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Importing Work Equipment as Part of Household Items

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6/7/2011 00:20 EST

Hello Everyone

I am a US Citizen who has already applied for a Ecuadorian Resident Visa Category 9-I (for retirees receiving a pension).

I have read in many places (including the webpage of the Aduana del Ecuador) that foreigners that decide to permanently reside in Ecuador (and obtain a Resident's Visa) may be able to bring in their Houseshold Items and Work Equipment in a duty-free fashion.

Have anyone on this site taken advantage of this great benefit by bringing their Work-Equipment to Ecuador after becoming permanent residents of this wonderful country?

If so, have you done so by declaring your work equipment as Work Equipment or by declaring it as part of your Household Items?

I am getting conflicting information when I ask this question of various people here in Ecuador including Custom's Agents and Agencies that are trying to sell me their various services (such as shipping/moving companies).

Please reply to this inquiry based upon your own personal experiences.

Thanks in Advance to All

Miguel Angel 07

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6/7/2011 02:55 EST

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6/7/2011 10:07 EST

Yes, government agencies here will give you different answers because most times they don't know. I always go by my addage of asking at least 3 times, and this goes for directions too!

I have heard alot about this lady being honest, etc.

Sandy Baquero



593 4 5018970Cell 0999690583

She has been recommended by lots of people.

ALSO look on the forum under the articles for one written by Dr. Rene Torres, who seems to know just about everything about importing to Ecuador. Again, I believe him to be an honest and knowledgeable gentleman.

I would think that 'personal effects' would include small machinery, tools, etc., I mean if you want to bring in a Caterpillar as part of your 'personals'--well, not sure.

I do know that the packing list should be strictly the items packed and don't try to sneak anything, it could cause you to lose everything. Nothing new is supposed to be brought in, but taken out of the boxes and made to look used (?) might help. I would not go overboard sending every single thing.....just the essentials. Conspicuous consumption doesn't go over too well here.

Good luck with everything!

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6/7/2011 11:10 EST

Hi. I used to work with a Customs agent and managed all the import processes. I will be honest with you. When it comes to foreigners it was always more complicated but it is not impossible. We always managed to make it but it used to take longer than regular imports. However, it is possible to do it. If I can help ypu with something just let me know!

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6/7/2011 11:11 EST

Hello Boncur (and all others)

Boncur: Thanks for your reply and for the references included on it. I am already in touch with Dr. Rene Torres and he is trying to help out by discussing the contents of my Work Equipment with the Customs Agent he works with.

I will go ahead and contact Sandy Baquero to gain the benefits of her insights.

I am a Multi-Media Artist and my Work Equipment consists of what is required for the capture/generation/production, editing, storage and display of Fine Art Photograpy, Video, Computer Art, Painting, Sculpture and Music.

Here is a link to a document on the web page of the Aduana de Ecuador where it is clearly stated that Foreigners that become Permanent Residents of Ecuador have the posibility of bringing in their Household Items (including a car) and their Work Equipment in a duty-free fashion as long as they meet certain requirements (most of which are the same for Returning Ecuadorians):

This document states:


•Any person, Ecuadorian or foreigner, who decides to permanently reside in Ecuador..

• In the case of foreigners, they must count with a visa type 10I or 12 N.I. in order to recourse to this benefit. In case of having a visa type 12 N.I., the person must present the respective employment contract in Ecuador.

For clarfication, I should add that the 10 I Visas referred to above are now known as the various modalities of the Type 9 visas (for example the 9-I visa for Retirees receiving a Pension).

Having said all these, I am still hoping to hear back from the members of this site who have taken advantage of the duty-free importation of their Work Equipment, especially from those who have done so by actually declaring their Work Equipment a such.

Best Regards

Miguel Angel 07

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6/7/2011 13:09 EST


I am in your situation. I am not a professional artist but I do quality work and from time to time sell it. But... is there a conflict with calling it "work" equipment and being a pensioner (non worker)?

Not that I expect a problem just because I might be placing drawings in nice homes for con$ideration. There is a lot of room abajar la mesa. (shameless self promo)

sin trabajo

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6/7/2011 13:45 EST

FroyM: Thanks for your reply and for your offer to help out with additional information.Please feel free to share anything else that may be useful to others via this forum. I will also follow-up with you with a "private message" as to gain more from your insights.

