Guatemala Visa Extension: How to Guide to Renewing Your Tourist Visa

A couple of weeks ago, I began to run out of time.  I’d been in Antigua Guatemala for close to 90 days, which meant my tourist visa was about to expire and so was my vehicle’s permit.  This vehicle visa, or “entry permit” is tied to your stay in Guatemala.  The process to obtain a Guatemala visa extension is well-documented, although there’s a lot of incomplete and outdated information out there.  I’ll give you the latest info on the process. If driving to Guatemala, you’ll need to update the vehicle’s permit as well – see link. You have to renew your tourist visa first before you do your vehicle permit(Updated February 4, 2014).

 

*** Have you been in Guatemala for less than 90 days? Then you need to follow the Guatemala visa extension process outlined below.

 

Have you already filed a 90-day extension and have been in Guatemala for close to six months? Then you need to go on a Guatemala Visa Run. Click link to know how to do a Guatemala visa renewal by visiting nearby Tapachula, Mexico (opens new window).

 

Alternatively, you can also go on a longer, yet infinitely more satisfying visa run to San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico (opens new window). If you want to travel even farther, head to Belize instead (opens new window).***

 

***UPDATED 02/04/2014***

 

Guatemala Visa Extension Options

 

First, to renew your tourist visa for an extra 90 days you have two options:

 

1)  Leave the country for one day (24 hours), get an exit stamp on your passport, then a fresh 90-day entry stamp when you return.

2)  Apply for a permit extension at the main office in Guatemala City.

 

Option 1, while easy, is not too convenient if you’re far from Mexico or Belize’s border.  To get a qualifying exit stamp, you need to leave the CA-4 zone.  The closest border to Antigua Guatemala’s is El Salvador’s, about 2+ hours away by car.  However, this won’t work since Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua formed a pact to allow for open borders between them (collectively they’re called CA-4 countries).  Getting an exit stamp from a CA-4 country means you haven’t left the CA-4 zone.

 

That leaves Costa Rica to the South (more than a day’s travel and many borders to cross), Belize to the Northeast (about 12 hours away) and Mexico to the North (6 hours away) as the only possible overland options.

 

Most people that need to leave the country  take a bus-ride to Mexico, since it’s the cheapest ride and closest destination (more on that below)***.  Unfortunately, there’s also the cost of looking for a place to stay in overnight while on Mexican soil.  Tapachula is the favored, easiest option to stay in Mexico. Read my post on how to do a Guatemala visa run to Tapachula.

 

The vehicle is another story, as it is a semi-complicated process to cross into Mexico and involves a hefty-deposit added to your credit.  Also, unlike Guatemala, Mexico requires you buy vehicle insurance.

 

I wanted to avoid the cost and hassle of going to Mexico, so I headed over to Guatemala City to renew my tourist visa and find out if it was possible to extend my truck’s permit.

 

 Leaving Antigua Guatemala

 

Santo Hermano Pedro Statue: Entrance to Antigua Guatemala

 

Antigua Guatemala is at a higher elevation than the capital city, nestled in a valley surrounded by volcanoes.  This means one has to go up a steep road to leave the city and then downhill when nearing Guatemala City.  Your vehicle’s brakes will get a good workout during this ride.

Colorful buses, dangerous drivers.

 

Once you’ve successfully reached the city unscathed by dodging fast-moving chicken buses (above) and without burning your brakes going downhill, it is time to find the immigration building.  I won’t even attempt to tell you how to get there by car or via public transportation.  You’re better off going with someone who understands the confusing layout of the city or better yet, have a taxi take you.  Here’s the address the Extranjeria, or “Guatemalan Immigration Agency”, where you can renew your passport:

 

Direccion General de Inmigracion (Extranjeria)

Avenida 6, 3-11, Zona 4

Open: Monday to Friday (excluding holidays), 8:30am-4:30pm.

Phone #: (502) 2411-2411

 

Immigration Building – Parking lot across

 

What You Need to Bring:

 

Item 1:  Your UNEXPIRED passport (there’s a Q10 per day fine for every day your visa has been expired).  Your passport will not be returned to you the same day.  I recommend you make full-color copies of your bio-data page(s) (the page(s) indicating full name, date of birth, passport number, etc)  and of the page showing your entry stamp into the country (for personal safe-keeping).  It is also a good idea, as recommended by a police officer here, to go to a lawyer and get both copies notarized - around Q75 (~$10) per page.  I haven’t found it necessary to do so, yet.

