Britons given travel warning as parts of South America in 'state of emergency' with a danger of 'armed violence'

Britons given travel warning as parts of South America in 'state of emergency' with a danger of 'armed violence'

Britons travelling abroad have been urged to check travel advice

Anna Barry

By Anna Barry

Published: 28/05/2024

- 11:09

Britons have been issued new guidance regarding holidays in Ecuador

Ecuador is a popular spot for holidaymakers heading to South America, however, travellers have been issued a fresh warning about the country.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) provided new guidance on areas under a State of Emergency, criminal kidnappings and a change to police record entry requirements.

The FCDO said: "A nationwide 60-day state of emergency (SOE) was declared on April 19 due to the energy crisis in Ecuador. It will end on June 18. This may see increased military and police presence around public buildings, including key energy infrastructure, to avoid threats or sabotage.

"A separate 60-day state of emergency (SOE) was declared on 22 May due to armed violence. This covers seven provinces: Guayas, El Oro, Santa Elena, Manabí, Sucumbíos, Orellana, Los Ríos and the district Camilo Ponce Enríquez in the province of Azuay.

Galapagos, Ecuador

Britons have been given new guidance on visiting Ecuador


"It will end on July 21. There is no curfew in place, but the SOE allows the military and police to seize assets, conduct inspections and enter private properties without permission."

Some parts of Ecuador are to be avoided unless absolutely necessary. The FCDO advises against "all but essential" travel to the Coastal Region provinces of Esmeraldas, Manabí, Santa Elena, Guayas, El Oro, Los Ríos and Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas.

Holidaymakers were told: "This does not apply to airside transit within Guayaquil Airport in Guayas province, including onward or return travel to the Galapagos Islands."

The FCDO also advises against all but essential travel to areas within 20km of the Ecuador-Colombia border, except for certain areas in the Carchi province: El Ángel Ecological Reserve, Rumichaca border crossing, the town of Tulcán and the Pan-American Highway." Holidaymakers should consult the FCDO's guidance on why some travel is not advised.

Britons were issued a warning about potential dangers tourists may face. The FCDO said: "Kidnapping rates have risen in Ecuador. Express kidnappings - short-term opportunistic abductions, aimed at extracting cash from the victim - are common throughout Ecuador.

"Victims can be targeted or selected at random. They are held while criminals withdraw money from their bank accounts using their cash cards. Many cases involve victims who have been picked up by taxis (registered or illegal) hailed from the street. In some cases, victims are subdued with scopolamine (causing amnesia). Be aware of your surroundings and always let someone you trust know your whereabouts, especially after dark.

"Business people and visitors perceived to be wealthy may be targeted by kidnappers in search of payouts. Be discreet about discussing your financial or business affairs in places where you may be overheard by others, and when arranging meetings use a secure location."

"If you are a victim of kidnapping, follow the kidnapper’s instructions."

The FCDO also issued essential guidance on the necessary entry requirements for Ecuador.

The UK Government advised: "If you wish to enter Ecuador via land and river borders from Peru or Colombia, you must present a criminal record certificate from the country where you lived for the last five years. The certificate must be legalised with the Hague Apostille and translated into Spanish if issued in another language. This mandatory requirement was announced on January 11 for implementation with immediate effect.

"Alternatively, if you do not have a legalised criminal record, you can ask immigration authorities to carry out a check on their ’SIMIEC’ system (which flags any travel prohibitions or INTERPOL alerts). The following people are exempt from the presentation of the criminal record certificate: holders of a valid Ecuadorean visa, holders of diplomatic passports, children and adolescents under 18, victims of human trafficking or those seeking international protection under the Ecuadorean Human Mobility Law.



Ecuador is known for its beautiful nature


"There are no restrictions in place for anyone flying into Ecuador.

"To obtain a UK Police Criminal Record Certificate, check the ACRO website. For information about legalising the document with the Hague apostille check the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s Legalisation Office website site."

Holidaymakers should also consult the FCDO for information on passport validity requirements, visa requirements, existing Covid rules, checks at border control, travelling with children, vaccinations, customs rules and taking money out of the country.

Britons have been issued a second South America travel warning due to a "major outbreak" of infection that "can be fatal".

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