Doing Business In Guatemala

  1. Guatemala's overall Doing Business 2013 ranking is 93 out of 185 economies, recording a 5 point increase compared to last year. This increase reflects a 52 point jump in the Dealing with Construction Permits indicator.
  2. According to the latest Enterprise Surveys (2010), the top 3 obstacles faced by firms in Guatemala are Crime, Theft, and Disorder, Practices of the Informal Sector, and Political Instability. 69.6% of firms pay for security, compared to a regional average of 62.6%.
  3. Guatemala’s economic freedom score is 60.9, making its economy the 82nd freest in the 2012 Index. Its score has decreased by 1.0 point, reflecting declines in four of the 10 economic freedoms including property rights, freedom from corruption, and business freedom. Guatemala is ranked 17th out of 29 countries in the South and Central America/Caribbean region, and its overall score is just above the world average.

Source: World Bank


Visa Information

Citizens of the US, Canada, EU countries, Norway, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, Israel and Japan are among those who do not need visas for tourist visits to Guatemala. On entry into Guatemala you will normally be given a 90-day stay. (The number 90 will be written in the stamp in your passport.)
In August of 2006 Guatemala joined the Centro America 4 (CA-4), a trading agreement with Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador. Designed to facilitate the movement of people and goods around the region, it has one major effect on foreign visitors – upon entry to the CA-4 region, travelers are given a 90-day stay for the entire region. This can be extended once at the Departamento de Extranjería (Foreigners’ Office; 2411 2411; 6a Av 3-11, Zona 4, Guatemala City; 8am-2:30pm Mon-Fri). For an extension take with you one of the following:
A credit card with a photocopy of both of its sides.
An airline ticket out of Guatemala with a photocopy.
US$500 worth of traveler’s checks.
The extension will normally be issued in the afternoon of the working day after the day you apply.
Citizens of some Eastern European countries are among those who do need visas to visit Guatemala. Inquire at a Guatemalan embassy well in advance of travel.
Visa regulations are subject to change and it’s always worth checking them with a Guatemalan embassy before you go.
If you have been in the CA-4 for your original 90 days and a 90-day extension, you must leave the region for 72 hours (Belize and Mexico are the most obvious, easiest options), after which you can return to the region to start the process all over again. Some foreigners have been repeating this cycle for years.

Business Etiquette

General Business Hours

Guatemalan shops and businesses are generally open from 8am to noon and 2pm to 6pm, Monday to Saturday, but there are many variations. Banks typically open 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday (again with variations), and 9am to 1pm Saturday. Government offices usually open 8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday. Official business is always better conducted in the morning.
Restaurant hours are typically 7am to 9pm, but can vary by up to two hours either way. Most bars open from 10am or 11am to 10pm or 11pm. The Ley Seca (dry law) stipulates that bars and discotecas must close by 1am, except on nights before public holidays. It is rigidly adhered to in large cities and universally laughed at in smaller towns and villages. If restaurants or bars have a closing day, it’s usually Sunday. Typical shopping hours are 8am to noon and 2pm to 6pm, Monday to Saturday.