A couple of weeks ago, I began to run out of time.  I’d been in Antigua Guatemala for close to 90 days, which meant my tourist visa was about to expire, and so was my vehicle’s permit.  This vehicle visa, or “entry permit” is tied to your stay in Guatemala.  The process to obtain a Guatemala visa extension is well-documented, although there’s a lot of incomplete and outdated information out there.  I’ll give you the latest info on the process. If driving to Guatemala, you’ll need to update the vehicle’s permit as well – see the link. You have to renew your tourist visa first before you do your vehicle permit(Updated May 30, 2017).

*** Have you been in Guatemala for less than 90 days? Then you need to follow the Guatemala visa extension process outlined below.

Have you already filed a 90-day extension and been in Guatemala for close to six months? Then you need to go on a Guatemala Visa Run. Click the link to know how to do a Guatemala visa renewal by visiting nearby Tapachula, Mexico (opens new window).

Alternatively, you can also go on a longer, yet infinitely more satisfying visa run to San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico (opens new window). If you want to travel even farther, head to Belize instead (opens new window).**

***UPDATED 5/10/2017***

Guatemala Visa Extension Options

First, to renew your tourist visa for an extra 90 days you have two options:

1)  Leave the country for one day (24 hours), get an exit stamp on your passport, then a new 90-day entry stamp when you return.

2)  Apply for a permit extension at the central office in Guatemala City.

Option 1, while simple, is not too convenient if you’re far from Mexico or Belize’s border.  To get a qualifying exit stamp, you need to leave the CA-4 zone.  The closest border to Antigua Guatemala’s is El Salvador’s, about 2+ hours away by car.  However, this won’t work since Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua formed a pact to allow for open borders between them (collectively they’re called CA-4 countries).  Getting an exit stamp from a CA-4 country means you haven’t left the CA-4 zone.

That leaves Costa Rica to the South (more than a day’s travel and many borders to cross), Belize to the Northeast (about 12 hours away) and Mexico to the North (6 hours away) as the only possible overland options.

Most people that need to leave the country do so on a bus-ride to Mexico since it’s the cheapest ride and closest destination (more on that below)***.  Unfortunately, there’s also the cost of looking for a place to stay in overnight while on Mexican soil.  Tapachula is the favored, easiest option for a short stay in Mexico. Read my post on how to do a Guatemala visa run to Tapachula.

The vehicle is another story, as it is a semi-complicated process to cross into Mexico and involves a hefty deposit added to your credit card.  Also, depending where you’re headed, Mexico requires you buy vehicle insurance.

Updated 5/30/2017

***NOTE: If you’re driving to Mexico and don’t go inland with the vehicle more than 20 kilometers away from the Guatemala – Mexico border, it’s not necessary to obtain Mexican insurance. All you will need is proof that you own the vehicle and have a legal document proving (passport, for example) that you do have the right to be in Mexico. Conveniently, Tapachula happens to fall within the 20 km border buffer zone, which makes that city an excellent option if you need to leave Guatemala with your vehicle. If driving into Mexico with a Guatemalan vehicle, make sure your registration is up to date.

If driving past the 20 km border buffer zone, you will need to provide proof of ownership, pay for a permit ($51USD + IVA), plus a refundable deposit. As of today, the deposit is $400USD for cars made in 2007 and newer, $300USD for 2001-2006, and $200USD for 2000 and older. Payments are made at BANJERCITO – credit cards are accepted. You’ll be given a cool hologram sticker to place on your vehicle’s windshield. Upon exiting Mexico, authorities will remove the sticker. Head to Banjercito to claim your deposit.

I wanted to avoid the cost and hassle of going to Mexico, so I headed over to Guatemala City to renew my tourist visa and find out if it was possible to extend my truck’s permit.

Leaving Antigua Guatemala

Santo Hermano Pedro Statue: Entrance to Antigua Guatemala

Antigua Guatemala is at a higher elevation than the capital city and nestled in a valley surrounded by volcanoes, which means you’ll have to go up a steep road to leave Antigua and then downhill when nearing Guatemala City – the reverse applies when coming to Antigua.  Your vehicle’s brakes will get a good workout during this ride.

