Is El Salvador safe for European tourists

El Salvador

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The smallest country in Central America

El Salvador is much more than just an insignificant country located in Latin America. The smallest country in Central America has a lot to offer.
With a multitude of majestic volcanoes, enchanting lakes, geysers and lagoons, with dense tropical forests, nature parks and archaeological riches and a total of more than 300 km of beaches on the Pacific Ocean alone, the small country, which has not yet been developed for tourism, offers its visitors a wealth of attractions.

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Table of contents El Salvador

Regional studies

Land / landscape

El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America. It is approximately 21,000 km² and borders on Honduras to the north and east, Guatemala to the west and the Pacific to the south. The landscape of El Salvador is characterized by over 25 volcanoes, 3 of which are still slightly active.
The country also has a national park, which is the last natural refuge in the world for ocelots, pumas and anteaters.
The country is also a paradise for surfers and divers. The largest coral reef in Central America is located on Los Cóbanos Beach.
The capital of El Salvador is San Salvador and with around 1.7 million inhabitants (as of 2017) it is also the largest city in the country. It is located in the middle of the country and is therefore the ideal starting point for all excursions.

Population / religion

El Salvador has around 7.3 million inhabitants (as of 2017), of which around 50% are Roman Catholic. The rest is divided into Protestant groups.


The main export products in El Salvador are, as in most countries in Central America, coffee, sugar, corn, textiles and chemicals.


The official national and official language is Spanish. However, as a tourist you can also communicate in English.


The national currency in El Salvador is the US dollar. The Colón (former national currency) is still nominally valid, but is practically no longer in use.
The credit card is accepted as a common means of payment, especially in hotels and larger cities.


The time difference between El Salvador and Central European Time (CET) is minus 7 hours in winter and minus 8 hours in summer time.


110 V, 60 Hz. American plugs. It is advisable to take an adapter with you.


The country code is +503

See also travel information on TechStage.

Entry as a tourist

Travel documents / visa

German citizens do not need a visa for a stay of up to 90 days to enter El Salvador. When entering the country, care should be taken to ensure that the permit entered in the passport is entered for the entire stay (up to 90 days) in order to avoid a later extension of the entry permit. For travelers in the so-called CA-4 area (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua), the special rule applies that a tourist stay of a maximum of 90 days is permitted in this area. When entering from another CA-4 country, travelers do not receive an exit and entry stamp. According to information from the Salvadoran immigration authorities, tourists' passports must be valid for another six months when they enter the country. When entering the country, vaccinations are not required unless you are entering El Salvador from so-called yellow fever endemic areas. Please refer to the "Medical Notes".

Entry / exit via the USA

[Show entry requirements for the USA]

(Source: Federal Foreign Office / as of April 2018)

Current information


The presidential decree of January 27, 2017, banning nationals of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen from entering the USA for a period of 90 days, has been suspended by a court order. The new version of the decree, which was supposed to replace the earlier version on March 16, 2017, was stopped by a provisional order of a federal court shortly before it came into force. It is therefore initially the case that the entry stop will not be applied until a decision has been made in the main proceedings.

Exempted from the regulation were anyway due to the corresponding application guidelines:

  • German nationals who also have one of the aforementioned nationalities (so-called double nationals), provided they are traveling with their German passport
  • Holders of a valid permanent resident card ("Green Card")

Regarding the still valid restrictions on visa-free entry to the USA (Visa Waiver Program) in connection with previous trips to Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen, please refer to the information in the section "Entry requirements for German citizens".

It is recommended to follow the development of the entry regulations in the media and in the travel and security information of the Federal Foreign Office. In any case, travelers currently have to reckon with increased controls and surveys upon entry. As usual, whether entry is allowed is at the discretion of the respective US border official.

Binding information about entry and residence requirements in the USA can only be given in Germany by the embassies and consulates of the USA.

Entry requirements for German citizens

Travel documents

Entry is possible for German citizens with the following documents:

Passport: Yes

Temporary passport: Yes, but only with a visa

Identity card: No, not approved for US travel

Provisional identity card: No, not approved for US travel

Children's passport: Yes, but only with a visa

Still valid child ID according to the old model (the child ID has not been issued since January 1, 2006): Yes, a visa is required


Every traveler, including children of all ages, needs their own travel document. The travel document must be valid for the entire duration of your stay (i.e. up to and including the day you leave the USA).

German citizens generally take on Visa waiver-Program of the USA and can enter the USA as tourists, business travelers or for transit, usually for a period of up to ninety days without a visa, if they:

  • are in possession of an electronic passport (so-called ePassport with integrated chip, issued from November 2005)
  • enter with a regular airline or shipping company,
  • a return or onward flight ticket (which - except for people with permanent residence in these countries - may not end in Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean), valid for a period of max. 90 days from the first entry into the USA, and
  • are in possession of an electronic entry permit ("Electronic System for Travel Authorization" - ESTA - see explanations below).

