Getting a Drivers License
in Ecuador

After almost ten years in Ecuador, we finally bought a car. Now the fun part....getting our drivers license in Ecuador.

The Law

By law, if you live in Ecuador, to drive you must get an Ecuadorian drivers license. Some have tried to get around this by getting an international drivers license, but Ecuador will only accept this license for six months (180 days) according to the people I spoke to at the Comision de Transito.

According to Article 10 of the transportation law, you can drive within Ecuador on your foreign license as a tourist or if you are a citizen of Ecuador but reside in a foreign country.

This article also says you can "exchange" your license for an Ecuadorian license. There is a reference to Article 94, which says you just have to take the tests required for a license. Seems easy enough right?

After my initial meeting with the Transit authorities where I was told I have no choice but to go to driving school, I got a second opinion. And it seems that I was either lied to, or the Transit office in Tena has no idea about the exchanging of foreign licenses. Either is quite possible.

Exchanging Your Foreign Drivers License

To avoid going to and paying for driving school, you can exchange you license. This is being done all the time, all over Ecuador.

Note: If you are in the process of moving to Ecuador, it would be a good idea to get Steps 1 and 2 mentioned below done before leaving for Ecuador.

The process:

  • Obtain your driving history from your country/state of residence. You have to apply for the official one that can be used in court in the US.
  • The history must then be apostilled. Right now I'm having my dad handle this part since he is in the States.
  • Next, translate the history into Spanish and get it notarized.
  • Fill out the application form and present it with your: 
  1. Cédula 
  2. Certificado de votación
  3. Copy of your passport and visa page 
  4. Copy of your censo (if you have one) 
  5. Original and copy of your foreign drivers license 
  6. Your translated, notarized, apostilled driving history 
  7. Blood type card (you can get this at the Cruz Roja or other clinics approved by the Dirección de Transito) 
  8. Two recent photos "carné" size (just smaller than a passport photo)
  • Wait for your application to be approved. If you are applying outside of Quito this can take a week or more.
  • Once approved, you will have to take a series of tests. Vision and hearing screenings as well as other basic tests. For more on these test see this link (in Spanish).
  • When you have passed all the tests you will need to pay for your license. ProduBanco, Banco de Pacifico and (I believe) even Correos del Ecuador accept payments. Cost: $38.
  • Take your written test. You can take the test online to practice: Practice test. It's pretty basic. But it is in Spanish. There are facilitators that can provide you a list of the test questions in English. With enough practice online you may not even need this.
  • Get your license! All done. 

I'm only on Step 2, but I will let you know how the rest goes!

For more info see this page.

Driving School

You can take a driving course to get your license. The course is typically one to two weeks long. Some schools offer a course on the weekends which lasts about a month.

Aneta is one of the most popular schools in Ecuador. Their course includes classes to learn the Ecuadorian transportation laws, a psychiatric evaluation (guess they don't want crazy people driving), a first aid class, and driving practice. 

To find the Aneta office near you click here.

The class costs around $200 depending on the driving school. If you have a valid license from a foreign country the exchange route described above does end up being cheaper, but may be more time consuming depending on your circumstances.

After School

Once you finish the driving course you will receive a certificate that shows you've completed the course. 

Next you take this certificate along with the other requirements to the Comision de Transito. Requirements include:

  • able to read and write Spanish
  • copies of identifying information (passport, cedula, visa)
  • a blood card showing your blood type (which can be obtained in Ecuador at the local Red Cross) 
  • you also have to pre-pay at the Banco de Pacifico 

Once you pass the written and driving tests you will receive your license. Cost: $38.

The written test is really pretty easy. Read it carefully. It's mostly common sense and recognizing signage. You can take a practice test online.

For full list of requirements and payment instructions click here.

Renewing Your Drivers License in Ecuador

If you already have an Ecuadorian license you won't have to take the driving class again. But you will have to pass all the tests given at the Comision de Transito.

For full list of requirements to renew your license click here.

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› Drivers License

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