Message for U.S. Citizens: COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 Information

Health Alert – September 4, 2020

Last updated:  09/10/2020

Country-Specific Information:

International travel to Guatemala remains closed to most individuals until September 18, but internal travel is largely unrestricted.  Markets, supermarkets, stores and restaurants may operate with social distancing measures in place, and religious services of no more than an hour are permitted.  Sports and entertainment facilities remain closed.  A curfew remains in effect between 9:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m. daily, and it is mandatory to wear a mask in public spaces.  U.S. citizens are advised to restrict their activities and movements to the maximum extent possible.

Entry and Exit Requirements:

  • Are U.S. citizens permitted to enter? The Guatemalan government is currently barring entry to most non-Guatemalans (with specific exceptions for accredited diplomatic personnel, health and security personnel, and exceptional cases as designated by the Guatemalan government) – by its land, sea, and air borders.  The government has announced that La Aurora International Airport will re-open September 18, with health protocols in place for the screening of arriving passengers. 
  • Is a negative COVID-19 test (PCR and/or serology) required for entry? Passengers entering Guatemala must either present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result issued no earlier than 72 hours prior to entry, or self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, under the supervision of the Ministry of Public Health. 
  • Are health screening procedures in place at airports and other ports of entry? The government has announced that La Aurora International Airport will re-open September 18 with screening procedures in place for passengers. Those exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms can expect to be referred to a treatment facility or be required to self-quarantine for 14 days.

 Movement Restrictions: 

  • Is a curfew in place? The Guatemalan government’s mandatory curfew remains in effect, running 9:00 p.m. each evening through 4:00 a.m. the following day. Every individual in Guatemala – including U.S. citizens – is required to remain inside their domicile during curfew hours (with exceptions for health and security, restaurant delivery services, certain media and legal personnel in pursuit of their duties, and patients receiving urgent treatment for chronic conditions). 
  • Are there restrictions on intercity or interstate travel? There are no current restrictions on internal travel within non-curfew hours. 

Quarantine Information: 

  • Are U.S. citizens required to quarantine? Arriving passengers who are unable to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result issued no earlier than 72 hours prior will be required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, under the supervision of the Ministry of Public Health.

COVID-19 Testing: 

  • Testing for US citizens is available at private clinics and hospitals in Guatemala City and in many departments outside of the capital. Antigen testing costs between Q300 and Q500. PCR testing is available at private hospitals for Q2,700 – Q3,500. Public hospitals and laboratories offer antigen testing for symptomatic patients without cost, but may require long waits and delayed results. 

Transportation Options: 

  • Are commercial flights operating? Airport operations and routine commercial flights to and from Guatemala are suspended through September 18. United Airlines is currently operating special repatriation flights (outbound only) from Guatemala City to George Bush Intercontinental/Houston Airport (IAH), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), and Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD).  Passengers seeking tickets or information for these flights and passengers seeking assistance with inquiries related to any cancelled flights should reach out to the airlines directly at https://www.united.com or VentasGUA@united.com.
  • Is public transportation operating? Public transportation vehicles that have been authorized by their municipalities and the Ministry of Health, and that operate at 50 percent maximum occupancy, are permitted to operate. 

For interdepartmental travel, only public transportation vehicles that have received authorization from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Communications, and that operate at 50 percent maximum occupancy, are permitted to operate.

Fines for Non-Compliance:    

All individuals must wear masks in public spaces, including in grocery stores and on the street, to prevent the further spread of the COVID-19 virus. Failure to comply with this requirement will result in fines of up to 150,000 Quetzales.  

Nationwide Restrictions and Resources

The Guatemalan government maintains a tiered “semáforo” system of health alerts, with COVID 19-related restrictions on movement and activities for a given area based on the health alert level in each location.

The overall threat ranking is as follows: 

Type of Alert:      Threat Level:

Green                   Normal
Yellow                  Moderate
Orange                 High
Red                       Maximum

The list of threat rankings for each department and municipality is available on the Guatemalan government’s website at https://covid19.gob.gt/semaforo.html. 

