Ecuador Laws / Living in Ecuador / Moving to Ecuador

How to Get an Ecuadorian Driver’s License

It may or may not come as a surprise that getting an Ecuadorian driver license is not quick and easy. Actually, it was easy until the day before I tried to get mine. I am doing it the “hard way” to inform our readers about the process.

Driving in Ecuador

Some people ask, why drive in Ecuador if public transportation is cheap and widely available? My response, why not? The best way to really explore Ecuador is by driving your own car.

Driving with a Foreign License

Ecuadorian law permits visitors and new residents to drive for 30 days with their foreign license. After 30 days you are required to obtain an Ecuadorian license. Police road checks are frequent and the police will typically ask for your passport to check for your entry date. I have talked my way through many police checks and it’s not worth the stress.

New Ecuadorian Transit Laws

Ecuador is in the process of implementing new transportation laws that will greatly improve safety for both passengers and pedestrians. For example, commercial drivers will be required to attend 2 years of university!

Unfortunately, lawmakers did not consider experienced foreign drivers when they implemented a policy that requires that all applicants for an Ecuadorian driver’s license attend driver’s education, without exception.

This has not always been the case. The police website still claims that one can simply exchange their foreign license for an Ecuadorian version – not correct at all.

Everyone claims to be confused by this requirement but nobody can do anything. I tried every legal means to avoid driving school but nobody could help.

Driving School

My attempts to avoid driving school were not going anywhere so I signed up at Aneta, Ecuador’s version of AAA in the US.

The driving school was very good and similar in intensity to pilot training. We spent 3 entire classroom days learning about engine components. The class lasted 3 weeks with one hour of classroom instruction and one hour of driving each day. After completion of driving school you need to wait approximately 3 months to apply for your license.

Once you pass the driving class you must also take a written exam at the police station. This is the same exam Ecuadorians must pass to renew their license every 5 years. You can see the sample questions here.

Yes, it’s a mess but I managed to find the silver lining.

Cheapest Spanish School in Ecuador

Obviously I already knew the course material as many of the laws and classroom training came directly from US sources. Some of the instructional material was in English and the teacher asked me to translate for the class. Since I already knew the material I used the course as a Spanish class and had a great time. Of course, you need to have a basic understanding of Spanish to do this.

How to get a license if you don’t speak Spanish

This requirement will change eventually. The police claim to be waiting for the government to provide new rules for foreigners. However, we are in Ecuador and this could take forever.

A good starting point to deal with this issue would be Gary’s post on time. I suggest that you enroll in driving school with a positive attitude and have fun. You could always try to get your license the “easy way.”

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3 Comments

  1. chris campbell says:

    Is there any way to get the 200 questions pdf? I just have Windows Home version. Or maybe I can open it at a friend’s computer who has Acrobat. Thanks.

  2. Ben Perry says:

    Hi All. I just got my Ecuadorian Driver’s License in Guayaquil with minimal hassle AND because of my U.S. license, ANETA in Guayaquil said I fulfilled the practical, that is, road test part and only had to take the 20 question multiple choice written exam (on a computer). My Spanish isn’t good enough to understand all the questions and answers but I got 20 out of 20 which surprised me.

    There are a possible 200 questions out of which are randomly drawn 20 for the test, and not to include more than 5 road signs. It was helpful to have the booklet which is available for free at the Transito office to study at home.

    Perhaps the province of Pichincha is different but my license is valid in ALL of Ecuador not just the province of Guayas. This booklet with my 200 questions answered is available as an Adobe Acrobat doc.

    Good Luck!

  3. Thanks for the reference and link to my “easy way.” Any other way I would consider pretty difficult and time consuming! Especially when you have a million other things to do, and the easy way is as close to something reasonable, as far as time and money are concerned, for me personally.

    And believe me, even if the laws do change, that won’t change much. Laws are laws, but enforcement is what is entirely lacking.