How to extend your passport without leaving Guatemala

The bureaucracy in Guatemala is mind-numbing, dumbfounding and soul-killing. Your average SAT or RENAP office makes the Oakland DMV appear as efficient as a German train station, in Switzerland.

Anyway, despite the many inconveniences of Guatemala, there may actually come a time when you’d like to extend your stay here without having to do the whole border-hop dance every three months. Well, I’m happy to report that getting my US passport extended at the Guatemalan migracion office was a snap! Mira pues:

1. Go to: Direccion General De Migracion, 6a. Av. 3-11 Zona 4. Pay for parking at Hotel Conquistador, one block up the street from the migracion office as parking in front of the office is scarce and the hood is questionable.

2. Go to the photocopy shop two tiendas down from the migracion office and make two copies of the passport page that contains your photo, and two copies of the page that contains your last immigration stamp. You will also need a photocopy of your credit card and have your photo taken. Don’t worry, the photocopy dude knows this process well and will hook it all up within 10 minutes. Total cost: Q45. FYI unlike most of you broke-ass gringos, I’m debt-free and don’t carry plastic. My VISA branded ATM card worked just fine though.

3. Go into the office and immediately turn left after you go through the metal detector. No need to talk to security or check-in weapons (they wouldn’t take mine) just sit down. On the Monday afternoon I went, the lobby was empty and my wait was only five minutes.

4. Tell the lady at the window that you want to extend your passport. It’s not an unusual request and she will ask you to fill out a short form. Be prepared for the usual Guatemalan 3rd degree regarding all your photocopies, photos and other aforementioned required documents. It’s standard here for the window people to try to make you feel retarded and question the validity of your documents. Don’t feed their immature power trip- just calmly give them all their little papers with a smile.

5. The lady will give you a receipt. Take it to the bank- the next window over. Pay Q120. Cash, duh.

6. Go back to the lady and give her your stamped receipt. Remember nothing here is official unless it’s got that magical stamp! She’ll take your passport and explain that you need to come back tomorrow to pick up your newly extended passport.

7. Say “gracias” and “feliz tarde” and come back the next day. That’s it- easy peasy japaneezy.

Note: I wrote this whole post while waiting for my passport. Apparently my window lady forgot to start the process on my passport after I left. Honest mistake I guess, but a subtle reminder of how things work around here.

Good luck my extranjero amigos!

4 comments on “How to extend your passport without leaving Guatemala”

  1. I’d love to see the post where you try and make that a permanent resident visa. For additional fun try to do it during a change in the government 🙂


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