Country Specific Info.
The United States State Department produces Consular Information Sheets with health, safety and other country information for every country in the world. They are one good source of information, though you should look at multiple sources of information and take your own personal situation into account when selecting a country to study in.
The latest Consular Information Sheet for Ecuador is below. We do not take responsibility for this information or edit it in any way.
You can access the State Department travel site directly at: http://travel.state.gov/travel/
October 1, 2015
Embassies and Consulates
U.S. Embassy Quito
Ave. Avigiras E12-170 y Ave. Eloy Alfaro (next to SOLCA)
Telephone: +(593)(2) 398-5000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(593)(2) 398-5000
Fax: +(593)(2) 398-5100
U.S. Consulate General Guayaquil
Avenida Jose Rodriguez Bonin and Calle Santa Ana
San Eduardo, Ecuador
Telephone: +(593)(4) 371-7000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(593)(4) 371-7000
Fax: +(593)(4) 371-7045
Ecuador is a Spanish-speaking country approximately the size of Colorado. It has a democratically elected government. In general, tourist facilities are adequate but vary in quality. Crime is a significant concern. Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar as its official currency, and U.S. bills and both U.S. and locally minted coins are accepted everywhere. Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Ecuador for additional information on U.S.-Ecuador relations.
Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
Visa Requirements to Enter Ecuador: If you are a U.S. citizen wishing to enter Ecuador, you must present a U.S. passport with at least six months remaining validity. Ecuadorian immigration officials also sometimes request evidence of return or onward travel, such as an airline ticket.
Under Ecuadorian law, U.S. citizens traveling for business or tourism on a tourist passport can enter Ecuador for up to 90 days per calendar year without a visa. Extensions for up to another 90 days can be requested through the provincial migration offices.
If you are planning a visit longer than 90 days, you must obtain a visa in advance of your arrival. Visit the website for the Embassy of Ecuador in the United States for the most current visa information. If you stay in Ecuador beyond the terms of your visa, you may be deported or barred from re-entering Ecuador in the future.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Ecuador.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
Proof of Legal Status While In Ecuador: Once you have entered Ecuador, Ecuadorian authorities require you to carry identification, including proof of U.S. citizenship, at all times. We recommend you carry a photocopy of your passport (including the personal data page and the entry stamp and/or visa) with you at all times while you’re in Ecuador. Leave your actual passport in a hotel safe or other secure location. Departing Ecuador: To depart Ecuador, you must present a valid U.S. passport.
Special Entry/Exit Instructions for U.S. Citizens Born in Ecuador: The Government of Ecuador considers any person born in Ecuador to be an Ecuadorian citizen. U.S. citizens born in Ecuador will be required to show an Ecuadorian passport or national ID card (“cédula”) to Ecuadorian Immigration authorities upon entering and exiting the country. Dual citizens who do not comply with this requirement may not be allowed to enter or exit the country. Be aware that all U.S. citizens, regardless of dual citizenship, must present a valid U.S. passport upon returning to the United States. Information about dual nationality can be found on our website.
Special Exit Requirements for Minors: Ecuador has implemented specific procedures to prevent international child abduction. Under Ecuadorian law, children under the age of 18 who are citizens or residents of Ecuador and who are traveling alone, with one parent, or with a third party, must present a copy of a birth certificate and written authorization from the absent parent(s) or legal guardian. When a parent is deceased, a notarized copy of the death certificate is required in lieu of written authorization. Details about how to prepare written authorization for a child’s travel are available on Embassy Quito's website. Further information about the prevention of international child abduction can be found on the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website.
Lost/Stolen Passports: If your U.S. passport is lost or stolen in Ecuador, you should obtain a police report and apply for a replacement at U.S. Quito or U.S. Consulate Guayaquil. We also recommend obtaining an entry/exit report (“Movimiento Migratorio”), from an Ecuadorian immigration office prior to leaving the country. Please see the Embassy or Consulate’s website for further information.
Safety and Security
For Emergeincies in Ecuador, Dial 911. English-speaking 911 operators are available.
Civil Unrest: Political demonstrations occur frequently throughout Ecuador. During demonstrations, protesters often block city streets and rural highways, including major arteries such as the Pan American Highway, disrupting public and private transportation. Protesters sometimes burn tires, throw rocks, damage cars and other personal property, and on occasion detonate small incendiary devices, such as Molotov cocktails. Police response to demonstrations varies, but may include water cannons and tear gas. U.S. citizens and U.S.-affiliated interests are not usually targeted, but you should avoid areas where demonstrations are in progress and be prepared with back-up transportation plans. Remember that even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent with little or no warning.
