El Salvador Travel Advice & Safety

Driving permit

To drive in El Salvador, you need both:

  • your valid Australian driver’s licence
  • a valid International Driving Permit (IDP)

You must get your IDP before leaving Australia.

Road travel

Stick to sealed roads and well-travelled paths.

Road safety and driving in El Salvador can be dangerous.

You’re 4 times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in El Salvador than in Australia.

Driving standards can change across the country. Car insurance is essential.

If you’re in an accident, call 911 for the national police or the fire brigade. Wait for the authorities to arrive before you leave.

Roads between tourist locations are usually in good or acceptable condition.

Locals sometimes steal manhole covers, leaving large holes in the road.

Roads are unsealed in isolated areas, so a 4WD vehicle is a good choice.

If you plan to drive in El Salvador:

  • check your insurance cover
  • learn local traffic laws and practices

Try not to drive at night. Lock doors, keep windows up and take safety precautions. See Safety

Unexploded weapons

In rural El Salvador, unmarked landmines and unexploded remnants of war are common. This risk increases in the Chalatenango and Morazán districts.

Adventure activities, tours and wildlife

Transport and adventure tour operators may not meet Australian safety standards, or maintain scuba diving equipment.

If you plan to do a tour or adventure activity:

  • check if your travel insurance policy covers it
  • use registered operators
  • ask about and insist on minimum safety requirements
  • always use available safety gear, such as life jackets or seatbelts

If proper safety equipment isn’t available, use another provider.


Check your insurance before using a motorcycle, quad bike or similar vehicle.

Always wear a helmet.


Use registered taxis and limousines. 

Arrange transport through your hotel, and book in advance if travelling at night.

Public transport

Public transport in El Salvador is often overcrowded and poorly maintained. This includes inter-city buses. 

Security around bus stops is poor, and robberies are common.

Avoid using public transport.

Air travel

DFAT doesn’t provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths.

Check El Salvador’s air safety profile with the Aviation Safety Network.

More information:

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