Ecuador - Formalities
Agents are required for all foreign-flagged boats clearing into all ports and have been since 2007. Puerto Amistad is allowed to represent the yachts without actually being a ship's agent, but all boats have to be represented by someone.
Authorities here speak Spanish only. The agent will advise all the authorities (Port Captain / Customs / Migration / Sanitary Doctor) of your arrival, arrange transport, issue clearance, send the SITRAME information to the Coast Guard, coordinate with Customs the issuing of a special document called the Affidavit, (which must be signed/stamped by the yacht captain, kept on board and returned to Customs when moving from port to port), and pay the government arrival tax, which requires a local bank account.
Even if your stop in Ecuador is simply for technical reasons (Transito Escala Tecnica), an agent is required. Agents fees therefore add up. See Fees below.
It is advisable to enter at Puerto Amistad, Puerto Lucia YC, Salinas YC or Guayaquil YC, as they are more used to foreign visitors and there are less likely to be problems with officials.
Yachts making clearance at other ports will also need an agent, however these companies are reluctant to help private yachts, and are expensive.
An agent fee must be paid for each clearance whether domestic or international. It is understood that this procedure must be followed at every port visited when it comes under the juristiction of a different Port Authority. Be sure to ask the agent to write down every charge and itemize what it is for. Get an official Factura (Government receipt) for everything.
Yachts sailing from one Ecuadorean port to another must obtain a domestic zarpe, while yachts leaving the country will require an international zarpe.
On arrival, the port captain should be contacted on VHF Channels 6 or 12, as Channel 16 is rarely used except as a general calling channel. The port captain will advise on where to berth the yacht for clearance.
Yachts intending to visit the Galapagos from Ecuador do not need an autographo in advance if they are only planning on visiting one port. The usual procedure is to obtain outward clearance (an international zarpe) for the Marquesas (or another offshore destination) and not to mention the intended stop in Galapagos to the officials. It must be mentioned, though, each port tends to have its own rules! See Galapagos for more details.
Last updated March 2017.
Passports must be valid for at least 6 months.
Nationals of the following countries require a visa in advance to enter Ecuador:- Algeria, Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, India, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Lybia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Palestine Authority, Panama, People's Republic of China, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tunisia, and Vietnam.
All other nationals will be granted a "12-X" visa on arrival, valid for 90 days. A further 90 days extension is possible at a cost of US$200 plus a $30 application fee. If a couple can prove they're married (requires a marriage certificate with apostille - an international certification - from the issuing country) then the dependent is added for an additional $50. The same would apply for children in which case they'll need birth certificates with apostille.
The maximum stay is 6 months in every year.
Any extension to the 12-X visa must be applied for prior to its expiry. There is an automatic $200 fine (with an upper limit of $2000) for an expired visa.
Ensure that your passport is stamped on entry.
Visa requirements are not strictly enforced for those arriving by boat and short stays are granted on arrival even to nationalities that normally need visas.
It is a legal requirement to carry ID. You should keep a photocopy of your passport pages including your photograph and Ecuadorean immigration entry stamp with you at all times.
Last updated January 2016.
Since May 2011, foreign visiting sailboats are allowed to remain in Ecuador for up to a year, if the main purpose is tourism. 90 days will be granted on entry and an extension (up to 1 year) will be allowed once, at no cost. Do however bear in mind that an agent will charge a fee for securing the extension (for example Puerto Amistad charge $100).
Note, that Puerto Amistad are able to secure extensions of one year each for a total of three years, but then the boat has to leave the country.
On arrival in Ecuador, the agent will coordinate with Customs the issuing of a special document named an Affidavit, which must be signed/stamped by the Captain of the Yacht and kept on board whilst in Ecuador at all times. Prior to sailing from port to port, the Affidavit must be returned to Customs, usually via the Agent.
Firearms must be declared.
The Ecuadorian Customs (Corporación Aduanera Ecuatoriana) now requires that all international merchant commercial ships and tourist yachts in transit, must be registered in the Customs computerized system called Sistema Interactivo de Comercio Exterior (SICE). Your agent will coordinate the registration of the vessel in the SICE, as well as in the MaritimeTraffic Information System (SITRAME).
Any involvement with illegal drugs is a serious crime. The penalties are harsh and prison conditions are extremely grim.
Last updated January 2016.
Malaria and dengue fever are health risks in all coastal and jungle provinces.
Amoebic dysentery is endemic in some parts of the country.
Vaccination against yellow fever, as well as malaria, is is recommended.
There is some risk of cholera. Do not drink untreated water.
ZIKA VIRUS ALERT: (September 2016) There have been recent safety alerts from the US State Department, UK Foreign Office, and Center for Disease Control (CDC) regarding travel to parts of Central and South America, Africa, southern Asia, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific islands. Ecuador is an area of interest with multiple reported cases and active virus transmission. There is growing concern about the rapid spread of the ZIKA Virus and the impact of the virus on pregnant women and babies. ZIKA is transmitted by mosquitos in tropical and sub-tropical climates, and there is currently no cure or vaccine. This situation is evolving rapidly, so please refer to the CDC’s dedicated website if you are intending to cruise in one of the effected areas.
