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Travel Security Advice for Guatemala

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guatemala_mapGuatemala_Overview


 

 

 

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION:

Guatemala has a developing economy, characterized by wide income disparities. Hotels and other tourist facilities in the principal tourist sites most frequented by visitors from the United States are generally good to excellent. A peace accord, signed in 1996, ended a 36-year armed conflict. Violent crime, however, is a serious concern due to endemic poverty, an abundance of weapons, a legacy of societal violence, and dysfunctional law enforcement and judicial systems. Read the Department of State Background Notes on Guatemala for additional information.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS:

A valid U.S. passport is required for all U.S. citizens, regardless of age, to enter Guatemala and to depart Guatemala for return to the U.S. Even if dual nationals are permitted to enter Guatemala on a second nationality passport, U.S. citizens returning to the United States from Guatemala are not allowed to board their flights without a valid U.S. passport. Certificates of Naturalization, birth certificates, driver's licenses, and photocopies are not accepted by Guatemalan authorities as alternative travel documents. While in Guatemala, U.S. citizens should carry their passports, or a photocopy of their passports, with them at all times.

An exit tax must be paid when departing Guatemala by air. The exit tax (currently $30) is generally included in an airline ticket price, but may be charged separately. There is an additional airport security fee (20 Quetzales, approximately $2.50) that all travelers must pay at the airport.

Minors under 18 traveling with a valid U.S. passport do not need special permission from their parents to enter or leave Guatemala. U.S. citizens do not need a visa for a stay of 90 days or less. That period can be extended for an additional 90 days upon application to Guatemalan immigration. (If the initial period of stay granted upon entry is less than 90 days, any extension would be granted only for the same number of days as the initial authorization.)

A U.S. citizen whose passport is lost or stolen in Guatemala must obtain a new passport at the U.S. Embassy as soon as possible and present it, together with a police report on the loss or theft, to the Dirección de Migración (Guatemalan immigration agency), Sub-director de Control Migratorio (Sub-director for Migratory Control), in order to obtain permission to depart Guatemala. The agency is located in Guatemala City at 6a Avenida 3-11, Zone 4, Guatemala City. Office hours are weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; telephone 2411-2411. No fee is charged by Guatemalan immigration for this service.

In June 2006, Guatemala entered a “Central America-4 (CA-4) Border Control Agreement” with El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Under the terms of the agreement, citizens of the four countries may travel freely across land borders from one of the countries to any of the others without completing entry and exit formalities at immigration checkpoints. U.S. citizens and other eligible foreign nationals, who legally enter any of the four countries, may similarly travel among the four without obtaining additional visas or tourist entry permits for the other three countries. Immigration officials at the first port of entry determine the length of stay, up to a maximum period of 90 days. Foreign tourists who wish to remain in the region beyond the period initially granted for their visit are required either to request a one-time extension of stay from local immigration authorities in the country where the traveler is physically present, or to travel outside the CA-4 countries and reapply for admission to the region. Foreigners “expelled” from any of the four countries are excluded from the entire CA-4 region. In isolated cases, the lack of clarity in the implementing details of the CA-4 Border Control Agreement has caused temporary inconvenience to travelers.

For further information regarding entry, exit and customs requirements, travelers should This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it at 2220 R Street NW, Washington, DC 20008; telephone (202) 745-4952, extension 102; fax (202) 745-1908; or contact the nearest Guatemalan consulate (Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, or San Francisco).

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our web site. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information sheet.

SAFETY AND SECURITY:

Large demonstrations occur throughout Guatemala, often with little or no 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. The use of roadblocks and/or blocking of public facilities, including the international airport, has increased and demonstrators may prevent tourists caught behind the blockades from leaving.

Due to uncontrolled drug and alien smuggling, the Guatemalan border with Mexico is a relatively high-risk area, in particular in the northern Petén Department. The most dangerous area in that region is on the northwestern border in the area that includes the Sierra de Lacandon and Laguna del Tigre National Parks. Extra precautions are required when U.S. Government personnel travel to the region.

