GringosAbroad Ecuador

How to Get an Ecuadorian Drivers License – Step 1

Posted in: Living in Ecuador

Update, June 2013: There is a faster, smoother way to get your drivers license in Ecuador. Read about: How to get your Ecuador drivers license fast.

So it time to get my license. After almost a year and a half here, I’m tiring of taxis and buses. Hired vans are nice, but I really want to drive – and explore. Whenever we visit another city (in Canada, the States, the Caribbean, or South America) we always rent a car. But I haven’t driven in Ecuador since we’ve lived here and I really miss it.

Two days ago I registered for a driving course. Here, even if you’ve been driving for years, they require a course (the accelerated one is 35 hours – done in a week), before you can write the government administered exam. Well I’ll never say that the Canadian government requires lots of paper work. Just to register for the course, I needed to provide:

  • a police report (with 2 copies, and a special photo)
  • 2 copies of my visa
  • my passport ( and 2 copies)
  • my Ecuadorian identification – plus 2 copies
  • a card stating my blood type (and 2 copies)
  • 2 more copies of the special photo (taken outside of the transit authority)

I also had to do a reflex, motor skill and eye test, along with a psychological exam.

And of the most bizarre thing that I need to provide, is my high school graduation certificate. After all these years, the first time I had to show it (for anything), is to get my driver’s license in Ecuador. Who moves to a foreign country and brings their high school graduation certificate? Especially when high school was “a long long time ago”, and the pride of having it has worn off just a little?

Anyway, we had stuffed that into a safe (along with a few other “really important” things) that we stored in Canada. After a number of emails and phone calls between our lawyers office and the driving school, we learn that a color copy will be acceptable. So today, I have to have my (nicely scanned color copy) notarized in duplicate. Without, they will not issue a license. Not sure what Canadian geography and political science has to do with Ecuadorian driving laws, but a rule is a rule – right?

So the course, put on by ANETA (Automovil Club del Ecuador) which is Ecuadors version of CAA or AAA, costs $173.44. Plus the $5 for the police report, $2 for the very nice photos, $3 for the card stating my blood type, about $12 in taxis and the notarizing of my graduation certificate. After I pass the course, I then have to go get my license, with a similar set of paperwork.

And while we can tackle just about every type of task that comes our way, I needed some help on this one. A good friend, came along and helped with some of the steps I couldn’t get my mind around. He recently got his license – so he knew how to do it.

Stay tuned for more.

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Meet the Author

Bryan Haines is co-editor of GringosAbroad - Ecuador's largest blog for expats and travelers. He is a travel blogger and content marketer. He is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands). Work with GringosAbroad.

23 comments… add one
  • Jessica Feb 14, 2014, 7:17 pm

    So what happens if a person wants a drivers license in Ecuador & they didn’t graduate from high school?

  • David G..G Jun 17, 2012, 8:04 pm

    The US Embassy website mentions an exception to get a US license authenticated. Does anyone have any experience with this?

    Authentication of US Driver License

    The authentication of U.S. state issued seals and signatures is prohibited by 22 CFR 92.41(c). However, there is an option under the Hague Legalization Convention. You can get an apostille authenticating the state Department of Motor Vehicles records at the state competent authority. A listing of U.S. state competent authorities can be found at: Hague Convention Website.

    Note: the link provided competent authorities does not seem to be valid or accurate. I am going to call the consulate for an explanation.

    • David G..G Aug 29, 2012, 2:57 pm

      I got my license this week. It feels good to be legal.

      A few things I found out. I was able to skip driver school because I have a license in California. ANT is the department of motor vehicles. I went to the one in Quito. They require the the folloiwng:

      1. A form that they gave me to be filled out
      2. The form requires:
      a letter from the California DMV and all the other stuff, except ha

      • Stewart Nov 20, 2012, 5:31 pm

        Good for you David.
        I tried the easiest way at ANT, Quito and the guy at information wanted to exchange my Florida Driver’s License for an Ecuadorian one! That was not going to happen.
        The second option was to go take a course which was approved and then come with those documents plus my blood type (from the red cross), color copy of my cedula (I’ve dual citizenship now)and Certificado de Votacion (voting docs.).

        • David G..G Nov 21, 2012, 6:40 pm


          You don’t actually exchange your FL licence for an ecuadorian one, at least I did not. I still have my CA license.

          Since I posted, I was stopped at one of the random roadblocks near Quito. I was very happy to drive away from that not even thinking I might have to talk my way out of it. $$

    • David G..G Aug 29, 2012, 3:32 pm

      I got my license this week. It feels good to be legal.

      I was able to skip driver school because I have a license in California. ANT is the department of motor vehicles. I went to the one in Quito. ANT requires a form to be filled out which they gave me when I showed my California driver license. Once I got all the paperwork together, I return with the form filled out. I attached color copies of the front and back of:

      1. A letter from the California DMV saying that my license is currently valid; a translation of the letter, translated in Ecuador and then notarized*.
      2. A copy of my California license
      3. A copy of my cedula, passport and visa, but not the censo (which I don’t have) because it has been abolished.
      4. A copy of a card from the red cross saying what blood type I have.

      *there are other ways to satisfy this, but this was easiest for me.

  • David G..G Jun 17, 2012, 7:52 pm

    Can anyone confirm that the high school diploma still required?

