El Salvador - Country Commercial Guide
Import Requirements and Documentation

Includes import documentation and other requirements for both the U.S. exporter and foreign importer.

Last published date: 2021-11-05

In most cases, Salvadoran Customs does not require import licenses and requires only a commercial invoice and bill of lading.

In December 2008, the Customs Authority added a section to its website, entitled “Tariff Online Query,” where companies can learn the import tariff, whether import permits are required, if there are import restrictions for a product, and which specific government agency is responsible for permit issuance.  The Tariff Online Query

All imports of fresh food, agricultural commodities, and live animals must have a sanitary certificate from the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Public Health.  Basic grains must have import licenses from the Ministry of Agriculture, while dairy products require import licenses from the Ministry of Public Health.  Pharmaceutical, medical equipment, medical devices, natural, nutritional supplements, dental, cosmetics, and hygiene products need to be registered at the National Directorate of Medicines (Direccion Nacional de Medicamentos–DNM).  Food products require a Certificate of Free Sale showing approval by U.S. health authorities for public sale.  At present, there is no standard regulation allowing entry of U.S.-approved products.  Some U.S. processed foods which were approved in the United States were rejected after analysis in El Salvador, thereby barring their sale.  USDA/FAS San Salvador has obtained access for U.S. products rejected by the Ministry of Public Health on a case-by-case basis.  In addition, USDA/FAS San Salvador negotiated an exemption from the Certificate of Free Sale for U.S. meat and meat products and, instead, have local sanitary authorities from Ministries of Health and of Agriculture accept the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) 9060-5 Export Certificate.  USDA/FAS in collaboration with the Foreign Commercial Service, USAID Trade Facilitation program and the Embassy’s Economic Section are currently working with Salvadoran health authorities at the Ministries of Health and Agriculture to gain acceptance of U.S. Federal certificates in lieu of the Certificate of Free Sale for all U.S. food and beverage products.  Additional information can be found on USDA’s website under El Salvador’s Food and Agricultural Import Regulations and Standards, and Export Certificate Attaché reports.  Import permits from the Ministry of Agriculture can be requested by the importer at the Ministry of Agriculture.

In 2011, the Government created a one-stop service for import applications in the Import and Export Transaction Center (CIEX) located at the Central Reserve Bank (BCR).  All agencies and ministries involved in an import procedure are represented at CIEX. In January 2019, CIEX launched the importation single window for food and beverage products; the addition of other products has been gradual. As of 2021, the importation single window has been connected to the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Treasury, Customs, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Defense, and the National Medicine Directorate.

Read more about customs regulations and rules of origin certification under CAFTA-DR