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Calendar year two of operation and we have to get our health permit renewed. Health permits run only on a calendar year, so if you get your first one December 1, you’ll have to review it during the first three months of the following year; they do allow a three month grace period.

It’s hard to really call it a permit since all the bureaucrats in charge of anything, especially permits, seem to run a “consulting business” on the side to help you get the permits they are officially supposed to get you. You have to pay them their “consulting fees” to help you get the permits, which in plain language are really bribes, and if you don’t pay them the consulting fees, you may just spend eternity waiting for them to issue the required permits. This time around our health permit was tied up closely with our sanitary registry, allow me to explain.

If you have been reading regularly, you will recall that back in August I submitted product samples for my sanitary registry. The lab work is all done now, but before the lab analysis can be submitted to the “National Hygiene Institute” also known as Instituto Izquieta Perez (I will look into who Izquieta Perez for those of you who are curious to know after whom this obstructionist bureaucracy was named), my health permit has to be up to date.

When we first were issued our health permit last year, they classified us as “small industry.” They have a number of classifications for businesses here, from “artisan” to “small industry” to “large industry” and I don’t know how many others. But chocolate makers, especially if you are small scale like us, are usually “artisan”. Having an artisan classification saves time and money; you don’t have to charge sales tax on your items, you don’t have to maintain an accounting system (though that should be your business anyway, the government mandates that you MUST have an accounting system and an accountant if your revenues are over $60,000 annually), and your sanitary registries cost less.

We had been contemplating becoming artisan for sometime. To be officially classified as artisan you’ve got to be registered with the local chamber of artisans. I’ll save that for another story, but anyway…on the recommendation of the consultant who is doing the “registro sanitario” we asked the Ministry guy to reclassify our Health Permit as “artisan”. This would also save us money as the cost for each “registro sanitario” if you are an artisan is one third of what it is if your are “small industry”.

Keeping it brief, the guy from the Ministry insisted, despite our repeated requests for a change, that there was no way he could change us to artisan status. We had no choice but to accept the decision, since we need our sanitary registry to be able to export, and we weren’t about to offer him more money or seek someone else out who might help us change it.

So we are currently registered as small industry until we can either find an expediter who might be able to help us change our status sometime in the coming year, or until next year when we will renew our permit and perhaps have found away around this ridiculous set of regulations. We’ve paid for the sanitary registry for our products, which is valid for five years, so we at least won’t have to worry about those again for a while. Onward we march.

Welcome to Destination Ecuador!

Welcome to Destination Ecuador! My family and I have been living in Ecuador for the last four and a half years. We’ve dealt with the worst kinds of red-tape, searched out or ended up making hard-to-find ingredients ourselves, imported equipment for making chocolate confections, learned the import-export business...Continue >>

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