Good planning goes a long way when you don’t really know what you are doing. Hiring the right professionals also helps. You have to take faith in human kindness and professionalism into account as well, when you are handing over cash for services in a foreign country where your rights and legal recourses are not the same as you are accustomed to.
We have heard the horror stories. The woman who trusted her money and dogs to a shipper who bailed on her with her money while the dogs were in transit. It cost her a lot more money to get her dogs through customs on the Ecuador end and she didn’t get her money back from the shipper. The man who paid the same shipper to move his dogs to Ecuador, but luckily (?) for him bailed with the money before she took possession of his dogs. He made other arrangements and his dogs arrived safely. There are more. Sadly, many more.
Our cats would fit under the airplane seat, so we didn’t have to use a pet shipper. There were still points of failure and our research made the process very smooth. The cats had to have their shots, deworming, clean bill of health from a local vet within 6 months of travel, and USDA forms filled and filed by a USDA certified vet within 10 days of travel. We also had to notify Ecuadorian Agridad (Pet and animal immigration) of our arrival so they could meet us at the arrival airport. This process went a lot smoother than either of us could have hoped, including the immigration officer and us madly typing to each other in Google Translate.
Fortunately, our choices have proven to be good choices. While we paid a fair sum to ship some of our belongings to Ecuador and for an attorney to handle the immigration process, so far, everything has fallen neatly into place and we are making good progress on both ends.
We met with the shipper this past week to sign a Power Of Attorney to allow him and his staff to handle the customs process for our liftvans (a shipping container that measures 7’x4’x4′). I don’t know how we would have done this ourselves. He had some 6 forms we had to sign plus the POA. He notified us yesterday that our customs appointment will be today. We then have to meet him one more time to sign the final inventory sheet and he can get our items delivered to us. Paying for a door (our house in New Mexico) to door (our apartment in Cuenca) was pricey, but certainly worth it.
I reported last week that we received our Temporary Permanent Visas from our Immigration Attorney. The next step is the cedula (green card) appointment, which they said could be up to 2 months out. They emailed yesterday and asked us to be at the government office this Friday. Surprise! But a good one. The cedula is our official government ID and is used for everything from taxes, to ID for credit card purchases, to opening a bank account. It’s not a secret number like a Social Security number so can be used for many things.
Once we have out cedula, we can register our marriage with the proper office. This is important for buying property, for the permanent visa application in 21 months, for citizenship 3 years after that and to register a death, if we are so unfortunate.
So far, and we can see the end of the processes now, we have chosen our professionals well and haven’t run into any problems. We are lucky.