Extension of deadline for the importation of used vehicles in El Salvador

Recently, the General Directorate of Customs (DGA), under the provisions of art 440 of the Regulation of the Uniform Central American Customs Code (RECAUCA), has modified the period of stay for vehicles owned by foreign tourists, Salvadorans residing abroad, and Salvadoran students residing abroad.

Until January 15, 2024, all foreign tourists, Salvadorans residing abroad, and Salvadoran students residing abroad who entered Salvadoran territory using used vehicles and applied for authorization for the Used Vehicle Importation Regime (ARIVU) were granted a maximum stay of up to 60 calendar days.

In this regard, the General Directorate of Customs, through its Informative Bulletin No. DGA – 002- 2024, announced that this period of stay is extended for 180 calendar days for the following regimes:

    • Temporary permit for foreign tourists.
    • Temporary permit for Salvadorans residing abroad.
    • Temporary permit for Salvadoran students residing abroad.

This is directly related to the change made as of January 1, 2024, whereby, without making any modifications to the current immigration laws in Salvadoran territory, the General Directorate of Migration and Foreigners extended the length of stay granted to foreigners from 60 calendar days to 180, with the aim of further promoting tourism and investment in the country.

On the other hand, the Customs Authority has indicated that, to simplify the process, new guidelines have been issued, including the reduction of fields to be completed when filling out the form (ARIVU), keeping only the relevant information.

Upon arrival in the country, the interested party must go to the Immigration and Foreigners office to establish the period of stay for themselves; then, they must go to the corresponding Customs window, with their passport and the original vehicle registration card, or equivalent document from the country of origin. However, if the person intending to bring in the vehicle is not the owner, they must present, under article 446, first paragraph, letter a) of the RECAUCA, in addition to the original title of ownership, the original or certified copy of the authorization from the owner issued abroad, stating their consent for the interested party to enter Salvadoran territory with their vehicle, or they must present a notarized affidavit to that effect, sworn by the owner.

Notwithstanding the above, we must point out that failure to comply with the period of stay granted through the Authorization for the Used Vehicle Importation Regime (ARIVU), under art 8, first paragraph, letter j) of the Special Law for Sanctioning Customs Offenses (LEPSIA), will be sanctioned with a fine equivalent to three minimum wages for each month or fraction of a month that the used vehicle remains in the country, counted from the day following the expiration date of the respective temporary importation period.

For further information on the subject, or to make any inquiries, please contact Doctor Diego Martín (dmartin@consortiumlegal.com) and/or email taxelsalvador@consortiumlegal.com.