This is our experience/record of crossing the Ecuador-Peru border on Sunday, 21 June 2015. Our traveling party consisted of two people and two motorcycles. We arrived at 4:25pm and were finished at 6:08. This was a very easy, quiet crossing with no fixers. There were no lines but the Peru side was very slow to process all paperwork.
Border Name: La Balza
Closest major cities: Zumba, Ecuador and San Ignacio, Peru
Costs: No Fees
*Passport plus one photocopy
*Driver’s license plus one photocopy
*Motorcycle title plus one photocopy
*Motorcycle registration plus one photocopy
*Ecuador vehicle import form
*Peru tourist card photocopy
Note: we keep all originals in individual plastic sleeves. We labeled these sleeves clearly to avoid confusion as to what was what, to keep original documents clean, and to differentiate what is original and what is a copy. All border-crossing officials have respected the sleeve.
Drive to the end of the dirt road before the bridge and both the Immigration and Aduana buildings will be on your left (east) side of the road. Both buildings are well-signed and are next to each other. Park in front. Even though the office may look closed just wait as someone will appear.
Step 1 – Immigration: The immigration officer (in shorts, t-shirt, and flip-flops) walked out of building and took our passports, walked inside stamped them, and walked out and returned them.
Step 2 – Customs: The customs officer (in uniform) walked over, took our papers and went into the office, returned and said we were good to go.
Total time to exit was five minutes and we waited next to our bikes.
Drive across the bride and Peru police will direct you to stop in front of the bridge gate on the left (east). Park bikes here and then you will walk to offices. The police officer walked us to the first step (Immigration). The buildings are well-signed and there are no fixers. Most of the police officers/border guards spoke some English and were very helpful and friendly.
Step 1 – Immigration: The police walked us to immigration where there were two people ahead of us. There is one immigration officer at a desk. A) At our turn we sat at the desk and filled out the tourist cards that he reviewed against our passports. B) Take your passports and filled out tourist cards around the building (to the left as you exit the office) to the police office where the police officer will enter your details into the computer and stamp your tourist card. C) Return to the original immigration officer and provide passport and police stamped tourist card. He will then enter the details in the computer, ask you how many days you want (request the maximum of 90-days) and stamp you into the country. He keeps half the tourist card and you keep half (it is stamped on the back). D) Walk across the street and make photocopies of the tourist card. The little red tienda that sells drinks has a copier.
Step 2 – Customs: The Aduana building is the first building at the bridge gate. Go in and provide all your documents plus one copy (title, registration, passport, driver’s license, and copy of tourist card). Everything will get entered into the computer. I watched as it was entered and confirmed each step that the entered information was accurate. The computer system they have is very slow and convoluted. You will then receive the temporary vehicle import permit.
Step 3 – Insurance: SOAT is not available for purchase at the border though it is required. It may be possible to use your insurance at home (if you have it) but we don’t know. We tried to purchase insurance in San Ignacio but we were not able to (one office was closed for two days and the other office couldn’t do it because we had foreign plates). We were able to purchase insurance in Jean (GPS location: -5.71350, -78.80860). Motorcycle insurance is triple the cost of vehicle insurance. It was 156 Soles (US $52) per bike for two months.