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Ecuador

Ecuador
Republic of Ecuador
Exercise normal precautions in Ecuador. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Exercise normal precautions in Ecuador. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Do not travel to:

  • Esmeraldas, Carchi, and Sucumbíos provinces due to crime.

Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.

If you decide to travel to Ecuador:

Esmeraldas, Carchi, and Sucumbíos Provinces – Level 4:  Do Not Travel

Since January 2018, a transnational crime group has kidnapped and murdered Ecuadorian citizens in Esmeraldas province, in addition to carrying out bombings targeting Ecuadorian military and law enforcement.

The U.S. government is limited in its ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in the Colombian border area, as U.S. government personnel cannot travel to the provinces of Esmeraldas, Carchi, and Sucumbíos without permission from the Embassy’s security office. However, U.S. government personnel are permitted to travel to the northern bank of the Napo River in Sucumbíos, an area approximately four miles wide.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

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Embassy Messages
Alerts
Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

6 months

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

1 page per stamp

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

No, for stays less than 90 days in any 12-month period

VACCINATIONS:

Yellow fever, if traveling in the Amazon Basin or to other South American destinations

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

None 

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

There is a 5 percent tax on currency taken out of Ecuador above $1098.00. See the Ecuadorian Revenue Service website

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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Quito

Ave. Avigiras E12-170 y Ave. Eloy Alfaro 
Quito, Ecuador
Telephone: +(593)(2) 398-5000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(593)(2) 398-5000
Fax: +(593)(2) 398-5100

Consulates

U.S. Consulate General Guayaquil
Santa Ana St. and Jose Rodriguez Bonin Ave.
San Eduardo, Ecuador
Telephone: +(593)(4) 371-7000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(593)(4) 371-7000
Fax: +(593)(4) 371-7045

Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Ecuador for information on U.S. – Ecuador relations. 

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

If you are traveling for business or tourism, you do not need a visa for stays of up to 90 days in any 12-month period.  You can request an extension through provincial migration offices.  Additional information is available on the Ecuadorian Ministry of Interior website.

  • If you are planning a visit longer than 90 days, you must obtain a visa in advance.  Visit the Embassy of Ecuador website for the most current visa information.
  • You must carry identification, including proof of U.S. citizenship. Carry a photocopy of your passport (including the entry stamp and/or visa) with you at all times.
  • If your passport is lost or stolen while you are in Ecuador, you should obtain a police report and apply for a new passport at the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate General. We also recommend obtaining an entry/exit report from an Ecuadorian immigration office before leaving the country.  For further information, see the Ecuadorian Ministry of Interior website, as well as Mission Ecuador's website.
  • U.S. citizens born in Ecuador are required to show an Ecuadorian passport or national ID card upon entering and exiting Ecuador.  More information is available on Mission Ecuador's website.
  • U.S. citizen children born in Ecuador who are traveling without one or both parents must present a copy of a birth certificate and written authorization from the absent parent(s).  If the parent is deceased, a notarized copy of the death certificate is required.  For more information, see Mission Ecuador's website.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Ecuador.

Find information on dual nationalityprevention of international child abduction, and customs regulations on the State Department's website.

Safety and Security

Exercise caution when traveling to northern Ecuador, especially the provinces of Carchi, northern Esmeraldas, and Sucumbíos.  U.S. government personnel may travel to the northern bank of the Napo River in Sucumbíos, where tourist lodges are located, an area approximately four miles wide.  All other U.S. government travel to the northern border area is prohibited without prior permission.  This region has a high rate of ransom kidnappings.  U.S. citizens are not targeted, but have been kidnapped there in the past.  

Crime: Crime is a widespread problem in Ecuador.

