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flag Guatemala Guatemala: Business Environment

In this page: Accounting Rules | Tax Rates | Intellectual Property | Legal Framework | Standards | Business Practices

 

Accounting Rules

Tax Year
The fiscal year runs from January 1 of one year to December 31.
Accounting Standards
From January 1st, 2008, Guatemala adopted the IAS - International Accounting Standards and IFRS - International Financial Reporting Standards.  To view these standards, see the IASB website: International Accounting Standards Board - IASB.
Accounting Regulation Bodies
Congress of the Republic of Guatemala
Accounting Reports
All companies have to provide an annual report in Spanish and publish their balance sheet and profit and loss statements in the Official Gazette.  For more information consult the Fundesa's Business Guidebook ; and see the document on accounting in Guatemala:  Hispanic-American Commission (Spanish only).
Publication Requirements
The company's balance sheets have to be published each year. It is advisable to have an accounting system that is clear and wholly translated into Spanish. It has to be noted that it is difficult to get information on Guatemalan companies as there are very few published balance sheets.
Professional Accountancy Bodies
Institute of Public Accountants and Auditors of Guatemala , (Spanish only)
Guatemalan Association of Public Accountants and Auditors , (Spanish only)
List of audit firms , (Spanish only)
Certification and Auditing
Audited financial statements must be filed annually. You can contact an external auditor :Deloitte, KPMG, Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopersDiaz Reyes y asociados.  See also list of audit firms in the Yellow Pages (Spanish only).
Accounting News
Accounting in Guatemala (Spanish only)
Guatemalan Website
IAS Plus

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Tax Rates

Consumption Taxes

Nature of the Tax
Value added tax (VAT) - Impuesto al valor agregado (IVA)
Tax Rate
12%
Reduced Tax Rate
A 5% rate on gross sales applies to small taxpayers (with annual turnover of less than GTQ 150,000).
Education,transfer of assets in a merger, basic foodstuffs, certain financial services and the sales of some low-rent housing are exempt of tax. Exports are not subjected to VAT.
Other Consumption Taxes
A special tax is added to products with alcoholic content and on the sale of used cars.

Learn more about Service Providers in Guatemala on Globaltrade.net, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

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Corporate Taxes

Company Tax
Under the simplified optional regime, the rate is from 5% to 7% on gross revenue. The rate under the general regime is 25% on net income.
Capital Gains Taxation
On the long run, capital gains are taxed in Guatemala at a rate of 10%.
Main Allowable Deductions and Tax Credits
Expenses are deductible for depreciation, payments to foreign affiliates, all taxes other than income tax and value added tax, and certain donations.
Other Corporate Taxes
Stamp duty, real property tax, social security contributions.
Other Domestic Resources
Consult Doing Business Website, to obtain a summary of the taxes and mandatory contributions.
 

Country Comparison For Corporate Taxation

  Guatemala Latin America & Caribbean United States Germany
Number of Payments of Taxes per Year 24.0 30.0 11.0 9.0
Time Taken For Administrative Formalities (Hours) 332.0 367.0 175.0 207.0
Total Share of Taxes (% of Profit) 40.9 47.2 46.7 46.8

Source: Doing Business - Last Available Data.

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Individual Taxes

Tax Rate

Income tax The rate is progressive and varies from 5 to 7%.
up to GTQ 300,000 5%
Over GTQ 300,000 7%
Allowable Deductions and Tax Credits
Individuals can deduct: personal deduction: GTQ 36,000; social security contributions (4.83% of salary); life insurance premiums; medical expenses (excluding medicine); retirement plan payments; alimony expenses; donations.
Special Expatriate Tax Regime
None. The official text on income tax only differentiates between residents and non-residents in the country.

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Double Taxation Treaties

Countries With Whom a Double Taxation Treaty Have Been Signed
Guatemala has not entered into a tax treaty with another country.
Withholding Taxes
Dividends: 3%, Interest: 10%, Royalties: 5%

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Sources of Fiscal Information

Tax Authorities
Guatemala Tax Administration (in Spanish)
Other Domestic Resources
Tax information source (Spanish only)

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Learn more about Taxes and Accounting in Guatemala on Globaltrade.net, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

Intellectual Property

National Organizations
The "Intellectual Property Decree" no 57-2000 was ratified by the whole of Central America. This decree established a uniform legal environment for the whole region as well as a database on brands and logos. One has to register with the Registro de la Propriedad Industrial, an organization responsible for the protection of intellectual property in Guatemala.
Guatemala is a signatory of the Berne convention and of the Treaty of Rome. By virtue of the Central American agreement for the protection of industrial property, preferential registration is guaranteed for a Guatemalan brand in whichever Central American country during the first 6 months following its registration in Guatemala.
Regional Organizations
Guatemala is a member of WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) and has ratified the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT), as well as the WPPT, Performances and Phonograms Treaty.  It is also a member of the WTO.  It has signed the Paris convention, the Berne Convention, the Rome Convention and the Nairobi Treaty.
 

