Security Alert
May 17, 2024

Worldwide Caution

International Travel


Learn About Your Destination


Republic of Guatemala
Reconsider travel to Guatemala due to crime. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Reissued with obsolete COVID-19 page links removed.

Reconsider travel to Guatemala due to crime. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Do not travel to:

  • San Marcos Department (except the city of San Marcos) due to crime.
  • Huehuetenango Department (except the city of Huehuetenango) due to crime.
  • Zone 18 and the city of Villa Nueva in Guatemala City due to crime.

Country Summary: Violent crime such as extortion, murder, armed robbery, carjacking, narcotics trafficking and gang activity are common in Guatemala. Local police may lack the resources to respond effectively to criminal incidents resulting in a low arrest and conviction rate. Guatemala’s National Tourist Assistance Program (PROATUR) provides 24-hour emergency assistance and routine guidance to tourists. PROATUR also provide additional security in locations frequented by tourists. The call center is staffed with Spanish and English speakers and can be reached 24/7 by calling 1500 or +502-2290-2800.

U.S. government personnel and family members are prohibited from traveling to/throughout the above-mentioned areas for personal travel but are permitted to travel throughout the rest of Guatemala, including tourist destinations such as Tikal, Antigua, Lake Atitlán, and Pacific coast areas in the Santa Rosa and Escuintla Departments.

Read the country information page for additional information on travel to Guatemala.

If you decide to travel to Guatemala:

  • When traveling to Lake Atitlán, use certified tourist providers and travel between villages on the lakeshore by chartered boat, as perimeter paths pose a serious crime risk and are not easily accessible by emergency services. Hiking in the area, while popular, is best undertaken with the assistance of a local guide to ensure safety, as criminals are known to target some routes.
  • When visiting Pacific coast beaches and resorts in the Santa Rosa and Escuintla Departments, arrange travel through hotel, resort, or charter agents. We recommend traveling to and from hotels, resorts, and fishing charters via road from Guatemala City during daylight hours only.
  • Visitors are strongly advised to avoid swimming in the Pacific Ocean, since currents and undertows are strong, and beaches lack adequate lifeguards or emergency response.
  • Visitors should not leave drinks unattended in bars and restaurants and are advised to decline invitations from strangers to private parties or gatherings.
  • Consider staying in hotels or other lodging facilities that offer secure parking, doormen, and a dedicated and professional security staff.
  • Request security escorts, which are available for tourist groups, from the Guatemalan Tourism Institute (INGUAT).
  • Be aware of your surroundings and avoid walking or driving at night.
  • Do take radio-dispatched taxis (Taxi Amarillo), INGUAT-approved taxis from the “SAFE” stand at the airport, hotel taxis, vetted private drivers, and/or Uber.
  • Do not take public transportation, including white car taxis. U.S. government personnel and their family members are prohibited from using these forms of transportation.
  • Do not attempt to hike walking trails or volcanoes without the services of a qualified local guide. Robberies are commonplace, and emergency response is lacking.
  • Do not physically resist any robbery attempt.
  • Do not use public ATMs.
  • Do not display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive watches or jewelry, and avoid using mobile devices in public.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts while in Guatemala and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Country Security Report for Guatemala.
  • Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.
  • Visit the CDC page for the latest Travel Health Information related to your travel.

San Marcos Department – Level 4: Do Not Travel

All U.S. government personnel and family members are prohibited from traveling to San Marcos Department for personal travel, except for the city of San Marcos. Narcotics trafficking is widespread, and large portions of the department are under the influence of drug trafficking organizations. Several municipalities lack police presence, and local police may lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents. Avoid areas outside of major roads and highways. Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Huehuetenango Department – Level 4: Do Not Travel

All U.S. government personnel and family members are prohibited from traveling to Huehuetenango Department for personal travel, except for the city of Huehuetenango. Narcotics trafficking is widespread, and large portions of the department are under the influence of drug trafficking organizations. Several municipalities lack police presence, and local police may lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents. Avoid areas outside of major roads and highways.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Zone 18 and Villa Nueva within the Guatemala Department – Level 4: Do Not Travel

