All Galapagos travel restrictions have been lifted. Since October 20, 2022, visitors to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands are no longer required to present a certification of vaccination for COVID-19 or a negative test result. As of February 18, 2023, a declaration of traveler health and insurance is no longer required. Special rules apply for entry to the Galapagos Islands. Keep reading for details.
If you are planning travel to Galapagos or mainland Ecuador we have compiled everything you need to know about Ecuador and Galapagos travel restrictions and COVID in the Galapagos Islands. Learn more about what’s new in the islands for Galapagos 2023 & 2024 cruises.
IN THIS POST – Ecuador & Galapagos Travel Restrictions:
1. Can You Visit the Galapagos Islands?
2. Ecuador Travel Restrictions
3. Galapagos Entry Requirements
4. Cruise & Tour Requirements
6. Ecuador Takes COVID Seriously
7. Private Charter Options
8. Galapagos Are Perfect Destination to Restart Travel
9. Your Travel Will Have Positive Impact
1. Can You Visit the Galapagos Islands?
Yes, the Galapagos Islands and Ecuador are open to tourists. Cruises and tours are operating.
Ecuador is open to travel and officially resumed international flights on June 1, 2020. Entry is open to citizens of the United States, Canada, Europe and most other countries. The Galapagos Islands opened to foreign visitors on July 13, 2020, with nearly all ships and yachts now returned to service. Virtually all tourism in Ecuador is available. Ecuador lifted vaccination and testing requirements on October 20, 2022.
Plan your Ecuador travel, Galapagos travel, find a Galapagos cruise or learn how to get to Galapagos and the best time to visit Galapagos.
2. Ecuador Travel Restrictions
In the age of COVID, specific Ecuador travel requirements were implemented. These requirements may change without notice. Ecuador reviews its entry requirements every two weeks. Ultimately it is the traveler’s responsibility to understand and meet Ecuador’s COVID travel restrictions and requirements.
Ecuador Travel Requirements
As of February 18, 2023, the Ecuadorian government has removed the remaining Ecuador travel restrictions. Only travelers arriving with symptoms (high temperature, cough, general malaise, loss of smell or taste, or skin rash) must fill out the following:
- Health Status Declaration Form
The declaration is available on the Ministry of Public Health Website. For travelers unable to submit this digitally, a physical form may be submitted, download it here. Travelers who fill out the digital form are not required to present a physical form.
COVID in Ecuador
We have seen with the COVID Delta and Omicron variants, Ecuador is willing to strengthen or loosen entry requirements based on the current situation. Travelers should be flexible and expect changes to entry requirements.
3. Galapagos Travel Restrictions
Effective October 20, 2022 Ecuador also eliminated its COVID-19 entry requirements for the Galapagos Islands. Due to their isolation and limited medical facilities, the island province may implement its own Galapagos travel restrictions in addition to any Ecuador entry requirements.
Galapagos Islands Entry Requirements
Travelers flying from mainland Ecuador to the Galapagos Islands are subject to the following entry requirements. The provincial government updated Galapagos entry requirements on October 20, 2022.
- Galapagos Transit Control Card
AdventureSmith can assist with this in advance.
- Galapagos National Park entrance fee
AdventureSmith can assist with this in advance.
4. Galapagos COVID Requirements for Cruise & Tour Travelers
Some Galapagos small ship cruise and Galapagos land tour operators have announced their own vaccination and/or COVID testing requirements. With the constantly changing nature of the ongoing pandemic, there are likely to be additional changes to these operator-based requirements. The Galapagos experts at AdventureSmith Explorations strive to keep our clients well informed of the testing and vaccination requirements associated with their particular adventure.
Ecuador & Galapagos COVID Requirements for Guides & Crew
Note that tourism professionals in Ecuador and the Galapagos, as frontline workers, were given priority vaccination early in the pandemic. All local staff utilized by AdventureSmith Explorations are vaccinated against COVID-19. This includes drivers, guides, hotel staff, ships crew and other hospitality personnel interacting with travelers. All crew are tested regularly.
5. Bio Security Protocols in Ecuador & Galapagos
There are new biosecurity protocols throughout Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. Hotels, yachts, transportation, restaurants and airports have all updated procedures to keep both visitors and locals safe and healthy.
