Overland Ecuador Travel
Pan American Highway > Ecuador
Currency to display:
- 1 Visiting Ecuador
- 2 Entering Ecuador with a Car or Motorbike
- 3 Driving in Ecuador
- 4 Gas and Diesel price in Ecuador
- 5 Safety and Security Considerations
- 6 Camping in Ecuador
- 7 Navigation
- 8 Special Overland Travel interests
- 9 Vehicle Maintenance
- 10 Buy or sell a car or motorbike in Ecuador
- 11 References
- 12 Helpful External links
Give a brief overview of what it's like to visit. How easy is the border, how safe is the country, are there great things to see and do, etc.
Entering Ecuador with a Car or Motorbike
Correct as of: January 2015
(To check if you need a travel Visa for Ecuador, application instructions and fees see: Ecuador Visa online application at VisaHQ.com)
- Passport of registered owner/title showing VIN (original-will be photographed)
- Vehicle registration showing plate number (original- will be photographed)
- Drivers license original- will be photographed)
- Copy of Ecuador entry stamp- must have days granted on it (90 days)
Note: I entered the country from Colombia on November 14th, 2016. No copies of any documents were required. The official took photos of the documents and vehicle. I was not asked to fill out any forms.
(NOTE:You do not require a Carnet de Passage to enter Ecuador. (That is outdated information around the web)
UPDATE: 10th April 2018 We crossed at Rumichaca on 20th September 2017 with a motorcycle and did not need any photocopies of documents. For a full account of our border crossing see http://www.tiger800rtw.com/border-colombia-ecuador-rumichaca/
December 2018- Tulcan crossing to Ecuador: Drive across the bridge and take a right. Most folks then crossed the main highway and parked on the left side of the road near the rock/dirt wall. Go to Migracion which is now on the right inside portion of the building. Once you enter turn to the right and get in the line on the right side of the lobby. This is for non-Venezualans. You hand your passport to the agent. He/she then stamps the passport. Make sure they write 90 days on it. (you cannot proceed with a TIP if it doesn't have a 90 on the stamp!)
TIP: Go to Aduana. The office is located on the opposite side of the building, near the edge of the road. You will need your license, drivers passport, title and a document which has the license plate on it (title or registration). You will have to walk to your vehicle so that the person can take a picture of your VIN number. They then prepare documents. MAKE SURE to review your document for accuracy. In our case they messed up the VIN number, passport number, AND the spelling of my name. After the documents are finalized you sign two finished forms They keep one and you keep one. You get all copies and originals of your documents back. Now you are off and exploring.
Process at border
- The owner of the vehicle gains entry at Immigration (Migración), usually with a tourist card, including a stamp in their Passport.
- The owner must show the new passport stamp, original vehicle registration and original Drivers license to Customs (Aduana) (plus one colour copy of each).
- The owner is issued a temporary import permit for the vehicle. (90 days). At Tulcan they made some photographs of our car to add to the computerfile.
- As opposed to the sign at the aduana window - you don't need a SOAT (insurance) to get the teimporary import.
- jan 2015 SOAT system in Ecuador ended on 31/12/2014 and will be replaced by a new system that should be ready for july 2015. In the mean time no SOAT needed.
UPDATE 10th April 2018 We crossed at Rumichaca on 20th September 2017 with a motorcycle. There was no option to buy insurance. Full account of our crossing here http://www.tiger800rtw.com/border-colombia-ecuador-rumichaca/
FURTHER UPDATE 31st December 2018 Following on from the update above. We had a second occasion to cross the border from Colombia to Ecuador at Rumichaca. The crossing, with a motorcycle, took seven and a half hours. The full account can be found at http://www.tiger800rtw.com/border-colombia-ecuador-rumichaca-2/
Cost of entry
Permitted length of stay
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry; this is a strict legal requirement from the Ecuadorean government. Without this minimum validity entry to the country will be denied.
Extension of stay
Extensions were previously permitted, they are currently not permitted. To extend your stay, you must exit Ecuador and return. Be careful, however, Ecuador is one of the strictest countries in South America with regards to how much time foreigners are permitted to be in the country in a calendar year. Check carefully with immigration.
The fine if your vehicle is in the country after the temp permit expires is $350.00 USD PER DAY.