Virulent rumors of child stealing and murder for organ harvesting continue to be reported in several different areas of Guatemala frequented by American tourists. Frustration over crime and a lack of appropriate judicial remedies have led to violent incidents of vigilantism. In 2007, numerous Guatemalan citizens were lynched for suspicion of child stealing, and three local women who had allegedly facilitated foreign adoptions were attacked by a mob that accused them of kidnapping and killing a girl whose mutilated remains were found near Camotan, Chiquimula (near the Honduran border on the main road leading to the Copan Mayan ruins). In reaction to unconfirmed reports of babies being kidnapped in the El Golfete area of the Rio Dulce (near Livingston, Izabal), residents of small villages in the area remain mobilized and suspicious of all outsiders, including foreigners. Rumors of foreigners stealing Guatemalan children have also surfaced in the area surrounding the Tajumulco Volcano in the Department of San Marcos.

Also in 2007, two foreigners (including an American citizen) and a Guatemalan kayaking on a river near Chicaman, Quiche were accused of stealing children and seized by a 500-person mob (estimated). Although threatened, the individuals were not physically attacked. The incident occurred after the group had been talking and joking with a local boy on the river bank. In Sayaxche, Petén, rumors escalated into mob action against a Guatemalan couple believed to be involved in child stealing. The husband was beaten and burned to death, and the wife threatened, but was eventually turned over to the police. A local American resident was also seized and threatened with death when he tried to intervene with the mob. In the same area, a family of American tourists, along with several Guatemalan motorists, was held overnight at a road blockade for possible use as human shields. Mobs have also targeted police, resulting in delayed or ineffective responses by law enforcement.

The U.S. Embassy has received reports, as recently as March 2009, of restless villagers in the Petén who are suspicious of anyone they believe to be involved in baby kidnapping and organ harvesting.

The following recommendations will help residents and visitors alike to increase their safety:
Avoid gatherings of agitated people. Attempting to intervene may put you at risk of attacks from mobs.

Avoid close contact with children, including taking photographs, especially in rural areas. Such contact can be viewed with deep alarm and may provoke panic and violence.

Keep informed of possible demonstrations by following the local news and consulting hotel personnel and tour guides. Avoid areas where demonstrations are occurring.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada or, for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s A Safe Trip Abroad.

CRIME:

Guatemala has one of the highest violent crime rates in Latin America. In 2008, approximately 40 murders a week were reported in Guatemala City alone. While the vast majority of murders do not involve foreigners, the sheer volume of activity means that local officials, who are inexperienced and underpaid, are unable to cope with the problem. Rule of law is lacking as the judicial system is weak, overworked, and inefficient. Well-armed criminals know there is little chance they will be caught or punished.

The number of violent crimes reported by U.S. citizens and other foreigners has remained high and incidents have included, but are not limited to, assault, theft, armed robbery, carjacking, rape, kidnapping, and murder. To decrease the likelihood of becoming a victim, do not display items of value, such as laptops, ipods, cameras, and jewelry. The Embassy discourages carrying large sums of money. Do not resist if you are being robbed. Victims have been killed when they resisted attack. Assailants are often armed with guns and do not hesitate to use them.

Gangs are a growing concern in Guatemala City and rural Guatemala. Gang members are often well armed with sophisticated weaponry and they sometimes use massive amounts of force. Emboldened armed robbers have attacked vehicles on main roads in broad daylight. Travel on rural roads increases the risk of being stopped by a criminal roadblock or ambush. Widespread narcotics and alien smuggling activities make remote areas especially dangerous. Though there is no evidence that Americans are particularly targeted, criminals look for every opportunity to attack, so all travelers should remain constantly vigilant.

U.S. Embassy personnel observe heightened security precautions in Guatemala City and throughout the country. Rather than traveling alone, use a reputable tour organization. Stay in groups, travel in a caravan consisting of two or more vehicles, and stay on the main roads. Ensure that someone not traveling with you is aware of your itinerary. Avoid hotels that do not have adequate security. Travel after dark anywhere in Guatemala is extremely dangerous. It is preferable to stay in the main tourist destinations. Pay close attention to your surroundings, especially when walking or driving in Guatemala City.