WithoutEgo: Thanks for sharing about your similar situation. I retired a couple years ago after a 20+ career as a Chemical Engineer in the USA Petrochemical Industry from which I earned a Retirement Pension. Unfortunately, the pension is somewhat modest (for USA standards) since I retired early and since I lost 50% of of it as a result of my divorce. All along, I have been doing creative work on the side mostly for myself as a hobby/passion. As I embark on the "second chapter of my life" I have decided to dedicate all of my efforts to my creative endeavors even if I don't make a single penny out of them.

Having said that, your point regarding he apparent conflict between being "retired" and having "work equipment" to bring to Ecuador is one that has crossed my mind as well. Part of the reason that I refer to it as "work equipment" is that it does not fit very well to the definition of "Household Items" provided in the Aduana of Ecuador Webpage which sates that:

"HOUSEHOLD_ITEMS: All those daily elements, used in the family environment. These elements could be: electrical appliances, clothes, bathroom articles, kitchen, dining room furniture, living room or bedrooms, any home possessions, computers, decoration, paintings, dishes, books, toys, and even a vehicle"

But it fits much better with their definition of "Work Equipment" as:

"WORK_EQUIPMENT: Is the group of utensils, tools, and/or professional equipment, new or used, closely linked with the execution of a specific activity, profession, art or occupation, which the traveler has performed in a foreign location or declare that will use in the national territory of Ecuador."

Notice that the above definiton includes the group of utensils, tools, and/or professional equipment, new or used, closely linked with the execution of "art" which the traveler has performed in a foreign location or declare that will use in the national territory of Ecuador."

Also notice that the definition includes both "New" and "Used" equipment, in contrast to what was previously stated by Boncur.

Best Regards

Miguel Angel 07

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6/7/2011 14:04 EST

But what about things used for a non-profit 'hobby?" A hobby is called a "Pasa Tiempo" here. Of course, if you were a wood carver, you might have a Dremel Drill, a sander, other things, etc. There must be a way to bring in these things, and I really think it is who you are working with too. If you have a good Tramatero (you might call Dr. Rene and Sandra B. that....a person that does the red tape), it would help. I have noticed that if a lawyer here in this small kangaroo court town is not 'liked' up in town hall, well no use hiring him....The "good old boys" type of thing.

As long as you are not bringing in chain saws and other big equipment, I would not worry at all.

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6/7/2011 18:26 EST

I found myself in the same situation of wanting to bring some of the equipment I use to pursue my own woodworking hobies when I eventually move to Ecuador. I realized that I couldn't characterize that equipment as "Work Equipment" if I was going to seek a retirement visa, and was told that the end run could be achieved by recharacterizing the same equipment in another manner. Who knows if I would have been successful because I haven't had the opportunity to try it yet. Another alternative might be to simply seek a different type of visa----------- perhaps one that would actually permit one to work and earn money in Ecuador and at the same time allow the importation of your own personal equipment to do so. I know nothing of this personally, and wonder if Dr. Torres might be able to advise in this regard?

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6/7/2011 19:35 EST


I got the impression that it would not be hard for me to change my status from pensioner in the event I wanted to make money above board.

For the walking around money I might make from my avocation I really doubt anyone would worry. Hobbies can have some big supporting equipment, my 10 foot fiberglass dish....not taking that either.

I would like to move elements of my shop but I don't think I can justify the cost. The numbers I see for moving just about anything are in the many thousands. Aportion that among half a dozen used tools and one might as well buy locally.

Another thought I have finding someone who has a little volume left in a 20 or 40 foot container and paying for a ride. Unless its an oxy that there would be any room in one of those containers.

Another factor with me is that I am not giving up my place here. After I do the first two years I will be going back and forth. So a shop at both ends means starting one from scratch in Cuenca.

I am getting into sculpture too. Combining electronics, my profession when I paid taxes, with art. I can pick up that with very little equipment and just a few tools. I tear down discarded equipment for lots of parts....CD players have lots of motors for example. Then I program little computers to run the motors, lights and sensors. No shortage of junked electronic equipment anywhere. Wire, etc available at the ferretera electrica.

I sort of like the challenge of doing more with less. I have a mill/lathe here and I'm sure I will experience "phantom limb" of the tool sort at times but there are ways. Also, I bet getting stuff fabricated at the many shops in town is MUCH cheaper in Cuenca than here. We shall see, all part of the experience.

keine verkzoig

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6/7/2011 19:37 EST

Hello Omega

Thanks for you response.

I gather that you decided to not bring your wood working equipment with you. Is that the case indeed?

