Guatemala: Work Permits and Visas
Foreign nationals planning to travel, work or study in Guatemala generally require a visa. Depending on the length of the trip and the applicant’s nationality, different requirements apply. Guatemala is a member of the Central America Border Control Agreement (CA-4). The agreement is a treaty signed by Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua which allows free movement of people among the four countries.
A foreign national planning to travel, work or study in the Republic of Guatemala generally requires a visa and a valid passport. Depending on both the length of the trip and the applicant’s nationality, different requirements may apply.
A Guatemalan visa is a form of permission for a foreign national to enter, travel, work, study or stay in Guatemala. The agencies involved in the visa and permit process include the Guatemalan embassy or consulate in the applicant's country of residence or country of origin, the General Office of Migration (Dirección General de Migración), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Office (Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Guatemala) and border control officers.
A foreign national should choose the visa type that is appropriate for the purpose of the visit. The Guatemalan government issues the following types of visas:
- A tourist visa is issued for a limited duration of leisure travel, or to participate in a cultural, sporting, scientific or academic event. Holders of this type of visa are not allowed to engage in any business-related activities in Guatemala. Tourist visas may be renewed/extended one time only.
- A business visa is for foreign nationals participating in short-term commerce/business-related activities in Guatemala. Holders of this visa are precluded from earning a salary or obtaining employment for which a work visa would be required. Business visas may be renewed/extended one time only.
- Student visas permit foreign nationals to study at institutions of higher education approved and accredited by the government of Guatemala.
- A work permit allows foreign nationals to work for an organization in Guatemala.
To enter Guatemala, a passport valid for at least six months is required. Foreign nationals should visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Guatemala) website for the most current information on visa requirements. The visa does not guarantee entry since the decision admission remains the prerogative of the immigration officials at the point of entry in the country.
Foreign nationals planning to remain longer than the visa duration should obtain an extension from the General Office of Migration (Dirección General de Migración) prior to the expiration date. There will be a fine for each day that a foreign national overstays the duration of the visa.
Guatemala is a member of the Central America Border Control Agreement (CA-4). The CA-4 Agreement is a treaty signed by El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua to promote free movement of people among the four countries. Under the terms of this agreement, citizens of these four countries may travel freely across land borders between the countries without completing entry and exit formalities at immigration checkpoints. If you are expelled from any of the four countries, you are also excluded from the entire CA-4 region.
The CA-4 Agreement also establishes a harmonized visa process for foreign nationals traveling to the area. Foreign nationals who legally enter one of the signatory countries can also travel to other signatory states without having to obtain additional permits or undergo checks at border checkpoints. Foreign nationals who are visa-exempt for admission to Guatemala can enter and travel among the four countries without obtaining additional visas for the other three CA-4 countries.
Border patrol officers at the first point of entry must stamp the passport on the page containing the visa. Failure to obtain these stamps may cause difficulties when leaving the country. Foreign nationals should get exit stamps in their passports when leaving the country. Otherwise, they may face difficulties re-entering Guatemala and be subject to a fine on their next visit.
Foreign nationals who plan to reside, work or study in the country are required to register at the local police department upon arrival, regardless of the duration of the stay.