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Belize

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Summary

  • Exercise a high degree of caution in Belize due to high levels of serious violent crime. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times.
  • Belize experiences hurricanes and associated landslides, mudslides and flooding. Follow the advice of local authorities. See Natural disasters
  • Monitor the media for information about new security or safety risks. See Safety and security
  • Australia doesn't have a High Commission or Consulate in Belize. The Australian High Commission in Trinidad and Tobago provides consular assistance to Australians in Belize. See Where to get help

Entry and exit

Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Australian Government cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.

Visas

Australian passport holders are eligible for a tourist visa on arrival, valid for one month. You must show you have a return ticket and sufficient funds (considered to be USD60 a day) to cover your stay. If you plan to stay more than 30 days, you must have your passport re-stamped by a local immigration office and pay an additional fee.

For other kinds of travel, you'll need to apply for a visa in advance.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the nearest Consulate of Belize or visit the official Belize Tourism Board website for up-to-date information.

If you're travelling via the United States, you must meet US entry/transit requirements. Check your visa needs well in advance of travel with the nearest Embassy or Consulate of the United States.

More information: Travel advice for the United States

Other formalities

Entry and departure taxes apply, but are normally included in the cost of your ticket. Check with your airline. The departure tax must be paid in cash.

If you're travelling with children, you need additional documentation only if one parent or legal guardian is travelling with them. Contact the nearest Consulate of Belize or visit the official Belize Tourism Board website to confirm what is required.

More information: Travelling with children

If you're travelling from a yellow fever endemic country, you must present a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate on arrival.

More information: World Health Organization (WHO)

Passport

Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date you intend to return to Australia.

Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.

If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible.

If you need a replacement passport, expect delays and expense, as there is no Australian High Commission or Consulate in Belize.

Money

The local currency is the Belize Dollar (BZD), though USD is widely accepted. You must declare amounts over BZD10,000.

Credit cards and travellers cheques can only be used in large tourist facilities in Belize.

Speak to your bank about the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work.

Safety and security

Crime

Belize has one of the highest murder rates in the world. Violent crime, including assault, rape and armed robbery is common. It can occur in known tourist areas, such as San Pedro, Caye Caulker, San Ignacio Corozal and Placencia.

There is an increased risk of gang-related violence in the southern parts of Belize City. The areas around George Street and Kraal Road are particularly dangerous.

Muggings are common, especially in Belize City and other urban centres. Tourists have been the victims of armed robbery, particularly near and around Caracol on the border with Guatemala. Criminals have targeted travellers at Mayan archaeological sites in that region. Do not shows signs of wealth.

People travelling alone can be victims of harassment and violent sexual assault. Security risks increase after dark.

To reduce the risk of becoming a victim of crime:

  • Pay close attention to your personal security at all times.
  • Only use licensed taxis or organised through a major hotel and don't let the driver pick up additional passengers.
  • Use registered tour operators.
  • Avoid travelling alone, especially after dark.
  • Carry only what you need and leave valuables in a secure location.
  • Keep vehicle windows closed, doors locked and valuables out of sight at all times, including when moving.
  • Use ATMs in daylight hours in hotels, shopping centres or other controlled areas and be mindful of who is around you.
  • Monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.

If you become a victim of violent crime, especially rape, seek immediate medical attention. There is a high HIV/AIDS infection rate.

Civil unrest and political tension

Demonstrations, protests, marches and strikes can occur at any time throughout the country. Avoid demonstrations and large public gatherings as they may turn violent. Follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. 

More information: Terrorist threat worldwide

Local travel

There is an unresolved border dispute between Belize and Guatemala. When crossing the road border between Belize and Guatemala or Mexico:

  • Only use officially recognised border crossings.
  • Avoid travelling at night.
  • Exercise caution.

There have been reports of travellers becoming stranded in the jungle following heavy rains and flooding. If your plans include adventure activities or jungle treks, check local weather conditions and use a registered tour operator.

Road travel

Driving can be hazardous due to poor roads and vehicles, local driving practices, including drink driving, and inadequate street lighting. Cyclists often disregard traffic laws and run red lights. Besides the major highways, most other roads are unpaved and can become flooded, especially in low-lying areas during the rainy season. Use caution when crossing bridges on highways as they are often only a single lane.

Always keep your petrol tank full when in remote areas. Service stations are not common and usually close on public holidays. There are no emergency road services.

According to the World Health Organization, you're four times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in Belize than in Australia.

More information: Road safety and driving

Driver's licence

You can drive for up to three months on an International Driving Permit (IDP). You must get your IDP before arriving. For longer stays, you'll need to apply for a local licence from the Belize Department of Traffic.

Motorcycles

Avoid using motorcycles due to the low standard of driving and road maintenance. Check your travel insurance covers you when riding a motorcycle. Always wear a helmet.

Taxis

Use only licensed taxis or reliable limousine services, preferably arranged through your hotel. Licensed taxis have green licence plates.

Public transport

Some public buses are unsafe due to poor vehicle maintenance. Services may be unreliable, particularly in rural areas.

Tours

There have been a number of injuries and fatalities resulting from adventure sports activities, including snorkelling and scuba diving. Tour operators don’t always follow recommended safety standards. Diving equipment may not be properly maintained and safety equipment, including life jackets, isn't always provided.

Always use available safety equipment, such as lifejackets or seatbelts, even if others don't. If appropriate safety equipment isn't available, use another operator. Check local weather forecasts before you leave. Only use registered and licensed operators.

Air travel

The Australian Government doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Belize.

More information: Air travel

Sea travel

Water taxis operate between the islands (cayes), barrier reef attractions and the mainland.

