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 Chris 3 years 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

Good day, eh:

Could anyone tell me if a person with a permanent resident Visa moving to Ecuador can import a 3 wheel electric car? [link moderated]  Or, where I can find out?

Thank you.

Bruce Bindon

Cars of a previous model year cannot legally be imported to Ecuador.

Unless brand-new, your electric car probably does not fit the few exceptions, which include...

  -- classic cars of certain 20th century vintage

  -- cars of Ecuadorians returning to the country (time-restrictions apply and the government must review)

If you have any doubts about the above, you may use the Contacto option that appears on the welcome page of Ecuador's DMV -- aka ANT, Agencia Nacional de Tránsito:

Be prepared to communicate in español.


Importacion  de vehiculos electricos en ecuador

Evidently the question of electronic vehicles and three wheel sin particular has been brought before the legislature.

Your best bet to get the most up to date information is to contact one of the better known importers of expat belongings.  I would suggest Sanestar and Sandra Baquero.

Hi. Glad to hear the 3 wheeler is being considered.

If anyone can direct me to an English Speaking Lawyer in Puerto Lopez it would be much appreciated.

B.Bindon :

If anyone can direct me to an English Speaking Lawyer in Puerto Lopez it would be much appreciated.

That little fishing village may be a difficult place to find a full-time-based attorney with good English skills.

My Quito attorney spends a lot of time on the coast and perhaps could help you.  Sebastian Cordero, email scordero(at)


Thank you, " CCMedia " .

Would there be any Lawyers in Puerto Lopez, e.g. Spanish speaking only ?

To seek an answer to this question, I'd PM message Susan_in_Ecuador, an member of this forum who used to be a lawyer in the States and who has participated in this thread.

Her current location is on the Ecuador coast, although not in Puerto López.

cccmedia near the Ecuador-Colombia border

It was my understanding that when moving to Ecuador that a "regular" person could not bring their car or truck.  We would have to buy one in the country.
Has some law changed?


Hi there,
It is absolutely possible to bring a vehicle into Ecuador. There are some problems with that though, so the decision to import a vehicle has to be thought through very very well. My wife and I plan on bringing a vehicle over to Ecuador in 2020. Here's what we've been able to find out:

Rules on bringing a vehicle to Ecuador:
This is as official as it gets, from the US Embassy in Ecuador.

In 2020 my wife and I will be going on a 3 to 4 week vacation in Ecuador. During this time we will find the specific area where we want to settle down, followed by finding several decent Real Estate prospects that match our interest. We've already done tons and tons of research into Ecuador.

After we return home, we will put our home on the market. We have a place to stay here in Germany, even after our home sells. Once we have the money in the bank, we'll be arranging for a large 40ft. household container in which we'll be shipping our vehicle as well as our household goods. We've made several Oversees moves like this before, with all of our own packing, and we've even shipped a vehicle once before. If we can do it, anyone else (able-bodied) can too.

The three biggest "problems" about importing a vehicle, stem from the fact that the vehicle can be no more than 4 years old upon arriving in Ecuador, getting around the massive customs fees, and that the shipper/recipient of the vehicle must have resided outside of Ecuador for at least 3 years. This will be no problem at all for us. In 2020 we will be residents in the Country where we'll be moving from for 5 years. So as soon as we sell our home here, we'll be purchasing a 3 year old vehicle that we'll be taking to Ecuador with us. Our flight back to Ecuador will get there about 10 to 12 weeks before our shipping container arrives with the vehicle & household goods. This is the key to saving money on import duties ...

... because within 7 to 10 days of landing, we'll be purchasing Real Estate that has a value of at least 25.000 USD, which simultaneously provides you with a residential visa and the same property rights as an Ecuadorian Citizen ... and which will also permit you to import up to 20.000 USD worth of household goods while making your vehicle import duties excempt. But just to be on the safe side, we're going to make sure that our vehicle doesn't cost more than apx. 12.000 USD and that our household goods aren't worth more than about 8.000 USD max, in order to stay below the 20.000 USD threshold, no matter what.

So yes, a vehicle can indeed be imported. It's just tricky and you have to weigh the probability of being able to qualify doing this ... affordably. For 12.000 USD my wife and I can find a 3 year old vehicle with 75.000 miles or less on it. In Ecuador the same vehicle would cost us double, if not triple that amount of money. There's no way in the world that we're paying that kind of money for a car ... or even just 10.000 USD for a car in Ecuador, that can be purchased in Europe or the USA for a fraction of that price.  :mad:

A poster named El Mungo claimed in January that he can get a car imported into Ecuador.  It's in post #20 above.

