenya ● Nepal ● Nigeria ● Pakistan ● Somalia ● Senegal

Obtaining A 12-IX Visa To Work In Ecuador

Ideally, you should obtain your visa to work in Ecuador before you arrive in the country. However, sometimes it is easier to obtain work when you apply in person. This mean that if you have the funds, you could try looking for work during your initial 90-day visa-free stay and then apply for the 12-IX visa when you have been offered a job.

If you are obtaining a visa from your home country, you can make an appointment with the nearest Ecuadorian consulate. You do this by emailing a request for a visa appointment. You should receive a reply with an appointment date and list of documents needed within a few days. An application form will also be attached, which you must print double-sided. Sometimes your appointment will be within a week of your initial email.

A police record check is an essential document to submit as part of your application. You must obtain one from the police records of every country you have lived in for the past five years. In the UK, the Disclosure and Barring Service can sometimes send their certificates within 24 hours. However, if you apply in the same period that many staff are being appointed to new school posts nationwide, the service will take longer. The rules say the certificates will be issued within 12 weeks, but such a long wait is unusual.

Your police record check must be no more than three months old when you submit it. Therefore, you may choose to undertake this process shortly before, or on the same day as you contact the Ecuadorian consulate requesting a visa appointment.

On the day of the appointment, take along your passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate if appropriate, your three most recent bank statements and recent proof of your address. Carefully read the email the embassy or consulate sends you to see if further proof is needed.

The process will run more smoothly if your employer sends documentation to you which you can take along to the interview. This should show the offer of employment, as well as the terms and conditions of your new job. Print outs of emailed documents are fine.

Don’t forget to bring along the application form the consulate emailed to you. This should be printed double-sided and then completed with no omissions.

You should also bring along a photocopy of every single document, including the completed application form. Two colour passport photos which comply with the regulations (such as no hat, glasses or laughing) are also essential.

If you have purchased your flight to Ecuador, bring along proof that you booked a return flight.

You will have to pay fees for a 12-IX visa, which you can do when you arrive for the interview.

After the interview, your passport will be retained for a few hours. You will be told what time to collect it from the consulate. So plan to do something flexible nearby in the intervening time.

Return to the consulate at the correct time, and you will be given your passport and an important certificate. You will need the latter to receive your visa when you report to the regional government building in Ecuador.

Obtaining A 12-IX 180-Day Visa To Extend Your Stay In Ecuador

This is a good visa for those who have decided to enjoy travelling in Ecuador for more than the 90-day visa free allowance. You can apply as a tourist for up to a full year’s stay. This is also the first step to obtaining the right to stay as an investor or retiree.

You can apply for the 12-IX 180-day visa from the Ecuadorian consulate in your home country or when you are in Ecuador itself. However, in both cases you will need to apply in person; this is not an online process. If you are already in Ecuador, start applying at least two weeks before your initial 90-day period has expired.

Complete the application form in full, with no omissions. Supply a full colour passport photo which complies with the regulations.

You must also attach a letter, written in Spanish, stating your reasons for applying for the visa. Include your name, address and passport number, specify the visa for which you are applying, the amount of days you intend to stay and the reason for your visit.

Get colour photocopies of your passport picture page and the passport page with the stamp showing the date you arrived in Ecuador.

You also need a copy of your bank statement or an online printout showing that you have enough funds to support yourself. A minimum of $2,000 is required. The statement needs to be in Spanish, so call your bank and ask for advice about this.

You also need to show proof that you intend to leave Ecuador at the end of the visa period. This means providing evidence of your booked flight out of the country.

The application will take several days to process. You pay an application fee when you apply and a much higher fee when you return to receive the visa. A married couple can obtain a visa together for a lower fee, but in this Roman Catholic country, unmarried couples must make separate applications.

At the end of the visa period you are required to leave the country. You cannot return for the next nine months without obtaining a new visa.

Advice From Expats Moving To Ecuador

Keith and Tina Paul, who moved from the United States to Cuenca in Ecuador, made sure their paperwork was in order before they emigrated, and believe this was an important factor for a successful move.

“We did most everything prior to the move. We got our Ecuadorian resident visas and shipped a container. Once we got to Ecuador, we were already residents and our container came a week later. We even brought our two small dogs. We had all the pet paperwork in order, so we had no problems. I think the research and planning we did was what made the entire move go so well,” they explain.

What Happens If You Overstay In Ecuador?

The stamp in your passport on entry is clearly marked with the date. Therefore, all officials in Ecuador can see when you arrived.

Under the new Human Mobility Organic Law, introduced in 2017, if you have remained in the country too long, you will have to pay a fine before you leave. This will be based on the specific offenses you have committed and calculated according to set rates.

The authorities also have the right to deport you. This is an administrative process and they do not have to obtain an arrest warrant. However, they would prefer you to leave voluntarily, and you will be given the option to do this.

If you decide to leave without paying the fine, you will be barred from re-entry for two years. The only exception will be if you successfully apply for a consular visa from overseas, at least one year after you left Ecuador.

Get Health Insurance

Many expats take out private medical insurance, even if this is not a requirement of residence, because healthcare is expensive in their destination country or because certain treatments and procedures are not available.

When taking out health insurance, be sure to check factors such as the annual and lifetime policy limits, whether there are any exclusions which are likely to affect you, whether you are limited to treatment from specific types of healthcare providers, and whether the policy covers emergency evacuation for medical treatment.

Too frequently, potential buyers of health insurance look only for the lowest cost of premiums before really considering the specific benefits and areas of cover they may actually need. Some plans are cheaper for a reason. Often they include large voluntary deductibles on any claim you might make in the future and may severely cap the benefits received under the plan. Clients should define their needs first, establish the particular area of cover they need, then determine their annual healthcare insurance budget. Only then should they look to premium comparisons, last of all.

Do not buy a plan without studying the policy wording carefully. If in doubt, ask, and only when completely satisfied complete all application forms fully, to the best of your ability.