Northern Border Region: Due to the spread of organized crime, drug and small-arms trafficking, and incursions by terrorist organizations near Ecuador’s border with Colombia, the U.S. Embassy in Quito advises caution when traveling to northern Ecuador, including the provinces of Sucumbios, northern Orellana (including the city of Coca), Carchi, and northern Esmeraldas (including the city of Esmeraldas). U.S. government personnel are prohibited from traveling to the northern border unless case-specific permission is granted. Embassy personnel are not permitted to go to this region on personal travel of any kind. This region has a high rate of ransom kidnappings, and while U.S. citizens are not specifically targeted, U.S. citizens have been kidnapped there in the past.
To stay connected:
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Bookmark the Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.
Follow the U.S. Embassy in [Country Name] on Twitter[hyperlink to Twitter account] and visiting the Embassy’s website[hyperlink to site].
In the event of an emergency, contact us at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the United States and Canada, or via a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries.
Take some time before traveling to consider your personal security and checking for useful tips for traveling safely abroad.
Crime is a widespread problem in Ecuador. Crimes against U.S. citizens reported to the Embassy have ranged from petty theft to violent offenses, including armed robbery, home invasion, sexual assault, and several instances of murder and attempted murder. Very low rates of apprehension and conviction of criminals – due to limited police and judicial resources – contribute to concerns about crime in Ecuador.
“Express Kidnapping” Taxi Assaults: Robberies and assaults against taxi passengers, known locally as “secuestro express,” or express kidnappings, continue to present a significant safety concern, especially in Guayaquil and Manta, but also with increasing regularity in Quito. Shortly after the passenger enters a taxi, the vehicle is typically intercepted by armed accomplices of the driver, who threaten passengers with weapons, rob passengers of their personal belongings, and force victims to withdraw money from ATMs. Increasingly, victims have been beaten or raped during these incidents.
In Ecuador, you should call to order a taxi by phone or use a service affiliated with major hotels. Hailing a taxi on the street is strongly discouraged. Registered taxis in Ecuador are usually yellow, display matching unit numbers on their windshields and doors, feature a taxi cooperative name on the door, and are identified with a license plate that is either orange or white with an orange stripe on the top. Still, be aware that passengers have been victimized even in taxis that meet these criteria. In Guayaquil, U.S. government employees are not allowed to hail taxis on the street.
If you become a victim of express kidnapping and/or robbery, cooperation with the assailant usually results in the best outcome, as nothing material is as valuable as your life. Following a criminal incident, U.S. citizens are encouraged to immediately file a police report with the local authorities and to inform the American Citizens Services Unit at U.S. Embassy Quito or U.S. Consulate General Guayaquil. U.S. citizens are encouraged to report crimes to U.S. Mission Ecuador.
Violent Robberies: Armed or violent robberies can occur in all parts of Ecuador, not just in the major cities. Many travelers have been robbed after using ATMs or when exiting banks. Travelers should avoid withdrawing large amounts of cash at one time from banks and ATMs, and should use ATMs in protected indoor areas like well-guarded shopping malls. In some cases, robbers have used motorcycles to approach their victims and flee the scene. Tourists have also been robbed at gunpoint on beaches and along hiking trails. Additionally, drugs such as rohypnol and scopolamine have been used, not just to commit sexual assaults, but also to facilitate robberies. To be safe, do not leave your food or drinks unattended in public places, including restaurants, bars and night clubs.
Non-Violent Robberies: Pick-pocketing, purse snatching, robbery, bag slashing, and hotel room theft are the most common types of crimes committed against U.S. citizens in Ecuador. They occur throughout Ecuador and incidents have increased significantly in recent years. Pickpockets and other petty thieves are particularly active in airports, restaurants, on public transportation, in crowded streets, bus terminals, public markets, and grocery stores. Backpackers are frequently targeted for robbery, as are travelers carrying laptop computer bags. On buses, luggage stowed below the bus or at a traveler’s feet is sometimes stolen. Thieves in Ecuador often distract the victim, sometimes by purposefully spilling liquid on the victim and pretending to help the victim clean it up, while accomplices snatch the victim’s bag or pick the victim’s pocket. Use hotel safes when available, avoid wearing obviously expensive jewelry or designer clothing, and carry only the cash or credit cards that you will need on each outing. Stay alert when in crowds and on public transportation, and be conscious that distractions can be created to target you.
