Traveling to El Salvador with tattoos, should you be worried?

 June 22, 2020   By Karla

Many visitors wonder if traveling to El Salvador with tattoos is going to be a problem; some wonder if they should take extra precautions when visiting or not visit the country at all.

Traveling to El Salvador with tattoos should not be a concern for almost everyone who visits and has visible tattoos. However, if your tattoo is gang-related or could invoke hate or violence; then, you definitely should take precautions and either cover them or consider not visiting.

Traveling to El Salvador with tattoos
San Salvador.

Why are tattoos such an issue in El Salvador?

In El Salvador, having tattoos can be an issue, mainly because they can be confused as a sign of gang affiliations. Therefore, any individual with visible tattoos that resemble gang affiliation might get harassed or even attack violently.

Basically, visible tattoos can attract suspicion from some gang members; they might see the person with tattoos as someone from a rival group. Even though the individual with the tattoos has never been part of a gang.

Now, keep in mind that the problems with tattoos and gangs are an issue that affects mostly locals; also, this problem is in specific areas of the country.

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As a foreigner who is visiting the country, you will never have a reason for going to these precise areas.

Visible tattoos, a concern for locals and not foreigners.

Having tattoos is an issue that affects locals living or traveling through specific regions of the country. As I stated before, as a foreigner, you will definitely have no reason for being in these conflicted areas.

El Salvador, just like many other countries, has specific areas that foreigners should not venture into it at all. For instance, take a look at the following cities in the USA, New York, Baltimore, Houston, St. Louis, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

All of these cities are top touristic destinations; nevertheless, they have areas that, as a visitor, you should not consider visiting at all, El Salvador is the same.

If you go into a gang or drug area in El Salvador, you will be putting your life at risk. Obviously, in these areas, it will not matter if you have tattoos or not; or if you got into the zone by mistake or by choice.

Why I think traveling to El Salvador with tattoos is not an issue.

I believe that visiting El Salvador with visible tattoos is not a problem for the following reasons. The touristic areas are more secure, having tattoos in El Salvador is a common thing, and having visible tattoos affect mostly locals in specific parts of the country.

The tourist locations where most foreigners stay or visit are more secure or have more security. At any of these locations, you will see plenty of tourists with visible tattoos walking all over with no worries.

Additionally, in 2020, having visible tattoos in El Salvador is a common thing. Having tattoos in El Salvador is normal, especially in touristic locations.

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Lastly, having visible tattoos affect mostly locals in specific parts of the country, this is a true statement. Now, as I previously mentioned, do not go into drug or gang areas! You will be at risk even as a foreigner with no tattoos, use common sense!

If my points on traveling with tattoos are not enough for you. Talk to one or a few of the many foreigners, with tattoos, who have already visited the country. I am sure most of them will tell you that traveling to El Salvador with tattoos is not an issue.

Traveling to El Salvador with tattoos

More info on traveling to El Salvador with tattoos.

Conventional tattoos are not an issue in El Salvador; nonetheless, if your tattoos are gang-related or could seem as gang-related, please take extra precautions when traveling to El Salvador.

In particular, you should avoid showing the numbers 13 or 18 in any part of your body or clothing; this includes their words in Spanish, which are: Trece and Dieciocho. The same goes for roman numbers XIII and XVIII.

El Salvador and tattoos.

I am a Salvadoran who knows many foreigners who have visited the country; many of these people have visible tattoos. I personally haven’t heard of any of them getting in trouble in the country because of their body art.

I am not saying that foreigners with tattoos have never gotten in trouble in El Salvador. Some of them might have; I just haven’t heard about it.

Visit this page, “Is El Salvador safe to visit.” It will give you more details on Safety in El Salvador.

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To sum up, anyone with visible tattoos is very welcome in the country; I am sure everybody will treat you very well as local people do with all foreign-looking people.


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El Salvador Tourism.