Navigating the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala

We needed a validated copy of our passports from the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala for some our residency paperwork so we can stay in Guatemala longer term.  So we showed up at the U.S Embassy with our passports in hand at about noon on a Monday. Here’s some basic info on the Embassy and lessons we learned there.

HOW TO GET THERE:

The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala is located:

Embajada de los Estados Unidos de América
Avenida Reforma 7-01, Zona 10
Guatemala Ciudad, Guatemala

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LESSONS WE LEARNED:

Lesson #1 The office is closed from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

In a modified ally that has a nice cover to shade the crowd that gathers while waiting to get in, we stood in the disheveled line for about an hour and then were kindly ushered in through the security check. (They’ll take any cellphones, cameras, cords, even headphones, flashlights, ipods, etc. that you have with you. You’ll get them back but they don’t let you take them in with you.)\

Embassy Office hours are:

Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. –  5:00 p.m. (but there are exceptions so keep reading)Click for Embassy Contactinfo for the embassy.
Lesson #2 Ask questions.

We didn’t really know how things worked so we asked questions to find out. At security they have the airport style x-ray machine and metal detector. Then you pass through a secure rotating gate. Then we went up the stairs in to the main waiting room. There was a small sign with an arrow pointing to the left indicating that Citizen Services are around the corner (Windows 1-3). We missed this at first and had to ask directions. People at the embassy were helpful though things were slow at times.

Lesson #3 Get there in the morning.

We got there in the afternoon and had to wait 24 hours before we could pick up our validated copies. Had we come in the morning, we could have gotten them the same day.

So, here’s what we discovered: Go to the U.S. Embassy early, get an appointment if you need one:

(Note: You will need an appointment if you’re going for:

  • Reporting the birth abroad of a child of a U.S. citizen
  • First-time passport issuance
  • Renewal of passports for minor children under the age of 16
  • Renewal of passports for applicants who are over 18 years old and whose previous passport was issued before the applicant turned 16 years old
  • Replacement of passports issued more than 15 years ago)

Lesson #4 Friday schedules are different

I arrived shortly after 11 a.m. on a Friday to pick up my son’s passport and report of a birth abroad. Turns out that on Fridays they close the American Citizen Services office at 11 and do not open in the afternoon. I had to wait two weeks until I was back in the capital to take the 5 minutes it took to pick up the paperwork.

Lesson learned: Get there early.

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Comment below and share your experience and how you navigated the U.S. Embassy!

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