Important questions to ask the insurance provider:

1. Does the plan allow for cooling off periods, cancellation and then repayment of premium in full?

2. Does the plan offer "Moratorium" or is it "Full underwriting" and do you need to have a medical examination before joining?

3. Does the insurer offer a 24 hour help line, 7 days a week, available from anywhere in the world (freephone)? Most insurers now offer this facility.

4. Are pre-existing conditions excluded when joining and if so, for how long are such conditions excluded?

5. Are all and any nationalities accepted or are there restrictions which apply to local nationals? Some insurers will only take expatriates abroad and not local nationals into an overseas plan.

6. Does the plan allow you to continue cover unbroken through your lifetime? In most cases insurers will continue to offer existing clients cover year on year, irrespective of age or claims history, although premium rates charged can increase dramatically with age.

7. Does the insurer allow for any doctor or consultant or hospital within the plan? Are there any restrictions in this respect? Most international plans do not place restrictions on either hospitals or doctors, but almost all demand that their help lines are called first, prior to approval of any inpatient care.

8. Does the insurer provide for the direct settlement of bills presented by hospitals worldwide, regardless of location (or do you have to pay first)?

9. What are the insurers procedures for outpatient claims? Do these require any pre-authorization or if stated in the plan can you just pay and claim? How long before you get money back from the insurer? 14 days? 28 days?.

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Rent Or Buy Property

Renting Property

If you are arriving in Ecuador under a company transfer and are having accommodation arranged for you, you can concentrate on settling into your new home straight away. For everyone else, spending a week or two in a hotel while you search for somewhere in person is a very good investment.

It’s easy to look on Craigslist for Ecuador and decide that that beautiful seafront apartment you’ve seen must be snapped up now, just to discover there are major flaws with the accommodation that you can’t identify from a picture.

As Canadian expat Leigh Anderson explained, the first apartment she rented with her sister in Quito had some major flaws which they did not anticipate. “The apartment we had rented sight-unseen was in a small town with no other foreigners. In addition to being a complete spectacle and the target of some unwanted attention wherever we went, we also realized that we were not compatible with the landlord and her family, who lived below us and felt at liberty to come and go through our apartment at any time of the day!”

Spending hours commuting to work or being unable to sleep because of the noisy bar underneath your floorboards also will not help you settle into a new country.

By looking for long-term accommodation once you are in Ecuador, you have the chance to ask colleagues and friendly local people what they think of particular areas. Someone might know of a vacant apartment in their block or put you in contact with a relative who can help.

If you are living in Ecuador on a tight budget, stay away from seafront views, big architectural homes with swimming pools and city centre penthouse suites as these will be expensive. You can rent cheaply if you use a householder’s spare room or find someone to share with, but you will of course have to comply with someone else’s rules.

A neighbourhood with a bad reputation is rarely worth the risk for a new expat. If you move into an expat area, the accommodation cost will be a premium, but you may make friends more quickly. In most areas of Ecuador, you’ll find neighbourhoods with very reasonable accommodation costs and no high crime rates to worry you.

Furnished And Unfurnished Accommodation

It is possible to find furnished rental accommodation in Ecuador, usually with a slightly higher monthly rental cost than similar unfurnished properties. The furniture may not be to your individual taste, but if you are staying in the country for a short time, you may be happy to put up with this in the name of convenience.

However, do check the contents that will be provided as well as their size. You might be shown a furnished flat only to discover when you move in that most of the furniture has gone as it wasn’t part of the landlord’s package.

Moreover, be aware that local people tend to have a much smaller frame than many Westerners, which means beds and chairs might be an uncomfortable fit for you.

If furniture and fixtures are part of the rental, they should be specified on an inventory. On the day you move in, you and the landlord should both sign the inventory to agree the list is accurate and that none of the items are damaged. Use your phone to take photos if anything needs replacing so you don’t get charged for it later.

If you are staying longer term or are more concerned about what your home environment looks like, you will have plenty of unfurnished properties to choose from.

However, the term ‘unfurnished’ can mean a variety of things in Ecuador. An absence of curtains, curtain rods, dishwasher and furniture is standard, but often a boiler, oven or fridge also aren’t provided, and sometimes even the kitchen cabinets are missing.

This means you may have to find the money to pull an entire property together. If you then leave Ecuador, you’ll have to work out how to sell all these items.

Luckily, tenants don’t have to paint the walls of rental properties, and landlords often arrange decorators to do this when marketing a new let. However, Bryan Haines, a US expat who runs the blog gringosabroad had a landlord drop off some paint with the clear expectation he would himself cover an unpainted part of the stairwell. Unexpected situations may arise, but if you maintain a cheerful attitude towards them as Brian does, your relationship with the landlord should be a good one.

Where To Buy Furniture

Furniture shops can be found in most areas of Ecuador unless you are in a remote location. Given the natural resources available in the country, you won’t be surprised to learn that solid wood furniture is standard. It is often to an excellent standard and usually affordable.

As you would expect, you can source furniture for different budgets in Quito.

At the top end, you find stores such as Sukasa which offers furniture as part of its department store offerings. Guayaquil, Manta and Playas are also popular locations for upmarket furniture and departmental stores.

The San Roque market in Quito will appeal to bargain hunters. Take your time to assess each piece for its quality and size. This is a different experience to browsing in a department store and may be intimidating on the first visit, but the low costs make the effort worthwhile.

You will also find local furniture makers happy to make custom built furniture from local wood. Obviously, this requires some negotiation of price, but means you will own a unique piece of furniture which meets your individual requirements.

Always Insist On A Tenancy Agreement

Wherever you are renting a property, you must sign a tenancy agreement. Some landlords claim these aren’t necessary, but since they set out the terms and conditions to which you and the landlord are bound, they are essential. Otherwise, you later risk the landlord charging you for items or services you didn’t know about, or being given very little notice to leave.

As an absolute minimum, your agreement should include the names and addresses of those signing the document, the start date of the rental period, the amount to be paid and the date the money is due, as well as the length of the tenancy.

