Country Guide: El Salvador

Due to the current coronavirus/COVID-19 situation and restrictions in various countries, the below information may not be accurate. This pandemic is a fluid situation. Check with authorities for local laws and restrictions concerning movements.

Print Friendly and PDF
Updated: November 21, 2016

Find movers in El Salvador now!

Find a foreign embassy in El Salvador

Find El Salvador's embassies in other countries

Used Household Goods and Personal Effects

Documents Required

  • Passport
  • Residence permit / work permit
  • Visa
  • Numero de identificacion (NIT) from the Ministry of Finance
  • Certificate of migratory movement from the Immigration General Office
  • Temporary import permit
  • Bank guarantee, if applicable
  • Original bill of lading (OBL) / air waybill (AWB)
  • Detailed inventory in Spanish
  • Packing list
  • Letter of employment
  • Certificate of change of residence
  • Certificate of residence abroad (returning citizens)
  • Diplomatic franchise (diplomats) 


Specific Information

  • All shipments are subject to inspection.
  • The owners of the goods must be present for Customs clearance.
  • Household goods and personal effects are duty free provided they have been owned and used by the owner of the goods for at least 6 months.
  • The shipment must arrive within 90 days of the owner of the goods’ arrival.
  • Customs clearance takes approximately 2-3 business days.
  • Items cannot be sold, loaned or disposed of during the owner of the goods’ stay.
  • Returning residents must have lived abroad for at least 3 years for duty-free import and provide proof of residency abroad; citizens must not have returned to El Salvador for more than 30 consecutive days during the 3-year period of official residency abroad. 
    • Contact the destination agent for specific requirements of eligibility.
  • The certificate of residence can be obtained from the Salvadoran Consulate and must verify the location and time spent abroad.
  • The packing list must include the value of each item and the make, model, and serial number of electrical appliances.
  • Foreign diplomats and certain government / organization members are granted duty-free entry. 
    • Documents must be received by the destination agent 15 days prior to the owner of the goods’ arrival.
  • Foreigners may qualify for a 6-month delay of duty payment with a bank guarantee for an amount equal to the Customs valuation of the shipment; however, the payment is required upon expiration of the guarantee.

Motor Vehicles

Documents Required 

  • Passport
  • Driver’s license
  • Certificate of title / registration
  • Purchase / commercial invoice
  • OBL
  • Diplomatic franchise (diplomats)
  • Certificate of compliance (new vehicles)
  • Certificate of emissions (used vehicles)


Specific Information

  • Vehicles (motorized and non-motorized) can be imported duty free but are subject to taxes.
  • Diplomats can import vehicles duty and tax free.
  • New and used vehicles must be less than 8 years old from the date of manufacture for import.
  • The certificate of compliance for new vehicles is issued by the manufacturer and must be authenticated by the Salvadoran embassy or consulate at origin.
  • The certificate of emissions for used vehicles must be authorized by a mechanic and authenticated by the Salvadoran embassy or consulate at origin.


Documents Required 

  • Rabies vaccination record
  • Veterinary health certificate
  • Import permit


Specific Information

  • The vaccination record must be issued within 6 months of arrival of the animal.
  • The veterinary health certificate must be issued within 15 days of arrival of the animal by a licensed veterinarian at origin.

Restricted/Dutiable Items

  • Firearms and ammunition (a permit from the local police is required)
  • Live plants (an original invoice, phytosanitary certificate and a permit from the Ministry of Agriculture are required; subject to payment of duties)
  • Medications (a permit from the local drug administration is required)
  • Cigarettes (200) and cigars (50)
  • Alcohol (an import permit is required)
  • The following items require an original invoice and are subject to the payment of duties:
    • Appliances, machines and spare parts (duty free for diplomats)
    • Gifts and souvenirs
    • Antiques and works of art
    • Precious metal objects, including jewelry and coins
    • Household and electrical items (serial number, make and model must be included on the detailed inventory)
    • Carpets
    • Wine (a permit from a local health department is required)
    • Food items (a phytosanitary certificate is required if the item is not canned and a certificate that the item is approved for human consumption)

Prohibited Items

  • Illegal drugs
  • Pornographic and subversive materials
  • Military clothing and equipment
  • Cleaning chemicals and supplies

Consignment Instructions

Recommended: Contact the destination agent to ensure all requirements have been met prior to import, especially for differences regarding air / sea shipments.



Cultural and Other Information

CIA World Factbook

Wikipedia Entry for El Salvador

IAM Note: Customs regulations can change at any time with or without notice. This document is provided as a guide and for information only. While IAM has exercised reasonable care in publishing this document, IAM makes no representation, either expressed or implied, as to its accuracy or applicability.