There are plenty of accounts from people who are driving around South America or even from North to South (minding the gap of course) but I have not found any indication of what formalities they had to go through, if any.

My Canadian car is registered in Canada with a Quebec license plate and I would like to drive it down through the Americas with shipping or ferry to skip the Darien Gap.

For most countries it seems that 90 days or less does not require any local permits, although I know Mexico requires local insurance (which I have done before but I've never driven my car further south), now what about longer stays?

I intend to stay 10 months or so in Ecuador and perhaps a few months in other countries. Do these places require special permits to drive a foreign car beyond a certain amount of time?

  • 1
    Having your Carnet de Passages en Douane is a good idea even if it's not strictly required by a given country. Beyond that, it'll be country-specific. Jun 7, 2016 at 20:07
  • 1
    @zach-lipton - Thanks for offering the bounty, I really need to know this soon!
    – Itai
    Jun 18, 2016 at 14:52
  • What is your purpose of travel to Ecuador? Tourism? Business? Why do you intend to stay for 10 months?
    – JoErNanO
    Jul 1, 2016 at 13:05
  • Going use family there as a base for extended travel in the area. We did it before but without a car and several places remained out of reach, not to mention outside of Ecuador.
    – Itai
    Jul 1, 2016 at 15:58
  • @MichaelHampton related: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/193/…
    – JonathanReez
    Jul 5, 2016 at 9:16

1 Answer 1


According to a thread on tripadvisor:

To enter my country you need to show the registration which prooves the vehicle is yours. After that the Customs will give you a "perniso de internacion" for 3 months.

You can leave your vehicle at your hotel, and then you can return and continue with more journeys down to Peru or Colombia in it. You have to pay a revenue every 3 months after that to the government.

I had clients that had done that before and I had take care of their paper work.

The contact email address in the post, might be worth dealing with for your travels.

Searching for "perniso de internacion" leads to this site which translates (via google (badly)) into:

Requirements for obtaining a permit for temporary use of a vehicle in Ecuador

He must submit to Customs officials of Ecuador, the qualifying documents for this purpose:
- Identity document (passport) duly stamped by migration
- Get a Mandatory Traffic Accident Insurance (SOAT)
- Driver's license and vehicle registration, whereby the vehicle is special and preferential entered for the Customs of Ecuador garment[sic].
- The permanence of the vehicle for private use tourist equal to the maximum time allowed tourists (90 days).
- The time allowed for the temporary custody of the vehicle is up to 90 days extendable once for 90 days.
- If the vehicle is not owned by the driver, you must present authorization granted by the owner of the vehicle before a notary for use during the trip, where the time the vehicle will remain in Ecuadorian territory stated.

This site claims to be able to provide the permit in 30 minutes.

The key to searching for permits appears to be "Temporary Import" together with "vehicle" or "car". An additional anecdote for Nicuragua here says:

We drove our Pathfinder 2000 from Canada in December 2011 and were in Nicaragua for 18 months with it (until May 2013)... Every 30 days (not 90 days) we had to either exit the country in to Costa Rica for 3 days and then come back in Nicaragua to get another 30 day "Temporary Importation Visa" for the car or drive to Managua to the DGA office and ask for a 30 day extension for a fee (I don't remember the how much, I think it was $1/day...) so in 18 months we probably drove in and out of both Costa Rica and Nicaragua with our Canadian car at least 8-9 times.

Depending on the countries you intend to stay in, it would appear that you typically need to apply for a temporary import permit, and this is usually of a restricted duration. You may be able to renew this one or more times in country, or exit the country and re-enter to renew.

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