Ecuador Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Answers to frequently asked questions about being an expat in Ecuador submitted by our patrons on Patreon and YouTube viewers.

FAQ #65 – What About SKIN CARE PRODUCTS In Ecuador?

There are a variety of skin care products in Ecuador that are available, but the brands may be different than the ones you see in the U.S.

Most skin care products are imported to Ecuador, but some are made locally from mostly local ingredients. You can also find products that are organic and cruelty-free, and several companies offer online shopping and shipping. Two of my favorite stores are Collage Cosmetics and Annoa Cosmética.

Collage Cosmetics has a store in Guayaquil at Mall Del Sol and in Quito at Mall Del Jardín. I’ve ordered online and received my products within a few days in Manta.

Annoa Cosmética is based in Cuenca offering cruelty-free, locally made products. They have a beautiful store in the El Vergel neighborhood of Cuenca, and they also offer online shopping and shipping throughout Ecuador.

A great choice for affordable hair products is Gotas De Seda. Their products are cruelty-free and they don’t contain harmful chemicals. I’ve seen a dramatic improvement to my hair since I started using their products!

There are also plenty of drugstore options available, but there aren’t as many items to choose from compared to Ulta or Sephora in the U.S.

If you like handmade products, you can find some essentials in local tiendas and at artisan fairs.  I’ve seen a variety of handmade soaps and skin care products at the fairs in Cuenca and Olón.

While skin care products in Ecuador are widely available easy to find, you won’t find the same brands or level of selection. If you have a specific brand of type of skin care product that you can’t live without, you may want to bring an ample supply with you until you can either find an alternative, or return home to buy more.


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FAQ #64 – Should I BRING A ROUTER To Ecuador?

We’re often asked about bringing a WiFi router to Ecuador. Thankfully, this is one piece of equipment you don’t need to bring because the internet service providers (ISPs) supply one for you at no additional cost.

Additionally, the router is usually configured to work specifically with the ISP so a different router may not work or may require custom setup and configuration.

When we lived in Cuenca, our ISP was PuntoNet. They provided a dual antenna WiFi router that easily covered our entire 3 bedroom house. We paid $56/month for 50Mb up and down as of January 2020.

In Olón, our ISP was NetLife and they also provided a router plus a booster that we plugged into the wall of the back bedroom. When we moved to Manta, we brought our equipment with us and transferred the NetLife service to our new condo. We pay $45/month for 75Mb up and down as of July 2021.


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FAQ #63 – What About CELL PHONES In Ecuador?

Cell phones in Ecuador work just like they do in other countries. However, while cell phone service plans are very affordable in Ecuador, the mobile phones themselves tend to be very expensive.

The most popular cell phone service providers in Ecuador are Claro and Movistar. Both companies offer plans starting around $20 per month, which includes voice, data, text messages and unlimited use of Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Since most people in Ecuador use WhatsApp, you’ll rarely use voice or text messages.

As of July 2021, only 4G is available in Ecuador. 5G is not available and we haven’t heard any plans to release it here.

You’ll find that the selection of mobile phones is lower and the cost is substantially higher in Ecuador. You can expect to pay an additional 50% or more compared to the U.S. for the same devices.

Therefore, it may be much cheaper to bring your phone with you and swap out the sim card with your Ecuadorian service provider. Just make sure you buy a phone that’s unlocked so it will work with any carrier.


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FAQ #62 – What About DIRECT FLIGHTS from GUAYAQUIL to CUENCA?

Unfortunately, direct flights from Guayaquil to Cuenca are not an option. When we first moved to Ecuador, there were flights between the two cities, but the airlines discontinued that route a couple of years ago.

We don’t know exactly why there are no flights between Cuenca and Guayaquil, but we have a theory. When we took that flight back in 2017, it took about 30 minutes from takeoff to landing and cost $80 per ticket or $160 for both of us.

When you add the time it takes to get to the airport, arriving an hour early to check-in and go through security, and waiting at baggage claim at the destination, the total transportation time is about 2 to 3 hours.

Meanwhile, a buseta with a company like Operazuaytur takes just 3 to 4 hours and only costs $12 per ticket or $24 for two people.