Carjacking and Thefts from Vehicles: To avoid carjacking or theft from your vehicle while you are stopped at intersections, drive with your doors locked and windows rolled up. “Smash and grabs” occur when thieves break into parked vehicles, but have also been known to occur in slow-moving or stopped traffic, particularly when cars are driven by females in the car alone. Do not leave anything of value in plain view in a car, including sunglasses, sports equipment, purses, briefcases, or valuables. Always be aware of your surroundings, and try to travel in groups.
Sexual Assault: Incidents of sexual assault and rape have increased, including in well-traveled tourist areas. Criminals generally target women who are alone, and use alcohol or incapacitating drugs, such as rohypnol and scopolamine, on unsuspecting tourists to rob and/or sexually assault them. These so-called date-rape drugs disorient the victim and can cause prolonged unconsciousness and serious medical problems. To lower your risk, travel in groups, do not leave food or drinks unattended in public places, and never allow a stranger to give you a drink.
Murder: Investigations and prosecutions of murder cases are the responsibility of the Ecuadorian government, and do not proceed with the speed and thoroughness we are accustomed to in the United States. Although the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Consulate General monitor and encourage these investigations, our ability to intervene is extremely limited. The Ecuadorian government has established an emergency hotline to for persons with information regarding murders or contract killings: 1-800-DELITO (1-800-335-486).
Credit Card Fraud: Increasing numbers of U.S. citizens in Ecuador have fallen victim to fraud related to their credit or debit cards. “Skimming,” the theft of credit card information during an otherwise legitimate transaction, is most likely to occur in restaurants or bars, where the skimmer takes the victim's card out of the owner’s view. To avoid skimming, take the credit/debit card to the register yourself and never let the card out of your sight. Also, be sure to monitor your bank account or credit card statement frequently.
Staying Alert in Quito: Stay particularly alert for crime on the crowded streets of southern Quito, at the Panecillo, the Historic District, and in the areas of El Tejar, Parroquia San Sebastian, Avenida Cristobal Colon, and Gonzalez Suarez. Quito’s Mariscal Sucre district, a popular tourist area with restaurants, bars, hotels, hostels, and shopping, is increasingly a site of crimes; reported incidents in recent years range from petty theft and sexual assault to shootings. In Mariscal Sucre, travel in groups when possible, avoid hailing taxis off the street or using unofficial taxis, and exercise caution. Outside the city, stay alert if hiking to the summit of Pichincha, as violent crime has been known to occur there.
Staying Alert in Guayaquil and Elsewhere on the Coast: Visitors should exercise extreme caution in the downtown area and the southern part of Guayaquil. Tourist sites such as the Christ statue (“Sagrado Corazon de Jesus”) on Cerro del Carmen, the Malecon 2000, and Las Peñas, though well patrolled by police, are still targeted by criminals hoping to prey on unsuspecting tourists. There have also been reports of armed robberies at restaurants in the fashionable areas of Urdesa and Samborondon.
At the airport in both Quito and Guayaquil, arriving passengers have been targeted by armed robbers who follow them from the airport to rob them. Cases have been reported involving multiple vehicles that cut off and intercept the victim, as well as just a single motorcycle rider who robs the victim while they are getting out of their car. The perpetrators appear to focus on travelers who are returning from overseas trips, who are presumed to be carrying gifts and large amounts of cash.
VICTIMS OF CRIME:
If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime, you should immediately contact the local police to file a crime report (known as a “denuncia”) and inform the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General. The Ecuadorian Tourist Security Service has opened a number of service centers throughout Quito, which provide general information and a location to file police reports.
If you are a victim of crime, the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General can:
Replace a stolen passport.
Help you find appropriate medical care if you are the victim of violent crimes such as assault or rape.
Put you in contact with the appropriate police authorities, and if you want us to, contact family members or friends.
Help you understand the local criminal justice process and direct you to local attorneys, although it is important to remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, regardless of your gender, you may receive assistance from a local branch of the Commissioner’s Office for Women and Family Issues.
Please see our information for victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States for crimes committed overseas.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
While you are traveling in Ecuador, you are subject to Ecuadorian laws. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own. Persons violating Ecuadorean laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Ecuador are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Never agree to carry a suitcase or package through customs for someone you met on the internet! If you are caught with drugs in your possession, even unknowingly, you will be sent to jail. If you break local laws in Ecuador, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution.
There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States. You can be prosecuted in the United States for engaging in sexual conduct with children or for using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country regardless of the legality of these activities under that country’s laws. Counterfeit and pirated goods are illegal in the United States and if you purchase them in a foreign country, you may be breaking local law as well.
