FCO TRAVEL ALERTS

THE SOS GROUP
SOS-BANNER-SWADV

BodyGuard / Medical Courses from the SOS GROUP

Click on the Logo !

STREIT Armored Cars

Streit-Armored-Logo

Global Leader in Armored Transportation !!!

ADT Home Security
The Security Website : ADT Alarm Systems

For Specialised ADT

Home Security Solutions

Please Click HERE

SIRAS ACADEMY

Siras-Academy-RSBanner-

Close Protection Courses from the SIRAS ACADEMY

Click on the Logo !

University of St Andrews

St_Andrews_CT_Course_Banner

Terrorism Studies Course from The University of St Andrews ENROLLING NOW !!

TTF DIRECTORY

THIRTYTF_LOGO

 

Aviation Security Directory from TTF

Click on the Logo !

Travel Security Advice

Sub Menu

Travel Security Advice for El Salvador

El_Salvador_National_Flag

el_salvador_mapEl_Salvador_Overview


COUNTRY DESCRIPTION:

El Salvador is a democratic country with a developing economy. Tourism facilities are not fully developed. The capital is San Salvador, accessible by El Salvador's International Airport at Comalapa. The U.S. Dollar is the primary currency in El Salvador and the economy is fully dollarized.  Americans traveling with U.S. Dollars should not exchange them for Colones. Read the Department of State Background Notes on El Salvador for additional information.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS:

To enter the country, U.S. citizens must present a current U.S. passport and either a Salvadoran visa or a one-entry tourist card.  The tourist card may be obtained from immigration officials for a ten-dollar fee upon arrival in country.  U.S. travelers who plan to remain in El Salvador for more than thirty days can apply in advance for a multiple-entry visa, issued free of charge, from the Embassy of El Salvador in Washington, DC or from a Salvadoran consulate in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Long Island, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, or San Francisco.  Travelers may This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it at 1400 16th Street NW, Washington, DC  20036, tel. (202) 265-9671, 265-9672; fax (202) 232-3763; or visit the Embassy of El Salvador web siteWhen applying for a visa, travelers may be asked to present evidence of U.S. employment and adequate finances for their visit at the time of visa application or upon arrival in El Salvador.  For passengers departing by air, El Salvador has an exit tax of $32.00 which is usually included in the price of the airline ticket.

Travelers should be aware that El Salvador's entry requirements vary in accordance with agreements the country has with foreign governments.  Citizens of several countries in addition to the United States may enter El Salvador with a current passport and either a visa or tourist card.  Citizens of many other countries, including many Latin American and western European nations, may enter with only a current passport.  However, citizens of most nations are required to present both a current passport and a visa to enter El Salvador.  Non-U.S. citizen travelers are advised to contact a Salvadoran embassy or consulate to determine the entry requirements applicable to them.

In June 2006, El Salvador entered into the “Central America-4 (CA-4) Border Control Agreement” with Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.  Under the terms of the agreement, citizens of the four countries may travel freely across land borders from one of the countries to any of the others without completing entry and exit formalities at immigration checkpoints.  U.S. citizens and other eligible foreign nationals, who legally enter any of the four countries, may similarly travel among the four without obtaining additional visas or tourist entry permits for the other three countries.  Immigration officials at the first port of entry determine the length of stay, up to a maximum period of 90 days.  Foreign tourists who wish to remain in the four-country region beyond the period initially granted for their visit must request a one-time extension of stay from local immigration authorities in the country where the traveler is physically present, or they must leave the CA-4 countries and reapply for admission to the region.  Foreigners “expelled” from any of the four countries are excluded from the entire CA-4 region.  In isolated cases, the lack of clarity in the implementing details of the CA-4 Border Control Agreement has caused temporary inconvenience to some travelers and has resulted in others being fined more than one hundred dollars or detained in custody for 72 hours or longer.

Airlines operating out of El Salvador International Airport require all U.S. citizen passengers boarding flights for the United States (including U.S.-Salvadoran dual nationals) to have a current U.S. passport.  U.S. citizens applying for passports at the U.S. Embassy in San Salvador are reminded that proof of citizenship and identity are required before a passport can be issued.  Photographic proof of identity is especially important for young children because of the high incidence of fraud involving children.  Since non-emergency passports are printed in the United States, and not at the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador, citizens submitting applications in El Salvador should be prepared to wait approximately one week for receipt of their new passports.

