3 Ways to Get a Driver’s Licence in Ecuador (2020 Guide)

Unfortunately, getting a driver’s licence in Ecuador isn’t as easy as just turning up to the issuing authority and transferring your existing licence. But, the process isn’t terribly painful either - once you know how...

I’ve covered the 3 main pathways most expats use to obtain their Ecuadorian driver’s licence below. There is also an Appendix at the end that includes useful law extracts and downloads. 

Disclaimer: This is NOT legal advice. The laws in Ecuador at relatively elastic, so you may have a different experience. If you think this is complicated or have special circumstances, then I would suggest hiring a facilitator to help you through the process. 

Before we dive into the 3 licence options, ask yourself:

Do you actually need an Ecuadorian driver’s licence?

You may be able to save yourself the hassle of getting a drivers licence. 

Visitor visa

If you’re on a visitors visa, then your existing drivers licence is valid to drive or rent a car, so you’re all set without an Ecuadorian licence.

Temporary and permanent residents

As a holder of an Ecuadorian temporary or permanent residency visa, you can legally drive in Ecuador for 6 months upon entry. As it’s 6 months upon entry, my interpretation of this is that it resets every time you enter Ecuador. 

Leave Ecuador every 6 months -> No licence required

So, if your lifestyle has you leaving the country every 6 months, I don’t see any legal requirement for you to get an Ecuadorian licence. 

I’ve looked through the transport laws and I can’t see anything that obliges a temporary or permanent resident to get their licence within a certain time period within the granting of their visa. 

This covers my personal situation. Which meant for a long time I just kept putting off getting a local licence. I really couldn’t see the benefit of it. 

I finally decided to get a licence simply because I thought it was time. More to do with belonging to my adopted homeland and building community than anything else.

The only real practical benefit for me is having easier conversations with traffic cops that decide to play around a little in an effort to extract some extra cash for themselves. 

Stay in Ecuador 6 months at a time -> Licence required

If you plan on staying inside Ecuador for more than 6 months at a time, then yes, you’ll need to get your licence in order to legally drive. 

So, now you’ve worked out if you need a licence, let’s dive into the 3 different options. 

Option 1: Transfer Your Foreign Licence (Canje)

This is the easiest option in that it allows you to bypass the practical driving components.  

But, it’s also the option that requires more planning because you need an apostilled copy of your foreign driving record - which takes time and money. And, then you need that translated and notarized by an authorized Ecuadorian entity. 

The process for transferring an existing foreign licence to an Ecuadorian is:

a) Driving record

Order an official driving record from your home country. Cost varies by country. 

b) Apostille 

Have the driving record apostilled in your home country. Cost varies by country

c) Translate & notarize

Translate and notarize the apostilled driving record into Spanish by your closest Ecuadorian Embassy or an official translator (and notary) in Ecuador. 

d) Evidence of education

This isn’t listed as an official requirement in the official ANT documentation. But each of the driving schools we spoke to required some type of proof that you’ve passed high school (up to the 10th grade). 

You can argue that it seems a little ridiculous that you’d be granted a licence in your home country if you didn’t have some level of education. 

But remember, this rule applies to every foreigner applying for a licence, so they are trying to protecting themselves from an influx of drivers from countries that perhaps don’t have an education requirement. 

You can satisfy this education requirement by providing:

  • Cedula indicating level of education; or
  • Apostilled diploma

Cedula

In an ideal world, your level of education would be indicated on the back of your cedula. Driving schools generally accept Basica level or above. 

Unfortunately, a common practice is for expats to be issued their first cedula with the Incicial level of education. Be very careful if this is you because Inicial is not sufficient to transfer your licence. You will be denied. 

This happened to me. Even though I applied for the Professional Visa that requires a university level degree, my initial cedula still said Inicial. 