Since air travel from Guayaquil to Cuenca only saves an hour or two, but costs 8 times more than a buseta, our theory is that there wasn’t enough business to keep the route in operation. It’s easier and far cheaper to take a buseta.

Currently, Quito is the only airport that has flights to Cuenca, but there has been some discussion about adding direct flights between Manta and Cuenca to spur tourism between the two cities. If that route comes to fruition, we’ll be sure to let you know.


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Every Friday, we send an email with current expat-relevant news from Ecuador (in English). It contains the latest information about covid, travel restrictions & guidelines, government actions, volcanoes, flooding, crime, and more. Basically, anything significant from the prior week that affects expats. We don't share this information ANYWHERE ELSE!

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FAQ #61 – What About MULE SERVICES In Ecuador?

Mule services in Ecuador are a popular way to get hard-to-find items delivered from the U.S. to Ecuador, especially from online shopping sources like Amazon.com.

Ecuador Fee-based Mule Services

The people who offer this type of service will provide a shipping address in the U.S. where you can mail packages. Then they’ll retrieve the packages, usually on a monthly basis, and bring them to Ecuador for a fee.

Here are 3 fee-based mule services and their fees (as of this writing):

  • USAValet.net – $10 up to a pound, $10/pound after that; electronics have additional fees
  • APShipping.us – $10 up to a pound, $9/pound after that; high cost items have additional fees
  • CuencaExpress.com – $10 handling fee + $10/pound after that; no additional fees for electronics or other high cost items

Ecuador Free Muling Options

You can also find friendly expats who are willing to take things back to the U.S. or other places, as well as bring things back to Ecuador for you. Sometimes, they’ll ask for an exchange or a favor, but other times they’ll just do it for the good karma.

Here are two places to post your muling requests:

You may also be interested in these FAQs:


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Every Friday, we send an email with current expat-relevant news from Ecuador (in English). It contains the latest information about covid, travel restrictions & guidelines, government actions, volcanoes, flooding, crime, and more. Basically, anything significant from the prior week that affects expats. We don't share this information ANYWHERE ELSE!

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FAQ #60 – What About SHIPPING THINGS To Ecuador?

Shipping things to Ecuador is not cheap or easy, but thanks to a new law that went into effect on June 15th, 2021, it is cheaper and easier than it used to be.

If you want to ship a package to Ecuador, your best option is DHL. While FedEx also has offices in the larger cities and UPS has offices in Quito and Guayaquil, DHL offices are much more common and the prefered choice by our Referral Partners.

As of June 15th, the $42 courier import fee has been lifted, which means it’s no longer cost-prohibitive to ship items to Ecuador.

Under the previously existing 4×4 import rule, you were required to pay a $42 courier fee on any package shipped to Ecuador, including document envelopes and small boxes, in addition to standard shipping fees and other import taxes.

Now, under the 4×4 import rule, you’re allowed to ship items to Ecuador without paying additional customs fees and import taxes as long as the package weighs less than 4 kilograms and has a value less than $400.

This means it will be much more feasible to purchase items on Amazon and have them delivered to Ecuador, although the shipping rates will still be quite expensive.

We priced a 1 pound (.45 kilo) bag of spice that costs $10 on Amazon and the shipping cost was $30. However, prior to July 15th, 2021, the shipping cost was $72, so that’s quite a reduction in shipping fees!


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Every Friday, we send an email with current expat-relevant news from Ecuador (in English). It contains the latest information about covid, travel restrictions & guidelines, government actions, volcanoes, flooding, crime, and more. Basically, anything significant from the prior week that affects expats. We don't share this information ANYWHERE ELSE!

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FAQ #59 – What About GUNS In Ecuador?

Guns in Ecuador are tightly regulated and the right to bear arms is not guaranteed by the constitution as it is in the United States. There are several gun ownership restrictions and laws that make it difficult, but not impossible to have a gun in Ecuador.

