The Galapagos Islands is worldwide know tourist destination, but it is also a protected Natural Park. In order to maintain this natural jewel, the institutions has established a protocols for visitors. The procedures are really simple, but it is good to know them before arriving to the islands, to avoid unnecessary delays in enjoying your holidays.
While you are planning your trip to the Galapagos Islands you may think you have everything ready if you already have your dates, flights, tours, accommodation and itinerary. However, you may need to take a second look and understand all the Galapagos rules and entry requirements and rules that you’ll need to follow before, during and after your trip.
These are all the entry requirements to the Galapagos Islands so you can start your travel without stress.
Covid protocol in the Galapagos Islands
Check all protocolsestablished for travellers by the National Park in the Galapagos Islands
Things you need to know before your trip to Galápagos
1. Flights and accommodation ✈️
Before landing to the Galapagos Islands you’ll need accomodation bookings and round flight tickets. This will be required at the airport to allow your entrance. There are many situations where you can improvise on your Galapagos, but not with this.
If you would like to find accommodation options, reach out and we’ll be glad to help you.
2. Valid passport🛂
In order to access the Galapagos Islands a visa is NOT necessary, unless you are from to a very small list of countries that require an ecuadorian visa. If your country is not listed, you’ll only need your passport but it must be valid for at least six months from the date of your entry. Therefore, it is important for you to verify that your passport is not about to expire before traveling to the Galapagos islands.
3. Pre-registration form 📝
This form is very similar to the one requested at the entrance of other countries, but this on is necessary to obtain your transit control card, which is mandatory in order to travel to the Galapagos. It asks for the reason for the trip, length of stay and where you are going to stay. To avoid unnecessary waiting, you can complete the form through the following link: https://siiws.gobiernogalapagos.gob.ec/siicgg_web/
The web sometimes gives problems and in some internet browsers it is not possible to access it. In case you cannot do it online, don’t worry, you can do it at the airport during the process of checking in and inspecting the luggage you will go through at the airport. The form has the following fields:
Must pack items for your Galapagos trip
4. TCT Transit Control Card | Ingala Card 💳
Before taking your flight to the Galapagos Islands, either from Quito or Guayaquil, you must go to the offices of the Government Council of the Special Regime of Galapagos that are located at the departure airports to obtain the Transit Card. These offices will verify that you have completed the prior registration form (and if you have not already done so, they will make you fill it out at the moment) and will check your luggage to verify that you do not carry any of the restricted products. This check on your luggage is done BEFORE sending it to the hold, that is, before you deliver it to the counter of your flight. Do not worry, since at the airport they know very well that you have to do this before you can board, so the hostesses of your airline will indicate where you should do the procedure before they start their procedure. That is why we recommend going with a good margin of time even if it is a domestic flight.
These are some photos to familiarize you with the place where you will be checked at the Guayaquil Airport, the TCT and an affidavit that you will have to sign about the type of objects you carry in your luggage.
The office hours at each airport are:
Guayaquil: from 6.30 a.m. to 1.30 p.m.
Quito: from 5.00 a.m. to 12.00 p.m.
To speed up the procedures we recommend that you do not bring products of animal or plant origin, as they will be thoroughly reviewed. The complete list of prohibited products can be found here.
Once your luggage is checked, you will have to pay $ 20 to obtain the Transit Card. You can do it by card or cash, that is, keep in mind that the entrance to the Galapagos National Park can only be paid in cash. So if you don’t have much cash, you better use your card to pay the fee.
IMPORTANT: Once you have your TCT, don’t lose it! They will ask for it once you land at the airport in Galapagos (either in San Cristóbal or Baltra) and they will also ask for it when you leave the islands. Therefore, keep it in a safe place during your entire stay on the islands and avoid getting it wet or spoiled.
5. Galápagos entry fee & prices 💸
You’re almost there! You land at Seymour Airport on Baltra Island next to Santa Cruz or San Cristobal, pick up your bags, go to passport control, and then you’ll have to pay the Galapagos National Park fee, which is its main source of financing for maintenance of this fantastic natural setting. The rates that apply are as follows, depending on age and nationality and country of residence:
Foreign tourists not ecuadorian residents over 12 years old: $ 100 USD
Foreign tourists not ecuadorian residents younger than 12 years old: $ 50 USD
Foreign tourists not living in Ecuador, older than 12 years old from one of the countries belonging to the Andean Community of Nations or Mercosur * : $ 50 USD
Tourists, foreign students not living in Ecuador who are enrolled in national educational institutions $ 25 USD
Foreign tourists not residing in Ecuador under 12 years of age, nationals of one of the countries belonging to the Andean Community of Nations or Mercosur * $ 25 USD
National or foreign tourists residing in Ecuador, over 12 years old $ 6 USD
National or foreign tourists residing in Ecuador, under 12 years old $ 3 USD
Is it mandatory to have health and travel insurance? 🏥
Currently, given the COVID 19 situation the Galapagos Government has made it mandatory for tourist to bring health insurance for their Galapagos trip. So the answer is yes.
