How to obtain the citizenship of El Salvador?

¿Cómo nacionalizarse en el Salvador?
9 min read

When we believe that the world finds a certain balance or normality, only in some aspects, we come across big and unexpected news that change the order. “How to obtain the citizenship of El Salvador” is a frequent search that nobody expected a few months ago.

But in the year 2021, we find one of those great news, which I refer to in the previous paragraph. El Salvador, a Central American country famous for its beaches, decreed Bitcoin as legal tender.

As a result of this decision, proposed by its president Nayib Bukele and approved by the Congress of this country, the eyes of the world have been on El Salvador and many bitcoiners like Max Keiser or Stacy Herbert have decided to become Salvadoran nationals. In this article I will tell you what are the advantages, disadvantages and how to do it.

Why nationalize in El Salvador?

As I mentioned in the introduction to this article, the reason why this type of search has skyrocketed on the Internet is the declaration of bitcoin as legal tender in the Central American country.

The news was the perfect finale for the last Bitcoin Conference, which is held every year in the city of Miami, on June 4 and 5, 2021. For the first time in history, twelve years after its birth, a country adopts bitcoin as a legal currency. An indisputable milestone.

This news had a massive collateral effect, probably expected by those who made the decision. Both companies and individuals, whose activities are centered on this currency, began to set their eyes on the small coastal country and the benefits of living there.

Therefore, queries about the steps to become a Salvadoran citizen spread uncontrollably through the web. Now, let’s see what benefits this bureaucratic step would bring.

The benefits of nationalizing in El Salvador

Undoubtedly, the objective of those who seek this information in this blog is clearly related to the news that gives rise to this article. Although El Salvador is a country that welcomes foreigners with open arms, being far from complicating the establishment of foreign companies, it is within the group of countries that grants dual nationality.

The condition of dual nationality is important since whoever holds two of them, is legally recognized or enjoys full legal status in two countries. Therefore, being “Salvadoran” does not imply renouncing one’s own citizenship.

Those who choose to become deeply involved in this country and obtain their citizenship will be able to count on the following advantages:

    • Access to government programs
    • Ease of investment
    • Impossibility of deportation
    • Tax advantages compared to foreigners
    • Ability to vote or hold public office
    • Belonging to a country whose reserves are located in the most important decentralized and uncensorable asset in all of history
    • Tax contributions can be paid in bitcoin
    • Exchanges in bitcoin are not subject to capital gains taxation just like any legal tender

The benefits are there for those who wish to take them, now let’s see how the process works.

¿Cómo nacionalizarse en el Salvador?

How to become a nationalized citizen in El Salvador

Before we dive into obtaining dual citizenship in this beautiful country, surrounded by calm beaches and a Central American climate that invites relaxation and, now, bitcoin trading, let’s take a look at the prerequisites.

Prerequisites to become nationalized Salvadoran

Those foreigners who wish to obtain the citizenship of El Salvador by nationalized may apply for it after fulfilling the following requirements, described in the Constitution of the Republic:

    • Those Spanish and Hispanic Americans of origin, must have one year of legal residence in the country legally accredited.
    • Foreigners of any other origin must legally prove five years of legal residence in the Central American country.
    • In the case of foreigners married to Salvadoran nationals or foreigners married to Salvadoran nationals, two years of legal residence in the country must be accredited, either before or after the celebration of the marriage.

For those who are accustomed to this type of procedures, they will appreciate the ease or, at least, less difficulty in meeting these requirements in comparison with other nations in the world.

With these requirements fulfilled, let’s move on to the most boring part of this article, the requirements and bureaucratic steps.

The naturalization process

After determining which of the above qualifying categories allows us to obtain dual citizenship, and begin to be a proud Salvadoran, we must present the following documents to the Dirección General de Extranjería:

    • Submit two recent passport-size photographs
    • Birth Certificate or Birth Certificate (original), legible and in good condition. This must be previously authenticated by the consulate of El Salvador or by Apostille of the Hague. In case of being naturalized, it will be necessary to present an original certificate issued by the competent authority of the country that granted the naturalization, or by the respective embassy, with identical authentication or apostille.
    • Photocopy of valid resident card (enlarged to 150%).
    • Solvency of the National Civil Police of El Salvador
    • Criminal Record Certification from El Salvador.
    • Health certificate issued by a Salvadoran physician, duly authorized by the Board of Surveillance of the Medical Profession, stating that he/she does not suffer from infectious or contagious diseases. The certificate must be valid for three months, counted from the date of its issuance.
    • Certification of original Marriage Certificate, if applicable
    • Photocopy of the individual’s passport of origin or naturalization, on each page used.
    • If the spouse is Salvadoran, present a photocopy of his/her Documento Único de Identidad. If the spouse is a foreigner, present a photocopy of the valid resident card.
    • Certification of Birth Certificate of the spouse, in case of Salvadoran nationality.

It is important to clarify that the authorities of the Dirección General de Extranjería reserve the right to request additional documents to support the application if deemed necessary.

Fees range from US$150 for Central American citizens to US$700 for those from countries outside Central America.

As for response times, a maximum of 9 months is estimated, during which time it is legal to reside in the country.

¿Cómo nacionalizarse en el Salvador?

Adverse effects of bitcoin legalization

It is to be expected that a decision of such magnitude will not result in a harmonious path of roses for El Salvador. The stones or obstacles did not take long to appear, while the thorns of this road of roses tear the diplomatic relations of President Bukele with the world.

For example, in recent weeks, the IMF urged the Republic of El Salvador to remove Bitcoin from the list of its legal tender currencies. Also, to less noticeable and perhaps somewhat more anecdotal effect, President Bukele is the subject of continuous criticism and memes on social networks.

He is accused of “playing” or even speculating with the country’s reserves. Meanwhile, the president responds with suggestive tweets, in which he claims to use the reserves of the Central Bank of his Republic to buy BTC in the dip”, every time bitcoin is hit by volatility in its price.

However, to date, retaliation against this decision has not gone beyond statements or recommendations on the economic-legal course chosen. El Salvador continues to promote the adoption of Bitcoin and in the next few days will launch “treasury bonds“, but backed by bitcoin. Part of the proceeds of these Bitcoin Bonds will be used for the construction of Bitcoin City, a Bitcoin city in the municipality of Conchagua, which is expected to become a special economic zone where the only tax that would be charged would be VAT.

The surprises are far from over.

A reflection

We can analyze this legalization of BTC in El Salvador from two points of view. With respect to the effects in the country, to date, they seem to be extremely positive.

The increase of investments and crypto-tourism in this small nation, unfolded a time of “fat cows” very well received by citizens anxious to recover the time and possibilities lost in times of pandemic.

With respect to the world that summons us, the crypto ecosystem, it is undoubtedly a step forward in terms of adoption and global recognition. We are not in a position to know if this is what Satoshi really expected, but in the “bitcoiner” universe, more than one champagne has been uncorked…