Overland El Salvador Travel

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Pan American Highway > El Salvador Currency to display:

Visiting El Salvador[edit]

Give a brief overview of what it's like to visit. How easy is the border, how safe is the country, are there great things to see and do, etc.

Entering El Salvador with a Car or Motorbike[edit]

Correct as of: September 2014

Required Paperwork[edit]

(To check if you need a travel Visa for El Salvador, application instructions and fees see: El Salvador Visa online application at VisaHQ.com)

Process at border[edit]

  • 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.
  • Detailed instructions including GPS POI's, office locations and pictures can be seen here: Guatemala to El Salvador – Valle Nuevo / Chinamas border crossing

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

Cost of entry[edit]

  • 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)
  • We crossed at El Poy in Aug 2014 and it was for free!
  • Same for us. Honduras to El Salvador at El Poy on 17th May 2016 with a motorcycle. No fees. No idea what a FONAT card is and no one tried to sell me one. No helpers at this border. Details of our crossing here http://www.tiger800rtw.com/?p=1298

Permitted length of stay[edit]

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.

Extension of stay[edit]

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

Storing a vehicle and temporarily leaving the country[edit]

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.

Exiting with a vehicle[edit]

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

Driving in El Salvador[edit]

Recommended books for Overlanding in El Salvador[edit]

Lonely Planet Nicaragua & El Salvador
Lonely Planet Nicaragua & El Salvador
by Paige Penland, Gary Chandler, Liza Prado
From $32.99 on Amazon
Don't Go There. It's Not Safe. You'll Die. And Other M...
Don't Go There. It's Not Safe. You'll Die. And Other M...
by LifeRemotely.com
From $click on Amazon
Americas Overland - The Driving Handbook
Americas Overland - The Driving Handbook
by Donald Greene
From $25.83 on Amazon
99 Days To Panama: An Exploration Of Central America B...
99 Days To Panama: An Exploration Of Central America B...
by John Halkyard, Harriet Halkyard
From $21.99 on Amazon
Overlanders' Handbook: Worldwide Route And Planning Gu...
Overlanders' Handbook: Worldwide Route And Planning Gu...
by Chris Scott
From $22.42 on Amazon
Adventure Motorcycling Handbook: A Route & Planning Gu...
Adventure Motorcycling Handbook: A Route & Planning Gu...
by Chris Scott
From $13.37 on Amazon
El Salvador Handbook (footprint - Handbooks)
El Salvador Handbook (footprint - Handbooks)
by Richard Arghiris
From $7.69 on Amazon

Travel insurance for El Salvador[edit]

World Nomads offer the most flexible Travel Insurance at the best prices for multi-country / multi-year trips. You can buy, extend and claim online, even after you've left home.

Vehicle insurance requirements[edit]

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.

Cost of insurance[edit]

$10.00 USD for 30 days. Longer is available.

Where to purchase insurance[edit]

Office near Customs ('Aduana').

Driving license[edit]

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

Driving side of road[edit]

Right hand drive vehicles are NOT permitted without a SPECIAL LETTER.

This letter takes 3-7 days to get from Jose at the Land Rover club, contact him through this Facbook page El Salvador Land Rover Club on Facebook. With this letter, entry at the border will be no problem.

Mandatory items in vehicle[edit]



General Road quality[edit]

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.

Road signs[edit]

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

Toll roads[edit]


Bribery in El Salvador[edit]

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


Police checkpoints are not very 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.

Traveling with pets[edit]

According to travelers in 2012, you need: [1]

Travelers in 2013 wrote this when traveling from Guatemala to El Salvador. They had to pay $9.00 USD for a dog permit and show the vaccines, that's it.[2]

  • 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.

Gas and Diesel price in El Salvador[edit]

Last updated: April 2012 (September 2013)

Currency and unit to display:

Gasoline Grade Price
Regular  ??
Super (90)  ??
Premium (95) $4.89 USD per Gallon (US)
Ultra (97)  ??
Normal Diesel $1.11 USD per Liter
Diesel (low sulfur)  ??

Gas and Diesel Availability / Frequency[edit]

Gasoline is common, shortages are not a problem.

Gas and Diesel Quality[edit]


Safety and Security Considerations[edit]

Driving at night[edit]

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

Vehicle parking[edit]

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

Special driving considerations[edit]


Security advisories and information[edit]

Camping in El Salvador[edit]

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

Camping guide books[edit]


Drinking water[edit]

Tap water in El Salvador is not safe to drink.


Paper maps[edit]

Reise Know-How are amoung the best paper maps. Purchase paper maps before arriving in El Salvador

Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador = Nikaragua, Gonduras...
Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador = Nikaragua, Gonduras...
by Reise Know-How Verlag
From $7.73 on Amazon
Nicaragua, Honduras, And El Salvador (national Geograp...
Nicaragua, Honduras, And El Salvador (national Geograp...
by National Geographic Maps - Adventure
From $6.70 on Amazon
Nicaragua, Honduras, And El Salvador (national Geograp...
Nicaragua, Honduras, And El Salvador (national Geograp...
by National Geographic Maps - Adventure
From $6.70 on Amazon

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

GPS Maps of El Salvador[edit]

  • 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]

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

Special Overland Travel interests[edit]


Vehicle Maintenance[edit]


4x4s / Trucks


Local Garages[edit]

Add known good mechanics here.

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

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.'


  1. Central American Borders and dogs
  2. Traveling with dogs from Canada to Argentina. Experiences and Infos.
  3. OpenStreetMap El Salvador
  4. Cenrut Mapping Project
  5. TomTom Map availability

Helpful External links[edit]