Living in Guatemala
Advice for British people living in Guatemala, including information on health, education, benefits, residence requirements and more.
This guide sets out essential information for British national residing in Guatemala, including advice on health, education, benefits, residence requirements and more. We are unable to provide any guidance on general lifestyle enquiries apart from the information and links listed below. See our information on what consulates can and cannot do for British nationals.
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.
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.
The Ministry of Education promotes education in Guatemala, verifys educational centres and provides other services related to education.
Employment and recognised qualifications
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.
Entry and residence requirements
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. For information on Guatemalan migration law, please contact the Guatemalan Embassy in London or see the website of the Guatemalan government for details about temporary residence and permanent residence.
Please also visit our travel advice information if travelling to Guatemala.
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 . Please see the information about UK benefits and advice on retiring abroad.
Driving licences and vehicles
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 informaton on costs and procedures.
The Superintendencia de Administracion Tributaria (SAT) has information about tax regulations for importing vehicles to 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.
Guidance on bringing medication into Guatemala
Please contact the Guatemalan Embassy in London for information on bringing medication into Guatemala.
Sponsoring family members
The government of Guatemala provides information on permanent residency and any requirements for sponsors.
Social ethics and traditions
For general information on Guatemala, please visit the website of PROATUR, an office part of the Tourist Authority that provides information and assistance to tourists.
Returning to the UK
If you are returning to the UK after being a permanent resident, it is important to inform the following local authorities:
- Superintendencia de Administracion Tributaria (tax office)
- Ministry of Work
- Guatemalan Embassy in London
- Transit Police
- Ministry of Health
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 FCO 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