Different Types of Companies / Legal Entities in Ecuador

With business opportunities in Ecuador gaining increasing appeal among foreign investors, understanding the types of companies in Ecuador is becoming increasingly important. The Ecuadorian government’s proactive stance to attract foreign investment is underscored by recent legislative initiatives, which reflect a welcoming environment for international entrepreneurs. Numerous factors underpin Ecuador’s current economic boom. In particular, the stability of the national currency, the U.S. dollar, along with its abundant natural resources, reinforce Ecuador’s status as a business-friendly destination. Delve into Ecuador’s various types of companies to discern the optimal corporate structure to suit your investment objectives. Whether considering a Sociedad Anónima (SA), a Sociedad de Responsabilidad Limitada (SRL), or other entity models, our experience in company formation allows you to navigate Ecuador’s business landscape with confidence and clarity.

Ecuadorian Company Law (La Ley de Compañías del Ecuador) recognizes 5 different types of companies that can be established in the country. Each one serves a distinct purpose and will satisfy different objectives. It is therefore very important that companies properly consider each structure and the relevant benefits that they provide. There are numerous types of companies / legal entities in Ecuador, however, by far the two most common types of companies are the:

  • Unlimited Liability Company / Corporation or ‘Sociedad Anónima’ (S.A.).
  • Limited Liability Company or ‘La Compañía de Responsabilidad Limitada’ (LLC).

Keep reading if you are interested in doing business in Ecuador and need to find out about the different types of companies available. 

Types of Companies / Legal Entities in Ecuador: There are 5 types of company you can form in Ecuador – be sure you to choose the best one based on your business needs. 

See below the different types of companies / legal entities in Ecuador:

  1. Collective Name company (Compañía en nombre collective).
  2. Limited Partnership (Compañía en comandita simple y dividida por acciones).
  3. Limited Liability Company (LLC) (Compañía de responsabilidad limitada Cía. Ltda).
  4. Unlimited Liability Company/Corporation (Sociedad anónima S.A.).
  5. Mixed-capital Company (Compañía de economía mixta).

All these legal entities must have a company legal representative and a legal/fiscal address in Ecuador. They also must make monthly and annual tax declarations to the local tax authorities. 

Differences between the main types of companies in Ecuador

By quite a distance, the most used company structure in Ecuador is the LLC, followed by the Unlimited Liability Company/Corporation. The main difference between the two is found in the freedom to negotiate business dealings and make corporate decisions. In the former, a unanimous agreement is required by all the members of the board. However, in the latter, any decision is not subject to such an agreement.

1. Limited Liability Company – Ecuador

LLCs can have the following corporate objectives: civil and commercial or sales services. They cannot operate as banks or insurance companies. 

  • Partners: These companies must have a minimum of 2 partners and can have up to, but not exceeding 15.
  • Capital: The minimum capital required to start an LLC is USD$400. The money is divided into installments and at least 50% must be paid upon forming the entity, with the rest needing to be paid in the following 12 months.
  • Administration: These companies must have a General Manager and a President who will have the role of legal, judicial, and extrajudicial representation, this can either be a shared or sole responsibility.

2. Unlimited Liability Companies/Corporations – Ecuador

The Unlimited Liability Companies/Corporations, also known as an Anonymous Society in English as it is known in Spanish (however this is a less common name!), is a company whose capital is divided by negotiable amounts of shares. It is formed by a contribution from the shareholders who have influence according to the size of their shares.

  • Partners: A minimum of two with no limit.
  • Capital: The minimum capital required to start a Joint-Stock Company is USD$800. The capital is divided into shares and the minimum quantity for shares is defined by the board.
  • Shares: Shares will always be nominative and can be ordinary or preference shares. Ordinary shares only offer the fundamental role of a share, as found in the relevant legislation, whilst preference shares cannot be put up to vote but can have special rights in terms of dividend payments and in the case of company liquidation.
  • Administration:
    • a) The General Assembly of Shareholders is the main body of the company.
    • b) These companies must have a General Manager and a President who will have the role of legal, judicial, and extrajudicial representation, this can either be a shared or sole responsibility.