Children's passports that were issued or extended after October 26, 2006, as well as all children's ID cards, are not eligible for visa-free entry, i.e. participation in the Visa Waiver Program for the USA.
Children traveling on a child passport or ID card must have a visa to enter the United States. Minors need their own regular (electronic) passport (e-passport) in order to participate in the Visa Waiver Program and travel without a visa.

Entry by land from Canada or Mexico is also part of the "Visa Waiver"Program possible. When entering the country by land, there is no obligation to present a return or onward flight ticket and the electronic entry permit (ESTA).

The following are excluded from participation in the Visa Waiver Program:

  • Dual nationals who also have the nationality of Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan have.
  • Travelers who moved to Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia (Exceptions are possible in selected individual cases, especially for government employees and members of the military who have been in these countries on the official behalf of the Federal Government; inquiries about this are made online as part of the ESTA application).

Those affected are advised to contact the responsible US diplomatic mission in Germany if they are planning to travel to the USA and, if necessary, apply for a US visa (see below).

The fulfillment of the above criteria for participation in the "Visa Waiver"-Program does not entitle you to enter the USA. The US border official responsible will make the final decision on entry.

In the case of visa-free entry, the actually permitted length of stay is determined individually by the US border official. A later extension of the residence permit - for example if your departure is delayed due to unforeseen circumstances - is not possible! If you entered the country on a visa, any USCIS immigration office can approve an extension of your stay! The day on which you must leave the USA again at the latest will be stamped on your passport upon entry ("admitted until xx-xx-xx". Please note the American date format - the month is mentioned first, then the day: ' 3-10 'is March 10th, not October 3rd!)

Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)

Since January 12, 2009 all travelers traveling to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) must prior to their intended entry imperative via the Internet at an electronic entry permit ("Electronic System for Travel Authorization" - ESTA -). The application via third parties (e.g. travel agency) is possible. In this context, the US Embassy in Berlin warns on its website against improperly authorized third-party providers on the Internet who charge a fee for information in connection with ESTA and for submitting applications on behalf of VWP travelers. These commercial enterprises are not endorsed by, nor are they affiliated with or in any way affiliated with, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or the US government. Using a private service provider to apply for travel authorization via ESTA does not accelerate the issuing of a travel authorization.

Once an entry permit has been issued, it is valid for any number of entries within a period of two years. The responsible US authorities recommend submitting the ESTA application at least 72 hours prior to travel if possible.

The ESTA application has been subject to a fee since September 8, 2010. The fee is 14 USD, payment is made by credit card (MasterCard, VISA, American Express, Discover) on the Internet. Alternatively, payment can also be made through a third party (e.g. travel agency).

A new "Travel Authorization" only has to be applied for within two years in the following special situations:

  • Change of passport
  • changing of the name
  • Change of sex
  • If your answer to one of the questions posed in the ESTA application form has to be answered with yes or no (see the above mentioned ESTA website)

The website with the electronic application form is also available in German and 20 other languages. As a rule, the applicant will receive an answer within a short period of time. It is advisable to print out the permit and carry it with you when traveling. In the event of a refusal by ESTA, the trip cannot initially be commenced. In such a case, you must contact the relevant US diplomatic mission to apply for a visa. You will only be informed of the reasons for the rejection of the electronic entry permit when you apply for a visa. Under no circumstances should you only attempt to enter the country with an ESTA authorization after a visa has been refused. In such cases, it is very likely that the traveler will be rejected at the US border.

Please note that even if you have an entry permit according to this new electronic procedure (as well as a valid US entry visa), the final decision on entry remains reserved for the US border guards.

Generally, the person responsible refers Department of Homeland Security to the advantage that the system ensures more security in travel and an entry form with similar information to the ESTA had to be filled out before - on the outward journey to the USA. For travelers who are not allowed to enter under the “Visa Waiver” program, the forwarding of the collection of this information has the advantage that they will not start their journey and - as in the past - it will not be too unpleasant and (e .g . because of flight costs incurred) expensive rejections when trying to enter the US border.

Further information about ESTA is available in German on the website of the US Embassy in Berlin at and

If you accidentally sent an incorrect ESTA application, the Department of Homeland Security advises you to send another application with the correct data, which usually overwrites the incorrect application. If this is not the case, it is recommended to send an explanatory email to [email protected] Your details will then be checked manually and the incorrect application may be deleted. You can then submit a new application.


