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Guatemala: How To Retire In A Country Of Natural Beauty

6 min read

Guatemala: How To Retire In A Country Of Natural Beauty

Guatemala is Central America's third most populated country and one of the best locations to retire. The nation has a highly steady and pleasant temperature all year, relatively safe cities, and one of the lowest living expenses in the Americas. To retire in the country, you need to obtain a Guatemala Pensionado Visa.

As a retiree living in Guatemala, you will be able to enjoy many benefits the country has to offer. We can’t forget to mention the beaches for you to relax, and other touristic sites you can find only in Guatemala. Below we will talk about how to obtain your retiree visa (Pensionado Visa) and mention some of the amazing benefits you can enjoy as a retiree living there.

Antigua City, Guatemala

Antigua City, Guatemala


The Guatemala Pensionado Visa is a residency visa suitable for people with a fixed income in another country. This may be your best choice if you are retired and get a pension.

The critical distinction between this and other types of residency is that you will be unable to work in a paid position. However, this does not limit you from engaging in economic activity in the country; you may still be allowed to establish your own business.


Related content: The Basics Of How To Get A Second Passport Or A Second Residency


Atitlan Lake

Atitlan Lake


You are eligible to apply for a Guatemala pensionado visa if:

  • You are retired in your home country.
  • You have legitimate permanent income from somewhere other than Guatemala.
  • You are paid at least $1,250 USD every month.
  • You are not deemed a danger to Guatemala's security.
  • You intend to live permanently in Guatemala's national territory.


You may apply for a Guatemala Pensionado Visa at one of the Guatemalan embassy or consulate offices in your area. If you are already in Guatemala, you may submit your application to the Guatemalan General Directorate of Migration.

The following is a basic step-by-step guide for applying for a Guatemala Retirement Visa:

Step 1: Complete the document checklist before visiting the consulate office and pay the applicable application costs.

Step 2: Send the documents to the consulate and await a response. The consulate will transmit your application to the Guatemalan General Directorate of Migration for review.

Step 3: The General Directorate of Migration will review your application and forward it to the Ministry of Public Finance to approve the tariff exemptions specified in the retirement legislation.

Note: If you are currently in Guatemala, you may apply for a Pensionado Visa by submitting your documentation to the General Directorate of Migration.


Related content: How To Live Full Time In Guatemala


City of Antigua Guatemala

City of Antigua, Guatemala


The pensionado visa application usually takes 15 days to complete, although it might take longer in certain situations.



After receiving the Pensionado (Retirement) visa and entering Guatemala, you must register with the General Directorate of Immigration and collect your migratory certificate within 30 days.



A Guatemala Pensionado Visa (Retirement Visa) application costs $400 USD. Depending on where you apply, you may pay the cost at the Guatemala consulate or the General Directorate of Migration.

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A Guatemala Pensionado Visa is valid for five years and may be extended before it expires.


Guatemala City

Guatemala City


The following documents are required:

  • Guatemala Pensionado Visa application form.
  • A recent Passport photograph
  • A notarized original passport and a photocopy of every passport page.
  • A passport validation certificate issued by your country's embassy or consulate accredited to the Government of Guatemala (in "Pasos de Ley") or a certified birth certificate for those from countries with whom Guatemala has no diplomatic ties.
  • Proof that you have no criminal record in the nation where you have resided for the last five years (in the form of "Pasos de Ley"). If that country does not provide an equivalent document, you must provide an affidavit of "Carencia de Antecedentes Penales" (Lack of Criminal History) and a Guatemalan Police report.
  • Documents certified (in "Pasos de ley") confirming that you get a monthly pension income of $1,000 USD or more, or its equivalent in local currency. Remember that each new dependent requires you to prove an additional income of $200 USD. The applicants must provide an email address contact of the organization producing the pension or income statement.
  • If your documents are not in Spanish, they must be translated into Spanish by a certified translator recognized by the Guatemalan government as proof of foreign deposits made in Guatemalan banks.

All of the documents may be apostilled to expedite the processing of your documents and application.


Spanish colonial fort San Felipe, lake Izabal, Guatemala

Spanish colonial fort San Felipe, lake Izabal, Guatemala


You will be eligible for the following benefits if you are granted a Guatemala Pensionado Visa:

  • You will not have to pay taxes or VAT while importing your possessions or home products.
  • Income stated as originating from outside Guatemala will be excluded from income tax.
  • When importing vehicles from other countries, you will be excused from paying import customs charges (the CIF value of the vehicle cannot exceed 25 times the value of said income, or you will be required to pay all taxes on the difference).
  • Fees incurred due to registration, extension, or change of quality migratory status will be waived.


Tikal Jaguar

Tikal Jaguar 


It is worth a shot since it is easy and requirements are minimum. You will also be able to get more for your dollars as the cost of living there is low. You will also be able to explore a new world and culture, and below I will talk a little about each.



Guatemala is a very reasonable and affordable place to spend your retirement. Without counting rent, you may pay your daily costs for roughly $585 USD per month.

