Entering El Salvador

LaFoca's picture

I thought I would begin this adventure by explaining the ways a person can enter El Salvador legally and how they can extend their stay. To begin with, the best source I've found on this is the following sites:


It gives all the details, so you don't have to look much further. But I'll try to condense it based on what I'm doing. I was originally moving to another country and we have changed our minds. So I had very little time to switch many things regarding our move. What I have learned is that anyone can fly into El Salvador from the U.S. with a valid passport with at least 6 months left on it. You can pay $10 at the airport and gain a 30 day tourist visa.

If you want a longer stay, you can apply for an extended stay (90 days) by going to the Foreign Department of the Main Office of Immigration, Ministry of Govern to obtain a longer stay permit.

1. The requirements to grant (one entry) Consular Visa are the following:

Fee $ 30.00 of Consular tariff. The visa will be given with the corresponding stamps. You will need the following items for this:

Travel document with a validity of six months
1. Fill in the Visa application form with a photo
2. Copy of return plane tickets.

There are several types of visas for those who seek a longer stay in El Salvador.
a) Consular Visa
b) Guarantee restricted visa or transit visa
c) Courtesy vi

The Office in charge of issuing the Guarantee for restricted visas is the Main Office of Immigration and Foreigners of the Ministry of Government.

Tthe office that follows up on guaranteeing restricted visa applications or transit visa application is managed by the General Office of foreign Service (DGSE, Spanish acronyms) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A Consular Visa is good for three months and costs: US$ 30.00

The length and cost of the Tourist Card is also three months and costs US$ 10.00 American dollars.

What's the basic differences between Consular Visa and the Tourism Card?
Fee US$ 10.00 Tourist Card
Fee US$ 30.00 Consular visa and with this visa you may stay longer in the country for more than three months applying at the Main Office of Immigration.

Here is the address:
Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores,
Colonia San Benito. Calle Circunvalación, No.227,
San Salvador, El Salvador, C.A.
Telephone numbers: (503) 243-9648, 243-9649 243-9650,
Fax 243-9656
Email: webmaster@rree.gob.sv

For Residence, this is what I've been told by my local Consulate office. You can fly in on the original visa and apply for an extension, if you don't have the time to wait. At that point, you can gather your documents to apply for residency. (It's always smarter if you do this before you leave the U.S., but if your time is short, then it can be done from El Salvador.) Here is a site explaining what you need, depending on what type of residency you are seeking:


Note: American citizens should be aware that any documents (i.e.: birth certificate, marriage certificates, divorced decrees, police record checks, etc) presented to the Salvadoran government (GOES) must be “Apostille” from the country of origin, also all types of documents must be issued within the last sixty (60) days otherwise they are consider invalid.

You will also learn that each of these documents must be translated into Spanish in El Salvador. Here is a list of Spanish translators there:


Here is additional information for any questions you may have:

You may contact the Salvadoran Immigration at:
Dirección General de Migración (DGME) - Centro de Gobierno
9ª Calle Poniente / 15 Avenida Norte (Alameda Juan Pablo II)
Edificio de Migración
San Salvador
Tel: 2213-7700, Fax: 2271-1850

E-mail: denuncias.migracion@seguridad.gob.sv
To make inquiries about general services, to file complaints, etc

E-mail: extranjeria.citas@seguridad.gob.sv
To make an appointment

Website: http://www.seguridad.gob.sv/Web-Seguridad/Migracion/migracion.htm
At this site you may download different forms, and after you have presented your initial application, you may request a password to log-on and inquire about your case.



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Central America 4

El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua are known as 'Central America 4' a tourist visa or stamp of 90 days in one is good in the other, when your 90 days expires you must go to either Costa Rica, Mexico or belize for 72 hours, return and get another 90 days in CA 4 in Guatemala or Nicaragua, no return airline tickets required. For US citizens entering Costa Rica, no charges nor tourist cards if staying under 90 days, Panamanians sometimes ask for return tickets, so buy a bus ticket back to Costa Rica if need be, there are budget flights Panama to Colombia and sometimes Ecuador www.copaair.com/ Keep it simple, have a nice journey.

