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Moving to Ecuador and bringing all your worldly goods requires appropriate planning. Here are some guidelines that will help you prepare for bringing your possessions to your new home.

Once you have decided to settle in Ecuador and want to bring your own things, you should take some time to choose a reliable carrier to pack and transport your belongings to your new home. This is an important step and requires careful diligence. A moving or shipping consultant will need to visit your home to assess the volume and types of goods that you intend to ship. Objects that require care (special packaging, etc.) will need to be detailed and complete listings will need to be made. You must decide what steps that you will personally handle (packing dishes, assembly and or dis-assembly of furniture, etc.) or that the customs broker in Ecuador will handle. A good reference website, Gringopost, based in Ecuador, lists shippers and facilitators and references known by expats in Ecuador for their work in the country. However, you can also find carriers, craters, and movers or shippers on the internet, or in the yellow pages. You can also request a free quote here

To obtain a quote to ship your goods, you will need to list several key points:

  • the starting address
  • the final address in Ecuador
  • the volume of goods, i.e., estimated weight and total size
  • the type of transport, i.e., truck, train, ship, air cargo
  • the carrier's benefits, i.e., insurance, customs brokering, delivering, packing, etc.

If you have an entire household, you will want to ship your goods in one or two containers. Alternatively, if you don’t have a full container load, you can crate and ship much less than a container’s worth of goods for significantly less money.

Procedures

The most common method is to route your belongings directly from your old home to your new home. However, some carriers do not guarantee final delivery to a house but rather to a storage unit, usually at the final shipping port location, which may involve additional costs for this extended holding and final transporting to your new home. To be prudent, seek information in advance on all transport and routing conditions.

Make a comprehensive list of all your belongings that you will ship, as complete as possible in order to establish a value statement which is required by customs in Ecuador. The value statement is also the document allowing you to set compensation with your insurance carrier in case of loss or damage to your items. You must complete this listing yourself, specifying each item’s actual value as well as the value of some assets which could exceed the contractual limit value. An estimate cannot be established without this statement, and this valuation will ultimately be required by customs officials.

Ecuador allows newly legal residents to import personal goods duty-free during the first six months after you receive your two-year temporary residency visa. However, customs brokers have recently become more vigilant in the past and will be watching for items that, in their opinion, may not be personal goods. An example of this is someone who brings too many electronics or appliances in a single container (2 sets of washer dryer combos is a good example) to furnish a single house. Accordingly, Customs Ecuador has prepared listings of how many of these items can be brought in by a single family. Another item on their watchlisting is a large amount of used clothing, especially jeans, which could be seen as being imported for resale. A good customs broker working in Ecuador can assist with keeping to these limitations as the list of limited items seems to change often.

When making your listing, try to group similar items together, such as 25 items of used clothing, 3 tables, etc. A good moving facilitator can assist with listing templates and value suggestions if necessary. While it may be tempting to overinflate the value of an item in order to maximize potential claims costs in the event of a loss, exaggerated values will also increase shipping and insurance costs.

A damage insurance policy will usually be offered by your carrier. This insurance will cover non-predictable transport damage to your property according to the value you specified in your statement. The cost of this insurance will depend on the total value of your property, and the removal company will give you an insurance certificate once your goods have left your residence for transport.

Final step

Finally, you will have to sign the consignment form when loading and again on delivery. This consignment includes the terms of the contract, mode of transport, volume transported, the customer's name and address, the shipping company, etc. Once you sign this letter, you will be giving your approval to the removal company to proceed with the removal. Once consigned and loaded, the shipper will seal the pallets or containers and they should not be opened until they arrive at the port in Ecuador.

Generally, you will pay the deposit during the loading, and the balance upon delivery, but be aware that there may be additional unexpected costs at the final destination. These can include storage fees, customs fees, and bond fees if you are required to post a bond. If you have not yet received your visa when your goods arrive, you may be required to post a bond that guarantees that you are awaiting your visa.

 Important:

The carrier can handle administrative formalities relating to your move on your behalf (customs clearance etc.). For more security, opt for an IFIM (International Federation of International Movers) affiliated carrier. Alternatively, you might also contract with a shipper/broker based in Ecuador who will assist with receiving the containers at the port in Ecuador and will handle customs details and transport to your new home.

 Good to know:

You are advised to check in advance with the Servicio Nacional de Aduana Del Ecuador (Ecuadorian Customs Department) regarding international removals to be aware of specific provisions and/ or to obtain information on banned products, limited items, etc.

Patience is key at this point! Remember that shipping takes time, is at the mercy of weather, internet virus outages, and holidays, and while you may want and expect your belongings to arrive on time, there can always be unexpected delays. They will eventually arrive.

 Useful links:

FEDEMAC - Federation of European Movers
FIDI - The International Federation of International Movers
Servicio Nacional de Aduana Del Ecuador – Ecuadorian Customs Department

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.