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El Salvador

If you’re travelling to El Salvador, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information.

Security Status

  • Normal precautions
  • High degree of caution
  • Avoid non-essential travel
  • Do not travel
  • Overview
  • Safety and Security
  • Local Laws and Customs
  • Health
  • Additional Information
  • Embassy Contact

Overview

General COVID-19 Travel Advisory in Operation

General advice to avoid non-essential travel and ‘Normal Precautions’ list of exemptions:

In accordance with Government policy, which is based on official public health advice, the Department of Foreign Affairs continues to advise against non-essential travel overseas. This includes Great Britain but does not apply to Northern Ireland. It also includes all travel by cruise ship.

Travel to a very limited set of locations is exempted from this advice. Individuals arriving into Ireland from these locations will not be required to restrict their movements upon entry. These locations currently have a ‘normal precautions’ (“green”) security status rating. As of 4 August 2020, these locations are:

  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • Greece
  • Greenland
  • Hungary
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Norway
  • Slovakia

Inclusion on the list is based on the current epidemiological situation and related public health information in each location. The list and related travel advice will be reviewed on a fortnightly basis, based on advice from officials, including public health experts. Any updates or changes will be based on Government decisions. The latest updates will always be uploaded first to this General COVID-19 Travel Advisory. Country-specific tabs will be updated subsequently, and as quickly as possible, but this advisory is the primary source of information for the latest version of the list. The above list was updated on 4 August following the latest review.

If you are considering travelling outside of Ireland:

Irish citizens travelling to locations with a ‘normal precautions’ (“green”) rating are advised to follow the public health guidelines of the local health authorities and to continue to practice physical distancing measures, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette etc. The security rating for all other locations remains unchanged at either to ‘avoid non-essential travel’ (“orange”) or to ‘do not travel’ (“red”).

The purpose of the Department’s Travel Advice is to provide information to the general public so that individuals can make informed decisions for themselves.  The COVID19 pandemic continues to accelerate internationally, and there are significant risks associated with international travel. Citizens should be aware of the possible limitations to any consular assistance that could be provided. Any citizens who are considering travel abroad are advised to monitor closely our travel advice and we recommend that citizens download our TravelWise App and follow us on Twitter. Citizens travelling abroad should also register with their local Irish Embassy or Consulate and regularly check their website and Twitter accounts for details of any local public health measures and travel restrictions.

Should you need to travel for essential reasons, you should inform yourself about any requirements in place in the destination to which you are travelling.  Flight restrictions and route cancellations are happening on a daily basis worldwide and there is no guarantee that air routes will continue to operate as scheduled. Testing and restrictions may be imposed or may already be in place in other countries. It is important to check with your insurance provider on coverage at this time.

What to do on entering Ireland from abroad:

The Irish Authorities advise anyone coming into Ireland, apart from Northern Ireland and individuals arriving in Ireland from locations with a security rating of ‘normal precautions’ (“green”), to restrict their movements for 14 days, and this includes citizens and residents returning to Ireland. Restricting your movements means staying indoors in one location and avoiding contact with other people and social situations as much as possible. To ensure that this is being observed all passengers arriving to Ireland from overseas are obliged to complete a mandatory Public Health Passenger Locator Form and to submit it to the relevant authority at their port of entry. For further details please see the Irish Government Advice Page. Exemptions are also in place for providers of essential supply chain services such as hauliers, pilots and maritime staff. Check the Irish Government Advice Page for full information on these requirements and further advice on returning from abroad.

Where to go for more information:

We continue to make updates to our online travel advice for over 200 countries and recommend that you download our TravelWise App and follow us on Twitter. If abroad you should register with your local Irish Embassy or Consulate and regularly check their website and Twitter accounts for details of any local public health measures and travel restrictions.

Overview

Security status

Avoid non-essential travel.

Security Status Last Updated: 15 March 2020

Latest Travel Alert

COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus

El Salvador has announced a travel ban on all foreign citizens, including Irish citizens, entering the country.

 

There are currently no commercial flight options to return to Ireland from El Salvador. It is also not possible to exit at land borders. Irish citizens travelling in El Salvador are asked to contact the Embassy of Ireland in Mexico for assistance and to keep up to date on options for leaving El Salvador.

 

If you cannot leave El Salvador due to these restrictions, we recommend you find safe accommodation suited to your requirements, follow the advice of the local authorities and confirm your health/travel insurance cover arrangements.

 

The government of El Salvador has announced a number of restrictions to control the spread of COVID-19. A 24-hour national curfew is currently in place. Anyone leaving their accommodation is required to wear a mask. Failure to adhere to emergency measures will result in detention in quarantine facilities. You are advised to follow official government sources for updates. Ministry of Health: https://www.salud.gob.sv/ Office of the President: https://www.presidencia.gob.sv/

 

Emergency responses to the COVID-19 crisis in many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have included restrictions of flights from Europe; restrictive new quarantine arrangements in Central America as well as restrictions affecting admissions of Irish people already travelling in the region to other countries in Latin America.

There are no direct transatlantic flights to Ireland from the region. Therefore, given the uncertainty around transatlantic travel options into Ireland we strongly recommend that Irish travellers make early arrangements to travel out of /from the region.

Moreover, we very strongly advise against any further travel into the region until the COVID-19 crisis has been contained there.

 

Seismic and volcanic activity

El Salvaldor is situated on the Pacific Ring of Fire, and the country is subject to significant seismic and volcanic activity. If planning to visit El Salvador, you should familiarise yourself with what to do in an earthquake, remain on alert, particularly in the event of aftershocks, and follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local news and websites for updates.

