Guatemala - Country Commercial Guide
Selling to the Public Sector

Describes how major projects are secured and financed. Explains activities of the multilateral development banks in and other aid-funded projects.

Last published date: 2021-08-10

Guatemala’s Government Procurement Law requires most government purchases over GTQ 900,000 (about USD 116,580) to be submitted for public competitive bidding.  Any government acquisition of goods, supplies or services that exceeds GTQ 90,000 (approximately USD 11,658) is subject to price quotation procedures, which also require public competition through Guatecompras (Official website for Government Tenders). Since March 2004, government entities are required to use Guatecompras, an internet-based electronic system to track government procurement processes, open to the public.  Guatemalan government entities must also comply with government procurement commitments under CAFTA-DR. Tender proceedings are public in the Republic of Guatemala.

The U.S. government advises that any foreign company interested in engaging into a commercial relationship with an official or governmental entity to be associated with a local market participant.  Foreign companies can participate in any government procurement modality without a local business associate but must show that the company has provisionally registered with the Mercantile Registry.  If the foreign company is awarded a public contract, it must demonstrate that it is properly registered to operate in the country through an authorized branch.  Although it is technically possible to provisionally register a company during the bidding process, in practice it is hard to complete the process before the deadline for submitting a bid.

Government procurements executed by one government administration are occasionally challenged, breached or unpaid by the subsequent administration.  In some of these cases, the Embassy of the United States of America can assist and service U.S. firms by encouraging the government to respect the legally binding executed agreements.

Guatemala is not a signatory to the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement.

U.S. companies bidding on Government tenders may also qualify for U.S. Government advocacy. A unit of the U.S. Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration, the Advocacy Center coordinates U.S. Government interagency advocacy efforts on behalf of U.S. exporters bidding on public sector contracts with international governments and government agencies. The Advocacy Center works closely with our network of the U.S. Commercial Service worldwide and inter-agency partners to ensure that exporters of U.S. products and services have the best possible chance of winning government contracts. Advocacy assistance can take many forms but often involves the U.S. Embassy or other U.S. Government agencies expressing support for the U.S. bidders directly to the foreign government. Consult Advocacy for Foreign Government Contracts for additional information. 

Financing of Projects

Multilateral Development Banks and Financing Government Sales. Price, payment terms, and financing can be a significant factor in winning a government contract. Many governments finance public works projects through borrowing from the Multilateral Development Banks (MDB). A helpful guide for working with the MDBs is the Guide to Doing Business with the Multilateral Development Banks (PDF). The U.S. Department of Commerce’s (USDOC) International Trade Administration (ITA) has a Foreign Commercial Service Officer stationed at each of the five different Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs): the African Development Bank; the Asian Development Bank; the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development; the Inter-American Development Bank; and the World Bank.