Guatemala Travel Advisory

Travel Advisory
October 25, 2021

Guatemala - Level 3: Reconsider Travel

O K E N H U T C

Reconsider travel to Guatemala due to COVID-19. Reconsider travel to Guatemala due to crime. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.  

Read the Department of State’s COVID-19 page before you plan any international travel. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 3 Travel Health Notice for Guatemala due to COVID-19, indicating a high level of COVID-19 in the country. Your risk of contracting COVID-19 and developing severe symptoms may be lower if you are fully vaccinated with an FDA authorized vaccine. Before planning any international travel, please review the CDC's specific recommendations for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers. Visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Guatemala.

Do not travel to: 

  • San Marcos Department (except the city of San Marcos) due to crime
  • Huehuetenango Department (except the city of Huehuetenango) due to crime
  • Zone 18 and the city of Villa Nueva in Guatemala City due to crime.

Country Summary: Violent crime, such as armed robbery and murder, is common. Gang activity, such as extortion, violent street crime, and narcotics trafficking, is widespread. Local police may lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents. U.S. Mission personnel are prohibited from traveling to/throughout the above-mentioned areas, but are permitted to travel throughout the rest of Guatemala, including Tikal, Antigua, Lake Atitlán, and Pacific coast areas in the Santa Rosa and Escuintla departments.

Read the country information page

If you decide to travel to Guatemala: 

  • See the U.S. Embassy's web page regarding COVID-19.  
  • Visit the CDC’s webpage on Travel and COVID-19.    
  • When traveling to Tikal, travel in organized groups that fly into Flores Airport. Remain in groups, stay on the principal trails leading to the Central Plaza and Temple IV complex, and avoid remote areas of the park.
  • When traveling to Lake Atitlán, use certified tourist providers and travel between villages on the lakeshore by chartered boat, as perimeter paths pose a serious crime risk and are not easily accessible by emergency services. Hiking in the area, while popular, is best undertaken with the assistance of a local guide to ensure safety, as criminals are known to target some routes.
  • When visiting Pacific coast beaches and resorts in the Santa Rosa and Escuintla departments, arrange travel through hotel, resort, or charter agents. Travel to and from hotels, resorts, and fishing charters via road from Guatemala City during daylight hours only.  
  • Visitors are strongly advised to avoid swimming in the Pacific Ocean, since currents and undertows are strong, and beaches lack adequate lifeguards and emergency response.
  • Visitors should not leave drinks unattended in bars and restaurants, and are advised to decline invitations from strangers to private parties or gatherings.
  • Consider hotels that offer secure parking, doormen, and a dedicated and professional security staff. 
  • Request security escorts, available for tourist groups, from the Guatemalan Tourism Institute (INGUAT). 
  • Be aware of your surroundings. 
  • Avoid walking or driving at night. 
  • Do not attempt to hike walking trails or volcanoes without the services of a qualified local guide. Robberies are commonplace, and emergency response is lacking. 
  • Do not physically resist any robbery attempt. 
  • Do not use public ATMs. 
  • Do not display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive watches or jewelry.  
  • Avoid using mobile devices in public. 
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency. 
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter
  • Review the Crime and Safety Report for Guatemala. 
  • U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist

San Marcos Department – Do Not Travel

All U.S. Mission personnel and family members are restricted from traveling to San Marcos Department for personal travel, with the exception of the city of San Marcos. Narcotics trafficking is widespread and large portions of the department are under the influence of drug trafficking organizations. Several municipalities lack police presence and local police may lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents. Avoid areas outside of major roads and highways.  

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.   

Huehuetenango Department – Do Not Travel

All U.S. Mission personnel and family members are restricted from traveling to Huehuetenango Department for personal travel, with the exception of the city of Huehuetenango. Narcotics trafficking is widespread and large portions of the department are under the influence of drug trafficking organizations. Several municipalities lack police presence and local police may lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents. Avoid areas outside of major roads and highways.  

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.   

Zone 18 and Villa Nueva within the Guatemala Department – Do Not Travel

U.S. government personnel and family members are free to travel within Guatemala City with the exception of zone 18 and the municipality of Villa Nueva. The following zones in Guatemala City are of elevated concern to Embassy security staff due to crime: 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 17, 19, 21, and 24. These zones do not overlap with the typical tourism and visitor areas, with the exception of Zone 13, in which Guatemala International Airport is located.  Zone 13 should be avoided unless traveling directly to and from the airport itself. U.S. citizens should take appropriate security measures when traveling to and from the airport such as only using vetted transportation services, not displaying valuables or other signs of wealth, refrain from using mobile devices in public, and do not linger outside of the airport. U.S. citizens are advised not to hail taxis on the street in Guatemala City. Use radio-dispatched taxis (Taxi Amarillo), INGUAT approved taxis from the “SAFE” stand from the airport, hotel taxis, or vetted private drivers. 

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.   

Last Update: Reissued with updates to COVID-19 information. 

Travel Advisory Levels

Information for Vaccinated Travelers

The CDC's latest guidance on international travel for vaccinated people can be found here.

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Guatemala
Avenida Reforma 7-01, Zona 10
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Telephone
+(502) 2326-4000
Emergency
+(502) 2331-2354
Fax
+(502) 2331-3804

Guatemala Map