Our recommendation: Limited Liability Company (LLC) is suitable for small to medium-sized enterprises and foreign businesses seeking to establish a presence in the country. This structure provides liability protection for its members while offering flexibility in management and ownership. 

What are the different Companies / Legal Entity Types in Ecuador? What are the steps to create a company in Ecuador?

Creating an online company in Ecuador

Simplified companies do not exist in Ecuador as they do in other countries (such as Colombia or Argentina). However, using the Company Superintendence service, you can create a company online. This is a very easy, quick, and cost-effective way to form either Joint-Stock Corporations or LLCs. If choosing to use this online service, you must choose one social objective and a maximum of 5 complimentary activities as listed in the International Standard Industrial Classification (ISIC). The Company Law includes information on the company, the partner and shareholder rights and obligations and the methods and deadlines for the Board, the statutes that you receive through this online process are very simple. The statutes can be reformed if the General Assembly permits it by following an established and straightforward legal process.

1. Can a foreigner register a company in Ecuador?

Yes, foreign nationals can register companies in Ecuador. The process involves fulfilling certain requirements and may require partnering with local individuals or entities in certain cases.

2. What type of legal entity is an SAS (Sociedad por Acciones Simplificada) in Ecuador?

An SAS, or Simplified Shares Company, is a legal entity in Ecuador that offers a streamlined process for incorporation, increased flexibility in management, and reduced administrative burden compared to traditional corporate structures.

3. How do I create an LLC in Ecuador?

To create an LLC (Limited Liability Company) in Ecuador, individuals or entities must follow the legal procedures outlined by the Superintendencia de Compañías, Valores y Seguros (Superintendency of Companies, Securities, and Insurance).

4. What is an LLC in Ecuador?

An LLC, or Limited Liability Company, is a legal entity in Ecuador that combines the limited liability protection of a corporation with the operational flexibility of a partnership. Members of an LLC are shielded from personal liability for the company’s debts and obligations.

5. What is the business structure of a Simplified Shares Company (S.A.S) in Ecuador?

The Simplified Shares Company (S.A.S) in Ecuador offers a combination of speed, flexibility, and investor-friendly features that make it a suitable choice for both local and foreign businesses. This structure allows for simplified administration, limited liability protection, and efficient management, making it an attractive option for entrepreneurs seeking to establish a presence in Ecuador.

Do you have commercial plans in Ecuador?

Ecuador is eager to attract more and more foreign investment to its shores. There is an almost infinite number of opportunities in Ecuador, and this is one of the most exciting periods in Ecuador’s recent history.

If you are interested in making the most of the enormous benefits that investing and forming a company in Ecuador can bring, don’t hesitate to contact us. The Biz Latin Hub team is experienced in assisting clients in starting their business ventures in Ecuador and across the Latin American region by providing an extensive and multi-lingual suite of back-office services. 

Looking for the best ‘route-to-market’ in Ecuador? Watch the video below and discover how we can assist. 

YouTube video
Companies / Legal Entity Types in Ecuador. Learn more about doing business in Latin America with Biz Latin Hu

The information provided here within should not be construed as formal guidance or advice. Please consult a professional for your specific situation. Information provided is for informative purposes only and may not capture all pertinent laws, standards, and best practices. The regulatory landscape is continually evolving; information mentioned may be outdated and/or could undergo changes. The interpretations presented are not official. Some sections are based on the interpretations or views of relevant authorities, but we cannot ensure that these perspectives will be supported in all professional settings.
Legal Team Ecuador

Legal Team Ecuador

Legal Team Ecuador is the Biz Latin Hub leading experts on doing business in Ecuador The Team writes on the news, doing business, law, and changing regulations. The team are experts in corporate law, Administrative law, Employment law, Immigration law and legal advisory services. Read more about them here. You can contact Legal Team Ecuador via our "contact us page".

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