Private airport transfers for AdventureSmith guests are accompanied by an English-speaking guide and vehicles are subject to extensive sanitation before and after each transfer. Additionally, more crowded transfers, such as from the Galapagos airport to your boat, will use larger vehicles that allow for social distancing.
COVID-19 Protocols at Ecuador & Galapagos Hotels
Mid- to high-end hotels used by AdventureSmith have new procedures in place. Enlarged registration areas allow for social distancing, methods for contactless payment are in place, enhanced disinfection and cleaning procedures have been implemented and personal hygiene kits with a mask and sanitizer are available. For instance, Mashpi Lodge has implemented a walk-in ozone sanitizer tunnel, plus sanitization methods based on UV filters and other ozone cleaning systems.
Breakfast buffets have been replaced with plated meals served quickly, tables are spaced for increased distancing with tables and chairs disinfected before and after each use. Room service is typically available 24 hours a day. Hotel staff may enter rooms less frequently and porters may not handle luggage unless requested.
Protocols at Galapagos Airports
Upon arrival in the Galapagos, travelers will walk across a sanitizing foot bath and all luggage, including carry-on and checked baggage, will be sprayed with a disinfectant.
COVID-19 Protocols on Galapagos Ships & Trips
Biosecurity policies may vary slightly by each ship, but you can expect numerous protocols—both obvious and behind the scenes—designed to keep travelers and crew in good health. All crew, guides and hospitality staff are fully vaccinated and tested regularly.
Like hotels, ships will encourage social distancing. Increased sanitation procedures have been implemented throughout the ship including cabins, dining room, common areas and the galley, with special attention to high-touch areas. Dining room tables and hours are adjusted to increase social distancing. Buffets have been eliminated in favor of plated meals with the usual considerations for dietary restrictions. Snacks and appetizers are served individually.
Natural Social Distancing
Excursions are outdoors, in the wilderness, where social distancing is easy and you will rarely encounter other travelers. Small groups are called separately to disembark for excursions and each panga will transport a limited number of passengers. Seats are disinfected between excursions. Keep sanitizer handy because it is useful to take the hand of a crew member when entering or exiting the panga.
Snorkeling equipment and wetsuits are still provided or rented to all guests at the beginning of the cruise and you will hold it until the end. All equipment undergoes a special sanitizing process. Bring your own if you are more comfortable. We have always recommended travelers bring their own mask and snorkel to ensure the best fit.
Advice Before You Leave Home
For two weeks prior to your departure, and during travel to your destination, we recommend you follow common sense protocols regarding masking and social distancing to avoid contact with COVID-19. Take reasonable measures to reduce the risk of exposure and follow all CDC guidelines for international travel. Even for trips and destinations where a COVID-19 test is not required, we recommend you test 72 hours prior to departure and do not travel if you test positive. Wear masks in airports and aboard airplanes. Be careful in bars, restaurants and other crowded places that are higher risk. Arriving for your trip healthy will provide peace of mind and help you to enjoy your trip.
6. Ecuador Takes COVID-19 Seriously
Ecuador was in the news early in the pandemic and was caught off guard as cases spiked in May 2020. They implemented a very strict lockdown and protocols which became a model for other countries throughout the pandemic.
Today, restrictions have been eased considerably but the country still takes COVID-19 and community health seriously. The Ministry of Health continually monitors the epidemiological situation including vaccination plan and application of booster doses. They meet every two weeks to make recommendations based on the latest data.
7. Private Charter Options
Evan as Galapagos travel restrictions have eased we have seen a tremendous increase in interest for Galapagos yacht charters. Yachts range in size from 12 to 32 guests and a full boat charter offers many advantages over an independently booked cruise. The most obvious advantage during the time of COVID-19 is that you will know and trust all the travelers aboard and can create your own travel bubble. Other advantages include lower prices, exclusivity, customization and the joy of experiencing the islands with an intimate group of family and friends. Contact our experts to begin planning your Galapagos charter cruise.
