- Normal precautions
- High degree of caution
- Avoid non-essential travel
- Do not travel
- Safety and Security
- Local Laws and Customs
- Additional Information
- Embassy Contact
High Degree of Caution
Latest Travel Alert
On 27 March 2022, a nationwide state of emergency was declared by the government in response to a surge in gang-related violence and homicides. The state of emergency has been extended several times since then, and remains in place. The state of emergency places restrictions on gatherings, allows arrests without a warrant, and the monitoring of communications, among other measures. Irish citizens in El Salvador should monitor local media to stay informed of the evolving situation, and follow the instructions of local authorities. A heightened security presence is to be expected, and Irish citizens should avoid any local clashes with security operations. Security operations have taken place across the country, with a particular focus in Soyapango, Ilopango, Mejicanos, San Martin, and San Marcos and several security personnel and alleged gang members have been killed in clashes.
Travel to El Salvador
The Government of El Salvador has removed COVID-19 testing/vaccination requirements for entry. Visitors are advised however to bring proof of vaccination with them, in case requirements change at short notice either in El Salvador or in countries you transit en route.
Citizens are advised to follow official government sources for updates:
We strongly recommend you familiarise yourself with local restrictions and comply to avoid penalties.
General Travel Advice
El Salvador 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.
Safety and Security
Safety and Security
Safety and security
Political tensions in El Salvador remain high and can be expected to increase in the run up to Presidential, Assembly, Municipal, and Central American Parliament elections in February/March 2024.
The El Salvador Constitution prohibits political activities by foreign nationals, and participation in demonstrations may result in detention and/or deportation. You should avoid large gatherings or demonstrations and exercise caution in public areas.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 or attack, 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.
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. Avoid travelling on public buses.
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.
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.
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.
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
- Take particular care when travelling to/from the border with Guatemala. There have been reports of violent attacks on vehicles.
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 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.
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
Check with your doctor well in advance of travelling to see if you need any vaccinations for this country.
There may be a risk of Zika virus in El Salvador. 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).
Irish citizens do not need a visa to enter El Salvador, and may stay for up to 90 days. Entry to the country is at the discretion of the immigration officer, and visitors should be prepared to share information on travel plans, funds, etc. to immigration officers.
Passports should be valid for six months from the date of entry into El Salvador.
El Salvador is party to the Central America Border Control Agreement (CA-4) signed between Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador. Upon arriving in any of the CA-4 countries, visitors may travel to the other three member states, and stay for up to 90 days within the CA-4 region, without undergoing any entry and exit formalities. This period begins at the first point of entry in to any of the CA-4 countries. Fines are applied for travellers who exceed this 90-day limit, though a request for a 30-day extension can be made before the 90 days limit expires.
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
Get travel and medical insurance
Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.