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Renewal Of 90-Day Visa and Temporary Import Permit

By Sue Richards last modified Sep 14, 2010 09:19 AM

Published: 2010-09-14 09:19:39
Countries: El Salvador

Information provided by Michael and Susan Clarke
SV Calypso
Posted 22 August 2010

We are the first cruisers from the El Salvador Rally to go through the renewal process along with our friends on SV Rhumb Line and SV Trumpeter. As you have undoubtedly heard, there are many rumors regarding the renewal process and the 10% import duty. We elected to follow the official renewal process as directed by Immigration, Customs, Port Authority and the Ministry of Taxes. Below is the step by step process that we had to go through. Further information can be found on our website

Renewal Of 90-Day Visa and Temporary Import Permit For Cruisers In El Salvador

As far as we know, we were the first cruisers to go through the renewal process since the implementation of the 10% Import Duty in December of 2009. We are all U.S.A. Documented Vessels that sailed into El Salvador from Mexico on May 3, 2010.

Upon arrival at Bahia del Sol Marina, Immigration and the Port Authority greeted us. All check-in formalities were handled quickly and effortlessly at the dock. Our intentions are to remain in El Salvador throughout the hurricane season, take some inland tours in Central America, and visit friends/family in the USA.

There are conflicting rumors floating about regarding the 90-day extension procedures and 10% Import Duty. The rumors could ultimately prevail, but until we see it in writing and are told differently by the officials, we are following the renewal process requested by the officials we talked to. The four government offices that provided all the information contained herein are, Ministerio de Hacienda (Ministry of Taxes), Immigracion (Visa), General de Aduanas (Customs), and Autoridad Maritima Potuaria (Port Authority).

Although we believe this information is accurate as of July 28-29, 2010, we believe it is the responsibility of each Owner/Captain to do their own research regarding the rules and regulations that affect their vessel and crew, especially in foreign ports of call. To avoid any misinformation, we will not include any of the rumors.


Vessel Documentation
Letter of introduction from you (in Spanish)
Letter of good standing from Bahia del Sol (in Spanish)
Receipt you received from Port Authority upon arrival
Temporary Import Permit from Port Authority
Cash and Major Credit Card
Change of clothes for an overnight stay (recommended)

*Note: We do not speak Spanish. The letter of introduction is addressed to Immigration and Customs in Spanish. It simply introduces us as tourists who wish to extend our 90-day Visa and 90-day Temporary Import Permit. If you are fluent in Spanish, this letter is not necessary. The letter of good standing is necessary. It assures the authorities that your bills are paid and you are not in trouble with the locals. Both letters are saved on Claudia’s PC at the registration desk of Bahia del Sol.


10% Import Duty: FYI. No need to stop here. When you sail into El Salvador, you are given a 90-day Visa upon arrival. Your vessel has 60 days as a foreign flagged vessel entering El Salvador. Your vessel is allowed to “piggy back” on your 90-day Visa and in effect receives a 90-day Temporary Import Permit. If you (owner of vessel) elect to leave El Salvador, i.e. a flight back to the U.S.A., you are no longer considered a tourist and a “60-day clock” begins to tick. If you exceed 60-days out of El Salvador, you potentially run the risk of being responsible for an Import Duty based upon 10% of the value of your vessel. If the boat has more than one registered owner, as long as one owner remains in El Salvador with the boat, the “60 day clock” will not start. Travel between Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador will not start the “60 day clock”. We are unsure at this time, whether your boat is allowed a total of 270 or 365 days in El Salvador before a 10% import duty is due. Either way, it is long enough for the duration of the hurricane season. If you fail to obtain an extension on either your Visa or Temporary Import Permit, a 10% Import Tax is due. You must satisfy both requirements.

Our thanks to Maria Elena Rivera Cañas, Supervisor at the Ministry of Taxes and friends from the Marriott Hotel staff, who accompanied us on their personal time off, to translate on our behalf.

9 calle poniente y final 15 Avenida Norte,
Centro de Gobierno
Phone 2213-7700
Hours 1000-1530
Located between PGR and Gobernacion

You must go to the Immigration Office in San Salvador first. This is the first step in the renewal process as the initial 90-day visa is nearing the expiration date. You may apply for renewal no earlier than one week before the expiration date indicated on your visa. The Immigration Officer at the Bahia del Sol Marina does not have the ability or authority to extend your visa.