 

I had found outdated information on the net indicating that if you arrived early, your passport could be returned the same day.  This is INCORRECT.

 

Your passport will be returned to you eight days later at the same office, barring any holidays in between.  This means if you turn it in on a Wednesday, you’ll get it back Wednesday of the following week.

 

Don’t wait, like I did, until you have less than eight days left on your passport’s expiration date, since you risk walking around with a color copy showing an expired stamp.  You can still explain it away, but you’ll have to carry around your receipt from Extranjeria showing that your passport has been turned in.

 

Item 2:  Bring two copies of the bio-data page(s) of our passport and one copy showing your latest entry stamp into the country.  Doesn’t seem to matter if they’re color copies or not.

 

Item 3:  A copy of the visa extension application (PDF download).  If you don’t take a pre-filled application with you, they will supply a blank copy (bring a pen).

 

Item 4:  A copy of a non-expired foreign credit card (front and back).  This serves as a guarantee that you’ll be able to leave the country via your own means (they don’t check balance, only the expiration date – I speculate that a debit card may work as well).  In the absence of a credit card, you’ll need to find a Guatemalan sponsor guaranteeing that they’ll pay your fare out of the country if necessary.

 

Don’t have copies? There’s a copy service booth (blue sign) on the first floor, next to the BanRural branch where application payments are made. Copies are 1Q each, although if you ask nicely, they will copy both sides of the credit card on one page and still charge you 1Q.

 

***Fellow travelers Brenton and Shannon from RuinedAdventures.com advised that they needed one credit card PER PERSON to extend their visas.  They were also successful in using a Visa/MasterCard Debit Card.  Thanks for the update guys!

 

What’s that? You don’t have a credit card or debit card you say? Here are three options, according to the visa application extension I linked above:

 

a. Bring four traveler checks bearing your name, each in the amount of $100USD.

b. Valid travel ticket – bus, airline, horse, it doesn’t specify the mode of transportation. Don’t have that either? Bring your flight reservation printed on the travel agency’s letterhead – must be signed and stamped by the agent that sold you the ticket.

c. Bring a notarized letter from a personal Guatemalan guarantor that includes:

1) Full Name,

2) Guatemalan ID Number (DPI),

3) Address,

4) Telephone Number,

5) Tax ID Number (NIT),

6) Passport Number,

7) Notarized Copy of ID (DPI), and

8) Guarantor’s Last Bank Statement showing a balance of at least Q3,000 – Bank Statement must be certified (signed and stamped) by bank.

 

Item 5:  If renewing a visa for a child, bring a copy of his/her birth certificate.  If married, bring a copy of your marriage license (if they ask – they didn’t ask me for it).

 

Item 6: Two black-and-white passport-sized photos printed on matte paper.  There is a small office to the left of the Extranjeria building which can give you the pics on the spot for about Q75.

 

Item 7:  About $15USD in Guatemalan currency for visa application fee, Q75 for passport-sized pictures, and about Q20 for parking if using the lot across the street.

 

Once you have all your documents lined up, it is time to go inside the building.

 

 

Once you enter the building, register with the receptionist sitting at the desk next to the entrance.  You’ll be directed to go to the second floor via the stairs or elevator right across the receptionist’s desk.

 

On the second floor, you’ll find a waiting room with chairs.  Go to the window right by the entrance to the lobby marked “Informacion” and stand in line.  At the window, the clerk will check all documents and the visa application form to make sure you’re squared away.  He’ll give you a blank visa application form if you don’t have one.

 

If all is good to go, he’ll staple your photos and documents together.  Clerk will also hand you an invoice for the equivalent in Guatemalan currency for $15USD, and direct you to another window.  Stand in line again.

 

The next clerk will check all your documents again and input the information into the system.  Once you’re in the system, the clerk will send you, with your invoice, to the bank cashier on the first floor, located right behind the receptionist you met when you first entered the building.  Show the bank’s cashier the invoice, pay the visa fee, and return with the stamped invoice to the second floor.  You’re almost finished.

