Guatemala - Country Commercial Guide
Trade Financing

It covers payment methods and information on, banking systems, foreign exchange controls, and U.S. and correspondent banking.

Last published date: 2021-08-10

Banking System

Overall, the banking system remains stable. According to information from the Superintendence of Banks (SIB), the Guatemalan banking system comprises 17 commercial banks, which held an estimated USD 51. billion in assets by December 2020. The six largest banks control about 89 % of total assets. In addition, there are 12 non-bank financial institutions specializing in investment operations, three licensed exchange houses, twenty-eight insurance companies, four credit card issuers, fourteen bonded warehouses, and four offshore banks which, by law, are affiliated with domestic financial groups. The Superintendence of Banks is responsible for regulating the financial services industry.

Guatemalan banking regulatory authorities and the Guatemalan congress have been actively working on new laws to strengthen the financial sector. In August 2012, the Guatemalan congress approved reforms to the Banking and Financial Groups Law and to the Central Bank Organic Law that strengthen supervision and prudential regulation of the financial sector and resolution mechanisms for failed or failing banks. Financial sector regulations passed by the Guatemalan congress in April 2002 increased the scope of supervision and brought local practices more in line with international standards. The 2002 regulations included Banking and Financial Groups Law, a Financial Supervision Law, and a Central Bank Law.

The Guatemalan Congress also passed strong anti-money laundering legislation in December 2001. The Financial Action Task Force removed Guatemala from the list of non-cooperating countries in July 2004. Terrorism finance legislation was passed in August 2005. For more information on the banking system, please read the section Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment of the Investment Climate Chapter.

Foreign Exchange Controls: Guatemala maintains an open and unrestricted exchange regime.  There are no restrictions on converting or transferring funds associated with an investment into a freely usable currency at a market-clearing rate.  The exchange rate moves in response to market conditions.  The government sets one exchange rate as its reference, which it applies only to its own transactions and which is based on the commercial rate. The Central Bank intervenes in the foreign exchange market only to prevent sharp movements.  There are no legal constraints on the quantity of remittances or any other capital flows, or delays in acquiring foreign exchange.  Since May 2001, banks are permitted to offer accounts and conduct business in any foreign currency.  In October 2010, monetary authorities approved a regulation to establish limits for cash transactions of foreign currency to reduce the risks of money laundering and terrorism financing.  The regulation establishes that monthly deposits over USD 3,000 will be subject to additional requirements, including a sworn statement by the depositor stating that the money comes from legitimate activities.  The reference exchange rate of Quetzals (GTQ) to the U.S. dollar (USD) has remained relatively stable since 1999.

For more information about the methods of payment or other trade finance options, please read the Trade Finance Guide for US Exporters.