Entering without a return ticket

We are going to El Salvador very soon and then we are going Nicaragua and we fly out of Brazil a year later, hence we don't have a return ticket when we enter El Salvador, Will this be an issue for getting a tourist visa? I know the uS won't let you in unless you have a return ticket

El Salvador

El Salvador is not for everyone, I moved back here in 1994 from Guatemala since had relatives and friends here already, I still am a resident of a C.A. country, so have no Immigration problems, also I am older and have fixed income, few worries. Anyone wishing to visit and look around message me we can meet up in one of the 'Malls' in San Salvador and no I doubt if you will see any tatooed gang bangers, the security situation is good here, if you drive and car papers in order police almost never ask foreigners for a bribe, however dont get drunk and drive, hire a local driver or bus it!!!!! ALL Central American large cities and many small towns have crime, 65% of C.A. population is under 30, I was teenager once, we drank, drag raced, vandalized and shoplifted, lucky for me I got caught and punished. Many young men in ALL of CA,( Costa Rica is same shit, different smell, subscribe to www.insidecostarica.com/ daily newsletter) are raised by single mothers and family members, little or no discipline, I have been here 24 years so if you wish to 'argue' I will send you my e mail and we may continue off forum. saludos.

To La Foca, On your excellent posts.

Many years ago, about 2002 or 2003 I think, when I started to aid a cause based in Masaya, Nicaragua, I joined Nica Living and there were some really good posts on there, however made the mistake of e mailing Phil H. and found just another 'gringo' who knew everything and had nothing to learn, talked down to others and was arrogant in general. Gradually just quit posting on the group and found a couple of nice Spanish language portals based in Managua. Everything is a learning experience. No one is perfect, for example I was a tour guide/interpreter based in Guatemala until 1993, returned here to El Salvador, wound up mainly volunteering to help the old ISTU guides and delegates, I had a vehicle and most often these delegates had to take buses everywhere. I finally gave up on "tourism" here and started selling engraved pens and watches and jewelry on commision, business to business, door to door. Pre-Internet days in ES (first public Cyber Cafe in El Salvador was about 1997 in Antiguo Cuscatlan, Buscaniguas.com, ES 1st "search engine" Dr. Ernesto Richter y Fernando Lara de Taca, with Outlook Express, 35 Colones $4.00 an hour!!! Finally got computer at home in year 2000. Back to using Ciber cafes, living simply, long ago sold my vehicle over in Guate where it was registered. Many the older native Salvadorans and older Ex Pats I knew have passed away or moved away. I work occasionally with non profits in the country (campo) and enjoy my days away from the 'modern' El Salvador. I first arrived here in ES in 1970 and stayed some 18 months, returned in the 1980s but lived over in Guate until the War was well over. I learn something new every day. Would rather spend time out in teh Rain Forest in Cinquera with ex combatantes and campsino(a)s than MetroCentro Mall where I go once or twice a week when I have to. Thanks La Foca for your insights. I am getting old and forgetful.

"tried to tell her that many Latin women, like me, wouldn't tolerate a man like that, and that's why they seek lonely Anglos women in foreign countries, with more money than common sense" PS went about a year ago to an ES "Couch Surfers" www.couchsurfing.org/ A couple of the young Salvadorenos told me they would only "host" travelling women from abroad in singles, preferably, or in pairs, I have seen single men or male - female couples coming to ES having difficulty finding a "Couch". Most of the ES Couch Surfers are "upscale" bi linguals with computers at home, mostly young in 20s or 30s, many spend their weekends at the beaches like El Tunco and have cars, more power to them I went once to El Tunco after it had been 'developed' , enough for me. Anyway, thank the heavens, ES will NEVER become another Costa Rica!!!! I only have two "gringo" friends left here in ES. La Vida Tropical. Life in the Tropics. Así es.

San Salvador

I'm very sorry to hear that this didn't work out for you and very concerned after reading this. Please be careful.


