El Salvador Digital Nomad Visa: The Ultimate Guide 2023
An Overview of El Salvador
El Salvador, the smallest country in Central America, is a hidden gem offering a wealth of opportunities for digital nomads and expats. With its warm climate, friendly locals, affordable living costs, and rapidly developing infrastructure, it's no wonder El Salvador is quickly becoming a sought-after destination for remote workers. In this guide, we'll explore five must-visit places, the best beaches, top expat locations, climate, activities, and culinary delights to help you make the most of your stay in this beautiful country.
Title Image by Gabriella Ally
Step-by-Step Guide to Obtain the El Salvador Digital Nomad Visa
Step 1: Determine Eligibility
Before applying for the El Salvador digital nomad visa, ensure you meet the eligibility requirements:
Work remotely for a company outside El Salvador
Earn a monthly income of at least $1,460
Students, freelancers, and entrepreneurs conducting business outside the country are also eligible.
Step 2: Gather Required Documents
Collect the following documents for your application:
Valid passport and scanned copies of all pages
Proof of income (at least $1,460 monthly from a job abroad)
Notarized copy of employment contract
Police record from the last three months, apostilled
Power of attorney (if applying through an agency)
Step 3: Book an Appointment
Schedule an appointment at the nearest El Salvador embassy or consulate.
Step 4: Complete Application Form
Download, print, and fill out the El Salvador digital nomad visa application form.
Step 5: Submit Application and Documents
Submit the completed application form and required documents to the El Salvador embassy or consulate. Alternatively, you can apply online through an agency with a power of attorney.
Step 6: Wait for Approval
The visa processing time is approximately 45 days. You will receive an email regarding your application status. Once approved, you can travel to El Salvador and begin your digital nomad journey.
Image by LEONARDO DOURADO
Living as a Digital Nomad in El Salvador
El Salvador offers an affordable cost of living, warm weather, stunning beaches, and a rich history for digital nomads to enjoy. Popular cities for digital nomads include San Salvador, Santa Ana, and La Libertad. The cost of living in San Salvador is approximately $1,981 per month, with a one-bedroom studio in the city center averaging $400 per month.
Surfing enthusiasts can enjoy year-round waves at beaches like Playa El Tunco, Punta Roca, and Las Flores. The country also offers numerous hiking trails, UNESCO-listed Mayan ruins, and a thriving cafe culture.
Other Visa Options for Digital Nomads in El Salvador
If you're not eligible for the digital nomad visa or plan to stay for less than two years, you can explore other visa options. Citizens of over eighty countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and many European countries, can enter El Salvador without a visa for up to 90 days for tourism purposes. However, this option is not ideal for digital nomads who plan to stay longer.
Image by Rafael Cerqueira
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How much does it cost to apply for the El Salvador digital nomad visa?
The approximate cost is $2,825, which includes taxes, government fees, lawyer fees, translations, and all required paperwork.
2. How long can I stay in El Salvador with the digital nomad visa?
You can stay for up to two years, with the option to renew for an additional two years by paying a $450 renewal fee.
3. How long does it take to process the El Salvador digital nomad visa?
The processing time for the visa is approximately 45 days. You will receive an email regarding your application status.
Image by Lucas Andrade
Top 5 Must-Visit Places in El Salvador
1. San Salvador
The bustling capital city of San Salvador is a perfect starting point for your El Salvador adventure. A melting pot of history, culture, and modernity, San Salvador offers a wide range of attractions, including the Metropolitan Cathedral, the National Palace, and the Museum of Art.
2. Ruta de las Flores
A picturesque route that stretches over 22 miles through the western highlands, the Ruta de las Flores is a popular destination for nature lovers. The vibrant towns along this route, such as Juayúa, Apaneca, and Ataco, are famous for their weekend food festivals, art galleries, and markets.
3. Santa Ana
The second-largest city in El Salvador, Santa Ana is known for its impressive architecture and historical landmarks. Key attractions include the Santa Ana Cathedral, the Gothic-style El Calvario Church, and the Tazumal Archaeological Site.
A charming colonial town overlooking Lake Suchitlán, Suchitoto is a must-visit for its cobblestone streets, colorful houses, and vibrant arts scene. Be sure to check out the Santa Lucía Church and the Centro Arte Para la Paz.
5. Montecristo National Park
Located in the northwest of El Salvador, Montecristo National Park is a haven for nature enthusiasts. Explore the cloud forest, spot diverse wildlife, and hike to the summit of El Trifinio, where the borders of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala meet.
Image by Tetyana Kovyrina
Best Beaches in El Salvador
1. El Tunco
A favorite among surfers, El Tunco is known for its world-class waves and stunning sunsets. The lively beach town offers a range of accommodations, restaurants, and bars, making it an ideal destination for digital nomads and expats.
2. El Zonte
A laid-back beach town with a strong surf culture, El Zonte is the perfect spot for both beginners and experienced surfers. With its pristine beaches, friendly locals, and relaxed atmosphere, El Zonte is a popular choice for long-term stays.
3. Las Flores
Located on the eastern coast of El Salvador, Las Flores is a peaceful beach with lush surroundings and excellent surfing conditions. The nearby town of El Cuco offers a range of amenities, including accommodations, dining options, and nightlife.
4. Costa del Sol
A luxurious beach destination, Costa del Sol boasts beautiful sandy beaches, upscale resorts, and a range of water sports. Enjoy a leisurely day on the beach, dine at excellent seafood restaurants, or take a boat tour to explore the nearby mangrove forests.