If you are arrested in Ecuador, under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and customary international law, you have the option to request that the police, prison officials, or other authorities alert the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Outside of Quito and Guayaquil, awareness of international protocols is uneven. If you are arrested in Ecuador, request that the Ecuadorian authorities do this on your behalf. Please note, however, that the U.S. government has no authority to intervene in Ecuadorian legal matters.
Drug Trafficking: Each year, U.S. citizens are arrested by Ecuadorian authorities for attempting to traffic drugs between Ecuador and the United States, or between mainland Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands. Many of those arrested claim not to have known they were transporting drugs. Again, as noted above, never accept gifts, packages, or suitcases from anyone you do not know well, or from someone you met on the internet. If you are arrested for drug trafficking, you can expect to serve a lengthy period in pre-trial detention, and if convicted you will likely be sentenced to a long prison term and fined heavily. In nearly all cases, U.S. citizens convicted of drug trafficking in Ecuador must serve their sentences in Ecuador, where conditions of confinement are harsh, and far below U.S. standards.
Ayahuasca: Ayahuasca is an Amazonian psychotropic plant, generally brewed as a tea, which has traditionally been used for religious, ritual, and medicinal purposes by the indigenous peoples of the region. It is said to elicit intense modifications in thought processes, perception, and emotion. The psychoactive ingredient is Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a drug classified as Schedule I in the United States under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, “substances in this schedule have no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse.”
Ayahuasca tourism, in which shamans “guide” visitors through psychedelic rituals, is a burgeoning industry in the jungle regions of Ecuador and Peru. There is no way to vet ayahuasca tourism operators, and there are many risks involved. Some participants have reported adverse experiences during the rituals, including being seriously assaulted and robbed. Victims report a range of scenarios, from being alert but unable to maintain control of their surroundings, to total amnesia.
Seismic Activity: Ecuador has many active and potentially active volcanoes, including around the capital of Quito and near popular tourist destinations. Other potential environmental threats include flooding, mudslides, earthquakes, and tsunamis. In the event of a natural disaster, transportation, water, communications, and power systems may fail due to damaged infrastructure or heavy ash fall. Roads may close and flights in or out of Ecuadorian airports might be cancelled due to adverse conditions.
Numerous active volcanoes, including Guagua Pichincha, Cotopaxi, Cayambe, and Reventador are within 100 kilometers of Quito, and threaten the city primarily with ash fall. Baños, a popular tourist destination, is located at the base of the Tungurahua volcano. Tungurahua has erupted explosively several times in the last decade, including eruptions over the past five years, some of which produced significant ash fall. Travelers to Baños, especially on the western side of town, should be aware that mud or lava flows could pose a significant and immediate threat. If you are in Baños when a volcanic eruption occurs, stay alert to the sirens and instructions from local authorities, and follow the arrows on the street to reach the evacuation shelters in the Santa Ana neighborhood on the main road on the east side of town, towards Puyo.
The Cotopaxi volcano began experiencing a rise in unusual activity in mid-2015. The town of Latacunga is directly in the path of potential mud or lava flow from the Cotopaxi volcano, and climbers on Cotopaxi should be aware that even small emissions from the volcano are dangerous and can trigger avalanches and landslides. Low lying areas in the greater Quito area could also be affected if Cotopaxi erupts.Earthquakes sometimes trigger deadly tsunamis, which could strike coastal areas of Ecuador or the Galapagos Islands. Ecuadorian national authorities put out warnings of potential tsunamis, but the response on the local level is uneven, and on one recent occasion in the Galapagos Islands, there was no coordinated evacuation when a tsunami struck.
The Center for Disease Control website contains information on emergency preparedness and response, to include information on volcano, earthquake, and tsunami safety. Ecuador’s National Risk Management Secretariat and the Ecuadorian Geophysical Institute monitor Ecuadorian volcanoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis in Ecuador, issuing regular reports on their activity. In the event of a natural disaster, pay close attention to the news media for updates.
Visiting the Galapagos Islands: The Galapagos archipelago is located more than 600 miles to the west of continental Ecuador. Geographic isolation and the lack of local resources may present challenges to travelers there. Dangers posed by relaxed enforcement of marine safety laws and rudimentary medical facilities are exacerbated by the difficulty of performing medical evacuations from the islands. A significant number of Ecuadorian tour vessels operating in the Galápagos do not meet international safety standards. The Government of Ecuador requires that vessels carrying more than 16 passengers comply with the International Safety Management Code established by the International Maritime Organization. However, the quality of oversight, crewmember proficiency, and other requisites for safe vessel operation may vary substantially. Travelers should inquire about safety features when boarding vessels. Be sure to look for lifeboats, flotation devices and, if possible, take a moment to inspect the life vest you would be using if there were an accident.
