Overland Guatemala Travel
Currency to display:
 Entering Guatemala with a Car or Motorbike
Correct as of: July 2013
 Required Paperwork
- Passport of registered owner (original and 1 copy).
- Vehicle registration (original and 1 copy).
- Drivers license of registered owner (original and 1 copy).
 Process at border
(For people, see Guatemala Visa and Passport requirements at the World Travel Guide)
- Your vehicle will be fumigated, which costs $3.00 USD. Be sure to get a receipt.
- The owner of the vehicle gains entry at immigration (migración), including a stamp in their Passport.
- The owner must show the new passport stamp, drivers license and the original vehicle registration to customs (aduana).
- Pay the required fee of Q160.00 GTQ at the nearby bank. Be sure to get a receipt.
- The owner is issued a temporary import permit for the vehicle.
NOTE: You will encounter pushy locals offering to help you with paperwork to get across the border. See Border Crossing Helpers for advice.
 Cost of entry
- $3.00 USD for fumigation.
- Q160.00 GTQ for the vehicle entry.
It seems that the 20 GTQ/person entry fee for Guatemala is a scam. No one else paid the fee, and the immigration agent refused to give a receipt, stating that the passport stamp was the receipt.
NOTE: The CA-4 stamp that most nationalities get allowing entry to Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua for 90 days is supposed to be free, but some customs officials will ask for money. Politely ask for a receipt, and do not pay unless you are given a receipt for this.
 Permitted length of stay
90 days. Guatemala is part of the CA-4 Border control agreement. This agreement grants travel between Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua for a TOTAL of 90-days. The number of days remaining on your CA4 is written in your passport as you travel from country to country. The 90-day limit begins when you enter any country that is part of the CA4 agreement. To avoid penalty and fines, Exit the CA4 countries and enter into Costa Rica or Mexico/Belize before the 90-days limit expires.
 Extension of stay
In Guatemala City, you may, as a courtesy, receive one extension of 90 days for both the temporary import permit and the tourist visa.
As of February 2013, after one extension (for 180 days total) your vehicle must remain out of the country for 90 days before you can apply for another temporary import permit.
You must extend your tourist visa first, at the Immigration Office Extranjeria in Zone 4. 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 GPS: N14 37.297 W90 31.014. This process takes 8 calendar days.
- Black and white passport photo (available next door)
- Original passport
- Two copies of the passport photo page
- One copy of the Guatemalan passport stamp
- Completed application form (available at the information window)
- Q118.50 GTQ (as of Feb 2013).
To extend your temporary vehicle import permit, go to the SAT office at the airport. GPS: N14 35.056 W90 31.829. Bring:
- Original import permit
- Original passport with valid tourist visa
 Storing a vehicle and temporarily leaving the country
The vehicle import permit can be "temporarily extended" if you wish to visit a neighboring country such as Belize or Mexico, and reinstated once one decides to come back to the country. All one needs to do is pay another visit to the Customs office and inform them of the dates one is leaving and returning. Not official policy, but a courtesy they can extend to you. They’re losing revenue by allowing people to stay in the country for long stretches of time without paying import taxes.
 Exiting with a vehicle
- The registered owner presents the temporary import paper to customs.
- The registered owner is stamped out of Guatemala at immigration.
NOTE: As with entering Guatemala, you will definitely encounter very pushy locals offering to help you with paperwork to get across the border. See Central America Border Crossings for advice.
 Driving in Guatemala
 Insurance requirements
Insurance is not required in Guatemala.
 Cost of insurance
 Where to purchase insurance
 Driving license
Technically an International Driving Permit is required.
In reality, showing a license from anywhere in the world seems to be good enough.
 Driving side of road
Right hand drive vehicles are permitted without problem.
 Mandatory items in vehicle
Fire extinguisher and safety triangles (2) for any roadside problems/accidents, etc. If a driver is stopped by the police, the absence of these items in the car can result in a citation and fine.
 General Road quality
Roads in Guatemala vary greatly. The Pan American is paved and good quality for the length of the country, as are most other highways. Lesser roads are gravel and can be very bumpy and rutted. Towards the center of the country, roads are extremely bumpy and slow-going. During the rainy season many roads are impassable.
 Road signs
Road signs are uncommon, and can not be relied upon.
 Toll roads
 Bribery in Guatemala
Police bribery is relatively common in Guatemala, so you should expect it to happen. See the bribery tips page for advice.
It's a good idea to have copies of all important documents in a separate envelope. Police cannot confiscate official documents as they are considered to be personal property; however, if a police officer is insistent you can relinquish your copies instead.
 Traveling with pets
As with all borders in Central America, be ready for bribery if you have a pet.
According to travelers in 2012, you need: 
- A Health Certificate for the animal in Spanish (updated at least every four months)
- A vaccination record (the European Pet Passport works well)
You might not be asked for either one, but you should have them ready.
 Gas and Diesel price in Guatemala
Last updated: August 2012
Currency and unit to display:
|Regular||Q34.90 GTQ per Gallon (US)|
|Super (90)||Q35.75 GTQ per Gallon (US)|
|Normal Diesel||Q30.99 GTQ per Gallon (US)|
|Diesel (low sulfur)||??|
 Gas and Diesel Availability / Frequency
Gasoline is common.
 Gas and Diesel Quality
Accepted to be low quality. Sulfur content of diesel is unknown, but probably high.
