If you are in Guatemala and your 90 day CA-4 visa is about to expire, then Mexico is your best bet for a new stamp. Find out why the El Carmen (GTM) to Talisman (MEX) is the best border crossing and how to get there.

The CA-4 is a pact allowing free movement through:

It provides you with 90 days for travel, but also limits your visa run options to Mexico, Belize, and Costa Rica. If you started in Nicaragua and still need more time to finish Guatemala, or just got stuck hanging around Lake Atitlan like we did, then Mexico is the best choice for your visa run.

Guatemala Mexico border

El Carmen / Talisman border crossing

Belize charges BZ$37.50 / $19.00 as an exit fee, while Mexico does not charge an exit fee for stays up to a week.

We here at DIY Travel HQ chose to do our CA-4 visa run from El Carmen, Guatemala to Talisman, Mexico due to costs and time. It is convenient from Quetzaltenango (Xela), Panajachel and San Pedro La Laguna on Lake Atitlan, and Antigua.

The penalty for overstaying your visa is Q10 / $1.35 per day.

Guatemala visa run

Talisman border crossing from the Mexican side

You can also extend your first visa for an additional 90 days in Guatemala City, but requires 8 days besides fulfilling their requirements.

Keep in mind that Guatemalan Immigration states that you need to leave the country for 72 hours, but we were able to return the next day. Aside from Quetzaltenango (Xela), transportation will take you all day so start early.

See below for transportation details:

Nebaj Chicken Bus Station

Chicken buses are the local form of transport in Guatemala!

  • Quetzaltenango (Xela) to El Carmen Transportation

Take a ‘chicken’ bus from Minerva Terminal in Quetzaltenango (Xela) to San Marcos (Q10 / $1.35). Transfer to another bus at the terminal heading to Malacatan (Q15 / $2.00).

Ask to be let off at the shuttle that runs to El Carmen (Q4 / $0.55).

Talisman Mexico Immigration

Inside the air-conditioned Mexican immigration office

  • Lake Atitlan to El Carmen Transportation

Take a ‘chicken’ bus from either Panajachel or San Pedro La Laguna to Quetzaltenango (Xela) and see instructions above. From Panajachel, you can also catch a ride to Los Encuentros and transfer to a Quetzaltenango (Xela) bus from there.

From San Pedro La Laguna, you can catch a ride to Interamericana Km 148 and transfer to a Quetzaltenango (Xela) bound bus.

El Carmen border crossing

The Guatemalan Immigration office is very barebones in comparison to Mexico

  • Antigua to El Carmen Transportation

Take a ‘chicken’ bus from the terminal to Chimaltenango (Q5 / $0.70), and get off at Interamericana & 6 Avenida, which is marked by an overpass.

Cross the road and wait for a bus to San Marcos (Q35 / $4.75). Alternatively, catch a bus to Quetzaltenango (Xela) and see instructions above.

El Carmen border crossing

Have one foot in Mexico & one in Guatemala at the El Carmen/Talisman border crossing

 

***The Final Word – We decided to do a visa run instead of visa extension to save time given that they are roughly the same cost.***

Where did you decide to renew your CA-4 visa?

Accessible DIY travel to more distant locations via multiple connections or longer forms of transport

Visited in October 2016