Guatemala Immigration Requirements

By Stephen Saylor

Guatemala is a country with a historic attraction for the ancient Mayan civilization, a great climate, and a beautiful landscape. Many people come to visit the country and some decide to make it their new home. Many Guatemalans come and go from the country as dual citizens and spend time in both countries during parts of the year. Here are some of the legal requirements to enter and stay as an immigrant in Guatemala.

Tourist Travel Documents

Any United States citizen wishing to legally enter Guatemala my do so with a U.S. Passport. The passport is also required to leave the country and reenter the United States. U.S. Citizens are not required to have a visa to enter Guatemala.

Other preferred countries such as Japan, Canada, and Mexico are also exempt from the visa requirement if the stay is for 90 days or less.

Guatemalan authorities do not accept Certificates of Naturalization, driver's licenses, birth certificates or photocopies of passports as official travel documents. . A U.S. citizen traveling in Guatemala would be wise to have his original passport and photocopies with him at all times in case of an emergency. He can report a lost or stolen passport at the U.S. Embassy.

Extensions and Residency

If a visitor from the U.S. or Japan wants to stay longer than 90 days, a second application must be filled out. In most cases, an additional time period equal to the original visit will be granted.

If a person intends to establish residency in Guatemala, a 90 day permit can be solicited with the following documentation: a valid passport, two recent photographs, a letter of sponsorship from a Guatemalan resident, and proof of financial resources of both the sponsor and the applicant. This application is to be dropped of at the Guatemalan Immigration Central Office at the following address GO 6a Ave 3-11, Zona 4 Guatemala City. Office hours are between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm

Expect to receive your document within two weeks after applying.

Resident Visa

The next step in immigration to Guatemala is to apply for an \"ordinary visa.\" This document will allow you to stay in the country for up to six months at a time. It is renewable every six months. A letter from your sponsor or employer is required along with your proof of financial responsibility. A police report from Guatemala must show you have not broken any local or national laws. A medical report will document that you are in good health and not a risk to spread diseases. A police report from your country of origin shows your law abiding habits at home. A birth certificate needs to be included and authenticated by the Guatemalan Consulate in the U.S.A. The resident visa usually includes the right to work in Guatemala.

Permanent Residency

Upon renewing for the fourth time the ordinary visa, an immigrant may apply for permanent residency. This requires two years' presence in the country on half year visas. This permanent residency visa does not require renewal once achieved and can be used in applying for Guatemalan citizenship.

Other Visas

Students desiring to study the ancient Mayan culture abroad can apply for a student visa. These are granted for all educational levels from elementary to University level students.

Foreign diplomats wishing to extend a stay in Guatemala can enter on a Courtesy Visa. This allows the official a one-year stay in the country.

Perhaps you wish to make Guatemala your retirement home. A Foreign Retiree's visa will give you that option.

Students and teachers that just want to spend a semester or less studying briefly in the culture can enter in on a Temporary Visa.

Those doing missionary work are eligible for a Religious Workers Visa for a two-year stay.

About the Author

Stephen Saylor is a bilingual educator and translator who has been writing since 2005. He has contributed articles to websites such as rockeros.net and XtremeMusic. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Michigan State University and a Master of Arts in education from San Diego State University.