It is useful to have a break clause. If you have another nine months before your rental period ends and your employment suddenly ends or a close relative back home gets sick, you are committed to paying another nine months of rent even if you return home. A break clause usually requires three months of notice in writing (with monthly rent due during those three months as normal), which is much obviously cheaper than continuing for nine months.

The landlord may decide to add other terms and conditions. For example, pets may be forbidden, or there may be strict rules about noise or posters on walls. Landlords rarely keep duplicate keys, so if you lose one, you could be facing the personal cost of a whole new lock.

Your tenancy agreement will be in Spanish so if your language skills are not fluent, you will find the help of a friend or colleague invaluable. Don’t sign a tenancy agreement – which is a legally binding document that will be used should any court case arise – unless you have understood every sentence contained in it.

Never Pay In Cash For Your Rental Property

This is another rule that applies equally in Ecuador as anywhere else; never pay in cash for your rental property.

You will usually pay your rent on a monthly basis, in advance. When you sign the tenancy agreement and before you move in, you will be asked to pay the first month’s rent and a security deposit. The amount is typically the same as the monthly rent.

Under the most secure arrangements, the landlord will place the security deposit into a separate bank account which requires you both to be present for the withdrawal of funds. However, many landlords don’t do this and will say it is unnecessary.

If your transactions with the landlord are in cash, you will not have evidence to support your claims if the they do not return your security deposit or decide to evict you and claims you didn’t pay your rent. Any receipt you were given for the cash might be disputed. A bank transfer cannot be challenged and is good evidence of your payment if any matters go to court.

When you are seeking a property, never be persuaded to pay a reservation fee, viewing fee or any other up-front costs. If these are requested in cash, you know you are about to become the victim of a scam and you must walk away immediately, even – or perhaps especially – if the property looks amazing.

Don’t Expect Ecuador To Be Like The US

Maureen Stimola spent a year living in Tena, part of the Ecuadorian Amazon. While the area sees a constant flow of international tourists, it is remote from big cities and household utility services are poor. Coming from Vermont, this was a difficult adjustment. “There is a lot of frustration with utilities failing, not having water or electricity, getting food poisoning or parasites, no internet, astronomic phone bills when a family member has a birthday, etc., you get the idea!” Maureen concludes.

Buying Property

The government allows migrants to purchase property in Ecuador even if they don’t intend to live there. And if they do, investment in property can count towards qualification for a temporary residency visa, which paves the way for a permanent residency visa.

Foreign investors and expats are attracted to Ecuador’s property market thanks to the low prices, dollar based economy and beautiful landscapes.

Reasons To Pause Before Buying A Property In Ecuador

The banking section of this country guide gives a brief history of Ecuador’s turbulent economic history. Some expats prefer to keep their savings back home and have a monthly transfer into their Ecuadorian bank account to pay their regular living costs. Based on this, you may want to consider how much of your financial wealth you want to lock up in property.

Additionally, the title of a property is not as secure in Ecuador as it is in many Western countries. If your lawyer does their job properly, they will unearth any problems with the deeds and or how the property has been officially recorded. If they don’t, you will have a lengthy wait for the sale to proceed or worse, you could lose your property.

Meanwhile, with existing properties, the relatives or divorced spouse of the seller can step in and slow down the sales process. These people may demand their entitlement to equity from the property and if so, everything has to pause whilst their claims are investigated and negotiations concluded.

If any of these risks are of concern, renting may be a better option. That said, with a good lawyer – one from Ecuador, so they know the system – and appropriate financial advice, you can proceed with a property purchase on a surer footing.

Funding Your Property In Ecuador

If you arrived in Ecuador less than two years ago, you will find it difficult to secure a mortgage. Lenders have to be confident you are not about to disappear abroad and that you can maintain a financially viable household in your new country.

You therefore have the choice between purchasing property from your own savings, or waiting to be established in the country before hunting for a home.

Occasionally a third option is available, whereby a home seller is willing to accept instalments over a few months. Tread cautiously and think through all the things that could go wrong before you proceed with this type of financing.

If you are buying your home without a mortgage (and associated valuation), be aware that price comparison data is not available. This means you have no idea whether a property has an excessive price which you will struggle to reach when you later come to sell. Ensure you have viewed enough properties in the area to have a good idea of what the realistic prices are.

Good Reasons To Rent Before Buying

In addition to building a good credit history in Ecuador for mortgage purposes, renting a property before you buy has a host of other benefits.

The country has significantly different environments and climates. Experiencing every season in an area helps you understand if you want to live there in the long term.

A wonderful holiday is not the same as living in a country. You will probably want to be near some expats in order to feel part of a small community, but every person is different. You might think the main street of a small town is sufficient for all your needs but a few months later realise you really miss shopping malls and departments stores. Time in a rental home gives you breathing space to assess what works well and what doesn’t.

Furthermore, homes in Ecuador may be different from what you are used to. If you haven’t lived in a terraced or semi-detached home before, you won’t be used to hearing your neighbours moving around or playing loud music. Flats might be less insulated against sound than you have previously experienced. Whether you are aiming to live in a town or city or out in a rural farmhouse, trying the style of house before you buy will inform your purchasing decision.

Areas To Consider Property Purchases

Some people need to live near their jobs, while others seek rural seclusion. Many expats want to find a coastal retreat to enjoy a pleasant retirement in warm temperatures.

Our article Beachfront Retirement Communities For Expats In Ecuador sets out some of the popular options available for those seeking a new home in a comfortable and relaxed community by the sea.

Building Your Own Home In Ecuador

Many expats prefer to purchase a piece of land and build the house of their dreams. The same risks regarding title deeds of land apply here as for existing homes, so ensure you always use good quality legal services.

Don’t draw up the plans and expect a local contractor to get on with the build while you live elsewhere. A building project anywhere in the world can be delayed or fail with that set-up. You need to be onsite managing the project and co-ordinating the various services, or employ the services of someone else to do this.

A good architect can draw up plans which look wonderful. However, a huge percentage of builds go over budget, meaning you then have to seek cutbacks. Be prepared for this, or have a serious contingency budget to hand.