  1. Upon entering the Immigration building, any bags or backpacks will be inspected. Laptops are permitted. (I was not allowed into the US Embassy because of my laptop.) Proceed to the information desk. Present the employee with your letter of introduction. You will be required to surrender some form of ID (Driver’s License) in exchange for a Visitor’s Pass. You will be directed to an office on the ground floor with a sign above the door titled “Visas Multiples Y Prorroga De Turistas”.
  2. You will be met by the Immigration Officer in the hallway. Do not enter the office. Present your letter of introduction, letter of good standing from Bahia del Sol, and Passport.
  3. Re-emphasize what your letters state. You are requesting a 90-day extension because it would be too dangerous to leave port due to the frequent storms during the hurricane season.
  4. After conferring with their supervisor, you will be asked to complete forms F-19, F-19-01, and F-19-02 (in the hallway at a table). This is the application process for extending your visa and is printed in Spanish/English.
  5. After completion of the forms, you will be directed to a payment window on the ground floor. The fee is $25.00 USD. You may pay by credit card or cash. There is an ATM on the premises, but we could not get any monies out of it.
  6. On the same floor, proceed to the counter with a sign that reads “Photocopies.” Hand the employee your Passport and he/she will make copies of all the stamped pages of your Passport. Also make copies of your letter of introduction, the letter of good standing from Bahia del Sol, and your vessel’s Temporary Import Permit. The cost is $0.20 per copy.
  7. Proceed out the door (turn in your visitor’s pass) and across the street to one of the numerous photo stands on the sidewalk. Have your picture taken and wait approximately 10 minutes for them to develop 3 passport photos. You will only need one. Save the other two photos for future renewals). The total cost is $6.00 USD
  8. Go back inside the building and get your visitor’s pass again.
  9. Proceed to office that you initially went to, “Visas Multiples Y Prorroga De Turistas”.
  10. Present the Immigration Officer with: • Photo copy of the letter of introduction
    • Photo copy of the letter from Bahia del Sol indicating that you are in good standing
    • Photo copy of Temporary Import Permit
    • Photo copies of Passport
    • Passport photo
  11. Your passport will be stamped with a 90 day extension. You are done here. Examine the date on your Visa and make sure that you have 90 days before leaving.
  12. Turn in your visitor’s pass on your way out and retrieve your ID.

The time it took to process 3 passports together (Calypso, Rhumb Line, Trumpeter) was approximately 2 hours 15 minutes. The taxi fare is $7.00 USD from Shaw’s (coffee shop).

NOTE: If you did any inland tours to Guatemala, Honduras, or Nicaragua your passport was stamped upon re-entry to El Salvador giving you a new 90-day visa from that date. This will be an issue in the beginning, as you may not apply for an extension earlier than 1 week before the expiration date of your visa. Furthermore you are normally not allowed more than one extension within the calendar year and, your visa and Temporary Import Permit are no longer in synch. This can be resolved after you stress the importance of a 90-day extension due to the hurricane season, which prompts the Immigration Officer to confer with his/her Supervisor.

If you are returning from the USA or Canada (via air carrier) your visa has already been renewed by Immigration at the airport. All you need to do is present you newly issued visa to the Immigration Officer at the Bahia del Sol Marina and advise him/her that you have returned. This stops the “60 day clock” on your vessel. Your Temporary Import Permit is not affected and will remain valid until it’s expiration date.

If circumstances require a second extension of your visa within the same calendar year, you will more than likely receive one, but may not necessarily receive 90 days.

The two Immigration Officers that helped us were extremely helpful and patient. They spoke English well and provided their e-mail addresses for us and other cruisers: [email protected] Tel. no. 2213-7738
[email protected] Tel. no. 2213-7738

Direccion General de Aduanas
Km. 11 ½ Carretera Panamericana, San Bartolo, Ilopango
Phone 2221-0334
Hours 0800-1530
Located near the old airport of Ilopango (ES Air Force)

This is your second stop in San Salvador. You are notifying Customs of your request to leave your vessel in El Salvador for another 90 days without incurring any tax liabilities.