A number of travelers have experienced carjackings and armed robberies after just having arrived on international flights, most frequently in the evening. In the most common scenario, tourists or business travelers who land at the airport after dark are held up by armed men as their vehicle departs the airport, but similar incidents have occurred at other times of the day. Private vehicles, taxis and shuttle buses have all been targeted. Typically, the assailants steal money, passports, and luggage, and in some but not all cases, the assailants steal the vehicle as well. Recently, many of these attacks have taken place far from the airport, just as travelers were arriving at their homes, or in less busy areas of the city. Victims who did not resist the attackers were not physically injured. The Embassy discourages its own employees from arriving on evening flights. Coordinate arrival times with those picking up passengers, minimize time spent standing outside in the airport passenger pick-up area, and do not walk out of the airport with valuables in plain sight. Laptops are frequently targeted, so carry them inconspicuously in a backpack or other carry-on luggage. In some cases, assailants have been wearing full or partial police uniforms and have used vehicles that resemble police vehicles, indicating that some elements of the police might be involved. Armed robberies have occurred within minutes of a tourist’s vehicle having been stopped by the police.

Avoid low-priced intra- and inter-city public buses (recycled U.S. school buses). They are often attacked by armed robbers and are poorly maintained and dangerously driven. More than 200 bus drivers and passengers were killed in 2008 in robberies staged by holdup gangs that target public transportation, both urban and inter-city. Do not hail taxis on the street in Guatemala City. For shorter trips, the safest option is to take radio-dispatched or hotel taxis.

The use of modern inter-city buses somewhat improves security and safety; however, several travelers have been attacked on first-class buses on highway CA-2 near the border areas with both Mexico and El Salvador, and on highways CA-1 and CA-9 near the border with El Salvador and in the highlands between Quetzaltenango and Sololá. Be cautious with personal items such as backpacks, fanny packs, and passports while riding buses, as tourists’ possessions are a favorite target of thieves.

Since December 1999, 41 American citizens have been murdered in Guatemala, including eight in 2008. A suspect was convicted in only one case.

Recently, there have been numerous reports of violent criminal activity along Guatemala’s main highways, including the Carretera El Salvador (Inter-American Highway). There has also been an increase in alcohol-related traffic accidents on the Carretera after daylight hours. Embassy employees have been directed not to use this road at night. There has also been a series of violent highway robberies along National Route #14 between Antigua and Escuintla, along Route #4 on the south side and west shores of Lake Atitlan between San Lucas Toliman and Chacala, and along Route #11 on the east shore between San Lucas Toliman and CA-1. Several tourists of various nationalities have been targeted along these routes in brazen daylight robberies. In some cases tourist vans have been pulled over and passengers kidnapped, resulting in physical injury or sexual assault. One of these incidents occurred on CA-2 in Santa Rosa while the van was traveling from the El Salvador border to Antigua. Another incident occurred on CA-1 in Totonicapan as a private bus traveled from the Mexican border to Panajachel.

Multiple boaters in the Rio Dulce area of the Department of Izabal have been victimized in violent armed attacks while on their boats. In 2008, a man was killed with a machete and a woman injured in the attack after refusing to relinquish their possessions. Indigenous activists have taken foreign tourists hostage in the Rio Dulce and Livingston area. Although all hostages have been released unharmed, tensions between indigenous activists and authorities remain.

