Guatemala Eases Entry Requirements for Travelers

Sep 28, 2020

Guatemala now allows travelers to present a negative antigen test for COVID-19 as part of a relaxation of entry requirements. It’s also relaxed entry requirements for frequent travelers across its land borders.

At the end of last week, Guatemala’s Ministry of Health announced an easing of protocols to enter the country.

Instead of the PCR test (the one where they tickle your brain with that stick up your nose), you can now also present a negative antigen test upon arrival.

An antigen test is less invasive than the PCR test, requiring a simple throat swab. It’s also a lot quicker (and cheaper), a huge help for travelers.

A big concern for travelers is the difficulty in finding a PCR test that delivers a 72-hour result turnaround. An antigen test should help with that problem and allow people to enter Guatemala.

Since Guatemala’s September 18 reopening, only Spirit, American Airlines, Avianca, United, and Copa have resumed operations.

That amounts to some five flights per day, a sharp decrease on the pre-COVID 44 daily flights. This five flights should increase to nine in October when Delta, Iberia, and Aeromexico resume operations.

Another change in Guatemala’s COVID protocols concerns the land borders with Mexico, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador.

Frequent travelers – people who enter or leave Guatemala for 72 hours or less – won’t need to present a negative COVID-19 test. They’ll have their temperatures checked and if authorities suspect a problem, then they’ll test them.

This will be a big help for, say tourists in Belize taking a day trip to Tikal or tourists in Guatemala going to Copan, Honduras. Both activities are popular for tourists in Central America.

According to Guatemala’s Immigration Department, 12,250 people entered the country in its first five days of reopening (September 18-23). 3,346 people came in by air and 8,893 by land (did the remaining 11 come by sea?). Of those arriving by air, 2,031 travelers were Guatemalan citizens and 1,315 foreign nationals.

Protocols for entering Guatemala:

Travelers can now enter Guatemala through La Aurora International Airport (Guatemala City) and Mundo Maya Airport (Flores). Land borders are also open.

All travelers over the age of ten need to take the PCR or antigen test within 72 hours of arrival and fill out Guatemala’s online Health Pass.

Upon arrival, travelers must present their negative PCR or antigen test results. Guatemalan passengers without the test will be evaluated by health officials upon arrival. Foreign travelers without a test can’t enter Guatemala.

It shouldn’t get as far as a foreign traveler arriving in Guatemala without a negative test. Chances are, the airline won’t allow him/her to board the plane in the first place.

Travelers arriving into Guatemala via a land border also need to present a negative PCR or antigen test. Again, this needs to be taken within 72 hours of arrival. As with airport arrivals, this applies to everyone over ten years old.

Anyone coming to Guatemala by land from a neighboring country for less than 72 hours does not need to present a negative test.

James Dyde is the editor of centralamerica.com. He lives in Escazu, Costa Rica.