U.S. State Issues Travel Advisory Update For Ecuador Amid Criminal Record Border Checks

The US State Department has updated its Travel Advisory for Ecuador focusing on land border crossing requirements. 

On April 7, the country ended the State of Emergency that had been in place since January, in which military and police personnel were given increased powers to restrict people’s movements, search private property, and fight against terrorist organizations.

Although most of these restrictions have been lifted, the land border restrictions remain.

This means that Americans and other foreigners crossing the Peruvian or Colombian land borders with Ecuador are compelled to present immigration officers with an apostilled certificate demonstrating clean criminal records. 

This “certificate of good conduct” is issued by your local police department but some officials may not be aware of its existence because it’s “rare” in the US, says the government. 

Note that this document must be “apostilled.” To do so, check the page authentications.

The US Embassy and Consulate General in Ecuador warn Americans that these agencies are unable to help travelers obtain this document, so you must get it back home and in person.

Another important piece of information visitors must be aware of is that Ecuador’s President Daniel Noboa has confirmed his country remains in an “internal armed conflict,” due to crime. 

Regardless, the country remains ranked as “Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution,” which is not particularly dangerous.

Cities and roads across the nation are flooded with police and military officials. So, always carry a proper ID in case authorities ask you to identify yourself.

All the above-mentioned measures were taken after the Ecuadorian president decreed a State of Exception and a nationwide curfew following the prison break of Adolfo ‘Fito’ Macías, a high-profile Ecuadorian criminal that prompted a wave of civil unrest and gang violence across the country.

As of today, petty theft and violent crime including murder, armed robberies, and kidnapping, can occur even in tourist areas. Also, demonstrations due to political and economic factors can start at any minute with little to no notice.

One of the basic steps you can take to protect yourself is to register in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to keep yourself informed about the changing political situation and help the government locate you in case of need.

Do NOT Travel to These Areas

Considering the current political instability and the risk of getting kidnapped or even murdered, the government advises you not to travel to the following areas:

Guayaquil, south of Portete de Tarqui Avenue; the cities of Huaquillas and Arenillas in the province of El Oro; the cities of Quevedo, Quinsaloma, and Pueblo Viejo in the province of Los Rios; the canton of Duran, in the province of Guayas; and Esmeraldas city due to intensive criminal activity.

The government explicitly says it lacks consular capacity to assist you in case you get into trouble in any of these areas. So, by visiting these territories you mean you are taking your own chances.