Includes steps involved in establishing a local office.
Last Published: 9/12/2019
The government of El Salvador's National Investment Office (ONI - Oficina Nacional de Inversiones) operates a near "one-stop" window to help foreign companies and individuals complete the requirements needed to obtain a license to establish a business in El Salvador, as a branch, agency, office, or joint venture. It also provides assistance with labor-related issues, immigration, and information about the free trade zone law regime.  Hiring a local legal representative or a lawyer to work with ONI is recommended as a way to help ensure that all steps are completed.
The Registry of Commerce Office in the National Registry Center (CNR-Centro Nacional de Registro), has created an “Integrated Services Window” so individuals can submit the requirements to open a business requested by the National Registry Center, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Labor, and as Social Security Institute (ISSS) in one place.

Following is a list of required authorizations or licenses that can be obtained at the “Integrated Services Window”: 
  1. Company Registration
  2. Initial Balance Registration
  3. First time Establishment Registration
  4. Income Tax Identification Number (NIT) (Ministry of Finance)
  5. Value Added Tax Identification Number (IVA) (Ministry of Finance)
  6. Invoices Correlative Registration (Correlativo de Facturas) (Ministry of Finance)
  7. First time Employer’s Identification Number (NIP) (Salvadoran Social Security Institute)
  8. Work Place Registration (Ministry of Labor)
Based on the Salvadoran Commercial Codes the minimum capital required for a business to begin operations is $1,603.58.

All companies operating in El Salvador must prepare their accounting records in Spanish.  The Spanish version of the accounting system must be approved by a certified public accountant.  The names of the company's board of directors and administrative personnel must be provided to the Registry of Commerce Office at the National Registry Center.

Also, the U.S. company must obtain a municipal services clearance from the municipality where the company and its facilities are located and certification that the firm is properly registered in the National Industrial and Commercial Establishments Directory at the General Director of Statistics and Census (Direccion General de Estadisticas y Censos, DIGESTYC). Once the Registry of Commerce Office has issued the company's license, it must be published in a local newspaper.

Firms that sell or manufacture pharmaceuticals are required to obtain a permit from the National Directorate of Medicines (Direccion Nacional de Medicamentos – DNM). The DNM must also approve each pharmaceutical product as safe for sale in El Salvador and issues a registration certificate (per product) that has to be renewed every 5 years.

Companies in the banking and insurance sector are regulated by the Financial System Superintendency (Superintendencia del Sistema Financiero) and must register with this agency.

An environmental permit is required for many projects, including road infrastructure, activities at maritime ports, sewage systems, mining, energy transmission, dams, water development, commercial fishing, tourism services, food processing, commercial construction and others listed in the environmental law of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, MARN.
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El Salvador Trade Development and Promotion