 Safety and Security Considerations
 Driving at night
Driving at night is absolutely not recommended in Guatemala, due to safety considerations.
- The North of the country near the Belize border is known to be especially dangerous.
- Driving all the way around Lake Atitlán (Lago de Atitlán) is not recommended - numerous Overlanders have encountered bandits along the road to the South.
 Vehicle parking
Find a secure parking lot to park for any length of time. Price unknown.
 Special driving considerations
Like most Central American countries, you need to expect the unexpected at all times. Unlike Mexico, speed bumps are no longer called "topes" and are referred to as "tumulos" in Guatemala.
 Security advisories and information
- Country Specific Information - U.S. Department of State
- Travel Reports and Warnings - Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
- Travel advice by country - Foreign and Commonwealth office (U.K.)
- Travel Advice for Guatemala - Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
 Camping in Guatemala
Camping is not popular in Guatemala, though you will find the odd spot if you keep a lookout. Roadside camping can be OK in the smaller out-of-the-way places.
The Police in Antigua offer a free campground in the middle of the city - a popular meeting place for Overlanders. See Overland Travel Interest below
 Camping guide books
- Traveler's Guide to Mexican Camping by Church - Known as THE bible for Mexican camping, the newer versions also have information for Guatemala and Belize. Includes GPS co-ordinates, descriptions of campsites, and other pertinent info. Very informative, especially for someone camping in a larger vehicle.
 Drinking water
Tap water in Guatemala is not safe to drink. Even in populated tourist areas, such as Antiqua, tap water should not be considered safe. Most tourist restaurants will use filtered water for ice cubes and washing fruit and vegetables; however, these rules do not apply in rural, less touristy areas. To be safe, always drink bottled/filtered water and only eat fruits and vegetables that can be peeled.
 Paper maps
The Mexico Road Atlas (aka the Guia Roji) also has maps of Guatemala. It can be bought at gas stations within Mexico for around $20.00 USD. It is updated yearly, and is in Spanish.
 GPS Maps of Guatemala
- Open Street Map: Appears to have good coverage.
- Cenrut: Free Open Source GPS map of Central America. Coverage is occasionally better than OSM. 
- Garmin: Apparently no map of Guatemala beside Garmin WorldMap.
- TomTom: No map of Guatemala. 
 GPS co-ordinates for camping, propane, gas, repairs, etc. in Guatemala
- Guatemala Campgrounds and Hotels - Life Remotely - List of campgrounds and hostels with photos, GPS co-ordinates, descriptions and amenities from 2012]
- Camping Sites: Guatemala - Detailed list of campsites and propane filling with description, directions and GPS co-ordinates. Some at hotels (lists facilities and price), some roadside and free.
- Central America Camping Locations - List of campsites, with basic directions and GPS co-ordinates. Mostly free sites.
- Camping Log 1: Central America - List of campsites, shopping, fuel, propane and border crossings with excellent descriptions and GPS co-ordinates.
- White Acorn camping log page - GPS co-ordinates and excellent description of campsites]
 Special Overland Travel interests
- Camping in Antigua is free at the walled and guarded Tourist Police compound. Toilets and cold showers are free also. You are guaranteed to bump into other Overlanders here. The exact location in town is marked on the map in the Lonely Planet, or ask any Police officer for the Police Touristica. GPS coordinates: N14 33.347 W90 44.379
- Length of stay and curfew can vary depending on the current attitude of the Tourist Police. It's possible to gain permission to stay up to 3 weeks if you ask nicely. Curfew is typically after 10pm and the gates will reopen at 6am.
 Travel Guide Books
- Guatemala Travel Information and Travel Guide - Lonely Planet
- Frommer's Guatemala
- Don't Go There. It's Not Safe. You'll Die. And other more rational advice for Overlanding Mexico and Central America Free e-book created by overlanders in 2012 with useful information on overlanding in general and specifics to Mexico.
 Vehicle Maintenance
4x4s / Trucks
- Toyota Global Dealer Locator
- Land Rover International Dealer Locator
- Mercedes Benz International (select country on bottom right)
- Jeep International site locator
 Local Garages
- Puento Nuevo Centro de Servicio - In Coban (closest major town to Semuc Champey). Excellent mechanics and fair prices. GPS: 15.47108 -90.38497
- Toyota Dealership in Guatemala City - Typical dealership prices, but speak English and are very helpful. They can also recommend other reliable mechanics if you aren't near a dealership. GPS 14.635197 -90.583831
 Buy or sell a car or motorbike in Guatemala
Describe how a foreigner can buy a vehicle. List any difficulties or limitations on where the vehicle can be driven.
Describe how a foreigner can sell a foreign-plated vehicle, or list not possible.'
- ↑ Central American Borders and dogs
- ↑ Antigua | The Road Chose Me
- ↑ Antigua | The Road Chose Me
- ↑ Antigua | The Road Chose Me
- ↑ OpenStreetMap Guatemala
- ↑ Cenrut Mapping Project
- ↑ TomTom Map availability
- Guatemala: Visa and Passport requirements | World Travel Guide
- Health Information for Travelers to Guatemala - Center for Disease Control and Prevention
- Guatemala travel guides at wikivoyage
- Guatemala - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Guatemala Overland | Overland Sphere Overland travelers currently in Guatemala