Yes, I visited El Salvador before moving there. Although I have moved to many countries in the past without visiting them first, so that isn´t a foreign idea to me. I don´t have the ingrained fears that others have about foreign locations. I explore the real cultures for that reason. Currently, I am working with an organization that helps youth here in El Salvador, especially disadvantaged youth, teaching them English, writing, art and computers.

But there is a HUGE degree of persecution for some in this country, and it is unwritten and denied by the government. I cannot write about this right now. El Salvador is becoming a dangerous place and it might be wise for people moving here to reconsider their options. I know many Salvadorans who are leaving. We are leaving too. I will write more later.

Anonymous I will have updates soon

One thing I have discovered in El Salvador, which can be verified by Derechos Humanos is that there is no freedom of speech in this country. Therefore, I have to be careful about what I write now. But you may want to reconsider moving here. There are good things, but human rights are a huge issue right now. I´ll write more later. I have been working with some cases here.

El Salvador

LaRoca - have you ever visited this country prior to moving there? I'm just curious.


LaFoca, You make some very good points, but none better than that about those ex-pats who bury themselves in a community of similar types and upon spending a goodly amount of time in-country consider themselves locals and think they know the place. Go on lonelyplanet.com and you can spot their insider insights by the dozens. You can tell they don't know the language and, consequently, don't know the culture either. Fact is, if they spent as much time with the locals as they do at their computers instructing clueless tourists, they could actually learn Spanish and really immerse themselves in the culture. I for one recognize your efforts to "tell it like it is" and sincerely appreciate it. My wife and I are hoping to try out living in Salvador towards year's end. This after 20+ years of spending months at a time there. We already have a support system, ie. muchos amigos, still living AND working there will present some challenges I'm guessing---challenges I'm looking forward to! Gracias otra vez por su commentario y buena suerte en el senda de vida.

Thank you Peter

I hope I can shed some light on the country. Not just the good stuff, but the real truth about El Salvador from a Salvadoran perspective and the perspective of a U.S. citizen displaced and living with that Salvadoran. I like to read honest evaluations of places, not just the tourist garbage, but the down home meaty and gritty dirt, or the odd things no one hears about. I will seek that.

For the record, although my "husband" and I have been together 11 years in a common law relationship, we are finally getting married there. So I will be able to report on that process as well. And I have an update to my pet post as of a phone call last night.

When I'm wrong, I will be honest enough to admit it. This is what I hated about Nica Living. It was so much b.s. because most of the reporting was done by people who didn't even speak Spanish and thought they knew the culture. How ridiculous they were! I wanted to know what the actual people like you, who actually MINGLED with the people knee deep in the country knew; not what a bunch of tourist's who settled down for a few years experienced, who lived in a protected area. At five years and without understanding the language, you don't know a damn thing. Especially, when you hide out in a North American enclave, instead of actually getting to know the countrymen. But of course, they were all "experts." ROFL Most of what they posted was like licking the chocolate off of an ice cream bar before you reached the vanilla inside.
One dingbat there married some loser Nicaraguan who beat her, cheated on her, and stole her money, as some low class Latinos will do to lonely and desperate Anglo women who grow stupid when they stay in foreign places; and this poor girl thought her loser was the example of Central American men.

I tried to tell her that many Latin women, like me, wouldn't tolerate a man like that, and that's why they seek lonely Anglos women in foreign countries, with more money than common sense; but she is fairly pig headed and that’s probably why he selected her. She got what she paid for, I guess. I don't pay for men of any culture for company. I expect them to be industrious enough to produce their own. I have only loaned one man any money in my life...my husband. It was to begin a business we were partners in...and he paid me every single dime back! He knew if he didn't, I would serve him his balls. THAT's how Latin women behave! Ask any Latin man. He’ll tell you the reputation we have for being sweet and submissive is trickery.

These are the myths I hope to dispel. I want people to understand the realities of these places, not the assumptions and stereotypes.

Fabulous information about El Salvador

I've spent less time there than in any other Central American country, just one day.  I hope everything goes well for you with the move.  What an enormous undertaking.  I have never moved with a live animal or shipped anything.  It's a big commitment.  You are very courageous, and you deserve all the best life can offer you.

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