Close management is also required since in Ecuador the contractors will not fix mistakes or niggles for free. If something goes wrong, you will pay for it to be fixed. Being onsite means you can spot these problems earlier.

There will be a huge number of personal decisions to make. What finish do you want on the walls and ceilings? Where should the sockets be placed in each room? Even tiny decisions such as the design of the toilet and the handles for each door can have a big impact on your satisfaction with the house if you don’t like what has been fitted.

You can find out more in our article Should You Buy Or Build A House In Ecuador?

The Importance Of A Good Lawyer

Always find a qualified, reputable lawyer who is based in Ecuador. They must be independent from the seller and working completely for your benefit. If you are buying a new build property, do not use a lawyer who has been recommended by the developer.

When you make the initial deposit for a property, do so through your lawyer, with the correct paperwork. If issues arise later with the property or its title which legitimately prevent you from completing on the purchase, you will find your case strengthened by the involvement of the lawyer. Informally handing over the deposit at the end of a sales pitch leaves you much more vulnerable to financial penalties if you later fail to reach completion.

Key checks the lawyer must make during the purchasing procedure include:

● Requesting the Certificado Simple from the property register and checking the title (or Escritura) thoroughly

● Ensuring there are no known debts or outstanding taxes on the property

● Requesting the La Linea de Fabrica from the local authorities and inspecting it for zoning and potential restrictions on the land

● Checking that the legal boundaries of the property match the actual boundaries in place; an Acta de Nueva Linderacion will be necessary if the original title did not include measurements

● Asking whether the property can be directly accessed from the road or if someone else owns an access route?

● Searching for any water or mining concessions that exist

● Obtaining colour copies of your passport

● Correctly registering the property in your name

● Informing you of the correct local authority taxes and property registration fees

● Presenting a written invoice for the legal work in accordance with your initial quote

Ensure you understand everything your lawyer has checked. If anything is unclear or still outstanding, question it. If all goes well, the process should be completed within four weeks.

Home Inspections In Ecuador

It is not part of the standard property purchase system in Ecuador for a home inspection to be carried out. However, once you have purchased a property, that’s the end of the matter for the developer or seller, and you cannot come back to argue that the foundations are weak or the wiring is faulty. Therefore, the services of a building surveyor, whilst an additional cost at a time you can least afford it, may save you a lot of money in the long run.

Move Your Belongings

Consider if you want (or are able) to transport your belongings yourself or whether you will need the services of a removals company that deals with international moves. Unless you are travelling very light, or making a fairly short move by road, you will probably need professional help to ship your possessions. Ask for quotes from several companies first, ensuring that they visit your home to carry out a survey of your requirements. It may be worth paying extra for the removals firm to pack your possessions for you, particularly if they are going to be transported to a distant country and need special protection for the long journey. Make sure you bring to their attention anything fragile or precious that needs particularly careful wrapping and packing.

Before agreeing to a quotation, ensure that you are fully aware of exactly what is covered in the price, and that the service to be provided meets all of your requirements. For example, does the service include both packing and unpacking of your household effects? What about disassembling and reassembling of furniture? If you are planning to put anything into storage in your destination country while you find accommodation, does the price include final delivery and unpacking at your home, or will you need to arrange collection of the items? Obtain a firm estimate of the likely arrival date of your items and obtain contact details for any agents that will be dealing with the removal in your destination country. Ensure that the removals company is aware in advance of any practical considerations such as the lack of an elevator to your apartment, or likely parking problems.

If using a removals company, you may be required to take out their insurance cover for your possessions. Whether or not this is the case, ensure that you have adequate insurance for anything of actual or sentimental value that could get lost or damaged during the move. Take the time to accurately complete or check an inventory of your possessions to be moved, as this will form the basis for any insurance claim for losses or damages. Find out if insurance is included in the price quoted by the removals company, or whether you are required to pay extra for this.

The removals company should arrange any customs and importation documents on your behalf, but if you are arranging the move independently you will need to find out what documents are required and what import duties and taxes are payable (and whether you are eligible for exemption from these).

Make sure that you set aside the important documents you will need for the journey, such as passports and air tickets, and keep these easily accessible in your hand luggage.

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Register For Healthcare

QUICK LINK: Ecuador health insurance

In 2018, it became a legal requirement that everyone arriving in Ecuador has valid medical insurance and remain covered for the entire duration of their stay.

If you are a visitor to Ecuador, travel insurance with a decent level of healthcare cover will be sufficient. Do check the exclusions carefully, though. If you are planning to go paragliding for example, ensure you are covered for sporting activities.

However, if you are moving to Ecuador for the short or long term, your healthcare cover will need a little more planning. The cheapest option may not cover all your needs at a time when your health (and by association your cashflow) is in difficulty.

Expats Can Join The State Healthcare Programme In Ecuador

Up until 2014, expats living in Ecuador had to purchase private healthcare insurance. There were no other options available.

However, the government has changed the rules. Expats can continue to arrange their own insurance if they choose, but they can now access the state healthcare programme as well.

Ecuador’s healthcare system has undergone significant change over the past decade, and government funding has been increased. Around eight percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is spent on healthcare. New hospitals and clinics have been built, and major improvements have been made to existing facilities. The country now boasts one of the best healthcare systems in South America.

In addition, the cost of healthcare – and as a result healthcare insurance – is much lower than in the United States.


The state healthcare system offers two levels of care. The one which tends to be most attractive to expats is the IESS programme. This is administered by the Social Security department.

The majority of people who are members of a state healthcare programme belong to the IESS. Each month, a percentage of a worker’s pay is deducted by the employer and paid across to IESS.

Other members join on a voluntary basis and pay a set monthly fee. A family of two adults and two children can be covered for about $100 a month.

There are no restrictions to who can join the IESS programme. You will be accepted regardless of age or pre-existing conditions.

The programme provides cover for primary and emergency care, including prescriptions. There are no deductibles, although if you want treatment or medicines not covered by IESS, you will have to pay for them separately.

