El Salvador - Country Commercial Guide
Safety and Security Equipment

This is a top sector for El Salvador includes overview and trade data

Last published date: 2022-12-29


The United States is the primary source of imported firearms and ammunition (HS code 93) in El Salvador, with 57% of the imports market share in 2021, followed by China with 11%. El Salvador has no significant local production of safety and security equipment. While there are no import duties for most security equipment and devices, they are subject to a 13% value-added tax. To do business in El Salvador, a U.S. company should either register an office or work with a local agent to navigate the procurement process and follow up on public and private opportunities. Additionally, the Arms, Ammunition, and Explosive Law of El Salvador requires the Ministry of Defense’s prior authorization to import firearms, pepper sprays, chlorobenzylidenemalononitrile (CS) and chloroacetophenone (CN) tear gas, explosives, electrical shock protection devices, and similar products. Also, the Ministry of Justice and Security must authorize private security companies and individuals to provide alarm monitoring, security, private investigations, transportation of valuables, and guard services.

The Ministry of Defense is responsible for national security, and the National Civilian Police is responsible for maintaining public safety; however, in 2019, a decree authorized military involvement in police duties to combat gang violence, organized crime, narcotics trafficking, and assisting with border security.

Safety and security equipment demand in El Salvador offers a steady market for U.S. exporters. Even though crime rates in El Salvador have been dropping, the country is still widely viewed as insecure by its citizens, and danger persists from crimes such as extortion, assault, and robbery.

The government of El Salvador’s plan to mitigate crime and violence has included decisions to improve security and efficiency in the criminal justice sector, such as the integration of a monitoring and communication system, acquisition of patrol vehicles, ballistic equipment, and uniforms for police and armed forces, screening technology for prisons and airports, among others. Although the most significant challenge is the lack of resources to fund security plans, acquiring technology, infrastructure, and police equipment is commonly financed through loans from international financing institutions and international cooperation.

Private sector expenditures in safety and security are concentrated mainly on guards, perimeter surveillance, and asset protection. It is common practice to hire services from private security companies for commercial and residential security, including guards, armed security patrol, and GPS’ tracked vehicles.

Safety and Security Market Size, million USD





2022 estimated

Total Local Production





Total Exports





Total Imports





Imports from the US





Total Market Size





Exchange Rates





(Total market size = (total local production + imports) - exports)

Units: USD millions

Source: Central Reserve Bank of El Salvador, Trade data on products classified under HS code 85 and HS 93.

Leading Sub-Sectors

  • Forensics Equipment
  • Police Equipment
  • Prison Equipment
  • Personal Protective Equipment – ballistic protective equipment
  • Access control systems
  • Scanning and Detection Systems
  • Surveillance Systems
  • Tracking and Monitoring Systems Protection


In March 2022, legislators approved a state of exception due to an increase in gang violence, followed by a law to fast-track purchases related to tactical equipment, arms, ammunition, helmets, vehicles, uniforms, and other necessary acquisitions in April 2022. The state of exception is part of an aggressive plan to combat gang activity for which the government allocated an additional USD 80 million to the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Justice and Public Security in 2022. The increased patrolling and arrests have spurred imports of bulletproof vests and helmets, boots, uniforms, and protection gear. As a result of the increase in arrests, the government fast-tracked the design, construction, equipment and administration for a new high-security prison with a 40,000 inmate capacity. It is anticipated that the Ministry of Justice and Public Security will purchase surveillance technology and other prison equipment and supplies within the next year.

The Innovation Secretariat is implementing the National Cybersecurity Policy, and the Cybersecurity Law is expected to be presented to the Salvadoran Congress before the end of 2022, creating future areas of opportunity in the cybersecurity ecosystem.


  • Ministry of Justice and Security
  • National Police
  • Ministry of Defense
  • Ministry of Public Works
  • El Salvador Central Bank Trade Data
  • El Salvador procurement platform, Comprasal

Interested parties may contact Commercial Specialist Maria Rivera at maria.rivera@trade.gov.