U.S. government personnel and family members are free to travel within Guatemala City except for zone 18 and the municipality of Villa Nueva. The following zones in Guatemala City are of elevated concern due to crime: 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 17, 19, 21, and 24. U.S. citizens should take appropriate security measures when traveling to and from the airport such as only using vetted transportation services, not displaying valuables or other signs of wealth, refraining from using mobile devices in public, and not lingering outside the airport. U.S. citizens are advised not to hail white-car taxis on the street in Guatemala City. Use radio-dispatched taxis (Taxi Amarillo), INGUAT-approved taxis from the “SAFE” stand at the airport, hotel taxis, vetted private drivers, or Uber.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.


Embassy Messages


Quick Facts


Passport must be valid at the time of entry.


One page per stamp.


A visa is not required.




There are no restrictions, but if the passenger is carrying $10,000 or more, s/he will need to justify the income and the purpose


There are no restrictions, but if the passenger is carrying $10,000 or more, s/he will need to justify the income and the purpose

Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Guatemala City

Boulevard Austriaco 11-51, Zone 16
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Telephone: +(502) 2354-0000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(502) 2354-0000

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

To enter Guatemala, you will need a U.S. passport that is valid at the time of entry. There is no minimum validity period for a U.S. passport. U.S. citizens do not need a visa and are admitted to Guatemala for 90 days. Some airlines require that passengers complete the electronic Guatemalan immigration form prior to check-in Although you may select to fill out the form in English, in drop down menus, United States is listed as “Estados Unidos.”

If your passport is lost or stolen while you are in Guatemala, please obtain a new passport at the U.S. Embassy as soon as possible. In order to be permitted to depart Guatemala, you will present the new passport together with a police or Ministerio Publico report regarding the loss/theft to the Guatemalan Immigration Agency (Dirección de Migración).

Visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website (Spanish only) or contact the Guatemalan Embassy for the most current visa information. If a U.S. citizen exceeds the period of authorized stay, a fine of 15 Guatemalan quetzals (GTQ) per day is imposed, and this fine must be paid to be permitted to depart Guatemala.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Guatemala.

Find information on dual nationalityprevention of international child abduction, and customs regulations on our websites.

Safety and Security

Guatemala has a dedicated tourism assistance program (called PROATUR) whose sole mission is to assist and protect foreign tourists in Guatemala. Their emergency assistance call center – staffed with Spanish and English speakers – may be contacted 24/7 by calling 1500 or +502-2290-2810. You may also contact PROATUR by WhatsApp at +502-5188-1819.

Crime: Theft, armed robbery, and carjacking are the most common crimes against U.S. citizens.

Travelers have experienced carjackings and armed robberies upon leaving the airport.  Victims have been violently assaulted when they resisted an attack or refused to give up money or valuables. Pickpockets and purse-snatchers are prevalent in major cities and tourist sites, especially the central market and other parts of Zone 1 in Guatemala City. In a common scenario, an accomplice distracts the victim while an assailant slashes a bag or backpack or simply steals it.

Reports of sexual assault remain high. Support for victims of sexual assault is lacking.

The Guatemalan border with Mexico, in particular the northwestern corner of Petén, is a high-risk area due to large scale drug and alien smuggling.  There have been instances of narco-related homicides in this area, especially along CA-13. Visitors are encouraged to fly to nearby Flores when visiting Tikal. Travelers should remain in groups, stay on principal trails leading to the Central Plaza and the Temple IV complex, and avoid remote areas of the park.

Due to heightened risk of crime, U.S. Embassy personnel are not permitted to go to Zone 18 in Guatemala City, Huehuetenango Department (except the city of Huehuetenango), and San Marcos Department (except the city of San Marcos).  For more detailed information, please see the Guatemala Travel Advisory.