My visa facilitator explained that it was done this way to expedite the issuing of the cedula. Waiting for SENESCYT to authorize my university degree would take a while. So, I could either have my cedula that day, or wait weeks/months for SENESCYT to authorize my degree and then have the proper education level printed on my cedula. 

I opted to have the cedula that day. It turned out to be a good choice because it took around 6 months and many emails between my university, SENESCYT, my facilitator and myself to finally have my degree recognized with SENESCYT.  

Apostilled diploma

If you don’t have a cedula with the required level of education, you’ll need a diploma from your home country that has also been apostilled. The higher the better. But anything 10th grade or above should work. 

You may also need to have this diploma translated into Spanish and notarized. You may already have this if you included it in your visa application.

e) Blood card

You need a certificate showing your blood type. Many get this from the Red Cross for around $5. 

f) Psychosensometric examination at driving school

You’ll need to contact an authorized driving school (list here) to complete this at a cost of around $20. This test covers reflexes, dexterity, vision and hearing. Most people don’t have a problem passing it. 

Take evidence of your education and driving record with you as the driving school will need this. 

g) Get payment slip from ANT & book test

Once you’ve got all of your documents, including original:

  • ID (cedula) 
  • Blood type certificate 
  • Driver's license from home country
  • Evidence of education
  • Driving record certificate from home country (translated, apostilled & notorized) 
  • Psychosensometric examination certificate
  • Color passport photos x 2

Then you can head on down to your closest ANT to obtain a payment slip and book an appointment for the multiple-choice test. Remember, you’ll likely need a few days to study for the test. 

You can also generate the payment slip and appointment online, but you may have to wait longer for the appointment. Applying for this licence via the transfer option seems to be somewhat fast-tracked. But, this only happens if you apply in person (not online).  

h) Pay $142 at a bank

Take the payment slip generated at ANT to a bank so you can pay the $142. There’s probably banks within walking distance. Read our guide on transferring money into Ecuador if you’re unfamiliar with getting this. 

i) Take the multiple-choice test (study required)

At your test appointment you’ll need to undertake a multiple-choice test. You’ll need to answer at least 16 out of 20 correctly in order to pass.

The 20 questions are taken from a pool of more than 300 questions. We’ve included the multiple-choice questions below for you to download and study. When ready, you can complete practice tests at the ANT site

Once you pass the test, you’ll be issued with your licence. Yay! This generally happens on the same day. 

If you fail, you can book another appointment for 8 days. Go and study! If you fail a second time you can try again in 2 months. But, fail a 3rd time and they’ll make you start the process all over again. The psychosensometric exam certificate is only valid for 60 days. 

The full list of documents for this type of licence (Canje) can be found on the official website and in the Appendix below.

Option 1 - Transfer: Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Avoids driving tests

Cons

  • Need driving certificate from home country. 

Conclusion:

Transferring is the best solution for those wanting the least amount of time at a driving school. But, the additional burden of the driving certificate from your home country requires a lot of organization. 


Option 2: Driving School - Driving Test Only

This is the best option if you don’t want the hassle of getting your driving record certificate, and then having it apostilled, translated and notarized. 

I chose this option precisely because I didn’t want to have to deal with this. I was already in Ecuador too, so sending this via DHL adds to the total cost. 

The process for obtaining your licence through this option:

a) Evidence of education

Either a cedula indicating Basica or above, or an apostilled diploma for year 10 or higher. See above section for full details. 

b) Blood card

You need a certificate showing your blood type. Many get this from the Red Cross for around $5. 

c) Driving test

Find an authorized driving school that will evaluate your ability to drive and provide you with a certificate. Some driving schools to start with are ANETA, Practi-Car &  A Conducir (Cuenca)

Take originals of your evidence of education, blood type and ID to the school. 

Practical driving exam

This is a fairly straight forward driving exam lasting 20-30 minutes. The driving school will take you in their car and provide instructions on what you need to. It’s likely the car will be manual, so I’d definitely check with the driving school if you only know how to drive an automatic.