Colorful buses, dangerous drivers.

Once you’ve successfully reached the city unscathed by dodging fast-moving chicken buses (above) and without burning your brakes going downhill, it is time to find the immigration building.  I won’t even attempt to tell you how to get there by car or via public transportation. You’re better off going with someone who understands the confusing layout of the city or better yet, hire a taxi to take you.

For the best combination of time/cost, take a Guatemala City-bound bus from Antigua (Q10) and get off at the Tikal Futura Mall, which is the next stop after Wal-Mart. You’ll find white taxis waiting to pick up passengers out front. Hand them the address to Extranjeria (below). Negotiate the fare before jumping in – it’ll cost anywhere between Q30 and Q50, regardless of the number of passengers. About Q40 fare one-way is right, payable after you’re dropped off.

Feeling bold? On a back-breaking budget? Check out my instructions on how to get to the Immigration building to/from Antigua solely via public transportation. It’ll cost you a minimum of Q22 round-trip to/from Antigua.

Here’s the address the Extranjeria, or “Guatemalan Immigration Agency,” where you can renew your passport:

      Direccion General de Inmigracion (Extranjeria)

Avenida 6, 3-11, Zona 4

Open: Monday to Friday (excluding holidays), 8:30am-4:30pm.

Phone #: (502) 2411-2411

Immigration Building – Parking lot across the street

What You Need to Bring:

Item 1:  Your UNEXPIRED passport (there’s a Q10 per day fine for every day your visa has been expired).  Your passport will not be returned to you the same day.  I recommend you make full-color copies of your bio-data page(s) (the page(s) indicating full name, date of birth, passport number, etc.safe-keeping)  and of the page showing your entry stamp into the country (safekeeping).  It is also a good idea, as recommended by a police officer here, to go to a lawyer and get both copies notarized – around Q75 (~$10) per page.  I haven’t found it necessary to do so, yet.

I had found outdated information on the net indicating that if you arrived early, your passport could be returned the same day.  This information is INCORRECT.

Your passport will be returned to you eight days later at the same office, barring any holidays in between. Iff you turn your passport in on a Wednesday, you’ll get it back Wednesday of the following week.

Don’t wait, like I did, until you have less than eight days left on your passport’s expiration date since you risk walking around with a color copy showing an expired stamp.  You can still explain it away, but you’ll have to carry around your receipt from Extranjeria demonstrating that your passport has been turned in.

Item 2:  Bring two copies of the bio-data page(s) of our passport and one copy showing your latest entry stamp into the country.  Doesn’t seem to matter if they’re color copies or not.

Don’t have copies? There’s a copy service booth (blue sign) on the first floor, next to the BanRural branch where application payments are made. Copies are 1Q each, although if you ask nicely, they will copy both sides of the credit card on one page and still charge you 1Q.

Item 3:  A copy of the visa extension application (PDF download).  If you don’t take a pre-filled form with you, they will supply a clean copy (bring a pen).

Item 4:  A copy of a non-expired foreign credit card (front and back) serves as a guarantee that you’ll be able to leave the country via private means (they don’t check balance, only the expiration date – I speculate that a debit card may work as well).

***Fellow travelers Brenton and Shannon from RuinedAdventures.com advised that they needed one credit card PER PERSON to extend their visas.  They were also successful in using a Visa/MasterCard Debit Card.  Thanks for the update guys!

***Debit cards are no longer accepted as of March 2015!*** When you first submit your paperwork, you may be asked whether it’s a “Debit” or “Credit Card” if the card isn’t clearly marked as a “Debit” card, which most are. If it’s a debit card, your application will be rejected, and you will have wasted a trip if you can’t provide one of the options listed below.

On the off-chance that the debit card does get accepted by the screener, upon your return to pick up your passport the following week, someone will likely catch it and ask you to provide a credit card or one of the options below – it happened to a friend of mine. Luckily, my friend was able to provide a credit card on the spot and was told to return for the passport the next day. The credit card must be in the name of the person asking for the extension.