The U.S. Embassy in El Salvador reminds U.S. citizen travelers that their activities in El Salvador are governed by Salvadoran law and the type of visa they are issued.  Under Salvadoran law, all foreigners who participate directly or indirectly in the internal political affairs of the country (i.e. political rallies, protests) lose the right to remain in El Salvador, regardless of visa status or residency in El SalvadorVisit the Embassy of El Salvador’s web site for the most current visa information.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our Consular Affairs web site.  For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information sheet.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points.  These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian if not present.  Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.  Minors traveling on Salvadoran passports and who are traveling alone, with one parent or with a third party must have the written permission of the absent parent(s) or legal guardian to depart El Salvador.  A Salvadoran notary must notarize this document.  If the absent parent(s) or legal guardian is (are) outside of El Salvador, the document must be notarized by a Salvadoran consul.  If a court decree gives custody of the child traveling on a Salvadoran passport to one parent, the decree and a passport will allow the custodial parent to depart El Salvador with the child.  Although Salvadoran officials generally do not require written permission for non-Salvadoran minors traveling on U.S. or other non-Salvadoran passports, it would be prudent for the parents of minor children traveling on U.S. passports to provide similar documentation if both parents are not traveling with their children.

SAFETY AND SECURITY:

Most travelers to El Salvador experience no safety or security problems, but the criminal threat in El Salvador is critical.  Random and organized violent crime is endemic throughout El Salvador.  U.S. citizens have not been singled out by reason of their nationality, but are subject to the same threat as all other persons in El Salvador.  See the section below on Crime for additional related information.

Political or economic issues in the country may give rise to demonstrations, sit-ins or protests at any time or place, but these activities occur most frequently in the capital or on its main access roads.  U.S. citizens are cautioned to avoid areas where demonstrations are being held and to follow local news media reports or call the U.S. Embassy for up-to-date information. Information about demonstrations also is available as “Warden Messages” on the U.S. Embassy home page.

Many Salvadorans are armed, and shootouts are not uncommon.  Foreigners, however, may not carry guns even for their own protection without first obtaining a firearms license from the Salvadoran government.  Failure to do so will result in the detention of the bearer and confiscation of the firearm, even if it is licensed in the United States.

Armed holdups of vehicles traveling on El Salvador's roads are increasing, and U.S. citizens have been victims in various incidents.  In one robbery, an American family was stopped by gunmen while driving during the day on the Pan American highway in the Santa Ana Department.  In another incident, an American citizen passenger was robbed after the van in which she was riding was carjacked by armed men.  The van was stopped at a traffic light on the busy road between Comalapa International Airport and San Salvador shortly after dark.

Strong undertows and currents can make swimming at El Salvador's Pacific Coastal beaches extremely dangerous for even strong and experienced swimmers.  As an example of this hazard, during a single seven-day holiday period, nine Salvadoran citizens drowned while swimming at Pacific beaches.  In one month alone, three U.S. citizens drowned while swimming at Pacific beaches in La Libertad and La Paz Departments.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs web site where the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, including the Worldwide Caution, can be found.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas.  For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s A Safe Trip Abroad.

CRIME:

The U.S. Embassy considers El Salvador a critical crime-threat country.  El Salvador has one of the highest homicide rates in the world ; violent crimes, as well as petty crimes are prevalent throughout El Salvador, and U.S. citizens have been among the victims. The Embassy is aware of at least five American citizens who were murdered in El Salvador during the last year, and also has confirmed reports of at least two attempted sexual assaults against American citizens. Travelers should remain in groups and avoid remote or isolated locations in order to minimize their vulnerability. Travelers should also avoid displaying or carrying valuables in public places.  Passports and other important documents should not be left in private vehicles.  Armed assaults and carjackings take place both in San Salvador and in the interior of the country, but are especially frequent on roads outside the capital where police patrols are scarce.  Criminals have been known to follow travelers from the international airport to private residences or secluded stretches of road where they carry out assaults and robberies.  Armed robbers are known to shoot if the vehicle does not come to a stop.  Criminals often become violent quickly, especially when victims fail to cooperate immediately in surrendering valuables.  Frequently, victims who argue with assailants or refuse to give up their valuables are shot.  Kidnapping for ransom continues to occur, but has decreased in frequency since 2001.  U.S. citizens in El Salvador should exercise caution at all times and practice good personal security procedures throughout their stay.