There have been “express” kidnappings in recent years, primarily in Guatemala City, in which kidnappers demand a relatively small ransom that they believe can be quickly gathered. U.S. citizens, including young children, have been kidnapped in recent years. Some kidnapping gangs are known to kill their victims whether or not the ransom is paid.
Violent robberies are becoming more common in all areas of the country. Persons carrying laptop computers and expensive cell phones are often targets. Areas that offer wi-fi computer services have been targeted; several individuals have been killed and their laptops taken upon departure from these establishments after they were seen using their computers in public. Avoid carrying laptop cases or anything that resembles one, even if they do not contain laptops.
Pickpockets and purse-snatchers are active in all major cities and tourist sites, especially the central market and other parts of Zone 1 in Guatemala City and Antigua. For security reasons, the Embassy does not allow U.S. government employees to stay in hotels in Zone 1 and urges private travelers to avoid staying in this area. In a common scenario, an accomplice distracts the victim, while an assailant slashes or simply steals a bag or backpack while the victim’s attention is diverted.
Carjacking and theft of items from occupied vehicles are becoming more common. Often the assailants are on motorcycles and pull up alongside a car stopped at a traffic light. The passenger on the motorcycle is armed and the assailants are able to flee the scene quickly. In some cases, the vehicle occupants were visibly using their cell phones or other handheld devices. Avoid using electronic devices in traffic or leaving purses on seats in plain sight.

As in other countries, criminals also use a number of scams to steal money and possessions from tourists in Guatemala. In one popular scam, robbers place a nail in a parked vehicle’s tire. The vehicle is then followed by the robbers who pose as “good Samaritans” when the tire becomes flat and the victims pull to the side of the road. While “help” is being rendered, the contents of the car are stolen, often without the knowledge of the victims. However, in some cases, the robbers have threatened the tourists with weapons. Parking areas in and around the Guatemala City International Airport are particularly prone to this crime. In another scam, victims are approached in a hotel, restaurant or other public place by an individual claiming that there is some sort of problem with his or the would-be victim’s automobile in the parking lot. On the way to investigate the “problem,” usually in a remote or concealed area near the parking lot, the robber pulls a gun on the victim and demands cash, credit cards and other valuables. A third popular scam involves various attempts to acquire a victim’s ATM card and PIN number. Some sophisticated criminals have even placed electronic boxes outside ATM kiosks to record the PIN numbers of unsuspecting victims who believe they must enter their PIN numbers to gain entry to the ATM foyer. After recording PIN numbers, robbers then steal the owner’s ATM card to complete their crimes. There have been a number of incidents in which foreigners have been robbed immediately after making a large withdrawal from local banks. While complicity by bank employees is strongly suspected in these crimes, so far the police have made no arrests. There are dozens of techniques scammers can use to rob victims of money and possessions. While most people mean no harm, always be cautious when strangers approach you for any reason or make unusual requests.

Parents adopting children in Guatemala have also been victimized in public places and at their hotels by police (or individuals dressed as police) who have threatened to arrest foster mothers and turn adoptive children over to orphanages, but released them in exchange for significant payments, often approaching $1,000. Such threats have no basis in Guatemalan law, and should be immediately reported to the Embassy.

The main road to Lake Atitlan via the Inter-American Highway (CA-1) and Sololá is safer than the alternatives, though attacks in recent years have made traveling in a caravan highly recommended. Robbery, rape and assault have been frequently reported on secondary roads near the lake, with the highest number of incidents occurring on the RN-11 (Las Trampas road) parallel to the east side of the lake. Robbers have used mountain roads advantageously to stop buses, vans and cars in a variety of ways.

Armed attacks have occurred on roads from Guatemala City to the Petén. Visitors to the Mayan ruins at Tikal are urged to fly to nearby Flores and then travel by bus or tour van to the site. Violent attacks have occurred in the Mayan ruins in the Petén, including in the Cerro Cahui Conservation Park, Yaxha, the road to and inside Tikal Park, and in the Tikal ruins, particularly during early morning sunrise tours of the ruins. Tourist police (POLITUR) patrols inside the park have significantly reduced the incidence of violent crime inside the park, but travelers should nevertheless remain in groups, stay on the principal trails leading to the Central Plaza and the Temple IV complex, and avoid remote areas of the park.

