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Ecuador to Peru Border Crossing

Written by Jessica on September 4, 2012

This article is part of our Border Crossing Report series.

ecuador-peru-flagBorder name: Huaquillas or Aguas Verdes
Closest major cities: Machala, Ecuador and Tumbes, Peru
Cost for visas: $0
Cost for vehicle: $8 for insurance, permit was free
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Date crossed: Thursday August 23, 2012

The Steps

  1. Stop at the big white building on the left side of the road at least 5km before the border crossing. There is no sign when leaving Ecuador, but there is a big sign in the opposite direction that says “Migracion”.
  2. Hand over your Ecuador vehicle permit to an official person. You may have to wait for them to enter info in the computer. They just took ours and told us to get out of there.
  3. Follow the signs to the Frontera. Note the new border area completely avoids the town of Huaquillas.
  4. You will pass a huge set of blue and white buildings on your left. This is for persons entering Ecuador ONLY. Keep driving.
  5. Eventually you will see an identical set of blue and white building on your right. Drive in and park where instructed.
  6. An official at the door will give you a form for exiting Ecuador (if you didn’t save yours from when you entered the country) and another form for entering Peru.
  7. Go into the building and present your passports at the first desk, this is exit immigration for Ecuador. The official will keep your exit tourist card and stamp you out.
  8. Go to the next desk. This is Peru entry. Hand over your entry form and passport. They keep the form and stamp your passport.
  9. Continuing further into the building there is an aduana desk. The official will need to see the original of your title, driver’s license, and passport for the owner of the vehicle. He will also need a copy of these three things.
  10. Aduana will enter a bunch of info in the computer and issue you a permit.
  11. Go to the small SOAT insurance booth and buy insurance, unless you have a policy from home. The cost was $8 for one month. Check the expiration carefully.
  12. Head to the beach!

Our Experience

Note that the two new sets of blue and white buildings that I referred to are a pilot project between Peru and Ecuador in an attempt to make this crossing easier. Eventually everything will move into these buildings and there will be no need to stop 5km before the border to cancel your permit. Yay!

We left our crappy campsite at the petrified forest around 9am and arrived at the border by 10:30, after stopping to fill up on Ecuador’s uber cheap gas.

The welcome to Peru sign.

We, of course, drove right past the Ecuador aduana where we needed to cancel our vehicle permit and drove the wrong way into the Ecuador entry building (the first set of new blue and white buildings). The super confused official kept trying to stamp us into Ecuador and we explained 20 times that we were leaving Ecuador.

After much debate we finally realized we were at the wrong building. “But, this one is so nice! Really do we have to leave?” He looked at our Ecuador permit, conferred with his colleague and then sent us back up the road to the random aduana area.

The customs building on the Ecuador side of the border.

Here a military official waved us over to the parking lot. We explained that we wanted to cancel our vehicle permit. He spoke excellent English and explained he would see that our permit was canceled and the information was entered into the computer. He also took the time to explain what the other buildings were and the process of the pilot program that was not yet in full swing.

We drove back down the road, past the wrong set of blue and white buildings to another identical set another two kilometers away. A guard waved us over to the shoulder and told us to park there. He then explained the immigration and aduana process.

The outside of the Peruvian immigration building.

Shockingly at all of the buildings we stopped at during this process there were no money changers or touts. No one hanging around or hassling us. Good job Peru & Ecuador. Gold star for both of you!

We went into the new building and were delighted to see exactly the same building we had been in before, only this one was clearly for people entering Peru. The officials at the front door asked if we had exit cards for Ecuador. We said no, and they handed us new blank ones along with a form for entry into Peru.

People wait in line inside the Peruvian immigration building.

We scribbled down our info on the two forms and stood in the first line. The official entered some info in the computer, stamped our passports and then ushered us to the next desk. The next official took our Peru entry cards, examined our passports and stamped us in. They issued a 60 day visa for Kobus and I and 90 for Jared. It is likely we could have asked for more days, but we only plan to be here for 6 weeks, so no harm done.

Behind the Peru immigration desk was a nicely signed aduana desk. We waited about 15 minutes in line. The nice official asked for the car paperwork, the owner’s passport, and the driver’s license. It took him a little while to understand that the owner of the car happened to have vehicle and driver’s license from the US yet had a South African passport.  About 20 minutes later all of the info was entered into the computer, and again into a paper ledger.

Finally the official printed our permit and told us to go buy insurance. He kept a copy of the vehicle title, driver’s passport and license. There was a small booth right next to the aduana counter with a big orange SOAT sign. The lady needed to see the vehicle title and the driver’s passport. She issued a slip of insurance and charged us $8 USD. Vehicle permit and insurance in hand we headed back to our car and drove out of the area. There was a gate, but the guards just waved us through.

INSURANCE UPDATE Sept 23, 2012: Despite asking for 2 months of insurance, we were only issued one. Of course I didn't check the dates until another traveler told us they refused to sell him more than one month. Upon further investigation I discovered that usually SOAT is only sold in one month or one year increments, and it is very hard to buy for a foreign vehicle outside of the border. I also learned that if you have a vehicle insurance policy that covers liability from home (we have one from Sanborns), then you are NOT required to buy insurance in Peru. So long as your policy has equal or better coverage than the SOAT policy.

Here is the official law in Spanish in case the police don't believe you: Articulo 30.1, Ley No. 27181: Todo vehículo automotor que circule en el territorio de la República debe contar con una póliza de seguros vigente del Seguro Obligatorio de Accidentes de Tránsito - SOAT o certificados contra accidentes de tránsito, que contengan términos equivalentes, condiciones semejantes o mayores coberturas ofertadas que el SOAT vigente.

Best part about this border: No touts! Also, three of the four places we needed to go were all in one building.

Worst part about this border: The fourth place was 5km up the road and didn’t have a sign.


#2 Jennifer 2014-04-23 23:29
Extemely helpful as always! I crossed the border into Peru yesterday, and missed the first big buildig as it is now yellow and blue (not white) with a big sign saying Aduana (not Migracion) in the opposite direction.
Also, the price for motorcycle insurance, for anyone else travelling this way, was a bit of a shock at $35 per bike, rather than $8 for a car.
#1 James 2012-09-04 23:09
the worlds youngest insurance saleslady

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