Latinamerica Collection
Tourist Information About Guatemala

Passport and Visas

The following information is subject to change and should be verified by contacting the nearest diplomatic or consular office of Guatemala. Violations of entry and exit requirements may result in serious penalties.

 

i. United States Tourists
A valid U.S. passport is required for all citizens regardless of age in order to enter Guatemala and to return to the U.S. Though not necessarily an official requirement of Guatemala, U.S. citizens should assure that their passports are valid for a period of six months after their expected date of departure from Guatemala. If a second nationality passport was used to enter Guatemala in the case of dual citizenship, all U.S. citizens must use a U.S. passport when returning to the U.S. Certificates of Naturalization, birth certificates, driver's licenses and photocopies are NOT accepted as alternative travel documents by authorities in the U.S. or Guatemala.

 

All U.S. tourists traveling within Guatemala should have in their possession at all times either the original passport or a photocopy of the information page as well as a photocopy of the visa stamp showing date of entry into Guatemala.

 

Under the Central America Border Control Agreement (CA-4), U.S. citizens may travel to El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua in addition to Guatemala without obtaining additional visas or tourist entry permits for the other three countries.

 

Tourists may remain in Guatemala or any of the CA-4 countries for a total period of up to 90 days. Tourists may request a one-time extension with immigration officials should they desire to remain in the Guatemala or the CA-4 countries for more than the originally permitted period. Alternatively, tourist may travel outside the CA-4 countries before their allowed stay expires and reapply for admission.

 

In order to prevent international child abduction, many governments require documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian if not present. Though this may not be required in all countries, possessing such documentation may facilitate entry and departure.

 

ii. Canadian Tourists
A valid Canadian passport is required for all citizens regardless of age in order to enter Guatemala and to return to Canada. Though not necessarily an official requirement of Guatemala, Canadian citizens should assure that their passports are valid for a period of six months after their expected date of departure from Guatemala. If a second nationality passport was used to enter Guatemala in the case of dual citizenship, all Canadian citizens must use a Canadian passport when returning to Canada. Certificates of Naturalization, birth certificates, Certificates of Canadian Citizenship, driver's licenses and photocopies are NOT accepted as alternative travel documents by authorities in Canada or Guatemala.

 

All Canadian tourists traveling within Guatemala should have in their possession at all times either the original passport or a photocopy of the information page as well as a photocopy of the visa stamp showing date of entry into Guatemala.

 

Under the Central America Border Control Agreement (CA-4), Canadian citizens may travel to El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua in addition to Guatemala without obtaining additional visas or tourist entry permits for the other three countries.

 

Tourists may remain in Guatemala or any of the CA-4 countries for a total period of up to 90 days. Tourists may request a one-time extension with immigration officials should they desire to remain in the Guatemala or the CA-4 countries for more than the originally permitted period. Alternatively, tourist may travel outside the CA-4 countries before their allowed stay expires and reapply for admission.

 

In order to prevent international child abduction, many governments require documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian if not present. Though this may not be required in all countries, possessing such documentation may facilitate entry and departure.

 

iii. European Tourists
European tourists traveling to Guatemala do not require any form of visa but must assure that their passports are valid for at least six months past the date of arrival in Guatemala.

 

All European tourists traveling within Guatemala should have in their possession at all times either the original passport or a photocopy of the information page as well as a photocopy of the visa stamp showing date of entry into Guatemala.

 

In order to prevent international child abduction, many governments require documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian if not present. Though this may not be required in all countries, possessing such documentation may facilitate entry and departure.

 

Airport Taxes and Customs
An exit tax is assessed when departing Guatemala by air. The exit tax is US$30 and may or may not be included in the original airline ticket price. Additionally, an airport security fee is assessed of 20 quetzales (approximately US$2.50) upon departure.

 

Health and Vaccinations
Guatemala requires any travelers coming from countries infected with yellow fever to show documented proof of vaccination.

 

All tourists should be sure that their routine vaccinations are up to date whether traveling or not. This information can be found on the Centers for Disease Control website.

 

Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid, and Rabies vaccinations are recommended, but not required, for all those traveling to Guatemala. For more information visit the Centers for Disease Control website.

 

Rural areas only at altitudes below 1,500 m (<4,921 ft) are at risk areas of Malaria infection. There is no risk of Malaria infection in Guatemala City, Antigua or Lake Atitlán. In the case of infection, the antimalarial drug chloroquine is recommended for use. For more information about Malaria visit the Centers for Disease Control website.

 

To avoid infection of any diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, it is recommended that you wear long sleeves or pants or have in your possession mosquito repellant, especially in rural, low altitude areas where infection of Malaria is possible. Additionally, the use of bed nets is recommended in these areas.

 

Safety and Security
Guatemala is a developing country, and travelers should exercise caution as criminal activity continues to be an active problem. Tourists should avoid carrying with them valuables that may jeopardize their safety.

