Owning a boat on Guatemala Lake and rivers

Very often people are surprised how very few boat are on Lake Atitlan. And very often if you know somebody with a boat he will tell you that it is great to have one either for cruising or fishing..
But most of the foreigners have no idea about the rules going along owning a boat in Guatemala.

There are three steps
  1. Get a plate (a matricula) for the boat
  2. Get a driving boat license
  3. Get a navigation license for the boat.
3 Steps registration

The first thing you have to know is that you need a plate for your boat, like for a car.. For that you need to register it with the Naval base of Panajachel. It has to be registered with the SAT the tax department. The tax will be according a ladder of cost that is defined by the SAT people. See in our annex the different cost associated with different kind of boat.
Placa - Maticula for the boat
Then you have to give a name to your boat. After that when all your paper are in order present the boat for inspection. The inspection is aimed to check that all the lights on your boat are working, that you have a first aid kit, an anchor with ropes, life jacket and a small tool box. Then when you have your boat Plate-Matricula you have to paint it on your boat as well as the name of the boat or with a sticker. And you have to carry with you your license plate with you or at least a copy of it to be presented to the Marina  patrol upon request.

Guatemalan Marin Patrol

The second thing is to get then the Navigation license.. which is basically the permit to navigate with your registered boat.. It is more or less the same process and you have to take the boat again for inspection.
Process to get the Navigation License

Finally the boat license.. which is the hardest to get for a foreigner.. why?
Because you have to take a test and it is maybe 2 times a year in Panajachel at the Marine Base and it is in spanish.. No possibilities so far to get a transfer of a foreign boat license..

Boat license Process
Now all these requirements are very inexpensive in terms of cost as the boat license is less than $10
the Navigation license is $ 20 and the boat matricula fee is less then $ 30. The most expensive part is the taxes. Now if you can't do this personally you have to give a power of attorney to somebody that can do it for you (except getting the boat license) .. We at Atitlan Solutions have ample experience in this matter as we have registered several boat for foreigners or locals.. as well as experience in importing boats.

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