8. Galapagos—The Perfect Destination for Travelers Concerned About COVID-19
There are several reasons why the Galapagos Islands are a great place for travelers concerned about COVID19:
Naturally Social Distanced
An archipelago of about 18 major islands located 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos have been socially distanced for millions of years. Once you arrive it is a vast wilderness with less than 3% of its 3,000 square miles inhabited by people. Your time is spent in nature, not in town. Strict regulations implemented by the national park determine shore landing sites so groups rarely interact, preserving both the wilderness experience and social distance. Shore landing groups are limited to a maximum of 16 guests and some cruises limit capacity even further.
Guides and locals report that visiting the Galapagos now is like visiting 30 years ago, before the travel boom began. The hallmark of any Galapagos small ship cruise is access to animals that evolved with no fear of humans. The pandemic has paused tourism and Galapagos wildlife has responded by taking over trails and towns. For a short time, this will make already spectacular wildlife interactions even more exceptional.
Only Small Ships
The size of small ships is relative, but in the Galapagos even the largest ships are limited to a maximum of 100 guests. The small ship model, with only 12 to 100 guests, is statistically safer than large ship cruising.
9. Your Galapagos Travel Will Have A Positive Impact
The lack of tourism since the pandemic began has had a significant financial impact on the economy and individuals in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. The vast majority of residents in the Galapagos directly or indirectly rely on tourism for their livelihoods. Your travel can have a direct impact on crew, guides, support staff and those who provide provisions. For the National Park to continue monitoring the Galapagos Marine Reserve, sponsoring various scientific research projects, eradicating invasive species and restoring the populations of endangered fauna, they need the resources provided by tourism.
Our partners on the ground have initiated philanthropic efforts to help locals during this difficult time. The International Galapagos Tour Operators Association has launched a fundraising program to help Galapagos guides. Our partners at Ecoventura are raising funds to save education in the Galapagos.
Travel Equals Protection
During the pandemic lockdown, news reports surfaced of a vast armada of nearly 300 Chinese fishing vessels violating Ecuadorian sovereignty by entering Ecuador’s Exclusive Economic Zone multiple times. This massive illegal fishing threatens the Galapagos Islands and the rare endemic species that call the Galapagos Marine Reserve—a UNESCO world heritage site—home. National Park rangers aboard every Galapagos cruise, and the funding that tourism provides to the National Park, keep this type of illegal activity at bay.
Ultimately it is the resumption of the travel economy that will restore normalcy to the Galapagos, so the best thing you can do is go to the Galapagos now. Then share your experiences with others. Let folks know that Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands are open and safe for the trip of a lifetime.
MORE GALAPAGOS RESOURCES:
Galapagos Luxury Travel
Galapagos with Kids
How to Choose the Best Galapagos Cruise
Galapagos Island Hopping or Cruise?
Galapagos Land Based Tours
Best Time to Visit Galapagos
How to Get to Galapagos
Galapagos Islands Animals
Galapagos Trip Reviews
Galapagos Travel Guide
Galapagos Cruise Deals
If you have a question or are looking for advice, please use the comments below. Our experts will answer your questions to make this guide to Galapagos travel restrictions even better. If you are ready to book your travel to Galapagos please contact us.
Comments will be moderated and will appear after they have been approved.
Anyone who wants to have once in a lifetime experience should visit the Galapagos Islands. The wildlife seem so unbothered by tourists, and you’ll get to see more interesting creatures than anyone you know.
We couldn’t agree more! The Galapagos Islands animals are legendary. Learn more about where, when and how you can find them plus other fun facts and videos on our Galapagos Animals blog.
There appears to be mixed messages on the entry requirements for Galapagos. Is full vaccination acceptable in lieu of the 72 hour PCR test? Is 75 hours prior an issue if one has full vaccination documented?
Hi John, Thanks for your question on Galapagos Entry Requirements, we are happy to clarify. Proof of completed COVID vaccination (at least 14 days prior) can certainly be used to enter the Galapagos in lieu of a negative 72 hour PCR test. If travelers are fully vaccinated, they will show proof of completed series for entry. Non vaccinated travelers must provide negative test result taken within stated time frame.
Is a COVID test required to fly to the mainland (Quito) from the Galapagos?
No, a COVID-19 test is not needed in order to return from the Galapagos Islands back to mainland Ecuador. Our Adventure Specialists will assist guests in all aspects of planning their COVID-19 testing for their Galapagos trip. Contact us if you are interested in traveling with us.