Medical resources in the Galapagos Islands are severely limited. Acute surgical, cardiac, and other types of specialty medicine are not available. There are two hospitals, located on the Santa Cruz and San Cristobal Islands. These facilities have limited personnel and resources, and often do not have basic medical supplies. Some cruise ships have on-board physicians available, who charge a fee for their services. Scuba divers in the Galapagos Islands should be aware of limited facilities for decompression. Serious injury or illness in the Galapagos typically requires costly medical evacuation to the Ecuadorian mainland or the United States for treatment. Medical evacuations by air ambulance can cost $60,000 or more and take significant time to arrange. For that reason, we strongly recommend that you purchase traveler’s health insurance that includes air evacuation before your trip.
Retiring In Ecuador: In recent years, Ecuador has become a top overseas destination for retiring U.S. citizens. Bear in mind that organizations promoting Ecuador or any other place as a retirement destination may have a financial incentive to attract retirees, and may not always present a balanced picture. Consider multiple sources before choosing a destination.
Remain vigilant when contracting professional services for assistance with Ecuadorian visas, real estate transactions, or customs brokering for imported household effects. U.S. citizen retirees regularly complain about unethical practices by lawyers, real estate agents, and others who have taken advantage of their lack of knowledge about local language, laws, and culture, resulting in costly losses and little hope for a remedy through the local judicial system.
As in any country, Ecuadorian rules governing visas and customs are subject to change with little notice. The Ministry of Foreign Relations and other Ecuadorian government agencies publish little information in English, increasing foreigners’ reliance on lawyers or other facilitators, some of whom have distorted the true cost or requirements for obtaining Ecuadorian visas. Staff members at the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Consulate General are not in a position to give detailed advice about Ecuadorian immigration law.
WOMEN TRAVELER INFORMATION:
If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.
There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBT events in Ecuador. Same-sex marriage is prohibited, but civil unions are allowed in Ecuador. Although Ecuador’s constitution includes the principle of nondiscrimination and endorses the right to decide one’s sexuality, LGBT persons nonetheless may face censure and discrimination based on sexual orientation. For more detailed information about LGBT rights in Ecuador, you may review the State Department’s annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) travel, please read our LGBT Travel Information page.
While in Ecuador, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from U.S. standards. Although Ecuador’s constitution prohibits discrimination against the disabled, travelers with disabilities may have great difficulty traversing public walkways and accessing buildings.
We are not aware of any special currency or customs circumstances for this country.
Adequate medical and dental care is available in the major cities of Ecuador. In smaller communities and in the Galapagos Islands, services are limited, and the quality is generally well below U.S. standards. Ambulances, with or without trained emergency staff, are in short supply in cities, but even more so in rural areas. While treatment for a significant illness or injury may be available in major cities, it may not be available in small towns and remote areas. Additionally, the cost of major or specialized medical care can be in the tens of thousands of dollars.
Pharmacies are readily available in any city; however, you might find that the availability of some medications is sporadic, and formulations and brand names will differ from products available in the United States. Narcotics and tranquilizers are unavailable without a certified prescription from an Ecuadorian doctor. Pharmacists sometimes dispense medications without requesting a prescription. These individuals may have little training and often prescribe broad-spectrum antibiotics inappropriately. Folk healers and traditional markets in some parts of the country offer herbal and folk remedies. You should exercise caution if you explore these remedies, as the formulations can be questionable and some components may interact with other prescription medications.
Many tropical diseases are present in Ecuador, including malaria, chikungunya, dengue, and yellow fever (which are transmitted by mosquitoes at lower altitudes), leishmaniaisis (transmitted by sand flies), chagas disease (transmitted by triatomine bugs) and tuberculosis (transmitted from person to person via respiratory droplets). To protect yourself from insect-borne diseases while at lower altitudes, use insect repellants, clothing treated with permethrin, and bed nets.
Zika Virus: Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness that can be spread from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby. Among other effects, there have been reports of a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant. For additional information about Zika, including travel advisories, visit the CDC website.
