Renewing your visa in Livingston, Guatemala
published jun 7th, 2015
Guatemala issues ninety day visas to citizens of the United States and most western European countries, which is a good chunk of time to cruise around and see plenty of the country’s attractions.
Getting a visa extension is easy at the Livingston Immigration Office.
Why extend your visa?
There are some people (myself included) who subscribe to a slow travel philosophy wherein ninety days may feel a little limiting. Truly longterm travelers who are able to find work on the road or work remotely may be in a position to stay in a foreign country for months on end or even years. So how do you deal with an expiring ninety day visa?
Normal method: exit & reenter
Most travelers that want more than ninety days in Guatemala leave the country and obtain another visa on re-entry. This method won’t apply if you’re headed to Nicaragua, Honduras or El Salvador, as they’re all part of the CA-4 agreement wherein a single travel document can be shared throughout the four countries. No new visas are issued on these countries’ shared borders.
That leaves a few other options, namely a quick trip to Mexico, Belize or Costa Rica. Legally, you’re supposed to spend three days (72 hours or more) in another country before re-entering Guatemala. Your visa could (technically) be denied if you haven’t spent that term on the other side of the border, although often the matter can be settled with a “fee” of some kind or persistent arguing. With some luck your exit date could get ignored altogether. In any case you’ll be paying at least transportation costs and perhaps hotel & meals if you have to stay out of country for the whole term.
Visa extension via the Immigration Office
If you’d rather forego the whole tedious process, you may consider getting a visa extension at the immigration office in Guatemala City or in Livingston, Izabal. Both offices are able to provide a one-time ninety day extension for a Q300 fee ($40).
The office in Livingston is especially easy. Immigration is located on the left side of the main street (calle principal) just before the ATM & Banco Banural. The office workers are friendly and straightforward, and you don’t have to mince words or make up a story for an extension. They’re open until 6:00 pm most days, and nine out of ten times there are no lines and no waits.
It took me about five minutes to get my visa renewal, and that included some idle smalltalk. Remember that you can’t get two visa extensions in a row, so make eventual plans for Mexico, Belize or Costa Rica if you’ll be sticking around even longer.