Gun Laws in Ecuador

According to GunPolicy.org, here are the relevant gun laws and regulations for Ecuador:

  • Only firearms with a caliber of 9 millimeters or .38 caliber and smaller are allowed.
  • Assault weapons and automatic guns are illegal.
  • You cannot import a firearm from overseas, which means you cannot bring your gun collection with you.
  • To own a firearm you must be a resident, which includes both citizens, as well as temporary and permanent residents (expats).
  • You must be licensed, which requires you to undergo a criminal background and mental health evaluation (psych eval).
  • You have to reapply for the license every year for possession and every 2 years for concealed or open-carry permits.
  • You must also explain why you want a gun, which could include hunting, target shooting, collecting, or self-defense.
  • You can only own a maximum of 2 guns.

Gun Stores in Ecuador

Since guns are so tightly controlled in Ecuador, you won’t find a lot of options to buy guns or ammunition. As far as we know, the only gun stores in Ecuador are located in Quito and Guayaquil:

If you’re from the United States and the 2nd Amendment is central to your identity, Ecuador may not be an ideal choice for your expat destination. However, most countries around the world have gun laws that are far more strict than the U.S., so you may have a difficult time finding someplace that will work for you.

If you’re from anyplace other than the U.S., the gun laws in Ecuador will be similar to what you’re used to so the adjustment won’t be too challenging.

We don’t own guns so if you have more current or updated information, please let us know in the comments below and be sure to share your sources for reference so we can update this article.


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Every Friday, we send an email with current expat-relevant news from Ecuador (in English). It contains the latest information about covid, travel restrictions & guidelines, government actions, volcanoes, flooding, crime, and more. Basically, anything significant from the prior week that affects expats. We don't share this information ANYWHERE ELSE!

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FAQ #58 – What About PARASITES In Ecuador?

Parasites in Ecuador are something to be aware of, but not something to be overly worried about. Since we arrived in Ecuador in 2017, neither of us have had a parasite, and we only know two people who were medically tested and confirmed to have them.

However, both our dogs tested positive for intestinal amoebas when we lived in Cuenca, but a course of antibiotics quickly took care of them. Daisy most likely got them from drinking out of the river, and gave them to Alicia via their shared water bowl.

Parasites vs Bacteria Symptoms & Treatment

If you’re hunkered over the toilet (or sitting on it) with gut pain and cold sweats, you may have food poisoning from either a parasite or bacterial infection.

The symptoms are mostly the same for both: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach ache, fever and/or headache. And the only way to know which one you have is with a blood or fecal test.

If you have a bacterial infection, a course of antibiotics usually takes care of it. If you have a parasite, you’ll need either an antibiotic or an anti-parasitic drug.

If you think you have either, go to the doctor as soon as possible because you’re not likely to get well without treatment.

Parasite Causes & Prevention

The most common source of parasitic and bacterial infections in Ecuador is from eating undercooked food, street food, unwashed fruit or raw vegetables, and by drinking untreated tap water.

Most of the produce sold in the mercados is fresh from the farm and covered in dirt, and most of the animal products are butchered in open-air wet markets and hung up for sale without refrigeration (often covered in flies). That means food from the mercados (where we frequently buy our produce) is the perfect breeding ground for parasites and bacteria.

The best way to prevent parasites and bacterial infections is to avoid street food and unrefrigerated animal products, thoroughly wash all your fruits and vegetables, thoroughly cook your food, and only drink chlorinated, filtered or bottled water.

Food poisoning from parasites and bacteria can happen anywhere, including the United States. Luckily, you can easily minimize your risk of getting one, and medical treatment is readily available if you do. Take some common sense precautions, but don’t spend too much energy worrying about it.


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Every Friday, we send an email with current expat-relevant news from Ecuador (in English). It contains the latest information about covid, travel restrictions & guidelines, government actions, volcanoes, flooding, crime, and more. Basically, anything significant from the prior week that affects expats. We don't share this information ANYWHERE ELSE!

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FAQ #57 – What About MAIL SERVICE In Ecuador?

Mail service in Ecuador is nothing like the U.S. Postal Service. There are no door-to-door daily deliveries by postal carriers in mail trucks. You can get home deliveries in some areas, but you’ll have limited options and several obstacles to overcome.

