Travel.State.Gov > International Travel > Learn About Your Destination > Guatemala International Travel Information
To enter Guatemala, you will need a U.S. passport that is valid at the time of entry. U.S. citizens do not need a visa and are admitted to Guatemala for 90 days.
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.
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 +502-2290-2800.
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:
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.
Demonstrations occur frequently. They may take place in response to political or economic issues, on politically significant holidays, and during international events.
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:
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:
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.
Potential for Natural Disasters:
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.
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.
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.
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. For a list of doctors or medical providers in Guatemala City, please visit our website.
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.
The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of doctors and hospitals. We do not endorse or recommend any specific medical provider or clinic.
Health facilities in general:
Medical Tourism and Elective Surgery
Assisted Reproductive Technology and Surrogacy
The following diseases are prevalent:
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:
Between Tikal and the Belize border; and
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:
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.
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.