Frankly, I don't believe that is legally possible .. unless the car owner is a diplomat, is importing a brand-new vehicle, or is an Ecuadorian national returning to his native country.


Based on my following of top Expat sites, I don't believe there has been any change in the vehicle-importation restrictions.

If El Mungo has reliable information to the contrary and is still paying attention to this thread, I invite him to correct the record.


I included the link to the Ecuadorian Embassy in Washington DC. The link just happens to be under review. Are you seriously suggesting that the information from the Ecuadorian Embassy is incorrect? Seriously ???
I would like to believe that official Embassy info. is more viable than Expat info from Forum members who do not work for the Government of Ecuador ...

Dear Freejack,

Welcome to the Ecuador forum.


I note that while I was posting about El Mungo, Freejack was simultaneously posting about his family's detailed plans to bring a three-year old car to Ecuador in two or three years from now.

Beyond the issues he referenced, here are my issues with Freejack's stated plans...

1.  The Home Office has blocked the link he apparently posted about the rules on importing a car to Ecuador.  So unless that link is made accessible, we may not be able to check his assertion that a three-year-old car can be imported to Ecuador.

2.  The omnibus immigration law of 2017 may preclude his obtaining a visa that would allow the import of any vehicle, let alone a three-year-old car.  The new law may have taken effect since the Freejacks did their research.  If they haven't consulted an attorney yet, they probably should do so next year.   Not now, but next year.. because ...

3.  By 2020 or 2021 or whenever the car is ready to be imported to Ecuador, the laws on vehicle importation may have changed since now (early 2018).

4.  Even if the plan is technically feasible, the part about getting an Ecuadorian document such as a visa or cédula in a matter of weeks based on having just purchased property worth 25K or more .. is a thread-the-needle proposition.  Due to property-closing red tape, it is difficult to take full ownership of almost any property in Ecuador in a few weeks even if buyer and seller are agreed on all issues.
A better plan might be to qualify for resident rights (if legally feasible in 2020 or 2021) by purchasing a certificate of deposit worth that amount.  That is because ...

5.  The number-one rule for new Expat arrivals in Ecuador is this:

Do not buy or build on property until you have lived in the target area for at least one year.


Following below is a copy/paste, directly from the Ecuadorian Embassy page. [at]cccmedia ... I have read many many of your posts. You have many neutral and often negative things to say. I wonder why that is? The research of "The Freejacks" has been made during the past 15 days (March 2018). I also stated that the container would arrive 10 - 12 weeks after we do. I have done a lot of research and have yet to find a post by anyone who wasn't able to obtain their land deed within 10 weeks ... from a reputable local realtor. Anyway, here's the info. from the Ecuadorian Embassy:

Consular Services
Shipment of Household Effects to Ecuador

Presidential Decree No. 888 was implemented as of January 2012. It contains the general regulations for importing household effects and work equipment for persons who are returning to Ecuador to establish a permanent residence. It is of paramount importance to be informed of all of the content of Decree 888 before buying and shipping household effects.

What are household effects?

Household effects include all new and used items that a family utilizes on a daily basis, such as: electrical appliances, clothing, furniture, household appliances, dishes, tools, home decoration, books, computers and other household items acquired by an individual or nuclear family in the country in which they were a permanent resident. All of the items should have been acquired before the return trip to Ecuador and should be shipped from the country in which the person was a permanent resident. The quantities must be within the permissible range.

In order to take advantage of tax free imports on household effects, one must have resided outside of Ecuador for at least one year with a total number of entries into the country not exceeding a period of 60 days.


A person travels to the United States on January 5th, 2011 in order to study.

In March they return to Ecuador for 10 days (first entry).

In July they travel to Ecuador for 30 days (second entry).

On January 10th 2012, the person wants to return to Ecuador with household effects. This person qualifies to bring his/her household effects since he or she remained within the United States during the year and only returned to Ecuador for a total of 40 days (first and second entries).

Is it possible to bring a vehicle as part of household effects?

For a vehicle (automobile or motorcycle) to be considered part of household effects, it must comply with the following requirements:

1. The owner must have lived in another country for at least three (3) years;

2. The certificate of title, registration, and license plate number or equivalent documentation issued by the competent authority must be in the name of the person who will take the household effects. Endorsed documents are not accepted.

