Relocating to Ecuador.

My name is Steven. I'm considering retiring to Ecuador. My wife is Ecuadorian. I'm trying to get information about:
1. Becoming a permanent resident
2. Buying property
3. Dealing with banks there.
4. If possible the aprox cost of shipping a car and how to go about starting that process


Dear Steven,

Welcome to the Ecuador forum. 

1.  Go back to Ecuador forum welcome page and use the search box for "residency visa" .... Keep in mind that the visa rules recently changed, so look for recent threads and posts, or contact a professional (see below).

2.  Do not consider buying property until you have lived in the target area in Ecuador for at least a year.

3.  The banking system makes it almost impossible to obtain a bank account in Ecuador without obtaining the national ID or cédula, which
has a prerequisite of obtaining a visa.  Most Expats hire a visa specialist or an immigration attorney for their first visa.  My attorney is Sebastian Cordero of Quito, email scordero(at) ....

4. Expats cannot ship used cars to Ecuador for permanent import.

Sell your car at CarMax in the USA for fair treatment with no muss or fuss.


If your wife is living at the present in U.S.  She may qualify to bring all the households to Ecuador including a car. (some restrictions apply)

Yes, if the wife is currently living in the United States and is considered by the Ecuadorian government to be a "returning Ecuadorian," she might be allowed to import
a car she owns .. to Ecuador.

If the car is registered in the USA in your name, not hers, the car-import-to-Ecuador situation is problematic.

If the vehicle is registered currently in your name and you transfer the title to her, then SENAE -- the Ecuadorian customs agency -- would make the call.  Don't commit to any title transfer or car-shipping plans without SENAE pre-approval.



If you´re married with an Ecuadorian citizen, is very easy to get the permanent residence in Ecuador.
I don´t remembe all the forms and regulations because it changes from time to time, but if you have a married certificated translated to Spanish and apostilled, you are half of the way.

About buying property, is a risky business in Ecuador, buying in big cities is easy if you work with a real state agent an a lawyer to make sure the property doesn´t have any ¨issues¨
Buying in rural areas is more complicated as many times there is not a clear ¨proof¨ or who is the real owner of the land.

About banking, try to stay away of the big banks, go for cooperativas. they have less paperwork, better customer service and better rates.

And about importing a car, if your wife has been living out of Ecuador for, at least two years and the car is register on her name, you can bring a car as part of the household move.  There is some requirements to find out  is allowed and the best way to know  is with the VIN number.

If you need more info feel free to contact me.  goecuador[at]


Good post, Vinny :top:

The banking alternative of cooperativas have the advantages mentioned. 

However, some Expats have gotten burned because co-op deposits are not guaranteed as they are in banks of Ecuador.

Don't be taken in by high rates that some cooperativas may offer.   As in the stock market, high rewards come with higher risks.


Vinny also makes a good point about 'beware' buying rural properties.

Beyond the title issues, Expats who isolate themselves tend to make themselves targets for the local 'delincuentes.'  An elderly yet armed Expat living outside Cuenca got into a gun fight about a year ago with three local thugs who had jumped his security fence.  The ensuing gun battle ended badly for the Expat. 

His wife and his housekeeper hid in a bathroom and survived.


A gal from the Pacific Northwest told us she had put money down on a fixer-upper on the Ecuadorian coast.  Problem was, her rural attorney (if she even had one) had failed to ascertain the ownership.  The property was owned by several siblings, the heirs of the former owner, and they lived in three different countries.  You can imagine how poorly that one turned out.


Let's be practical,
Regardless of the country/place where you buy property, one must take precautions.
Regardless of the country/place where you live, you will face "unknown" situations.

None of these factors should stop you from achieving your goals or dreams.

I, for one, bought my place in Tonsupa - Atacames (enclosed/guarded community), most of the time I'm the only one in the complex.
For many, not a recommended town due to the "proximity" to the border with Colombia.
I'm in my fourth year enjoying the surroundings, peace and tranquility this place offers.
Bought the Villa with no issues.
So far, haven't met  "bandidos",  only helpful local neighbours.
I'm sure, there are hundreds if not thousands of other expats satisfied with their move as well.
Needless to say, be cautious, do your diligent investigation prior committing to a decision and the results will be  positive.  I did.

Thank you

"3.  The banking system makes it almost impossible to obtain a bank account in Ecuador without obtaining the national ID or cédula, which has a prerequisite of obtaining a visa."

This is not true;
I have neither a visa nor a national ID,
but I have accounts in several banks and cooperatives.



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