Zika Virus

There is currently an outbreak of Zika Virus (a dengue-like mosquito-borne disease) in Central and South America and the Caribbean. Irish Citizens especially those with a weakened immune system or women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant are advised to follow guidance available on the website of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) at http://www.hpsc.ie/A-Z/Vectorborne/Zika/.

Emergency assistance

Because there is no Irish Embassy or Consulate in the El Salvador, we are limited in the help we can offer you in an emergency situation.  However, if there is an emergency, or if you need help and advice, you can contact our Consular Assistance Unit at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Dublin on +353 1 408 2000.

EU Directive on Consular Protection

Under the EU Consular Protection Directive, Irish nationals may seek assistance from the Embassy or Consulate of any other EU member state in a country where there is no Irish Embassy or permanent representation.

Our tips for safe travels

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities
  • Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly in an emergency, such as a natural disaster or a family emergency
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates
  • Read our Topical ‘Know Before You Go’ guide

Safety and Security

Safety and security

Landmines

Unexploded ordnance such as landmines is a danger in the El Salvador countryside, a legacy of past conflicts. Always keep to main routes, take local advice and avoid travel to such areas if advised to do so.

Kidnapping

All foreign nationals are at risk of kidnapping in El Salvador, either for political or financial reasons. If you’re planning to visit the country, follow these basic precautions:

  • Get advice from your local contacts about staying safe
  • Avoid travelling at night, particularly inter-city
  • Avoid travelling alone
  • When driving, ensure all car doors are locked
  • Vary your routes and departure times – avoid patterns which could be tracked
  • Pay careful attention to local media for reports of kidnapping activities

Terrorism

Although the threat from terrorism in El Salvador is low, there is still a global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by tourists and expatriates. 

Crime

El Salvador has one of the highest crime rates in Latin America and caution should be exercised at all times: 

  • Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place. 
  • Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home.
  • Avoid showing large sums of money in public and don’t use ATMs after dark, especially if you’re alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business.
  • Avoid dark and unlit streets and stairways, and arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible.
  • Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places such as internet cafés, train and bus stations.

Serious crime

There are very high levels of violent crime throughout the country, including robberies, assaults and car-jackings. You should take your personal security seriously and be aware of your surroundings at all times and avoid obvious displays of wealth. 

All foreign nationals are subject to the risk of kidnapping.  It’s safer to withdraw money from ATMs in shopping centres or change money in hotels or banks and it’s wise not to withdraw too much money at any one time. If you’re the victim of a robbery you shouldn’t resist.

In the regions bordering Guatemala, violent crime and murders linked to drug turf wars affect security. While overseas citizens have not been targeted, there is a risk of being caught in crossfire if you are in an area where violence breaks out.

Local travel

Try to avoid travelling anywhere in El Salvador at night and avoid travelling alone. Take particular care if you need to go to downtown San Salvador, other towns or cities, or travel on roads outside of major towns and cities after dark. Where possible, travel as part of a group and with a reputable travel company. 

There have been instances of armed attacks on vehicles travelling throughout El Salvador and attacks have taken place on the road between El Salvador and Guatemala. Avoid travelling on unpaved roads as you’re at greater risk of attack in remote areas with fewer police patrols. 

Taxis

For shorter trips within towns and cities it’s safer to take radio or hotel taxis rather than public buses or unofficial taxis.

Lost or stolen passports

If your passport is lost or stolen, getting a replacement can take up to two weeks so keep your travel documents secure at all times. Getting a replacement passport will be easier if you are able to provide a copy of the lost or stolen one, so keep photocopies of your passport.

Reporting crime

If you’re a victim of a crime while in El Salvador, report it to the local police immediately. And you can contact us at the Irish Embassy in Mexico City if you need help.

Driving

If you’re planning to drive in El Salvador, you should be extremely careful as road conditions vary and driving standards are low. If you want to drive:

  • Bring your full Irish driver’s licence and your international driving permit and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and you risk being detained, fined or banned from driving if caught
  • Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you’re stopped at traffic lights

Hiring a vehicle

If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.

Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).

Swimming

Swimming on El Salvador's Pacific coast can be dangerous due to strong undertows. The currents around La Bocana de San Diego are particularly dangerous and several people have drowned in recent years. The number of lifeguards is limited and you should avoid swimming on isolated beaches.

Hurricane season

The hurricane season in the Caribbean normally runs from July to October. You should pay close attention to local and international weather reports and follow the advice of local authorities. Always monitor local and international weather updates for the region by accessing, for example, the Weather Channel, or the US National Hurricane Centre website.

Local Laws and Customs

Local laws and customs

Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or may even be illegal. 

Health

Health

Vaccinations

Check with your doctor well in advance of travelling to see if you need any vaccinations for this country.

Additional Information

Additional information

If you are unsure of the entry requirements for this country, including visa and other immigration information, ask your travel agent or contact the country’s nearest Embassy or Consulate.

You can also check with them how long your passport must be valid for.

 

Embassy contact

Embassy Contact

If you are in need of emergency assistance during these times, you should leave a message on the emergency message system by calling +52 55 5520 5803.

Embassy of Ireland
Cda. Blvd. Avila Camacho, 76-3
Col. Lomas de Chapultepec
11000 México D.F.

Tel: +52 55 5520 5803
Fax: +52 55 5520 5892

Monday to Friday 09:30 to 13:30

Contact us

Honorary Consulate Contact

Roberto H. Murray
Honorary Consul of Ireland
Pasaje Francisco Campos #160
Colonia Escalón, San Salvador
El Salvador

Tel: +503 2263 8236
Fax: +503 2264 7101

Email: Email us