Entering the country is straightforward, and border officials, especially at the airports, efficiently whisk you through. At land borders, officers may take a little more time examining your passport, if only to kill time. Officially, you need proof of onward travel and evidence of sufficient funds for your stay, but this is rarely requested. Proof of $20 per day or a credit card is usually evidence of sufficient funds. However, international airlines flying to Quito may require a round-trip or onward ticket or a residence visa before they let you on the plane; you should be prepared for this possibility, though it’s unlikely. Though it's not law, you may be required to show proof of vaccination against yellow fever if you are entering Ecuador from an infected area.

We have received conflicting reports regarding mandatory traveler's insurance; at our research time no legislation had been put into effect, but check before you travel.

Flights, tours and rail tickets can all be booked online at www.lonelyplanet.com/bookings.

Customs Regulations

Each traveler is able to import 3L of spirits and 400 cigarettes duty-free. There is no problem in bringing in the usual types of personal belongings.

Pre-Columbian artifacts and endangered-animal products, which include mounted butterflies and beetles (and even feathers), are not allowed to be taken out of Ecuador or imported into most other countries.

Passports

All nationals entering as tourists need a passport that is valid for at least six months after arrival. You are legally required to have your passport on you at all times. Many people carry only a copy when they’re hanging around a town, though this is not an officially acceptable form of ID.

Visas

Visitors from most countries don’t need visas for stays of less than 90 days. Residents from a handful of African and Asian countries (including China) require visas.

Stay Extensions

New regulations mean it’s a real headache getting visa extensions. Unless you’re from an Andean Pact country, tourist visas are not extendable. If you wish to stay longer than 90 days, you’ll need to apply for a 12-IX Visa; you can also do this while in Ecuador, though it’s more time-consuming than doing it in advance through an Ecuadorian consulate in your home country.

Pick up the necessary paperwork for the 12-IX Visa, and pay the $230 fee at the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Movilidad Humana. For step-by-step instructions on applying for the visa, check out the excellent post on one Canadian traveler's blog: www.roamaholic.com/tourist-visa-ecuador. The list of documents required is also found at the Ecuadorian U.S. Consulate website (www.ecuador.org/nuevosite/serviciosconsulares_visas_12IX_e.php).

No matter what, don’t wait until your visa has expired to sort out your paperwork, the fine for overstaying can be hefty ($200 to $2000).