Be aware that the paperwork is in Spanish, so you may struggle if you don’t speak the language.

The Public Health Care System

This is the second tier of the government healthcare system. It is a free system which is available to everyone. Many of the facilities and staff providing the public service are the same as those providing IESS services. It covers primary care and major essential operations.

However, it is a separate scheme and the amount of funding per patient is lower. As a result, some aspects of healthcare are rationed under this programme.

Private Healthcare

Most expats live in or near Cuenca, Quito and Guayaquil. These are the areas with access to the best private facilities and medical staff in the country. You will often have a choice of several locations for where to receive your treatment.

If you are using healthcare services in one of these cities, you will often also have a choice about who treats you. You will find it easier to locate English speaking staff here, including those trained in the United States. Your local consulate may be able to suggest suitable English-speaking GPs.

Alternatively, you can join our ExpatFocus Facebook group for expats in Ecuador, where other members will be able to answer your queries about recommendations.

Along with short waiting times for tests and appointments, and a more personal service, private healthcare provision means you won’t have to grapple with the IESS paperwork.

Some private practices have a two-tier charging system, meaning expats pay more than local people. The public systems do not do this.

If you live in a remote area: “access to good levels of healthcare can also be an issue” explains Canadian expat Leigh Anderson.

The amount you will be charged to access private treatment depends on your age, pre-existing medical conditions and any other relevant factors. You may find it more affordable to take out a policy with an insurer based in Ecuador. This is because the medical services, treatment and medicines are cheaper in Ecuador than elsewhere.

You can even take out a policy for a specific hospital, which will offer lower premiums and deductibles. However, if you use a different hospital for treatment, the deductible rate will be higher.

Infectious Diseases In Ecuador

There are a number of communicable diseases which are present in Ecuador including Tuberculosis, measles and malaria. Hepatitis A can also be contracted through unclean water in the country, caused by the unreliable and insecure water supply systems.

Ensure you have received a full course of vaccinations before you arrive in Ecuador and are alert to the health risks, so you can minimise your exposure to them.

You can read more about this important preparation in our article Which Vaccinations Might You Need When Moving To Ecuador?

Risks When Visiting Areas Of Wildlife In Ecuador

With its varied terrain and unique landscapes, Ecuador has many exciting outdoor activities on offer. Unfortunately, some of these can lead to injury and death if you do not fully recognise and respond to risks.

If you are heading for an outdoor adventure, always tell other people where you are going and when you should be expected back, and then stick to the plan. Heading off alone can be dangerous, so always go out with others.

There are several risks to bear in mind when out in Ecuador’s nature.

● While jumping down a beautiful waterfall can be enjoyed as part of a group activity following a safety demonstration which teaches you to do so correctly, attempting this without training is extremely dangerous.

● Flash floods come out of nowhere and are lethal to anyone swimming or kayaking in the areas affected.

● Ecuador is home to a number of species of venomous snake, including the Ecuadorian Coral Snake and Fer-de-Lance.

● Road accidents happen everywhere in the world, and Ecuador has many roads at high altitude.

Women are particularly vulnerable to attack in Ecuador even if travelling in pairs. Avoid going into the home of a stranger or any other private space where you can’t quickly get help.

Ecuador’s position on a ring of volcanoes leads to earthquakes. In 2016, almost 300 people were killed and 2,500 injured by a 7.8-magnitude earthquake which caused buildings to collapse. If a building starts shaking, get under the nearest table and stay there until you are sure nothing will topple over and fall on you.

Keep well away from the border between Ecuador and Colombia. The area is rife with Farc rebels who work with drug-trafficking criminals to attack military targets and anyone else who strays into their path. In 2018, for example, two journalists and their driver were abducted and murdered in the area.

These risks can make you worry about the safety of Ecuador, but if you plan accordingly, you can relax and enjoy the adventure. As Maureen Stimola, who moved from Vermont to Tena in the Ecuadorian Amazon for a year, asks: “Where else could you find a giant snake hissing outside your bedroom window, eat grubs, cross rushing rivers on bamboo bridges, have a near fatal canoe accident and hike through the jungle wearing the Achuar Nation President’s square-toed dress shoes?”

Most people who come to Ecuador as a visitor or expat will have a safe and enjoyable experience. And there really is a lot to enjoy about the country.

Smoking In Ecuador

The regulations about where you can smoke in Ecuador are in a slow process of change. By 2021, smoking indoors in a public place is expected to be illegal.

Smoking is currently banned from the public transport systems as well as from educational establishments including schools and universities. National Parks also prohibit smoking anywhere within their boundaries as discarded butts are a danger to wildlife and could cause fires.

It is unusual for restaurants to allow customers to smoke indoors, but they often have an outside area where you can eat, drink and smoke at your table.

Shopping centres are slowly becoming smoke free, but the rules are being implemented at a different timescale according to the decisions of each mall owner.

As a result, you cannot be certain whether any location you visit will or will not allow smoking. Normally the presence of ashtrays will tip you off, plus you will probably see someone smoking if it is permitted. You can also always ask staff what the rules of their establishment are.

The Ecuadorian government is trying to reduce the number of smokers in the country and the diseases that smoking causes. As a result, cigarette packages will display large and unmistakable warnings about the harm smoking does.

Open A Bank Account

There are several different banks (bancos) that expats in Ecuador can choose from. There are local banks such as Banco del Pacifico and Banco del Austro as well as a few international banks which have a presence in the country. If you have an existing account (cuenta) with an international bank it may make the process easier when you come to open an account in Ecuador and it may be worth making enquiries in advance with your existing bank.

Some employers may recommend their own bank to you when you start work in the country and it is a good idea to consider using the same bank but you should shop around to see what the other banks have to offer, as you may be able to find a better deal elsewhere. When you go to the bank it is a good idea to take along somebody who speaks the local language. Depending on which part of the country you are in it is unlikely that the bank will have a member of staff that speaks English, so you need to be prepared if you do not speak the language yourself.

