Why not Import it?

contenerLet’s say you decide to stay in Guatemala. The perfect weather and lovely setting has grown on you and you want to make this country your home. You later decide that even though you’ve had fun mingling with the locals over martinis, it’s time to get your own business started – assuming of course you haven’t been scared off by the bureaucracy it might entail. Now, you want to take it one step further and import! The first thing you might do is worry, “Just how hard is it going to be?”

Well, I have good news for you, at least I think so. According to Marian Herrmann, who you might have seen around town or met during the promotion of the Appletiser, there’s no hassle. It’s all hearsay – he says – and as long as you make peace with the idea of doing things step by step, everything should work out fine. Just like it has worked out for him – the man in charge of having everyone in town be curious, then get acquainted with, and finally love this South African beverage that’s even good for your health. If you find yourself committed to the idea of importing a product, just like his team did, then read on, and I’ll give you an overall idea of what’s to come.

First, let me remind you to keep in mind you are still in Guatemala so some of the requirements might change overnight and without warning. EscucharLeer fonéticament

For starters, get acquainted with the local SAT office. The Superintendencia de Administración Tributaria (Superintendent Office for Tax Administration) is located half a block from the park (almost at the beginning of 5a. Avenida Sur). There you can get a detailed list of the forms you will need to fill out and even contact numbers and references for people in customs who can help you with the procedure, as well as information on how to get registered on the Importers’ Registry.

Nowadays, SAT is trying to immerse Guatemalans and foreigners in the electronic world, providing electronic forms for everything, which can be worked on through Banca SAT (a program that allows you pay taxes, update your information and request permission to get new receipts, among many other things). Any import policy you need can be requested and processed via electronic forms and they even guarantee it will be faster (they still accept manual forms).

You should know, you’ll need receipts of purchase and a packing list – it might simply be a sheet indicating product code, product name and quantity, not necessarily price. In the case of food imports you need to also get the correspondent sanitary registration (one for each presentation of the same product). Depending on the type of product, you might need to produce special documentation, for example drugs, plants, animals, etc.

This is just the beginning, but once you get acquainted with the office and all the forms and come to terms with the time it takes for things to get done, you will be able to move on to the real deal –coordinating shipments and arrivals and declaring your product in customs. One thing Marian made sure I understood during our conversation was that there’s no discrimination when it comes to who is importing. What matters is that you’re patient, and most importantly that you play by the rules.

If you are planning on visiting SAT, they’re located on 5a. Avenida. Sur, Antigua Casa de la Moneda, or you can call them at 7832-3908, 7832-0145, 7832-0366, 7832-4118, 7832-3908, 7832-0145, 7832-0366, 7832-4118. Their website is www.portal.sat.gob.gt.

A special thanks to Marian Herrmann and Appletiser for helping with this article.

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