What’s that? You don’t have a credit card you say? Here are three options, according to the visa application extension I linked above:

      a. Bring four traveler checks bearing your name, each amounting to $100USD.

b. Valid travel ticket – bus, airline, horse, it doesn’t specify the mode of transportation. Don’t have that either? Bring your flight reservation printed on the travel agency’s letterhead – must be signed and stamped by the agent that sold you the ticket. I’ve seen people get by with an email printout of an airline ticket reservation.

c. Bring a notarized letter from a personal Guatemalan guarantor that includes:

1) Full Name,

2) Guatemalan ID Number (DPI),

3) Address,

4) Telephone Number,

5) Tax ID Number (NIT),

6) Passport Number,

7) Notarized Copy of ID (DPI), and

8) Guarantor’s Last Bank Statement showing a balance of at least Q3,000 – Bank Statement must be certified (signed and stamped) by the bank.

Item 5:  If renewing a visa for a child, bring a copy of his/her birth certificate.  If married, bring a copy of your marriage license (if they ask – they didn’t ask me for it).

UPDATE (04/24/2015) Parents now have to bring notarized copies of ALL pages in their passport. For children’s passports, the standard procedure stands (copies of the bio-data page and last entry stamp).

Item 6: Two black-and-white passport-sized photos printed on matte paper.  There is a small office to the left of the Extranjeria building which can give you the pics on the spot for about Q75.

UPDATE (5/28/2014) The procedure has changed. The visa extension fee will have to be paid for on your second visit when you COME BACK to pick up your passport. Only quetzals are accepted. Dollars accepted ONLY if you have a BanRural account: Item 7:  About $15USD (about Q120 should do it)  in Guatemalan currency for visa application fee, Q75 for passport-sized pictures, and about Q20 for parking if using the lot across the street.

UPDATE (4/24/2015) You’re now asked to make a copy of the BanRural receipt upon payment of your visa. You can easily do this at the photocopy booth downstairs – copies cost Q0.50. This copy will be for you to keep – it isn’t strictly necessary. But it’s better to have proof of payment should any issue come up later.

Once you have all your documents lined up, it is time to go inside the building.

Entrance to Immigration Building

Once you enter the building, register with the receptionist sitting at the desk next to the entrance.  You’ll be directed to go to the second floor via the stairs or elevator right across the receptionist’s desk.

On the second floor, you’ll find a waiting room with chairs.  Go to the window right by the entrance to the lobby marked “Informacion” and stand in line.  At the window, the clerk will check all documents and the visa application form to make sure you’re squared away.  He’ll give you a blank visa application form if you don’t have one.

If all is good to go, he’ll staple your photos and documents together.  The clerk will also hand you an invoice for the equivalent in Guatemalan currency for $15USD, and direct you to another window.  Stand in line again.

The next clerk will check all your documents again and input the information into the system.  Once you’re in the system, the clerk will send you, with your invoice, to the bank cashier on the first floor, located right behind the receptionist you met when you first entered the building.  Show the bank’s cashier the invoice, pay the visa fee, and return with the stamped invoice to the second floor.  You’ll be almost finished.

Go back to the second floor and stand in line at the “Informacion” window again.  The clerk will check your invoice and hand you a number.  After waiting for a few minutes, your number will come up on the big LCD screen in the center of the room, indicating what window to visit.  Hand over your bank receipt stapled documents AND passport.  The clerk will give you a receipt and ask you to come back eight days later, which is not an exact date for pick-up, but the earliest date you can come back to pick up your passport.

While this whole procedure seemed tedious and drawn out, it took less than 45 minutes and wasn’t bad, considering one keeps moving from window to window, which helped pass the time.

NEW PROCEDURE (5/28/2014): Eight days later, receipt in hand, I returned to the same immigration building and headed to the “Informacion” window again.  I showed the clerk my receipt and was directed to the passport-pickup window. They handed me an invoice and directed me to pay the tourist visa fee at the BanRural bank branch downstairs.  Once paid, I returned with my receipt to the passport-pickup window. They made me print and sign my name in a logbook, after which they handed me back my passport.  I checked the new visa stamp on the passport to make sure that I had 90 more days.  Satisfied, I left the building and headed out.

