Your guide to doing business in Guatemala
Guatemala is a Central American republic bordered to the north by Mexico, to the northeast by Belize, and to the east and southeast by Honduras and El Salvador. Guatemala is the third largest country in Central America with a landmass that stretches from the Caribbean Sea on its east coast, to the southern Pacific Ocean on its west. Defined by mountainous regions, Guatemala is regarded as the birthplace of the Mayan civilisation and numerous historic and cultural sites are located throughout the country. The Guatemalan economy was historically based on crops such as coffee, sugar and bananas but since the late 20th century economic reforms have helped to diversify and develop a range of industries. Today, coffee production, pharmaceuticals, textiles, paper production and petroleum are important components of Guatemala’s economic profile along with a tourism industry that attracts visitors from across the world. Guatemala is the largest economy in Central America, with a 2019 GDP of around $81.3 billion and a growth rate of around 3.6%. Guatemala is a member of the UN, the WTO, and the Caribbean Basin Trade and Partnership Act, and was ranked 96 on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Survey 2019.
The Guatemalan legal structure promotes investment and includes provisions that recognize and protect private property rights, both for domestic and foreign investors. In addition, there are Guatemalan laws that favor foreign investment by virtue of providing attractive incentives for investment, such as the “Ley de Inversión Extranjera” (Decreto 9-98), “Ley de Libre Negociación de Divisas” (Decreto 94-2000), “Ley de Zonas Francas” (Decreto 65-89), “Ley de Alianzas para el Desarrollo de Infraestructura Económica” (Decreto 16-2010).
Guatemala’s economy is dominated by the private sector, which generates around 90% of GDP. Guatemala has the largest economic market in Central America, occupies the tenth position in Latin America and its GDP represents a third of the region. This economic growth continues based on a state policy to promote development; an approach that has encouraged the simultaneous efforts of the public and private sectors, in this way facilitating the economic boom and access to key global markets.
Registering a local corporation in Guatemala includes the following requirements:
The procedure of registering a company is as follows:
It is mandatory in Guatemala to have an in-country bank account to process payroll.
Banks typically open 9am to 5pm from Monday to Friday and 9am to 1pm on Saturdays.
Some companies work from Monday to Friday and others to Saturday to complete 44 working hours.
There are three types of working schedules in Guatemala:
Daytime work is the one that runs between six and eighteen hours of the same day. It cannot be more than eight hours a day, nor exceed a total of forty-eight hours a week
Night work is the one that runs between eighteen hours of one day and six hours of the next day. The night time cannot be longer than six hours a day, nor exceed a total of thirty-six hours a week.
This is the one that runs during a time that covers part of the day period and part of the night period. The effective work hours cannot be more than seven hours a day or exceed a total of forty-two hours a week. However, if the person works more than 4 hours in the night; it will be considered as a night schedule.
In 2019, Part-Time Work Convention (No. 175) (ILO) was issued, which establishes that full or part-time staff can be hired, respecting and complying with the provisions of the law.
Government offices generally open from 8 am to 4 pm, Monday through Friday.
Full Name: Republic of Guatemala
Population: 16.6 million (World Bank, 2019)
Capital: Guatemala City
Major Languages: Spanish
Monetary Unit: Quetzal
Main Exports: Coffee, sugar, petroleum, apparel, bananas, fruits and vegetables, cardamom
GNI per Capita: USD 8,870 (World Bank, 2019)
Internet Domain: .gt
International Dialing Code: +502
Good Morning Buenos Días
Good Evening Buenas Noches
Do You Speak English? Habla Inglés
Good Bye Despedida
Thank You Gracias
See You Later Hasta Luego
Dates are usually written in the day, month and year sequence. For example, 1 July 2019 or 1/7/19.
The tax year in Guatemala is January to December.
The key legislative authorities in Guatemala are:
According to Guatemalan law, taxable income is all income generated by capital, property, services, and rights invested or used in the country as well as income derived from any type of activities taking place in Guatemala.
All individuals, corporations and businesses, domiciled or not in Guatemala, are subject to income tax.
The presentation of income tax ISR to profits must be presented 90 days after the end of the accounting year. For companies, the fiscal year ends in December.
The income tax is defined under 2 modalities, either on the basis of income or on profits obtained in a period;
In the case of the 12% VAT (Value Added Tax), the pay is monthly and the maximum is paid at the end of the month, which corresponds to the previous month. The typical fine for late payment of taxes is a 50%.
Income tax contributions on monthly income will be paid to the tax authority on the 10th of each month and for those who choose income tax on income, the payments are quarterly.
For the mercantile companies, it is obliged to pay 1% of the ISO Solidarity Tax, and its payment is quarterly and it is defined according to the results of the previous year, either on the income or its assets, the value that is greater and this Tax can be creditable to income tax
Income tax deduction applies whenever a person earns more than US$535.00 per month.
Each individual has the right to deduct from his/her income tax an annual maximum of $1,600.00 that may be credited for the Value Added Tax paid in personal expenses, for purchases of goods or acquisition of services, during the final annual liquidation period.
Employees are paid 14 salaries a year. You must also pay the labor benefits of law such as indemnification, vacations, bonus 14 and bonuses.
Social insurance system covers all employees, including agricultural workers. Public sector employees are covered by a separate program. The pensions for old age, survivorship, and disability are funded by a small contribution from employees and larger contribution from employers, while 25% is covered by the government.
Retirement is set at 62 years of age with at least 216 months (18 years) of contributions to social security.
Cash and medical benefits are provided for sickness and maternity for employees of firms with more than three workers. Free medical care is provided for those receiving pensions.
Social Security Contributions:
Employers must contribute to the social security system (IGGS) with an overall percentage of:
Monthly social security contributions are to be paid to the local authority on the 20th of each month, what corresponds to the previous month.
Every month, the IGSS worksheet must be submitted, a list of all salaries paid subject to social security has to be presented. This list determines the amount to be paid to social security from employer and retained and employees.
Every worker to be hired must sign an individual work contract, which defines the conditions of hiring and their salary, this must be submitted to the Ministry of Labor to be valid and is endorsed by the entity, the contracting of the employee.
For social security purposes, employees are simply added to the monthly report sent to the social security. New employees that have never been reported to social security have to apply for identification and a social security ID number and it will be the same as your Personal Identity Identification number DPI.
For income tax withholdings, the employee is subject to taxes whenever the person starts to earn above US$250 a month, in which case if applicable a withholding is made and sent to the tax office. Every employee earning above US$500 a month has to apply on its own for a tax ID number.
The following Information is required to register a new employee:
The social security is informed of any leaver by simply stating in the monthly list sent to them that the person has left the company.
It is legally acceptable in Guatemala to provide employees with online payslips.
For social security purposes, the payroll reports are required to be held indefinitely.