  • Pick-pocketing, robbery, and hotel room theft are the most common crimes.  Tourists have been robbed at gunpoint on beaches and along hiking trails.  Passengers arriving at the Quito and Guayaquil airports have also been targets of armed robberies.
  • Use hotel safes if available, avoid wearing obviously expensive jewelry or clothing, and carry only the cash or credit cards that you need.  Stay alert in crowds and on public transportation.  Be aware that thieves might create distractions to target you.
  • Be alert for express kidnappings, in which criminals enter a taxi and force victims to withdraw money from ATMs.  Some victims have been beaten or raped.  Avoid hailing taxis on the street.  Order taxis by phone or use a service affiliated with major hotels.  Avoid withdrawing large amounts of cash at one time.  Use ATMs in well-protected indoor areas.
  • To avoid carjacking or theft from your car while you are stopped at intersections, drive with your doors locked and windows rolled up. Do not leave valuables in plain view.
  • Sexual assaults and rapes can occur, even in tourist areas.  Travel in groups, do not leave food or drinks unattended, and never allow a stranger to give you a drink.
  • Do not let your credit card out of your sight in order to avoid credit card “skimming.”
  • Incapacitating drugs, such as rohypnol and scopolamine, have been used to facilitate violent robberies and sexual assaults.

See the Department of State and the FBI webpages for information on scams.

Victims of Crime: Report crimes to the local police by calling 911. In Quito, you can visit an Ecuadorian Tourist Security Service Attention Center.  You should also contact the U.S. Embassy at +593-2-398-5000 or the U.S. Consulate General in Guayaquil at +593-4-371-7000

Local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes.

See the State Department’s webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.  Information about victim’s assistance programs in Ecuador is available on the Mission Ecuador website.

We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide information on victim’s compensation programs in the United States.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical
  • support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

Domestic Violence:  U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy or Consulate General for assistance.

Civil Unrest:  Demonstrations occur frequently.  Protesters often block roads and sometimes burn tires, throw rocks, and damage other personal property.

  • Police may respond using water cannons and tear gas.
  • Avoid demonstrations and prepare back-up transportation plans. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent with little or no warning.

Messages regarding demonstrations and strikes, explosive devices/suspicious packages, and weather-related events are posted on Mission Ecuador’s website.

For further information:

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties:  You are subject to local laws.  If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. 

  • Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking illegal drugs in Ecuador are severe.  Offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
  • Never agree to carry a suitcase or package through customs for anyone.

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law.  For examples, see the State Department’s website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest Notification:  If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate General immediately.  See the State Department’s webpage for further information.

Seismic Activity:  There are numerous active volcanoes, and earthquakes are common.  Earthquakes can trigger deadly tsunamis.  Visit Ecuador’s National Risk Management Secretariat and the Ecuadorian Geophysical Institute for more information.

  • Mud or lava flows from Tungurahua volcano could pose a significant and immediate threat to travelers in Baños.
  • The town of Latacunga is directly in the path of potential mud or lava flow from the Cotopaxi volcano.  Even small emissions from the volcano can trigger avalanches and landslides.  Low lying areas in the greater Quito area could also be affected if Cotopaxi erupts.
  • In the event of a natural disaster, pay attention to the news media for updates. 
  • See the Center for Disease Control website for information on emergency preparedness and response.

Hallucinogens:  Traditional hallucinogens, often referred to as ayahuasca or San Pedro, are often marketed to tourists as ”spiritual cleansing,” and typically contain dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a strong hallucinogen that is illegal in the United States, Ecuador, and many other countries.  Health risks are not well understood, and, on occasion, people suffer serious illness or death after taking these drugs.  Intoxicated travelers also have been assaulted and robbed.  These incidents often occur a great distance from medical facilities, making the risks even greater.  

Galápagos Islands: Be aware of the following challenges:

  • Many Ecuadorian tour vessels operating in the Galápagos do not meet international safety standards.  Inquire about safety features when boarding vessels.
  • The two hospitals on Santa Cruz and San Cristobal Islands do not perform major medical procedures.
  • Serious injury or illness in the Galapagos typically requires medical evacuation to the Ecuadorian mainland or the United States.  This can cost $60,000 or more and take significant time to arrange.  We strongly recommend you purchase travel insurance that includes health coverage and air evacuation.
  • There are limited decompression facilities for scuba divers.
  • The Ecuadorian government restricts the entry of certain items into the Galapagos.  Visit the Agency for Biosecurity and Quarantine Regulation and Control for the Galapagos for more information.