At the current time, all 17 municipalities in the department of Guatemala are in red status, the highest threat level.

The activities that will be permitted at each threat level are summarized on the Guatemalan government’s website at https://conred.gob.gt/site/documentos/covid-19/TablerodeAlertas.pdf.  The Embassy advises U.S. citizens in Guatemala to familiarize themselves with the threat level in their areas, and to keep abreast of any changes. 

Restrictions on In-Person Commercial Activities: 

Based on the tiered alert system, the following restrictions are in place in Guatemala City:

Open-air markets must maintain 1.5 meters of distance between patrons and ensure the proper use of masks. Individuals over the age of 60 are prohibited from shopping at open-air markets.

Supermarkets and enclosed stores must maintain four meters of distance between patrons and ensure the proper use of masks. Individuals over the age of 60 are prohibited from shopping at supermarkets and enclosed stores.

Malls and commercial centers may open to provide support to online shopping and parking lot delivery services. Restaurants, food courts and gathering spaces must remain closed. Commercial centers must arrange a special schedule to accommodate patrons over the age of 60.

Restaurants must prioritize delivery services. Restaurant employees must maintain a distance of four meters. Table service is permitted at maximum 25 percent capacity, with all windows and doors kept open. Groups of ten or larger are not permitted. High risk individuals and individuals over the age of 60 are not permitted to enter.

Alcoholic products may not be sold from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. 

Gyms, concert venues, movie theaters, pools, bars and public parks must remain closed.  

Restrictions on Church Services:

Religious services of up to one hour in duration may take place, if appropriate social distancing measures are followed.

Restrictions on Public Sector Activities:

All public and private businesses must maintain four meters of distance between employees at all time. Public sector offices will operate from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Private sector businesses are recommended to operate from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Consular Operations: 

U.S. Citizens Services (ACS)/Passport Services:

U.S. citizens with an expired passport, or one expiring soon, and imminent travel plans to the United States, may email amcitsguatemala@state.gov to request an emergency appointment.  Emergency appointments may also be requested for U.S. citizen children with imminent travel and who have not previously been issued a passport or Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA).

Appointments may also be requested for passport authentication for residency purposes, and certain notarial services and other services on a case-by-case basis.  Individuals should e-mail amcitsguatemala@state.gov to request an appointment.

The Embassy continues to accept adult passport renewal applications by mail. For more information on this process, please click here.

Visa Services:

The Embassy remains unable to resume routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa services at this time.  We will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date.

Visa appointments and emergency appointments at the United States Embassy in Guatemala are limited to the following categories, as local conditions and resources allow:

Immigrant Visas:

  • IR1/CR1 (Spouse of a U.S. Citizen)
  • IR2/CR2 (Child of a U.S. Citizen)
  • K1 (Fiancée visas)

If you are an applicant in one of the above categories and you believe your case involves an emergency situation, you may request an expedited appointment.  Please email a scanned letter or statement of proof of the emergency circumstances, where applicable to GuatemalaIV@state.gov.

Nonimmigrant Visas:

  • Diplomatic and official visas
  • H-2 visas, specifically those associated with food production (e.g., agriculture H-2A and seafood production H-2B)
  • Medical professionals applying for J-1, H-1B, or O-1 visas to engage in employment or research in the United States
  • Applicants for M, F or J visas with an approved I-20 or DS-2019 for
  • Medical Emergencies
  • Air and sea crew members
  • Applicants for H-1B, H-2B, H-4, L and certain J categories covered by Presidential Proclamation 10052 should request an appointment only if you have reason to believe you may qualify for one of the exceptions listed in the Proclamation.

Interviews for all other visa categories, including B1/B2, remain suspended. Applicants of any visa category with an urgent need to travel can request an emergency appointment.

Applicants should visit  https://www.ustraveldocs.com/gt/gt-niv-typefandm.asp to schedule an appointment.

In order to protect the health and safety of our personnel and the public, we will institute strict social distancing practices in our facilities. All applicants must wear masks. Any applicant with symptoms such as a cough, sore throat, or fever should contact to support-guatemala@ustraveldocs.com to reschedule their interview.

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