What If You Have Overstayed Your Initial 90 Day Visa?

While it’s not something I recommend you get into the habit of doing – flaunting a foreign country’s laws, it’s not that big of a deal. It won’t get you featured in one of my favorite shows, Locked Up Abroad. On my last visit, I was shocked to discover I had miscalculated how much time I had remaining and ended up overstaying for two days. The woman behind Window #8 directed me to the fourth floor, where fines are paid. I was given a receipt to be paid immediately at Banrural on the first floor. Once I did that, I returned to the fourth floor where my receipt was stamped (I think) and directed once again to Window #8 on the second floor. Once I presented my receipt, the extension process continued as if nothing had happened.

***Updated 5/10/2017*** While I was paying my penalty on the fourth floor, I asked the clerk about a friend who had overstayed his initial visa for almost an entire month and what would be required of him. The clerk informed me there wouldn’t be any issue as long as the fine was paid (Q10 per overstay day fine per day has increased to Q15 per day). The extension’s expiration date wouldn’t change, meaning if one overstayed for a month, the visa extension would last an additional two months, not begin on the day the fine was paid. In my case, the two days I overstayed were “discounted” from my extension period.

Also, keep in mind that the fine has to be paid even if you leave the country and don’t care to file for an extension. Leaving the country doesn’t exonerate one from having to pay an overstay fine.

In Conclusion…

All in all, it was a somewhat painless experience and better than spending 16 hours in a car driving to Mexico, not accounting for the time and added expenses.

If you’d rather avoid the hassle of traveling to the city, there are immigration lawyers who will handle all the paperwork for you. If in Antigua, visit the immigration services office at the entrance to the Monoloco Restaurant on 5ta Avenida Sur, half a block away from Parque Central. For Q500, a lawyer will take care of the paperwork for you, get it stamped, and return your passport promptly (thanks to reader Lindsey, below, for the tip!).

***Unfortunately, this procedure can only be done one time after entering the country from a non-CA-4 country.  Each time you enter Guatemala from a non-CA-4 country, your visa clock starts.  The visa can be renewed at the Extranjeria after your first 90 days are up. After your second 90 day period expires (180 days total in the country), you MUST leave the country to a non-CA-4 country to restart the clock.  Once you come back in with a foreign entry stamp, you can then renew again for another 90 days at the Extranjeria.

Know that the car permit will not be extended until your tourist visa has been extended first.

68 COMMENTS

  1. I’m on an extended stay in Guatemala, so this is great info! Any problems staying longer than 6 months?

    • Not at all! You’ll just have to leave Guatemala for 24 hours to any country, via land or air, that’s not Honduras, El Salvador, or Nicaragua :)

      -Rich

  2. I wished I’d known this earlier :-/ Maybe would’ve stayed in Guatemala a little longer. Beautiful country!

  3. I’ll be doing volunteer work in the Xela area at the end of the year, with regular trips to Guatemala City. This guide will come in handy since I’ll be near the capital around the time my visa is set to expire. Might as well take care of it then.

    Thanks for a great resource!

  4. Thanks again Rich. We went back to Guate City today for round two. My visa and the vehicle import permit were both extended for 90 days, but unfortunately Shannon’s request for another 90 days was not granted.

    The problem was that we only used one debit card for proof of funds, guaranteeing that we could pay our way out of the country. The lady behind the counter originally said it would be fine using one card, but since the name/signature didn’t match Shannon’s they denied it and today we had to give them another card with her name…no problem. We should have known better though. Not sure if it could’ve worked, had we been legally married and she had the same last name as mine with a marriage license to prove it, but just to be safe couples should bring one debit/credit card for each person. Now we have to come back on Friday, which means Shannon will be on an expired visa for one day (they said it was ok though).