Retiring in Ecuador:  In recent years, Ecuador has become a top overseas destination for retiring U.S. citizens.

  • U.S. citizens have reported unethical practices by lawyers, real estate agents, and others, resulting in costly losses and little hope of remedy through the local judicial system.
  • Ecuadorian rules governing visas and customs are subject to change with little notice.  The Ecuadorian government publishes little information in English. The U.S. Embassy and U.S. Consulate General cannot give detailed advice about Ecuadorian immigration law.

Faith-Based Travelers:  See our following webpages for details:

LGBTI Travelers:  There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Ecuador.  Same-sex marriage is prohibited, but civil unions are allowed.  LGBTI individuals may face discrimination.

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Travelers with disabilities might have difficulty accessing buildings.  Sidewalks in some areas are narrow and poorly maintained.

Students:  See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers:  See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

Health

Adequate medical and dental care is available in major cities.  In smaller communities and in the Galapagos Islands, services are limited, and the quality is generally well below U.S. standards.

  • Ambulance service is limited.
  • Specialized medical care can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
  • Pharmacies are widely available.  However, some medications might not be offered, and brand names will differ from products in the United States.
  • Exercise caution if you explore herbal and folk remedies.
  • Quito is 9,400 feet above sea level.  Some other tourist destinations in the mountainous region may be higher.  Consult your doctor for recommendations concerning medication and lifestyle tips at high altitude.

We do not pay medical bills.  Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas. 

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas.  Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. As of May 1, 2018, Ecuador requires foreign visitors to have health insurance. See the Ecuadorian Ministry of Tourism’s website for more information, and carry proof of health insurance at all times.

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.  

If traveling with prescription medication, check with the government of Ecuador’s National Customs Service for personal use procedures.  Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription. 

The following diseases are present:

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety:  Some roads are poorly maintained and may lack crash barriers, guard rails, signs, and streetlights.  Heavy fog and rain make conditions more treacherous.

  • Due to a lack of sidewalks, many roads are also used by pedestrians.
  • Slow-moving buses and trucks frequently stop in the middle of the road unexpectedly.
  • In rural areas, you may encounter livestock in the road.
  • Many vehicles are poorly maintained and breakdowns are common.

Traffic Laws:  You may use your U.S. driver’s license for up to 90 days.  If you are staying in Ecuador longer, you should contact the National Transit Agency to obtain a valid driver’s license.

  • Drivers often disobey traffic laws and signals.  They rarely yield to pedestrians and cyclists.
  • If you are involved in an accident, even if you are not at fault, you may be taken into police custody, especially if there are injuries or if you do not have insurance.  If the injuries or damages are serious, you may face criminal charges.
  • You might encounter intoxicated drivers.  Chances of a drunk-driving accident are higher on weekends and Ecuadorian holidays.
  • If you want to import a vehicle, contact Ecuador’s National Customs Service for local regulations.  You must pay for local liability insurance, called SPPAT.

Public Transportation:  Intra- and inter-city bus passengers are often targets of crime, including robbery and sexual assault.  

  • Armed criminals have been known to board local city buses and rob passengers.
  • Numerous bus accidents occur every year in Ecuador.  Many buses are overcrowded, poorly maintained, and lack safety features such as seat belts.  

See the State Department’s Road Safety page for more information.  Visit the website of Ecuador's national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Ecuador’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Ecuador’s air carrier operations.  Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.

Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Ecuador should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts.  Information may also be posted to the  U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the NGA broadcast warnings website (click “Broadcast Warnings”).

Last Updated: October 4, 2017
Travel Advisory Levels

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Quito
Ave. Avigiras E12-170 y Ave.
Eloy Alfaro 
Quito, Ecuador
Telephone
+(593)(2) 398-5000
Emergency
+(593)(2) 398-5000 
Fax
+(593)(2) 398-5100
Ecuador Map