Basic information


Outline of the system

As a general rule, the importation of products does not require import licences; however, there are some products that require permits, authorizations, certificates and/or approval for importation, for reasons of public safety, animal or plant health, or environmental protection.

El Salvador has the Import and Export Processing Centre (CIEX El Salvador) of the Central Reserve Bank, Import Section, which is the body responsible for centralizing, streamlining and simplifying import and export procedures.

Interested parties can contact the Centre by email:; or telephone: (+503) 2281 8000. Some import procedures are available online at:

A process to improve governance is under way to reduce response times for products requiring import authorization, provided the required documentation is complete and submitted in advance of importation.

Authorization is required to import or produce potable and non potable ethyl or industrial alcohols, and non potable methanol, isopropyl, butyl or other non potable alcohols. These are authorized through annual quotas, the aim being to regulate the operational, health registration, quality control, tax payment and consumer guarantee aspects of production, processing and sale.


Product coverage


Nature of licensing



If Automatic, administrative purpose



If Non-Automatic, description of the notified Non-Automatic Licensing regime


Products under restriction as to the quantity or value of imports

The purpose of these licences is not to limit the quantity or value of imports, but rather to verify compliance with the quality requirements indicated in paragraph 1.


Questions for products under restriction as to the quantity or value of imports

Not applicable, as this product is not subject to quantitative restrictions.


The system applies to products originating from which country?

It applies to all countries, irrespective of the origin of the products.


Expected duration of licensing procedure

Eligibility of applicants


Is there a system of registration of persons or firms permitted to engage in importation?


What persons or firms are eligible to apply for a licence?

All persons/importers have the right to apply for import authorizations, whether natural or legal persons, including foreign nationals with a residence permit.


Is there a registration fee?


Is there a published list of authorized importers?

Contact point for information on eligibility










E-mail address




Contact officer

Submission of an application


Administrative body(ies) for submission of an application

Documentation requirements


What information is required in applications?

Importers must comply with the requirements set out in ANNEX I (a).

ANEXO 1 (a) Requisitos para obtener registro usuario de alcoholes.pdf

What documents is the importer required to supply with the application?

Window of submission of an application


How far in advance of importation must application for a licence be made?

Registration procedures for companies importing or producing alcohol must be sought from the Alcohol and Tobacco Unit of the Ministry of Health (MINSAL) before the product arrives for clearance.


Are there any limitations as to the period of the year during which application for licence can be made? If so, explain

There are no limitations on the date of submission of an application.

More details of the procedure for applying for authorization to import or produce alcohol can be found on the following websites:


Issuing the license


Can a licence be granted immediately on request?

Generally speaking, import permits are granted promptly, provided all documentation is complete.


Can licences be obtained within a shorter time-limit or for goods arriving at the port without a licence

Meanwhile, applications for the importation of potable and non potable alcohol are made through the Import and Export Processing Centre (CIEX El Salvador), Import Section, of the Central Reserve Bank (BCR). Thereafter, the allocation and authorization of the ethyl alcohol quota to be imported or purchased must be requested from the Tax Obligations Oversight Division attached to the Directorate General of Internal Revenue of the Ministry of Finance.


Which administrative body is responsible for approving application of licences?

For this product, the import authorization is only processed by a single administrative organ.


Must the applications be passed on to other organs for visa, note or approval?


Are there any other conditions attached to the issue of a licence?

No, these products are not subject to quantitative restrictions.
There are no other conditions.

Fees and other administrative charges


Is there any licensing fee or administrative charge?

Some licences or permits are free of charge.


What is the amount of the fee or charge?

Fees are charged for others and details are provided for each product.


Is there any deposit or advance payment required associated with the issue of licences?

No, where the licence or permit requires payment, this is made at the time of issue of the permit. No advance payment is required.


Amount or rate?


Is it refundable?


What is the period of retention?


What is the purpose of this requirement?

Refusal of an application


Under what circumstances may an application for a licence be refused other than failure to meet the ordinary criteria?

Authorization is refused only when the established legal requirements are not met.


Are the reasons for any refusal given to applicants?

Applicants are informed in writing.


Have applicants a right of appeal in the event of refusal to issue a licence?

In El Salvador, the Law on Administrative Procedures regulates the administrative review procedure for settling disputes when authorization is refused.


If so, to what bodies and under what procedures?

Once administrative remedies have been exhausted, there is also the option of filing a claim before the administrative tribunals, which have jurisdiction to verify the legality and settle any administrative disputes that might arise between the public administration and individuals.



Are there any limitations as to the period of year during which importation may be made?


What documents are required upon actual importation?

In addition, they must complete form 1 for registration/renewal in order to import alcohol; form 2 for the importation of ethyl alcohol and other alcohols; and form 3 for an inventory of ethyl alcohol, set out in ANNEXES I (b), (c) and (d), respectively.

ANEXO 1 (b) Formulario 1 - Solicitud de registro-renovación para producir, importar alcohol.pdfANEXO 1 (c) Formulario 2 - Importación de alcohol etílico y otros.pdfANEXO 1 (d) Formulario 3 - Inventario de alcohol etílico.pdf

Are there any other administrative procedures, apart from import licensing and similar administrative procedures, required prior to importation?

To submit an application to the Directorate General of Internal Revenue of the Ministry of Finance for the allocation and authorization of the ethyl alcohol quota to be imported or purchased; the quantity requested must be the same as that previously authorized by MINSAL. This application is set out in ANNEX I (e).

Instructions are available for completing the forms related to these procedures.

ANEXO 1 (e) Solicitud de asignación y autorización de cuota de alcohol etílico a importar.pdf

Conditions of licensing


What is the period of validity of a licence? Can the validity be extended? How?

Pursuant to Article 45 B of the Law regulating the production and sale of alcohol and alcoholic beverages, and the amendment thereto, importers, industrial and pharmaceutical companies or laboratories using ethyl alcohol must apply in January of each year to the Directorate General of Internal Revenue of the Ministry of Finance for authorization of the respective alcohol quota to be imported or purchased during the year. This authorization must be submitted at the time of importation or purchase of the product, as the case may be.


Is there any penalty for the non-utilization of a licence or a portion of a licence?

No penalty is imposed for the non utilization of import licences or permits.


Are licences transferable between importers? If so, are any limitations or conditions attached to such transfer?

Import licences or permits are non transferable, as they specify the particulars of the importer and the specific product/quantities to be imported.

Foreign Exchange


Is foreign exchange automatically provided by the banking authorities for goods to be imported?

The legal currency in circulation in El Salvador is the United States dollar and the exchange rate is set by the Central Reserve Bank and has been fixed since 2001.


Is a licence required as a condition to obtaining foreign exchange?


Is foreign exchange always available to cover licences issued?


What formalities must be fulfilled for obtaining the foreign exchange?