If you do not meet the requirements for participation in the Visa Waiver Program, a visa is generally required - for example if you:

  • plan to pursue paid or unpaid work in the USA (also as an au pair or in the case of only temporary activities in the USA, e.g. journalists),
  • plan to visit a training center (including a language school),
  • participate in an exchange program,
  • carry out a research project,
  • want to get married in the USA and then live there,
  • do not enter with a regular means of transport (e.g. sailors, pilots; also applies to overseas territories),
  • have not received an electronic entry permit (see explanations below)

The visa must be applied for at the responsible US embassy or consulate general.

Rule of thumb: Only all regular (burgundy) German passports (both the machine-readable passports issued before 11/11/2005 and those issued since 11/11/2005 - so-called e-passports) entitle you to enter the USA without a visa as part of the “Visa Waiver” program that contain a chip) as well as children's passports that were issued before October 26, 2006 and have not been extended since then and contain a photo.

You will need a visa if you have a temporary passport (green passport valid for a maximum of one year) or if you have a child’s passport that has been issued or extended since October 26, 2006.

If you had any problems entering the United States, you can contact the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) upon your return. The DHS has one "Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP)" set up, which is the central point of contact for questions and requests for remedial action in connection with problems related to entering the USA. TRIP users must fill out an online form and provide details of the person and type of negative travel experience they are requesting remedial action or information about.

In principle, travelers are advised to carry the passport or a copy of the passport with them at all times, which shows their legal stay in the USA (entry stamp, visa, if applicable). In some states, such as Lousiana, this is mandatory.

You can find detailed information on US entry requirements and the visa procedure on the website of the US Embassy Berlin: (in German) or (on English).

You should clarify all further questions about your entry into the USA with the responsible American diplomatic mission in good time before departure.

Entry requirements for German citizens can change at short notice without the Foreign Office being informed beforehand.You can only obtain legally binding information and / or information on entry requirements that goes beyond this information directly from the embassy or one of the consulates general of your destination country.

[Hide entry requirements for the USA]

Travelers who have a provisional passport, a child's passport issued or extended from October 26, 2006 or a child's ID card need a visa!

It is also advisable to issue a passport for children, as there are no direct flights to Germany and the USA does not recognize children's passports without a visa. Entries made by children in a parent's passport are no longer valid since June 26, 2012. Every child needs its own identity document.

The German embassy in San Salvador is able to issue temporary machine-readable passports if you lose your passport, but a visa must be obtained from the American embassy to travel to / through the USA. It is therefore advisable to keep your passport safe in the hotel safe and to identify yourself to the Salvadoran authorities for smaller tours or on the beach with a certified copy of your passport, which contains the passport page with the personal details as well as the page with the Salvadoran entry stamp.

On November 15, 2004, the border formalities between Guatemala and El Salvador were eased: for foreigners outside the region, a single stamp in the passport is sufficient when leaving Guatemala or El Salvador.

Entry by car

If you are entering the country with a vehicle, this must be declared at customs.

Entry regulations for German citizens can change at short notice without Tourismus Schiegg being informed beforehand. Legally binding information on entry can only be provided by the diplomatic missions in the respective country of destination.


Theft and fraud are common due to the high levels of poverty across El Salvador. Busy city centers are generally considered to be relatively safe. Deserted streets, slum areas and visits to parks throughout the country should be avoided. You shouldn't wear a lot of jewelry, even on the street. Keep valuables in the hotel safe or wear them directly on your body (ID cards, cameras, etc.).

Table of contents El Salvador

Travel time, climate and clothing

Trips to El Salvador can be done all year round. The best and driest travel time is from November to May. There is a subtropical, humid climate with high daytime temperatures and cool nights. The maximum daily temperatures reach up to 32 ° C. In the evening it cools down to temperatures of approx. 18 ° C. The rainy season in El Salvador is from May to October. It is very hot on the coast, but the higher altitudes have a cooler and more moderate climate.
We recommend a light cloakroom made of cotton or linen and a jacket or sweater for cooler evenings and for air-conditioned hotels. Sturdy shoes, sun, mosquito and rain protection are recommended for round trips and excursions. When hiking on the coast you should definitely wear a large sun hat and sunglasses.

Table of contents El Salvador

Health and vaccination protection

There are no vaccinations required for entry. However, you should be vaccinated against tetanus, diphtheria and polio when traveling. Hepatitis, typhoid and yellow fever vaccinations are also recommended. Anyone entering from a yellow fever infection area must prove they have been vaccinated against yellow fever. Malaria prophylaxis is also recommended.
Good remedies against mosquitoes and a mosquito net are very useful luggage.

You can find more detailed information on our travel information page.

Table of contents El Salvador


From Germany, Austria or Switzerland to El Salvador and back z. B .:

San Salvador with Iberia, Lufthansa with Taca, American Airlines, United Airlines with TacaEUR 900 - 1,400
Special offersfrom EUR 800

Central America flights: check our often cheaper current daily prices!

Table of contents El Salvador

Rental cars and hotels

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Table of contents El Salvador

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