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Ecuador - Exercise a high degree of caution
Exercise a high degree of caution in Ecuador due to high levels of crime.
Border area with Colombia - Avoid all travel
Avoid all travel to the area within 20 km of the border with Colombia in the following provinces due to the presence of drug traffickers and criminal organizations:
- Carchi (except for the Panamericana International Highway which connects to the official border crossing with Colombia at Tulcán/Ipiales)
Northern provinces - Avoid non-essential travel
Avoid non-essential travel to the following provinces (except within 20 km of the border with Colombia where we advise against all travel) due to violent crime:
Minefields near the southern portion of the border with Peru - Avoid all travel
Avoid all travel to the following cantons in the Cordillera del Cóndor, near the Peruvian border, due to the presence of landmines and unmarked minefields:
- Tiwinza in the province of Morona-Santiago
- El Pangui, Nangaritza and Palanda, in the province of Zamora-Chinchipe
Follow the advice of local authorities and respect exclusion zones.
Travel Health Notice - Zika virus
The Public Health Agency of Canada has issued advice for travellers on the Zika virus, recommending that Canadians practice special health precautions while travelling in affected countries. Pregnant women and those considering becoming pregnant should avoid travel to Ecuador. See Health for more information.
Safety and security
Areas immediately bordering Colombia
Travel to and within areas immediately bordering Colombia is dangerous due to the presence of drug traffickers and criminal organizations. The risk of violence, kidnappings, armed assaults and extortion is high.
Canadian and other foreign tourists and oil workers have been kidnapped in these areas.
Crime rates in Ecuador are high. Arrest and detention rates are low and contribute to high levels of criminality.
Petty theft, including purse snatching, car break-ins and pickpocketing, is a daily occurrence in major cities. Thieves often work in teams, in which one thief diverts the victims’ attention while the other snatches their possessions. Groups of street children who sell candy are often engaged in this type of team operation.
Luggage theft is prevalent on buses (city and regional), at bus terminals, at airports and at other transit points. Thefts of backpacks and other small bags are also very common on buses. Thieves can be very creative.
Exercise caution and be attentive to your surroundings when using ATMs. Only use ATMs during daylight hours in busy public areas, such as malls or in banks. Withdraw and carry only small amounts of money. Do not show signs of affluence and keep all valuable items and electronic equipment out of sight. Ensure that your personal belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times.
Thieves often target cars stopped in traffic for break-ins. Car-jacking occurs frequently. Keep your windows closed, bags and handbags out of reach, and car doors locked at all times.
The hotel zones in Quito are often targeted by thieves and muggers who believe tourists are affluent. Remain aware of your surroundings at all times and maintain a low profile when walking in these areas. Avoid walking alone and travelling after dark.
Robberies and assaults
Armed robberies are frequent and occur in tourist destinations such as downtown areas, hiking trails, beaches and public parks. Some robberies have occurred during the day at gunpoint. Masked thieves have stolen valuables and belongings from their victims’ person on hiking trails. Thieves have even targeted large groups of tourists at beaches. Random attacks and sexual assaults involving Canadians have occurred.
Exercise caution at all times. Avoid isolated areas where travellers have been murdered or threatened with violence. Travel in groups. Avoid wandering on deserted beaches, especially at night.
In case of robbery, remain calm and do not resist. If in Quito, you may contact the tourist police, who are more likely to speak some English.
Incidents of attacks and sexual assault against foreign women, including rape and murder, have been reported throughout the country, particularly in tourist areas.
- Never travel alone, especially after dark
- Be aware that even women travelling in pairs have been targeted
- Stay in accommodations with good security
- Avoid hospitality exchange arrangements, such as couch-surfing
Safe-travel guide for women
Spiked food and drinks
Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances. These items may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery. Incidents can occur in various locations, including buses, nightclubs and bars.
Scopolamine is a drug that temporarily incapacitates unsuspecting victims, who become disoriented quickly and are vulnerable to crime.
Thieves may slip the drug into food and drinks or blow it into the face of the victim. They often work in teams, with attractive women who ease their victim into a false sense of security.
Incidents occur in nightclubs, bars and restaurants, on public transportation and in the streets. They occur most frequently in larger cities.
Use extreme caution when dealing with strangers offering pamphlets, requesting information or selling street wares.