Hi. I have a question regarding the PCR test needed to get into Ecuador. I previously tested positive for Covid-19 but have fully recovered with no symptoms. Can I still enter The country with proof that I previously have had Covid-19 and have fully recovered from it? If so, do I also need a doctor’s note? I have heard that a PCR test can show a positive result for months after a person has recovered from the virus so that is why I ask. Thanks so much for your help.
Yes, on January 31, 2022 Ecuador eased its restrictions and proof of recovery is now accepted for entry. You must present the positive test result along with present a medical certificate (usually a letter from your doctor or a medical professional) from your country of origin attesting to their recovery, absence of symptoms, and that your are no longer contagious. Hopefully this helps with your travel plans. If you are interested in using our travel services please contact us.
I am planning a trip to the Galapagos next month and will have a roundtrip ticket from USA to Ecuador. Do I need a roundtrip ticket to the Galapagos?
The only way for travelers to get to the Galapagos Islands is by air. You must fly from mainland Ecuador to the Galapagos. Find out more about flight logistics on our blog How to Get to Galapagos. Have fun!
hello, i am arriving to the Galapagos via sailing boat at the start of february, before we leave the current port we are required to provide negative PCRs and vaccination records. We plan to stay on the islands for a few weeks but plan to fly back home (to the UK, connecting via Guayaquil or Quito) from the Galapagos. I am wondering whether I will be required to have another PCR test prior to departure or whether the PCR from several weeks prior will be okay? thanks!
The best place to find government services and information for the UK is at GOV.UK
You’ll find the current testing and quarantine rules for international travel to England at entering the UK.
The UK is changing its travel policy on February 11, 2022, please see the following resources:
UK International travel rules until 11 February 2022
UK Changes to international travel rules from 11 February 2022
Have a great time in the Galapagos!
Between X-mas and NY period if arriving to Galapagos still possible to find a cruise around the islands on the spot there or due to holiday season very difficult? Should it be booked ahead?
Thank you for your question. We always recommend travelers book their Galapagos cruises in advance. Visitation to the Galapagos is limited, vessels are small, and spaces fill up fast. Many Galapagos cruises are often sold out 6 to 9 months in advance. Holidays (especially Christmas and New Years holidays) sell out 12 months or more in advance. Find more information about how to choose your Galapagos cruise. This is an exceptional year, and we are finding some last-minute availability for our travelers. But we don’t recommend showing up in the islands without your cruise confirmed. An Adventure Specialist will be in touch shortly to discuss options for a Galapagos cruise this holiday season.
How long before travel to Galapagos must vaccination be completed?
You are considered fully vaccinated and prepared for travel:
– 2 weeks (14 days) AFTER your dose of an accepted single-dose vaccine OR
– 2 weeks (14 days) AFTER your second dose of an accepted 2-dose series.
But please reference the CDC’s full vaccination criteria for more detailed information.
I am flying from Guayaquil airport on the same day as I leave Galapagos. How can I get the test and results in time for my flight home?
Hi Mrs. Evans,
Here are some options depending how long you have in Guayaquil before your departure flight. 1. Some cruise ships or hotels in the Galapagos may offer antigen testing for their guests, so inquire with your accommodation. 2. VERIS Medical Center laboratory at the Guayaquil Airport provides rapid antigen testing services. 3. Interlab in the town of Guayaquil offers both PCR and rapid antigen tests. For further details on these options see #4: Covid Testing Options in the above article.
Another option: Some FDA-approved, virtually guided rapid antigen self-test kits are also approved for international travel purposes. See our recommendations for self-test options (with purchase links) in our How to Get a COVID Test for Travel primer.
Have a great trip, we hope we can work with you in the future.
Hello, I am trying to plan a trip to the Galápagos next week and I am wondering what the covid restrictions are since the recent variant. I have read that a pcr and vaccine are required to enter Ecuador and that that same pcr test can be used to get to the Galápagos as well. Is this true or do we also need a new pcr test to enter the Galápagos.