National Regulation and International Agreements

 
Type of property and law Validity International Agreements Signed
Patent
 
Intellectual property law.
15 years maximum
Trademark
 
Brand names and Intellectual property legislation
10 years renewable
Design
 
Law on Design
3 years  
Copyright
 
Copyright law
75 years WIPO Copyright Treaty
Industrial Models
 
1997 law on utility models
10 years  

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Legal Framework

Independence of Justice
The judiciary is not independent in Guatemala and corruption is still corroding the system which lacks transparency and pub

lic accountability.  Nevertheless, with regard to doing business, there are agencies that deal with dispute resolution and they work well:  The FTAA group has a dispute resolution system and companies often call on the WTO for the resolution of conflicts.  The DSB: Dispute Settlement Body is the most frequently used dispute resolution system.  See DSB website.

Equal Treatment of Nationals and Foreigners
In the business world, investment laws treat Guatemalan and foreign companies equally.  With regard to all other judicial matters that one could be engaged in, it all depends on the circumstances (location, presiding judge). The Guatemalan justice system and police practices are very criticized by the Human Rights League.  See link: Freedom House.
The Language of Justice
The judicial language used in the country is Spanish, though there are 23 other officially recognized Amerindian languages.
Recourse to an Interpreter
The Guatemalan State makes provisions for an interpreter to be available for people who do not speak Spanish.
Sources of the Law and Legal Similarities
The main source of the law is the 1985 Constitution as amended in 1993.The legal system is based on a system of civil law and of judicial reviews of various legislative acts. Guatemala has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction.  The Guatemalan legal system has similarities with that of the United States.
Checking National Laws Online
Laws of Guatemala (in Spanish).

Learn more about Lawyers and Legal in Guatemala on Globaltrade.net, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

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Standards

National Standards Organizations
COGUANOR, Guatemalan Standards Commission (in Spanish), (Spanish only)
OGA, Accreditation Bureau, (Spanish only)
Ministry of Economy website on standards, (Spanish only)
Integration in the International Standards Network
The relevant organization that legally lays down the standards in force is the Guatemalan Standards Commission (COGUANOR - Spanish only). Guatemala is a member country of the International Organization of Legal Metrology (OIML), of the International Organization of Standardization (ISO), of the International Eletrotechnical Commission (IEC) and of the Pan American Standards Commission (COPANT).
Classification of Standards
For the classification of the different standards, see the COGUANOR website.
Online Consultation of Standards
Refer to the standards website: COGUANOR
Certification Organizations
National Standards Commission (COGUANOR) (Spanish only).
General management of Regulation, Vigilance and Health Control (Spanish only).

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Business Practices

General Information
Ehow, Business Etiquette practice website
Opening Hours and Days
Banks are open Monday to Friday from 9 AM to 3 PM and sometimes until 7 PM.  They are open Saturday from 9 AM to 12 PM.
Administrative offices are open Monday to Friday from 8 AM to 12 PM and from 1 PM to 4.30 PM however, Friday afternoon is considered by many as a "pre-weekend", it is therefore advisable not to wait till Friday afternoon to get in touch with them.
Businesses work Monday to Friday from 9 AM to 1 PM and from 3 PM to 7 PM.  Saturdays they are open until 1 PM or 7 PM.
Supermarkets and hypermarkets are open every day from 9 AM to 8 PM.
 

Public Holidays

New Year January 1st
Holy (Maundy) Thursday 3rd Thursday in March
Labor Day May 1st
Army Day June 30th
Bank Holiday July 1st
Our Lady of the Ascension (for the capital city only) August 15th
Independence Day September 15th
Race Day October 12th
Revolution Day (of 1944) October 20th
All Saints' Day November 1st
Christmas December 24th and 25th
New Year December 31st
 
 

Periods When Companies Usually Close

End of March, the date varies every year Holy week
 

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Last Updates: January 2015