    • David G..G Jun 17, 2012, 7:59 pm

      I took a look at my cedula which states I have a BA, so I guess I don’t need to get the high school diploma.

  • Joe LeBlanc May 9, 2012, 2:12 pm

    I still have my laminated Ecuadorean driver’s license that was issued to me in 1959. I didn’t have to take any tests. I just showed them my US driving license. Things have really changed.
    I was called the “Loco Gringo” when I told others I was going to drive from Ecuador to Peru in my MGA sports car. My trip took me to La Paz, Bolivia and back, returning via Cuzco. Taking the train from Cuzco to Macchu Picchu was the high highlight of the trip. The only paved roads in Peru were along the coast. I dream every day about returning to Ecuador.

  • Craig hanlon Aug 12, 2011, 9:24 am

    Just wanted to thank you for laying the groundwork.I finished my course with ANETA in Quito this week.You have an excellent website.

  • Jeff Stern Jun 14, 2011, 3:58 pm

    I managed to get mine through the who-you-know cash discount, though I hear that access to that method is slowly disappearing. Through a close contact of the police, I managed to take a 12 question test that no one looked at, and had my photo taken and license ready in 15 minutes. It’s up for renewal in 2012 so we’ll see what I have to go through then.

    • Bryan Haines Jun 15, 2011, 7:51 pm

      Wish I could have signed up for that program … I spent an easy 100 hours in paperwork, course and running around to get my license. Very nice!

  • Jo Reason May 19, 2011, 4:30 pm

    Hi there, you sound like you had a nightmare on getting your drivers license, all the papers they asked you for, they are not neccessary, (some are, for example the police report and the blood type as well as the standard copies of the ecuadorian ID card and the photos)
    in regards to the high school certificate on the ecuadorian ID it stats what level of education you achieved therefore that is not neccessary, copies of passport and visa, also not required. I am guessing they took one look at you and thought lets make this difficult for you. There are loads of driving school in Ecuador, not just Aneta (ok they are the biggest) but not the best. I also had to get my drivers license. I am UK born but have licenses from USA, Spain and UK, I had to do a theflex, motor skill and eye test, ( here I found out glasses were needed) along with a psychological exam.but nothing else, just turned up at the school a couple of times. Atfer that of course the police exam.
    Paid my money and here you are a shining new driver license. (printed out of some dodge papaer and laminated, you can´t even read parts of it!!!!) But it´s real, I swear I saw it come out of the printers.

    • Bryan Haines May 22, 2011, 10:44 am

      Hi Jo – the requirements are actually written – both online and on their forms in office. Everyone else I know needed to provide the same documents. The requirements weren’t government requirements, but from Aneta. Aneta came highly recommended from a number of people, and I found the course to be very good. I was skeptical at first, but it was very well produced.

      Agreed about the amateur looking license. Looks like I made it myself – but I didn’t – honest. I read in the paper last week that they are releasing a new set of security standards for drivers licenses. Guess when I renew I’ll have a more authentic looking one.

      • Jo Reason May 22, 2011, 10:06 pm

        Ok so hese are requirments are Aneta, not just for the police, just go to another school, there are loads of them and much less hassle and often cheaper.
        glad to hear about the new licenses, about time too.

  • Sara Dec 13, 2010, 8:31 am

    I'm Italian and I lived in Ecuador for a while. At first they accepted my International driving license, but after it expired, I had to go through the same ordeal to get the Ecuadorian licence. The only thing I could skip was the practice/driving lessons, as the instructor told me, after 2 hours of driving around Quito "As far as I'm concerned, you can skip the practice lessons, I'll tell the school you already passed the driving exam."
    Nice enough… after driving for 13 years all over the world, I was still capable of driving in Quito, hehe!
    But I did have to provide all the paperwork, pass the theory exam, all the psychometric stuff and eye exam. Oh, and even a hearing exam!
    Unbelievable… 😀

    • Bryan Haines Dec 13, 2010, 10:19 am

      You were lucky. I have 15 hours of driving in circles this week. I have to say though, the instructors are great. Its like they are hired for their personality. Driving around in circles and chatting isn't all bad.

      Congrats on your new car!

      • Sara Dec 13, 2010, 11:25 pm

        Thanks Bryan! I do miss my Ecuadorian ride, though. Mitsubishi Pajero/Shogun from '93, 2.6L, 3dr… named Pina (Italian nickname for Josephine).

        Yes, I guess I was lucky. But you are right about the instructors, they are nice. Mine was also funny to talk with because I was crammed in a Kia Picanto (I'm 5'10" and used to much bigger vehicles) and he asked me what car I had. So we started talking about "driving styles", off road, elusive driving, engines… I think he had fun talking with a crazy Italian.

        Your blog is really nice, it reminds me of so may of the things I also experienced there. Have fun in Ecuador! 🙂

  • Jeff Dec 11, 2010, 9:11 am

    I've heard, but never had confirmed, that if you have a valid North American driver's licence you can skip the course. Since my Canadian licence has now expired, I've missed that chance, if indeed it exists.

    • Bryan Haines Dec 11, 2010, 9:36 am

      Hi Jeff, I had hoped that was the case, but it didn't work for me. My Canadian license is good for 3 more years, but it isn't worth anything here. The one benefit is that I got to take the accelerated course – just 7 days, instead of the standard 17 days. The accelerated course is for those who know how to drive.

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