Frequently Asked Questions
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Getting to Belize is MUCH easier than you might think! It's so easy, in fact, that we don't really understand how - or why - this seems to be such a secret.
Both the US and Canada now have many daily direct flights into Belize City's only international airport, Philip Goldson International Airport (internationally known as 'BZE,' or locally as 'PGIA'). Travelers from European locations can easily get to Belize by connecting through the US or by flying to Cancun, Mexico (CUN) and catching a 'puddle jumper' flight on Tropic Air (one of Belize's two domestic airlines) to Belize City (BZE).
While most international airlines regularly adjust their routes and flight schedules to Belize based on 'peak' and 'off-peak' seasons, the US and Canadian airports that have historically offered direct flights into Belize City (BZE) during 'peak' season include:
- Los Angeles, California (LAX)
- Calgary, Canada (YYC)
- Denver, Colorado (DEN)
- Dallas, Texas (DFW)
- Houston, Texas (IAH)
- Chicago, Illinois (ORD)
- Atlanta, Georgia (ATL)
- Toronto, Canada (YYZ)
- Newark, New Jersey (EWR)
- Charlotte, North Carolina (CLT)
- Fort Lauderdale, Florida (FLL)
- Miami, Florida (MIA)
Central American airports with flights to Belize City (BZE) on Belize's Tropic Air airline include:
- Cancun, Mexico (CUN)
- Guatemala City, Guatemala (GUA)
- Roatan, Honduras (RTB)
- San Salvador, El Salvador (SAL)
- San Pedro Sula, Honduras (SAP)
You can get to Placencia from Belize City's international airport (BZE) by booking transportation with a private van service (~3-hour drive) or by booking a flight on one of our two domestic airlines, Maya Island Air or Tropic Air, which takes approximately 30-45 minutes in the air. These 'puddle jumper' flights are available almost every hour and can be booked directly on their websites. Both airlines typically use a ~20-passenger Cessna 208 turboprop aircraft. It's important to understand that their flights between Belize City (BZE) and Placencia (PLJ) sometimes make a stop (e.g., Dangriga) to load or unload some passengers and that the stop will not necessarily be reflected on your ticket. Even with an additional stop, the maximum travel time is typically 45 minutes.
You can refer to the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) website for the most current list of airlines and locations providing services to Belize.
Visas are not required for entry for citizens of the United States and its territories, Canada, United Kingdom and its territories, the European Union, most Caribbean and Central American countries, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Colombia, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea. For a complete and current listing of countries that enjoy visa-free travel to Belize, visit www.mfa.gov.bz.
On Your Flight:
At some point, just before or during your flight into Belize City international airport (BZE), your airline's gate agents or flight attendants will hand out an entry form. It will be one sheet of paper with two different forms (one on the front, one on the back). The front side is the “Immigration” form. The back side of the form is your “Customs Declaration” form. It is critical to understand a few things about these forms:
- Every person must fill out the front side of the form (Immigration), including children, but the back side (Customs Declaration) is required to be completed by only one person per family. The flight attendants on most airlines rarely understand this nuance and regularly instruct passengers that only one person per family must complete the front/back form, and they often hand out a single form per family, which is COMPLETELY WRONG. If a family arrives at the Immigration desk with only a single completed form, they will send the entire family to the back of the long Immigration line to complete the front side of the form for each person in the family. There is no harm/penalty/issue if each person also completes the back side of the form (Customs Declaration).
- Because of this misunderstood nuance above, some airlines often run out of these forms on the plane, which would force you to get one / fill it out when you arrive at the airport and significantly delay the Immigration process. If the gate agents or flight attendants are handing out forms as you board the plane, be sure you get one for every person in your family.
- Some airlines also do not supply pens to fill out the forms on the plane, so be sure to have a pen in your carry-on luggage.
Assuming you are not entering Belize with any commercial merchandise, you can indicate a value of "zero" on the "Customs Declaration" form and use the "Nothing to Declare" line at Customs. If you purchase anything from a Duty Free shop, or if you are traveling with any alcohol, tobacco, or commercial merchandise, you must declare the value on the “Customs Declaration” form and use the “Goods to Declare” line at Customs.
Going through the BZE airport:
- You will want to get off the plane with the completed immigration/customs forms and your passport in hand. You’ll need these for a couple of steps along the way through the airport.
- Once you get off the plane and walk towards the terminal building, there are two doors that go into the same hallway. For some reason, people seem to line up on the left side only, but they are exactly the same. Simply go down whichever side has the shortest line.