To decrease the likelihood of becoming a victim:

  • Be aware of your surroundings. Report any crime incidents promptly to the police.
  • Carry a photocopy of your passport in case you lose your passport.
  • Do not use public ATMs. Only use ATMs inside secure bank lobbies or hotels. Scams involving attempts to acquire a victim’s ATM card and personal identification number (PIN) are common. U.S. citizens have been victims of credit card scams where the card is copied and used improperly.
  • Do not display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive jewelry or watches. Refrain from using a cell phone on the street. A common crime against foreign citizens in Guatemala is robbery of cell phones.
  • Do not use local public buses. U.S. Embassy personnel are not permitted to use any local buses. Avoid low-priced public inter-city buses (often recognizable as recycled and repainted U.S. school buses). Travelers also have been attacked on first-class buses on highway CA-2 near the border areas with both Mexico and El Salvador, on highways CA-1 and CA-9 near the border with El Salvador, and in the highlands between Quetzaltenango and Sololá.  Public buses are subject to frequent attacks by armed robbers, and often are poorly maintained and dangerously driven.
  • Do not hail taxis on the street in Guatemala City, instead use radio-dispatched taxis (Taxi Amarillo), INGUAT-approved taxis from the “SAFE” stand at the Guatemala City airport, or hotel taxis. Uber is also considered safe to use in Guatemala City and Antigua.

Tourist groups are advised to request security escorts. Security escorts for tourist groups are available from INGUAT and may be requested by calling 1500 or +502-2290-2800.

  • Requests should be directed to the attention of the Coordinator of the National Tourist Assistance Program, and should provide the itinerary, names of travelers, and model and color of the vehicle in which they will be traveling.
  • The request should be submitted by mail, fax, or e-mail, and should arrive at INGUAT at least three business days in advance of the proposed travel.
  • INGUAT may not be able to accommodate all requests.
  • Visit INGUAT’s web site.

Demonstrations occur frequently. They may take place in response to political or economic issues, on politically significant holidays, and during international events. 

  • Demonstrations can be unpredictable. Avoid areas around protests and demonstrations 
  • Past demonstrations have turned violent.
  • Check local media for updates and traffic advisories. 

International Financial Scams: See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information.  

Internet romance and financial scams are prevalent in Guatemala. Scams are often initiated through Internet postings/profiles or by unsolicited emails and letters. Scammers almost always pose as U.S. citizens who have no one else to turn to for help. Common scams include:  

  • Romance/Online dating
  • Money transfers
  • Lucrative sales
  • Contracts with promises of large commissions
  • Grandparent/Relative targeting
  • Free Trip/Luggage
  • Lotteries
  • Inheritance notices
  • Work permits/job offers
  • Bank overpayments

Victims of Crime:  U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance. Report crimes to the police through the tourist assistance program (PROATUR) at 1500 or +502-2290-2800 and contact the U.S. Embassy at+502-2354-0000. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

The U.S. Embassy can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care.
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police.
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent.
  • provide general information regarding the victim’s role during the local investigation and following its conclusion. 
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the United States.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution.
  • help you find accommodations and arrange flights home.
  • replace a stolen or lost passport.

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance.

Tourism: The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities do not commonly occur. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. In the event of an injury, appropriate basic medical treatment is typically available only in/near major cities. First responders may encounter obstacles to accessing areas outside of major cities, and/or be unable to provide urgent medical treatment. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.

Water Safety: Basic safety measures and precautions for swimming, boating, and other outdoor activities may not be observed in Guatemala.

  • Beware of strong currents, riptides, and undertows along Guatemala's Pacific coast beaches, as well as at Lake Atitlan.  Lifeguards are rarely present.
  • Signs that warn of treacherous surf are rare and confined mostly to private beaches owned by hotels.

