The first step to starting a business in Ecuador: choosing a business type

There’s a lot of bad information out there on this topic.

And it can cost you thousands.

I for one have been burned due to choosing my business type inconrrectly.

Lawyers are supposed to know the difference, and they’ll say they do.

But most don’t.

The first step to starting any new business in Ecuador is constituting it legally.

So in Ecuador, which business type is best for you?

Here is an overview of your 3 primary options…

Sociedad Anonima:  This is a type of limited liability corporation that is best suited for people who wish to sell shares to raise capital from investors.  This is the only business type permitted on the Ecuador stock exchange.  Shares can be bought and sold without consent of other shareholders and without the use of a notary.  Must have assigned board of directors and present quarterly and yearly balance sheets to government with the aid of a certified accountant.  The legal responsibility of the shareholders is only up to the amount they have invested in the company, their personal assets are not at risk.

Compania Limitada:  Another form of limited liability corporation where a shareholders personal assets are not at risk.  This type of Ecuadorian corporation is usually for family businesses with less shareholders because before one shareholder can sell their shares they must get consent from ALL the other shareholders.  Also, any transfer of shares must be done through a notary public in which case they usually charge around $400 to oversee the transaction.  Must present balance sheets to government and must hire certified account to manage the monthly tax payments who usually charge around $100 a month or more depending on the complexity and sales of your business.

Sociedad Civil:  The easiest form of business to start, this type of business is looked at legally as more of an “entity” and not a “business” for commercial purposes although can be used as such.  The personal assets of the parties involved are at risk if business flops.  In this business type you are given a tax ID number (RUC) like the other business types but you do not have to hire a certified accountant to manage your tax declarations nor do you have to present balance sheets to the government.  Not regulated by the Mercantil Registry like the other business types, the shareholders can act according to what is stipulated in the original contract.

Other fast facts…

Non-resident foreigners CAN create businesses in Ecuador.

For all the above business types you need at least 2 people in the association.

To form any of these businesses a lawyer can assist you from start to finish for the going rate of about $800.

Just like in the US, you can own property in the name of your corporation.

Which business type would I recommend? for that please subscribe to my weekly Ecuador Insiders Newsletter below, you can unsubscribe at any time:

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