- You will then walk to the end of the hallway, do a U-turn, and walk down another long hallway, and you will arrive at the “Immigration” lines. Non-citizens and non-residents will go through the “Visitors” lines and can choose whichever of those lines has the fewest people.
- The Immigration officer at the end of the line will point you - and your family or group, if traveling together - to an available Immigration desk where you will each present your Immigration/Customs form and passport, answer a few questions, and receive a stamp on both your passport and your Immigration/Customs form. The Immigration officer will return to you both your passport and your form, which clears you to the baggage claim area (which has additional restrooms and Duty Free shops).
- If passengers from your - or another - flight have caused the Immigration line to become long, your checked luggage - should you have any - may have already arrived on the luggage carousel. In that case, the airport staff will have removed it from the carousel and lined it up in the middle of the carousels. You need only to walk over and collect your luggage (there is rarely staff checking luggage claim tickets).
- You then take your luggage through one of the Customs lines (‘Goods to Declare’ or ‘Nothing to Declare’).
- Using the 'Nothing to Declare' line requires that you first give your passport and Customs form to a Customs officer at a small booth and answer the officer's questions about your visit to Belize. After answering those questions, the officer will stamp your Customs form in either green (indicating that you can pass to the final officer without a luggage inspection) or in red (indicating that you must stop at the Customs inspection desk for luggage inspection before exiting), and return to you both your form and passport.
- Using the 'Goods to Declare' line will direct you toward the main Customs inspection desks (which typically requires you to first place your luggage on an X-Ray machine). Once you reach the inspection desk, you will be required to place all your luggage on the counter, and the officer will conduct an inspection and determine what - if any - duties must be assessed and paid to the cashier. If duties are assessed, you must take your form and luggage to the cashier behind the Customs inspection desk and pay those duties - via cash or credit card - before you can pass to the exit.
- Once you have passed the Customs inspection desk (and/or cashier), you will provide your form to the Customs officer at the small final kiosk to exit into the main terminal through the automatic double doors (be careful, they open inward towards you).
- Assuming you are traveling to Placencia via a connecting Belize domestic flight on Maya Island Air or Tropic Air, you will proceed forward and follow the signs to ‘Transfers’ and check in at the desk corresponding to your airline. The desk agents will point you in the appropriate direction to pass through security.
Belize is on GMT-6 or US Central Standard Time throughout the year, with no daylight saving time changes.
English is the official language and is widely spoken, but most Belizeans speak Kriol, an English-based language with strong African roots. Other languages spoken throughout Belize include Spanish, Mayan, Garifuna, and Mandarin.
The local currency is the Belize dollar (BZD or BZ). The Belize dollar is permanently pegged at a conversion rate of 2:1 to the US dollar (e.g., $1 USD = $2 BZD), and it does not fluctuate.
Cash currency in both BZD and USD is accepted everywhere in Belize, so there is no need to obtain cash currency in BZD prior to arrival. If you pay a Belizean vendor using USD cash currency, they will return any change in BZD.
There are ATMs in the country, but they are primarily located only in major cities and popular tourist towns/destinations. Only two of our three national banks in Belize have ATMs that regularly accept foreign Mastercard and Visa cards capable of ATM cash withdrawals (Atlantic Bank and Belize Bank, which will be indicated by signage on the ATM). Also, it is important to keep in mind that ATMs in Belize are regularly 'Out of Service,' and there is no guarantee that an ATM - if functional - will accept your specific card for a cash withdrawal. In addition, the daily limit for ATM cash withdrawals at Atlantic Bank and Belize Bank using a foreign card is generally capped at $1,000 BZD ($500 USD) per card.
As there is limited acceptance of the Belize dollar outside Belize, and most banks in foreign countries will not accept BZD currency for conversion back into that country's local currency, we recommend that you do not return to your host country with BZD currency having any expectations of converting it into local currency.
Short answer: Yes.
The longer answer is that most vendors accept Mastercard and Visa credit cards, but it is rare that vendors accept any other foreign credit cards (e.g., American Express, Discover, etc.). In addition, credit card terminals/machines are regularly 'Out of Service,' and only cash (either BZD or USD) can be accepted as payment during that time.
There are several options for getting around in Belize:
- Car rental: Renting a car is a popular way to get around Belize, particularly if you want to explore different parts of the country at your own pace. However, road conditions in Belize can be variable, with some areas having unpaved or poorly maintained roads. It's also important to note that driving is on the right-hand side of the road in Belize, and some rental car companies may require an international driver's license.
- Taxis: Taxis are readily available in major cities and towns in Belize, and fares are generally affordable. Be sure to negotiate the fare before getting in the taxi, as there are no meters in Belize.