Some banks will also make you produce a lot of documentation (documentación) before you are allowed to have an account as they may be reluctant to take on expat account holders. The main pieces of documentation that you will need are your passport, your ID card (issued in Ecuador) and your contract of employment. Some banks have been known to send expats away for colour copies of all their documentation, references from Ecuadorian residents such as an employer or landlord and copies of their ID cards. Some banks will need proof of address and for this a copy of your tenancy agreement or a utility bill will suffice. All this is in addition to the original copies that you have already produced.

These procedures make it harder for an expat to get credit (crédito) in Ecuador. Overdrafts are unlikely to be approved until the account holder has spent a great deal of time in the country and built up a good credit history and a good relationship with the bank. Loans will be even harder to obtain and if you require credit facilities an international bank may be the best option.

Deposits are required to open an account, though for a current account (cuenta corriente) it can be as little as $5. You may also be required to keep a minimum balance in the account. Deposits will vary from bank to bank so it is a good idea to check in advance on the requirements. Some banks will have charges on certain transactions, such as transferring monies from one account to another and processing payments in another currency.

Current accounts are ideal for every day financial transactions such as paying bills and transferring monies. Cards are issued for withdrawing monies from ATMs which can be found outside banks and in the main shopping areas. Some banks will charge for these withdrawals, particularly if you use the ATMs of another bank, so you should make sure that you are aware of any potential fees before using the card. If you need to travel it may be that you are unable to use your debit card in another country. If this is going to be a requirement for you then you should make your bank aware of it when you open the account so you can be sure you get the right type of account and card.

Using the debit card of your account in your home country should not be a problem in most ATMs in Ecuador, although you will be charged by your own bank. The ATMs in the country are designed to accept most types of debit and credit card although daily limits are applied on withdrawals. This will vary from bank to bank and will depend a great deal on your personal circumstances.

Savings accounts (cuenta de ahorro) can also be opened by expats and there are different types. They offer higher interest rates and you can choose an account based on how often you will need to access the funds. Other products that the bank may be able to help you with include pensions and investments but smaller branches may not have a specialist advisor and it may be necessary to visit a larger branch.

Transfer Money

There are many ways of sending money from one country to another. As always, expats can save themselves a lot of trouble and expense if they do a little research and shop around for the best deal.

International Bank Transfers

For most expats, currency transfer involves transferring small to medium sized amounts regularly from an existing bank account back home into a new overseas bank account in the local currency. These may be pension payments, benefits, or any other form of income.

Your home bank will usually be glad to oblige. You can set up facilities with them "on demand" whereby you fax or call them on the phone, provide a secret code or two, tell them the amount in question, and they will transfer it to your new bank, automatically converting it into the relevant local currency. Some banks also allow you to make international payments online. Whatever method you choose, transfers normally take between 3-7 days although 1-2 day transfers are often available but be prepared to pay more for these.

You can also set up regular transactions that are processed automatically on a fixed day of each month. Many state pensions and benefits can be paid directly into your new bank abroad without going through your home bank at all. Some private pension organisations may also offer the same facility.

When you first set up a transfer of funds abroad, the sending bank or institution will ask you for various codes that identify the destination bank. Often they will ask for IBAN (International Bank Account Number), BIC (Bank Identifier Code) or SWIFT codes but don?t panic - your new bank will give these to you and they may even already be listed in your new chequebook or bank statements.

As far as charges are concerned, you will probably be required to pay a flat fee per transaction. Additionally a percentage fee is often charged for the currency conversion itself. You may also find that your receiving bank charges you for receiving the transfer. Charges vary by bank but can quickly add up - ask your bank(s) for an indication of the fees involved.

As a general rule, transferring larger sums less frequently usually works out cheaper than transferring smaller amounts more often. However, if you need to transfer regular amounts of at least a few hundred pounds/dollars or need to make a larger one-off payment (e.g. for a house purchase) you should consider the services of a currency broker.

Cash Machine/ATM Withdrawals

Thanks to modern technology, most people abroad can go to a cash machine/ATM and withdraw local currency funds directly from their home bank account. This is a useful option to have for expats but exercise caution - many banks make hefty charges for using this type of facility. You may also find that withdrawal limits are in place (as a security measure) even if you significant funds in your account back home.

You can also use VISA or Mastercard credit cards to obtain cash in this fashion and if you pay the amount off quickly and avoid interest charges then fine - but once again credit card charges for cash withdrawals can be high. Check the rates carefully.

Currency Brokers

Currency brokers (also called foreign exchange brokers) offer significant advantages over traditional banks. Firstly, brokers will often be able to offer you a better rate than your bank. Secondly, the entire process is more transparent - many banks require you to accept the exchange rate available on the day they process your transaction, whatever and whenever that may be, but a specialist broker will offer greater flexibility, even allowing you to specify the rate you want in advance.

Currency brokers are smaller companies than major banks so always check their background carefully. Ask existing expats for their own experiences and recommendations before choosing a firm to handle your own foreign exchange requirements.

A good broker will discuss all the options with you and enable you to make the best decision for your circumstances. Using a broker will typically off the following advantages:

1) Currency brokers generally provide superior exchange rates to the high street banks. The currency brokers have access to the interbank rate and do not have the high costs that the banks have. This means that they can usually offer better exchange rates.

2) Use of a free Market Watch/Order Service: This allows you to tell your currency broker your target or budget exchange rate and they will ring you if that exchange rate level is reached. As the rate moves every few seconds, currency brokers can act as your eyes and ears on the market.

3) Ability to fix the exchange rate in advance using a Forward Contract. If you know you need to convert/move funds in the future but don?t yet have the money you can reserve a rate in advance using a Forward Contract. During this period, you are exposed to exchange rate movements and therefore, a forward contract is ideal if, for example, you have agreed to buy a house and want to fix the rate now but will not be making payment for a couple of months.