Psychosensometric exam

This is the same as detailed above and includes reflexes, dexterity, vision and hearing. The combined cost of the practical driving and psychosensometric exams is around $47. 

Once you’ve passed the two exams, the driving school will send the certificate within 2-3 days. 

Once you have your certificate, the rest of the process is very similar to the transfer option. 

d) Get payment slip from ANT & book test

Once you’ve got all of your documents, including original:

  • ID (cedula) 
  • Blood type certificate 
  • Driver's license from home country
  • Evidence of education
  • Practical driving & psychosensometric exams certificate 
  • Color passport photos x 2

Then you can head on down to your closest ANT to obtain a payment slip and book an appointment for the multiple-choice test. Remember, you’ll likely need a few days to study for the test. 

Apply for Driver’s License For the First Time (Type B)

At ANT, you’re going to want to apply for the ‘Tipo B Primera Vez’ (Type B First Time). 

The full official requirements are included in the Appendix below.

e) Pay $68 at a bank

Take the payment slip generated at ANT to a bank so you can pay the $68 (it’s cheaper than the transfer licence). 

f) Take the multiple-choice test (study required)

Exactly the same testing process as detailed above. The only difference is that if you fail the test just once, then you will not be able to take it again. You’ll need to go to driving school. 

Actually, if you fail any test throughout this process - driving, psychosensometric or multiple-choice, then you’ll need to go to driving school. This is the biggest downside of this approach. There are no second chances. So, make sure you’re comfortable driving with a stick and have studied the multiple-choice exam well. 

If you pass, you’ll be issued with your brand new Ecuadorian licence. Congratulations.

Option 2 - Driving Test Only: Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Cheapest option if pass all tests
  • Less paperwork than Transfer
  • No extensive driving school required

Cons

  • No second chances at any test. Fail and go to driving school.

Conclusion:

This is the quickest and cheapest option if you're already in Ecuador. But, make sure you study for the multiple-choice test as there's no second chances. 


Option 3: Driving School - Full Course

This is generally the least preferred option because it requires a significant time commitment. The courses offered by each driving school vary a little, but you can expect something along the lines of:

  • Theory: 10 hours
  • Practice: 15 hours
  • Mechanics: 5 hours
  • Psychology: 2 hours
  • First aid: 2 hours

Some schools also offer flexible arrangements to complete the course full time, part time or even weekends.

The courses include the psychosensometric exam and certificate of approval. 

The cost will be around $170. 

The full process for obtaining your licence through a driving school:

a) Evidence of education

Either a cedula indicating Basica or above or an apostilled diploma for year 10 (or higher). See above section for full details. 

b) Blood card

You need a certificate showing your blood type. Many get this from the Red Cross for around $5. 

c) Driving school

Register with your driving school of choice. You should be able to make an initial enquiry online, but always best to phone them to confirm beforehand. 

Take your Cedula, evidence of education, blood type certificate and a passport photo with you to the driving school.

Complete the full course (34 hours!) to obtain your certificate of approval and psychosensometric exam. Note, it can take 3-4 weeks for schools to send these documents to you. 

d) Get payment slip from ANT & book test

Once you’ve got all of your documents, including original:

  • ID (cedula) 
  • Blood type certificate 
  • Evidence of education
  • Practical driving & psychosensometric exams certificate 
  • Color passport photos x 2

Then you can head on down to your closest ANT to obtain a payment slip and book an appointment for the multiple-choice test. Remember, you’ll likely need a few days to study for the test. 

Apply for Driver’s License For the First Time (Type B)

At ANT, you’re going to want to apply for the ‘Tipo B Primera Vez’ (Type B First Time). 

The full official requirements are included in the Appendix below.

e) Pay $68 at a bank

Take the payment slip generated at ANT to a bank so you can pay the $68 (it’s cheaper than the transfer licence). 

f) Take the multiple-choice test (study required)

Exactly the same testing process as detailed above.