  5. I am moving to Guatemala for two years from the U.S. and I will be obtaining a cultural exchange or work visa for the two years, as I will be teaching in a school there. I would like my boyfriend to come with; however, he will not be able to obtain the same visa. Would the processes of renewing his passport every 90 days in such a fashion that you’ve explained in this blog work for two years, or is there a limit to how many times you can renew the passport? Thanks!

    • Hi Jacqueline! Thanks for stopping by.

      No, as of right now there are no limits as to how many times one can renew a visa. One needs to exit the country every 6 months, though. Most go to Mexico or Belize for a weekend and come back with a fresh 180-day total in-country possible days. It just has to be renewed once, in-country, after 90 days. Many people “retire” here this way, although I’m sure at some point the constant travel out of the country every 6 months tends to get annoying. For two years, it’s a minimum of 4 times, so not bad.

      Whatever he does, though, never overstay the visa. That would give them grounds to refuse one re-entry, plus you pay a fine (often minimal). You should be fine if you follow the schedule.

      You’ll enjoy Guatemala. Great country!

      -Rich

  6. Great information. Thank you for posting this!
    Do you know if somebody can go on behalf of another, if they have all of the information (photos and credit card etc) of the other person?

    • Hello Heidi!

      I don’t see why not, as long as the form is filled out properly and fees paid. I know lawyers do it on behalf of people all the time here :)

      -Rich

  7. Thanks for this info. I am a British citizen and have the opportunity to house sit near Santiago, on the lake, for 6 months. I realise I get a 90 day visa upon arrival, and I guess I can go to Guatemala City to renew..hopefully, what with being British..is this possible? Regards.

    • Hi Bead!

      Santiago is an awesome place. I may have seen the advert for the house you’re talking about. Hope you like boats if you live on that side of the lake :)

      As far as I know, yes, you can apply for a second 90-day extension at the same immigration building.

      Cheers!

      -Rich

  8. Hi,

    I just wanted to add that there is a 3rd option. I have been living in Antigua for almost a year and a half, so I have had to renew my visa several times. There is a much easier way to do it! It does, however, cost a bit more I think. In Antigua, there is a restaurant called Mono Loco (5th avenue) and inside there, there is an immigration services type place. You just go there with 2 passport photos, you passport, and a photocopy of your credit card (front and back) and pay about Q500. They take it to Guatemala City and do it all for you. I have lots of friends who also do this. No one has ever had a problem. Just like in Guatemala City, it will come back in about a week. For me, this option was easiest as I have a full time job and also, Guatemala City is not very safe. Anyhow, just thought I’d share this option!

    • Hi Lindsey!

      Thanks for the tip. I’ve known about that immigration office and it’s a good option for those who don’t want to travel to Guatemala via bus (confusing) or taxi (more expensive since one has to go twice). I’ve driven to Guatemala City and know people that have gone via bus, so it is doable. But you’re right that it’s much easier to head to the Monoloco office and in many cases even cheaper.

      Thanks for the comment!

      -Rich

  9. Know of any body who could extend their mexican tourist visa at frontera corozal?
    Finding hardly any information on that.

  10. My husband has gone across the border into Honduras (the last crossing before the atlantic) several times to renew visa and has had no problems. We have to go tomorrow. Will keep you updated on how it went

    • Is 90 days really all you need to experience Guatemala? I doubt it. I’ve been here almost two years and there are still plenty of things I’ve yet to experience.

      Some of us take the “slow travel” thing fairly seriously ;)

      And yes, I really do love Guatemala :) It’s an awesome place.

      -Rich

  11. Hey Rich

    Thank for this great website, very helpful!

    Are you sure we only need to stay out of the country for 24 hours?

    There’s another website that says we have to stay out 3 days or 72 hours.

    Hopefully you’re right and its 24.

    Cheers

    • Hi Jennifer!

      Officially, yes, it is 72 hours (3 days). But I’ve never heard of it being enforced. I did it in less than 24 hours last time, no problems.

      Hope that helps!

      -Rich

  12. One point that hasn’t been mentioned anywhere (as far as I noticed?): Apparently the visa extension in Guatemala is only possible it you entered from a non-C4 country. Guatemala has to be your original point of entry into the C4.