 

Go back to the second floor and stand in line at the “Informacion” window again.  The clerk will check your invoice and hand you a number.  After waiting for a few minutes, your number will come up on the big LCD screen in the center of the room, indicating what window to go to.  Hand over your bank receipt, stapled documents AND passport.  The clerk will hand you a receipt and ask you to come back eight days later, which is not an exact date for pick-up, but the earliest date you can come back to pick up your passport.

 

While this whole procedure seems tedious and drawn out, it took less than 45 minutes and wasn’t bad, considering one keeps moving from window to window, which helped pass time.

 

Eight days later, receipt on hand, I returned to the same immigration building and headed to the “Informacion” window again.  I showed the clerk my receipt, was handed a number.  About 20 minutes later my name was called up.  I checked the new visa stamp on the passport to make sure that I had 90 more days.  Satisfied, I left the building and headed out.

 

All in all, it was a somewhat painless experience and better than spending 16 hours in a car driving to Mexico, not accounting for the time and added expenses.

 

If you’d rather avoid the hassle of traveling to the city, there are immigration lawyers who will handle all the paperwork for you. If in Antigua, visit the immigration services office at the entrance to the Monoloco Restaurant on 5ta Avenida Sur, half a block away from Parque Central. For Q500, a lawyer will take care of the paperwork for you, get it stamped, and return your passport in a timely manner (thanks to reader Lindsey, below, for the tip!).

 

***Unfortunately, this procedure can only be done one time after entering the country from a non-CA-4 country.  Each time you enter Guatemala from a non-CA-4 country, your visa clock starts.  The visa can be renewed at the Extranjeria after your first 90 days are up. After your second 90 day period expires (180 days total in the country), you MUST leave the country to a non-CA-4 country to restart the clock.  Once you come back in with a foreign entry stamp, you can then renew again for another 90 days at the Extranjeria.

 

Know that the car permit will not be extended until your tourist visa has been extended first.

    About Rich Polanco

    Fan of dogs + all things tech. Love a great pizza. My goal is not to travel to every country in the world. I only want to get to know my favorite ones REALLY well. Check out the big bio here. Follow @RichPolanco and connect on Facebook.
    Currently exploring: Guatemala.

    Welcome Antigua Guatemala Expat & Slow Travel Forum Guatemala Visa Extension: How to Guide to Renewing Your Tourist Visa

    This topic contains 54 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Rich Polanco 2 weeks, 6 days ago.

    • Author
      Posts
    • #8234

      Devin

      I’m on an extended stay in Guatemala, so this is great info! Any problems staying longer than 6 months?


    • #8235

      Rich Polanco
      Keymaster

      Not at all! You’ll just have to leave Guatemala for 24 hours to any country, via land or air, that’s not Honduras, El Salvador, or Nicaragua :)

      -Rich


    • #8236

      Cirlei

      Great articles and stylish website, keep up with the good work.


    • #8237

      Debora

      Beautiful blog with nice informative content. Keep it up. I’ve signed up and look forward to your other updates.


    • #8238

      Andréa

      I wished I’d known this earlier :-/ Maybe would’ve stayed in Guatemala a little longer. Beautiful country!


    • #8239

      Rich Polanco
      Keymaster

      It took one visit for me to know I’d have to live here some day. It is beautiful :-D

      -Rich


    • #8240

      Rich Polanco
      Keymaster

      Thanks for the comment, Debora!

      -Rich


    • #8241

      Rich Polanco
      Keymaster

      Thanks Cirlei! Glad you like it.

      -Rich


    • #8242

      Aniele

      great site, great info!


    • #8243

      Rich Polanco
      Keymaster

      Glad it was helpful :)

      -Rich


    • #8244

      Eloides

      Awesome!


    • #8245

      Erlese

      Nice detailed report!


    • #8246

      Dianne St Claude

      I’ll be doing volunteer work in the Xela area at the end of the year, with regular trips to Guatemala City. This guide will come in handy since I’ll be near the capital around the time my visa is set to expire. Might as well take care of it then.

      Thanks for a great resource!


    • #8247

      Rich Polanco
      Keymaster

      Thanks for the feedback!

      -Rich


    • #8248

      Rich Polanco
      Keymaster

      Thanks! I appreciate the feedback :)

      -Rich


    • #8249

      Rich Polanco
      Keymaster

      Glad to be of help!

