El Salvador - Country Commercial Guide
Prohibited & Restricted Imports
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Imports of certain high-caliber firearms are prohibited. Arms for personal defense or hunting may be imported but are strictly controlled by the police and Ministry of Defense, based on a special law regulating sales to public and private security companies.

Some narcotics, such as cocaine, opiates, and barbiturates, may be imported solely for medical use with the permission of the National Directorate of Medicines (DNM), which controls the sale of these substances to the public. Tranquilizers, sedatives, anti-depressants, and certain antibiotics were recently added to the list of prescription medicines. A complete list of controlled drugs and substances is available on the DNM website.

Items that are prohibited by the Rules of Application and Interpretation of the Central American Importation Tariff Decree are:

  • Books, booklets, emblems, posters, and other articles of a subversive character of doctrines contrary to the established political, economic, and social order.
  • Figures, statues, books, booklets, almanacs, magazines, engraved or lithographed articles, newspapers, lithographs, stamps, photographs, and cards of an obscene nature or any other obscene articles.
  • Movies that are not ethical or of good behavior.
  • Medications or equipment used to induce abortions.
  • Gambling machines and tables, roulette wheels, and any other items or articles used for gambling are not prohibited. Still, they are subject to authorization by the Ministry of Finance and local municipalities.
  • Opium with less than 9% morphine, scraps and opium ash, and any material used for smoking these products.
  • Non-stamped paper for cigarettes, white or colored in rolls, spools, booklets, or small tubes.
  • Machines and tools for making coins.
  • Counterfeited coins and bills.
  • Plain silver coins of less than 0.90 purity.
  • Tokens of any metal or alloy that may be used as substitutes for legal coins.

Anyone considering importing these items should consult the appropriate government regulatory agency for information on exemptions or special permits.

Some goods are subject to a “limited import prohibition”, where only the government can import these goods. They include military airplanes and ships, gas masks for military use, potassium nitrate, stamped paper for making cigarettes, postage stamps, and nickel coins for legal circulation.