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Expat Exchange - Tips for Expats Driving in Quito 2024
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Parque La Carolina in Quito, Ecuador


Tips for Expats Driving in Quito

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Universal Tax Professionals
Universal Tax Professionals

Summary: Driving in a new country can be daunting. These tips offer insight into what to expect when driving in Quito.

1. Understanding the Driving Culture

Driving in Quito can be a challenging experience for expats, especially those who are not used to aggressive driving styles. Ecuadorians are known for their assertive driving, often ignoring traffic rules and regulations. It's not uncommon to see drivers running red lights, not using turn signals, or overtaking in dangerous situations. Therefore, it's crucial to drive defensively and always be aware of your surroundings.

2. Car Recommendation

Given the city's hilly terrain and sometimes rough road conditions, a 4x4 vehicle is often recommended. This type of car can handle the city's steep hills and uneven roads better than a standard car. However, smaller cars are easier to maneuver in heavy traffic and to park in tight spaces.

3. Parking in Quito

Finding parking in Quito can be difficult, especially in the city center. Most parking spaces are metered, and the cost can add up quickly. There are also private parking lots and garages, but these can be quite expensive. It's recommended to use public transportation or taxis when going to the city center to avoid the hassle of finding parking.

4. Driving with an International License

Foreigners can drive in Ecuador with an international driving permit for up to 90 days. After this period, you will need to obtain an Ecuadorian driver's license. It's important to note that driving without a valid license can result in hefty fines and possible deportation.

5. Obtaining an Ecuadorian Driver's License

To get an Ecuadorian driver's license, you will need to pass a written test and a practical driving test. The written test is in Spanish, so a good understanding of the language is necessary. You will also need to provide a number of documents, including your passport, a certificate of residency, and a medical certificate. It's recommended to start this process as soon as possible after your 90-day period is up.

6. Road Conditions

While major roads and highways in Quito are generally in good condition, some side streets and rural roads can be poorly maintained. Potholes and other road hazards are common, so always drive with caution. Also, be aware that road signs and markings may not always be clear or consistent.

7. Safety Precautions

Due to the high rate of car theft in Quito, it's recommended to always park in well-lit, secure areas and never leave valuables in your car. Also, always keep your doors locked and windows up when driving, especially at night or in unfamiliar areas.

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.


Universal Tax Professionals
Universal Tax Professionals

Universal Tax Professionals
Universal Tax Professionals

Parque La Carolina in Quito, Ecuador

AGS Worldwide Movers
AGS Worldwide Movers

AGS Worldwide Movers can move you to and from anywhere in the world.
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AGS Worldwide MoversAGS Worldwide Movers

AGS Worldwide Movers can move you to and from anywhere in the world.
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