Security escorts for tourist groups and security information are available from the Tourist Assistance Office (ASISTUR) of INGUAT (the Guatemalan Tourism Institute) at 7a Avenida 1-17, Zona 4, Centro Cívico, Guatemala City. INGUAT’s ASISTUR division has 24-hour/seven days per week direct telephone numbers for tourist assistance and emergencies. These are (502) 2421-2810 and (502) 5578-9836. The fax is (502) 2421-2891. ASISTUR also maintains regional offices in all major tourist destinations in Guatemala, and the regional delegates provide rapid and appropriate assistance to crime and accident victims. INGUAT may be reached by its toll-free number within the United States at 1-888-464-8281. You may also simply dial 1500 in Guatemala to reach INGUAT Tourist Assistance, or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Travelers may also wish to visit INGUAT’s web site. Tourist groups are advised to request security escorts from INGUAT. There have been no incidents of armed robbery of groups escorted through the Tourist Protection Program. 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. 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. Travelers should be aware that INGUAT might not be able to accommodate all requests.

In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law. In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines. The Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Division in the U.S. Department of Justice has more information on this serious problem.

INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME:

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

POLITUR (a joint national police/INGUAT initiative) is present in all major tourist destinations. They should be contacted in case of any criminal incident in such areas, even if minor.

See our information on Victims of Crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Guatemalan laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Guatemala are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Please see our information on Criminal Penalties.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:

Guatemalan customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Guatemala of items such as antiquities and other cultural property. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Guatemala in Washington, D.C. or one of Guatemala’s consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements. Enforcement of laws to protect intellectual property rights in Guatemala has been inconsistent. A number of raids, cases and prosecutions have been pursued; however, resource constraints and lack of coordinated government action impede efficient enforcement efforts. Piracy of works protected by copyright and infringement of other forms of intellectual property, such as trademarks, remain problematic. Transactions involving such products are illegal and bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.

Non-Guatemalan citizens who wish to marry in Guatemala are required to provide proof of identity and civil status (indicating whether they are single or divorced). Prior notice of the marriage must be given in the Diario de Centro America (Guatemala's Official Record) and any large-circulation daily newspaper for fifteen days. The marriage must take place within six months of the publication of the notice.

Tourists planning to climb Pacaya and Agua volcanoes during Guatemala's rainy season (May through October) should plan their climb for the morning hours when thunderstorms are less likely to occur. Climbers should monitor the weather situation and return to the base of the volcano as quickly and safely as possible if thunderstorms gather. INGUAT has organized an active community-based tourism program in San Vicente Pacaya to minimize the risk of armed robbery on Pacaya. Climbing volcanoes in groups is still highly advisable to reduce the risk of assault.

Beware of strong currents, riptides, and undertow along Guatemala's Pacific Coast beaches. They pose a serious threat to even the strongest swimmers. Signs warning of treacherous surf are rare and confined mostly to private beaches owned by hotels. Lifeguards are rarely present on beaches.

Guatemala is a geologically active country. Visitors should be aware of the possibility of earthquakes at any time and the need for contingency plans. There are also four active volcanoes. Volcanic activity, such as that of Fuego Volcano near Antigua in January 2003, and again in January 2006, has on occasion forced evacuations of nearby villages; the January-February 2000 activity of Pacaya Volcano near Guatemala City also briefly closed Guatemala City's international airport. Both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Guatemala are also vulnerable to hurricanes and tropical storms from June through November. Mudslides and flooding during the May to November rainy season often kill dozens of people and close roads. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Please see our Customs Information sheet.

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION:

The full range of medical care is available in Guatemala City, but medical care outside the city is limited. Guatemala's public hospitals frequently experience serious shortages of 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. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Guatemala.

For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) web site.Further health information for travelers is available from the WHO.

MEDICAL INSURANCE:

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. Please see our information on medical insurance overseas.

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. Travelers should be aware that they may have to pay in advance and seek reimbursement.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Guatemala is provided for general reference only, and may not apply to all locations or circumstances.

Driving in Guatemala requires one's full attention, and safe drivers must take extraordinary efforts to drive defensively to avoid dangerous situations.

