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Belize - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Belize. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to a high rate of violent crime throughout the country.
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.
Criminal activity, including armed robbery, mugging and sexual assault, is a significant problem throughout Belize. Robberies and assaults have been reported in resort areas. There has been a noted increase in violent crime targeting tourists since the end of 2013. Criminals often operate in groups and target persons travelling alone. Always travel in groups and ensure that personal belongings and travel documents are secure at all times. Do not show signs of affluence. Use taxis after dark instead of walking.
Armed robberies occasionally occur near the western border with Guatemala, including near and around Caracol. You should only travel to these areas during daylight hours. Be cautious when visiting Mayan archaeological sites in that region, and do so only with a reputable tour guide. Only use official border crossings to enter Guatemala during the day.
Cases of sexual assault against female travellers have been reported. Always travel in groups and avoid isolated areas, including unsupervised beaches, especially at night. Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances, as they may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault.
Demonstrations and large gatherings can occur throughout the country, especially in Belize City and Belmopan, and may turn violent. Avoid all demonstrations, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
Roads are often poorly maintained and lit. Avoid driving after dark, especially on rural roads. Traffic accidents occur regularly. Belize has four paved highways: the Western Highway from Belize City to Benque Viejo del Carmen and on to the Guatemalan border; the Northern Highway from Belize City to Corozal and on to the Mexican border; the Hummingbird Highway from Belmopan to Dangriga; and the Southern Highway from Dangriga to the resort area of Placencia and on to the southernmost town of Punta Gorda.
Be careful crossing bridges on the Hummingbird and Southern Highways, since bridges are usually only one lane. Most other roads are unpaved; they can be very dusty in the dry season, whereas major puddles and mud can be a problem in the rainy season. Bicycles and livestock are often traffic hazards, especially in urban areas.
Service stations are available on the three main highways connecting Belize City with Mexico, Guatemala and southern Belize. Always keep your gas tank full when in remote areas, as service stations are scarce and they usually close for holidays. There are no emergency road services. A few public telephones can be found in larger villages only. You should not stop to offer assistance to others whose vehicles appear to have broken down.
Passenger boats may be unsafe.
See Transportation Safety in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
Public buses and taxis are often unsafe due to poor vehicle maintenance. You should only use registered taxis with green licence plates.
If you intend to trek:
a) never trek alone;
b) always hire an experienced guide and ensure that the trekking company is reputable;
c) buy travel health insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation;
d) ensure that you are in good physical condition and that you have sufficient supplies, notably water, as the climate is extremely hot and humid;
e) advise a family member or friend of your itinerary;
f) register with the Consulate of Canada in Belize; and
g) obtain detailed information on trekking routes before setting out.
General safety information
Ensure the recreational activities you choose are covered by your travel insurance, and that rental sporting and aquatic equipment is safe and in good condition, especially for diving and snorkelling.
Avoid insect bites when on the southern coast or in the jungles by using repellent or by covering up and avoid being stung by jellyfish when snorkelling.
Dial 911 for police.
It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry requirements. The following information on entry and exit requirements has been obtained from the Belizean authorities. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is your responsibility to check with the High Commission of Belize or one of its consulates for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Belize, which must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of expected departure from that country. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Tourist visa: Not required
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
All Canadians visiting Belize must possess a ticket for an onward or return journey and proof of sufficient funds (considered to be US$60 a day). At least half of this total must be in cash; the remaining portion may be covered by credit cards.
Border officials sometimes charge foreigners excessive entry or exit fees. Obtain current information before leaving Canada. If you are overcharged, ask to see a senior official.
There is an airport departure tax of US$35, which is normally included in the price of the plane ticket.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
Yellow Fever Vaccination
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
|* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in Central America and Mexico, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Central America and Mexico. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among pediatric travellers, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers at high risk visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care provider about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
In some areas in Central America and Mexico, certain insects carry and spread diseases like American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease), chikungunya, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness), and West Nile virus.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is currently an outbreak of chikungunya in this country. Chikungunya is a viral disease spread through the bite of an infected mosquito that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. Protect yourself from mosquito bites, particularly around sunrise and sunset. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.
- Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- The risk of dengue is higher during the daytime, particularly at sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
- There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
- Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in enclosed air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider pre-treating clothing and travel gear with insecticides and sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet.
- Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Some infections found in Central America and Mexico, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Medical services and facilities
Medical facilities are limited, and severe emergency cases require evacuation to another country at the expense of the patient.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws & culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
Individuals and organizations must obtain a permit to possess pre-Columbian artifacts. A Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora permit is needed to collect, possess and/or export certain plants, animals and/or plant and animal products.
You must be over 25 to rent a vehicle. Remember to purchase sufficient car insurance. An International Driving Permit is recommended.
Penalties for possession of unlicensed firearms or unlicensed ammunition are strict, including large fines and mandatory jail sentences for repeat offenders.
The laws of Belize prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. LGBT travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Belize. Consult Homosexual, bisexual and transgender travel for more information.
The currency is the Belizean dollar (BZD). Cash advances can be obtained at local banks with major international credit cards.
Natural disasters & climate
Natural disasters & climate
The hurricane season extends from June to the end of November. The National Hurricane Center provides additional information on weather conditions. Stay informed of regional weather forecasts, and follow the advice and instructions of local authorities.
The low-lying coastal islands of Belize are particularly vulnerable to direct hits by hurricanes and tropical storms. The islands are sometimes cut off from communications and outside assistance during hurricanes. Extensive flooding as a result of storm activity is common both on the islands and in areas of the country not directly affected by hurricanes.
Belize City - Consulate of Canada
Guatemala City - Embassy of Canada
For emergency assistance after hours, call the Embassy of Canada in Guatemala City, Guatemala, and follow the instructions. You may also make a collect call to the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at 613-996-8885.
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