Fire and rescue services
Call 123 or go to the nearest hospital.
Call 110 or visit the nearest police station.
We haven't changed our level of advice:
Exercise a high degree of caution in Guatemala.
There is a state of emergency in the departments of Alta Verapeaz, El Progreso, Izabal, Peten and Zacapa. Follow instructions issued by local authorities, carry your personal identification with you and approach checkpoints cautiously.
Violent crime, including murder, carjacking and kidnapping, is common. It increases at night. Take extra care after dark. Only use ATMs during daylight.
Border crossings have a high crime rate. Only cross during daylight hours. Allow enough time to reach a major city before dark.
Criminals target travellers at the airport and driving to hotels. Use only pre-paid or radio taxis. Don't flag taxis on the street or use taxi stands. Always keep vehicle windows and doors locked, even when moving.
Scams involving tourist vehicles are common. Be wary of strangers offering a service you didn't ask for.
The hurricane season is June to November, but storms can happen at any time. The wet season is May to November. Landslides, mudslides and flooding may occur. Guatemala has 4 active volcanoes. Know where your nearest shelter is. Know how to protect yourself in the event of an eruption. If you climb a volcano, use experienced guides and follow local advice.
Full travel advice: Safety
Zika virus is widespread. If you're pregnant, discuss your travel plans with your doctor.
Malaria occurs year-round in areas below 1500m. Consider taking anti-malarial medication if you're travelling to these areas.
Other insect-borne diseases include dengue, Chagas disease, river blindness and leishmaniasis. Ensure your accommodation is insect-proof. Use insect repellent.
HIV/AIDS is a significant risk. Take precautions if you're taking part in high-risk activities.
Foodborne, waterborne and other infectious diseases include hepatitis, typhoid and tuberculosis. Drink boiled or bottled water. Avoid raw or undercooked food.
Medical facilities in Guatemala City are adequate. They're limited elsewhere. If you're seriously ill or injured, you may need medical evacuation. Ensure your travel insurance covers this.
Full travel advice: Health
Check with local officials before taking photos. It's illegal to photograph government buildings, military sites, the Presidential Palace and airports.
Ask permission before taking photos of women and children
All male Guatemalan citizens aged between 18 and 50 must complete military service. This includes dual nationals. If you're a male dual citizen, contact an Embassy or Consulate of Guatemala before you travel.
Same-sex relationships are mostly accepted in Guatemala City. In other parts of Guatemala, this may not be the case. Consider avoiding public displays of affection if you're outside the capital.
Full travel advice: Local laws
You won't need a visa if you're a tourist staying 90 days or less. You'll need to show a return ticket and proof that you have enough money for your visit.
If you're travelling for other reasons or want to stay longer, you'll need a visa. Contact an Embassy or Consulate of Guatemala for details.
If you're visiting a country where yellow fever is present, carry your yellow fever vaccination certificate. You'll need to show it to enter Guatemala.
The local currency is the Guatemala Quetzal. You can't import or export the Quetzal. Exchange US dollars for local currency once you arrive.
Have multiple ways to access money. ATMs can be unreliable, but most places accept credit cards.
Inter-city travel after dark anywhere in Guatemala is dangerous. If you're driving, get local advice on road conditions, including security risks.
Public buses and chicken buses (converted school buses) are often unsafe. Avoid these. Gangs have also attacked tour buses and luxury coaches. Only travel on tour buses and inter-city buses with good security arrangements.
Criminals may attack motorised boats or sailing boats in Rio Dulce and Livingston. Before you book boat travel, check the company has good security measures.
Full travel advice: Travel
Violent crime is common in Guatemala, particularly in tourist destinations. This includes:
Crime often involves guns. Violent crime increases at night.
Areas at risk for violent crime, assault and robbery include:
Guatemala City, including previously safe areas like Zones 10, 14 and 15
volcanoes and other tourist sites
borders with El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico
land border crossings, where travellers exchange large amounts of cash
Express kidnappings happen. These are where criminals force you to withdraw funds from ATMs. This can happen at petrol stations and shopping centres.
If you're attacked or robbed, don't resist. If criminals have guns or weapons, they may injure or kill you.
To protect yourself from violent crime:
always be aware of your surroundings
take extra care after dark
only use ATMs during daylight hours
only change money in hotels or banks
get updates on regional security conditions
Be careful when crossing land borders. Only cross the border during daylight hours. Allow enough time to arrive in a major town before dark.
