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Expat Business Info Ecuador

What is the first thing that pops into your mind when you think of working in Ecuador? The layman might picture lots of bananas and coffee, those with deeper knowledge might think about oil. But that is far from covering every facet of Ecuador’s economy! Our guide gives you an in-depth introduction.
The Amazon region and its oil are important pillars of the Ecuadorian economy.

Getting Permission to Work

As is the case virtually anywhere in the world, your first stop to legal employment in Ecuador is contacting the Ecuadorian mission in your country and applying for a work permit. We have already taken a closer look at this issue in our article on moving to Ecuador. Generally speaking, the process should not be too complicated, given you are equipped with all the right prerequisites and skills.

The visa requirements include, among others:

  • 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
  • a written request of your company directed towards the Ecuadorian Foreign Service Officer in the place of residence
  • a curriculum vitae

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 nice and helpful overview page on this matter. The sum of fees for the work visa is 230 USD.

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 (2015). Residents in terms of tax legislation, i.e. anyone who resides in Ecuador for more than 183 days, are taxed based on income levels.

Every step features two mechanisms of taxation: the base tax and a percentage which indicates how much of your income that exceeds the lower threshold of your level has to be deducted. This might sound a lot more complicated than it actually is. If, for example your income is 50,000 USD, your tax category is that ranging from 39,830 USD to 59,730 USD. The basic rate for this level is 3,861 USD; the tax rate on the sum exceeding the lower limit is 20%. 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

As is the case in many other countries around the globe, social security payments in Ecuador are split up between employers and employees, with the government partly subsidizing programs. The 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.

Formal Forms of Address and Expressing Emotions

Please be aware that oftentimes, Ecuadorians put more focus on people and relationships, rather than strictly adhering to schedules. This does not mean that you are free to arrive late to work — this will most probably not be tolerated. However, you can expect many meetings, both at work and in your leisure time, to begin with a rather flexible view of time.

In Ecuador, indications of status, such as academic titles, are valued. If someone you meet or work with has such a distinction, you should address them by it, for example doctor/doctora. You should also make sure to use the formal usted form of address when being introduced to new business partners or colleagues — in contrast to, for example, many English-speaking countries, people usually do not jump to the first-name basis all that quickly.

The expression of emotions, both positive and negative, is very normal in Ecuador, as is physical proximity to others. Your personal space is not being intruded on, it is just one of the cultural differences that make 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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