    My first 90 visa in the C4 is expiring in 10 days, so today (Oct 9) I went to the immigration office in Guatemala City to extend my visa. Unfortunately, because I originally entered the C4 countries through Nicaragua (and proceeded to Honduras, El Salvador, and now Guatemala), they could not extend my visa. They said the Nicaraguan office could extend it, but it would be easier at this point to cross the border to Mexico or Belize.

    Has anyone else had or heard of this same problem?

    Btw, great article!! Thanks for the great info!

    • Hi Jaye! Glad you’ve found the article helpful! Thank you for the feedback :)

      Yes, as mentioned at the beginning of the article, once in the CA-4 Zone, you need to exit it to renew. What I didn’t know (or even thought about), is that the visa could only be extended at the original CA-4 country of entry, in your case, Nicaragua. Very useful to know and will add to the article to reflect that.

      For info on how to go on an inexpensive visa run to Mexico, check this article out: http://unwireme.com/guatemala-visa-renewal-and-guatemala-visa-run/

      Thanks again!

      -Rich

  13. Hey Rich – great post! Thanks! Question — do you have any info on whether one person in a family can bring all the documents, etc in for processing? Or does everyone need to come into the office? We live in Pana with a 7 month old baby and would rather that we don’t all have to make the trek.

    • Hi Carrie! Thanks for the feedback!

      As far as having a family representative bring all the paperwork, I would venture to guess that’s possible. There’s nothing to sign, or nobody to “meet” with to verify anyone’s presence in the country. I saw families with their children in tow and never once were they all required to stand up before the clerk. For both families, the father was the only one going through the motions of filing all the paperwork and going to every window as required.

      I’ll ask next week, when I’m due to pick up my passport (was there yesterday morning, actually, left before I saw your comment).

      Stay tuned :)

      -Rich

  14. A question about our initial entry into the country: Is it true that a round trip ticket is needed upon our entry into Guatemala? Or is all that’s necessary is the ability to leave, i.e. valid Credit Card? Thanks for the site, it’s been a huge confidence booster!!

    • Hi Aaron! Depends on the airline, as they’re more likely to enforce the round-trip ticket rule than Guatemalan Customs. Just let them know you’re not planning on staying more than 90 days – it’s up to you to change your mind later ;)

      If it’s a concern, you can always buy a fully-refundable ticket, or say you’re planning to leave the country via bus, which is also an option.

      Hope that helps.

      -Rich

  15. Hello Rich,

    My name is Matt. I have been staying in Guatemala city for sometime, and it is time for me to apply for the Visa Extension. However, I am wondering if I can avoid this. I am flying out of the country in December, at which time I will be about 24 days over due on my passport. If I where to show up at the airport, and tried to board the plane 24 days past my 90 day point, Would I be held in the country until I properly extended my stay, or could I just pay a fine at the airport and then board the plane?

    Thank you for your time,

    -Matt

    P.s. your information on how to gain an extension was very clearly written. So I would like to thank you for the advice in advance, if I have to proceed with the extension.

    • Hi Matt! Thanks for the feedback :)

      I seem to find conflicting reports on this. It’s Q10 fine PER DAY past your visa’s expiration date. Not sure if this is payable at the airport, though I know for sure you can pay it at the immigration office listed on this post. In your case, it’ll be Q240 fine (24 x Q10). It’s Q120 fee to extend, plus transportation to immigration office to pick up and drop off passport. Do the math and see if it works out for you ;)

      Will let you know what I find out.

      -Rich

  16. Hi Guys,

    Has anyone used an alternative method to giving them a copy of your credit card?

    I know people that can write me a letter guaranteeing they will pay my fare out, but what exactly must they write in that letter, and is a letter enough?

    I’ve also heard of someone showing their bus or plane ticket going out of the country and that was enough. Do you know if this is still possible?

    Thanks alot!

    • Hi Jennifer!

      Instructions (in Spanish) are on the Visa Application Form. For the benefit of everyone reading this, I’ve updated the post and added the three alternate ways you can show proof of your ability to pay your way out of the country should you not have a credit/debit card on hand.

