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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

New regulations in Ecuador regarding cell phones from abroad. March 2014.

Question: I just heard from someone that the government passed a new law which prohibits people using the cell phone devices brought from abroad. They will require you to register your phone and pay tax if necessary. I am going to travel to the US in a week and I was thinking to buy a unlocked cell phone there and bring it back to replace my current old smart phone. 

Does anyone have any information on this? Please let me know!
The measure is to make it harder for trafficking of stolen cell phones. It has nothing to do with "drug trafficking" or spying on gringos. It has to do with trying to make it harder for the thieves to sell stolen cell phones, which is a huge plague in these parts of the world. In any mugging the first thing they will want from you is your cell phone, then all else after.
By registering the unique IMEI number of each particular cell phone, the carrier can then disable that cell phone's IMEI if it is reported stolen so it won't work even if they try to put in a different SIM card.

There is an mutual agreement among the cell phone carriers in all the neighboring countries (Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, etc) that any cell phone reported stolen or lost will be disabled by the carrier and will not work in any of these countries.
You can still bring in one foreign cell phone, but for it to be able to work WITH A LOCAL CARRIER such as Movistar, Claro etc, it will have to be registered with that carrier, then the information is shared among all the other carriers, so a thief couldn't simply change the SIM card to another carrier. 
The registration process can be done at any of the cell company offices or service centers. 
However if a tourist or businessman brings his foreign cell phone that is using a foreign carrier (say ATT from the US) and is being used in "Roaming" mode (very expensive ) then the registration doesn't apply. It only applies if you want to use local cell phone carriers. 
If you have brought in a foreign cell phone some time ago and are using it locally with a local carrier, it has been automatically registered already when you did the "empadronamiento" when you initially signed up with a carrier. If you don't know what that is, then probably the person who installed your SIM card did it for you.
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