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How to get a tourist visa to El Salvador?

Ieva Miltina Ieva Miltina 12 August 2021
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Besides the heavy-weight tourist destinations like Costa Rica, Panama, and Guatemala, the region of Central America holds another precious gem for the eyes of wanderers to admire. A land with no Caribbean coast but rich in landscapes and the most luscious fauna. A place with history and culture full of vibrancy that bows in front of the mighty force of hundreds of active volcanoes. If you didn’t get it by now, we are talking about El Salvador - a Pacific coast bordering Honduras and Guatemala.

This place is most often visited for the spectacular beaches and the nightlife. These two are sufficient reasons for wanting to make this the destination of your next vacay. Even if you are attracted to exploring it for any other reason, as a tourist, you will be expected to be prepared and have a particular document on your hand on arrival. I am talking about visas here! It is very likely that if you travel to El Salvador, you will have to have one. In this article, I will try to reveal some information that will open your eyes to the aspects of the El Salvador tourist visa that will help the application process easier. Besides finding out what are the requirements to get a tourist visa from El Salvador, you will also get some technical information from me. Like, how much does an El Salvador tourist visa cost? Before we cut to the chase and start talking about everything, let’s answer the most crucial question and see if you even need to read through the whole article...

Do you need a visa to travel to El Salvador?

la libertad beach

Honestly, mentioning the nationals of all countries exempt from visas to El Salvador would be a waste of space. About half of the world is on the list that can travel to El Salvador visa-free. In short, these would be the EU, the US, the UK, Australia, the neighbouring countries, and a little bunch more. With that said - you might likely need to get this visa. However, even if you don’t, you should know about a certain formality, and I will introduce this in a few short moments.

To cheer you up, let’s cover some of the exceptions that you should consider before jumping to the sad conclusion that you have to do this annoying paper thing and wait for up to several weeks to get the El Salvador tourist visa. Listen to this carefully. There is no need to go through the procedure if you have a visa from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, or multi visa of the Schengen Area, Canada, or the US! Here is how this works.

If you have a visa to El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, or Honduras, you can travel around the Central America region irrespective of your nationality. They have formed a CA-4 Agreement that makes the border crossing easier. I suggest using this opportunity to cross off more countries from your “been-to” list!

If you have a visa to the Schengen Area, Canada, or the US you can use a similar privilege and plan an additional stopover or enjoy a holiday in El Salvador. The only thing you should keep in mind is that a few countries are excluded from this offer. List of these countries you should check on the official website.

Do you need a visa to travel to El Salvador? If yes, then stick with me and read the article to the end.

What should I know about the El Salvador tourist visa?

el salvador visa application

El Salvador has quite a simple visa policy when it comes to short-term El Salvador visas. A tourist visa means that you can enter the country to be involved in touristic activities - sightseeing, retreats, outdoor activities, etc. They come in single and multiple-entry options and will permit you to stay in El Salvador for 30, 60, or 90 days (single entry visa) or up to one year (multiple-entry).

What are the requirements to get a tourist visa from El Salvador?

checking contract

The El Salvador tourist visa requirements are relatively straightforward. They might slightly depend on the circumstances, and you might be asked to present additional information or documents. However, here is the list of the most important documents. Together with a fully completed and signed application form, you will have to hand in:

• A passport that is valid for at least 6 months onwards and a copy of its main page

• Passport-sized photo

• A detailed travel itinerary that consists of round trip travel ticket copies, confirmation from a booked accommodation, or an invitation letter from the host in El Salvador

• Proof of employment (labour contract etc.) or professional status (a letter from an educational institution, etc.)

• Proof of financial means (a bank statement or other proof that shows you have enough money to sustain yourself during the trip)

• Copies of previously obtained visas

• For any nationals of South American or African countries - a Yellow Fever vaccination certificate made no sooner than 15 days before the trip

• Copies of Schengen or US, or Canada visas (if applicable).

As you see, the requirements are quite logical and can be easily obtained if you put a moment of thought and preparation into it.

How to get a tourist visa if you want to travel to El Salvador?

Finally, we can get to answering the question that is set out in the headline, right? To be fair, I think all the information mentioned above is a part of getting your visa. This paragraph will explain the technical side of things - what are the ways to apply and get it done.

It might disappoint you, but there is no innovation on this part. Obtaining a visa to El Salvador is possible by submitting the papers to the embassy that processes the applications of nationals of your country. First, do a little research and find the appropriate diplomatic mission. And then confirm the exact list of requirements (something along the lines of the information in the previous paragraph), collect all the papers, pay the fee and submit. That’s it! Then you just wait to get an answer from the institution.

How much does the El Salvador tourist visa cost?

The fees are quite average compared to other countries. If you go for a single-entry tourist visa, you can expect to pay 30-45 USD, but the price goes higher to 50-65 USD for a multiple-entry one. Nothing otherworldly and worth it. After all, it is a small fee for investment in, potentially, your next best vacation!

How long is the processing time for an El Salvador tourist visa?

coatepeque lake

You are in luck here. Usually, an El Salvador tourist visa application will get processed and a decision given in 3-10 business days. That means a maximum of two weeks of waiting. Remember that applying at the last moment is never the best idea unless the circumstances push you to do so. In some cases, the times might be longer depending on your nationality or the diplomatic mission where the papers are being submitted.

Let’s wrap this up. As you saw in the information that I provided, most things about the visa to El Salvador are quite ordinary. El Salvador tourist visa requirements, the procedure, and the outcomes are pretty standard and relatively clear. All you need is to have made up your mind about going there, prepare the documents and be patient after submitting them! Apart from that, I hope the information was useful and helped wrap your head around the main aspects of this topic.

What I wish for you now is to make unforgettable memories when you do travel to El Salvador. Whatever your travel goals are - may the formalities go through smoothly and open the door to the beauty of this unique country of El Salvador!

* At the moment of writing this article, travel to El Salvador is still not suggested due to the Covid-19 health concerns and the situation in the country because of that. Take into consideration that all the information reflected here displays the procedures and the technicalities of the standard situation. Additionally, if you are travelling anywhere, always consider booking flight options and accommodation with an option to cancel and get reimbursed free of charge. Ir will save you from unnecessary headaches and a fair share of bucks if the plans change unexpectedly on your or the destination end. Safety first!

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Ieva Miltina
Ieva Miltina Activist and entrepreneur

Ieva Miltina is an activist and entrepreneur of many sorts. By profession project manager of marketing and culture events, in her heart she is a passionate traveler and a cook, soon to become a pastry chef. Deeply rooted in non-formal education she has been involved in youth work since her teenage years and up till nowadays holds a deep interest in innovative approaches to learning and personal development, which she transfers to people from all Europe during various international trainings. Always looking for new discoveries and adventures she happily shares her positive view on the world and the neverending stories with the people who cross her path. While studying hospitality and tourism management she wrote a thesis on home-chefs, which ignited her dream of owning her cozy and heartwarming home restaurant, which will hopefully materialize very soon. Meanwhile writing articles and doing food photography she is working towards another dream of hers - becoming a published author someday. 

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