17Apr, 2015 - When we entered Ecuador for the first time, we were given a 90 day visa stamp in our passports, and a 90 vehicle permit. We extended our orignal 90 day visa with a 12-IX visa, which gave us an additional 180 days in our passports. On the last day of our original 90 days, I drove the the Peru border to extend the vehicle permit. I drove to the Peruvian border, but parked the vehicle on the EC side, and walked to the migracion offices. I checked out of EC and into Peru. Then I drove the vehicle back to the EC migracion offices, and checked out of Peru and back into EC. I then went to Ecuador Aduana, and they cancelled my original vehicle permit, and gave me a new one for 90 more days. I asked for 180 days, to match my passport visa, but they told me that they could only give me 90 days at a time. They also told me that if I came back when the 90 days was up, they would give me 90 days more to match my passport visa. However I have been told from other officials that I am only allowed 180 days per year for a vehicle. I guess it depends on who you talk to? I did not attemp to get another 90 days for the vehicle so I cannot say if it is really possible. Good Luck, Gringo Rick
8Apr, 2015 We extended our vehicle permit at the Senae office south of the Quito Airport (logistic center) They had to know how long migration allowed us to stay in the country. We had to pick up an "movimiento migratorio" document (cost $5.00 USD) at the Immigrations in the center of Quito, because the immigration officer at the airport didn't write the number of days we could stay. While we had been in Ecuador for 7 days already in January they gave us 83 days extra for our vehicle (above the original 90 days). Your vehicle never can stay longer than you are allowed to. Koen De Vaere
New in 2017:
All info here: http://www.cancilleria.gob.ec/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/boletin_trimestral_enero_marzo_2017.pdf
You CAN extend your personal visa too! It used to be a 90d or 180d extension. 180d extension no longer exists but GOOD NEWS! --- you can extend your visa 365d. Great news for people who need to store their vehicle for a while and want to do it "legally". Hans at Sommerwind near Ibarra can help with all paperwork. Email him at email@example.com or stay at his campground. 0.38083, -78.08948
Storing a vehicle and temporarily leaving the country
Out of ignorance I left my motorcycle twice, still within the 90 days. When I inquired about another mater at the consul in NYC, they were outraged that I had left the vehicle in Ecuador and demanded that I immediately return and remove it. Two weeks later I did and had no problems at the border.
If you need to leave your vehicle in Quito while flying out to the Galapagos, for example, Parqueadero VIP is recommended. It's only 5 kms from the airport S0.17324 W78.34403. The people are very friendly and it's very secure. It's set in a small farm so you are surrounded by Shetland ponies, chickens and even a peacock. If you have a self contained vehicle they are happy to let you sleep in it and they even have a bathroom and WiFi. Costs depends on length of stay but we paid $6.00 USD per night and that includes free transport to and from the airport.
We were able to store our vehicle in Ecuador while we returned to the US for 15 weeks. We've outlined the somewhat arduous process herehttp://www.southtonowhere.com/#!leaving-a-vehicle-in-ecuador/cb8w. This is a place that you can store your vehicle. http://www.finca-sommerwind.com- July, 2014
Our vehicle stayed for nearly 3 months at finca Sommerwind in Ibarra. Just before our original 90 days expired we returned to Ecuador and extended our temporary import at Senae at logistic centre just south of Quito Airport. (april 2015)
In Guayaquil, overlanders have reported staying at Hostal Suites Madrid, downtown Guayaquil, before doing Galapagos. They have a parking place right next door where vehicles can be parked. Airport 10/15 minute drive. They are also agents for last minute/slashed price Galapagos cruises.
Safe parking at Arie's Cabin in Pifo close to the Quito airport and customs where you can renew youre TIP Quito city tour available
Exiting with a vehicle
- The registered owner presents the temporary import paper to customs.
- The registered owner is stamped out of Ecuador at immigration.
Driving in Ecuador
Recommended books for Overlanding in Ecuador
Travel insurance for Ecuador
Vehicle insurance requirements
In 2015 the law was changed and foreign vehicles no longer require vehicle insurance.
Cost of insurance
Where to purchase insurance
Technically an International Driving Permit is required.
In reality, showing a license from anywhere in the world seems to be good enough.
In order for your foreign license to be considered valid, you have to have an entry stamp from the last three months. If you have a visa that permits you to stay longer than 90 days, or are a resident, then you need to get an Ecuadorian license.
Driving side of road
Right hand drive vehicles are permitted without problem.
Mandatory items in vehicle
General Road quality
Roads in Ecuador vary greatly. Highways are all sealed and good quality. Small roads into the central highlands are cobblestone to prevent mud in the rainy season, and as such are extremely slow going. Gravel roads can be anywhere from very good to impassable mud-pits depending on the time of year.
Road signs are common on highways and in towns. It's usually not too difficult to find signage to get where you are going.
Off the main highway trunk, use a good map, and ask. In Quito, use a gps or hire a taxi to lead you.
The Pan American Highway is tolled through Ecuador. Expect to pay $1.00 USD every 50km or so.
Bribery in Ecuador
Police bribery does happen in Ecuador, though it's by no means rampant, so don't assume Police are always trying to get a bribe from you.
See the bribery tips page for advice.
Police checkpoints are common in Ecuador. You will be asked to present your Passport, Vehicle registration, drivers license, the temporary import permit you were issued at the border and your SOAT insurance. Driving without the required SOAT insurance is a sure-fire way to encounter bribery.
Traveling with pets
We chose to NOT divulge the pet at the Tulcan crossing. No one inspected the vehicle. No one asked about a pet. There is an agriculture station there and one could probably go there with the usual documents (vaccinations, current health statement, fees) but we opted not to.
Gas and Diesel price in Ecuador
Last updated: March 2016
Currency and unit to display:
|$1.48 USD per Gallon (US)
|$2.00 USD per Gallon (US)
|$1.03 USD per Gallon (US)
|$1.03 USD per Gallon (US)
- Price Information: Petrol Commercial
Gas and Diesel Availability / Frequency
Gas stations are extremely common in Ecuador, and shortages are not common. There is a law that limits the amount of gasoline you can purchase in one transaction to $10.00 USD when immediately next to the Colombian border. You can get around this by going to a couple of different gas stations.
