Passport: The Most Sought After Document in South America

By Charles Barrett

Cigna International Health Insurance

Summary: Altered passports bring thousands on the black market in Ecuador. Keeping your passport safe and giving notarized, color copies to lawyers, customs and other officials is very important.

Living in Ecuador - The Most Sought After Document in South America

The Passport is one of the most sought after documents in South America. A stolen then altered passport is worth thousands of dollars on the black market.

When you arrive in Ecuador, you should make several color copies of your passport. Carry those with you and not your original passport. Have the color copies notarized by a Notaorio, then give a notarized, color copies to your lawyer, an official and to customs when requested -- do not give anyone your original passport. Put your original passport in the safe at your hotel. If there isn't a safe then hide the passport -- do not leave it where it is easy to find.

For example, when you take your passport to an official, take a notarized, color copy. Show the official that they are identical and leave the color copy with them. One of the leading law firms in Cuenca explained that there is no requirement to leave your original passport with any official. One story that a lawyer at this firm told me was of an expat who sent his passport to the lawyer he was using -- only to have that lawyer disconnect his phone and move his office. The man could not find the lawyer or the passport.

Loosing your passport in any foreign country is sticky matter, so do you best to know where your passport is at all time. One or two back up copies is some safe guard.

Also do not carry you wallet or purse with you with all of your identification and credit cards. Carry one or maybe two cards with you and a color copy of your passport. Keep each card in a different pocket. Keep your money in different pockets as well. If something happens, maybe you'll only have to give them part of your money.

Be careful and have a good experience.

For more information or questions write

About the Author

Charles Barrett retired Political Consultant and Marketing Professional for 25 years. Charles is with Relocation Services of Ecuador (RSE), which specializes in the Manta, Cuenca, Loja and Quito areas of Ecuador.

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Comments about this Article

guest
Nov 10, 2010 17:59

very informative, thank you charles

guest
Mar 18, 2011 09:19

Wow, good to know we are not required to leave our original passport with a lawyer or authorities. We have made color copies of everything before leaving and will make copies of our passport once we get there. We had already decided not to carry wallet and purses, but didn't think to put money and cards in separate pockets. Great ideas and info, Thanks, Terry and Lynn

First Published: May 24, 2010

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