The rent price is determined by the sort of residence you wish to live in and your budget. In the city centre, for example, you may find apartments for as little as $300 USD to $850 (one bedroom) and $650 USD to $1,700 USD (three bedrooms). Outside the city centre, monthly rent ranges from $260 USD to $590 USD (one bedroom) and $390 USD to $1,200 USD (two bedrooms or three bedrooms).



Guatemala's lovely scenery will wow you with its exquisite touch of green. Aside from the well-known natural beauties, Guatemala boasts a rich biodiversity, with over 1,200 species.



Guatemalan cuisine is vibrant in terms of colour, ingredients, and flavour. All Guatemalan meals have corn, chillies, and beans as their main components. The cuisine is spicy enough to leave you with a delightful taste and a desire for more.


Atitlan Lake

It is very common to see boats on the shore of Atitlan Lake.


As mentioned above, some cities are safe enough, and others are expat hubs. Below are the top retirement destinations in Guatemala:



Expats relocating to Guatemala often choose to live in the capital city. Guatemala City is home to several art galleries and museums, dominating the country's cultural life. Expats are drawn to the rich culture, excellent coffee, and restaurants.



Antigua is an excellent place to learn about Guatemalan culture. Antigua is a lovely retirement spot because of its colourful buildings, magnificent volcanoes, and gorgeous beaches. You will have the opportunity to taste a variety of cuisines and excellent eateries while living in Antigua. Antigua's patron saint celebration is one of its customs and traditions, adding colour and ambiance to the city.



Lake Atitlan is an ideal area to unwind and enjoy the outdoors. The region boasts a one-of-a-kind setting, surrounded by three volcanoes and cliffs. You may spend your days swimming and wandering around the gorgeous lake.



Panajachel, often known as Pana, is one of Guatemala's most popular tourist destinations. Panajachel has a variety of restaurants serving both local and foreign cuisine, as well as coffee shops. You may take a boat tour to several communities while admiring the lake's fantastic scenery and the volcanoes.



The town is known for its painters and paintings and is situated on the southwest side of Lake Atitlan. If you like going out at night for a drink and meeting new people, San Pedro La Laguna is well-known for its nightlife on the shores of Lake Atitlan. San Pedro La Laguna has become a popular destination for backpackers and travellers because of its abundance of pubs, restaurants, hostels, and hotels.


Antigua Guatemala

Antigua, Guatemala


Since the civil war's conclusion 20 years ago, Guatemala's public safety has improved dramatically. The heart of Guatemala City has the country's highest crime rate, although regions like Antigua, where many American expats reside, have extremely low crime rates.

Guatemala's chilly, mountainous environment leaves it vulnerable to flash floods and rain-related devastation. The habitat also serves as a breeding ground for mosquitos that may transmit dengue fever and malaria. Climate planning may assist you in avoiding hazards caused by the weather.

Passengers on public buses in various regions of Guatemala City are exposed to crime. Therefore be careful while using public buses from the city to neighbouring towns. If possible, avoid public transport and use Uber or taxis.


Acatenango Volcano

Acatenango Volcano


Guatemala's healthcare system is separated into three distinct sectors: public, private nonprofit, and private for-profit. The public sector delivers medical care via hospitals, health facilities, and health centres, while the private sector delivers medical care through private offices, clinics, and hospitals.

Guatemala's public healthcare system is a "single-payer" system that provides free medical services to all citizens and covers around 88% of the population. Because the public healthcare system is mainly focused on illness treatment, primary care in institutions is minimal. Hospitals in major towns such as Guatemala City offer high-quality medical treatment, but not in smaller cities, particularly in rural portions of the nation.

Although Guatemala provides free public healthcare to all Guatemalan residents, certain medical treatments, such as blood testing or radiography, may only be conducted by private businesses. As a result, residents are compelled to seek private healthcare.


Pools in Guatemala

Pools in Guatemala


Guatemala, a beautiful country that has yet to be overrun with tourists like other Central American countries, is an ideal retirement destination for many expats.

So, before making Guatemala your new home, take some time to explore the country and all it has to offer. Explore Guatemala City, Antigua's historic beauty, and relax on the shores of Lake Atitlan as you look for the perfect place to call home. We at ExpatMoney are here to help you get all your documents ready and simplify the process with no errors, so contact us.


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I help my clients to move offshore for freedom, privacy and autonomy by focusing on the immigration, legal, and tax issues that you will face when becoming an expat. If you would like to work one-on-one with me on getting out of your home country (or setting up a Plan-B location), then read this important letter and fill in an application form to become a Private Client. My fees are not cheap; however, I can assure you that when you work with a professional firm like ours, the results will be worth it.



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Mikkel Thorup

Written by Mikkel Thorup

Mikkel Thorup is the world’s most sought-after expat consultant. He focuses on helping high-net-worth private clients to legally mitigate tax liabilities, obtain a second residency and citizenship, and assemble a portfolio of foreign investments including international real estate, timber plantations, agricultural land and other hard-money tangible assets. Mikkel is the Founder and CEO at Expat Money®, a private consulting firm started in 2017. He hosts the popular weekly podcast, the Expat Money Show, and wrote the definitive #1-Best Selling book Expat Secrets - How To Pay Zero Taxes, Live Overseas And Make Giant Piles Of Money, and his second book: Expats Guide On Moving To Mexico.

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