Express kidnappings, often in connection with carjackings, is a concern throughout Ecuador. They are a method of abduction where criminals ask for a small and immediate ransom. Thieves usually force their victims to withdraw funds from an ATM or to arrange for family or friends to pay the ransom.
This ploy often involves an innocent taxi passenger and a criminal driver, who stops to pick up associates. To address the problem, the Ecuadorian government has installed cameras and panic buttons in taxis and buses. These panic buttons are linked directly to the ECU 911 Operations Centre. As soon as you press it, someone will be able to monitor a live feed of what is happening in the taxi and track GPS coordinates.
- Use only reputable taxi companies through establishments such as hotels or ride-hailing apps
- Booked your ride in advance when possible
Credit card and ATM fraud occurs frequently in Ecuador. Be cautious when using debit or credit cards:
- pay careful attention when your cards are being handled by others
- use ATMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business
- avoid using card readers with an irregular or unusual feature
- cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN
- check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements
More about overseas fraud
Demonstrations and civil unrest
Demonstrations occur frequently. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
More about mass gatherings (large-scale events)
Driving in Ecuador is hazardous and unpredictable. There are all types of vehicles on the road that don’t meet acceptable safety standards. Drivers involved in accidents causing physical injury are immediately detained. In many cases, detention lasts until responsibility for the accident has been assigned and all parties are satisfied.
Road conditions have improved but road travel is slow. If driving in Ecuador, expect:
- unmarked speed bumps
- large pot holes
- traffic lights on major highways
- heavy traffic (especially on weekends and statutory holidays)
- police and military road blocks
Heavy rain and mudslides also often close or wash out roads. Heavy fog occasionally poses hazards in mountainous areas.
Robberies and assaults continue to occur regularly on intercity and Guayaquil’s urban buses. Bus drivers often make illegal stops to pick up passengers.
The Ecuadorian government has installed GPS units on many buses to track their routes in an effort to improve security. These installations often include panic buttons issued by ECU 911 Operations Centre.
Registered taxis have orange licence plates and an orange and white registration number on the side of the car and on the windshield. Official taxis are also equipped with cameras and panic buttons which are linked to the ECU 911 Operations Centre.
- Only use registered taxis
- Do not hail unofficial taxis on the street
Pirate attacks and armed robbery against ships occur in coastal waters. Mariners should take appropriate precautions.
Live piracy report - International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre
Coastal waters can be dangerous. Riptides are common. Follow the instructions and warnings of local authorities.
Be aware that most beaches lack consistently staffed lifeguard stations.
Water safety abroad
If you intend on trekking:
- never do so alone and always hire an experienced guide from a reputable company
- buy travel insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation
- ensure that your physical condition is good enough to meet the challenges of your activity
- high altitude can have significant effects on fitness levels and susceptibility to ailments; know the symptoms of acute altitude sickness, which can be fatal
- ensure that you’re properly equipped and well informed about weather and other conditions that may pose a hazard
- inform a family member or friend of your itinerary, including when you expect to be back to camp
- obtain detailed information on trekking routes or ski slopes before setting out and do not venture off marked trails or slopes
Spiritual cleansing and ayahuasca ceremonies, offered by shamans and other individuals, have led to serious illness and even the death of several tourists. Ceremonies involve taking substances that can cause medical complications and severely impair cognitive and physical abilities. Tourists have also been assaulted or injured while participating in such ceremonies.
Ayahuasca ceremonies often take place in remote areas with no access to medical facilities and limited communication with local authorities. They are not regulated and there is no way to assess the safety of any of the services, the operators or the shamans.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
General information about foreign domestic airlines
The government of Ecuador has developed an app for your smartphone if you plan visiting Ecuador. It allows you to ask for help in the case of an emergency and to be located through your phone’s GPS. It is available in English.
You can also contact the Ministry of Tourism if you have a complaint to make regarding your trip to Ecuador since the authorities have set up a tourist complaint management system.
- To install the Ecu911 app - Integrated Security Service, Ecuador government (in Spanish)
- To make a tourist complaint - Ministry of Tourism, Ecuador government (in Spanish)
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from the Ecuadorian authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date you expect to leave Ecuador.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest diplomatic mission for your destination.