The U.S. Embassy warns its personnel to drive with their doors locked and windows raised, to avoid travel outside of major metropolitan areas after dark, and to avoid travel on unpaved roads at all times because of criminal assaults and lack of police and road service facilities.  Travelers with conspicuous amounts of luggage, late-model cars or foreign license plates are particularly vulnerable to crime, even in the capital.

Travel on public transportation, especially buses, both within and outside the capital, is risky and not recommended.  The Embassy advises official visitors to use radio-dispatched taxis or those stationed in front of major hotels.

U.S. citizens using banking services should be vigilant while conducting their financial exchanges either inside local banks or at automated teller machines.  There have been several reports of armed robberies in which victims appear to have been followed from the bank after completing their transactions.

Visitors to El Salvador should use caution when climbing volcanoes or hiking in other remote locations.  Armed robberies of climbers and hikers are common.  Mine-removal efforts ceased several years ago, but land mines and unexploded ordnance in backcountry regions still pose a threat to off-road tourists, backpackers, and campers.  The Embassy strongly recommends engaging the services of a local guide certified by the national or local tourist authority when hiking in backcountry areas, even when within the national parks.

INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME:

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the U.S. Embassy.  If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance.  The Embassy staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred.  Although the investigation and prosecution of crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you understand the local criminal justice process and find an attorney if needed.

Victims of crime should bear in mind that law enforcement resources are limited and judicial processes are uneven in El Salvador.  Many crimes in the country go unsolved and the likelihood for redress through the judicial system is limited.

The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in El Salvador is also 911.

Please  see our information on Victims of Crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law.  Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offences.  Persons violating El Salvador’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.  Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in El Salvador are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.  Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.  Please see our information on Criminal Penalties.

Guns: El Salvador has strict laws requiring a locally obtained license to possess or carry a firearm in the country.  The Embassy strongly advises persons without a Salvadoran firearms license not to bring guns into the country or use a firearm while in El Salvador.  During a three-month period in 2006, three U.S. citizens were arrested in separate incidents for firearms violations.  In each instance, the individuals complied with airline procedures, declared the firearm on a Customs form upon arrival at El Salvador's Comalapa International Airport, and were allowed to depart the airport without hindrance.  However, when the individuals returned to the airport and declared the weapons to airline employees, they were arrested by Salvadoran police, not for violating aviation regulations but for having carried an unlicensed firearm while in El Salvador.  The Embassy cannot intervene in the judicial process when a U.S. citizen is charged with a firearms violation.  Conviction for possessing an unlicensed firearm can carry a prison sentence of three to five years.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:

Travelers intending to carry cell phones from the United States should check with their service provider to determine if the service will be available in El Salvador.  Credit cards are acceptable for payment in many-but not all-retail stores and restaurants in major cities. Skimming is a common problem and travelers should take care when using credit cards. Automatic teller machines with access to major U.S. bank networks are widely available in San Salvador, but less prevalent elsewhere in the country.  Please see our information on Customs Information.

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION:

There are few private hospitals with an environment that would be acceptable to visiting Americans.  The Embassy recommends that these hospitals be used only for emergency care, to stabilize a condition prior to returning to the U.S. for definitive evaluation and treatment.  Private hospitals and physicians expect upfront payment (cash or, for hospitals, credit card) for all bills.

Priority Ambulance (503-2264-7911) is the only private ambulance service with a fleet of vehicles in San Salvador that has trained personnel and medical equipment to manage emergencies.  The response time is often less than ideal because of the heavy traffic in San Salvador.  Therefore whenever possible, it is recommended that people transport themselves directly to the hospital by private vehicle.

Pharmacies are plentiful but not all medicines found in the U.S. are available in El Salvador.  Medicines often have a different brand name and are frequently more expensive than in the U.S.

HIV Info: The Embassy is not aware of any HIV/AIDS restrictions for temporary visitors.  Salvadoran Immigration Law does not specifically refer to HIV/AIDS but persons wishing to apply for residency must undergo a medical exam and be certified free of communicable diseases.