Savings from currency brokers can vary from between 1 and 4 per cent on the exchange rate alone, and specialists do not typically charge any fees for transmitting the funds abroad, unlike banks which often levy expensive fees or charges. If you are emigrating and transferring a large sum of money - such as the proceeds of a property - a foreign exchange company could potentially save you thousands.

Save On Money Transfers

Compare quotes from leading foreign exchange currency brokers

Learn The Language

A number of languages are spoken in Ecuador, and a brief look at the country’s history will show you why. You should have some awareness of this so you can be culturally sensitive to the people around you as well as understand how and why their use of language varies.

The first people to live in Ecuador arrived as far back as 10,000 BC. These were small communities who survived by hunting and gathering from the local environment and eventually developed into three distinct civilisations based on agricultural activity. They are known as the Canari, the Quitu and the Caras people. Trade routes with Peru, Brazil, Mexico and the Amazonian tribes emerged, and large cities along the coast were established by 500 BC.

The three civilisations came together to fend off invasion from the Inca ruler Tupac-Yupanqui in 1460 AD but were later defeated by his son Huayna Capac. At this time, all tribes were expected to use the Inca language, Quechua.

When Huayna Capac died in 1526 AD, the empire was divided between his two sons. Shortly after this, Spaniard Francisco Pizarro landed on Ecuador’s coast and heard the rumours of inland cities containing incredible wealth. He returned in 1532 with 180 armed men, just as Huayna Capac’s two sons completed a drawn-out civil war for full possession of the empire. The victor, Atahualpa, had not had time to make his territory secure before Pizzaro ambushed him. Despite a huge ransom that was paid over to Pizarro, Atahualpa was executed, and the Inca resistance was broken.

Ecuador was ruled by Spanish people for almost 300 years. Although these Spaniards ruled from first from Peru and then from Colombia, their cultural dominance succeeded. The Spanish language, Roman Catholic religion and colonial architecture all became incorporated into the mainstream society of Ecuador. People of colour were brought in to work as slaves on Ecuador’s plantations in the early 16th century.

Simon Bolivar defeated the Spanish army at the Battle of Pichincha in 1822, and thus began Ecuador’s independence. Bolivar’s dream of uniting all of South America was short lived, and internal disputes leading to violence, assassinations and military dictatorships blighted much of Ecuador’s history up until 1979. Since then, a stable democracy with free elections has been successfully maintained.

Ecuador Has An Ethnically Diverse Population

The total population of Ecuador in 2018 was estimated to be 16.86 million. More than 70 percent of the population are Mestizo people, who are descendants of Spanish colonists and indigenous people. White people of European descent are in a minority of 12 percent.

Roughly seven percent of Ecuador’s citizens are people who were indigenous to America, with a similar percentage represented by the Afro-Ecuadorian community.

Until the 1950s, ethnic groups centred around specific areas of the country. This meant that the Afro-Ecuadorian people would seldom be found outside the area in which Imbabura, Carchi and Esmeraldas are located. People who were indigenous to America formed the rural Sierra communities, while Mestizo people would live in the countryside and small rural towns. The white population clustered in large cities.

However, pressures on land resources and the dream of a better life have increasingly encouraged people to move to new areas where they hope that better opportunities can be found.

Languages Spoken In Ecuador Today

The official language of Ecuador is Spanish. This is the first language of most people living in Ecuador, especially those in the cities.

However, you must be aware that the version of Spanish which is spoken in Ecuador is not only different to that used in Spain, but also varies in the different regions of Ecuador itself. The accent differs across regions, and there are a lot of slang terms and slight grammatical differences. Consider the use of English by native speakers from Scotland, Newcastle, Liverpool and London; these people all each speak the same language, but have different accents, regional words and grammatical quirks. It is the same in Ecuador.

This means that if you speak classic Spanish, you have enough knowledge to connect and communicate with those around you. However, you might sometimes be confused by someone’s term of expression or different way of pronouncing a word.

There are 13 Native American languages spoken across Ecuador by more than two million people. Quichua (sometimes referred to a Kichwa) is the most common, and has nine variants. Shuar is the next most common.

English is the most common of the foreign languages spoken by people who have moved to Ecuador more recently. Ecuador is an attractive, exotic destination for English speaking tourists, including young backpackers. Well-educated professionals in the country, including those working for large corporations and universities, may well have studied abroad and lived in the USA. As English is commonly taught in schools, many young people should have a grasp of the basics.

German is the second most commonly spoken foreign language in the nation, followed by Chinese and Arabic.

Learning Spanish in Ecuador

“Some days it’s difficult to have to think in Spanish all day” commented US expat Elliott Segelbaum from his early retirement in Cuenca, Ecuador. Many expats arrive in Ecuador with only a hazy knowledge of Spanish, which can make settling in more difficult. It may be tough, but learning the local language will always bring a range of benefits.

If you are living in a busy city, there is likely to be a local language school. Classes for groups and individual tuition can be offered at times that fit around your work commitments.

You can seek personal recommendations on the ExpatFocus Forum and Facebook Page to find out what others thought of local language centres.

If you need to learn the language basics online, you have plenty of options, many of which are free. Have a look at Duolingo and Memrise as well as Youtube videos.

Language In The Media

One of the primary sources of news in Ecuador is the radio, which has many stations across the country. They are primarily in the local forms of Spanish, but some broadcast in Native American languages.

Television is popular for entertainment. Sports, especially soccer, receive a lot of air time in Ecuador. If you purchase a DirecTV package, there will be plenty of English language content to choose from.

Not surprisingly, newspapers are printed in Spanish. However, there are some English language online options available as well. For example, Ecuador Times can be accessed in both English and Spanish. In addition to politics, entertainment and sports news, the home page runs a ‘breaking news’ banner. Cuenca High Life is a website for expats living in the area which reports on local news.

Teaching English In Ecuador

English is taught across Ecuador. As a result, there is a demand for English teachers in public schools, private language schools and some universities. However, there are a lot of expats seeking this work in areas with larger expat communities.

If you want to teach in a state school or a university you will need good qualifications, usually including a master’s degree, and a teaching certificate. In the private sector the bar will be lower, but you will need to be competent in your job to remain there.

