El Salvador - Country Commercial Guide
Prohibited & Restricted Imports

Includes a list of goods that are prohibited from being exported to the country or are otherwise restricted.

Last published date: 2021-11-05

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 that also controls sales to public and private security companies.

Cocaine, opiates, and barbiturates may be imported solely for medical use, with the permission of the National Directorate of Medicines (NDM).  The NDM 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. Complete list of products or substances controlled by the NDM.

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 or 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 contrary to ethics and 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, but 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 with the appropriate government regulatory agency for information on exemptions or special permits.

Some goods are subject to a “limited import prohibition”: 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.