Rue du Pourquoi Pas

Parce qu’il y a toujours une route qui, quelque part, m’attend.
Carnets de route, photos de voyages, et pensées vagabondes.

Écrit par : Sébastien ChionMarch 24th, 2016
82 English

When entering Guatemala, most travellers will get a 90 days touristic visa. This visa is valid in all the CA-4: the Central America 4 Border Control Agreement is a treaty signed in june 2006 by el Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. It grants free movement to the citizens of those four countries and to travellers, the possibility to cross border without any additional border control. Like Schengen in Europe.

Once those 90 days are over, the traveler who wants to stay longer must renew its visa. For that, he got two options:

  • Leaving the CA-4 area for at least 72 hours (visa run). When getting back in the CA*4, he will be granted a new 90 days touristic visa. This option implies a terrestrial trip to Mexico, Belize or Costa Rica, or to fly to any other destination.
  • If the previous is simple on an administrative point of view, it can be quite expensive and complicate. There’s the option of renewing the visa without leaving the country, by addressing government administration and ask for a visa prorogation.

As my visa was expiring, I had to work on this renewal. After long hesitation, I’ve decided not to do a visa run, for a couple of reasons (didn’t want to leave Guatemala, even for 72 hours, didn’t want to go on a long bus ride or to take the plane, didn’t want to invest money). Therefore, I took the administrative option.

Here’s what you need to know :

  • First, everything is happening in Guatemala City, Direccion General de Immigracion (Extranjeria). You’ll need to visit there, one week from each other. To take in account, as it can take quite a while, depending where you are. Sometime, the visa run IS the easy option.



  • There are person who can take care of all the paper work for you, like immigration advocate. Never heard about a price under 500 Q (more if your visa is already expired). Knowing that you’ll have to leave your passport to a complete stranger for 10 days, be sure not to randomly chose someone!


  • Administrative prorogation can be done only once. After 180 days, you will have no choice but to leave the CA-4 for at least 72 hours.


  • If your visa is already expired (which I strongly suggest you be very careful about and don’t do that !), both visa run and administrative prorogation are still possible. You’ll have to pay a 10Q fee per day you overstayed. Also, prorogation takes this overtime in account. Meaning that if you overstay by one week, prorogation will only be 83 days. Don’t try to stay longer this way: it’s a bad idea and it doesn’t work anyway.


How does it work, how much does it cost?

You’ll have to get twice to the Extranjeria (direction bellow).

During your first trip there, you’ll need:

  • Your unexpired passport. You’ll have to leave it there during the whole process, so maybe keep some photocopies for you!


  • One photocopy of the main page of your passport + one photocopy of the page with the visa. If needed, you can do photocopies on the first floor of the building.


  • One (sometime two?) picture of you, white and black, printed on mat photo paper. There’s a shop next to Extranjeria offering the service for 75Q. Few photographs also ofter the same price in Antigua.


  • You’ll have to feel a form that they will provide you there. Bring a pen.


  • To chose between those four documents :
    • international credit card with your name on it (card is enough, don’t need any balance proof)
    • plane ticket showing that you will leave the CA-4 at some point during the next 3 months
    • a minimum a 4 travellers checks to your name, each of them of a 100USD minimum
    • an official letter from a warrant in Guatemala, saying: full name, national id number (DPI), address, phone number, tax number (NIV), passport number, notarial copy of is id card (DPI) and his last bank statement (certified and stamped by the bank) proving a balance of at least 3000Q).

Once you get all that, go to the Extranjeria. On first floor, the welcome desk will send you to the second floor. Go to the information desk. They will give you the form to fill and tell you which window to attend. Go there, show your paper. If you’re overstaying, they will give you a fine to pay. For that, they will send you to the 4th floor, where they will give you the fine. Go to the first floor, where you can pay for it at the bank. They will give you a receipt, and you can go back to second floor. Give everything again, and they will give you a receipt for you passport, telling you when to come back. Usually, 5 business days later (so same day, next week).

Take from 30 to 60 minutes. 

CAREFUL: service to take passport back is only open between 2PM and 4PM ! 

On your second trip, go back to the welcome desk on first floor. They will take the informations printed on your receipt, and send you back to the second floor. There, the information counter will tell you which window to go to. Show your receipt. They will give you your file, but not your passport. You still have to pay the fee. They will send you to an other counter, when they will give you a 15USD invoice. Go to the bank on the first floor. Pay. Take the receipt. Go back to the first counter, show everything, take your passport, be happy!

Take from 30 to 60 minutes. 

Total cost

  • few photocopies: 5Q
  • photos: 75Q
  • fees: around 120Q (15US)
  • (in my case: 5 days overstaying: 50Q)

Altogether: 200Q. Knowing that if you go through an advocate, you’ll need photocopies and photo anyway, doing it yourself will save you 380Q (much more in my case, because she wanted to charge me an extra 100Q because I was late + 12 days of over staying, instead of 5). And it’s also a great opportunity to meet the administration of the country you’re traveling in. Which is great!

Time cost?

  • half an hour for the photos
  • 15 minutes for the photocopies
  • up to two hours at the Extraneria office

And what about transportation? How to you get to Extranjeria? 


Direccion General de Inmigracion (Extranjeria)
Avenida 6, 3-11, Zona 4

Monday to friday, except public holidays, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm

Phone #: (502) 2411-2411

There’s also a cost here, indeed, as you’ll have to go twice to Guatemala City if you’re not there.

For the first visit, I was going from Antigua. I took a chicken bus (10Q, one hour). As I didn’t know much the city, I took a cab for the first time. In this case, ask the bus driver to drop you at Walmart or Miraflores Center, where it will be easy to find a cab. Cost between 30 and 50Q. Always negociate the price first.

You can also get there with the city bus (the green flashy transmetro, really comfy). That’s what I did the second and third time (yep, went there three time, as the second time I didn’t arrive during opening time).


When you arrive from Antigua by chicken bus, ask the driver to drop you at the transmetro stop El Trebol. Or Bolivar, it’s even better. Both those stop are on line A, that you’ll have to take toward Plaza Barrios. Change at El Calvario for a B line bus, heading to Hangares, and leave the bus at Exposición, before coming back for a 100 meters.

For the way back, walk to Plaza de la Republica, to take a B line, toward Plaza Barrios. At Plaza Barrios, change for a A direction Centra Sur and get out at Santa Cecila, to go back to the chicken bus terminus to Antigua. You can also go to El trebol, but you’ll have to walk through 4 highways ramps… so I do suggest Santa Cecilia. Much more comfy.


Plan 1Q for the bus (only 1Q coin accepted) to the way in, same for the way back. Around 30/40 minute traveling time.

Note: Chicken bus arriving from the west will drop you at the same place as chicken bus from Antigua. If you’re arriving from the south, they will drop you at Centra Sur, which is on line A too.

Good luck ! 

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