Salaries are modest, so you certainly won’t be heading to Ecuador to build up a nest egg for the future. However, living costs are also low, so you should be able to earn enough for a decent lifestyle while you are there. Ecuador has a minimum wage, although you will need full time hours to get by at that rate. Fortunately, your employer should cover your insurance costs.

You will need a visa to stay in the country, and you need a job to apply for one of these. Many expats struggle to get a response to emails and letters from employers they have approached. If you are able to support yourself for a few weeks, it is worth the investment of time and money to stay in Ecuador while you seek work. Meeting a prospective employer face to face and persuading them you are the person for the job is always going to be more successful than sending an emailed resume.

More information about working in Ecuador can be found in the ‘Finding Employment’ section of the country guide.

Choose A School

Quality Of Education In Ecuador

In both the public and private sectors in Ecuador, the quality of education varies enormously from one school to another. If a school has a reputation for high standards, you are likely to find that it is difficult to obtain a place for your child. Many have entrance exams to select the pupils they are willing to take.

If your child is attending a high-quality school in Ecuador and works hard, they will do as well as anywhere else in the world. It is not unusual for young people with sufficient family funds behind them to attend competitive and prestigious colleges in the USA after completing their high school exams in Ecuador.

School Year Groups

School attendance starts at the age of five with primary school or primaria. Kindergarten is known as año, or Year 1. The following year, children move to Year 2, and so on until they leave the school system after completing their official exams.

After seven years at primaria, pupils move up to middle school, or secundaria. They receive three years of education here, before progressing to high school, known as the bachillerato. This final stage also lasts for three years, ending at age 16 or 17.

School Days In Ecuador

School starts and ends surprisingly early in Ecuador. It is not unusual for pupils to be in registration for 7.15am and finished by 1pm.

In addition, pupils do not stay for lunch. They have a break or recess mid-morning which they use to buy snacks at the tuck shop or nearby corner shop, but will go home for their daytime meal.

School attendance is typically from Monday to Friday, but throughout the year schools are closed for occasional local, national and religious holidays. Occasionally, these are made up for by replacing the missed school day with Saturday school.

School Holidays In Ecuador

The occasional day of school on a Saturday isn’t the only difference when comparing schools in Ecuador to the rest of the world; the summer vacation also tends to be shorter than elsewhere.

Instead, school terms last for 10 months rather than the usual nine, which eats into the summer vacation. However, schools elsewhere in the world see a big drop in pupil ability over the summer and September normally starts with rapid catch up classes while everyone remembers what they had previously learnt, a situation which is avoided in Ecuador.

State Schools In Ecuador

It is free to attend state schools in Ecuador as the state constitution sets out the right of all children in the nation to receive a basic education. However, parents are expected to buy uniform and PE kit, as well as stationery and other educational equipment.

All state schools require uniforms to be worn. Some families qualify for a basic free uniform. All teaching will be in Spanish, although English language is one of the curriculum subjects.

Many schools will ask for a number of donations, as their budget from the public purse is tight. This may run to around $5 a month or more, which is meaningful if you are living on an Ecuadorian income.

Regular meetings are held at public schools to discuss budget issues. Parents and staff debate how much is needed for basic school equipment, security cover and other identified needs. By the end of the meeting it should be agreed how much each parent is to contribute for those specific costs.

In addition, parents are expected to help on clean-up days. These include painting walls, cleaning school furniture and weeding the grounds. Some schools fine those parents who don’t come along to help. This assistance is necessary as the schools don’t have adequate maintenance budgets to pay for this work.

When you apply for a place, you will be asked to supply a photocopy of your child’s birth certificate or passport. A transcript or report card from their previous school will also be requested. This is to assess your child’s current ability and achievement levels.

Private Schools In Ecuador

There is a wide range of private school provision in the country, based on religious principles and educational focus. These schools charge varying levels of fee. While it is in Spanish, you may find the website Portal Del Colegio useful for learning more about these schools.

You will probably be asked to pay a registration fee and monthly education fees in advance. Some schools start with a low fee schedules, reflecting the income of local communities.

The majority of private schools require a school uniform to be worn every day. A separate PE uniform will also be needed.

Private schools will ask for a copy of your child’s birth certificate or passport along with a current photo. Also, you will need to supply a transcript or report card from their previous school. This is to assess their current stage of learning as they come into the new school.

International Schools In Ecuador

International schools use the language, curriculum, exam boards and standard teaching practices of a specified overseas country, such as the US or UK. They try to source teachers and teaching assistants from that nation in order to bring personal experience and cultural norms into the classroom as well as delivering a more authentic spoken language environment.

School uniforms, along with PE uniforms, must be worn by pupils at these schools.

The fees for international schools are normally higher than those of local private schools, which reflects the additional costs of recruiting and employing foreign skilled staff. The facilities are often impressive, and smaller class sizes are typical.

Some international schools offer the International Baccalaureate, and others accept pupils who board.

Nine International Schools In Ecuador

1. American School of Guayaquil

2. Inter-American Academy of Guayaquil

3. Deutsche Schule (German School) Guayaquil

4. Academia Cotopaxi American International School of Quito

5. Colegio Americano de Quito (American School of Quito)

6. Alliance Academy International of Quito

7. Colegio Internacional SEK Los Valles

8. British School of Quito

9. Lycée franco-équatorien La-Condamine (the French School of Quito)

ExpatFocus runs a Facebook Group and a forum which both are dedicated to expats living in Ecuador. These are good places to ask for the personal experiences of expats who have placed their children in these schools.

Home Schooling In Ecuador

It is legal for parents to home school their children in Ecuador; some expats make this choice for their family.

University In Ecuador

Young people usually start their degree courses in Ecuador when they graduate from their bachillerato at age 16 or 17. However, these courses are longer than in some other countries, typically lasting at least four years.

Further Reading

If you are moving to Ecuador with your young family, you may be interested to read our article on Moving To Ecuador With Children.

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