If you fail, you can book another appointment for 8 days. If you fail a second time you can try again in 2 months. But, fail a 3rd time and they nay make you start the process all over again. The psychosensometric exam certificate is only valid for 60 days.

Option 3 - Driving School: Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Learn local driving rules and customs
  • It’s what the locals do. Make some Ecuadorian friends
  • More than one chance to pass multiple-choice test
  • Less paperwork than transfer option

Cons

  • 34 hour time commitment
  • More expensive than driving test only option

Conclusion:

If you have the time and open to new experiences, the driving school option might be best for you.


FAQs

Can I just buy a licence instead?

Facepalm. No. Don’t do this. Morality issues aside, you can lose your licence and get fined.  Or worse, have your permanent residency visa declined when it comes time to apply.

How old do I need to be?

From the age of 18 you can apply for a licence. I’ve seen you can also apply for a ‘minor adult permit’ from the age of 16, but the driving school may require a significant guarantee. 


Appendix

Ecuadorian Licence Exam Questions

The multiple-choice exam consists of 20 questions randomly pulled from the database of over 300 questions. You need to answer 16/20 correctly to pass. 

The full list of questions can be downloaded here or accessed from the official ANT website. Note, the answers to each question are highlighted. 

Once you’ve reviewed the questions a couple of times, I strongly recommend taking some online practice exams

Good luck!


Traffic Laws

Article 137

Article 137 says that:a) Tourist Visa: You can use your foreign licence for as long as your Ecuadorian visa is valid. Up to 6 months. 

b) Residents: Migrants (ie temporary and permanent residents) can use your foreign licence for up to 6 months upon entry to Ecuador.

Print the below extract and keep in your car with you in case you need to argue your point with a police officer that is after a little ‘lunch money’. 

Reglamento a Ley de Transporte Terrestre Transito y Seguridad Vial 

Art. 137.- Los extranjeros que ingresen al país con visa de turista, o al amparo de cualquier visa de no inmigrante, podrán conducir con las licencias emitidas en sus países de origen, durante todo el plazo de estadía que su condición migratoria se lo permita, pero en ningún caso por más de seis meses contados desde su ingreso al país.

Los extranjeros que ingresen al país con visa de inmigrante, podrán también conducir con las licencias emitidas en sus países de origen, hasta por un plazo máximo de seis meses contados desde la fecha en que hubieren ingresado al país.

--- English translation ---

Regulations of the Land Transport, Traffic and Road Safety Act

Art. 137.- Foreigners who enter the country with a tourist visa, or under any non-immigrant visa, may drive with the licenses issued in their countries of origin, during the entire period of stay that their immigration status allows, but in no case for more than six months from their entry to the country.

Foreigners who enter the country with an immigrant visa may also drive with licences issued in their countries of origin, for a maximum period of six months from the date they entered the country.

Download the full traffic regulations from ANT here or directly here


Authorized traffic schools 

The full list of schools authorized to conduct driver training for cars (type b) can be found at the official ANT website - or download directly here

You’ll need to contact one of these to complete the required tests like Psychosensometric, practical driving test, or arrange a driving course. 


ANT Licence Requirements

1. Transfer your foreign licence

The list of requirements for transferring a licence from your home country to an Ecuadorian one. 

Canje licencia de conducir extranjera por ecuatoriana

Canje de licencia de conducir extrajera por la ecuatoriana para ecuatorianos y extranjeros con visa superior a los 180 días

Requisitos:

  • Original del documento de identificación.
  • Original del certificado o carné de tipo sanguíneo emitido por la Cruz Roja Ecuatoriana.
  • Original de la licencia de conductor profesional o no profesional del país de origen vigente.
  • Original del examen psicosensométrico, realizado en una de las Escuelas de Capacitación autorizadas por la ANT. Recuerda que el certificado tiene una vigencia de 60 días.
  • Original del certificado de la licencia de conducir extrajera vigente, emitido por una de las siguientes instituciones:
  1. Misiones Diplomáticas de los países de origen en el Ecuador, en español.
  2. Misiones Diplomáticas que no se encuentren en Ecuador, en español.
  3. Entidades de Tránsito del país de origen, el mismo que en caso de no estar en español deberá ser apostillado o consularizado, y la traducción del mismo deberá ser autenticada por un Notario, Cónsul o Juez de lo Civil en el Ecuador.
  4. Entidades de Tránsito del país de origen, debidamente apostillada en el caso de ser emitida en español.

Procedimiento:

  1. Cancelar el valor del trámite directamente en el banco.
  2. Solicitar turno en Atención al Usuario de la ANT.
  3. Validación de documentos y pagos.
  4. Actualización de datos.
  5. Evaluación teórica en español.
  6. Entrega de la licencia
  7. Certificado del movimiento migratorio.

Costo:

USD: 142,00

*El documento original extranjero no será retenido.

*La licencia será emitida por el plazo de vigencia de la visa o tiempo por el cual se ha otorgado el carné de refugiado.

*En caso de tener carné de refugiado, cancelar el valor del trámite en la cuenta corriente #7347243, del Banco del Pacífico.

*En caso de tener cédula de ciudadanía, la vigencia de la licencia será de acuerdo a este documento.

--- English translation ---

Exchange of a foreign driver's license for the Ecuadorian for Ecuadorians and foreigners with a visa greater than 180 days

Requirements:

  • Original identification document.
  • Original of the blood type certificate or card issued by the Ecuadorian Red Cross.
  • Original professional or non-professional driver's license from the country of origin in force.
  • Original of the psychosensometric examination, carried out in one of the Training Schools authorized by the ANT. Remember that the certificate is valid for 60 days.
  • Original of the valid foreign driver's license certificate, issued by one of the following institutions:
  1. Diplomatic Missions of the countries of origin in Ecuador, in Spanish.
  2. Diplomatic Missions not found in Ecuador, in Spanish.
  3. Transit Entities of the country of origin, the same that in case of not being in Spanish must be apostilled or consularized, and the translation of the same must be authenticated by a Notary, Consul or Civil Judge in Ecuador.
  4. Transit Entities of the country of origin, duly apostilled in the case of being issued in Spanish.

Process:

  1. Cancel the value of the procedure directly at the bank.
  2. Request an appointment at the ANT User Service.
  3. Validation of documents and payments.
  4. Data update.
  5. Theoretical evaluation in Spanish.
  6. Delivery of the license
  7. Certificate of the migratory movement.

Cost:

USD: 142.00

* The foreign original document will not be retained.

* The license will be issued for the period of validity of the visa or time for which the refugee card has been granted.

* In case of having a refugee card, cancel the value of the procedure in the current account # 7347243, of the Banco del Pacífico.

* In case of having a citizenship card, the validity of the license will be according to this document.

View directly on ANT website

2. Apply for a licence for the 1st time

The list of requirements when applying for a licence for your 1st time (not a transfer). 

Licencias de conducir tipo B por primera vez

Requisitos:

  1. Certificado de conductor NO profesional tipo B, emitido por una Escuela de Capacitación para Conductores no profesionales autorizadas por la ANT.
  2. Original del acta de grado del curso.
  3. Original del permiso de aprendizaje.
  4. Original del resultado del examen psicosensométrico, vigente y aprobado.
  5. Original de la cédula de identidad y/o ciudadanía.
  6. Original del certificado o carné de tipo sanguíneo extendido por la Cruz Roja Ecuatoriana.
  7. Original del comprobante de pago.

* Única y exclusivamente se podrá emitir licencias por primera vez en la misma provincia donde el usuario realizó su curso de capacitación.

