Category Archives: El Salvador & Honduras

Northward-Bound Borders Collection: Honduras to El Salvador

Border:  Honduras to El Salvador

When: June 14, 2016

Where: El Amatillo

Time Frame: 2.5 hours (mid-day)


  • Park in front of immigration.
  • Exit out of Honduras. Free.
  • Aduanas/Customs is across the hall.
  • Documents Required (no copies):
    • Passport
    • Registration
    • Rainbow receipt received on import into Honduras

** Get ready, the El Salvador side is exceptionally more convoluted.

  • Drive through to El Salvador over a small bridge. 
  • Drive through into immigration building (righthand side). Entry is Free, no stamp given.
  • Official will pull you over to just in front of this building to review documents and protocols.
  • Documents Required (no copies):
    • Passport
    • Registration
    • License
  • Any passengers in your vehicle will need to exit and wait in the handy “waiting booth”.  Jessica was hit on by the military man. Then the owner of the vehicle will be directed to drive it into a building on the left (out of sight) for the vehicle version of a cavity search.
  • Drive the vehicle onto position over a large magnet and rollers. Leave the car running and in neutral. Exit vehicle, as directed.
  • They will turn on the x-ray machine, and slowly pull the vehicle through the machine.
  • Pick up your passengers and drive! Nearly 7 kms to the customs office. There is a customs checkpoint, so you cannot miss it. Official will direct you to turn left.
  • At this point, you will enter into a parking lot filled with only transport trucks. Drive to the second section of the lot past the little office. Park beside the office, but ignore this office for now.
  • Go to the largest and farthest building, used to inspect trucks & cargo. The office is located on the platform. Lots of people running around wearing the official burgundy La Coste pollo shirts can direct you.
  • Officials will ask if you want a temporary import (longer stay) or a transit permit (lasts 24 hours). We opted for the transit permit (free).
  • Fill out the permit form. Only about 50% applies to tourists. You will need to give a specific border crossing by which you will leave the following day then actually exit through that border. Some of the Spanish is a bit complicated (mainly due to the fact its for cargo carriers, not tourists) ask for assistance if needed.
  • Documents Required (1x copy needed of everything):
    • Passport
    • License
    • Registration
  • They held copies and originals for approximately 30-45 minutes in the office. We were directed to wait by our vehicle. Patience. Pee behind trucks if needed.
  • Eventually, they arrive with all documents and inspects the vehicle (including VIN). Once inspected, he hands all paperwork over to the little office you are parked by.
  • Wait.
  • Receive all documents and your Transit Permit. The permit will look pretty blank (because you are not a transport truck) except for a fancy sticker.
  • Drive out and back to the highway.
  • Make two copies of your stickered permit at the copy shop located at the intersection with the highway. You’ll need these on exit.


  • Again, we were warned about these borders but had absolutely no issue. Besides a bit of confusion. No fixers. No scams.
  • Border official advised us to gas up at the first gas station (located after the border, but before customs). He also advised us to drive as far as we could, past San Salvador for security reasons. He said “Do not stop for anyone”. Maybe he was just being extra precaution, but we thought we would mention it.
  • If you are using the 24 hour transit permit, plan your route in advance. You need to exit El Salvador at the border indicated on the permit. Also, we advise to stay in San Miguel for the night if crossing anytime after early morning. Our progress through the country was pretty slow due to traffic, road conditions etc., and we didn’t make it as far as expected. There are no hotels or known camping (iOverlander) between San Miguel and San Vicente on the Pan American. Auto-Hotels only began popping up around the exit to San Vicente and there was absolutely no safe hotels in San Vicente (don’t waste your time looking).