Potential for Natural Disasters:

  • There are four active volcanoes in Guatemala: Fuego, Pacaya, Tacaná, and Santiaguito. Volcanic activity has forced evacuations of nearby villages. U.S. Embassy personnel are not permitted to visit the Agua volcano due to the high incidence of robberies on the volcano.
  • Be aware of the possibility of earthquakes at any time and make contingency plans.  Consult Guatemala’s National Seismic Institute (INSIVUMEH) for updates on earthquakes and seismic activity.
  • Both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Guatemala are vulnerable to hurricanes and tropical storms from mid-May through November.
  • Mudslides and flooding during the May to November rainy season often kill dozens of people and close roads.
  • Consult Guatemala’s National Disaster Reduction Coordination Office (CONRED) for updates on natural disasters or tropical storms and hurricanes.

Indigenous Areas:  Be mindful of local traditional practices when visiting indigenous Maya communities as tensions can rise quickly and locals occasionally take the law into their own hands.

  • Particularly in small villages, residents are often wary and suspicious of outsiders.
  • Avoid activities that might unintentionally violate a cultural or religious belief.
  • In the past, Guatemalan citizens have been lynched for suspicion of child abduction. Maintain distance from local children and refrain from actions that could fuel such suspicions.

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties:  You are subject to local laws.  If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.  Individuals establishing a business or practicing a profession that requires additional permits or licensing should seek information from the competent local authorities, prior to practicing or operating a business. 

Furthermore, some violations of law that occur in Guatemala are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law.  For examples, see our websites on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.


Arrest Notification:  If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately.  See our webpage for further information.


Counterfeit and Pirated Goods:  Although counterfeit and pirated goods are prevalent in many countries, they may still be illegal according to local laws.  You may also pay fines or have to give them up if you bring them back to the United States.  See the U.S. Department of Justice website for more information. 


Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details:


LGBTI Travelers:  There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTQI+ events in Guatemala.  While there is no legal recognition of same-sex partnerships or marriages, private same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults is legal.

  • Antidiscrimination laws exist, but do not include specific protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • There is general societal discrimination against LGBTI persons in relation to their access to education, health care, employment, and housing.
  • According to LGBTI rights groups, gay and transgender individuals often experience police abuse.  LGBTI rights groups allege that police officers regularly engage in extortion by waiting outside clubs and bars frequented by LGBTI persons to demand protection money or payment to avoid jail.
  • A lack of trust in the judicial system and a fear of further harassment or social recrimination discourages victims from filing complaints.

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.


Travelers with Disabilities:  The law in Guatemala prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, , intellectual or mental disabilities, and the law is enforced.  Social acceptance of persons with disabilities in public is not as prevalent as in the United States.  The most common types of accessibility may include accessible facilities, information, and communication.  Expect accessibility to be limited in public transportation, information, and general infrastructure, and common in lodging and communication. There is a significant difference between Guatemala City and the rest of the country. 


Students:  See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips. 


Women Travelers:  See our travel tips for Women Travelers.


Customs:  Guatemalan customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Guatemala of items such as antiquities and other cultural property.

When traveling to Guatemala for temporary work related to your profession, if you bring in any technical equipment or tools, you must declare this equipment/these tools upon entry.  The equipment/tools must be of a personal, not commercial, quantity.  You must take the equipment/tools with you when you depart.  If, upon entry, you intend to leave any equipment/tools in Guatemala, you are required to report that to customs authorities and pay import taxes.

Contact the Embassy of Guatemala in Washington, D.C. ion. (phone: 202-745-4953) or one of Guatemala’s consulates in the United States for specific information.


The full range of medical care is available in Guatemala City, but medical care outside of the city is limited. Guatemala’s public hospitals frequently experience serious shortages of even the most basic medicines and equipment. Care in private hospitals is generally adequate for most common illnesses and injuries, and many of the medical specialists working in them are U.S.-trained and -certified. The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of medical providers and hospitals on our website. We do not endorse or recommend any specific medical provider or clinic.

Many hospitals in Guatemala require payment prior to treating patients, even if personal insurance will cover the treatment. They do not typically enter into payment plan agreements, and they may decline to discharge you from the hospital if you owe money for treatment.