Procedimiento:

  1. Genera una orden de pago Aquí.
  2. Paga el valor del trámite con la orden de pago (Conoce los Puntos de Pago autorizados).
  3. Una vez realizado el pago, obtén un turno para la emisión de licencia (Aquí).
  4. Acercarse a la Agencia que consta en tu turno, 15 minutos antes de la hora asignada.
  5. Espera que llamen a tu turno y entrega los documentos que constan en los requisitos, adjuntando el comprobante de pago original.
  6. Realiza la evaluación teórica. Puedes revisar el Banco de Preguntas y Simulador de Examen.
  7. Recepción y validación de la documentación y pagos realizados.
  8. Espera la entrega de tu licencia.

Costo:

USD 68,00

*En caso de ser persona natural extranjero deberá presentar el Certificado de haber culminado la educación básica, el mismo que deberá ser apostillado, traducido al español y notarizado.   

Consideraciones:

  • En caso de no realizar el curso de conducción se deberá presentar el certificado de aprobación de evaluaciones: psicosensométrica y práctica emitido por las Escuelas de Conducción no profesionales autorizadas por la ANT.
  • Haber aprobado la educación general básica, verificando a través de información que conste en la cédula de ciudadanía o mediante certificado de haber aprobado la educación básica general o título de bachiller.
  • El examen psicosensométrico tendrá una duración de 60 días calendario desde la fecha de emisión de la Escuela de Conducción autorizada por la ANT. Este exámen se debe efectuar en la misma escuela donde el usuario realizó el curso.
  • Cancelar el valor de las multas e infracciones pendientes, caso contrario no podrá realizar el trámite.
  • Las licencias de conducir para conductores profesionales y no profesionales sin excepción tendrán una vigencia de cinco años, contados a partir de la fecha de su expedición.

--- English translation ---

Type B driver's licenses for the first time

Requirements:

  1. Certificate of NON-professional driver type B, issued by a Training School for non-professional drivers authorized by the ANT.
  2. Original of the degree certificate of the course.
  3. Original of the learning permit.
  4. Original of the result of the psychosensometric examination, current and approved.
  5. Original identity and / or citizenship card.
  6. Original of the blood type certificate or card issued by the Ecuadorian Red Cross.
  7. Original proof of payment.

* Only and exclusively licenses may be issued for the first time in the same province where the user completed his training course.

Process:

  1. Generate a payment order here.
  2. Pay the value of the procedure with the payment order (Know the authorized Payment Points).
  3. Once the payment is made, get a turn for the license issue (Here).
  4. Approach the Agency that is on your shift, 15 minutes before the assigned time.
  5. Wait for them to call your turn and deliver the documents that appear in the requirements, attaching the original proof of payment.
  6. Perform the theoretical evaluation. You can check the Question Bank and Exam Simulator.
  7. Receipt and validation of documentation and payments made.
  8. Wait for the delivery of your license.

Cost:

USD 68.00

* In the case of being a foreign natural person, you must present the Certificate of having completed basic education, which must be apostilled, translated into Spanish and notarized.   

Considerations:

  • In case of not taking the driving course, the evaluation approval certificate must be presented: psychosensometric and practice issued by the non-professional Driving Schools authorized by the ANT.
  • Have passed basic general education, verifying through information on the citizenship card or by means of a certificate of having passed general basic education or a bachelor's degree.
  • The psychosensometric examination will last 60 calendar days from the date of issuance of the Driving School authorized by the ANT. This exam must be done at the same school where the user took the course.
  • Cancel the value of pending fines and infractions, otherwise you will not be able to carry out the procedure.
  • The driver's licenses for professional and non-professional drivers without exception will be valid for five years, counted from the date of issue.

View directly on ANT website

Jason Scott
 

After numerous years wandering the globe as a digital nomad, Jason now calls Ecuador home where he lives as part of a mixed Ecuadorian/Expat family. Jason created this blog to give back to the Ecuadorian expat community.

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