      Hope that helps :)

      -Rich

  17. Thanks for the great article – it was super helpful.
    I went today. But after I submitted the paperwork, that was it for today.
    They tell me that I am supposed to pay when I come back in 8 days.
    Thanks again.

    • Really, John? That’s a new one… Thanks for passing along the info. Will confirm when it’s my turn in about 6 weeks or so :)

      -Rich

  18. Fantastic info, very detailed and really helpful. We’ve arrived in Guatemala from Mexico, and suddenly found ourselves close to the 90 day deadline. We’ve also realized 90 days wasn’t going to cut it, since we are enjoying Antigua too much these days, so your article was a very informative read. Thanks a lot and good luck!

  19. Hey Rich! First off, GREAT work you’re doing here! Second, I need to renew my visa and vehicle permit. I am coming up on my first 90 days. I have Mexican Insurance, and a 10 year permit on my “RV.” I also live in Xela. I was told at the DSAT when I arrived via Tapachula that I could return in 90 days to renew both my visa and car permit. Would you recommend just going to back to Tapachula for these renewals instead of the city? I’ve heard some rumors it’s not possible. Should I expect it will work just as it will in the city? Thanks for any help!

    • Hi Kaleb,

      As far as I know, yes, you can extend your permit at the border. Whatever you do, don’t be late even one day! They will not renew the vehicle permit if you’re overdue on the vehicle visa.

      -Rich

  20. Hi, Rich.
    Thanks for this very informative article!

    I have a question though,
    So I came here as a volunteer in February and next month I’d have to renew my visa by visiting Extranjeria as it would reach 90 days of my stay here. But after another 90 days, you mentioned I would need to travel to a non c-4 countries to renew my visa, right?

    It’s just that my boss (Country Director of the NGO I work for) just recently told me that after 6 months of stay here, he wants me to make a visa trip to Nicaragua and help another NGO branch out there for a week and then come back to Guatemala with a renewed visa. According to your article, though, it doesn’t make any sense that I could renew my visa by visiting Nicaragua as it’s one of the c4 countries.

    Do you think my boss is mistaken? or Is it possible to reissue my visa by visiting Nicaragua?
    I am just really confused.

    • Hello Solji,

      Glad to have you volunteering in Guatemala!

      Yes, you can renew once in Guatemala after 90 days, and after 6 months, you have to leave the CA-4 region. Nicaragua, unfortunately, is on the CA-4 region, so your visa won’t be renewed. You can travel to neighboring Costa Rica to renew your visa when in Nicaragua.

      The one issue you’ll probably run into, if say you travel to Nicaragua before the 6-month mark and hop across the border to Costa Rica to restart your clock, is that you’ll only be able to extend your visa in Nicaragua, not Guatemala. It is my understanding that it’s only possible to extend your visa in the CA-4 country of entry. After coming back from Nicaragua, you’d have to leave Guatemala at the 90 day mark, or extend your permit by going back to Nicaragua. I know, confusing.

      Easiest to either go to Costa Rica when in Nicaragua to leave CA-4, then leave Guatemala at the 90 day mark upon returning, or take a quick trip to Mexico before leaving for Nicaragua to restart your visa clock, so you can extend in Guatemala when you come back from your one-week trip.

      Hope that makes sense :)

      -Rich

  21. Hi Rich,
    I thought you might find my experience interesting and useful.
    We’re Canadians traveling in Guatemala for 7 months with 3 children under 5 to learn the language, food and culture. My wife did some reading and didn’t pick up on the 90 day rule so when we went to leave Guatemala we had overstayed with a fine of around Q3800, Q10 per day per passport. The Mexican boarder let us though without the exit stamp after explaining the situation. The Guatemala side said that I might be able to phone the director to ask for pardon on a weekday upon re-entry but don’t return though the same boarder. When I came back they agreed the fine amount was way to high but said that I could pay Q200 per passport for breaking the laws. I explained how bad off we were and guilty for breaking the law. I managed to get the chief to only charge me for the adults (not the kids) making my whole cost of Q400 less than renewing 5 passports in the city.
    I’m not sure if charging Q200 for over extending the 90 days is the law but if it is you should probably include it in this page. The chief wouldn’t let me call the director in the capital and they were reluctant to give me a receipt.
    The stamps showed we had left within the 90 days and not broken the law.
    Please include that Mexico charges 390 pesos per passport for staying longer than 7 days (land entry). The rules change to 14 days if you enter and leave by boat or plane.
    Thanks,
    Dan

