Guatemalan Residency Through Marriage

A reader recently emailed me asking about the possibility of obtaining residency through marriage in Guatemala. Meaning, if you get married to the Guatemalan chica or chico of your dreams.

Personally, I haven’t bothered to inquire into the process because my plan was never to settle in Guatemala permanently. But after three years here, the time is nearing and border runs are increasingly becoming annoying – visa expiration time usually comes around at the worst possible time.

Guatemalan Permanent Residency

 Here’s my reason for coming to Guatemala…

I figured that for the benefit of readers of this site – and my own, it was time to look into what is required of a foreigner seeking to obtain residency in Guatemala via marriage. Turns out, it *seems* like on paper, it’s one of the easiest procedure to do. Here’s what’s required according to Dirección General de Inmigracion (Inmigration Directorate) of Guatemala. you can read the info in Spanish yourself by clicking here (PDF).

Requirements for Permanent Residency in Guatemala Through Marriage

 1. A recent photograph.

 2. Original passport and photocopies of every page in your passport authenticated (notarized) by a lawyer.

 3. A certificate of validation for your passport, issued by the embassy or consulate of your country, accredited to the Government of Guatemala (with “Pasos de Ley”). A certified birth certificate will do for people from countries with which Guatemala has no diplomatic relations.

 4. Proof that you have no criminal record in the country where you have lived for the last five years (with “Pasos de Ley”). If that country does not extend a similar document, you must show certificate stating so. Also, provide an affidavit (notarized letter) of “Carencia de Antecedentes Penales” (Lack of Criminal History), and a Police report from Guatemala.

5.  An original, certified birth certificate from your Guatemalan husband/wife indicating a marriage.

6. Original, recently certified marriage certificate.

Oh, and one more thing:

Foreigners who have at least a year of being married to Guatemalans may acquire permanent resident category by the only fact of contracting marriage and must submit the documentation required by law.

So basically, you must have been married for a year to your Guatemalan sweetheart and have no criminal record. The one major difference between residency through marriage and the other types is that I don’t see listed there an income requirement, as I’ve listed elsewhere.

It’s my guess – remember, I’m not a lawyer nor do I play on TV – that just like all other residency paperwork in Guatemala, you must be in the country in order to get the paperwork started and living here. Otherwise, you’d lose your residency status were you to be outside the country for an extended period of time.

Was the lack of an established income an oversight of the person that posted the information online? Has a law been passed that eliminated this requirement? Or was there never such requirement in the first place, as I seem to faintly recall having read before? I’ll get to the bottom of it soon, if anything, to provide accurate information.

By the way, it seems it takes most people at least a year to get residency through marriage. I might go through with it just for the fun of it, provided I can do it on my own, without costly lawyer fees, at a reasonable price.

Stay tuned…



  1. I have a friend in Xela who applied as a spouse about ten years ago who was in a similar situation in that he married a Guatemalan in the States and had a pair of little chapingos born over there. When he came in he applied for residency upon arriving and was given a conditional 5 year visa which becomes permanent after the 5th year. He paid $600 to a lawyer and $400 to the Guatemalan government. He recommends his lawyer,
    Immigration Services
    Tel: 2335-3031/2335-2849
    He registered his wedding and the birth of his kids with the Guatemalan embassy while he was still in the states but began his own process in Guatemala.
    He said it was quick and painless and it kept him from having to make trips to the capital to renew (more difficult when you are in Xela) or from having to go to Mexico (only a three hour trip, but you have to spend the night). While I’m sure the prices have inflated over the last 10 years, it may actually save you money over 5 years rather than renewing the visa.

  2. Kimberly, it was ten years ago, and you are correct that the cedulas have been replaced. My wife and son plan on going to the embassy here in Costa Rica to see if they can get their cedulas replaced with DPIs.

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