Guatemala Investment Visa Program Review
Known globally for its touristic appeal (think rain forests, deep see diving and Mayan ruins) and its banking and tax shelters, Guatemala has also become a second citizenship powerhouse, with arguably the best value CBI program on the market today. Passport Reviewer takes a look.
Guatemala In A Nutshell
Guatemala is a central American country which borders Mexico and Belize, and whose coastlines encompass both the Pacific ocean and the Caribbean sea. A mishmash of modernity interspersed with Spanish colonial architecture and ancient Mayan ruins, artifacts and culture, and blessed with some of the most breathtaking scenery found anywhere on the planet, Guatemala is a truly amazing country.
Unsurprisingly, Guatemala is hugely popular with tourists and holiday makers who flock in their millions each year and generate more than $2 billion annually for the economy. Whether they are gap year backpackers, extreme-sport thrill seekers, eco-tourists keen to explore the rain forests and Mayan ruins, or traditional holiday makers after a good time (Guatemala has 5-star hotels and restaurants, its beaches would put most of the Mediterranean’s to shame and the nightlife in Guatemala City is “banging”), all leave with unforgettable memories.
With a consistently high GDP growth rate which in 2015 hit 4.1 percent, in recent years Guatemala has been one of the strongest economic performers in Latin America, even rivalling noted powerhouses Chile and Brazil.
Guatemala has the largest economy in Central America, with the US being Guatemala’s most important economic partner. There are more than 200 U.S. and foreign businesses with active investments in Guatemala, and foreign direct investment amounted to $13.184 billion in 2015, a 10% increase on 2014.
Guatemala’s economy is based around tourism, offshore banking, agriculture (sugarcane, corn, bananas, coffee), industry (mining, textiles and clothing, furniture, chemicals, petroleum, metals, rubber) and construction, which includes hotels, luxury apartments and villas.
- Official Language: Spanish
- Capital City: Guatemala City
- Largest City: Guatemala City (Pop; 2.1 million)
- Surface Area: 108,900 km2
- Religion: Roman Catholic/Evangelical Christian
- Population: 16.2 million
- Government: Unitary Presidential Republic
- Legal system: Civil legal system based on Roman law
- Currency: Quetzal
- GDP per capita: $7,600
- Climate: temperatures average 22°C (72°F) through both the wet and dry seasons
Guatemalan Investment Visa Program
The Guatemalan Investment Visa program requires applicants to purchase a minimum of $50,000 in government bonds, which must be maintained for a duration of five years. Application can be made for full Guatemalan citizenship and passport after the completion of the bond purchase, with the delivery period normally 8-9 months.
An applicant must physically reside in Guatemala at least 21 days during their first year of residence, and 28 days during the subsequent two years.
Required Documents For Application:
- Fully Completed Guatemalan Investment Visa Program Application Form
- Applicant’s Original Passport
- Proof Of Legal Entry Into Guatemala (entry stamp in passport)
- Proof Of Health Insurance
- Proof Of Clean Criminal Record (a certificate document from the relevant authority of the applicants home country)
Benefits of Guatemalan Passport
While the Guatemalan passport lacks the power of those of the EU and US, for foreign investors hailing from Asia, the Middle East and Africa, a passport that can access 116 countries visa-free is a massive improvement on what they are accustomed to. The Guatemalan passport grants its holder visa-free access to both Eastern and Western Europe, most of Latin America and the Caribbean islands.
- For a refundable outlay of $50,000, the Guatemalan investor program is the best value second citizenship program in the world
- Guatemala passport has visa-free access to 116 countries, including the UK, the EU and Russia
- As a Guatemalan citizen, applicants are privy to discreet banking and low taxation on income and investments
Pros and Cons of Life In Guatemala
As a high net-worth investor, if you choose to spend time in Guatemala, you will likely experience the best it has to offer, which is considerable. Guatemala is as beautiful as any country in the world, property is extremely cheap, as is food and drink. There is much to do there, whether it be exploring the rain forests or the Mayan ruins, or simply enjoying the beaches and nightlife.
Like most Central American countries, despite its increasing wealth, Guatemala has a high level of poverty, which in turn leads to crime. Like most places in the world, Guatemala has its “no-go areas”, but as a wealthy foreigner living there, you will be well briefed on where those areas are, and avoid them accordingly.
Passport Reviewer Ranking: B+
While other CBI programs might be more prestigious, and EU passports have more visa-free access, for a refundable $50,000, the Guatemalan Investment Visa program represents unbeatable value, especially for long suffering investors hailing from Asia and the Middle East. And as an added bonus, the discretion and privacy offered by Guatemalan banks is on a par with anything found in Panama and the Caribbean.