Tourist visa: Not required
Business visa: Not required
Student visa: Not required
Canadians do not require a visa for stays of less than 90 days in a 365-day period.
You must leave Ecuador before the departure date stipulated on the entry stamp that you received in your passport upon arrival. If you remain in Ecuador past this date, you may be deported and must then request a visa at an Ecuadorian embassy or consulate before re-entering the country. Your name may also be added to immigration records. Attempting to re-enter Ecuador without a visa pre-issued by Ecuadorian authorities in Canada will result in exclusion and you will be returned to your port of embarkation.
If you wish to stay longer than 90 days, you must obtain a visa before your entry permit expiries. If you enter Ecuador by land from Colombia or Peru, you are required to register with the Ecuadorian immigration office at the border. You must provide your passport and indicate where you are going and how long you intend to remain in Ecuador. Ensure you receive an entry stamp in your passport. Failure to do so may cause significant problems when trying to exit the country.
Virtual Consulate of Ecuador - Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility, Ecuador government (in Spanish)
Some Indigenous groups require permits to enter their territory. If you are planning on visiting the Amazon region, ensure that you have the required documentation prior to entering the area.
Dual citizens may enter Ecuador on an Ecuadorian passport and stay indefinitely. A dual citizen entering on a Canadian passport will be considered a tourist and only be granted a 90-day, non-extendable visa.
To leave the country, children born in Ecuador to a Canadian parent must:
- be registered with the Ecuadorian Civil Registry
- obtain an Ecuadorian passport
- present valid Ecuadorian and Canadian passports
Ecuadorian immigration authorities do not allow children born in Ecuador to depart only on a Canadian passport.
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
Unaccompanied minors (under 18) holding dual citizenship (Ecuadorian and Canadian) and travelling with both passports, or who are landed immigrants in Ecuador, should have a letter of consent from both parents. This letter should:
- authorize the travel and stipulate the destination and duration of the intended trip
- be legally certified and translated into Spanish
- be notarized at the Embassy of Ecuador or a consulate in Canada
Canadian unaccompanied minors travelling as tourists with Canadian passports do not need this authorization letter.
Recommended consent letter for children travelling abroad
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
- Zika virus: Advice for travellers - January 17, 2019
Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health professional about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Outbreaks of measles are ongoing.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that can cause serious complications for some people.
You are at increased risk of measles infection if you have not had the illness or if you are not up to date on your vaccinations.
Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (e.g., are children, have an occupational risk, or in close contact with animals, including free roaming dogs in communities).
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
- There is a risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
- Vaccination is recommended depending on your itinerary.
- There is currently a shortage of the yellow fever vaccine in Canada. It is important for travellers to contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of their trip to ensure that the vaccine is available.
- Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care professional.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
About Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada
* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in South America, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in South America. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among children, travellers going to rural areas, travellers visiting friends and relatives or those travelling for a long period of time.
Travellers visiting regions with a risk typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
In some areas in South America, certain insects carry and spread diseases like American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease), chikungunya, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness), West Nile virus , yellow fever and Zika virus.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is currently a risk of chikungunya in this country. Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.
- Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- Mosquitoes carrying dengue typically bite during the daytime, particularly around sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
Zika virus infection
Zika virus infection is a risk in this country. Recent or ongoing cases of Zika virus have been reported in this country.
All travellers should protect themselves from mosquito bites day and night.
Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects such as abnormally small heads (microcephaly). Zika virus can also be sexually transmitted.
Travellers who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy:
- Should avoid travel to this country.
- If travel cannot be avoided follow strict mosquito bite prevention measures.
- Talk to your health care professional about the risk of Zika infection in pregnancy.
- Use condoms correctly or avoid having sex for the duration of the pregnancy, if you are pregnant and your partner has travelled to this country.
- Female travellers: wait at least 2 months after returning from this country or after onset of illness due to Zika (whichever is longer) before trying to conceive (get pregnant) to ensure that any possible Zika virus infection has cleared your body.
- Male travellers: wait 3 months after returning from this country or after onset of illness due to Zika (whichever is longer) before trying to conceive. Use condoms or avoid having sex during that time.
See travel health notice: Zika virus: Advice for travellers
- There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
- Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in enclosed air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider pre-treating clothing and travel gear with insecticides and sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet.
- Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in South America, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care professional.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
Medical services and facilities
Health care is available but the quality of care varies greatly throughout the country. In Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca, private hospitals offer medical services comparable to those in Canada. In smaller towns and in rural areas, however, health services are below Canadian standards.
Serious medical cases in the Galapagos Islands will likely require medical evacuation to the Ecuadorian mainland or Canada for treatment. Surgical and cardiac services are extremely limited. As there are no air ambulance services based on the islands, the wait time to be evacuated can be 48 hours or more, depending on weather conditions.
Medical evacuations can be extremely expensive.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
Travel health and safety
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws and culture
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe.
Individuals may be found guilty by association if they have criminal associates. Drivers should not accept hitchhikers, as they could be held responsible for them as well as for the content of their luggage.
Monitor your luggage at all times when travelling, especially at airports, and never agree to carry items for another person.
Ecuadorian law requires all individuals to carry identification at all times.
Pedestrians should cross streets only at designated crosswalks. Jaywalking and walking off the sidewalk are punishable by a fine.
Curfews and states of emergency
Authorities may declare curfews and states of emergency in regions affected by civil unrest, natural disaster or other disruption.
During a state of emergency, authorities have expanded powers to restore order, including suspension of some constitutional rights and expanded detention powers.
There is a traffic restriction based on the last digit of the vehicle licence plate number in Quito.
You may be heavily fined if you fail to respect the restricted areas on the weekday corresponding to your plate number.
You can drive up to 3 months with your valid Canadian driver’s licence.
You should carry an international driving permit.
More about the International Driving Permit
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Ecuador.
If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of Ecuador, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.
General information for travellers with dual citizenship
The currency in Ecuador is the U.S. dollar (USD).
Credit cards are accepted by many businesses.
Natural disasters and climate
Heavy rains at various times of the year trigger landslides in many areas, particularly in mountainous areas. This causes road damage which contributes to traffic accidents.
During flooding, disruptions may happen to essential services such as:
- emergency and medical care
- food, fuel and water supplies
Water- and insect-borne diseases may also become a threat.
If you are already in the affected areas, monitor local media for the latest developments, verify your travel plans with your airline or tour operator, and follow the instructions of local authorities.
Ecuador is located in an active seismic area. Earthquakes and tremors occur regularly. Dangerous landslides are frequent following even minor earthquakes.
There is a risk of tsunamis when earthquakes strike along the Pacific coastline. In Esmeraldas and Manabí provinces, authorities maintain an early warning system of sirens to alert the population of an approaching tsunami or a sudden dam overflow.
ECU 911, the Integrated Security Service - Ecuador government (in Spanish)
There are several active and potentially active volcanoes on the mainland and on the Galapagos Islands, including around Quito and the tourist communities of Baños and Riobamba. Eruptions could occur at any time and without warning. Most recently, the Reventador and Sangay volcanoes have erupted and Cotopaxi and Tungurahua are active.
Exposure to falling ash and toxic fumes from active volcanoes can affect your health. If you suffer from respiratory ailments, consult a physician or travel medicine specialist well in advance to determine associated health risks.
Ash fall may also disrupt domestic and international flights and cause the closure of major highways. If you are planning to travel near active volcanoes, monitor local news and pay careful attention to all warnings issued, avoid restricted areas and follow the advice of local authorities. Be prepared to modify your travel arrangements or even evacuate the area on short notice. You should also be familiar with local emergency plans (available at most hotels).
- Public alerts for volcanoes displaying increased seismic activity - Ecuador Secretariat of Risk Management (in Spanish)
- Instituto Geofisico - Ecuador’s geophysical institute (in Spanish)
The complex weather phenomenon called El Niño happens at irregular intervals of 2 to 7 years and can last 9 months to 2 years. El Niño generally generates heavy rain falls, which could cause flooding, landslides and mudslides and could severely disrupt travel.
Keep informed of regional weather forecasts before and during your travels, and plan accordingly. Ensure you have adequate insurance to cover the consequences of such events, including the disruption of travel plans.
Dial 911 for emergency assistance
Quito - Embassy of Canada
Guayaquil - Consulate of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada to Ecuador in Quito and follow the instructions. You may also make a collect call to the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1 613-996-8885.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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