Gas and Diesel Quality
Gasoline and Diesel are generally thought of as good quality, especially when bought from the name-brand stations. The BTU value of diesel is lower than in other countries, and the sulfur content is unknown. Diesel is suspected to sometimes be dirty or mixed with water. Make sure to purchase "diesel filtrado".
Gasoline quality: low extra has only 87 octane, super has only 92 octane (for some engines this can be a problem)
Safety and Security Considerations
Driving at night
Driving at night generally regarded as safe enough. Quito and Guayaquil have some very rough neighborhoods and should be avoided at night.
Parking vehicles on the street in smaller towns during the day is typically OK. Find a secure parking lot in big cities and at night. Cost is around $1.00 USD to $2.00 USD per night.
Special driving considerations
Security advisories and information
- Country Specific Information - U.S. Department of State
- Travel Reports and Warnings - Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
- Travel advice by country - Foreign and Commonwealth office (U.K.)
- Travel Advice for Ecuador - Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Camping in Ecuador
Camping is not common or popular in Ecuador, and very few hostels in touristy areas have camping to cater for backpackers. A few of the larger parks and reserves allow camping for a nominal fee. Roadside camping is generally OK away from the large cities. We camped mostly on private property for free, it was never refused when we asked. Some "real" campsites: - finca sommerwind in Ibarra - playa escondida at 10 km from Punta Galera - Arie's Cabin Pifo close to Quito new airport and Eni gasbottle filling station
Camping guide books
Unknown. (Hans from Finca sommerwind in Ibarra is working on an camping ground map)
Tap water in Ecuador is generally not safe to drink. Every corner store sells 1 and 2 liter bottles, and 20 Liter bottles can be purchased for approx. $6.00 USD, though much of that money is deposit on the bottle, which they want you to return. Once you have the big bottle to return, the cost is less than $2.00 USD.
Reise Know-How are amoung the best paper maps. Purchase paper maps before arriving in Ecuador
The Military Geographical Institute in Quito sells a "tourist" road map with almost all roads marked for $4.00 USD. For a high quality road map, buy before you get to Ecuador.
GPS Maps of Ecuador
- Open Street Map: Appears to have good coverage.
- Garmin: No map of Ecuador.
- TomTom: No map of Ecuador. 
GPS co-ordinates for camping, propane, gas, repairs, etc. in Ecuador
- iOverlander is a website and iPhone application designed by Overlanders, for Overlanders. It contains GPS co-ordinates and reviews for camping, hotels, propane, water, mechanics, borders and much more.
- Places in Ecuador - Camping Places, Food & Sights in Ecuador from Pawsontour. In German only
- Maps/camping SEVENTEEN BY SIX Detailed list of campsites in Ecuador, shown on Google map, can be downloaded in word format too.
- Camping Sites: Ecuador - Detailed list of campsites and propane filling with description, directions and GPS co-ordinates. Some at hotels (lists facilities and price), some roadside and free.
- Campsite Listing - South America | PanAm Notes - List of campsites, with directions and GPS co-ordinates. Some at hotels (lists facilities and price), some roadside and free.
- Andes Expedition camping Locations - List of campsites, with basic directions and GPS co-ordinates. Mostly free sites.
- Camping Log 2: South America - List of campsites, shopping, fuel, propane and border crossings with excellent descriptions and GPS co-ordinates.
- Hackney Travel SA Waypoints - Raw GPS data (in gdb or gpx format) for waypoints (including campsites, fuel, repairs, propane and more)
- The Silk Road Motocaravan Network - Raw GPS data for waypoints (camping, gas, propane, points of interest and more)
- Finca Sommerwind, (GPS: N 00°22'51,0" W 78°05'22,1') Great place outside of town run by a German family; wonderful hot showers, close to the lake, electric hookups and drinking water.
- Cuenca camping. Very friendly and relaxed people - Umberto and Maria. Umberto also speaks English and German. $5.00 USD per person for camping/camper, including toilet/shower/wifi/use of kitchen. Also breakfast possible. Tastes great, by the way, and more than enough. Other option is a cabaña or a room in the house. Coordinates: -2.905927, -79.027981
Special Overland Travel interests
4x4s / Trucks
- Toyota Global Dealer Locator
- Land Rover International Dealer Locator
- Mercedes Benz International (select country on bottom right)
- Jeep International site locator
Add known good mechanics here.
Buy or sell a car or motorbike in Ecuador
A foreigner can buy, register and leave the country with an Ecuadorian vehicle. The exact details are unknown.
Ecuador is a good place to buy a used car, because everyone has one and mechanic service is really cheap. If possible, pay an Ecuadorian to do the haggling for you, because as a foreigner you will be a target for inflated prices.
Another good tip if you are leaving your travels from Ecuador is to sell the Ecuadorian car back to someone else. It is definitely possible to sell it for almost the exact same price as you bought it for. Foreign-registered cars I have no idea.