10 Years of Blog Archive

Saturday, April 23, 2016

In Ecuador You Can Go In Front of the Line at Banks - Update 2016

Update 2016: There have been some updates we want to tell you about. You want the hard cold truth, right? Heheheh. We are told that in Ecuador if you are a senior/elder person then you should be able to go in the front of the line at banks and in other establishments but we have experienced that it doesn't always work out and especially if you're in that void where you're mature but not quite yet the senior age.

In Ecuador you can go in front of the line at banking establishments, and even at ETAPA Internet, if you are an older man over the age of 60, have a handicap, or if you are a woman with a small child. Now this may not mean much to you if you’ve never stood in an Ecuadorian bank or Internet line before. But waiting to make a bank deposit or waiting to pay an Internet bill in Ecuador can take 30 minutes or longer.  

Why the long wait? The crowds are huge here! It doesn’t matter what bank you go to, they are all busy all day. If you’re lucky there may be a lull between 1:30pm to 3pm, which is Ecuadorian dinner time. But then again that may backfire since there are less tellers at that time because their all out to lunch too.

If you happen to be on a schedule it is always a good idea to get to the bank or other government establishment early because, who knows, you may wait in line up to an hour, or longer!  Unless of course, you happen to be an older man over the age of 60, a woman with a small child, or have a handicap.   

Some establishments have a sign stating this policy, but many do not.  When we were new, and were waiting in large lines, we would notice people that appeared to be cutting in front of everyone.  We tried and successfully were able to profile them, apparently those who were cutting in line were pregnant women, or women holding small children, and older citizens.  However, it wasn’t easy as we weren’t completely sure.  Then we happened on an institution with an explanatory sign.

It is apparent to us that this policy is well established within the culture.  The respect of the elderly and pregnant women appears to be ingrained within the society.  And this is a good thing.  It would be the equivalent in North America to letting the handicapped park in front of the parking lot without there being any signs under penalty of law compelling anyone to do so.

Understand, we’re not saying there aren’t any similar law here.  We don’t know.  But if there are, the fact remains that there is not always a stick being waived for compliance.  And this is because people simply respect the respectable, usually.  And that’s the kind of neighborhood we like to live in…

So does this apply to gringos too? Well, why not? 

Just the other day we were at the bank and the teller motioned for a 30 something younger man to go before us. Clearly we are older but maybe she wasn't paying attention. We did mention something to her when we finally got up in the line and she said she was sorry. Should we take it as a compliment or something else? Or perhaps it only applies to those who look over 60 years of age. 

Waiting in a long and busy supermarket line a couple of years ago in Cuenca, an older lady kept bumping her cart into our backsides. We'd turn around and she would look the other way. This happened at least four times before it dawned on us that she wanted to go ahead of us. We of course let her go before us.

Another time a young person pushed their way in front of us but we didn't let the 20 something youngster go before us, we asked the lad to please go to the back of the line.

Another time on the bus a young boy of about 10 years old was scrambling to get the seat before us and we again said "sorry kiddo, you're just a bit too young to be able to get the seat". (paraphrased for effect) We usually have very heavy backpacks and welcome a seat on the bus. We're saying all this to let folks know that you may have to be a bit assertive to go next before a young(er) person.

We have had a couple different senior expats complain to us that they try to go in the front of the line but younger people push their way in front of them and  that it doesn't happen rarely but often. She went on to tell us that one time she asked a young woman why she went in front of her and she said she was pregnant. Our senior expat friend said she didn't look pregnant

Ah well...what can you do.  Until we write again, you might like to read these other articles about what you can do while living in Ecuador.
We're an expat family of five living frugal, healthy and happy in Cuenca Ecuador. Come along and enjoy some of our adventures with us!


  1. Just men over 60? Not women over 60 too?

  2. We've seen older ladies with canes stand in the VP line at the bank as well...so yes.

  3. Some of the banks will have a sign up for the "VIP"s, but you need to know what it means. At other banks its just "common knowledge" that the far-right teller line is for this purpose. :ore than once I have had the bank guard motion me forward to the right teller, or a younger Ecuadoran--usually male--signal me to cut in front of his place in line.
    But sadly, you are right, I have seen a steady decline in this courtesy in my 6 1/2 years of visiting and residing here...

  4. My gf and I are late-60's, and a couple of times we have been told by the bank guard to go ahead into the "special" line there, usually on the left side of the windows. Also, we were on a crowded bus one time, standing in the aisle. A younger Ecuadorian lady sitting next to where I was standing stood up and offered ME (a guy) her seat! I thanked her and sat down, not that I really needed to but the offer so surprised me I thought she might think it rude if I DIDN'T accept her offer! For the most part, we have found Ecuadorians to be extremely courteous and helpful people... we love them!


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