Residency In Guatemala
The standard tourist visa is valid for three months. Many of the expats in the country, even some that own homes here, never bother to get the residency visa, preferring to make a quick trip to Mexico, Belize, or elsewhere outside of Central America every three months. They use the visa renewal trip as an excuse to buy products that are cheaper or not available in Guatemala. The Mexican border cities have sprouted stores to handle these cross-border shoppers. Some expats use a “backdoor” into the immigration service for additional three-month segments for about 500 quetzal (about US$65).
Foreigners on tourist visas are not allowed to get the taxpayer’s ID card, the NIT, and are unable to open a business or take employment.
The first step in obtaining permanent residency status is the two-year temporary residency visa. These are granted in three categories:
- Investment visas: These are granted to foreigners who invest a minimum of US$50,000 in Guatemala. The documentation requirements are minimal (passport, clean police record for the last five years, proof of the investment, and a guarantor, a person or company that guarantees your character and financial behavior).
- Rentista (self-supporting) visas: Foreigners with sufficient outside income to support themselves are eligible for the rentista visa. The requirements are a passport, clean police record for the last five years, and a verifiable income of US$1,000 for the primary person and US$200 each for dependents.
- Retirement visas: These are for retired foreigners who receive an adequate pension. The requirements are the same as for the rentista visa.
The temporary residency visas allow you to own a business or take employment. The rentista and retirement visas restrict travel outside of Guatemala for more than one continuous year, except for medical reasons. After completing the two-year temporary residency period, you can apply for the permanent residency visa. The requirements and restrictions are the same.