Last Updated: Friday, 27 November 2015, 12:04 GMT

Guatemala: Requirements and procedures to obtain Guatemalan citizenship through marriage, including whether Guatemala allows for dual citizenship with Colombia (2009 - January 2011)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Publication Date 14 February 2011
Citation / Document Symbol GTM103672.E
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Guatemala: Requirements and procedures to obtain Guatemalan citizenship through marriage, including whether Guatemala allows for dual citizenship with Colombia (2009 - January 2011), 14 February 2011, GTM103672.E, available at: [accessed 27 November 2015]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Information on the requirements and procedures to obtain Guatemalan citizenship through marriage was scarce among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. However, the following information might be of interest.

Citizenship through marriage

In 12 January 2011 correspondence with the Research Directorate, an official of the Embassy of Guatemala in Ottawa indicated that a spouse of a Guatemalan citizen does not automatically receive citizenship.

The Guatemalan Citizenship Act (Ley de Nacionalidad ) states the following concerning the process by which a non-Guatemalan spouse of a Guatemalan citizen can apply for citizenship [translation by the Translation Bureau]:

Article 10. — Guatemalan citizens and their foreign wives who reside abroad may — with the exceptions stated in the following article -use a special Guatemalan representative to substantiate their case files with the Ministry of Foreign Relations or the corresponding diplomatic or consular representative, who/which will receive the application, hear the evidence, note the option chosen (if applicable), take any sworn statement or waiver that may be constitutionally applicable, and forward the completed case file to the Ministry for a decision.

Article 11. — Choosing Guatemalan citizenship, swearing loyalty to Guatemala and renouncing foreign citizenship are highly personal acts that cannot be delegated and that must be performed by legally competent individuals.

Article 43.-A foreign national who marries a Guatemalan may opt for Guatemalan citizenship when formalizing the marriage, if this is done in Guatemala; however, other formalities must be completed with the Ministry of Foreign Relations in order for the naturalization to be recognized.

Article 44. -/em>The acquisition or recovery of citizenship after marriage allows the foreign spouse to obtain declaratory naturalization. (Guatemala 1966)

Permanent residency

The Guatemalan General Directorate of Migration (Dirección General de Migración) states that [translation] "[f]oreigners who have been married to a Guatemalan for a minimum of one year can acquire permanent residency - they must submit the required legal documentation" to do so (Guatemala n.d.a). According to the Department, permanent residents are foreigners who establish their legal residence in Guatemala after completing the necessary legal procedures (Guatemala n.d.b).

To obtain permanent residency through marriage, applicants must submit the following documents with the [translation] "Permanent Residency through Marriage" application form:

  • A recent card-sized photograph;
  • Passport and legalized copy of the passport;
  • A certificate indicating the passport's validity issued by an embassy or consulate of the country of origin, that is accredited by the Guatemalan government, or a certified birth certificate for people whose country of origin has no diplomatic relations with Guatemala;
  • Original proof of lack of a criminal record from the country where you resided the five years prior to the application. If such a document does not exist in the country, then a certificate of non-issue and an affidavit of lack of a criminal record;
  • A recent and original birth certificate of the Guatemalan spouse along with a marriage note;
  • An original and recent marriage certificate;
  • Proof that the foreigner has been married to the Guatemalan for more than a year. (Guatemala n.d.a)

All foreign documents must be translated into Spanish by a legally authorized Guatemalan translator, and all copies must be notarized (ibid.).

Process of naturalization

The Guatemalan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Ministerio de Relaciones Externas) indicates that people from countries outside the Central American Federation (i.e., El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras and Costa Rica) and Belize, as well as people born abroad to Guatemalan parents, must apply for naturalization (Guatemala n.d.c). The Ministry describes the process for becoming a naturalized citizen as follows [translation]:

First, send an official request for citizenship to the departmental government (Gobernación Departamental), where it will be acknowledged and evaluated (ibid.). Once the citizenship request file is complete, it is sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (ibid.). If complete, the file is forwarded to the National Attorney General's Office (Procuradurí­a General de la Nación); if incomplete, the file is sent back to the departmental government to acquire the missing information (ibid.).

Once the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Attorney General's Office have approved the file, it is sent to the Secretary General of the Presidency of the Republic (Secretaría General de la Presidencia de la República) for a final decision (ibid.). The Secretary General's Specialized Consultative Body (Cuerpo Consultativo Especí­fico) reviews the file before submitting it to the President, who indicates whether naturalization will be granted to the petitioner through a notice that is published in the official newsletter (Diario Oficial) (ibid.). Guatemalan citizenship is officially obtained during a naturalization ceremony performed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (ibid.).

The requirements for obtaining citizenship through naturalization are as follows [translation]:

  • Permanent residency status and registration as a domestic foreigner;
  • Possession of permanent residency status for at least five years;
  • During the five years, no absences over six consecutive months or periods adding up to a year or more are allowed;
  • An official request for the acquisition of citizenship submitted by the applicant without representation (ibid.).