We use a mail service back in the United States called TravelingMailbox.com for all our US-based mail. They have lots of physical addresses in different states so we have all our mail delivered to them. Then they scan it and post it to their secure portal where we review it and either download it, forward it to our parents, or have it shredded and deleted. We’ve been using them for many years, even before we moved to Ecuador, and love the service.

Correos del Ecuador

Correos del Ecuador was the official national mail service, but they went into full liquidation in May 2020 and were scheduled to be completely shut down in November 2020.

However, that date was pushed to February 2021 when the Moreno government officially shuttered the mail service by executive decree and transitioned it to a new entity called Servicios Postales del Ecuador (Postal Services of Ecuador).

This new service essentially privatizes the postal service by engaging “strategic partners” such as DHL and Servientrega to provide mail delivery.

Servientrega Courier Service

DHL, FedEx and UPS do not offer home delivery in Ecuador so you’ll need to use a service called Servientrega for home delivery. This is the most popular courier service in Ecuador that’s used by banks and businesses to deliver documents and packages.

When our Toy Poodle left us, the vet took her remains to Guayaquil for cremation. The crematorium in Guayaquil shipped her ashes back to us in Olón via Servientrega. Since we didn’t have an exact address in Olón, the delivery driver messaged us when he arrived at the park in the center of town and we walked up to meet him.

Exact addresses are uncommon in Ecuador, and most streets don’t have signs, so home delivery is quite challenging. You’ll need to provide detailed directions to your home with the nearest cross streets, and even then, you’ll likely get a call from the driver asking where you live and you’ll need to go out and meet him on the street.

Couriers will not leave packages outside your gate or door so you’ll need to be home in order to receive delivery. Or you can go to the nearest office to retrieve your package.

Here in Manta, our address is the neighborhood where we live plus the condo building name. Amelia ordered some beauty products from a store in Guayaquil and the package was successfully delivered to the guard desk about 3 days later. Shipping was included in the purchase price so we don’t know what the cost was.

We haven’t directly paid to mail any packages using Servientrega, but we’ve heard documents cost between $1 and $3, while package cost is based on size, weight and distance.

Mail service in Ecuador has a long way to go before it’s anything like the U.S. Postal Service or the home delivery offered by UPS and other parcel services. The entire country would need to adopt a universal addressing system, as well as install street signs in standard formats and locations so they’re easy to see. Since this would be a costly and massive undertaking, we don’t expect home delivery outside the major cities to improve anytime soon.


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Every Friday, we send an email with current expat-relevant news from Ecuador (in English). It contains the latest information about covid, travel restrictions & guidelines, government actions, volcanoes, flooding, crime, and more. Basically, anything significant from the prior week that affects expats. We don't share this information ANYWHERE ELSE!

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FAQ #56 – Are You INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY In Ecuador?

Are you innocent until proven guilty in Ecuador? Unlike some other countries in Central and South America, you have more civil rights in Ecuador as a citizen and resident.

Here’s what the Chapter 8, Section 2 of the Ecuadorian Constitution has to say:

“All persons shall be presumed innocent, and shall be dealt with as such, until their guilt is stated by means of a final ruling or judgment of conviction.”

However, and this is a big however, the bail system is nothing like the U.S. system. You won’t find bail bondsman who will loan you the money to get out of jail following an arrest. You’ll have to pay your own bail, which has drawn international criticism due to the inherent inequality because it allows wealthy people to get out of jail while poor people remain locked up.

And if you’re a foreign visitor, there is no bail option. That means if you’re arrested for a crime, you could be held in jail until the trial.

The legal system in Ecuador is highly bureaucratic and the rules/laws are often open to interpretation. Since there is no jury system, the verdict is left to a judge who may have their own interpretation of the law, or simply be in a bad mood on the day of your decision.

As is the case in every country, your best option is to avoid contact with the legal system by following the local laws. And if you’re unsure about the legality of a certain action, check before you act.

In some aspects of life, it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission, but this old adage never applies when dealing with laws in a foreign country.


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Every Friday, we send an email with current expat-relevant news from Ecuador (in English). It contains the latest information about covid, travel restrictions & guidelines, government actions, volcanoes, flooding, crime, and more. Basically, anything significant from the prior week that affects expats. We don't share this information ANYWHERE ELSE!

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