Border #10: Macara, Ecuador to Piura, Peru

So fast and easy! This border was under construction, it was really small, and it had almost no other people crossing while we were there (mid-December 2016).

LEAVING ECUADOR

  1. Drive down the dusty path to the portable buildings on your left-hand side
  2. Have your passports stamped verifying your exit
  3. Hand your TIP papers to the officer walking around. He’ll ask a few questions, look at the car for a second and then clear you to leave
  4. Drive over the bridge, park on the street, and walk up to the SOAT office (on the hill on your left side again). It’s a tiny little booth inside a pretty empty establishment.
  5. Have them fill out the paperwork for your car, and provide you with insurance ($8)

ENTERING PERU

  1. Fill out your tourist card and have your passport stamped
  2. Drive past the orange cone and park at the very next portable building for Aduana
  3. Give the officers your license and car title so they can create your TIP for Peru
  4. No car search for us on either side, once our TIP was printed we were done!

That’s it! Now get ready for the insane driving of dense Peruvian cities!!!! Even the less populated ones feel crazy! Be aggressive, drive fast, and ignore the limited number of traffic signs meant to help you out (because everyone else clearly does).

OUR EXPERIENCE

Having an expired license: another story about police officers

Tyler’s license expired a couple of days before we entered Peru. Up to this point, we’d been asked for passports at every border crossing but never a license. The passport is the more common form of identification and U.S. licenses have seemed to hold little weight.

THUS, we weren’t really concerned about Tyler’s expired license. We’ve always handed traffic officers our U.S. driver’s licenses when we get pulled over, but it’s mostly because we’re willing to lose the license and aren’t willing to have our passports held hostage should the situation turn into a bribe (something that will no longer be an issue in Argentina/Chile). Most legitimate officers want to see the car’s import permit and insurance, and then compare those documents to the driver’s license.

Until Peru… we were very lucky to have border officers who let us pass despite the fact that his license was expired. This was the first border that asked for the owner of the car’s license in addition to his/her passport. When the officers noticed it was expired, they almost wouldn't let us through. That would have been a huge problem…

They asked if I (Meg) had a current license (and I did). But they said that still wouldn't work because Tyler’s name was the only one on the car’s title. We asked them if Tyler’s passport would suffice but they said no. We explained to them that we were having his new license mailed to us and that we had a picture of the license with a new expiration date.

In the end, they wouldn't let us pass until we showed them a picture of Tyler’s new license on our phones and until Meg was in the driver’s seat. They nicely explained that we would have problems in Peru if Tyler got pulled over and had an expired license. So for most of Peru, I drove the car but once we felt more comfortable Tyler took over again and we had no issues, even when we were pulled over.

In either case, we had no real trouble and we obviously recommend keeping your license up-to-date. But we'd be curious to hear from other driver’s how this has happened for you (surely we’re not the first ones to have an expired license from their country of origin).

We were also happy to have officers in Peru who didn’t give us too much trouble… other than the one at the very end who successfully scored a bribe from us, disappointed and reluctant to accept the $2 we had in cash (the rest hidden throughout the car).

So that’s our fun little story. All we can say is that driving in new countries is always an experience! And that no matter what, there’s a solution available (even if it takes up a little bit of your time).

See you down the road,

Meg (+ Tyler)

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