      -Rich


    • #8250

      Clarita

      What a great article. Really informative and really valuable. Thank you very much.


    • #8251

      Rich Polanco
      Keymaster

      You’re welcome!

      -Rich


    • #8252

      Ruined Adventures

      Thanks again Rich. We went back to Guate City today for round two. My visa and the vehicle import permit were both extended for 90 days, but unfortunately Shannon’s request for another 90 days was not granted.

      The problem was that we only used one debit card for proof of funds, guaranteeing that we could pay our way out of the country. The lady behind the counter originally said it would be fine using one card, but since the name/signature didn’t match Shannon’s they denied it and today we had to give them another card with her name…no problem. We should have known better though. Not sure if it could’ve worked, had we been legally married and she had the same last name as mine with a marriage license to prove it, but just to be safe couples should bring one debit/credit card for each person. Now we have to come back on Friday, which means Shannon will be on an expired visa for one day (they said it was ok though).


    • #8253

      Rich Polanco
      Keymaster

      That’s good to know! Thanks for the update. I’ll add it to the page.

      Thanks!

      -Rich


    • #8254

      Jacqueline Menke

      I am moving to Guatemala for two years from the U.S. and I will be obtaining a cultural exchange or work visa for the two years, as I will be teaching in a school there. I would like my boyfriend to come with; however, he will not be able to obtain the same visa. Would the processes of renewing his passport every 90 days in such a fashion that you’ve explained in this blog work for two years, or is there a limit to how many times you can renew the passport? Thanks!


    • #8255

      Rich Polanco
      Keymaster

      Hi Jacqueline! Thanks for stopping by.

      No, as of right now there are no limits as to how many times one can renew a visa. One needs to exit the country every 6 months, though. Most go to Mexico or Belize for a weekend and come back with a fresh 180-day total in-country possible days. It just has to be renewed once, in-country, after 90 days. Many people “retire” here this way, although I’m sure at some point the constant travel out of the country every 6 months tends to get annoying. For two years, it’s a minimum of 4 times, so not bad.

      Whatever he does, though, never overstay the visa. That would give them grounds to refuse one re-entry, plus you pay a fine (often minimal). You should be fine if you follow the schedule.

      You’ll enjoy Guatemala. Great country!

      -Rich


    • #8256

      Heidi

      Great information. Thank you for posting this!
      Do you know if somebody can go on behalf of another, if they have all of the information (photos and credit card etc) of the other person?


    • #8257

      Rich Polanco
      Keymaster

      Hello Heidi!

      I don’t see why not, as long as the form is filled out properly and fees paid. I know lawyers do it on behalf of people all the time here :)

      -Rich


    • #8258

      Bead

      Thanks for this info. I am a British citizen and have the opportunity to house sit near Santiago, on the lake, for 6 months. I realise I get a 90 day visa upon arrival, and I guess I can go to Guatemala City to renew..hopefully, what with being British..is this possible? Regards.


    • #8259

      Rich Polanco
      Keymaster

      Hi Bead!

      Santiago is an awesome place. I may have seen the advert for the house you’re talking about. Hope you like boats if you live on that side of the lake :)

      As far as I know, yes, you can apply for a second 90-day extension at the same immigration building.

      Cheers!

      -Rich


    • #8260

      Lindsey

      Hi,

      I just wanted to add that there is a 3rd option. I have been living in Antigua for almost a year and a half, so I have had to renew my visa several times. There is a much easier way to do it! It does, however, cost a bit more I think. In Antigua, there is a restaurant called Mono Loco (5th avenue) and inside there, there is an immigration services type place. You just go there with 2 passport photos, you passport, and a photocopy of your credit card (front and back) and pay about Q500. They take it to Guatemala City and do it all for you. I have lots of friends who also do this. No one has ever had a problem. Just like in Guatemala City, it will come back in about a week. For me, this option was easiest as I have a full time job and also, Guatemala City is not very safe. Anyhow, just thought I’d share this option!


    • #8261

      Rich Polanco
      Keymaster

      Hi Lindsey!

      Thanks for the tip. I’ve known about that immigration office and it’s a good option for those who don’t want to travel to Guatemala via bus (confusing) or taxi (more expensive since one has to go twice). I’ve driven to Guatemala City and know people that have gone via bus, so it is doable. But you’re right that it’s much easier to head to the Monoloco office and in many cases even cheaper.

