Formerly classified as Aratinga guarouba [Notes 1], it is now a species in the monotypic genus Guaruba, one of numerous genera of New World long-tailed parrots in tribe Arini, which also includes the Central and South American macaws. Tribe Arini together with the Amazonian parrots and a few miscellaneous genera make up subfamily Arinae of Neotropical parrots in family Psittacidae of true parrots.
The specific name guarouba (alternately guaruba) is derived from Old Tupi: guará, "small bird"; and Old Tupi: yuba, "yellow"; hence "small yellow bird". The different spellings of the genus and species names result from the different spellings used by Lesson and Gmelin when they postulated the taxons. The taxonomic convention is to retain the names as spelled by the original authorities.
Molecular studies show that Guaruba and Diopsittaca (red-shouldered macaw) are sister genera. It is also closely related to Leptosittaca branicki, (golden-plumed parakeet).