They can be overloaded, poorly maintained or lack necessary life-saving equipment. Rescue services may not be consistent with international standards. Ensure any vessel you intend to board is carrying appropriate safety equipment and that life jackets are provided for all passengers.

More information: Travelling by boat

Laws

You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Drug laws

Penalties for drug offences, including possession, are severe and include lengthy imprisonment in local jails. It's not uncommon for tourists to be arrested on drug charges, particularly for possession of marijuana.

More information: Carrying or using drugs

Other laws

Serious crimes, such as treason and murder, can attract the death penalty.

There are strict penalties for possessing unlicensed firearms or unlicensed ammunition, including large fines and mandatory jail sentences for repeat offenders.

It's illegal to possess pre-Colombian artefacts without a permit.

It's illegal to photograph official buildings. Check with local authorities before taking photos.

LGBTI travellers have experienced harassment and verbal or physical abuse. In 2016, a Supreme Court ruling decriminalised same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults. The ruling is under appeal. LGBTI travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Belize.

More information: LGBTI travellers

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you can be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child pornography
  • child sex tourism
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering
  • terrorism.

More information: Staying within the law

Dual nationals

Belize recognises dual nationality.

More information: Dual nationals

Health

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.

Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government won't pay for your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you thousands of dollars upfront.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and aren't covered under your policy
  • you're covered for the whole time you'll be away.

More information: Travel insurance

Physical and mental health

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

More information:

Medication

Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

Take prescription medicine with you so you remain in good health. Always carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you take and that it's for personal use only. You could be refused entry or prosecuted if you arrive without a prescription for your medication.

Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to.

More information: Prescription medicines

Health risks

Mosquito-borne illnesses

There is some transmission of Zika virus in Belize. If you're pregnant, discuss any travel plans with your doctor and consider deferring non-essential travel to affected areas.

Local transmission of chikungunya occurs and the number of cases is increasing. Malaria is a risk throughout the year in all areas except Belize City. Other insect and mosquito-borne diseases (including Chagas' disease, leishmaniosis and dengue fever) are also a risk to travellers, particularly during the wet season (April to November).

Protect yourself against mosquito-borne illnesses:

  • ensure your accommodation is mosquito proof
  • avoid insect bites, by using insect repellent and wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing
  • speak to your doctor about taking anti-malaria medication.

Seek medical advice if you have a fever, muscle pain, rash or severe headache.

More information:

HIV/AIDS

HIV/AIDS is a significant risk in Belize. Exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection.

Other diseases and health issues

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, typhoid, cholera and tuberculosis) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time.

  • Boil drinking water or drink bottled water.
  • Avoid ice cubes.
  • Avoid uncooked and undercooked food.

Seek urgent medical attention if you suspect poisoning, if you have a fever or suffer from diarrhoea.

Medical facilities

Medical facilities are basic in Belize City and are very limited or non-existent in rural areas. Doctors and hospitals may require cash payment prior to providing medical services, including emergency care. If you become seriously ill or injured, you may need to be evacuated to the United States, where the cost of medical treatment is very high.

Belize has one decompression chamber, in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye.

Natural disasters

If a natural disaster occurs:

If you're travelling during hurricane season, or after a natural disaster, contact your travel provider to check whether tourist services at your planned destination have been affected.

Severe storms can put you at risk and affect essential services. If you intend to travel to an area that has been recently affected by severe weather, seek information from local tour operators, hotels and airlines on the condition of infrastructure and facilities in the area.

If you decide to travel during the hurricane season:

  • get travel insurance and ensure your insurance allows for trip cancellation or interruption in the event of a hurricane
  • be prepared to change your travel plans on short notice
  • closely monitor media and local sources for weather forecasts
  • carry emergency contact information for your airline or tour operator
  • follow the advice and instructions of local authorities.

For up-to-date information about hurricane forecasts see:

Hurricanes

Belize experiences hurricanes and associated landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services. The hurricane season is June to November, but tropical storms and hurricanes can occur in other months. The low-lying coastal islands of Belize are particularly vulnerable and may be cut off from communications and outside assistance during hurricanes.

The direction and strength of hurricanes can change with little warning.  

If you're travelling during hurricane season:

  • know your hotel or cruise ship evacuation plans
  • carry your travel documents or secure them in a safe, waterproof location
  • contact your travel provider to check whether tourist services at your planned destination have been affected.

If there's a hurricane or one is approaching:

Flights in and out of hurricane-affected areas could be delayed, suspended or may fill quickly. Contact your airline for the latest flight information. A hurricane could also affect access to sea ports in the region.

In some areas, adequate shelter from a severe hurricane may not be available.

More information: Severe weather

Earthquakes and tsunamis

Belize is located in an active earthquake zone. All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis, but Belize's susceptibility to earthquakes makes destructive tsunamis more likely.

More information: Earthquakes

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, travel agent, travel insurance provider, employer or airline. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

Emergency phone numbers

  • Firefighting and rescue services: 911
  • Medical emergencies: 911
  • Police: 911 or nearest police station.

Always get a police report when reporting a crime.

Australian Government

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.

Australia doesn't have a High Commission in Belize. If you need consular assistance, contact the Australian High Commission in Trinidad and Tobago.

Australian High Commission, Port of Spain

18 Herbert St, St Clair
Port of Spain
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
Phone: (1 868) 822 5450
Fax: (1 868) 822 5490
Website: trinidadandtobago.highcommission.gov.au
Email: ahc.portofspain@dfat.gov.au
Facebook: Australia in the Caribbean

Check the Australian High Commission website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

If you can't contact the High Commission in a consular emergency, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information