GringosAbroad Ecuador

How to Get an Ecuadorian Drivers License – Step 2

Posted in: Living in Ecuador

On Sunday, I completed Step 2 of getting my Ecuadorian drivers license. I completed the seven-day driving course, with a planned 35 hours of learning.  Read Step 1 (The Paperwork).

I’ll be honest – I was dreading the week. I know how to drive. I’ve been driving for half my life and have always owned my own vehicles. What do I need 35 hours of training for?

Well, the course is well produced. The instructors were excellent and I learned the laws. The laws are different here than Canada. Many are the same, but there are some differences. Like you can pass on the inside lane – legally. The stipulation is that you have to feel that its safe.

Each day consisted of 3 hours of driving and 2 of classroom – Monday to Friday. On Friday morning I took my Practical Exam and scored a 20! To those of used to having school scores out of 100 – it doesn’t sound so good – but here – a 20 is perfect! Not one mistake – at least none that the instructor noticed. (Being a foreigner has its benefits. Immediately I’m “interesting” and the instructors want to ask all kinds of questions). So who know if my driving is perfect, but I’ll take it.

ANETA Training Car

In the afternoon, there is a written exam. Of twenty questions, you must get 16 correct. They are multiple choice so its not that hard. For me the language barrier was the biggest problem, but I still passed with an 18/20. What makes me laugh is that four of the students failed. They are Ecuadorian and knew how to drive. The instructor made everyone who failed feel really good, by reading out all their errors and highlighting that: “This foreigner who can’t read well passed with an 18 – and you are Spanish and couldn’t pass”. Of course, it doesn’t really make my ego burst, being the bad reading extranjero (foreigner) – but I’ll take any compliment, however backhanded.


Saturday and Sunday consisted of three segments: First Aid, Psychology and Mechanical. The last thing to do is sign a paper this Wednesday. Next Wednesday I can go pick up my certificate and head over to get my real license. The Transit Commission requires another 20 question exam, and another pile of papers and I should walk out with my license. Simple, right?

Step 3 to follow next week. Then, How to Buy a Vehicle in Ecuador will be covered in  January (hopefully).

ANETA - Main Office

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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.

9 comments… add one
  • Alex K Feb 8, 2011, 1:39 pm

    I have a new question for you Bryan. Do you take the same tests or practice if you want to drive a motorbike/cycle? In America you have to take a different test for that and get special hours for a motorcycle… just wondering if its the same. And my employer told me I should get an international license before I come. However, it will only work for a year? I'm glad I know now to bring my high school certificate. This website is very helpful. I'm looking forward to moving at the end of the month.

    • Bryan Haines Feb 8, 2011, 5:18 pm

      Hi Alex,

      In my course I learned that small bikes – like dirt bikes – don’t need a license or a course. I believe that you can get a license for a road bike with just a written exam and a fee. From what I understand, is that unless you’re a tourist (on a tourist visa) the international license won’t apply either. The police will check your passport to see when you entered. I think you’ll need an Ecuadorian license – but it really depends on your legal status here and how long you will be here.

      Hope this helps.


  • Maria Jose Jan 31, 2011, 4:53 pm

    How things have changed since I left Ecuador! Taking Driver's Ed despite having a foreign driver's license was not required when I lived there! Learning the rules of the road that nobody follows is plain funny! Do any signs still stand?

    I hope you were not simply the victim of some ruse. The high school diploma does fit the local mentality, however.

    • Bryan Haines Jan 31, 2011, 8:42 pm

      Hi Maria Jose – yes the driving course is required for everyone – Ecuadorians and foreigners. The course is very good, but no one follows the rules when they are actually driving. Just today, a taxi driver commented that someone had moved some stop signs to the opposite streets – makes things interesting.

      I thought the high school diploma was a joke too, but its printed on their list of requirements and on their web site too. Someone told me today that some courses require a university diploma – imagine!

  • Lisa Dec 26, 2010, 10:17 am

    Hey Brian, good for you. It appears more is involved w/acquiring a license in Ecuador. Will Dena be next? Look forward to your Jan. comments.

    • Bryan Haines Dec 26, 2010, 10:20 am

      Hi Lisa,

      Yes – Dena is planning to get hers over the next couple of month. Probably March or April.


  • Gerard Tretton Dec 22, 2010, 2:48 am

    Congrats on passing the drivers education class. I did it earlier this year. Got 20/20 on the practical and 16/20 on the written, just made it :). It looks like ANETA finally got some new cars, about time. Your next hurdle, the test at the Comision de Transito is a slam dunk, it is mostly identifying signs. You can pick up a practice test for $1 at any of the copy places outside the building. The last I heard though (last week) they had closed down the Comision de Transito here in Cuenca for rampant corruption (pocketing fees). Maybe it is open again. Good luck. – Gerard

    • Bryan Haines Dec 22, 2010, 3:07 am

      Thanks Gerard. The cars are in pretty good shape – at least everything (brake/clutch) works.

      Interesting about the Comision de Transito – I hope they've reopened. I was there 2 1/2 weeks ago and everything was functioning well. I wonder where I'll need to go if they are still closed?

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