Complete Travel Guide to Belize
Our Belize Travel Guide introduces you to important travel tips, entry and exit requirements, etiquette, and more. Identify important travel facts, while learning about this incredible island with our detailed overview.
Situated on the North Eastern coast of Central America is the country of Belize. What makes it unique to other countries in the area is that it is the only one with English as the official language, and it also has the lowest population density as well.
The country is small, only 22,800 square kilometres (8,800 sq mi). The ecosystems are diverse (perhaps because the population is small and development centralized) with many protected species live in protected habitats.
The average temperature ranges from 24 C (75.2 F) in January to 27 C (80.6 F).
Belize has a very diverse society with many languages and cultures coming together in one. Many visitors are surprised to learn that Belize has Mayan ruins, similar to what can be found in Mexico.
Anthem: Land of the Free
Motto: Under the Shade
Time Zone: UTC -6
Languages: English, Kriol, Spanish, Garifuna, Maya (Kek'Chi), Maya (Mopan), Maya (Yucatec), Plautdietsch, Cantonese
Power Outlets: 110/220 V, 60 Hz (plugs typically same as North America)
Currency: Belizean Dollar (XCD)
Credit Cards: All major credit cards are accepted.
Traveler Checks: Traveler checks accepted.
Side of road to drive on: Right
Legal drinking age: 18
: : ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS
-A valid passport for at least six months is required to enter Belize
-Proof of return is also required, meaning you must have a ticket to leave the country upon arrival.
-No visas are required for vacation, student or business travel, unless from one of the following countries: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Bosnia, Brazil, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Columbia, Cuba, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Haiti, Honduras, India, Japan, Korea (North and South), Libya, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Switzerland, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Ukraine, and Zaire.
-Tourists are permitted to stay for 30 days, but an extension of up to six months may be granted. Contact Belize Department of Immigration and Nationality 822-2423 (located in Belmopan).
: : CUSTOMS INFORMATION
-It is strictly prohibited to take any and all Mayan artifacts from Belize, whether it was found, given as a gift, or bought from a store. You are not under any circumstances allowed to remove Mayan artifacts from Belize.
-Prohibited imports are those items that are considered detrimental to the general welfare of the country. Prohibited imports will be immediately seized by Customs and the importer may be liable to severe penalties.
-Upon arrival you must declare if you are bringing in Plants, fruits, vegetables, meats or live animals, arms or ammunition. Belize has the right to refuse the entry of any or all of these items.
-You must also declare if you have more than $10,000.00 Belize Currency or its equivalent in other currencies.
-Visitors will be screened and may be subject to a search be Belizean customs officials. It is very rare to be searched upon entry. You should be aware that there are severe penalties for all drug offenses including attempts to defraud. Pack all luggage yourself and do not carry anything through customs for anyone else.
: : SALES TAX AND FEES
General Sales Tax: 12.5%
Hotel Tax: 9%
Departure Tax: $39.20 USD (Normally included in flight price)
Airport Tax: The airport you leave and return to may have additional taxes, which are normally included in your flight. We suggest referring to your airline website to verify additional fees.
: : MEDICAL INFORMATION
Emergency Number: 9-1-1
Always be sure to purchase medical insurance when visiting Belize.
There are no Level 1 Trauma Centers, so if you should require emergency medical attention you may need to be flown to another country. Your State or Provincial insurance does not normally cover you when traveling.
A list of known medical facilities are below. It is not known the quality of care.
Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital
Princess Margaret Drive, Belize City, Belize
Hattieville Health Center
Western Highway, Hattieville
Florina Drive, Cayo
Western Regional Hospital
North Ring Road, Belmopan
Director of Health Services
Dr. Michael Pitts
Ministry of Health
Dr. Francis Longsworth
T: (KHMH) 223-1548
Chief of Staff
Dr. Bernard Bulwer
Ms. Mavis Palacio
Deputy Director of Health
Ms. Marjorie Parks
: : CRIME
It is important to use safety precautions in Belize as muggings and robberies are reported. Use taxi cabs with proper registration and green license plates after dark, as opposed to walking. Always stay in a group environment. Although you shouldn't expect difficulty you should always be prepared and use common sense, just like you would in a city in your home country.
Accused of a Crime in Belize: Whenever you visit a foreign country you are subject to their laws, without exception. Persons violating Belize laws, even if it is unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. If you are arrested in Belize you should contact your Government or the local consulate or embassy.
Victims of Crime: If you become the victim of a crime in Belize you should immediately contact the local police and your embassy and or consulate for help. This includes the loss or theft of a passport. The embassy/consulate staff can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends, and explain how funds may be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime are solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.
Travelling to Belize with a criminal record: There are currently no restrictions on travelers with a criminal record to travel to Belize. We do recommend however to verify with your embassy/consulate prior to traveling to verify that these requirements have not changed.
: : TRANSPORTATION
Cars are available to rent in Belize. However, be prepared that few roads are paved and properly maintained. Try to avoid driving after dark, always keep your tank full, and be prepared for hazards such as livestock, mud puddles, and pedestrians.
Although buses are available, they are not recommended because of the poor conditions they are kept in. They may not be reliable in both scheduling and mechanics.
Taxi service is available. Only use a registered taxi which is known by the green license plate.
: : CULTURAL INFORMATION
Wardrobe: Belize is a very informal country, and there are not clothing restrictions per say. The closer to the beach you are the more informal it becomes. However, using common sense goes a long way. ie. Don't wear a bathing suit to a restaurant (unless you see the infamous sign; no shirt, no shoes, no problem!) Also, for women, decent length shorts and sleeveless t-shirts as opposed skimpy tank tops are preferred in a public setting.
Etiquette: Belize etiquette is very similar to North America. Being polite goes a long way, just like anywhere else you may travel to. Belizeans are very laid back for the most part and forgive a faux pas easily.Normally handshakes are not necessary, but if you do shake hands keep it light, firm handshakes are not the norm here.
Strong displays of affection are looked down on in public settings.
Certain topics are taboo, such as politics and religion. Also refrain from any negative talk about Belize.
Friendship between men and women is not common in Belize, so try to make friends with people of your own gender first.
Taking pictures of government buildings is illegal. It is very rare to be able to take a photo in a church as well.
Dining: The only difference you may notice in Belize is that lunch time is the main meal, as opposed to dinner. Often businesses will close for an hour or two around lunch as everyone heads home to eat with their family.
Tipping: Tipping is between 10 and 15%, it is normally NOT included on the bill. Tour guides, maid service, and bellhops are normally a few dollars, not percent. Dive instructors should be tipped about $5 per tank.
: : TRAVEL AND SAFETY TIPS
-Always walk like you know where you are going, even if you don't. This
means keep your back upright and eyes straight ahead. When asking for
directions keep your voice low so others don't know you are lost.-Take
precautions. Do not wear a lot of jewelry or conspicuous clothing while
travelling to avoid being a target of crime.-Be cautious when taking a taxi
and always look for the appropriate documentation which should be posted in
eyes view. Never take a cab from the airport that is off by itself.
-If your hotel or resort recommends staying on their property you should follow these precautions.
-Never leave valuables in a soft material. The seam can easily be cut. Often the crime takes place long before it is noticed. This applies to purses, bags and luggage.
-Do not invite strangers to your hotel room.
-Do not agree to meet strangers by yourself. Even those you consider new friends and fellow tourist's.
-Plan for the unexpected, this includes extra money and medication that is required should your stay be extended.