The official request for acquisition of citizenship must [translation]

  • be addressed to the departmental governor in the area in which the applicant resides;
  • include the full name, age, nationality, civil status, profession or trade, and an address for receiving notifications; and
  • include the legal grounds for the request, which are article 146 of the Guatemalan Constitution, and the subsection corresponding to article 33 of the Citizenship Act (ibid.).

The applicant must submit the following documents with the request [translation]:

  • A current Residential Foreigner Certificate (Certificación de Extranjero Residente) from the General Directorate of Migration;
  • A Domestic Foreigner Certificate (Certificación de Extranjero Domiciliado) issued by the Civil Registry (Registro Civil);
  • A National Identification Card (carta de Nacionalidad) from the country of origin;
  • A valid foreign passport;
  • Proof of a clean criminal record from the Guatemalan Supreme Court of Justice (Corte Suprema de justicia de Guatemala);
  • Proof of a clean police record from the General Directorate of the Guatemalan National Police (Dirección General de la Policí­a Nacional de Guatemala) and the regional authorities of the person's place of residence in the last five years;
  • A certificate of Migratory Movement (Certificación de Movimiento Migratorio) issued by the General Directorate of Migration;
  • Proof of satisfactory living income through a profession or craft;
  • The names of three character witnesses; and
  • Proof of payment of the Annual Payment of Immigration Matters (Cuota Anual de Extranjería) to the General Directorate of Migration, with exceptions based on international reciprocity. (ibid.)

The Citizenship Act describes naturalization by marriage as follows [translation by the Translation Bureau]:

Article 42. — In the case of naturalization by marriage, the survival of the other spouse and the continuation of the marital bond must be proven when more than one year has passed since the wedding date.

This can be accredited by means of a declaration made by the other spouse — either in person or in a notarial document — or some other acceptable form of evidence. (Guatemala 1966)

Dual citizenship

In a telephone interview on 19 January 2011, an official at the Embassy of Guatemala in Ottawa noted that Guatemala allows dual citizenship with any other country as long as it is permitted by the latter. According to Consulado y Embajadas, an information website that provides details on embassies, the reform of the Guatemalan Citizenship Act by Decree No. 86-96 includes the idea of [translation]

the concurrence (not dual nationality) of two or more nationalities in a person. However, the nationalities cannot be practiced simultaneously, but alternatively. As a concrete example, a person will be Guatemalan in the national territory and American in the United States of America. (n.d.)

The Guatemalan Citizenship Act also states the conditions under which Guatemalan women married to foreigners maintain their citizenship [translation by the Translation Bureau]:

Article 45. — A Guatemalan woman married to a foreign national maintains her citizenship unless she takes her husband's nationality. She also maintains it if she acquires his nationality solely as a result of foreign legislation. Adoption of his nationality will be assumed if the women uses a passport of her husband's country, whether with him or on her own. No proof contrary to this assumption will be accepted; however, this will not be the case if the passport were used only to travel to the husband's country. (Guatemala 1966)

The Constitution of Colombia states the following about Colombian citizenship:

Article 96. No Colombian by birth may be stripped of his/her citizenship. The status of Colombian citizenship cannot be lost by virtue of the fact of acquiring another citizenship. Citizens by naturalization will not be obliged to renounce their citizenship of origin or naturalization. (Colombia 1991)

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Colombia. 1991. Text of the Constitution of Colombia (1991). (University of Richmond) < [Accessed 19 Jan. 2011]

Consulados y Embajadas. N.d. "Nacionalidad Guatemalteca." < [Accessed 11 Jan. 2011]

Guatemala. 19 January 2011. Embassy of the Republic of Guatemala, Ottawa. Telephone interview with an official.

_____. 12 January 2011. Embassy of the Republic of Guatemala, Ottawa. Correspondence from an official with the Research Directorate.

_____. 1966. Ley de Nacionalidad, Decreto número 1613. Translated by the Translation Bureau, Public Works and Government Services Canada. < [Accessed 11 Jan. 2011]

_____. N.d.a. Dirección General de Migración. "Residente permenente por cányuge." < [Accessed 24 Jan. 2011]

_____. N.d.b. Dirección de General Migración. "Residentes permanentes." < [Accessed 24 Jan. 2011]

_____. N.d.c. Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores. "Procedimiento para la obtención de Nacionalidad Guatemalteca por Naturalización." < [Accessed 5 Jan. 2011]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: A lawyer with Abogados y Notarios in Guatemala did not respond within the time constraints of this Response.

Internet sites, including: Guatemala — Consejo Nacional de Atenciónal Migrante de Guatemala, Guatemala Times, International Migration Organization (IMO), El Periodico [Guatemala], Terra [Guatemala].

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

Search Refworld