Criminals may target you when arriving at international airports or travelling to hotels in Guatemala City and Antigua.
Using an unofficial taxi increases your risk of robbery and assault. Safe options include:
buying prepaid taxi vouchers from the Tourist Office at the airport
using radio-dispatched taxis
using taxis from hotels
Don't flag taxis or use taxi stands.
You can use an escort from the state-run tourist service PROATUR to reduce your travel risk.
To protect yourself while travelling by road:
plan to arrive at La Aurora Airport (Guatemala City) during the day or early evening
be aware of your surroundings
travel in a group
choose a reputable tour company
never hitchhike or accept rides from strangers
To protect yourself if you're driving:
keep doors locked and windows up, even when driving
keep your valuables out of sight
Theft happens at budget hotels, particularly in Antigua.
Scammers target travellers. Scams can involve tourist vehicles.
To protect yourself from scams:
be wary of strangers offering a service you didn't ask for or making unusual requests
always be aware of your money and other possessions
The Guatemalan Government has declared a state of emergency in the departments of Alta Verapaz, El Progreso, Izabal, Peten and Zacapa. This measure is in response to the killing of three soldiers by suspected drug traffickers. Security forces have additional powers and some civil rights are suspended.
Strikes, protests, demonstrations and large public gatherings can happen suddenly and can turn violent.
To protect yourself during periods of civil unrest:
avoid protests, demonstrations and public gatherings
monitor the media for reports of potential unrest, and avoid those areas
leave an affected area as soon as it's safe
follow the advice of local authorities
Terrorism is a threat worldwide.
To protect yourself in case of a natural disaster:
secure your passport in a safe, waterproof location
monitor local media and other sources
follow the advice of local authorities
keep in contact with your friends and family
get local advice before visiting natural disaster-affected areas
Register with the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System for alerts.
The hurricane season is June to November, although tropical storms and hurricanes can happen in other months.
The wet season is May to November, when landslides, mudslides and flooding may occur.
The direction and strength of hurricanes can change suddenly.
If there's a hurricane or severe storm:
you may get stuck in the area
your airline may delay or suspend your flight
available flights may fill quickly
adequate shelter may not be available
Severe weather may also affect:
access to ports
essential services, such as electricity and water
To protect yourself if a hurricane is approaching:
know the evacuation plan for your hotel or cruise ship
identify your local shelter
closely monitor alerts and advice from authorities
If you're travelling to Guatemala during hurricane season or after a natural disaster, monitor weather reports.
Get to know the earthquake safety measures for each place you stay in or visit.
Guatemala has 4 active volcanoes:
Volcan de Fuego
Volcan de Fuego, Pacaya, and Santiaguito volcanoes are very active. Levels of activity may increase at any time.
After a volcanic eruption, falling ash can spread over a wide area. Ash, dust and toxic fumes are a significant health risk. If you have a respiratory condition, take particular care.
To protect yourself if there's a volcanic eruption:
stay inside with the windows and doors shut
place damp towels under doors and windows if ash is falling
monitor advice and alerts from authorities
If you go outside, wear a disposable face mask, goggles and long clothing to avoid contact with ash.
To reduce your risks if you climb a volcano:
only climb with a group
use experienced guides and a reputable tour company
follow the advice of local authorities
Get comprehensive travel insurance before you leave. Your policy needs to cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. The Australian Government won’t pay for these costs.
If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. This applies to everyone, no matter how healthy and fit you are.
If you're not insured, you may have to pay many 1000s of dollars up-front for medical care.
what activities and care your policy covers
that your insurance covers you for the whole time you’ll be away
Consider your physical and mental health before you travel, especially if you have an existing medical condition.
See your doctor or travel clinic to:
have a basic health check-up
ask if your travel plans may affect your health
plan any vaccinations you need
Do this at least 8 weeks before you leave.
Not all medication available over the counter or by prescription in Australia is available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.
Medicines containing pseudoephedrine are banned in Guatemala.
If you plan to take medication, check if it's legal in Guatemala. Take enough legal medicine for your trip.
Carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating:
what the medicine is, including its generic name
how much you'll take
that it's for personal use
Zika virus is widespread in Guatemala.
If you're pregnant, the Australian Department of Health recommends that you:
discuss travel plans with your doctor
consider deferring non-essential travel to affected areas
Malaria is a year-round risk in rural areas below 1500m elevation.
