After being mostly visited by volunteers, aid workers and backpackers on a budget, Guatemala is now being watched by trendsetters and Hollywood stars. With direct flights from multiple destinations in the US and Spain, citizens of many countries don't need to apply for a visa to enter the country.

This places the volcanoes, jungles, and Maya ruins within easy reach. It is always advisable to check the latest guidance from the Ministry of Foreign Relations. It is a good idea to check the health requirements for the vaccines you will need. If you have traveled from a country in South America or Africa, you may need a yellow fever vaccine.

Which nationalities can visit Guatemala without a visa?

The United States, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Mexico, and most European countries can be entered without having to apply for a visa. If you travel with a passport from one of these visa-free countries, you just need to make sure that it is valid for at least six months and has at least one blank page. Proof of onward travel, such as a round-trip plane ticket, is required.

If you meet the requirements for entry, you will receive a stamp in your passport on arrival that will act as a Guatemala visa. You can travel to all the CA-4 countries with this stamp for 90 days. You can spend about three months traveling around the countries.

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Hispanic woman on a pier beside Lake Atitlan in Guatemala
A Guatemalan visa will let you visit famous sights such as Lago de Atitlán, as well as the neighboring countries of Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua © Fernanda Reyes / Getty Images

Who needs a visa to enter Guatemala? 

Which countries need a visa? More than 100 nationalities require visas and are divided into Category B and Category C countries. The visa fee is US$25 for a 90-day single-entry visa and US$50 for a 90-day multiple-entry visa.

Visa rules for Category B countries

If you are from a Category B country such as India, Moldova or Jamaica, you will need a visa from a mission in your home country. To find out what you need, contact your nearest embassy. You can fill out the visa application form before you visit the embassy, even if you can't apply online.

You need to gather the required documentation. The embassy will tell you what you need, but the required documents include passport photos, proof of a round-trip ticket, bank statements, and health insurance. You will need to bring your documents to the appointment.

Visa rules for Category C countries

If you are from a Category C country such as China, you will need to interview at the nearest embassy. The documentation you will need for your application is similar to what is required for Category B countries, with the extra step of the interview the Guatemalan embassy will be able to tell you exactly what to bring.

Woman in front of Temple of the Great Jaguar or Temple I in Tikal, Guatemala
If you need more time to take in the sights, it's easy to extend your visa in Guatemala City © Kryssia Campos / Getty Images

Can you extend a Guatemalan visa?

If you want to stay in any of the CA-4 countries for longer than 90 days, you can apply for an extension. The offices of the Departamento de Extranjería can be found on 6a Avenida in Zone 4. Office hours are from 8am to 4:30pm, but allow plenty of time because the lines can be long.

You can download the application form online. You will need to submit your passport with your last entrance stamp, as well as an onward travel ticket, an international credit card or evidence of a Guatemalan guarantor. You have to provide proof that you paid the US$15 extension fee at the local bank.

It is easier to cross the border into a country that is not part of the CA-4 scheme for a few days. If you were required to pre-apply for a visa, this is only an option for visa-exempt travelers.

Does Guatemala have a work visa?

If you want to work in Guatemala, you need a work visa, and your prospective employer needs to apply for it on your behalf through the Guatemalan Ministry of Labor. You will need to provide your employer with a recent passport photo, your valid passport, a copy of your passport, a criminal background check, and certification from your country of residence to verify that your passport is valid. The first thing you need to do is find an employer that will offer you a job.

The best times to visit Guatemala are for festivals, jungle encounters and temple trips.