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Here is a little information about Guatemala's Importing guidelines and Customs regulations...
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Entry and Documentation Generally, in order to import merchandise, the following documents are required:

  • Commercial Invoices (legalized at the Guatemalan Embassy or one of its Consulates)
  • Bills of Lading (same as above)
  • Import License (only for the import of wheat flour)Storage charges are incurred if goods are not cleared within 15 to 30 calendar days from the date of entry into the customhouse of destination, or if the merchandise is not withdrawn from customs within five calendar days following liquidation. For clearing of all commercial shipments, other than parcel post, an authorized customs broker is required. A standard customs form, different from an importer's declaration, is used in clearing merchandise originating from within the Central American Common Market. All import declarations shall be presented together with the bill of lading, commercial invoice and other documents required by law, in original form and with the appropriate number of copies. If one of the above mentioned documents is missing, the customs officials may authorize clearance of the good under a cash deposit, thus granting the interested party 60 days to present the missing documents. Merchandise deposited at customs will be considered abandoned when request for clearance of merchandise is not made within 60 days after the date of receipt by the customhouse or when the merchandise is not withdrawn within 30 days from the cancellation of the importer's declaration.
Tariff Classification...

All Guatemalan imports, except those imported under special industrial incentive programs and direct government imports, are subject to the common external tariff of the Central American Common Market. Tariff classification is based on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System generally referred to as the Harmonized System.

Most of the items are subject to ad valorem duty rate based on the CIF value at the port of entry.

Tariff Ranges and Charges
As a member of the System of Central American Integration (formerly Central American Common Market - CACM comprised of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras) Guatemala has a common external tariff schedule in which customs duties range from a maximum of 20% ad valorem with a minimum tariff of 5%, with certain exceptions including apparel.

Other Import Charges
A 7% Value Added Tax (IVA) applies to most imported goods at the point of entry. The 7% will be increased to 10% in 1996. A 3% customs surcharge is also assessed on imports.

Temporary Entry
Guatemala's 1989 drawback and export promotion law allows duty and tax free entry of: raw materials, intermediate products, and packaging and labels used in the production or assembly of merchandise exported to markets outside Central America.

Free Trade Zones and Warehouses
The "ZOLIC" free trade zone at Puerto Santo Tomas de Castilla, adjacent to Guatemala's principal port on the Atlantic coast, and the Grupo Zeta Free Zone located in the town of Palin near Guatemala City, offer exemption from payment of all duties and taxes (except employer social security contributions). Legislation passed in 1989 allows the establishment of privately owned and operated free trade zones and provides export incentives for maquila and other export oriented industries.


Labeling, Marking and Packaging Requirements
Importers must register any food product to be imported with the Department for the Registry and Control of Foodstuffs. The registration is valid for one year. In addition to the range of product information required for registration, Guatemalan law officially require that foreign products contain Spanish language labeling indicating the ingredients, registration number, and expiration date of the product.Pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and hygiene products must be included in the Sanitary Registry (Registro Sanitario) of the Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance prior to being sold in Guatemala.

Technical Standards
The market has been largely selfregulating in packaged quantities and product quality.

Restricted or Prohibited Imports
The Ministry of Defense's Department for the Control of Arms and Munitions (DECAM) enforces a law which virtually prohibits the import of offensive weapons, a category encompassing automatic weapons, as well as a wide range of military weapons and hardware.


Trade Agreements and Preferences
As a signatory to the Central American Common Market (CACM), Guatemala also extends a common external tariff to member nations ranging from 5 -20% on most products of non-CACM origin, and has duty-free access to the markets of CACM countries. As a beneficiary of the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) and the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), Guatemala enjoys duty-free access for most exports to the United States. The major products exempt from CBI preferences are textiles, apparel, watches, and petroleum products.

The Law for the Development of Export and Draw Back Activity is one of two Guatemalan laws granting incentives to exporting companies.The law grants fiscal incentives both to direct and indirect exporters. To enjoy these benefits companies must apply to the Directorate of Industrial Policy of the Ministry of Economy.


Direccion General de Aduanas
Ministerio De Finanzas Publicas
10a Calle 13-92, Zona 1
Guatemala City
Phone: 80651-80652, 80653

General Trade Division of the Ministry of Economy
Ave. La Reforma 12-01
Zona. 10
Edificio Reforma Montufar
Torre "B", 4o. Nivel
Guatemala City
Phone: 37-3876/8

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