Updated last year

The passport, especially a European or American passport, is one of the most sought-after documents in Ecuador. A stolen and then altered passport can be worth thousands of dollars on the black market. Here are a few tips to safeguard that precious document.

Keeping your passport safe

When you arrive in Ecuador, make a colour copy of your passport. Copy stores and copy machines are everywhere in most cities and towns in Ecuador. Carry that copy with you and never carry the original. Keep your original passport in the safe at your hotel or locked up and hidden in your house. If you are not in a hotel or your hotel room does not have a safe then hide the passport in the room.

When you take your passport to an official, i.e., a bank or utility office, also bring your colour copy. Show the official that the copy is identical but do not leave the original with the official. Attorneys in Cuenca have stated that there is no official requirement anywhere in Ecuador that requires you to leave your passport with anyone else.

Do not give your passport to your lawyer or facilitator unless you completely trust them and you know of their excellent reputation. Before the advent of visa offices in all large Ecuadorian cities starting in around 2013, certain visa facilitators would send your passport by DHL to the Ecuadorian Embassies in the USA for faster visa processing. Today, there is no need for this as visas are processed locally in all the larger cities, and all they require is that you leave a colour copy with them.

In case of loss

Losing your passport in any foreign country is sticky matter, so it's best to know where your passport is at all time. One or two backup copies is a prudent safeguard, or you could scan your passport and email it to yourself or a trusted friend for access in an emergency. In addition, do not carry your wallet or purse with all of your identification and credit cards in them. Carry one or maybe two cards with you and a colour copy of your passport, and keep each item in different pockets. Hide the rest of your credit cards and identification cards along with your passport in a very safe place. A suggestion is to purchase small wallets that can be carried under your clothing for safekeeping your valuables. Pickpockets are everywhere.

In addition, keep your money in different pockets so if something happens you'll only lose some of your money.

Be careful and smart, keep watch around yourself, and you will have a good experience with no mishaps!

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