The fiscal year runs from January 1 of one year to December 31.
From January 1st, 2008, Guatemala adopted the IAS - International Accounting Standards and IFRS - International Financial Reporting Standards. To view these standards, see the IASB website: International Accounting Standards Board - IASB.
All companies have to provide an annual report in Spanish and publish their balance sheet and profit and loss statements in the Official Gazette. For more information consult the Fundesa's Business Guidebook ; and see the document on accounting in Guatemala: Hispanic-American Commission (Spanish only).
The company's balance sheets have to be published each year. It is advisable to have an accounting system that is clear and wholly translated into Spanish. It has to be noted that it is difficult to get information on Guatemalan companies as there are very few published balance sheets.
The "Intellectual Property Decree" no 57-2000 was ratified by the whole of Central America. This decree established a uniform legal environment for the whole region as well as a database on brands and logos. One has to register with the Registro de la Propriedad Industrial, an organization responsible for the protection of intellectual property in Guatemala. Guatemala is a signatory of the Berne convention and of the Treaty of Rome. By virtue of the Central American agreement for the protection of industrial property, preferential registration is guaranteed for a Guatemalan brand in whichever Central American country during the first 6 months following its registration in Guatemala.
The judiciary is not independent in Guatemala and corruption is still corroding the system which lacks transparency and pub
lic accountability. Nevertheless, with regard to doing business, there are agencies that deal with dispute resolution and they work well: The FTAA group has a dispute resolution system and companies often call on the WTO for the resolution of conflicts. The DSB: Dispute Settlement Body is the most frequently used dispute resolution system. See DSB website.
Equal Treatment of Nationals and Foreigners
In the business world, investment laws treat Guatemalan and foreign companies equally. With regard to all other judicial matters that one could be engaged in, it all depends on the circumstances (location, presiding judge). The Guatemalan justice system and police practices are very criticized by the Human Rights League. See link: Freedom House.
The Language of Justice
The judicial language used in the country is Spanish, though there are 23 other officially recognized Amerindian languages.
Recourse to an Interpreter
The Guatemalan State makes provisions for an interpreter to be available for people who do not speak Spanish.
Sources of the Law and Legal Similarities
The main source of the law is the 1985 Constitution as amended in 1993.The legal system is based on a system of civil law and of judicial reviews of various legislative acts. Guatemala has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction. The Guatemalan legal system has similarities with that of the United States.
Banks are open Monday to Friday from 9 AM to 3 PM and sometimes until 7 PM. They are open Saturday from 9 AM to 12 PM. Administrative offices are open Monday to Friday from 8 AM to 12 PM and from 1 PM to 4.30 PM however, Friday afternoon is considered by many as a "pre-weekend", it is therefore advisable not to wait till Friday afternoon to get in touch with them. Businesses work Monday to Friday from 9 AM to 1 PM and from 3 PM to 7 PM. Saturdays they are open until 1 PM or 7 PM. Supermarkets and hypermarkets are open every day from 9 AM to 8 PM.
Holy (Maundy) Thursday
3rd Thursday in March
Our Lady of the Ascension (for the capital city only)