If not, please be aware that you are only allowed a single shipment on a duty free basis and that it most occur within 6 months of you entering the country wirh the intention to become a Permanent Resident.

If you already shipped your Household Items on a duty-free basis, it is already too late to try to bring additional items.

I am not sure that obtaining Retirement 9-I Visa precludes the person that has it form receives it from working in Ecuador.

In my mind, what really defines this visa is the fact that the person has a secure source of "retirement income" of at least $800 per month (asumming no other family members come to the country with him).

Having said that, I can be completely wrong and perhaps someone else that knows better can chime in.

I have a link to a site where the various visa types are clearly defined. I will follow up with it on a future message.

Best Regards

Miguel Angel 07

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6/7/2011 23:23 EST

Hi Sinego,

I'm really glad to hear that it wouldn't be hard to change your visa status because that seems to be a great way to do what you and I seem to want to accomplish and it is so much easier to get the retirement visa than any other.

I also share your perspective on moving your major equipment. Your idea about sharing a container is one that apparently a lot of gringos have because I've seen at least 4 of them place ads looking for exactly that. Never saw any people actually having that "spare" space. I'd guess most of them actually have to divest themselves of part of their accumulated treasures before they can fit the remainder in a container.

I also share your view about buying many of the tools we may need when we get to Ecuador WHEN we need them. If you're like me, you have plenty of tools sitting around your shop that you seldom use, so why transport something of limited utility? We're not kids any longer and the idea of buying and accumulating "stuff"----------- even if that stuff is our treasured tools------------ is probably done more from habit than anything else.

Although I will probably move somewhere on the coast, last year when I visited Cuenca I happened to be in an incredible fabric store. As I looked around, I was stunned to see a section------------- rather large------------ that had a whole lot of wood working tools for sale. I was in a hurry so didn't look carefully, but it seemed like all the brands were well known American and Japanese brands, not cheap Korean and Chinese ones. Didn't have time to check prices, but when you think about it, how much would you have to pay for shipping and what would the cost of all the time needed to do so be worth?

Your avocation sounds fascinating--------- combining electronics with sculpture. I loved your "phantom limb" reference and I'm sure we will all go through a number of different kinds of withdrawals when we arrive for permanent residence in Ecuador. I know I did when I moved out to California from New York (no real bagels or pizza) so why should I expect it to be any different moving to a foreign country?

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6/7/2011 23:33 EST

Hi MiguelAngel07

Thank you for the advice you have offered regarding the shipping of household goods once the residency has been granted, but let me clear up a misconception I may have created about my situation. I have not yet moved to Ecuador and am only hoping to do so in another 18 months or so. I am presently living in Sunnyvale, CA. and am hoping to relocate to the coast of Ecuador, perhaps Salinas.

Your point about them only allowing a single shipment is also a good one that many people neglect. I knew someone that moved there and missed the six month deadline and another person that shipped a small amount of goods and was crushed when she found out that she couldn't bring in the remainder of her goods.

I have seen other posters here say that if you come on a retirement visa they are very strict about not allowing you to work at all once you arrive. Who knows what reality is, as some people post just to have something to say. The best person I have read posts from in this regard is Silverwater, but any of the attorneys that have been recommended here should also be able to address the questions you pose about this. Good luck to you and let us know if you find out anything definitive.

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6/11/2011 20:40 EST

I am remembering something I learned in Cuenca in February just weeks before I returned to the states. A new Friend, Gringa (Latina from NYC) with a new knit goods store on Calle Larga told me about a shop/ apartment that "got away".

It got away for two reasons. It had been rented already....and my string (visa) was about to run out so I couldn't have done anything about it. Better almost to not know. I had no idea then how long the pension visa process would take. As it happened, another five weeks, but I was back stateside by then.

The topper was that the shop was full of wood working tools, part of the deal as I recall. Thats OK,
there will be others.

The place was a shop on the street level with an apartment above. This is a commercial model seen all over Cuenca. I wouldn't be selling out of the first floor but it would be a great place for the shop.

I don't think I will have a problem finding tools. Some new and some used. Keeping an ear out, making contacts in the town...same way I do it here. Getting fluent in Spanish will payoff when I'm looking for a place and tools and materials.

I am not sure an artist selling a painting or sculpture from time to time is "working" to the extent anyone would bother them. This vs punching in every day. If the idea is to preserve jobs for people NOT enjoying pensioner's status (and discounts etc) I don't think a conflict would exist to the extent of calling attention... even if the letter of the law were crossed. We shall see.

Only a couple of months to go now...


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