Living in Guatemala

Official information British people moving to and living in Guatemala need to know, including residency, healthcare and driving.


You should follow the advice of the Guatemala’s government and your local authority. You can also read our Guatemala travel advice for our latest guidance.

For information on getting a COVID-19 vaccine as a UK national in Guatemala see our coronavirus travel advice.

Visas and residency

See entry requirements to enter Guatemala in our travel advice.

British nationals are not required to obtain a Guatemalan visa to visit Guatemala as a tourist for short stays but visitors must comply with migration requirements to enter the country for longer periods of time.

Please see the coronavirus section in our travel advice on present regulations and restriction related to coronavirus and entering Guatemala.

For information on Guatemalan migration law, please contact the Guatemalan Embassy in London or see the website of the Guatemalan Migration Institute on details about requirements for temporary and permanent residence.

If you overstay your visa then you should expect to pay a fine before leaving the country. This fine can only be paid at the main Guatemalan Migration Institute in Guatemala City. Fines cannot be paid at the airport or land borders.

For general information on Guatemala, please visit PROATUR website, an office part of the Tourist Authority that provides information and assistance to tourists.

Passports and travel

See our Guatemala travel advice for up-to-date information on local laws and customs, safety and emergencies.

See moving or retiring abroad.

See overseas British passports applications and get an emergency travel document (sometimes called an emergency passport).


Guatemala and the UK do not have reciprocal healthcare agreements.

You should buy comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you enter the country.

The NHS has information for people moving abroad.

You should check your prescriptions are legal in Guatemala.

Healthcare is available in Guatemala City but medical care outside Guatemala City is limited. Medical care in public hospitals is free but sometimes public hospitals experience serious shortages of basic medicines and equipment.

Private medical care is available but can be expensive. If travelling and/or living in Guatemala, it is advisable to obtain medical insurance. Private hospitals might require payment prior to giving treatment to patients, even if personal medical insurance covers the cost of treatment. Please see the health pages in our travel advice.

More information about Guatemala’s public health system can be found on the website of the Ministerio de Salud Pública y Asistencia Social.

The Instituto Guatemalteco de Seguridad Social has a social security system for registered workers.

Working in Guatemala

Some jobs may require a UK criminal records check.

British nationals can work in country if authorised to work and have the appropriate permissions to do so. Please contact the Guatemalan Embassy in London if you plan to work in Guatemala for information on requirements and what kind of permissions or visa you need.

The Ministry of Work deals with employment matters in Guatemala. For matters related to recognised educational qualifications, please contact the Ministry of Education.

For information on local tax, please visit the Superintendencia de Administración Tributaria (SAT) website.

Studying in Guatemala

The Ministry of Education promotes education in Guatemala, verifies educational centers and provides other services related to education.

Money and tax

See tax if you leave the UK to live abroad and tax on your UK income if you live abroad.

We recommend you get professional advice on paying tax in Guatemala.

If opening a personal bank account, you will be expected to present documentation to prove that you live in Guatemala, your address in Guatemala, place of work and the name of people in Guatemala that can give references about you.

You will also be asked to explain the origin of the funds that will be deposited in your account. For information on the banking rules, please visit the website of the Superintendencia de Bancos.

For information on tax, please visit the Superintendencia de Administración Tributaria (SAT) website.

If interested in investing in Guatemala, please contact the Guatemalan Embassy in London for information.

If you need more guidance on local law, the British Embassy provides a list of English speaking lawyers in Guatemala.

National Insurance

You may be able to pay National Insurance while abroad in order to protect your State Pension and entitlement to other benefits and allowances.


If you retire in Guatemala you can claim:

Life certificates for UK state pensions

If you get a ‘life certificate’ from the UK Pension Service, you need to respond as soon as possible – your payments may be suspended if you don’t.


Read our guidance on entitlement to UK benefits and pensions while you are living in Guatemala.

You will need to tell the UK government offices that deal with your benefits, pension and tax if you are moving or retiring abroad.

Check which benefits you can claim while abroad and how to claim them.

Many income-related benefits such as pension credit and housing benefit cannot be paid to you if you’re abroad for more than 4 weeks.

The Instituto Guatemalteco de Seguridad Social has a social security system for registered workers that covers medical attention, medical consultation, examinations and tests. It also includes medical attention in case of accident and in some cases a state pension.

Legal advice might be necessary in some cases. The British Embassy provides a list of English speaking lawyers in Guatemala.

Driving in Guatemala

See driving abroad

See taking a vehicle out of the UK.

For information on driving in Guatemala and how to obtain the relevant permissions for your vehicle, please contact Guatemala’s Transit Police.

Driving licences are issued by the company called Maycom, who can provide information on costs and procedures.

The Superintendencia de Administracion Tributaria (SAT) has information about tax regulations for importing vehicles to Guatemala.


You may be able to vote in some UK elections. You can:

Births, deaths and getting married

See register a birth abroad.

If someone dies in Guatemala you can:

Find out how you can get married abroad.

If you need more guidance on local law and what documentation you will need please contact the Guatemalan Embassy in London.

Also, the British Embassy provides a list of English speaking lawyers in Guatemala.

Find out about notarial and documentary services for British nationals in Guatemala


See travelling with pets.


If you need urgent help, contact your nearest British embassy or consulate.

Please contact the British Embassy in Guatemala +502 2380 7300 (if you are calling outside working hours, you will be transferred to a consular officer).

Accommodation and buying property

See buying a property abroad.

Other useful information

Returning to the UK

Read the guidance on returning to the UK permanently which includes information on, amongst other things, tax, access to services and bringing family members.

If you are returning to the UK after being a permanent resident, it is important to inform the following local authorities:

Legal advice might be necessary in some cases. The British Embassy provides a list of English speaking lawyers in Guatemala.


This information is provided as a general guide and is based upon information provided to the embassy by the relevant local authorities and may be subject to change at any time with little or no notice. The FCDO and the British Embassy will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information. British nationals wishing to obtain any further information must contact the relevant local authority.

Published 15 November 2013
Last updated 12 March 2021 + show all updates
  1. Updated with information about accessing COVID-19 vaccine abroad

  2. First published.