No specific vaccinations are required for entry into El Salvador from the United States. Travelers coming from countries where yellow fever is endemic must have had a yellow fever vaccination in order to enter the country.   For more information, visit El Salvador’s Immigration web site.

For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) web site. Further health information for travelers is available from the WHO.

MEDICAL INSURANCE:

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.  It may be possible to purchase supplemental coverage for travel.  U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States.  Separate insurance should be obtained for medical evacuation, as it may cost in excess of $50,000.  Many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas, including emergency medical services and even transportation of remains, in the event of death.  Please see our information on medical insurance overseas.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.  The information below concerning El Salvador is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Major highways and thoroughfares are among the best in Central America, but road conditions throughout El Salvador are not up to U.S. standards.   Mini-buses, buses, and taxis are often poorly maintained.  Drivers are often not trained, and generally do not adhere to traffic rules and regulations.  The U.S. Embassy recommends that its personnel avoid using mini-buses and buses, and use only taxis that are radio-dispatched or those stationed in front of major hotels.  Robberies and violent crimes on buses are commonplace.

Because of inconsistent enforcement of traffic laws in El Salvador, drivers must make an extraordinary effort to drive defensively.  Passing on blind corners is commonplace.  Salvadoran law requires that the driver of a vehicle that injures or kills another person must be arrested and detained until a judge can determine responsibility for the accident.  This law is uniformly enforced.

Visitors to El Salvador may drive on their U.S. license for up to thirty days.  After that time, a visitor is required to obtain a Salvadoran license.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.  Visit the web site of El Salvador’s national authority responsible for road safety at http://www.elsalvadorturismo.gob.sv/Further information on traffic and road conditions is available in Spanish from Automovil Club de El Salvador, at telephone number 011-503-2221-0557.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT:

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of El Salvador’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of El Salvador’s air carrier operations.  For more information, travelers may visit the FAA web site.

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS:

El Salvador is an earthquake-prone country.  Flooding and landslides during the rainy season (June to November) also pose a risk.  General information about natural disaster preparedness is available from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  Additional information in Spanish about earthquakes (sismos ) in El Salvador can be found on the Government of El Salvador’s web page.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES:

For information see our Office of Children’s Issues web pages on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction.

REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION:

Americans living or traveling in El Salvador are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy through the State Department’s travel registration web site, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within El Salvador.  Americans without Internet access may register directly with the Embassy.  By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency.

The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in San Salvador is located at Final Boulevard Santa Elena Sur, Urbanizacion Santa Elena, Antiguo Cuscatlan, La Libertad, telephone 011-503-2501-2999, fax 011-503-2278-5522, e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it The Consular Section is open for U.S. citizens’ services from 8:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. weekdays, excluding U.S. and Salvadoran holidays.  After business hours, the Embassy can be contacted by telephone at 011-503-2501-2316 or 011-503-2501-2253.

For any questions concerning U.S. visas for either temporary travel to or permanent residence in the U.S., please contact our regional U.S. Visa Information Center.  From El Salvador, the Visa Information Center may be reached by calling 900-6011 from any landline operated by Telecomm, or by purchasing a VISAS-USA calling card from any location that sells Telefonica phone cards.  Calling instructions are on the back of the card.  Calls using the 900 number cost approximately $2.15 per minute and will be charged to the caller's telephone bill.  The Telefonica phone card costs $15.00 and permits a seven-minute call.  From the U.S., the Visa Information Center can be contacted by dialing 866-730-2089 and charging the call to a Visa or MasterCard credit card.

This replaces the Country Specific Information for El Salvador dated May 2008, to update the format and sections on Entry/Exit Requirements, Crime, Information for Victims of Crime, Medical Facilities and Health Information, Disaster Preparedness, and Registration and Embassy Location.

 


 

The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office also has information regarding El Salvador HERE....

There is a Malaria Warning issued by the Centers for Disease Control for El Salvador HERE....

Looking for an Embassy ?, You can also check out our World Wide Embassy Listings Section HERE (For US Citizens) or HERE (For UK Citizens).........

Regards

The SW Team......

 

Direct Gov Travel News and Alerts