Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil

Border Crossing: Ecuador / Peru

November 18th, 2013 | Posted by Brianna in Border Crossings | Dogs | Ecuador | Peru

We cross borders by land in a CR-V with US passports and our two dogs. We do not carry drugs or weapons or disallowed fruit (usually). These articles are not a definitive guide to crossing borders nor should they be used as a sole source of information. They are our experiences.

When, Where, and Which Direction: November 8, 2013 – Ecuador > Peru at Macará

What We Needed:

  1. Passports (and 1 copy of driver’s passport),
  2. Ecuadorian Auto Import Permit,
  3. Vehicle Title (and 1 copy),
  4. Vehicle Registration (and 1 copy),
  5. Driver’s License (and 1 copy), and
  6. 1 copy of driver’s entrance stamp to Peru.

The Process: The border stations sit on either side of the Macará River. After passing the town of Macará, a few small buildings are on the left side of the road, just before the bridge. Park along the right side of the road and approach the Ecuadorian migración window with passports. The agent will look at each traveler’s passport and then return it with a short form to fill out. Submit the completed form and passport to the agent, and he will stamp it for the official exit. Then continue on foot towards the bridge. Aduana is in one of the next two trailers, is marked, and is run by the pair of uniformed officials that hang out under a roadside tent that monitors the checkpoint for cars entering Ecuador. Explain that you need to cancel your temporary vehicle import permit. They will process it, keep the permit, and send you on your way. No paperwork confirming cancellation and no fees.

Drive across the bridge and park along the right side of the road. Visit the migración window with your passport at the first building on the right (not including the snack shacks). The agent may ask how long you intend to be in the country, but otherwise stamps passports and sends travelers on their way relatively quickly. Across the street, just past the bridge on the left side is a restaurant that sits on a hill. Signs in front advertise SOAT for sale, the official obligatory vehicle insurance of Peru. Approach the restaurant and ask for SOAT; the woman working there will send you to the backside of the building. We were quite confused (read Our Experience below for more details), but she does indeed mean the door that can be seen from the restaurant through the kitchen, looks like it is on someone’s front porch, and opens into a living room-ish area. Stand there and wave until someone comes to help you. They will invite you in to a kiosk in the room from where they sell SOAT. It can be purchased by either by the month or the year, but if you plan on staying two months, you won’t have trouble finding SOAT in other cities throughout the country later to extend your coverage. The woman may ask to see a copy of the vehicle “matricula”; this is usually the registration (they are looking for plate information), but we provide a copy of both title and registration when asked (because registration never looks official enough). She will not keep the copies, but may need someone to go look at the car to confirm that it is indeed the type you are claiming it is. Once she approves, fill out the SOAT form, pay $8 USD – exact change recommended, and then head back to the right side of the road to the small aduana building past the migración office. Like in Ecuador, it is behind the roadside pop-up tent that monitors traffic entering the country.

Let the agent there know that you need a temporary auto import permit for a vehicle from whatever country your vehicle is from. He will likely ask you to move your car up closer to the building and request a copy of each the vehicle title, the vehicle registration, a copy of the driver’s passport, a copy of the driver’s license, and a copy of the driver’s entrance stamp to Peru. He may also want to see some of the originals as well as your SOAT. Note that none of the vendors on either side of the border make photo copies and that if you are asked for a copy of your entrance stamp to Peru, you’re going to have to try to get someone in the offices to do it for you. Read Our Experience below for how this played out for us. Once the agent has typed up the permit, he will collect a finger print, signature, and possibly Facebook information from the driver before kindly permitting the vehicle into Peru.

Costs: The only cost on either side of the border is $8 USD for one month of SOAT. Though there was probably someone at the border to exchange money, we didn’t see them (and as you know, that is odd). The SOAT lady accepted US dollars, and then we didn’t purchase anything until we reached an ATM in Chiclayo that night. Plan ahead or do other research if you want Nuevo Soles earlier. It might speed things up a bit to have some extra cash on hand for help with getting a copy from an official or speeding things along. As we sat outside of aduana and waited for our import permit, we saw many, many vehicles pull up to the checkpoint tent, drop a few coins into the hand of the officer on duty, and then cruise on by. One man provided eggs to the officers, so, you know, if you’d rather bribe with eggs, I guess that’s an option too.

Dogs: Macará is quite a bit warmer than mountain towns on either side of the border, so we kept the car and air conditioning running for the duration of the process, locking the doors with our extra key. We also put the dogs into one of their kennels so that they weren’t up in the windows asking to be noticed. No one went anywhere near the  CR-Van though, no conversation was had about the dogs, and we entered the country without anything official for them. At a checkpoint later that day, an officer asked us if we had paperwork for the dogs, but when I said yes and prepared to pull out their vaccination records and certificates of health, he was satisfied with my answer, wasn’t interested in seeing them, and sent us on our way.

Our Experience: It wasn’t a difficult border as much as it was just a silly and purposelessly time-consuming one. We’ve seen a lot of inefficiency and runaround at borders during this journey, but at Macará it was more about just small, ridiculous things. We chose the Macará route instead of the Huaquillas one because we prefer the crossings that are calmer and with fewer salesmen. Based on those factors, Macará was a good choice. In fact, with a better idea of what we were going into, on a different day, perhaps even at a different time, it could have been a very simple and quick crossing. On Friday at lunchtime though, we spent 2 and a half hours going through the process and had quite a few laughs during that time. We wrote about the more qualitative details of that experience yesterday, and you can read about them here at Cuenca to Cusco Part 1 – A Ridiculous Border.

Vangabonds Border Crossing Number: 13

From Macará

From Macará, turn left to stay on the highway and drive towards the bridge (puente) crossing.

Approaching Border

Approaching the border.

Ecuadorian Side

Ecuadorian side of the crossing.

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