Thank you for your question. As a result of the omicron variant Ecuador has updated its entry requirements. Beginning December 1, 2021, Ecuador will require BOTH proof of full vaccination against Covid-19 AND a negative PCR test result taken within 72 hours of departure for Ecuador or the Galapagos Islands. Test results used to enter Ecuador can only be presented again to enter Galapagos if test was taken within 72 hours of boarding the flight to Galapagos. Otherwise, you will need to obtain a RT-PCR test within the country of Ecuador for onward travel to the Galapagos Islands.
Hello, I am arriving to the Galapagos island in November 18th and was wondering if a PCR test was required to enter the Galapagos?
Thanks for your question. As stated above in this post “Proof of completed COVID-19 vaccination OR a Negative COVID-19 PCR test result from a test performed within 72 hours” is required for entry into the Galapagos Islands. Travelers who book with AdventureSmith get the latest travel requirements and information for worry free travel, so please consider us for your next adventure. We hope you have a wonderful visit to the Galapagos Islands.
Skal jeg have booket overnatning og dermed dokumentere for al min tid, jeg opholder mig på Galapagos øerne for at komme med flyet til Galapagos øerne? Jeg vil rejse til dels selv og ved derfor ikke, hvor længe jeg vil være på Santa Crux eller Isabella.
Tak for hjælpen, Hanne
We did our best to translate your question:
Do I need to have booked accommodation and thus document for all my time I am staying on the Galapagos Islands to get on the plane to the Galapagos Islands? I want to travel partly myself and therefore do not know how long I will be on Santa Crux or Isabella.
The Health Status Declaration Form, which is required for entry into Ecuador, asks for “the addresses in Ecuador where you will be staying for 21 days after arrival.” Travelers are not required to document their accommodations before flying to the Galapagos from Ecuador.
Hello, can you tell me if it’s possible to get a PCR test on the Galapagos Islands or only on Mainland Ecuador?
Good question! Currently, there are no testing facilities for travelers in the Galapagos. Some Galapagos Island hotels may offer antigen testing for their guests.
As noted in the post above, the best place to complete your qualifying departure flight COVID-19 test is at the following mainland Ecuador airports:
– Covid-19 tests for travelers departing Quito’s Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO) are avialable nearby at MedicalVip
– Covid-19 tests for travelers departing Guayaquil’s José Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport (GYE) are available in town at Interlab.
What kind of documentation is needed for proof of medical travel insurance?
Thanks for your question, Jane. To satisfy Ecuador’s 2015 law, travelers should have a policy document or a confirmation of coverage/benefits that proves their insurance policy contains medical coverage for them while in Ecuador. Many people’s personal health insurance will satisfy this requirement. But if not a travel insurance policy will cover it. Thanks!
Do we have to wear masks everywhere indoor and outdoor?
Thanks for your question, Teresa.
Currently, Galapagos National Park requires all visitors to wear a mask while on shore excursions, most of our cruise partners ask that masks be worn while indoors in public areas (not in your cabin or while eating) or when social distancing cannot be maintained. Galapagos restrictions can change, but we keep our clients in the know, ensuring up to date preparation for their trip. We detail more general protocols for hotels, ships, trips and airports in the article above, section #5. Bio Security Protocols in Ecuador and Galapagos
Guidelines are evolving and mask requirements may be lifted as the situation improves. We constantly update this post with the latest information so check back often or get in touch when you are ready to begin trip planning.
Do you know if there is a testing area at the Quito Airport for flights to the US?
Yes, there is a COVID-19 testing site at Ecuador’s Quito airport. Booking a trip to the Galapagos now with AdventureSmith means a dedicated Adventure Specialist will work personally with each traveler to navigate changing test requirements and put together testing plans. We will contact you shortly to chat more about the benefits of our services but in the meantime, you can also take advantage of our other testing resources such as How to Get a COVID Test for Travel.
Hello, is a negative COVID test needed to go from Galapagos to Quito?
Thank you for your question. No, at this time a COVID-19 test is not needed in order to return from the Galapagos Islands back to mainland Ecuador. What you will want to take note of is possible testing requirements for the return to your country of origin. For example, there are testing requirements for U.S. citizens returning to the United States from anywhere abroad by air. To make sense of it all, our Adventure Specialists will assist guests in all aspects of planning their COVID-19 testing for their Galapagos trip.