5. Playa San Diego
A tranquil beach destination, Playa San Diego is ideal for those looking to escape the crowds. With its serene atmosphere, golden sands, and warm waters, this beach is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and relaxing.
Image by Ali Alcántara
Top Expat Locations in El Salvador
1. Antiguo Cuscatlán
Located just outside San Salvador, Antiguo Cuscatlán offers a suburban feel with easy access to the capital's amenities. With its modern infrastructure, excellent dining options, and safe neighborhoods, Antiguo Cuscatlán is a popular choice for expats and digital nomads.
Escalon is an upscale neighborhood in San Salvador, known for its luxurious residences, international schools, and vibrant shopping centers. With its central location and excellent facilities, Escalon attracts many expats and professionals.
3. San Benito
Another sought-after neighborhood in San Salvador, San Benito is a trendy area featuring high-end restaurants, art galleries, and chic boutiques. San Benito is perfect for those seeking a cosmopolitan lifestyle while working remotely in El Salvador.
4. Santa Tecla
Just a short drive from San Salvador, Santa Tecla offers a mix of urban conveniences and natural beauty. With its colonial-style buildings, lively central park, and modern amenities, Santa Tecla is an appealing option for digital nomads and expats.
5. La Libertad
A coastal town located along the Pacific coast, La Libertad is a popular destination for surfers and beach lovers. With its laid-back atmosphere, affordable living costs, and growing expat community, La Libertad is an excellent option for those looking to enjoy a relaxed lifestyle by the beach.
Climate in El Salvador
El Salvador boasts a tropical climate, with warm temperatures and high humidity throughout the year. The country experiences two distinct seasons: the dry season, which runs from November to April, and the wet season, which lasts from May to October. The coastal areas tend to be hotter and more humid, while the highlands offer cooler temperatures and more comfortable conditions. Overall, El Salvador's climate is ideal for those looking to enjoy outdoor activities and sunshine all year round.
Image by Daniel Torobekov
What to Do in El Salvador
With consistent waves and a range of breaks, El Salvador is a paradise for surfers. Popular surf spots include Punta Roca, Sunzal, and El Tunco.
Explore El Salvador's natural beauty by hiking its numerous trails, such as the ones in Montecristo National Park, Cerro Verde National Park, or the Santa Ana Volcano.
3. Coffee Tours
Discover the history and process behind El Salvador's renowned coffee production by visiting local coffee plantations, such as those in the Ruta de las Flores.
4. Scuba Diving
Dive into El Salvador's marine life by exploring the Los Cobanos Marine Protected Area or the underwater ruins at Lake Ilopango.
5. Cultural Experiences
Immerse yourself in El Salvador's rich culture by visiting historical sites, attending local festivals, and exploring its vibrant arts scene.
Image by Sarah
Where and What to Eat in El Salvador
A national dish, pupusas are thick corn tortillas stuffed with a variety of fillings, such as cheese, beans, and pork. Try them at local pupuserías or street food stalls.
With its extensive coastline, El Salvador offers an abundance of fresh seafood. Sample dishes like ceviche, seafood soup, or grilled fish at beachfront restaurants and local markets.
Tamales are corn dough filled with meat, vegetables, or cheese, wrapped in plantain or corn husks and steamed. Enjoy these traditional treats at local eateries or food stalls.
4. Sopa de Pata
A hearty soup made from cow's feet, vegetables, and spices, sopa de pata is a flavorful and nutritious dish. Sample this local favorite at traditional restaurants and markets.
A popular Salvadoran snack, pastelitos are deep-fried turnovers filled with meat, vegetables, or cheese. Find these delicious treats at street food vendors and local bakeries.
Safety and Practical Tips for Digital Nomads and Expats
Moving to a new country or traveling as a digital nomad can be both exciting and challenging. To ensure a smooth experience in El Salvador, consider the following safety and practical tips:
1. Stay Informed About Safety
While El Salvador has made significant progress in recent years, it's essential to stay informed about current safety conditions. Research reliable sources, register with your country's embassy, and follow local news updates.
2. Learn Basic Spanish
English is not widely spoken outside of tourist areas and major cities in El Salvador. Learning basic Spanish will help you communicate more effectively and navigate everyday situations with ease.
3. Embrace Local Customs and Etiquette
Respect local customs and traditions, and take the time to understand social etiquette in El Salvador. This will not only help you build strong relationships with the locals but also enrich your overall experience.
4. Plan for Reliable Internet Access
Although internet access is widely available in urban areas and tourist destinations, it's essential to have a backup plan, such as a mobile hotspot or a local SIM card with a data plan.
5. Get Acquainted with the Local Currency
The official currency in El Salvador is the U.S. Dollar (USD). Familiarize yourself with the local exchange rates and carry a mix of cash and cards for convenience.
6. Obtain Adequate Health Insurance
Ensure you have comprehensive health insurance that covers both routine and emergency medical care while living or traveling in El Salvador.
7. Use Local Transportation Wisely
Public transportation in El Salvador can be crowded and unreliable. Consider using ride-hailing services like Uber or renting a car for a more comfortable and secure experience.
8. Network with Fellow Expats and Digital Nomads
Join local expat and digital nomad groups, attend meetups, and participate in online forums to connect with others who share your experiences and can offer valuable advice and support.
El Salvador is a captivating country that offers a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and modern amenities. With its growing reputation as a digital nomad and expat destination, there has never been a better time to explore this Central American gem. By following our comprehensive guide, you'll be well-prepared to make the most of your time in El Salvador, whether you're visiting for a short trip or planning to call it home.