Guatemala Travel Warning

Guatemala Travel Warning

North America


Compared to Germany and many other countries, including Latin American countries, Guatemala has a high crime rate according to youremailverifier. In addition to general street crime, Guatemala is the scene of violent clashes among drug cartels and between drug cartels and the state security forces, but also of fatal acts of violence between families, in which bystanders repeatedly become victims. The threshold for using violence is very low.

Good preparation and appropriate behavior will help reduce the risk of falling victim to a crime. Therefore, in addition to the general caution, it is strongly recommended to avoid traveling outside the cities at night and not to behave conspicuously. For example, you should not wear any conspicuous body jewelry. It cannot be ruled out that travelers become the target or victim of theft, robbery, break-ins or other offenses.

It is strongly recommended to keep your travel documents (passports, plane tickets, travel health insurance, etc.) in a safe place (e.g. in the hotel safe). It is advisable to carry copies of the most important documents (passport, etc.) with you so that you can identify yourself if necessary. Travelers are advised to register electronically in the German list of the German diplomatic mission (under: External link, opens in new window and to keep the contact details stored there up to date.

Group travelers can and should clarify their travel route via the Guatemalan tourism authority INGUAT ([email protected], Tel. +502 2421 2810 or 1500) and, if necessary, request a security escort. Single travelers can also contact INGUAT at any time, which has offices in all major tourist locations and whose employees are usually very helpful.

Caution should be exercised when traveling to the interior of Guatemala (avoid night trips outside the cities and on remote routes, do not travel alone). The risk of being robbed exists, albeit to a lesser extent, in tourist centers such as Antigua, Flores, Tikal and on Lake Atitlán. The volcanoes Acatenango, Santa Maria and Agua are repeatedly scenes of criminal attacks on tourists. It is recommended to request a police escort from the police station in Antigua for the ascent of these volcanoes or at least to take a guide.

Drug use is not a trivial offense in Guatemala. The police are consistently pursuing this crime.

Credit / EC card fraud and credit card cloning occur nationwide, both when using ATMs and when paying. It is recommended that you only use ATMs that are monitored by cameras, bank staff, etc. If the card is retained by the machine, it could be an attempt at fraud. When paying, the credit card should only be used in front of the owner. It is also recommended that you regularly check your account activity. In the event of fraud, a report is made to the Guatemalan police. A corresponding notification must be submitted to the credit card company.

Since guns are widely used, no resistance should be offered in the event of a robbery. The required items (cell phones, valuables, luggage, cars, etc.) should be handed over quickly and calmly. It is advisable to always have a small amount of money in a separate wallet and possibly a second mobile phone with you.

The Guatemalan judicial system is in a desolate state. In the case of criminal prosecution or civil law disputes, legal proceedings cannot always be expected. Arbitrary measures by the judiciary in disregard of fundamental procedural rights by courts, law enforcement authorities and the police are possible and can also be directed against foreigners.

The German Embassy recommends sending copies of the travel documents (passport, flight ticket, travel health insurance) and contact details of family or friends in Germany to the German Embassy (fax: +502 23652270, email: [email protected]) before or immediately afterwards

Guatemala City

We strongly advise against using the red city buses. The use of the green city buses (“Transmetro”) and the blue buses (“Transurbano”) is considered to be relatively safe. Attacks on public buses are frequent. Assaults on pedestrians and motorists take place at any time of the day – even in heavy rush hour traffic are usually committed by several armed perpetrators together. The business and nightlife district “Zona Viva”, in which most hotels and restaurants are located, is not completely safe.

For taxi rides in the city it is recommended to use the yellow taxis (taxi amarillo). The trips must be booked in advance (phone number 1766).

Certain areas of the capital, which are rarely visited by tourists, should be avoided completely, lonely streets and inanimate areas, even during the day, but especially at night.

Travel over land

Overland trips after dark, even in your own car or rental car, are strongly discouraged not only because of the crime rate, but also because of the increased risk of accidents, including unlit vehicles, potholes, stray dogs or obstacles on the road.

The signage is bad; Therefore, it is recommended to use a good navigation system (e.g. WAZE) when driving during the day. Be careful with diversions, as WAZE does not differentiate between unsafe and safe routes.

Public intercity buses are more often the target of armed gangs. Many of these buses are in poor technical condition and should not be used because of the considerable risk of accidents. Better-maintained coaches and minibuses run by travel agencies, which are considered to be safer, drive to the main tourist centers from the capital and from Antigua. In intercity buses and in the bus stations, travelers should always pay attention to their luggage and, if possible, not have it loaded onto the roof of the bus.

Natural disasters

Guatemala is in the cyclone-endangered zone (cyclone season from June to November). Guatemala is an earthquake-prone country, in which unpredictable tectonic and volcanic activity must always be expected. It is therefore advisable to familiarize yourself with instructions on how to behave in the event of an earthquake before starting your journey.

Further information under: External link, opens in new window Earthquake leaflet

Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions can repeatedly lead to road blocks and restrictions in air traffic. Orders from local authorities must always be followed. The Guatemalan Seismological Institute can be reached under the following link: External link, opens in new windowhttp: //

In addition to flooding, heavy rainfall can lead to landslides that make the roads impassable for several hours. There is a particular danger in residential areas in valleys surrounded by mountains, so-called barrancos. There can be landslides due to serious infrastructure deficiencies due to uncontrolled development. We recommend using the Spanish-language portal of CONRED (Disaster and Civil Protection Authority) External Link, opens in a new windowhttp: // to find out about behavioral measures and places at risk.

Other notes

Domestic political unrest cannot be ruled out. In the context of demonstrations there are occasional road blockades – also in rural areas.

Before photographing or filming the indigenous population, it is advisable to obtain their consent. Photographing children should generally be avoided. There are always misunderstandings (kidnapping, etc.) with the risk that the local population will react aggressively.

Guatemala Travel Warning