      Thanks for the comment!

      -Rich


    • #8262

      Emma

      Know of any body who could extend their mexican tourist visa at frontera corozal?
      Finding hardly any information on that.


    • #8263

      Rich Polanco
      Keymaster

      Hi Emma! No, not really. Have not come across that border crossing, as I haven’t gone to Corozal from there.

      Rachel, from DiscoverShareInspire.com has some interesting info that may be what you’re looking for. Hope that helps :)

      http://www.discovershareinspire.com/2012/02/travel-advice-chetumal-mexicocorozal-belize-border-crossing/

      -Rich


    • #8264

      susan

      My husband has gone across the border into Honduras (the last crossing before the atlantic) several times to renew visa and has had no problems. We have to go tomorrow. Will keep you updated on how it went


    • #8265

      Rich Polanco
      Keymaster

      Great Susan! Let me know how it goes.

      -Rich


    • #8266

      Travel Buddy

      90 days is already a long time, you must really love Guatemala for you to extend after having been there for 90 days :)


    • #8267

      Rich Polanco
      Keymaster

      Is 90 days really all you need to experience Guatemala? I doubt it. I’ve been here almost two years and there are still plenty of things I’ve yet to experience.

      Some of us take the “slow travel” thing fairly seriously ;)

      And yes, I really do love Guatemala :) It’s an awesome place.

      -Rich


    • #8268

      Jennifer

      Hey Rich

      Thank for this great website, very helpful!

      Are you sure we only need to stay out of the country for 24 hours?

      There’s another website that says we have to stay out 3 days or 72 hours.

      Hopefully you’re right and its 24.

      Cheers


    • #8269

      Rich Polanco
      Keymaster

      Hi Jennifer!

      Officially, yes, it is 72 hours (3 days). But I’ve never heard of it being enforced. I did it in less than 24 hours last time, no problems.

      Hope that helps!

      -Rich


    • #8270

      Jaye

      One point that hasn’t been mentioned anywhere (as far as I noticed?): Apparently the visa extension in Guatemala is only possible it you entered from a non-C4 country. Guatemala has to be your original point of entry into the C4.

      My first 90 visa in the C4 is expiring in 10 days, so today (Oct 9) I went to the immigration office in Guatemala City to extend my visa. Unfortunately, because I originally entered the C4 countries through Nicaragua (and proceeded to Honduras, El Salvador, and now Guatemala), they could not extend my visa. They said the Nicaraguan office could extend it, but it would be easier at this point to cross the border to Mexico or Belize.

      Has anyone else had or heard of this same problem?

      Btw, great article!! Thanks for the great info!


    • #8271

      Rich Polanco
      Keymaster

      Hi Jaye! Glad you’ve found the article helpful! Thank you for the feedback :)

      Yes, as mentioned at the beginning of the article, once in the CA-4 Zone, you need to exit it to renew. What I didn’t know (or even thought about), is that the visa could only be extended at the original CA-4 country of entry, in your case, Nicaragua. Very useful to know and will add to the article to reflect that.

      For info on how to go on an inexpensive visa run to Mexico, check this article out: http://unwireme.com/guatemala-visa-renewal-and-guatemala-visa-run/

      Thanks again!

      -Rich


    • #8272

      Carrie

      Hey Rich – great post! Thanks! Question — do you have any info on whether one person in a family can bring all the documents, etc in for processing? Or does everyone need to come into the office? We live in Pana with a 7 month old baby and would rather that we don’t all have to make the trek.


    • #8273

      Rich Polanco
      Keymaster

      Hi Carrie! Thanks for the feedback!

      As far as having a family representative bring all the paperwork, I would venture to guess that’s possible. There’s nothing to sign, or nobody to “meet” with to verify anyone’s presence in the country. I saw families with their children in tow and never once were they all required to stand up before the clerk. For both families, the father was the only one going through the motions of filing all the paperwork and going to every window as required.

      I’ll ask next week, when I’m due to pick up my passport (was there yesterday morning, actually, left before I saw your comment).

      Stay tuned :)

      -Rich


    • #8274

      Carrie

      Hey, that would be great! Thanks!