Traffic rules are only casually observed. Many drivers do not use their turn signals to alert other drivers. Instead, a common custom is for a driver or passenger to stick a hand out the window and wave it to indicate that they will be taking an unspecified action. Speed limits, lane markings and stop signs are frequently ignored. Passing blindly on winding and/or steep mountain roads, poorly designed surfaces, and unmarked hazards, including frequent landslides and precarious temporary highway repairs, present additional risks to motorists.

Common public transportation is by local brightly-painted recycled school buses, which serve every town in the country. Criminal activity and frequent fatal accidents, however, make the low-priced inter-city buses particularly dangerous. Modern inter-city buses offer some security from highway violence, but armed attacks are increasing, indicating that all buses are vulnerable. (See additional information in the CRIME section.)

Although city streets are lit, secondary and rural roads have little to no illumination. Driving outside of urban areas at night is dangerous and not recommended. The Inter-American Highway (CA-1) and the road from Guatemala City to the Caribbean coast (CA-9) are especially dangerous due to heavy traffic, including large trucks and trailers. There are no roadside assistance clubs; however, a roadside assistance force (PROVIAL) patrols most of the major highways in the country. PROVIAL can be contacted by calling 2419-2121. Their vehicles are equipped with basic tools and first aid supplies, and their services are free. Police patrol the major roadways and may assist travelers, but the patrols are sporadic and may be suspended due to budget constraints. For roadside assistance, travelers may call the police by dialing 120 or the fire department by dialing 122 or 123. Cellular telephone service covers most areas frequented by tourists.

Cars and trucks are often stalled or parked in the middle of the road. Tree branches are sometimes placed in the road a hundred meters or so before the stalled vehicle to warn oncoming traffic. While driving in or near large cities, be vigilant of pedestrians who unexpectedly dart across roads even in heavy traffic due to the lack of cross walks.

Valid U.S. driver's licenses are accepted for the first 30 days of a visit, and international driving permits are accepted in Guatemala for extended stays. Guatemala's road safety authorities are the Department of Transit and the Joint Operations Center of the National Police. Drivers use the right-hand side of the road in Guatemala, and speed limits are posted (in kilometers) depending on the condition of the road. Speed limits are rarely enforced and drivers often drive at the absolute maximum speed their vehicle can handle at that particular time. These drivers share the road with slow vehicles, some barely able to manage 20 miles per hour, creating a hazardous mix of velocities. Turning right on red is not permitted unless otherwise posted, and drivers must yield when entering a traffic circle. Seat belts must be worn in Guatemala, but there are no laws regarding the use of child safety seats. 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. For accidents resulting in death, every driver involved is taken into custody and the vehicle(s) impounded until a judge determines responsibility following a re-enactment of the accident. For accidents resulting in injury, the non-injured party may be taken into custody until a judge determines fault and financial responsibility.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Visit the web site of Guatemala’s national authority responsible for road safety or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA web site.

Some agencies in the U.S. Embassy discourage their employees from using domestic charter flights.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES:

For information see our Office of Children’s Issues web pages on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction.

REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION:

Americans living or traveling in Guatemala are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate through the State Department’s travel registration web site so that they can obtain updated information on travel and security within Guatemala. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the embassy or consulate to contact them in case of emergency.

The U.S. Embassy is located in Guatemala City at Avenida La Reforma 7-01, Zone 10; telephone (502) 2326-4000 during Embassy business hours (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.), or (502) 2331-2354 for emergencies during non-business hours; fax (502) 2332-4353.

This replaces the Country Specific Information dated October 12, 2007, to update the Entry/Exit Requirements, Safety and Security, Crime, Special Circumstances, Medical Facilities and Health Information, Medical Insurance, Traffic Safety and Road Conditions, Aviation Safety Oversight, and Children’s Issues Sections.

 


 

The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office also has information regarding Travel to Guatemala HERE....

Looking for an Embassy ?, You can also check out our World Wide Embassy Listings Section HERE (For US Citizens) or HERE (For UK Citizens).......

There is also a Malaria Warning for Guatemala which you can check HERE.....

Regards

The SW Team.....

 

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