Holders of passports of 86 jurisdictions can visit El Salvador without a visa for up to 180 days (most visitors must provide proof of sufficient funds to cover their stay if asked and show documents required for their next destination, like a forward plane ticket, bus ticket, or other travel itinerary).

visa-free countries

Transit without a visa is allowed for those who normally require a visa but are transiting within 48 hours and hold onward tickets. However, all visitors must obtain a tourist card upon arrival (currently $12), but the fee is waived for some nationals.

example tourist card

If you are visiting from a country that isn’t awarded tourist visa on arrival, you can check this website for your nearest consulate to obtain a consular visa.

El Salvador is part of a free-movement area, similar to the Eurozone. The tourist cards grants you free movement across borders between the four signatory states of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua during that 180 day period.

CA-4 Countries
CA-4 Countries

Should you wish, you can extend the tourist visa by up to another 90 days (270 days total, max, per year) by applying at the Migración y Extranjería offices located at Final Paseo General Escalón y Avenida, Masferrer #5019, San Salvador, El Salvador. Make efficient use of your time by downloading F44 Prórroga de Permanencia de No Residente de 1 hasta 90 días and emailing the required documents to immigration before your visit.

Please note: You can only extend your stay within the last 7 days remaining in your visa. You may need the following to complete the application:

1. Proof that you are leaving the country (a flight or bus ticket).
2. Proof that you have a sufficient amount of money to be able to stay in this country.
3. An additional passport-style photo.
4. A receipt from your hotel (showing address).
5. Copies of the info page and all pages with stamps in your passport.
6. $25 for the fee.
7. A local person who could confirm your purpose of staying. This person also has to go with you and sign the paperwork in front of the immigration officer.
8. A copy of the identification of your local friend.
9. One other local contact (Just the name and phone number is enough).

Alternatively, you’ll need to leave the CA-4 zone and re-enter. Options include cheap flights to Mexico City or San José. Note: the border agents have complete discretion over whether or not to let you into their country. It is always best to be polite and pleasant when dealing with passport control and have readily available reason for visiting as a tourist, including potential itineraries and places of interest. Be sure to account for entry/exit requirements before planning your trip outside of the CA-4. Because these requirements have been known to change without notice, it is best to check a reliable source for the latest regulations. Travel Off Path has been frequently updated with this type of information (and usually includes sources), but in any case be sure to communicate with your carrier for the latest information. Before you can board to enter El Salvador, most people will require proof that you are leaving the country in the future, like a forward plane ticket. Sometimes it is difficult to plan exactly when you’ll leave, and services like this one can give you a temporary flight confirmation.

El Salvador is served by one major international airport (with gates for Avianca, American Airlines, Copa, Aeromexico, Delta, Spirit, Aerolíneas Mas, Volaris, and Iberia) an hour outside the capital, and one smaller, but still internationally rated airport in Ilopango (a third is planned in the eastern part of the country to support Bitcoin City). The major airport has direct connections (some are only one-way) to 28 cities in 13 countries:
🇪🇸 Madrid
🇺🇸 Atlanta
🇺🇸 Dallas-Fort Worth
🇺🇸 Fort Lauderdale
🇺🇸 Houston
🇺🇸 Los Ángeles
🇺🇸 Miami
🇺🇸 New York (New York)
🇺🇸 Newark
🇺🇸 Orlando
🇺🇸 San Francisco
🇺🇸 Washington, D.C.
🇨🇦 Montreal
🇨🇦 Ontario
🇨🇦 Toronto
🇲🇽 Cancún
🇲🇽 México D.F.
🇧🇿 Belize
🇬🇹 Guatemala
🇭🇳 San Pedro Sula
🇭🇳 Comayagua
🇭🇳 Roatán
🇳🇮 Managua
🇨🇷 San José
🇵🇦 Panamá
🇨🇴 Bogotá
🇪🇨 Quito
🇪🇨 Guayaquil
🇵🇪 Lima

Contact information for the various transport hubs in the country can be found here.

Finally, upon arrival you will also need to submit a ‘traveler’s declaration’ with basic customs information, like valuables, cash, and specialty items. Your carrier should be able to provide you with the form.

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