World Travel Guide > Guides > North America > El Salvador

Money and duty free for El Salvador

Currency and Money

Currency information

US Dollar (USD; symbol US$) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of US$100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1. Coins are in denominations of US$1, and 50, 25, 10, 5 and 1 cents.

Note: US Dollars were introduced as dual currency in 2001 and have now completely replaced the Colón. Don’t carry bills higher than $20 as you will struggle to get them accepted in many bars, restaurants and shops. You can usually change larger bills in hotels, or of course in banks.

Credit cards

Of the major credit cards, Visa is most widely accepted, then Mastercard and then American Express. Diners Club has more limited use. UK travellers with chip and pin cards will typically be expected to sign a slip after their card is swiped. Beware of ‘card skimming’ (cloning using a hidden machine), particularly in out of the way or rough-and-ready establishments, and try not to let your credit card out of your sight. Keep all receipts, at least until you have returned home and checked your bank and credit statements for any irregularities.


There are bank ATMs in all major cities as well as in shopping malls and service stations. The same is now true of most beach upmarket beach resorts, but access is limited in smaller towns and villages. Avoid using ATMs in small shops where fees may be exorbitant, and machines can be poorly maintained leading to card loss. Most ATMs in major locations now accept Mastercard/Cirrus as well as Visa/Plus cards. Take care to hide your PIN number when using machines and be aware that there is a small risk you could be followed after using an ATM.

Travellers cheques

These may be cashed at any bank or hotel on production of a passport.

Banking hours

Generally Mon-Fri 0900-1300 and 1345-1700; Sat 0900-1300 (limited service).

Note: Most banks are closed for balancing the books on 29-30 Jun and 30-31 Dec. These dates may vary for individual banks.

Currency restrictions

There are no restrictions on the import or export of local or foreign currency. However, amounts exceeding US$10,000 or equivalent must be declared upon arrival.

Currency exchange

Visitors are advised to change currency only at banks and official bureaux de change. Visitors are advised not to bring UK sterling currency to El Salvador as this is difficult to exchange.

El Salvador duty free


The following goods may be imported into El Salvador by travellers over the age of 18 without incurring customs duty:

• 500g of tobacco in any form.
• 5L of alcoholic beverages.
• 2kg of sweets.
• Goods to the value of US$500.

Banned Imports

Firearms, explosives, ammunitions and other weapons except with a special Ministry of Defence permit.

There are restrictions on the import of fruit, vegetables, plants and animals and meat products. Ham and sausage are only allowed if sterilised by heat, boneless and hermetically canned.

Banned Exports

Firearms and ammunition.

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