How to bring your car to Ecuador

Hello everybody,

If you exported your car to Ecuador, were there any formalities that needed to be completed beforehand? What were they?

What is the best way to export your car? Is there a limit on the number of vehicles, or perhaps the age of the vehicle? Are there limits on emissions or emission controls in Ecuador?

What are the expected costs of exporting a car? In your opinion, is it worth it?

Once you arrived in Ecuador, what were the applicable taxes? What was the customs process like?

How do you go about registering an imported car in Ecuador?

Is it best to buy a car once you have arrived or to bring your car with you, in your opinion?

We look forward to hearing from you!



The simple answer to this question is: you cannot bring your car to Ecuador.

That's the answer.

There are exceptions for returning nationals; however this is not a site that careers to returning Ecuadorians.

There is the feasibility of importing a new car within very strict conditions of type, and limited mileage.

But once again, the bottom line answer is -- you can't.


Thanks Susan for the feedback, very much appreciated.

Another exception - foreign diplomats are still able to bring a vehicle - although we were not technically "diplomats" we were able to bring in a US vehicle a long, long time ago and IIRC we sold it in Ecuador as we left.  Not many of us will fall into the "foreign diplomat" category though, and the laws have changed many times since then.

You can however bring your menaje de casa (household goods) as well as tools and equipment and machinery used for work:

Archer -

If you have a dip passport you can use dip plates on a car. It's not dependent on your job position but on your passport type. Dip plates exempt the car from most/many regulations and restrictions.

Diplomatic [passport] privilege varies from country to country but generally pretty sweet.

That is the final answer,you can"t.  I know a fellow American who drove to  Panama and put it on a boat to Columbia and entered into Ecuador through Columbia. Several years later they're still trying to get the paperwork cleared up.
We  could not afford a new Toyota four-wheel-drive four-door diesel or the Chevy diesel four-door. So what we settled for was a four-door Lada Niva with 28,000 km so far is been a very good vehicle no air-conditioning and it has the  beefed up suspension because it is a Russian military vehicle to withstand roads in Puerto Lopez.

The Colombian :

I know a fellow American who drove to Panama and put it on a boat to Colombia and entered into Ecuador through Colombia. Several years later they're still trying to get the paperwork cleared up.

Meantime, is the vehicle impounded or is the owner driving it?


Dear Bhavna

If you are moving to Ecuador, YES you can import a car, as a matter of fact I work in Imports here in Ecuador and I can help you, you can reach me via email to xxx for discuss it further


Danny Jaramillo

Moderated by Christopher 10 months ago
Reason : Please avoid sharing your contact details on the forum.
We invite you to read the forum code of conduct

Dear Danny,

Are you referring to new cars?  30-year-old classic cars?  Cars with diplomatic plates?  All of the above?

Or do you claim that a car with 5,000 miles on the odometer can successfully be imported into Ecuador?


These are some rates for importing a car. The car must be on an approved list and meet other guidelines, as was previously stated. If we're to take a brand new European model from instance by Peugeot. Importing would cost more than buying new here, because currently some models priced between $25,000-$30,000 are only 25%-30% more expensive than similar models in Europe. And the rates below don't even include shipping.

Advalorem 35.%
Fodinfa 0.5%
IVA 14%
ICE 5.05%
Total 54.55%

ADVALOREM (Essentially Duty on the total value of the car)
FODINFA (children development fund tax)
IVA (Value Added Tax, which is 12.0%-14%)
ICE (special tax for certain products, including vehicles)

OsageArcher :

You can however bring your menaje de casa (household goods) as well as tools and equipment and machinery used for work:

I moved my household goods here less than a year ago. I'd advise great caution about bringing "equipment and machinery" unless you have an investor or work visa and will be bringing these items as necessary items for your occupation. I have an investor visa because I but property and am establishing a farm and ecotourism business.

However, I was told that I cannot bring motorized equipment even with this, such as chainsaws, grass trimmers, etc.. Such things are 1/2 the price in the US. I may be able to bring them in later, but they cannot be mixed with your household goods I was told by several sources.

I was also told of someone on a pensioner visa whose hobby is woodworking. He had all kinds of equipment--table saws, lathe, drill press, etc--he was told it could be confiscated and he could be fined because it's considered professional equipment. Not all customs officials are bribable. So, you could be taking a big risk.