Other insect-borne diseases occur in Guatemala. These include:
To protect yourself from disease:
make sure your accommodation is insect-proof
use insect repellent
wear long, loose, light-coloured clothing
Consider taking medicine to prevent malaria.
Get medical advice if you have a fever, muscle pain, rash, bleeding nose or gums, or severe headache.
HIV/AIDS is a significant risk in Guatemala.
Take steps to protect yourself if you're at risk of infection.
Waterborne, foodborne and other infectious diseases are common. These include:
Serious outbreaks sometimes occur.
To protect yourself from illness:
drink boiled water or bottled water with sealed lids
avoid ice cubes
avoid raw and undercooked food, such as salads
make sure your vaccinations are up to date
Get medical advice if you have a fever or diarrhoea.
Medical facilities in Guatemala City are adequate. Outside the capital, facilities are limited.
Expect to pay cash before doctors and hospitals will treat you, even in an emergency.
If you become seriously ill or injured, you'll need to be evacuated to a place with better facilities. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.
You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling.
If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Penalties for drug offences are severe and include long prison sentences in local jails.
Guatemala has the death penalty for aggravated murder and political crimes.
It's illegal to photograph government buildings, military sites and areas like the Presidential Palace and airports. Check with local authorities before taking photos.
Some Australian criminal laws still apply when you’re overseas. If you break these laws, you may face prosecution in Australia.
Get permission before photographing anyone, especially women and children.
Same-sex relationships are mostly accepted in Guatemala City. In other parts of Guatemala, this may not be the case.
You'll need to purchase a tourist card at the airport. This permits you to visit Guatemala for up to 90 days.
Guatemala is a member country to the Central American Border Control Agreement (CA-4), along with:
With a CA-4 tourist visa, you can travel freely by land between member countries within the 90-day period.
Your tourist card is dated from the first point of entry in any member country.
You can apply to extend the CA-4 visa before it expires at the local immigration office.
If you're not a tourist or you plan to stay longer, you'll need a visa.
Entry and exit conditions can change. Contact an Embassy or Consulate of Guatemala for details about visas, currency, customs and quarantine rules.
To enter the country, you'll need:
a valid passport
a return or onward ticket
evidence you have enough money for your visit
If you’re travelling through the US, you must also meet US entry or transit requirements. This includes transit through Hawaii.
If you're travelling through Canada, you'll need an eTA (Electronic Travel Authorisation) for Canada.
You'll need a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate to enter Guatemala. Some airlines may want to see one when you leave.
Find out about returning to Australia after exposure to yellow fever.
A child travelling to Guatemala without both parents must have notarised written consent from both parents. A child travelling with at least 1 parent won't need this letter.
These documents must be in Spanish and approved by the Guatemalan mission closest to the child's home.
You'll need to pay an airport and security tax in cash on departure at the airport.
You'll also need to pay an exit tax if your ticket price doesn't include it.
Some countries won’t let you enter unless your passport is valid for 6 months after you plan to leave that country. This can apply even if you’re just transiting or stopping over.
Some foreign governments and airlines apply the rule inconsistently. Travellers can receive conflicting advice from different sources.
You can end up stranded if your passport is not valid for more than 6 months.
The Australian Government does not set these rules. Check your passport’s expiry date before you travel. If you’re not sure it’ll be valid for long enough, consider getting a new passport.
Your passport is a valuable document. It's attractive to people who may try to use your identity to commit crimes.
Some people may try to trick you into giving them your passport. Always keep it in a safe place.
If your passport is lost or stolen, tell the Australian Government as soon as possible:
The local currency is the Guatemala Quetzal (GTQ).
You can't import or export the Quetzal. You can only exchange US dollars in Guatemala.
ATMs aren't always reliable. Credit cards are widely accepted.
Contact your bank to make sure your cards will work.
Using ATMs on the street puts you at high risk of robbery or express kidnapping.
Strict security controls are in place at Guatemalan borders due to high levels of drug-related criminal activity.
Military personnel are stationed along the border between Guatemala and Mexico. They may want to check your documents.
Only use recognised border crossings, particularly between Guatemala and Belize. There is an ongoing border dispute between the two countries.
Security at border crossings into Mexico has recently been increased by the Mexican government in response to a large number of migrants seeking to travel to the US. Take extra care when using these border crossings and follow the direction of authorities.
To drive in Guatemala, you need both:
an International Driving Permit (IDP)
an Australian driver's licence
You must get the IDP before arriving in Guatemala.
