Before you get very far along in thinking about Belize as a place to live or retire or for a vacation home, you MUST visit Belize and see it for yourself. Don’t sit at your computer dreaming about this little English-speaking paradise – come see for yourself if it’s for you. Entry and Exit Requirements: You must have a valid passport to enter Belize, with at least six months before expiration, but visas are not required for citizens of the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and most Caribbean and European Union countries. You should also have an onward or return ticket. Immigration in Belize won’t ask for it, but the airline you fly in on most likely will. Entry is granted for up to 30 days, with renewals of up to a total of six months permitted (renewals cost US$25 per month for the first six months, then US$50 a month.) When leaving Belize by air, there is a US$39.25 exit fee for those who are not citizens or official residents of Belize, who pay a lower rate. The fees also apply to QRP participants. Many airlines include the fee in the ticket price. When leaving by land, at either the Benque Viejo border with Guatemala or Corozal border with Mexico, or by sea, there is a US$15 border fee, plus a $3.75 conservation fee, for a total of US$18.75. Students with valid student ID pay US$7.50. Children under 12 accompanied by parents are exempt. Children under 18 years of age must have proper documentation, including a valid passport and letter of parental consent. Children traveling with one parent require a notarized letter of authority from the other parent indicating travel consent.
Passport: Visitors to Belize must possess a passport valid for a period of minimum 30 days if the person is not travelling in transit to a third country that requires the six months’ validity and is returning to country of origin, immediately after visiting Belize (primarily North Americans). In addition to a valid passport, visitors must have 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. For visitors driving/boating into Belize from Guatemala or Mexico, a temporary importation permit must be secured at the point of entry. Vehicle/vessel permits are valid for 30 days. Single Entry Visa Fees: Nationals from the People’s Republic of China Single Entry $3,000.00; Nationals from India, Nepal, Thailand and Burma Bangladesh, Pakistan & Sri Lanka Single Entry $750.00; All other Nationals Single Entry $200.00
What to Pack and Bring
Belize is a very casual country. You don’t need evening clothes or even a coat and tie or other U.S.-style business dress. You’ll live in tee shirts, shorts, loose-fitting slacks and shirts. A really dressy occasion for men might require a guayaberra or collared shirt and long pants; for women a simple skirt or dress. Leave all your fancy jewelry and Rolex watches at home. They will impress only thieves. Also leave your rain gear at home. It probably will rain, but raincoats just make you sweat. Here are ideas for your packing list: Lightweight cotton clothes or quick-drying cotton/synthetic blends. Comfortable walking shoes. Consider light boots or walking shoes for hiking and sandals for the beach. Extra swimsuits. Maps, guidebooks and reading material. If available at all in Belize, these will cost more than back home and may be out of date. Cap or hat — be sure it’s one that won’t blow off in windy conditions on the water. Sunglasses — the darker the better. Small flashlight with extra batteries, baggies in various sizes, a roll of duct tape, a large garbage bag, pen and writing pad — with these you can go anywhere and do almost anything. Health kit consisting of your prescription medicines and a copy of your eyeglass prescription, plus aspirin, insect spray with 30% DEET, sunscreen (more than you think you’ll need), baby oil or Avon Skin-So-Soft for sandflies, Pepto-Bismol or other tummy medicine, bandages, sun-burn lotion, toilet tissue, moist wipes, seasick pills and other over-the-counter medicines.
Getting Around Belize
For a small nation, Belize has a well-planned highway and road system that connects all mainland towns, villages and attractions. This system allows travelers to fashion a unique combination of experiences in one of the last unspoiled places on earth. There are small airports in Belize centrally located around key points of interest in the country, bus terminals in most towns and boat services operating from all major coastal regions and island towns.
Travel via local airlines in passenger aircraft is the fastest and most popular means of transportation throughout Belize, especially for itineraries that combine different in-country locations. Flight schedules are coordinated with the arrival and departure of international flights, for even more convenient traveling and exploring. Belize City and the Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport (PGIA) are hubs for most rental agencies, with localized services available in the larger tourism destinations.
Article contributed by Lan Sluder