BoatMarc :

he could be fined because it's considered professional equipment. Not all customs officials are bribable.  So, you could be taking a big risk.

Expats should make the presumption that no customs officials are bribable.

Worse than being fined for bringing in an illegal grass cutter .. would be getting busted trying to bribe the wrong SENAE inspector.


I brought a chainsaw in my container and would have brought other tools if the  movers had packed everything they were supposed to.  Not to mention, even tho we were assured they knew how prepare all the appropriate paperwork for ecuador customs, it was a total mess and disaster.  Thank God for the lady we used to bring in our container.  She told us not to come for the inspection, asked us for money for lunch for the custom agents, and less than $200 in "bribes". 

We could not bring in our car or Harley.  Although, since the Harley was on consignment back home for sale and hadn't sold, we did befriend an acquaintance whose girlfriend worked in the office where all the auto registration takes place.  He said if we decided to bring it in through Panama, she could go through the system and find a similar bike and get the motorcycle registered here.  The cost was gonna be $250.  The next week our Harley sold, which I'm convinced was a blessing, and left us owing no one any favors.  From what I've been told, and don't know for fact, but now all household containers being brought in are scanned and x-rayed.  Mine was not, so it was easy to hide certain things inside the casing of my washer/dryer.  Not illegal things, just things I didn't want to present any problems.

If you bring in a container, my advice is to use an agent here who knows the customs people and worked there for 20+ years, to help avoid any crazy problems.  Also make sure you have insurance through a US company.  We were told by numerous people that we would never collect on the stuff that was broken through the insurance company and

They still are driving it. but keep it local and a packet of papers as well as there attorney's name an phone number.  We have seen even with all that when they run across the wrong ANT agent on a traffic stop there is a very real possibility that you will not be driving away.

I am looking to import a used car. From what I have read here, I am confused as to whether that is possible at this time. Some say no, some say yes.   (I have a 2005 Chevy Optra)

Permanent import of a used car by a North American is not permitted in Ecuador.

A possible exception is the import of certain fancy decades-old "classic cars."

-- cccmedia near the Rumichaca border between Ecuador and Colombia

ok, thanks for the insight. :)

By the way, not sure if this makes a difference, my guess not, but the person is Venezuelan. The car would be shipped from Venezuela to Ecuador. On the other hand, could they just drive the car in via Colombia as a "tourist"?

From my understanding, at least with the old laws, if you drove  a vehicle (car, motorcycle), they gave you a 60 day tourist pass for it.  When I moved here 4 years ago, there was a gringo who drove and owned a truck with Alaska tags for about 2 years.  I heard they were cracking down on that.  He no longer owns/drives the truck and I never asked about it.  If you know an Ecuadorian who has a relative/connection that works in the dmv, they used to be able to fix those problems to a permanent vehicle registered here.  Of course, that requires a payoff, and not sure if it can be done now or not.  Just my $.02.

Hello Danny Jaramillo,

You write the following;

"If you are moving to Ecuador, YES you can import a car,
as a matter of fact I work in Imports here in Ecuador and I can help you,
you can reach me via email to xxx for discuss it further"

I would love to import my motorbike to Ecuador.

How can I contact You?

Greetings from Joe

Yes, pls elaborate.......

And another car related question for the gurus out there....Which country is more car friendly? Colombia, Ecuador or Peru? Obviously Ecuador wins on the fuel factor.......probably in last place in terms of car friendly......

dumluk :

And another car related question for the gurus out there...

You rang?!

Ecuador is more car-friendly than Colombia.  This does not mean that driving in Ecuador is a day in the park.

Looking at the straight or straight-ish lines on a Colombia road map, you have no idea how challenging are the miles upon miles of winding inclines where passing slow-moving vehicles is difficult at the least .. and treacherous during the frequent rains.  I refer to the Panamericana highway, the major north-south route that connects Quito with many cities in Colombia.

Also, to drive intercity roads in southern Colombia at night is taking your life in your hands, unless you are prepared to do battle with delincuente moto night riders...

cccmedia near the Rumichaca border between Colombia and Ecuador

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