  1. Upon arrival present the guard at the gate your letter of introduction. He will direct you to a guard shack where you will again surrender some form of ID (Driver’s License) to another guard in exchange for a visitor’s pass. You will now be permitted through the gate. Any bags or backpacks will be inspected. The serial number of your laptop will be recorded.
  2. Proceed to the large building beyond the gate. Upon entry present the employee at the information desk with your letter of introduction. You will be directed to the Division of Operations Office on the ground floor.
  3. We were greeted by the Chief of the Division of Operations, Gilberto Suria. You may be received by one of his assistants.
  4. Present your letter of introduction, letter of good standing from Bahia del Sol, Passport, Vessel Documentation, Temporary Import Permit, and receipt from the Port Authority (initial payment for permit). Customs will make all the necessary copies.
  5. You will need to provide information for a petition addressed to the Director of Customs outlining your request. The assistant to the Chief of Operations has a copy of the petition we used, saved in his PC and will assist you in completing your petition. (This is a petition composed by Customs with specific wording. Do not make your own.)
  6. Once you have completed the petition you will be directed to another part of the building. The petition and a copy will be stamped and entered into a database. You will receive a stamped copy of the petition and transmittal cover sheet that contains a reference number, which allows the Port Authority to verify all the documents you have submitted to customs. Make sure that you do not leave Customs without this cover sheet/reference number.
  7. Turn in your visitor’s pass on the way out and retrieve your ID.

This entire process for three vessels took approximately 4 hours. It might be shorter for you as we were the first cruisers making this request. As with Immigration, the Chief of the Division of Operations, Gilberto Suria and his staff were extremely helpful and spoke English well. The Chief even provided us with his personal cell phone number, for emergencies.

Taxi fare will be between $10-15. It is a long trip to Customs from Immigration. You will have difficulty finding a taxi to take you back because of the distance. Take any bus headed back in the general direction from whence you came. When you’re close enough or the bus starts to go in the wrong direction, get off and take another bus or grab a taxi for the remainder of the trip. Use caution/common sense when you get off the bus, as you will be going through some rough neighborhoods. It took approximately 1½ hours to return to Myers Hotel.

Autoridad Maritima Portuaria
Boulevard Sergio de Mello #508,
Colonia San Benito, San Salvador
Phone 2530-2222
Hours 0800-1600
Located near the Mexican Embassy

This is your final stop in San Salvador. Probably day 2 of your quest.

  1. Present your letter of introduction and Temporary Import Permit to the receptionist at the front desk.
  2. You will be directed to a room and requested to provide: • Passport
    • Temporary Import Permit
    • Receipt from Port Authority (for the permit)
    • Vessel Documentation
    • Letter of introduction
    • Letter of good standing from Bahia del Sol
    • Petition to the Director of Customs

Port Authority will make all necessary copies. They will return all the originals that you presented.

  1. Complete a one-page form regarding vessel information. It is in Spanish, but the Port Authority will assist you in its completion.
  2. You will be directed to a payment desk where you can pay by major credit card or cash. The fee will be $90.00 ($1 per day) for a 90 day Temporary Import Permit.
  3. You will receive a receipt from the Port Authority. Normally you will not receive the Temporary Import Permit on the same day. If you are leaving the country within several days let them know, and they will do their best to expedite the process. Otherwise, you can ask if one of the Port Authority Officers can deliver it to Bahia del Sol Marina.

This process took approximately 1½ hours. As with all the other officials we encountered, everyone at the Port Authority was extremely helpful and polite. The Port Authority Supervisor that led us through the entire process was Delmy Cecilia Castaneda and spoke English very well. I believe her official title is Supervisor of Salvadorian Maritime Registration.


Take Bus #495/San Salvador in front of Bahia del Sol Marina @ 0700 hrs. San Salvador is printed on the windshield of the bus. It’s $1.25 USD direct/no transfers to the bus terminal in San Marcos (the last direct bus is at 0800 hrs). The trip takes about 1 hour and 30 min. Step outside the bus terminal and take a cab. Ask how much before getting in. It costs $6.00 USD to go to the Multi Plaza Mall (20 min ride) where you can get some breakfast/coffee/wifi (lower level of mall) before starting on your quest. Once you’re in San Salvador taxi fares should be around $4-8 anywhere (remember to ask first).

Note: There are other buses after 0800 hrs that requires a transfer to another bus on another highway.


On your return trip ask the taxi driver to take you to the bus terminal (pronounced boos ter-mee-nahl) in San Marcos. The last bus going to Costa del Sol departs at 1600 hrs (that’s 4 pm for you landlubbers). He may not trust your sense of direction and ask what bus you want to catch. Tell him Costa del Sol. Again, the taxi fare should be between $6-8 USD depending upon what part of town you are in (ask!). Once you arrive at the terminal, look above at the awning from the parking lot (watch for the backing buses). Look for the sign #495 and the bus beneath it should say Costa del Sol #495. I’ve been made aware that a different named/numbered bus may be parked under the #495 sign, which also goes directly back to Costa del Sol. Ask to be sure.