For emergency services in Guatemala, dial 110.

Ambulance services are not present throughout the country or are unreliable in most areas except urbanized areas.

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept U.S. health insurance.

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. Check with the Guatemalan Public Health Ministry to ensure the medication is legal in Guatemala.

Vaccinations:  Be up to date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

Air Quality: Visit AirNow Department of State for information on air quality at U.S. Embassies and Consulates.

Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety:  Road hazards are common.  Secondary and rural roads have little to no illumination.  U.S. Embassy employees are prohibited from traveling outside the capital city at night.  Be vigilant of motorcyclists who weave unexpectedly across lanes of traffic and pedestrians who unexpectedly dart across roads due to the lack of defined crosswalks.

Robberies of occupied vehicles are common in Guatemala City, often by two assailants on motorcycles who pull up alongside a car stopped at a traffic light.  There have also been numerous reports of violent criminal activity along Guatemala’s main highways, including the Carretera a El Salvador (Inter-American Highway CA-2).

Armed attacks have occurred in various places in Guatemala, including:

  • On roads between Guatemala City and the Petén region;

Between Tikal and the Belize border; and

  • On tThe Inter-American Highway (CA-1) and the road from Guatemala City to the Caribbean coast (CA-9), due to heavy traffic, including large trucks and trailers.

U.S. Embassy employees are prohibited from driving from or through Mexico to Guatemala.

Stay on main roads when traveling to and from Antigua and Lake Atitlan.  Secondary roads in those areas are poorly maintained and have experienced higher incidents of robbery, rape, and armed assault.


PROVIAL, a roadside assistance force, patrols most of the major highways in the country.  PROVIAL can be contacted by calling +502-2422-7800.  Travelers may also call the police for roadside assistance by dialing 110 or 120, or the fire department by dialing 122 or 123; however, patrols are sporadic.


Traffic Laws:  Valid U.S. driver’s licenses are accepted for the first 30 days of a visit, and international driving permits are accepted for extended stays.  Laws and speed limits are often ignored, turn signals are rarely used, and passing on dangerous stretches of highway is common.

It is against the law for drivers to operate cellular phones while driving.

People found driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs will be arrested and may serve jail time.

All drivers involved in accidents resulting in injury may be detained and held in protective custody pending investigation and/or payment of alleged damages.


Public Transportation:  The most common form of public transportation is the system of brightly-painted recycled school buses.  Criminal activity and frequent fatal accidents, however, make these low-priced local and inter-city buses particularly dangerous.  U.S. Embassy employees are not permitted to use these public buses.

Use of radio-dispatched taxis or Uber is far safer than hailing taxis on the street.  In Guatemala City, there are several radio taxi companies in operation:

  • Taxi Seguro can be reached at +502-2312-4243.
  • Taxi Amarillo Express (yellow taxis) is a radio-dispatch taxi service reached by dialing 1766.
  • A Green Cab radio dispatch service operates in the suburbs near zone 15 and the Cayalá entertainment and shopping destination.
  • To use Uber, download their app or go to

U.S. Embassy employees are prohibited from using the white taxis.  The Guatemalan Tourist Assistance Program, PROATUR, may be able to provide additional information and can be reached by dialing 1500 or +502-2290-2800.

See our Road Safety page for more information.  Visit the website of Guatemala’s national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety, or contact them via e-mail.


Aviation Safety Oversight:  The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Guatemala’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Guatemala’s air carrier operations.  Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.


Maritime Travel:  Mariners planning travel to Guatemala should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts.  Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the NGA broadcast warnings.

For additional travel information

International Parental Child Abduction

Review information about International Parental Child Abduction in Guatemala. For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA) report.”

Last Updated: October 10, 2023

Travel Advisory Levels

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Guatemala City
Boulevard Austriaco 11-51, Zone 16
Guatemala City, Guatemala
+(502) 2354-0000
+(502) 2354-0000

Guatemala Map