    • Hi Dan,

      Thanks for sharing. Interesting experience all around. I’d say you have excellent negotiating skills if Mexico let you through without a proper Guatemalan exit stamp. They refused to do it for me because my stamp wasn’t legible enough. It’s true, fines can be negotiated, but at Migración in Guatemala City.

      My hunch is that whoever was in charge just gave you a stamp, pocketed the money and didn’t record it in the system. When I overstayed, I had to pay at the local bank and every Guatemalan border agent asked to see the bank receipt. Was this your case, or did you pay directly to the person ‘in charge’ at the border?

      Keep us in the loop if there are any developments when you attempt to renew or exit the country. I also have information for Mexico under the Mexico Visa Run post elsewhere on this site.

      Happy travels,

      -Rich

  22. Rich,

    Thanks so much for this very informative article. I’m hoping you know that the answer to my question which I am still not clear on after a few days speaking with immigration offices and the SAT.

    I am driving my car through Central America and received my tourist visa and vehicle permit about 5 weeks ago. I have had a change in plans and now will be flying to Europe in about a month, and need to leave my car in Guatemala for roughly 100-110 days.

    I have 2 questions: I know that vehicle permit extensions are tied to tourist visa extensions, but someone at the SAT office told me today that they will not extend your tourist visa until you have 15 days or less left on the visa (that is, it expires in 15 days or less). Do you know this to be the case? If it is, I may be in trouble because I need to extend my tourist visa AND vehicle permit here in a few weeks, before I leave the country for 4 months, so that I have a valid vehicle permit for the duration of my car being in Guatemala (I’m planning on driving it out of Guatemala in mid October).

    The 2nd question would be, what do you know about the fine for overstaying your vehicle permit? I have heard that it is $300, but that it can be negotiated and lowered. That’s also what the lady at SAT told me today. Which begs the question, just how much can it be lowered? I want to try and do this as cheaply as possible and avoid legality issues and potential fines, so I’m looking for all the answers that I can get.

    From what I understand, they will ADD ON 90 days to the vehicle permit to the remaining time I have on my original vehicle permit, according to what they grant me with my personal tourist visa extension. That would be perfect, if they don’t require that I do so within 15 days of it expiring. I may have to explore some other options of storing it in an almacen fiscal, or going through the process to temporarily import it (which is good for up to 6 months apparently but I’m sure is a longer process).

    Do you have any answers for me? Thanks so much once again!

    cheers,

    Ford Quarterman

    • Hi Ford,

      Glad you’ve found the site useful :)

      It seems like you’re in quite a bind. If you overstay your vehicle permit even one day, then it’s automatically cancelled. You won’t be able to renew it and your vehicle will have to be out of the country for 90 days (happened to someone I know). I don’t know of any ‘official’ fine for a vehicle overstay.

      Honestly, the easiest option is to either import the vehicle (expensive), return to the US and store vehicle there while you’re in Europe, or leave for a quick trip to Mexico/Belize to get a new 90 day vehicle permit, leave for Europe, then hope they don’t hassle you about leaving the car in Guatemala while you were gone for more than 90 days – which I’m not sure would be allowed by SAT anyway. Or sell it here and buy another vehicle here when you return :)

      Looks like your schedule is going to make things difficult, if not impossible.

      Good luck and keep us posted how it all turns out.

      -Rich

  23. Hey Rich, love the blog. My family and I have been in Costa Rica for 6 months and have decided to head to Guatemala for 6 months in January. Your info has been useful.

    Thanks

Comments are closed.