 

Clothing and What to Bring
Because of the varying climate in the different regions, it is recommended to arrive with a warm sweater or long sleeve shirt and even possibly a jacket for Guatemala City. And even if it's the dry season, be sure to have an umbrella on hand. Be sure to bring a good pair of shoes for any excursions as open-toed shoes are not advised. Also, be sure to bring a pair of beach sandals and light shoes for when it is much hotter out. You will want light clothing such as cotton tee shirts as well as the temperatures can be quite hot.

 

Currency, Banks, Credit Cards
The currency of Guatemala is called the quetzal (GTQ). Additionally, US dollars (USD) are commonly accepted (USD) and well as some other most common currencies. The exchange rate for quetzales per US dollar over the past few years is as follows: 7.6026 (2006), 7.6339 (2005), 7.9465 (2004).

 

A good option is to bring US$ into Guatemala as they can be exchanged in the airport or banks. Upon departure, any surplus may be exchanged back. Canadian dollars are generally difficult to exchange in Guatemala and US$ are preferred.

 

In addition, international debit and credit cards may be used to withdraw money from local ATMs. Also, most major credit cards are accepted in Guatemala, especially in tourist destinations. It is always a good idea to check with your credit card companies to find out what, if any, foreign exchange fees exist.

 

Bringing US$ traveler's checks to Guatemala for exchange is also another viable option. Canadian dollar traveler's checks are generally very difficult to exchange and US$ traveler's checks should be used.


vii. Taxes and Tips
In addition to a 10% sales tax, 10% gratuity may or may not be added to restaurant bills. The restaurant bill will show this information. It is still customary to add 5% or more depending on the quality of service when the gratuity is added to the bill automatically.

 

Also, a 10% tax is generally added to hotel room bills as a tourist tax. However, in order to be sure, always consult your bill.

 

Time Zone
The time zone used in Guatemala is six hours before Coordinated Universal Time, or (UTC-06:00). This means that during summer (daylight savings time) Guatemala is two hours behind New York City and one hour ahead of Los Angeles.

 

Telephone Calls
When calling from Guatemala to the United States or Canada visitors must dial the following: 001 City Code Local Number.

 

When calling from Guatemala to another international country visitors must dial the following: 00 Country Code City Code Local Number.

 

Electricity and Voltage
Electricity is generally the same as in the U.S. and Canada, with 110V/60Hz. However, because much of the wiring is older, the receptacles are limited to two-prong without the ground prong. For that reason, it is a good idea to purchase a few inexpensive adapters for any three-prong (grounded) cords you may have.

 

Local Newspapers
• Guatemala Daily (English)
• Guatemala Post (English)
• La Hora (Spanish)
• Prensa Libra (Spanish)
• Siglo Veintiuno (Available in English and Spanish)

 

Transportation and Getting Around in Guatemala


i. Cars
Tourists will encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the U.S. and Canada. Always exercise caution when driving an automobile. In the event of an emergency, the police may be contacted by calling 110 or 120, and the fire department and paramedics by calling 122 and 123.

 

Generally speaking, it is safe to travel by vehicle such as rental car during the daylight hours along major paved routes. For example, to and from Guatemala City to Puerto Barrios on the Caribbean, toward El Salvador are acceptable roads. Additionally, it is generally safe to travel along the Inter American Highway to Lake Atitlan and Quezaltenango and along the coastal highway to Mexico. It is always a good idea to maintain visual contact with other vehicles. Personal vehicle travel at night could be unsafe and should generally be avoided.

 

Unpaved roads may present a hazard for vehicles as they may become muddy and washed out. Paved roads from Guatemala City will reach all other major cities and points of interest. One exception is traveling to the ruins of Tikal, which may require a higher clearance vehicle such as four wheel drive.

 

As gasoline stations may be sparse along the highways, be sure to top of your gas tank as often as possible to avoid running out.

 

ii. Taxis
Taxis may be summoned from numerous fixed spots in Guatemala City as well as other main towns and cities in the country. Cruising yellow cabs may be found in the capital. Fares a re generally negotiated and may be relatively high. A trip from the airport to Guatemala City central may cost roughly US$10 while a ride a few city blocks may cost roughly US$3. Taxis may serve as an alternative to vehicle rental or bus use.

 

iii. Buses
Common in-town transportation is serviced by recycled school buses and has been known to be somewhat dangerous as these vehicles are commonly involved in accidents.

 

Buses may be used for intercity transport with various daily scheduled departures from the major cities and towns in the country. Buses are often crowded and sometimes uncomfortable, but are generally secure.

 

Guatemala City's Zone 4 is home to a bus terminal that serves many destinations.

 

Business Hours
Business hours in the capital city are generally from 9:00AM until 6:00PM with a two hour break beginning around 12:30PM or 1:00PM. On Saturdays, businesses generally close earlier or only keep their morning hours. Government office keep a steady workday and generally close between 3:30PM and 4:00PM. Most offices will stagger the lunch hour in the middle of the day so that someone is available at all times. Outside of Guatemala City, businesses may open earlier in the morning, and closing hours may vary between businesses.