- Public transportation: Public buses are a common mode of transportation in Belize, particularly for longer distances. Buses can be crowded and uncomfortable, but they are an affordable option. In addition, some areas of Belize may have water taxis or ferries that provide transportation between islands or coastal communities.
- Domestic flights: If you need to travel long distances quickly, domestic flights are available from Belize City to other parts of the country, such as San Pedro, Placencia, and Dangriga. We have two domestic carriers, Maya Island Air and Tropic Air, both of which provide online booking.
- Private van transport: If you need to travel long distances but prefer not to travel using a domestic flight, Belize has many reputable private van transport operators to connect any two destinations in the country.
- Bicycle or motorcycle rental: Bicycles and motorcycles are available for rent in some parts of Belize, particularly in tourist areas. This can be a fun and eco-friendly way to explore the countryside or smaller towns.
It's important to note that travel in Belize can take longer than expected due to road conditions, traffic, or weather. It's also recommended to use licensed and reputable transportation services and to avoid traveling alone at night.
Belize has a tropical climate, with prevailing trade winds from the Caribbean along the coast and in the cayes (which can make evenings on the water feel slightly cooler).
The year-round average temperature is 80º Fahrenheit (26.6º Celsius), with an average humidity of 80%.
The year-round average temperature of the sea surface is also 80º Fahrenheit (26.6º Celsius).
Belize has two seasons:
- Dry Season - typically from December to May
- Rainy Season - typically from June to November
It is important to note that in the past few years, we have begun to see the seasons shifting to start and end later than has been historically recorded. For example, the rainy season of 2022 appeared to persist well into early 2023.
The best time to visit Belize is generally during the dry season, which runs from December to May. This is considered the peak tourist season, with warm temperatures, sunny skies, and lower humidity. The dry season is ideal for exploring the country's beaches, jungles, and other outdoor attractions, as well as for water sports such as snorkeling, diving, and fishing.
However, keep in mind that this is also the busiest time of year, so prices for accommodations and activities may be higher, and popular attractions may be more crowded. If you're looking to avoid the crowds and potentially save some money, late November to early December, as well as late May to early June, can also be good times to visit Belize.
The rainy season, which runs from June to November, can still be a good time to visit Belize, particularly for eco-tourism and birdwatching, as the lush vegetation and increased rainfall can create stunning landscapes and attract a variety of wildlife. However, it's important to note that this is also hurricane season, and there is a greater risk of storms and heavy rainfall during this time. If you do choose to visit during the rainy season, be sure to pack appropriate rain gear and keep an eye on weather reports.
Yes, there is a risk of hurricanes in Belize, particularly during the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1st to November 30th. Belize is located in the western Caribbean Sea and is vulnerable to tropical storms and hurricanes that form in the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Although hurricanes are not common in Belize, they can occur.
If you are planning to visit Belize during hurricane season, it's important to stay informed about weather conditions and have a plan in case a storm or hurricane does occur. Be sure to monitor weather reports and follow the advice of local authorities, as well as secure travel insurance that covers natural disasters.
Packing for your charter in Belize will depend on the time of year you are traveling, your itinerary, and the activities you plan to do. Here are some general recommendations:
- Light, comfortable clothing: Belize is a warm and humid country, so pack lightweight, breathable clothing, such as cotton or linen. Shorts, t-shirts, sundresses, and swimsuits are ideal for the beach and water activities.
- Sun protection: The sun in Belize can be strong, so bring plenty of sunscreen with a high SPF, sunglasses, and a hat or visor to protect your face from the sun.
- Insect repellent: Mosquitoes and other insects can be common in Belize, particularly in the evening and near water. Bring insect repellent, and consider wearing long sleeves and light pants or leggings in the evening.
- Water shoes: Some beaches and coral reefs in Belize have sharp rocks or coral, so it's recommended to pack water shoes or reef-safe sandals for water activities.
- Light jacket or sweater: While Belize is generally warm, temperatures can drop at night or in air-conditioned spaces, so bring a light jacket or sweater.
- Travel adapter: Belize uses the same electrical outlets as the US (110 volts, 60 Hz), so if you're coming from a country with different electrical standards, bring a travel adapter.
- Waterproof bag: A waterproof bag or dry bag can be useful for keeping your electronics, passports, and other valuables dry while on the water.
- Personal medication: If you require prescription medication or have any medical conditions, be sure to bring enough medication for the duration of your trip.
Remember to pack lightly, as most guests rarely use everything they bring in their luggage, and space on your charter is limited.
Yes. Belize uses the same electrical outlets as the US (110 volts, 60 Hz), so if you're coming from a country with different electrical standards, bring a travel adapter.