Chikungunya and dengue are mosquito-borne illnesses that are becoming more frequent in tropical and equatorial climates around the world. Symptoms can include fever, rash, severe headache, joint pain, and muscle or bone pain. There are no specific treatments for chikungunya or dengue and vaccines are still in the developmental phase. Preventing mosquito bites is the most important way to prevent these illnesses. Avoidance and prevention techniques include reducing mosquito exposure by using repellents, covering exposed skin, treating clothing and tents with permethrin and sleeping in screened or air conditioned rooms. You can also reduce exposure through mosquito control measures, including emptying water from outdoor containers and spraying to reduce mosquito populations. The Aedes mosquitos that carry these illnesses are primarily day biting and often live in homes and hotel rooms especially under beds, in bathrooms and closets. Travelers should carry and use CDC recommended insect repellents containing either 20% DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535, which will help diminish bites from mosquitoes as well as ticks, fleas, chiggers, etc., some of which may also carry infectious diseases. For further information, please consult the CDC's Chikungunya Virus Website and Dengue Virus Website.
In Ecuador, yellow fever is found only in the Amazon basin. Ecuadorian authorities might require you to show a certificate of yellow fever vaccination when entering or leaving this area, or when continuing travel to other areas of South America. If possible, you should obtain a yellow fever vaccine prior to departure from the United States. You can also obtain the vaccine from most health clinics throughout Ecuador. Antimalarial medication significantly reduces the risk of contracting malaria. Not all antimalarial medications are available in the local market, travelers should plan to bring prescriptions from their home country prior to arrival. There are no vaccines or prophylactic medications for dengue, leishmaniaisis or chagas. If you become ill with fever or flu-like symptoms during or after travel in a high-risk area, you should promptly seek medical attention. Note that the onset of these diseases may be delayed by up to a year.
You can find information on vaccinations and other health precautions, on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
Your Health and High Altitudes: If you travel to Quito (elevation: 9,400 feet) or other highland areas, you will typically require some time to adjust to the altitude, which can adversely affect your blood pressure, digestion, and energy level. Mountain climbers in particular should be cautioned not to underestimate the time required to adjust before beginning a challenging climb at altitude. Consult with your personal health care providers before undertaking high-altitude travel, as there are medications available to help combat the effects. If you have heart or lung problems or the sickle cell trait, you may develop serious health complications at high altitudes
Travel & Transportation
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS:
While in Ecuador, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. Although some of Ecuador’s roads and highways have greatly improved in recent years, road travel throughout Ecuador can still be dangerous, especially at night. Some roads are poorly maintained, or vulnerable to heavy rains and mudslides. Mountain roads may lack safety features such as crash barriers or guard rails, and conditions are frequently made more treacherous by heavy fog. Highways are often unmarked and unlit, and do not have signs indicating destinations. In addition, slow-moving buses and trucks frequently stop in the middle of the road unexpectedly. In the countryside, livestock is often herded along roads or grazes on roadsides. Due to a lack of sidewalks, many roads are also used by pedestrians.
Driving practices differ from U.S. standards, and drivers often disobey traffic laws and signals. Buses stop without warning to pick up or drop off passengers. Drivers often turn right and left from any lane, and rarely yield to pedestrians and cyclists. You might encounter intoxicated drivers at any time, though the chances of a drunk-driving accident are higher on weekends and Ecuadorian holidays. On the coast in particular, many vehicles are poorly maintained and breakdowns are common.
If you are the driver of a vehicle involved in an automobile accident, even if you are not at fault, you may be taken into police custody, especially if injuries are involved or if you do not have insurance. If injuries or damages are serious, you may face criminal charges.
Driver’s Licenses: You may drive in Ecuador using your state-issued driver’s license for up to 90 days. If you are staying in Ecuador for a prolonged period, you should contact the National Transit Agency to obtain a valid driver’s license.
Importing a Vehicle: You should investigate local regulations before attempting to import any vehicle into Ecuador on a temporary or permanent basis. If you are able to register a vehicle in Ecuador, you will be required to buy local liability insurance, called SOAT.
Traveling by Bus: Intra- and inter-city bus passengers are often targets of crime, including robbery and sexual assault. Numerous bus accidents occur every year in Ecuador, and many buses are overcrowded, poorly maintained, and lack seat belts or other safety features. In Guayaquil, security on public transportation is a major concern. Armed criminals have been known to board local city buses and rob passengers of jewelry, money, and other valuables. There have been instances in which routes between cities are blocked by criminals, who force the bus to stop and then board the bus to rob passengers.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. In addition, we suggest that you visit the Spanish-language websites of Ecuador’s national tourist office.
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.