I’ve gotten a lot of emails from people over the past few weeks regarding the information I posted about the legal requirements for the Guatemala Pensionado Program. While I haven’t really bothered to do the paperwork myself because it’s not something I’m interested in doing at the moment, I really became curious about what were the Guatemala Pensionado Program benefits.

 

Other than the fact that a Pensionado doesn’t have to make a run for the border every six months, there’s precious little information in English as to what exactly are the benefits. The Guatemalan government, it seems, doesn’t seem to make a concerted effort to pitch the country to foreigners as a potential long-term or retirement destination like Panama and Costa Rica do.

Guatemala Pensionado Program

Want to be a Guatemalan?

 

Well, I did find information about what sort of benefits you can expect as a Guatemala Pensionado status holder. By the way, the benefit also applies to those who obtain an Investor’s Residency or “Rentista” status.

 

The information is in Spanish, so I’ll do my best to translate the information below. The caveat is that I’m not a lawyer, so don’t hold me responsible if the information is not complete ;) If you’re a Guatemala Pensionado or Investors, I’d love to hear about your experiences and comments below as to the accuracy of this info.

 

That said, let’s get on with the show (emphasis and underlining on the text all mine). Article 30 is where the good stuff really starts:

 

Updated 11/2013

 

Guatemala Pensionado Program Benefits

 

ARTICLE 24. – To apply for pensioner and investor status, foreigners must have lawful permanent income generated outside the country and be willing to stay indefinitely in the country without engaging in any kind of paid work. The Directorate General of Immigration and Consulates of Guatemala duly accredited abroad, where appropriate, are obliged to require documentation deemed necessary.

 

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ARTICLE 25 . – For the purposes of this Act, shall mean pensioners , those who are receiving a pension or retirement of governments , international organizations or foreign private companies, and, for investors, those who enjoy stable income, permanent, externally generated by any of the following reasons:
a) Deposits and / or investments in banks established abroad ;

b ) Investments in companies established abroad ;

c ) Remittances originating real estate , religious and academic support ;

d ) Investments in foreign currency securities issued by financial institutions legally authorized to operate in Guatemala ;

e) Investments in securities issued in domestic currency by financial institutions legally authorized to operate in Guatemala, where they were purchased with funds obtained by foreign exchange in any of those same institutions, and,

f ) Investments in securities denominated in foreign currency and / or national with the State or its institutions, provided they are obtained by the foreign exchange in any of the country’s financial institutions legally authorized .

 

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ARTICLE 29. – People who have acquired the quality of resident pensioners or investors may enter and leave the country at any time and are exempt from payment of annual dues per household.

 

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ARTICLE 30. – Foreigners who acquire the quality of resident pensioners or investors will entitled to the following benefits:

 

1) Exemption from import duties except Value Added Tax ( VAT ), caused by the introduction of your household goods up to the amount fixed in the regulations of this law, this amount may be subdivided into headings, as of importation within the first year of residence concerned;

2 ) Exemption from income tax that encumbers declared sums from abroad, to be entitled to the rights granted herein;

3 ) Exemption from customs duties on imports caused by the introduction of a motor vehicle. The applicant will enjoy this benefit once every five years, for those reasons, beneficiaries may import or purchase through a local agency, a vehicle for personal or family use, free of charges and fees, except of VAT added Tax (VAT ). The CIF value of the vehicle to which you will apply the exemption in relation to the resident’s monthly income and in no case exceed twenty (25 ) times the value of that income. If the value of the vehicle exceeds the resulting amount the beneficiary will pay all taxes on the difference.
The vehicle may be sold or transferred to third parties exempt from such taxes elapsed after five ( 5) years from the date of import or purchase in the country. After this period of years, the person acquires the right to import another vehicle and so on every 5 years.

4) Exemption from payment of the fees due for registration, renewal and change of immigration status.

 

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ARTICLE 31. – People who have acquired the quality of resident pensioners or investors, documentary must provide documentation of pension income or income to the country during all months of living in it. In case of temporary absence, the resident must provide documentation of  income from a pension or annuity corresponding to six months in a calendar year. To provide proof, the interested party must submit an annual affidavit of survivorship and that the party is still receiving the pension or income that led to the granting of the residence to the Ministry of Finance with a copy to the Migracion General.

 

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ARTICLE 32. – Residents pensioners or investors can not deal with paid work. Excluded from this prohibition residents pensioners or investors who the following applies:

 

1) Guatemalans who were referred to in Article 27 of this law;

2) People who invest in productive activities for the country in industrial projects, agricultural, tourism, handicrafts, housing or other national interest with the approval of Ministry of Economics and the Directorate General of Immigration, and,

3) Those who provide professional services as consultants to state institutions, autonomous bodies, universities and institutes of higher technical or craft.

 

In these cases the resident pensioner will be taxed the respective taxes.

 

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ARTICLE 33. – People who give up the benefits of this law within a period not exceeding five (5) years, must pay all duties that were exempted or re-export the goods previously imported under its protection.

 

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ARTICLE 36. – The condition of resident pensioners or investors will be lost for the following reasons:
1) Failure to comply with the obligations inherent in the quality of resident pensioners or investors;

2) Providing false information regarding their socioeconomic status and,

3) When party ceases to perceive permanent income referred to this law and have no other equivalent subsistence.

 

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ARTICULO 37.- If the cause of the loss of resident pensioner status was the result of the commission of a crime, the party shall be punished by being ordered the immediate payment of taxes and / or waived fees plus a surcharge of ten percent thereof, without prejudice to any criminal proceedings which are entitled under the law.

 

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ARTICLE 42. – Foreigners with at least a year of being married to Guatemalans may acquire permanent resident status by the mere fact of being married, having to submit the documentation provided in the regulations. In the case of dissolution of marriage, the resident must apply to the Directorate General of Immigration, the ratification of his permanent resident status under with the provisions of this law and its regulations.

 

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Hmmm… Article 42 is mighty interesting to me. I’ll have to find more information on it. By the way, if you want to see the full document where I got this info from, feel free to check it out here (PDF in Spanish) (PDF).

 

So there you have it.  Share your questions, comments below!

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for this information. I enjoy your blog because you present all of the facts. Some blogs I have read make it sound like everything is the greatest and nothing can go wrong. Your information about the Pensionado Program also talks about the negatives and the costs. It can be expensive and I have to weigh the costs with the bendfits.

    • Thank you for the feedback, Rush!

      I always try to present the information here objectively, to help people make the decision they think is best for them. Not selling real estate, expat tours, or investment schemes, so I don’t have a need to hype any place over another ;)

      No place or situation is perfect for everyone, so I don’t try to act like they are.

      -Rich

  2. Rich, curious if you know if the dependant, of someone on the Pensinado program can work?
    And what about working online, where my clients are based outside of Guat, does Guatemala consider that working or is that a grey area?

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