However, even before pandemic, we always recommended people to have a health and travel insurance since even though Galápagos Islands are safe its landscape sometimes can cause accidents and you dont want to be in an inhabited island with a twisted ankle waiting for a helicopter to reach you and be thinking about the bill. Good news is that there are many options as cheap as $4 a day that cover all you need including covid-19. We recommend Mondo Insurance Company and if you book there you’ll get 5% discount for being a Galapagos Low Cost reader. Get you 5% discount here.
What you cannot bring to Galápagos Islands? ❌
If you go to Galápagos Islands you’ll find that you will need to pass through several luggage controls. First one on the Guayaquil or Quito airport before they even let you pass through the door. Then, the whole plane cabin will be disinfected and then, another check when you land. This is to make sure you don’t involuntarily bring any seeds, bugs or things that can alter the Galápagos environment. You have the full list of restricted items to bring to Galápagos but it’s mostly seeds, fruits, any animals (even meat). Make sure you take a good look at the list and avoid wasting time on the airport.
How and when are the luggage revisions done? 🧳
There’s no direct flights from outside Ecuador to Galápagos. Always, there’s a mandatory stop either on Quito orGuayaquil Airport. This is to ensure that all passengers go through the luggage revisions, since Galapagos airports don’t have the technology and equipment to perform the exhaustive revision, so it’s done before you depart there. Also, to avoid anything harmful mistakenly enter the Galapagos Islands.
Then, you’ll also pass through a revision once you land and everytime you move between islands.
What are the Galápagos rules? 📜
You can see the full list of Galapagos rules on this post, but mostly you need to keep distance from the animals, take care of the beaches and DO NOT take any natural items as souvenirs (sand, rocks, plants, etc) you can have a very serious fine if they find any of this on your luggage.
What should I bring to Galapagos? 🎒
Here’s our recommendations of things you can bring to Galápagos that would make your trip easier
Sunscreen: Don’t let the ecuadorian sun ruin your holidays. Being in the equator the usn hits very hard so make sure you always wear a cap and a high SPF sunscreen to prevent you from getting sunburned on the first day.
Comfortable shoes: Your first instinct for a beach holiday would be to pack flip flaps, but remember that Galapagos is a unique destination and you’ll need shoes that can adapt to complicated rocky or volcanic surfaces so don’t forget to pack sport shoes too and even some water shoes would be very useful on your snorkeling tours.
Cash: The uniqueness of Galapagos comes from the sense of being on an untouched nature settlement and this is what gives you the real opportunity to disconnect and discover unique places. However, this also comes with the fact that some technologies are harder to find and thats why theres not a lot ATMs on the islands and not every places accept cards as a payment method so make sure to bring enough cash and to book in advance accomodation and tours so you don’t have to carry all that cash with you.
Bugs repellent: Specially during the rainy season, there’s a lot of mosquitos and an efficient repellent can prevent you from bites while you are hiking or taking a sunbath.
Snacks and a bottle of water: If you can bring snacks such as protein bars or cereals, tuna and other snacks from the continent, it is almost better, since in the Galapagos, since everything is imported, certain products are more expensive.
Another good option that is practical and friendly to the environment is this stainless steel bottle with which you will avoid the unnecessary use of plastic and also you will always be hydrated in remote places (remember that many of the Galapagos islands are deserted) In most hotels and hostels make you refill drinking water at no cost.
Your own snorkeling mask: Is the best way to make the most out of your Galápagos Trip. There’s a lot of amazing beaches in Galápagos where you can snorkel on your own and by having your mask you won’t need to rent it. Also, if you do any snorkeling tour, the price will include the mask but we do think it’s better to have your own to avoid using one that has been used (disinfected) by others or that you may not find comfortable. There’s many options with different prices, here’s our recommendations:
Sports camera: definitely the best accessory and must pack to have great memories of your Galápagos trip. There’s a few cameras available on the market, some are more expensive like the GoPro and others very affordable like Apeman. This option is very good because they are water resistant, very small so easy to carry and you can adapt them to all the activities you’ll do.
Let us plan your trip!
Let us build you a personalized itinerary to travel Galápagos on a budget. Drop us a line with the amount of days you plan to travel, dates & things you would like to do and we’ll get back to you with a proposal built specially for you.
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