El Salvador - Country Commercial Guide
Standards for Trade

Describes standards, identifies the national standards, accreditation bodies, and lists the national testing organization(s) and conformity assessment bodies.

Last published date: 2021-11-05


El Salvador is a “standards taker” and not a “standards maker.” Many products made in the U.S. already meet El Salvador’s standards.  The main area of difference is items for human consumption, such as pharmaceuticals and food.  In El Salvador, registration and labeling requirements for these cases require U.S. exporters to follow strict local guidelines.

The United States actively serves as a resource to assist El Salvador in developing or streamlining standards.  The objectives of Chapter 7 (Technical Barriers to Trade) in the CAFTA-DR agreement are to increase and facilitate trade through improvement to the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) agreement, eliminate unnecessary barriers, and enhance bilateral cooperation.  Read more on Technical Barriers to Trade under CAFTA-DR.


The Salvadoran Standardization Organization (OSN) and the Salvadoran Technical Regulation Organization (OSARTEC) are responsible for standards in El Salvador.  Both institutions fall under the National Quality Council which was created in 2011 with the approval of the Quality Salvadoran System Law.

The Quality Salvadoran System Law regulates the study, development, and application of standards; accreditation, technical regulation, and metrology; develops the capacity of professionals; and strengthens the material, financial, and human resources of the entities responsible for quality topics in the country. 

The head of the Quality Salvadoran System is the Quality National Council, which includes four specialized organizations: the Salvadoran Standardization Organization (OSN), Salvadoran Technical Regulation Organization (OSARTEC), Salvadoran Accreditation Organization (OSA); and Metrology Investigation Center (CIM).  In addition, there is the Administrative Office of the Salvadoran Quality System (OAC).

The OSN is responsible for:

  • Drafting, updating, adopting, and disseminating standards that seek the improvement of the quality of the products, processes, and services; and coordinating the drafting, adoption, and adjustment of standards through technical committees.
  • Contributing to and participating in the development of national and international standards.
  • Developing a national standards program that will be approved by the Quality National Council.
  • Promoting the creation of standards technical committees and sub-committees for the development of standards.
  • Representing El Salvador in regional or international standard organizations.
  • Maintaining, updating, and making available for the public a database of standards implemented in the drafting process in El Salvador.
  • Enforcing the application of technical standards in all sectors.

The OSARTEC is responsible for:

  • Observing and complying with international guidelines and commitments of El Salvador on technical regulations
  • Submitting comments from public or international consultations to the appropriate institution.
  • Being aware of the annual plan on technical regulations of the different institutions.
  • Verifying that all technical regulations go through a public or international consultation.
  • Keeping an updated database of Salvadoran technical regulations approved or in process.
  • Informing the WTO of any technical trade barrier and/or sanitary or phytosanitary technical regulation projects.
  • Acting as the coordinator and point of contact in El Salvador at the CODEX Alimentarius Commission or any other international organization.

The CIM is responsible for:

  • Acting as the scientific, industrial, and legal metrology in El Salvador.
  • Performing international functions assigned to the National Metrology Institute
  • Organizing a national metrology system according to the International System of Units.
  • Calibrating scales, volumes, and temperatures.

El Salvador is a member of the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement) and has adopted the Code of Good Practice annexed to the TBT Agreement. 

There are two types of standards in Salvadoran legislation:  Mandatory Salvadoran Standards (NSO), known as Technical Regulations and recommended Salvadoran Standards (NSR), known as Technical Standards.  NSOs are mandatory standards, primarily for products affecting human conditions and are based on international, regional, or foreign standards.  NSRs are recommended standards that follow ISO standards and are not independently created by the government of El Salvador. NSOs include the following standards: The International System of Units, standards relating to materials, procedures, products, and services that may affect human life, standards on the safety and integrity of other live organisms, environmental protection standards, product registration, labeling, manufacturing practices and standards considered by the government to be relevant to the economy or in the public interest.  The NSR process includes national consultation and only needs approval by the OSN Directive Commission.

Committees adopt international standards; consequently, local standards organizations are more “takers” than “makers.”  ISO is the first reference used; others, including Pan-American Commission on Technical Standards (COPANT) and CODEX Alimentarius Commission, are also consulted.  El Salvador has an agreement with the American Standards Testing and Materials (ASTM) and, since 2007, has a memorandum of understanding with the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) to share information on standards.  Representatives of related organizations in El Salvador have received training from the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST). 

Testing, Inspection and Certification

The process of product certification requires the establishment of a Certification Technical Committee, which includes participation or representatives of the manufacturing sector, government, consumers, and academia.  Product certification programs are in accordance with international standards/ISO certification process. For additional information, please visit the ISO/IEC 65 Guide

Publication of Technical Regulations

Proposed Central America Technical Regulations (RTCA’s) are published in major newspapers. The WTO and Central American Secretaries for Economic Integration are notified.  However, notifications are not submitted in a timely manner. Final RTCA’s are published in the Official Journal (Diario Oficial).  The formation of standards drafting committees is announced in newspapers for interested parties to participate. 

The Improvement Regulatory Law (IRL) entered into force in El Salvador in April 2019. The law seeks to develop clear rules, procedures, and simplified services; and will require government institutions to submit a regulatory agenda the first quarter of every year to the Regulatory Improvement Organism (OMR), regulatory entity within the President of El Salvador Office. The implementation of the law is gradual, the institutions under the executive branch responsible to publish their Regulatory Agenda started in 2020. As of August 2021, 12 institutions have submitted their Regulatory Agenda, which aim to amend 194 regulations (40% laws, 26% regulations, 7% Customs administrative dispositions, 7% agreements, 4% guidelines, 3% Salvadoran technical regulations, and 13% other).  RTCA’s are excluded from the IRL as they fall within the exceptions stated in Art. 7, which includes Free Trade Agreements, international agreements, and international conventions. Nevertheless, Salvadoran technical regulations are subject to the new IRL.  RTCA’s are excluded from the IRL as they fall within the exceptions stated in Art. 7, which includes Free Trade Agreements, international agreements, and international conventions. Nevertheless, Salvadoran technical regulations are subject to the new IRL.   

OMR, along with the Institute for Access to Public Information, has launched a public notice and comment mechanism for proposed regulatory changes.  The notice and comment mechanism remains voluntary for government ministries. 

The Legislative Assembly does not publish draft legislation on its website and does not have a standardized means of providing notice and soliciting comments on pending legislation. 

NIST Notify U.S. Service

Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are required under the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement) to notify to the WTO proposed technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures that could affect trade. Notify U. S. is a free, web-based e-mail registration service that captures and makes available for review and comment key information on draft regulations and conformity assessment procedures. Users receive customized e-mail alerts when new notifications are added by selected country or countries and industry sector(s) of interest and can also request full texts of regulations. This service and its associated web site are managed and operated by the USA WTO TBT Inquiry Point housed within the National Institute of Standards and Technology, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.