traveling to belize
Visitors to Belize must possess a passport valid for at least three months after the date of arrival and a return ticket with sufficient funds to cover their stay. Visitors are given a one-month stay, after which an extension can be applied for with the Immigration Department. Visas are not required for citizens of the United States and its territories, Canada, United Kingdom and its territories, European Union, Caribbean and Central American Countries. The Immigration Department can be reached at 501-222-4620.
Belize currency exchange is extremely easy for American visitors. The Belize dollar is locked at $2 BZ = $1 USD. Most places readily accept USD currency as well as traveler’s checks with a valid passport or driver’s license. Large bills (anything above a $20 bill) are a little more difficult to cash. ATMs are available across the country, particularly in most tourist destinations.
TAXES, TIPS AND FEES
Hotel Room Tax - 9%
Sales Tax (on goods & services) - 12.5%
Int'l Passenger Airport Departure Fee - $39.25 USD (payable only in U.S. currency)
Int'l Airport to Domestic Airport Fee - $0.75 USD or $0.80 CAD
Boat Departure to Int'l Destination Fee - $3.75 USD or $3.98 CAD
Hospitals: There are three hospitals in Belize City; one public and two private. There are also hospitals and health clinics throughout the country.
Water: Potable water is available in most areas of Belize, but it is advisable to ask, and if in doubt, to drink boiled or bottled water.
Vaccinations: No vaccinations are required for entry, but anti-malaria tablets are recommended for extended stays in the jungle.
Airplane: Flying is by far the most popular form of transportation in and around Belize. The country has one international airport located in Ladyville (nine miles north of Belize City), called Philip Goldson International Airport (BZE). Travelers coming from the United States and Canada can find several direct flights into BZE.
Nonstop air service is available from: Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Miami and Newark. Carriers that offer flights from these cities are American Airlines (www.aa.com), United Airlines (www.united.com), Delta Airlines (www.delta.com), U.S. Airways (www.usairways.com), Grupo TACA (www.taca.com).
From BZE, connections can be made to various destinations within Belize, including Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, Caye Chapel, Corozal, Dangriga, Big Creek, Placencia, San Ignacio, Corozal and Punta Gorda.
Local Belizean carriers include Maya Island Air (www.mayaislandair.com), Tropic Air (www.tropicair.com), Cari Bee Air Service (telephone: 501-224-4253).
Helicopter: Helicopter transfers are another available form of transportation in Belize and can operate between the international airport, local airports and private heliports throughout the country. There is one helicopter company in Belize: Astrum Helicopters (www.astrumhelicopters.com). The company offers helicopter adventures, transfers and chartered flights to many of Belize’s attractive destinations.
Car: Depending on the course taken, the route through Mexico to Belize can be anywhere from 1,350 to 2,000 miles. Any visitors trying to drive into Belize from Guatemala or Mexico must obtain a temporary importation permit at the point of entry. Permits are only valid for one month and can be extended by applying to the Customs Department.
To receive a permit, visitors must present the following at the point of entry: travel documents and identification, proof of ownership (vehicle registration), proof of insurance (available from any of the companies at the borders rental documents for vehicles rented in Mexico or Guatemala).
There are four major highways in Belize, including the Northern, Western, Southern and Hummingbird highways.
The following are road distances from Belize City to various destinations within the country:
- Belmopan: 55 miles
- Benque Viejo: 81 miles
- Corozal Town: 96 miles
- Dangriga: 105 miles
- Punta Gorda: 210 miles
- San Ignacio: 72 miles
Bus: Belize is bordered to the north by Mexico and to the west and south by Guatemala. Routes are offered from the U.S. border cities to Belize via Cancun, Mexico City and Chetumal. All buses connect with the Mexican cities with the border City of Chetumal. Regularly scheduled buses from Belize run to and from Chetumal to Belize City, stopping in Corozal and Orange Walk as well. Belize City, Belmopan and San Ignacio can also be accessed by bus from Guatemala City. Buses travel from any of these major Belize cities to almost any destination within the country.
Water Taxis: There is a regular schedule of water taxis traveling between Belize City and Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, Caye Chapel, and St. George’s Caye. There is also a ferry from Corozal Town to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. Furthermore, any hotels and resorts located on the other cayes either have private water taxis, or can arrange transport for guests.
Cruise and Private Vessel Ports of Entry: Cruise and private vessel ports of entry include the areas of Belize City, Corozal, Dangriga, Big Creek, San Pedro and Punta Gorda.