You're 4 times more likely to die in a motor vehicle accident in Guatemala than in Australia.
Driving in Guatemala can be dangerous. Hazards include:
aggressive local drivers
poorly maintained vehicles
roads in poor condition
drivers ignoring traffic laws
In rural areas, extra road travel risks include:
poor lighting and street signs
people and animals on roads
Mudslides and road collapses caused by heavy rains are common. Roads may be closed at short notice.
Inter-city travel after dark anywhere in Guatemala is dangerous. Violent carjackings occur, particularly on poorly maintained roads, but also on main highways.
Dangerous roads include:
the Pan-American Highway (CA-1)
the Pacific Coast Highway (CA-2)
the Atlantic Highway (CA-9)
Criminals have violently attacked motorists between El Salvador and Guatemala, particularly on the Guatemalan side of the border.
Armed gangs often build roadblocks in:
the northern and western Departments of San Marcos
Other dangerous areas for road travel include:
the route between Cocales (Suchitepequez) and San Lucas Toliman (Atitlan)
the isolated dirt roads near Lake Atitlan
the Godinez bypass via Patzun between Guatemala City and Panajachel
An alternative route to the Godinez bypass is the main Pan-American highway to Solola.
Criminals sometimes pose as police officers.
It's illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Authorities may arrest or detain you.
If you plan to drive in Guatemala:
check your travel insurance cover
learn local traffic laws and practices
don't travel alone, at night or through dangerous areas
keep doors locked and windows up, even when moving
don't drink or use drugs
Before you drive:
get local advice on road conditions, including security risks
know your travel options in advance
be prepared for a change in plans if any security issues come up
Check with your travel insurer whether your policy covers you when using a motorbike, quad bike or similar vehicle.
Your policy may not cover you for accidents that occur while using these vehicles.
Always wear a helmet.
Travel by taxi can be dangerous.
Book airport taxis and regular taxis through a reputable taxi company. These are safer than taxis flagged from the street or at taxi stands.
If you use a taxi:
arrange transport through your hotel or a radio dispatcher to avoid unlicensed operators
buy vouchers from the airport Tourist Office for airport taxis
book in advance if travelling at night
Public buses and chicken buses (converted school buses) are often unsafe. Armed robberies are common.
Bus travel can be dangerous. Gangs have targeted, robbed and sexually assaulted passengers on:
Gangs have also detonated bombs targeting buses. In 2016, gangs killed 5 people in a bomb blast on an inter-city bus in San Jose Pinula, near Guatemala City.
Dangerous areas for bus attacks include:
tourist areas like Panajachel and Antigua
the roads from the El Salvador border to Cuilapa
from the Belize border to El Cruce
If you need to use public transport:
avoid travelling on public buses or chicken buses (converted school buses)
only travel on tour buses and inter-city buses with good security arrangements
do not stow your bag on the overhead bin or under your seat
check security arrangements before you book
If you plan to travel by bus from Guatemala to southern Mexico, see our travel advice for Mexico.
Criminals may attack you on motorised boats or sailing boats in Rio Dulce and Livingston.
Check there are good security measures in place before booking any boat travel.
Strong currents and tides on Guatemala's Pacific coast are dangerous for swimmers.
You often won't find beach patrols, lifeguards or warning and advisory signs.
DFAT doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths.
Check Guatemala's air safety profile with the Aviation Safety Network.
Depending on what you need, contact your:
family and friends
PROATUR, the tourist assistance unit, provides 24-hour help:
Call 123 or go to the nearest hospital.
Call 110 or visit the nearest police station.
Emergency telephone operators may not speak English.
Always get a police report when you report a crime.
Your insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.
Contact your provider with any complaints about tourist services or products.
Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.
Australia has a consulate in Guatemala, headed by an Honorary Consul. The consulate provides limited consular assistance, they don't issue passports. You can get full consular assistance from the Australian Embassy in Mexico City.
Avenida Las Americas 7-20
Zona 13 Real America local 24
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Phone: (502) 2334 6817
Ruben Dario 55, (Polanco)
Col Bosque de Chapultepec
11580 CDMX Mexico
Phone: +52 55 1101 2200
Fax: +52 55 1101 2201
See the Embassy website for details about opening hours and any temporary closures.
In a consular emergency, if you can't contact an embassy, call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on:
+61 2 6261 3305 from overseas
1300 555 135 in Australia
Be the first to know official government advice when travelling.