Ecuador Driving Advice and Car Hire Info

Driving In Ecuador

Ecuador drives on the right and you can use the photo licence of any country to drive here for up to 30 days, providing it’s written in Roman alphabet. Drivers from other countries need their own licence plus an international driving permit. Speed limits are 110kmh on highways, 90km on rural roads and 50kmh in urban areas. Always carry your passport, driving licence, vehicle registration and proof of insurance with you when driving.

Ecuador has 44,000km of roads, of which around 20% are paved.Main routes in Ecuador are prefixed with the letter E followed by a number. If the highway is a North to South) route the number is odd and numbers run from smallest to largest from the west to the east. If the highway is East-West the number is even. They are numbered from smallest to largest from the north to the south.

Main routes include-

E15 (Pacific Trunk) -Colombia – Esmeraldas – Salinas

E25  (Coastal Trunk) -San Miguel de los Bancos – Guayaquil – Peru

E35 (Highland Trunk) -The Ecuadorian part of the Pan-American Highway -Colombia – Quito – Peru

E45 (Amazon Trunk) -Colombia – Puyo – Macas – Zamora

E10 (Frontier Transverse) -San Lorenzo – Ibarra – Nueva Loja – Colombia

E20 (North Transverse) Esmeraldas – Quito – Puerto Francisco de Orellana

E30 (Central Transverse) Manta – Puyo   438 km

E40  (Southern Transverse) -Salinas – Guayaquil – Puerto Morona

E50  (South Transverse)     Peru – Zamora

Sections of multi-lane motorway standard roads are –

Quito – Alpichacas. Length: 33 km.

Guayaquil ring-road. Length: 46 km.

Guayaquil – Taura. Length: 30 km.

Guayaquil – Cerro Blanco. Length: 27 km.

Machala – Pasaje. Length: 23 km.

All the motorways and many other main routes have sections of toll road. These are administered by different private companies and tolls can be paid at toll gates or via vehcile transponders which rental cars should be fitted with.

Ecuador is a relatively  small country but road conditions tend to make journeys take longer than you expected. Some approximate driving times –

Quito-  Canoa – 6 hours

Quito- Guayaquil 7 hours

Quito- Otavalo 1.5 hours

Quito -Cuenca 8 hours

Quito- Loja 11 hours

Road conditions are generally unpredictable in all areas of Ecuador despite recent improvements. The situation around the country always deteriorates following heavy rains, particularly between January and June, and heavy rains and mudslides often close or wash away roads, which can cause significant delays to journeys. In the highlands many small roads are cobbled and can become slippery when wet.

Driving style can be aggressive and overly fast on open roads away from cities, with dangerous overtaking manoeuvres. Always expect the unexpected when rounding blind corners or the brows of hills. Some areas of Quito and Guayaquil can be dangerous to drive in after dark. Ask the car rental company’s advice if you plan to drive at night.

There is a 20 km exclusion zone, under army control, along the entire border with Colombia, with the exception of the official border crossing town of Tulcan. Check your government’s website for the latest information if planning to travel in this area.

For information on driving Ecuador’s coastal Spondylus Route, see my Classic Road Trips page.

Although I try and keep the information in the site updated as much as possible, in a rapidly moving world, situations can change daily. Therefore please use the site as an approximate guide, and in conjunction with other resources in order to form your view on driving conditions, roads, safety etc.

Ecuador Car Rental –
Hertz, Avis, Budget, have branches here.

We currently have no local car rental partners in Ecuador. If you are a local car rental company who would like to feature on please check details on our Partnering page or contact us on

Ecuador Self Driving Rules-
None of the big international companies seem to allow vehicles to be taken out of Ecuador.


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