    • #8275

      Aaron

      A question about our initial entry into the country: Is it true that a round trip ticket is needed upon our entry into Guatemala? Or is all that’s necessary is the ability to leave, i.e. valid Credit Card? Thanks for the site, it’s been a huge confidence booster!!


    • #8276

      Rich Polanco
      Keymaster

      Hi Aaron! Depends on the airline, as they’re more likely to enforce the round-trip ticket rule than Guatemalan Customs. Just let them know you’re not planning on staying more than 90 days – it’s up to you to change your mind later ;)

      If it’s a concern, you can always buy a fully-refundable ticket, or say you’re planning to leave the country via bus, which is also an option.

      Hope that helps.

      -Rich


    • #8277

      Matt Delcourt

      Hello Rich,

      My name is Matt. I have been staying in Guatemala city for sometime, and it is time for me to apply for the Visa Extension. However, I am wondering if I can avoid this. I am flying out of the country in December, at which time I will be about 24 days over due on my passport. If I where to show up at the airport, and tried to board the plane 24 days past my 90 day point, Would I be held in the country until I properly extended my stay, or could I just pay a fine at the airport and then board the plane?

      Thank you for your time,

      -Matt

      P.s. your information on how to gain an extension was very clearly written. So I would like to thank you for the advice in advance, if I have to proceed with the extension.


    • #8278

      Rich Polanco
      Keymaster

      Hi Matt! Thanks for the feedback :)

      I seem to find conflicting reports on this. It’s Q10 fine PER DAY past your visa’s expiration date. Not sure if this is payable at the airport, though I know for sure you can pay it at the immigration office listed on this post. In your case, it’ll be Q240 fine (24 x Q10). It’s Q120 fee to extend, plus transportation to immigration office to pick up and drop off passport. Do the math and see if it works out for you ;)

      Will let you know what I find out.

      -Rich


    • #8279

      Jennifer

      Hi Guys,

      Has anyone used an alternative method to giving them a copy of your credit card?

      I know people that can write me a letter guaranteeing they will pay my fare out, but what exactly must they write in that letter, and is a letter enough?

      I’ve also heard of someone showing their bus or plane ticket going out of the country and that was enough. Do you know if this is still possible?

      Thanks alot!


    • #8280

      Rich Polanco
      Keymaster

      Hi Jennifer!

      Instructions (in Spanish) are on the Visa Application Form. For the benefit of everyone reading this, I’ve updated the post and added the three alternate ways you can show proof of your ability to pay your way out of the country should you not have a credit/debit card on hand.

      Hope that helps :)

      -Rich


    • #8281

      Jennifer

      Thanks Rich!
      Very helpful


    • #8282

      John Ohe

      Thanks for the great article – it was super helpful.
      I went today. But after I submitted the paperwork, that was it for today.
      They tell me that I am supposed to pay when I come back in 8 days.
      Thanks again.


    • #8283

      Lunaguava

      Fantastic info, very detailed and really helpful. We’ve arrived in Guatemala from Mexico, and suddenly found ourselves close to the 90 day deadline. We’ve also realized 90 days wasn’t going to cut it, since we are enjoying Antigua too much these days, so your article was a very informative read. Thanks a lot and good luck!


    • #8285

      Rich Polanco
      Keymaster

      Really, John? That’s a new one… Thanks for passing along the info. Will confirm when it’s my turn in about 6 weeks or so :)

      -Rich


    • #8950

      ryann
      Participant

      Hi, I just got my visa renewed on yesterday and was told to come back on April 9th (in eight days). FYI, I had the same situation where I didn’t have to pay or do anything except turn in my paperwork. My question is–if I have somewhere to be in eight days, do you think I could come back on the 9th day?

      Thanks!


      • #8952

        Rich Polanco
        Keymaster

        Hi ryann,

        It should be no problem to go pick it up a day or two later (or more, should that be required). Of course, you don’t want to leave your passport out there longer than necessary, but I’ve gone a couple days after I was supposed to pick it up with no ill effect.

        -Rich


    • #8284

      Rich Polanco
      Keymaster

      Antigua does that to you ;)

      Glad I could help!

      -Rich


      • This reply was modified 2 months ago by  Rich Polanco.
      • This reply was modified 1 month, 4 weeks ago by  Rich Polanco.

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