Overland El Salvador Travel

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Currency to display:


[edit] Entering El Salvador with a Car or Motorbike

Correct as of: June 2013

[edit] Required Paperwork

[edit] Process at border

(For people, see El Salvador Visa and Passport requirements at the World Travel Guide)

  • The owner of the vehicle gains entry at immigration (migración), including a stamp in their Passport.
  • The owner must show the new passport stamp , drivers license and the original vehicle registration to customs (aduana).(Plus photocopies of each).
  • The owner is issued a temporary import permit for the vehicle.
  • Must purchase FONAT card ("Fundo Nacional de Accidentes de Transito"). Receipt and 'insurance' card are provided.

NOTE: You will encounter pushy locals offering to help you with paperwork to get across the border. See Border Crossing Helpers for advice.

[edit] Cost of entry

  • Cost of mandatory FONAT card: $10.00 USD for 30 days. Longer is available.
  • La Hachadura border: $5.00 USD for community road improvements (possible scam, but police would not let us go without paying. Receipt provided)

[edit] Permitted length of stay

90 days. El Salvador is part of the CA-4 Border control agreement. This agreement grants travel between Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua for a TOTAL of 90-days. The number of days remaining on your CA4 is written in your passport as you travel from country to country. The 90-day limit begins when you enter any country that is part of the CA4 agreement. To avoid penalty and fines, Exit the CA4 countries and enter into Costa Rica or Mexico/Belize before the 90-days limit expires.

[edit] Extension of stay

Describe the process to extend the permitted length of entry for the vehicle, if possible.

[edit] Storing a vehicle and temporarily leaving the country

Describe if/how a vehicle can be stored, and for how long.
Also mention if the owner / temporary importer can leave the country while the vehicle is in storage.

[edit] Exiting with a vehicle

  • The registered owner presents the temporary import paper to customs.
  • The registered owner is stamped out of El Salvador at immigration.

[edit] Driving in El Salvador

[edit] Insurance requirements

Insurance is not required. However as of May 2013, you must purchase a FONAT card, "Fondo Nacional de Accidentes de Transito". A government fund created to support the victims of accidents and fund safer roads.

[edit] Cost of insurance

$10.00 USD for 30 days. Longer is available.

[edit] Where to purchase insurance

Office near Customs ('Aduana').

[edit] Driving license

Technically an International Driving Permit is required.
In reality, showing a license from anywhere in the world seems to be good enough.

[edit] Driving side of road

Right hand drive vehicles are NOT permitted without a SPECIAL PERMIT.
This permit takes about a month to process, so will need to be arranged in advance. Many people driving RHD vehicles get help with this from a 4x4 club within El Salvador, or they completely bypass El Salvador.
This discussion on expeditionportal.com has some details.

[edit] Mandatory items in vehicle


[edit] Roads

[edit] General Road quality

Roads in El Salvador vary greatly. The Pan American is paved and good quality for the length of the country, as are most other highways. Lesser roads are gravel and can be very bumpy and rutted.

[edit] Road signs

Road signs are uncommon, and can not be relied upon.

[edit] Toll roads


[edit] Bribery in El Salvador

Police bribery is relatively common in El Salvador, so you should expect it to happen. See the bribery tips page for advice.

[edit] Checkpoints

Police checkpoints are common in El Salvador. You'll primarily be asked to show your Passport, Vehicle registration, drivers license, FONAT card, and the temporary import permit you were issued at the border.

[edit] Traveling with pets

As with all borders in Central America, be ready for bribery if you have a pet.
According to travelers in 2012, you need: [1]

  • A Health Certificate for the animal in Spanish (updated at least every four months)
  • A vaccination record (the European Pet Passport works well)

You might not be asked for either one, but you should have them ready.

[edit] Gas and Diesel price in El Salvador

Last updated: April 2012

Currency and unit to display:

Gasoline Grade Price
Regular  ??
Super (90)  ??
Premium (95) $4.89 USD per Gallon (US)
Ultra (97)  ??
Normal Diesel $0.77 USD per Liter[2]
Diesel (low sulfur)  ??

[edit] Gas and Diesel Availability / Frequency

Gasoline is common, shortages are not a problem.

[edit] Gas and Diesel Quality


[edit] Safety and Security Considerations

[edit] Driving at night

Driving at night is absolutely not recommended in El Salvador, due to safety considerations.

[edit] Vehicle parking

Find a secure parking lot to park for any length of time. Price unknown.

[edit] Special driving considerations


[edit] Security advisories and information

[edit] Camping in El Salvador

Camping is popular in El Salvador anywhere along the ocean. Roadside camping is generally not recommended.

[edit] Camping guide books


[edit] Drinking water

Tap water in El Salvador is not safe to drink.

[edit] Navigation

[edit] Paper maps

Purchase maps before arriving, good ones are very difficult to find in El Salvador.

[edit] GPS Maps of El Salvador

  • Open Street Map: Appears to have good coverage.[3]
  • Cenrut: Free Open Source GPS map of Central America. [4]
  • Garmin: Apparently no map of El Salvador.
  • TomTom: No map of El Salvador. [5]

[edit] GPS co-ordinates for camping, propane, gas, repairs, etc. in El Salvador

[edit] Special Overland Travel interests


[edit] Travel Guide Books

[edit] Vehicle Maintenance

[edit] Dealers

4x4s / Trucks


[edit] Local Garages

Add known good mechanics here.

[edit] Buy or sell a car or motorbike in El Salvador

Describe how a foreigner can buy a vehicle. List any difficulties or limitations on where the vehicle can be driven.

Describe how a foreigner can sell a foreign-plated vehicle, or list not possible.'

[edit] References

  1. Central American Borders and dogs
  2. fuel price - anybody ? - The HUBB
  3. OpenStreetMap El Salvador
  4. Cenrut Mapping Project
  5. TomTom Map availability

[edit] Helpful External links

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