Owner and crew must have a valid passport, crew list, last zarpe and vessel original registration form. Have legible copies of all the above documents at hand.
Yachts must be registered with the computerised Customs system (SICE) as well as the Maritime Traffic Information System (SITRAME). The Agent will deal with this registration.
On departure from port, each yacht must provide a Sail Plan with details of waypoints on the intended route to the next port or out of territorial waters, along with predicted date and time of arrival. Again, the agent will organise this. Officially, the authorities (DIRNEA - www.dirnea.org) must be informed if you deviate more than 25 miles from your intended route or change your port of destination, however in practice this is not required.
Last updated January 2012.
The area of jurisdiction is: West until 095° 23 00 W, from 01° 28' 54" N to 03° 23' 33.96" S; and, 200 NM around the Galápagos Islands.
NOTE: There is a warning that the DIRNEA website is not secure.
A tax for light dues ("faros y boyas") of US$3 per gross ton for Galapagos cruising or US$0.73 for Ecuador cruising, must be paid to the port captain on arrival (or via the agent). One should get a receipt for this payment or one will have to pay it again in the next port.
There are also immigration charges, a clearance fee and agent's fees. A charge is also made for the zarpe. Apparently some yachts have been overcharged and others have had to pay overtime, because they were leaving the harbour outside office hours, even when the formalities had been completed during office hours. This seems to be less of a problem in the ports of Puerto Lucia, Salinas and Guayaquil, where foreign yachts are more common.
Yachts should also avoid mooring in commercial harbours as yachts are charged the same rates as large ships, which are very high. There are not usually fees for anchoring in fishing harbours.
Clearing in at Salinas, fees for 2015 are as follows:
US$ 250.00 - Agency Fee (Lump Sum)
US$ 50.00 - Mobilization
US$ 20.00 - Forms
Additional amounts (payable to Port Authorities):
US$ 30.00 - Migration Dues (clearance in/out)
US$ 50.00 (approx.) - Captaincy of Port Dues (clearance in/out,
pollution control/use of frequency)
Clearing in at Bahia, using Puerto Amistad as an agent, fees in June 2014 were:
US$ 50.00 - Agent Fee
US$ 20.00 - Immigration
US$ 40.00 - Taxi fee for paperwork
US$ 45.00 - Capitania
Approx. Total Cost - US$ 155.00
In Puerto Lucia, the 2012 agents fee was approx. US$250, plus additional fees for Immigration and Customs, amounting to a total of around US$400.
Tasa por Derechos de Timbres Consulares
The “tasa por derechos de timbres consulares” (arrivals tax amounting to US$310) has been applied since 1976. Intended for large commercial vessels, this tax is also applied to cruising yachts in many ports. Puerto Lucia stopped charging this tax in June 2011 due to uproar from the cruising fleet, however it may still be applied in other ports. Be sure to check with your agent as to the best place to clear into Ecuador to avoid paying this tax.
Transito Escala Tecnica (technical stop)
If you have to make an emergency stop in Ecuador due to technical reasons/for repairs, an application in advance can be made via an agent which negates all fees payable, as long as the stop is no longer than 2 weeks.
Last updated March 2015.
The following agents are representing cruisers at the present time in Puerto Lucia (May 2014):
Mr Napoleon Cadena: email@example.com
Julia Yturralde NOE SHIPPING firstname.lastname@example.org.
We recommend you request quotes in advance.
Animals must be declared.
- Certificate of Vaccination within 60 days before travel against panleukopenia felina and rabies.
- Have been treated externally and internally against parasites at least 30 days before embarkation.
- Have been inspected at embarkation by Veterinarian and found to be healthy, without tumours, fresh wounds or in the process of healing, without any quarantined transferable diseases or the presence of ectoparasites.
- Are placed in special cage/box cleaned out and disinfected.
- Must have been vaccinated within 60 days of travel against distemper, canine hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus, influenza and rabies (proof of dates and products used needed).
- Have been treated against parasites, externally and internally at least 30 days before travel.
- Have been inspected and identified at the moment of embarkation by official Veterinarian, and found to be in good condition, without tumours, flesh wounds or in process of healing, and without quarantined transferable diseases or presence of ectoparasites.
Further details from:
Ecuador Office, Ministeris de Turismo, Avenida Eloy Alfaro No. 32-300 and Carlos Tobar Quito, Ecuador - Tel: (2) 507 562 or 228 204/5, e-mail email@example.com
Ecuador Office Camara Provincial de Turismos (Captur), Avenida 6 de Dicembre 1424 y Carrion Qito, Ecuador - Tel: (2) 224 074 or 509 860