Travel.State.Gov > International Travel > Country Information > Guatemala International Travel Information
See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Guatemala for information on U.S.– Guatemala relations.
To enter Guatemala you need a U.S. passport with at least six months validity remaining beyond date of entry.
Guatemala is part of the “Central America-4 (CA-4) Border Control Agreement” with El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Under that agreement, U.S. citizens who legally enter any of those four countries may travel freely among the other three countries for up to 90 days.
If you wish to remain in the CA-4 region for more than 90 days, you must request a one-time extension from local immigration authorities in the country where you are present. If you are, “expelled” from one of the four countries, you are expelled from the entire CA-4 region.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Guatemala.
Crime: Theft, armed robbery, and carjacking are the most common crimes against U.S. citizens.
To decrease the likelihood of becoming a victim:
Tourist groups are advised to request security escorts. Security escorts for tourist groups are available from INGUAT (the Guatemalan Tourism Institute).
Beware of Scams: Extortion calls and grandparent scams are common in Guatemala. For additional information, read our information on International Financial Scams. If in doubt whether a caller is legitimate, call the U.S. Embassy at 011-(502) 2326-4501.
Water Safety: Basic safety measures and precautions for swimming, boating, and other outdoor activities may not be observed in Guatemala.
Potential for Natural Disasters:
Demonstrations: Large demonstrations occur throughout Guatemala, often with little or no advance notice, and can cause serious traffic disruptions. Although most demonstrations are peaceful, they can turn violent, and travelers should avoid areas where demonstrations are taking place.
Indigenous Areas: Be mindful of local traditional practices when visiting indigenous Mayan communities as tensions can rise quickly and locals occasionally take the law into their own hands.
Victims of Crime: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police using 110/220 and the U.S. Embassy at (502) 2326-4000. Victims of crime can also contact the fire department at 122/123 or the tourist police at 1500.
Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
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.
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
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.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details:
LGBTI Travelers: While there is no legal recognition of same-sex partnerships or marriages, private same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults is legal.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Except for major hotels, some government buildings and major museums that have access ramps for people with disabilities, most buildings remain inaccessible. Mayan ruins such as Tikal do not provide access for disabled people.
Women Travelers: Women should be especially careful when traveling alone. 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.
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.
We do not pay medical bills. 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. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not cover you overseas.
Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
Carry prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription.
The following diseases are prevalent:
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Road Conditions and Safety: Road hazards are common. Be vigilant of pedestrians who unexpectedly dart across roads due to the lack of defined crosswalks.
Secondary and rural roads have little to no illumination. U.S. Embassy employees are prohibited from outside the city at night. Embassy employees are also prohibited from driving from or through Mexico to Guatemala for transit purposes.
Roadside Assistance: PROVIAL, a roadside assistance force, patrols most of the major highways in the country. PROVIAL can be contacted by calling 2419-2121. 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 are arrested and may serve jail time.
All drivers involved in accidents resulting in injury may be detained and held in protective custody pending investigation or payment of alleged damages.
Public Transportation: The most common form of public transportation is the system of bright red recycled school buses. Criminal activity and frequent fatal accidents, however, make these low-priced local and inter-city buses particularly dangerous.
Use of radio-dispatched taxis is far safer than hailing taxis on the street. In Guatemala City several radio taxi companies operate.
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.