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Expat Business Info Ecuador

There’s more to Ecuador than its valuable natural oil reserves and its agricultural expertise. Our guide gives you an introduction to the industries and businesses that thrive in this tropical Andean nation and how to fit in as an expat.
The Amazon region and its oil are important pillars of the Ecuadorian economy.

Getting Permission to Work

Your first stop to legal employment in Ecuador is contacting the Ecuadorian mission in your country and applying for a work permit. You can also find more information on visas in our article on Relocating to the Tropical Paradise Ecuador

Visa requirements include:

  • a passport, valid for at least 6 months after departure
  • an Aplicación de Visa and Certificado de Visación to be completed at the embassy
  • two recent passport-sized photographs (in color)
  • a written request from your company to the Ecuadorian Foreign Service Officer in the place of residence
  • a CV

The fee for the work visa is 230 USD. For a full list of requirements, see the homepage of the Ecuadorian embassy in your country. The mission in the Netherlands, for example, has a very helpful overview page.

Paying Your Taxes

If you are an expat in Ecuador but spend more than half of any given calendar year outside the country, you will be taxed at a flat rate of 22% of your income generated within Ecuador (2017). Those who live in Ecuador for more than 183 days a year are taxed based on income.

Income is divided into different brackets with a base level of taxation. Anything you earn that’s over the lower threshold of the bracket is then taxed at a fixed percentage. For example, if your income is 50,000 USD, your tax category ranges from 39,830 USD to 59,730 USD. The basic tax rate for this level is 3,861 USD; the tax rate on the sum exceeding the lower limit is 20%, so the total tax due is 5,895 USD.

A detailed, up-to-date overview of all the tax categories and rates can be found on the pages of the Servicio de Rentas Internas.

Social Security

Social security payments in Ecuador are split between employers and employees, with the government partly subsidizing programs. National social security services are fairly comprehensive, offering programs for old age, disability, sickness, maternity, and unemployment. All things considered, you can expect around 9% of your earnings to go towards the social security fund.

Local Customs and Etiquette

Ecuadorians often focus on people and relationships rather than strictly adhering to schedules. While arriving late to work probably won’t be tolerated, you can expect meetings, both at work and in your leisure time, to take a flexible approach to start times.

Indications of status, such as academic titles, are valued. If you meet or work with someone who has such a distinction, you should address them by it, for example doctor/doctora. You should also make sure to use the formal usted when meeting new business partners or colleagues. In contrast to many English-speaking countries, people usually do not start using first-names to address each other all that quickly.

The expression of emotions, both positive and negative, is very normal in Ecuador. Ecuadorians are, in general, warm and welcoming, and physical proximity is not unusual. For example, to greet one another, men may pat each other on the shoulder and women tend to kiss once on the right cheek. However, don’t worry about this too much — take the lead from local residents and remember that it’s just one of the cultural differences that makes expat life interesting!


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Jaromir Novy

"InterNations provided me with all the necessary information about Ecuador. It really helps to settle as expat in South America."

Adriana Rodrigues Zon

"With InterNations I met other Portuguese women in Quito quickly. We even play tennis together once a week."

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