Recent investigations have uncovered 35,000 people have obtained their driver’s licenses fraudulently. Over 5,000 of these were in Azuay. All of these licences were immediately cancelled. To make matters worse, there is also the possibility that expats caught obtaining their licences illegally will have their visas cancelled.
We regularly see advertisements on social media for so-called ‘licence facilitators’ that promise to obtain you a licence for a fee of around $300. I’ve even seen expats openly recommend these services in various Facebook Groups.
It’s clearly an attractive offer to some. Pay a small fee and avoid having to go through the licensing process, including studying the 300+ multiple-choice questions. The Spanish-only exam can be particularly difficult for newer expats that haven’t yet made the transition to learning the language.
How to obtain your licence legally?
There are 3 common ways for expats to obtain their Ecuador licence:
1) Transfer Your Foreign Licence (Canje)
2) Driving School – Driving Test Only
3) Driving School – Full Course
Full details for each option can be found in this detailed article.
Our suggested approach
Whilst transferring your foreign licence is generally the easiest approach, we suggest the driving school options. Why? Because it’s a great opportunity to go through the process as locals do. This type of day to day interaction with locals can really help you feel connected with your adopted country. You may even make some new friends.
Driving in Ecuador certainly has its quirks. And this is the perfect opportunity to ask your driving instructor any questions you may have about how the local conditions differ from your normal environment – we suggest starting with the ‘rules’ around pedestrian crossings.
Worst case scenario? You’ve practised your Spanish and learnt some local road rules. You can find driving schools in Cuenca that cost less than $150 for the course – really not a big outlay for such an important transition.