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While public transport is prevalent country-wide and has a great reputation in Ecuador, you may choose to drive around the country on your own from time to time. However, before you go on a road trip across the country, check out what you need to do to keep on the right side of the law.

Non-resident drivers

In Ecuador, the law states that tourists and non-residents may drive for the number of days allowed on their visa. Note that the US Embassy’s website currently states that US tourists and temporary visitors are only allowed to drive for 30 days in Ecuador. In any event, while driving in Ecuador as a non-resident, you should always have the following documents with you:

  • the vehicle’s matrícula (licensing and annual tax receipt)
  • the vehicle’s proof of insurance
  • your passport, showing the entry date stamp
  • a valid Driver’s license from your home country
  • a printed copy of the law regarding your driving rights in Ecuador

An international driver’s license is another option, but it will only give you a maximum of 6 months legal driving in Ecuador.

Resident drivers

As a resident, of course, you will need a more permanent solution. The Agencia Nacional de Tránsito (ANT), the national vehicular authority in Ecuador, offers a program that makes it possible for expats to use a current valid license from another country as the basis for which to easily obtain an equivalent Ecuadorian driver’s license. To apply for an Ecuadorian license using your home country license, you will need:

  • 2 colour copies of your Cédula (ID card)
  • 2 colour copies of your passport and its residency page
  • 2 colour copies of the Blood Test Card (obtained for $5 at the Cruz Roja – Red Cross – offices, located in the larger cities in Ecuador)
  • your driving history, certified by competent authorities in your country of origin, apostilled within 3 months of usage in Ecuador. The documents will need to be translated and notarized and should show at least 3 years of your records
  • 2 colour copies of your original valid driver’s license, both sides
  • 2 Passport photos

First, you will need to pay for and undergo a psicosensométrica evaluation. This test, costing about $12, certifies that you can see and react, and is performed at private testing centres that are typically located next door to the Ecuadorian licensing offices. Outside all ANT offices is usually someone who will sell you a book of all the possible questions that may be on your written exam, and it is highly recommended to study these questions. ANT also offers a website with randomized samples of 20 question tests that will give you an idea of the type of questions that you will see on your official test. You can take as many tests as you like to practice before the real thing.

Once you have all your documents and are ready for testing, present yourself to an ANT licensing centre and submit these documents to the clerk who will review them and hopefully approve you for testing, if all is in order. If your request is approved, you will be given a slip of paper with a code that will be used to pay for your test and the license as well as an appointment to return for your licensing test. You will be told at which bank that you are to pay this fee and how much to pay, currently $60.

The test is a written exam, performed on a computer screen, consisting of 20 multiple choice questions in Spanish, taken randomly from a bank of 400 questions. Many of the questions involve a street or road sign and the associative meaning. A minimum score of 16 out of 20 is needed to pass, after which you will then be able to legally drive yourself all over Ecuador. The license is valid for 5 years.

If you do not hold a valid driver’s license from another country, you must take lessons from a driving school in order to obtain an Ecuadorian driver’s license. There are many driving schools throughout Ecuador that will steer you through the required 4-6 weeks curriculum leading up to a certificate of completion. This certificate will allow you to pay for and take the 20-question test mentioned above. If you pass this test, you will then be granted a license to drive in Ecuador. Student driving vehicles are often seen in and around most larger cities and are very easy to spot with logos on all sides of the instruction car. Driving school tuition can run anywhere from $200 to $500, depending on where you take the course and which course you want to take.

 Good to know:

Those wanting a motorcycle license must show proof of already holding a motorcycle license in your driving record. If you do not, an additional motorcycle course will be required in addition to all the above requirements.

 Useful link:

Agencia Nacional de Tránsito (ANT)
ANETA - a driving school in Ecuador

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