top of page
  • Writer's pictureKristin

Crossing Into El Salvador by Vehicle

Updated: Mar 15, 2022

When people often think of El Salvador, tourism probably isn't the first thing to pop into their minds. Rather they might think, is it 'safe' to travel there? Let me tell you, it is absolutely safe to travel to! We have been completely blown away by what we have experienced here so far and we can't wait to discover more! We crossed into El Salvador from Guatemala at the Las Chinamas border crossing by vehicle and this was the firsthand experience we had there.

Exiting Guatemala

Upon arriving at the border we had to stop at the Guatemala border control office. They checked the back of the truck and then we had to go inside for them to check our passports and stamp us out of Guatemala. The border process is different than some other border entry points where you stay in your vehicle. Everyone who arrived at the border here, had to park their vehicle and then go inside the building.

We also had to ‘export’ the vehicle out of Guatemala. However, because we said we would be coming back to Guatemala in a couple of weeks they just temporarily exported us out of Guatemala and let us keep the original paperwork so we can re-enter easily when we return. For information on how we originally imported the vehicle into Guatemala you can check out our Guatemala Entry blog post.

1st Stop: Guatemala Immigration Office at the Las Chinamas Border Crossing
1st Stop: Guatemala Immigration Office at the Las Chinamas Border Crossing

After taking care of the items on the Guatemala side we drove about 1 km and across the bridge over the Rio Paz, which is the official country border between the two countries.

The border river between Guatemala & El Salvador Las Chinamas Border Crossing
The Rio Paz separating the countries of Guatemala and El Salvador.

Entering El Salvador

When we got to the El Salvador side of the bridge, we stayed in our vehicle as the border agents came to the vehicle to check our passports (See Note Below). While we were waiting for them to check the passports, someone came over to take all four of our temperatures and seemed to ask about vaccination status. However, we aren't quite sure why they would be asking that because as of the end of November 2021, El Salvador removed any vaccination or testing requirements for visitors. El Salvador is part of the C4 agreement, so the time here counts towards the 90 days you have in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras & Nicaragua.

NOTE: When we later returned to exit El Salvador and re-enter into Guatemala we came through the Hachadura, El Salvador/Guatemala Border Crossing. As they were checking our passports they couldn't find our entry stamp into El Salvador. We explained that at the El Salvador border we went through but just didn't stamp them. However, the stamp is required for exiting. They brought someone over to explain that we either needed go back to the Chinamas Border or pay a fine. Once finding out the fine was only $36.50 USD per adult, we opted to go with that option. We figured the issue was that the border agent who checked our passport was just the initial checkpoint. However, you must need to go inside the building. (Same one for the vehicle importation, but just on the opposite side to get stamped.) Therefore, just make sure you have your El Salvador entry stamp before departing from the border. However, even with the mix-up we found the border agents friendly and helpful.

El Salvador Border Welcome sign at Las Chinamas Border Crossing
Officially Arriving in El Salvador at the Las Chinamas Border Crossing
Importing a Vehicle to El Salvador

Once we had gotten our passport stamped we had to head to the El Salvador Immigration office building to complete the importation process. Here you needed to provide the following documents: license, registration & title. A border representative came out to check the vehicle. The process was relatively straight forward, but we did have to wait a while for this part, whereas exiting out of Guatemala was relatively quick. Once we had the official paperwork we had to go back to the border point and someone stamped it there before we were able to hit the road.

Vehicle Exportation Process: The vehicle exportation process was relatively straight forward. They came out to look at the vehicle, stamped the paperwork and cancelled the importation papers.

The El Salvador Immigration Office at Las Chamanas Border Crossing
Final Step of the Process - Importing the Vehicle at the El Salvador Immigration Office

The total time it took to exit Guatemala until we were on the road again in El Salvador was about 90 minutes & this was on a Saturday afternoon. Our first impression of El Salvador was how great the roads were! We actually saw construction crews working on new roads - some of the smoothest & nicest we have experienced so far in our road trip!

Our exit from El Salvador back to Guatemala was a bit longer because of our passport stamp mix-up, but otherwise it would have been less than an hour for the export and stamping out process.

Overall, the process to get to El Salvador was smooth and it was an added bonus that there were no costs involved. Keep your eye out for some of the amazing areas we explored in El Salvador, including Rutas de Las Flores, Santa Ana Volcano & the coastline.


bottom of page