Security Alert
May 17, 2024

Worldwide Caution

International Parental Child Abduction


Country Information

El Salvador

El Salvador
Republic of El Salvador
Reconsider travel to El Salvador due to crime.

Reissued with obsolete COVID-19 page links removed.

Reconsider travel to El Salvador due to crime.

Country Summary: In March 2022, the Government of El Salvador (GOES) declared a “State of Exception” in response to an increase in homicides. The declaration remains in effect. The State of Exception grants authorities power to arrest anyone suspected of gang activity and suspends several constitutional rights, including the normal protections of criminal procedure such as the right to a speedy trial. Prison conditions are harsh. Several U.S. and other foreign citizens have been detained under the State of Exception, some in a reportedly arbitrary manner. Under its Territorial Control Plan, the GOES also may, without prior warning, restrict access via checkpoints to areas suspected of gang activity. U.S. citizens are advised that access to and freedom of movement within these areas may be limited.

Though there has been a significant reduction in gang-related activity, violent crime remains a concern throughout significant portions of the country. Crime rates vary among departamentos (states) and municipios (municipalities), and areas witnessing higher crime rates are often located in close proximity to lower crime areas or must be crossed in moving between lower risk areas. Local authorities may lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents, although the concentration of resources in resort areas means these areas tend to be better policed than urban areas.

Read the country information page for additional information on travel to El Salvador.

If you decide to travel to El Salvador: 

  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Do not walk outside after dark. Do not drive to unfamiliar and/or remote locations after dark.
  • Do not physically resist any robbery attempt.
  • Be extra vigilant when visiting banks or ATMs.
  • Do not display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive watches or jewelry.
  • Engage local guides certified by the national or local tourist authority when hiking in back country areas.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Country Security Report for El Salvador.
  • Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.
  • Visit the CDC page for the latest Travel Health Information related to your travel. 

Hague Convention Participation

Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?

What You Can Do

Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US

Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy San Salvador

Final Boulevard Santa Elena Sur,
Urbanizacion Santa Elena,
Antiguo Cuscatlan, La Libertad
San Salvador, El Salvador
+(503) 2501-2999
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(503) 2501-2999
Fax: +(503) 2278-5522

General Information

El Salvador and the United States have been treaty partners under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention) since June 1, 2007.

For information concerning travel to El Salvador, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country-specific information for El Salvador. 

The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Child Abduction. The report is located here

Hague Abduction Convention

The U.S. Department of State serves as the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention.  In this capacity, the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children's Issues facilitates the submission of applications under the Hague Abduction Convention for the return of, or access to, children located in countries that are U.S. treaty partners, including El Salvador.  Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the foreign Central Authority.

Contact information:

U.S. Department of State 
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children's
SA-17, 9th Floor 
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Telephone:  1-888-407-4747
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444

The El Salvadoran Central Authority for the Hague Abduction Convention is the Procuradur's General de la Republica (PGR).  PGR is responsible for carrying out El Salvador's obligations under the Convention and processing Hague Abduction Convention applications.

They can be reached at:

Procuradur's a General de la Republica
Novena Calle Poniente, Torre PGR Centro de Gobierno,  San Salvador
Telephone (switchboard):  +(503) 2231-9346

To initiate a Hague case for return of, or access to, a child in El Salvador, the left-behind parent must submit a Hague application to the El Salvadoran Central Authority (ECA), either directly to the ECA, or through the U.S. Central Authority (USCA).  The USCA is available to answer questions about the Hague application process, to forward a completed application to the PGR, and to subsequently monitor its progress through the foreign administrative and legal processes. 

There are no fees for filing Hague applications with either the United States or El Salvador central authorities.  After the case is filed and accepted with the ECA, the ECA assigns an attorney to represent the Hague Convention application during the Hague judicial process in El Salvador, at no cost.  It is important to note that the attorney does not represent either parent's interests; rather, the attorney represents the Hague Convention application.  However, the parent(s) may be responsible for additional costs, including but not limited to airplane tickets for court appearances and for the return of the child, if so ordered.


A parent or legal guardian may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for return to the United States of a child abducted to, or wrongfully retained in, El Salvador.  The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand whether the Convention is an available civil remedy and can provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.


A person may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for access to a child living in El Salvador.  The criteria for acceptance of a Hague access application vary from country to country.  The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand country-specific criteria and provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

Retaining an Attorney

Retaining a private attorney is not required in order to submit Hague Convention applications to a court in El Salvador. The ECA assigns an attorney to represent the Hague Abduction Convention application; the attorney also provides information to the court. While not required, a parent may choose to hire a private attorney to represent his/her interests in the case. If a parent retains a private attorney, the attorney should contact the ECA as soon as possible after the filing of the Hague Abduction Convention application. 

The U.S. Embassy in San Salvador, El Salvador posts list of attorneys including those who specialize in family law.

This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the persons or firms included in this list. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.


The ECA offers mediation at no cost to either party in Hague abduction cases before they enter the judicial stage.  At the beginning of the judicial stage, the family judge may also seek to mediate a pre-trial solution. Additionally, interested parties may contact the Attorney General's office or municipal authorities in El Salvador to seek their assistance in mediating a pre-trial solution. These various types of pre-trial mediation have resulted in resolutions to cases, including several returns of children to the United States since 2009.

Exercising Custody Rights

While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country. It is important for parents to understand that, although a left-behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.  For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney if planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

The U.S. government cannot interfere with another country’s court or law enforcement system.

To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney in the country in which the child is located.  

For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. 


Last Updated: June 26, 2018

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy San Salvador
Final Boulevard Santa Elena Sur,
Urbanizacion Santa Elena,
Antiguo Cuscatlan, La Libertad
San Salvador, El Salvador
+(503) 2501-2999
+(503) 2501-2999
+(503) 2278-5522

El Salvador Map