Getting a work visa

There is a work visa (Category 12-VI) available for Ecuador. It applies to professionals of high technical levels, professionals of specialized fields, and immediate family members accompanying the professional.

Just some of the documents needed for this visa include an authorization to work, issued by the human resources office from the Ministry of Labor—duly legalized, a copy of the working contract duly protocolized by the Ministry of Labor, a certificate of fulfillment of requirements established by the Superintendent of Companies, and an affidavit from the hiring company or person, assuming the responsibility for expenses incurred by the foreigner as a result of abandoning the country or deportation, accompanied by the appointment, duly registered, of the legal representative—all documents duly legalized.

Setting up your own business

Over the past few years, Ecuador has made a concerted effort to attract foreign investment by liberalizing its investment regulations. Equal treatment is given to local and foreign investors, so you’ll receive the same rights of entry into any market as Ecuadorian citizens will. Practically all sectors are open to investors. There is a good labor pool, with minimum compensation levels set by Congress (as specified in the country’s new constitution).

If you are considering starting an enterprise in Ecuador, we suggest you look at the following areas:

  • Tourism
  • Agribusiness and forestry
  • Fishing and aquaculture

The Ecuadorian government has singled out these areas for attention, and provides incentives for those entering them.

A large number of expats in Ecuador are already earning money through various methods and there are many ways to make money without the need for substantial upfront capital.

Learning English is a priority for many Ecuadorians and a good number of them are enrolled in English language classes. Many of the existing language schools are in need of teachers with a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or a TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) certificate. Obtaining a TESL/TEFL certification requires a bit of time and payment for the course. But the process is straightforward and can even be done online. Once you’re certified you can apply for jobs or even open your own language school.

Some expats choose to open their own businesses and have good success with bringing new products and services to their area. Here are just a few examples of ventures that have done well:

  • Restaurants serving international cuisine
  • microbreweries
  • yoga centers
  • martial arts studios.

If you have a special talent or hobby it can often be turned into an avenue of income generation. Many musicians earn money by playing at local restaurants and bars, artists give courses on painting or pottery-making, and animal lovers provide pet sitting and/or training services.

There are also ways to earn money without being tied down to one location. Some of the more popular “portable careers” include freelance writing, copywriting, stock photography, and professional blogging. As long as you have a laptop, internet connection, and in some cases a camera, you can work from anywhere in the country or even the world.

If you do want to open a brick-and-mortar business in Ecuador be aware that there are permits, licenses, and possibly inspections that will need to be obtained. You’ll also need to become familiar with Ecuadorian tax law to ensure compliance. It’s advisable to hire a local accountant to help you set up your business and who can instruct you on the tax laws for small businesses.

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