El Salvador-Borders and Driving

Smaller than the US state of Massachusetts, El Salvador still has plenty to offer, including awesome surfing, emtpy beaches, and beautiful highland villages. It's small size makes it a very manageable and accessible country to explore if vacation time is at a premium.  Read more about crossing El Salvador's border with a car, and road conditions within the country. 

Basic Facts

  • Population: 7,100,00
  • Capital: San Salvador
  • Fun fact: From March till October, nearly every beach boasts consistent 6-foot-plus surf.

Border Crossing Information

Entry Requirements

Necessary documents

  • Passport (2 copies)
  • Vehicle title (2 copies)
  • Registration (2 copies)- may also be requested

Costs: $3 fumigation


At some crossings, you may pay $3 (US) to have your car fumigated. For immigration purposes, you will need to show your passport, but you will not get a new stamp in your passport due to the C-4 agreement. Then you will fill out some paperwork to receive a Salvadoran vehicle import permit, and someone will briefly inspect your vehicle. The permit should not cost anything.

Exit Requirements

Necessary documents

  • Passport
  • Vehicle Import permit (1 photocopy)


A quick and easy border crossing. After showing your vehicle import permit and passports, you will surrender the original import permit, and keep a copy bearing their original stamp and signature indicating that you have taken the car out of the country. You will need to show this as you enter Honduras, and presumably Guatemala as well. You should not have to pay anyone anything.

Individual Experiences

People's experiences vary depending on crowds at the border, corrupt or honest border officials, and rules can also change. Read more details about people's individual experiences crossing borders into and out of El Salvador. Read a few experiences on this page.

Roads and Driving

Military Checkpoints and Police

The police set up periodic road blocks, and if your car seems unusual or they can tell you are a tourist, you will likely be asked to pull over. They will examine your documents, ask you some simple questions, and you can proceed on your way. If you are pulled over and you don't believe you did anything wrong, see the scams and shakedowns section for techniques to avoid paying bribes.

Gas Prices

Gas prices are expressed in the units of the specific country.
April 1, 2012:
Premium: $4.90/ gallon

Price is in US dollars per gallon
Regular: $2.29/gallon
Premium: $2.49/gallon
Diesel: $2.65/gallon
Conversion: 1L=0.26 gallons

Thu, 07/28/2011 - 12:26

CA-4 Regulations stop us dead in our tracks at El Poy border

Just spent 24 hours in the no-man's-land between Honduras and El Salvador at the El Poy border crossing where we were ultimately denied normal entry into El Salvador because we've spent more than 90 days in Central America. According to the confusing and not universally enforced CA-4 Border Regulations, this means we'd have to pay US$114.98 in fines and get a visa for just 5 days.

We said no thanks and returned to Honduras.

If you're planning on crossing to El Salvador read our detailed post about our border battle and what we learned about the CA-4 Border Regulations.