If you decide to spend the night, Myers House is a great B&B.; The price per night for a single is $30.00 USD/$40.00 for a double (off season rate). They are located at AV.MASFERRER Y 7a. C. PTE.BIS No. 5350. COL ESCALON, SAN SALVADOR. Their website is Their e-mail is [email protected]

A great place to go for breakfast or lunch is Shaw’s, which is a short walk down the hill about 3 blocks from the Myers House. They have wonderful pastries, fresh baked bread, gelato, chocolates, WIFI, and a deli. The food prices are $6 and up. Their website is

While you are in San Salvador, go to an ATM and get some cash. There are no ATMs at or near Bahia del Sol. Most of the ATMs I have been to have a $200.00 limit.

Go grocery shopping before going back to Bahia del Sol. The Multi Plaza Mall has a very good grocery store called Super Selectos located on the ground floor. Next to the Multi Plaza Mall is Hiper Paiz. It’s a disguised Wal Mart with everything from groceries, hardware, electronics, clothes, a pharmacy, etc. If you are really loaded down with groceries hire a taxi. The fares to Bahia del Sol/Costa del Sol have been $30-45. Take someone else with you and split the cost. Bahia del Sol Marina offers a personal driver for $30 on up, depending on your needs. He speaks and understands English well. You can even hire him for the entire day. Inquire with Augustine (Mgr.) at the front desk of Bahia del Sol Hotel.

Catch a movie in English at La Gran Via Mall, which is across the street from the Multi Plaza Mall. Both malls have many restaurants and sports bars to choose from. According to the Marriott Hotel (located next to La Gran Via Mall) it is safe to walk at night between the two malls. Use common sense.

If you need something for your boat, there’s Marinsa. They have a few things in stock but can order anything out of a West Marine Catalog and have it delivered to a satellite store called Barracuda, which is a short walk from Bahia del Sol. Marinsa’s address is Condominio Balam Quitze, Local 3A, Paseo General Escalon y Calle Circunvavacion a la altura de la 89 Avenida Norte. Their website is

If you need hardware supplies go to Vidri (similar to Ace Hardware). Tell the taxi driver to take you to Vidri Merliot (cerca del Trebol). There are several Vidri stores; this is one of the larger stores. If they don’t have what you need, go next door to Freund Merliot (another large hardware store). Note: When you are facing the entrance to Vidri, look to your right, down the street. There will be a traffic circle about 150 yards away. Within that circle are a Scotiabank and HSBC. If you walk to the traffic circle from Vidri and turn left at the circle, you will notice a pedestrian bridge approximately 200 feet away. Before the bridge on your left is a Mexican restaurant called “Sol Azteca”. The chicken fajita dish was great and cost $5.25 The Pilsner beers are $1.25. Next door to the restaurant is a Citibank ATM and next to that a Banco de America Central.

Stay away from the downtown area. According to the locals the daily homicide rate is in the double digits. It is unsafe, day or night.

Information provided by Tim Sowell
SV Gijima
Posted 14 September 2010

Since S/V Calypso went through the process, 10+ other boats all have renewed and more are doing it everyday with no issues. We were in the second group to go through. We had 4 boats and were processed in 3 hours - most of that time was in traffic getting across town.

The departments have been very co-operative and have rolled out the red carpet to help us through, many of us had already expired the original 90 day permit by 1 to 2 months, no issue.

We have also taken through a number of boats where their captain and owner are not in the country, as an agent has set up all the required paper work that can be filled out from remote and FEDEX back.

The process is:
1/ Have a valid renewed immigration permit, this can be renewed at the department in San Salvador, or as most of us have done we received a new 90 day permit on re entering the country at the airport after a trip away.

2/ We then took a simple letter from the captain to customs, requesting customs to extend our import permit (on the other side of town at the old airport, finding this is the most challenging part). At Customs we got 4 boats through in 20 minutes.

3/ Back to the port authority with the receipt from Customs that we have submitted the letter of request for extension. Port Authority welcomed us and processed us fast with us paying $1 a day for the extension.

As S/V Calypso outlined initially, the process had to sorted out, but they have now taken many of the boats through and it involved an afternoon.

As stated, if you are out of the country when it´s time to renew, a local agent has set up a service to walk your papers through, he also offers to drive you through if you are here, which is worth it as he knows were to go, the people, and translates for you, (compared to the taxi prices you need to do it, it is worth it).

Contact Bahia De Sol, or [email protected]
Bahia De Sol is continuing to work on moving all of the process to the marina to make it easier still. This has been approved, but is not yet a practical eventuality. We expect it will happen in the next 2 months.