Only a family owned motor vehicle will qualify as part of household effects.

The vehicle must comply with the following characteristics:

a. Automobiles. The maximum value permitted is $20,000.00 USD (twenty thousand dollars). The value of the automobile will be determined by taking into account the sale price at which the “model year” hit the market. Engine displacement must not exceed 3,000 cubic centimeters. The “model year” should be within the last four years, including the year of the import. In other words, if the import of household effects including the automobile occurs in the year 2012, the year of manufacture should be 2009, 2010, 2011 or 2012. The automobile must be shipped with the household effects; it cannot be imported alone.

b. Motorcycles. The maximum value permitted is $8,000.00 USD (eight thousand dollars). The value of the motorcycle will be determined by taking into account the sale price at which the “model year” hit the market. Engine displacement must not exceed 650 cubic centimeters. The “model year” should be within the last four years, including the year of the import. In other words, if the import of household effects including the motorcycle occurs in the year 2012, the year of manufacture should be 2009, 2010, 2011, or 2012.

Accident damaged motor vehicles will not be considered part of household effects even if they have been repaired.

Is it possible to bring work equipment as part of household effects?

Tools or work equipment are considered to be utensils, instruments or professional equipment, new or used. Their function is to carry out a productive task or trade, linked to the activity, profession, art or trade of the person importing and/or his/her immediate family. Such equipment or tools must be necessary to undertake a single productive task in the country, by the spouse or cohabitant. This activity must be expressly stated on the declaration of importation form issued by the National Customs Service.

Work equipment does not necessarily have to be portable. Therefore, it can consist of stationary or fixed work tools, instruments, structures, machines or machinery that can be dismantled or dismounted.

For cases in which work equipment exceeds a value of $30,000.00 USD (thirty thousand dollars), persons must present an investment project for their business in Ecuador in accordance with the specified standard that the National Customs Service of Ecuador dictates.

Vehicles, ships, aircrafts as well as raw materials, and textiles will not be admitted under the status of work equipment.


Freejack,  are you sure you understand the decree?  Presidential Decree 888 refers to Ecuadorians, not to foreigners.

It says "for persons who are returning to Ecuador to establish a permanent residence". This is from the first paragraph in your copy-and-paste, above.

Are you returning to Ecuador?  Do you understand that this decree refers to Ecuadorians and not to foreigners?  Is your wife an Ecuadorian citizen, or are you?

The beginning of Decree 888, Article 3 in Spanish which specifically deals with vehicles:

Art. 3.- Vehículo como parte de menaje de casa.-  Se considerará también parte del
menaje de casa para las ecuatorianas y ecuatorianos que retornan con el ánimo de
domiciliarse en el Ecuador, hasta un vehículo automotor de uso familiar o una motocicleta...

Translated this says:
Art. 3.- Vehicle as a part of household goods.-  Up to one motor vehicle for family use or one motorcycle will be considered also as a part of household goods for Ecuadorians who return with the desire to take up residence in Ecuador...

You can read Decreto Ejecutivo 888 (in Spanish) here: … _20114.pdf

The Decree makes clear it is referring to Ecuadorians in foreign countries who wish to return.  For instance in the second paragraph it states the purpose of the Decree is to:
"...facilitar la reunificación familiar y estimular el retorno voluntario de las personas ecuatorianas en el exterior..."

Translated:  " facilitate family reunification and stimulate the voluntary return of Ecuadorian persons in the exterior..."

I suggest you contact an Ecuadorian embassy or consulate near you, and ask them to explain who Decreto 888 is talking about.

Okay, you're absolutely right, and thank you for bringing this to my attention. My eyeballs simply ignored the part that read ...

"regulations for importing household effects and work equipment for persons who are returning to Ecuador"

Will do more dilligent research and provide more information as I find it. I'm sure that I'll find some official info. on the subject evetually, but I do find it hard to believe that Ecuador would make it almost impossible for retirees to import a vehicle. It's actually a huge plus for anyone spending their retirement dollars, to allow such a person to drive without punishing him or her for coming to the Country ...
Again, thank you.  :top:

Freejack, Ecuador and many other countries, not just South American ones, have strict rules to discourage individuals especially not their citizens, from importing vehicles either used or new without paying prohibitively high taxes and tariffs.

These rules exist generally to satisfy in-country constituencies as well as environmental and quality-of-life concerns.

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