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Belize - Exercise a high degree of caution
Exercise a high degree of caution in Belize, due to a high rate of violent crime throughout the country.
Travel Health Notice - Zika virus
The Public Health Agency of Canada has issued advice for travellers on the Zika virus, recommending that Canadians practice special health precautions while travelling in affected countries. Pregnant women and those considering becoming pregnant should avoid travel to Belize. See Health for more information.
Safety and security
Criminal activity, including murder, armed robbery, home invasions, mugging and sexual assault, is a significant problem throughout Belize.
Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, occurs. Criminals frequently target tourists, including at resorts. Thefts of cash and credit cards happen frequently in some areas of Belize. Criminals often operate in groups and may target persons travelling alone.
- Maintain a high level of personal security awareness at all times and in all places
- Ensure that your personal belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times
- Never leave your bags unsupervised at a ticket office or a registration desk
- Avoid showing signs of affluence
- Avoid carrying large sums of cash
- If attacked, don’t resist
There has been an increase in violent crime over the past few years in Belize. Most violent crimes are drug and gang-related. Gang members often use weapons to resolve disputes. Tourists are not usually targeted, but you could find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time.
While crime may occur anywhere in Belize, gang activity is prevalent in the south side of Belize City. Exercise caution when walking in this area.
Armed robberies also occur near Belize’s borders.
Police capacity to respond to crime is limited, and many crimes remain unsolved.
There is an unresolved territorial dispute between Belize and Guatemala. When crossing by road between Belize and Guatemala or Belize and Mexico:
- only use officially recognized border crossings
- avoid travelling at night
- exercise caution
Credit card and ATM fraud occurs. Be cautious when using debit or credit cards:
- pay careful attention when your cards are being handled by others
- use ATMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business
- avoid using card readers with an irregular or unusual feature
- cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN
- check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements
More about overseas fraud
Spiked food and drinks
Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances. These items may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.
Women travelling alone may be subject to some forms of harassment and verbal abuse. Cases of sexual assault, including against foreigners, occur.
- Avoid unlit alleys and isolated areas
- Avoid unsupervised beaches, especially at night
- Don’t hitchhike or offer lifts to strangers
Safe travel guide for women
LGBTQ2 travellers have experienced harassment and verbal or physical abuse. Avoid public displays of affection.
Demonstrations and large gatherings may occur. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
More about mass gatherings (large-scale events)
Extensive constructions work is presently being carried out on the Phillip Goldson Highway from Mile 2 in Belize City up to Haulover Bridge. Delays getting to the airport may occur as no other option is available.
Road conditions and road safety are poor throughout the country. Other than the George Price and Philip Goldson highways, most roads are unpaved. Roads often lack markings, reflectors and shoulders, even in urban areas, and are poorly lit and maintained.
Drivers don’t respect traffic laws. They may be reckless. Bicycles and livestock are often traffic hazards, especially in urban areas. Accidents are common.
There is no emergency road assistance. A few public telephones can be found in larger villages only and cellular coverage can be limited, especially in rural areas.
Service stations are scarce and they are often closed for holidays.
- Avoid driving after dark, especially on rural roads
- Always keep your gas tank full when in remote areas
- Advise a relative of your anticipated itinerary and route
- Inquire about insurance coverage options for roadside assistance when renting a car
- Don’t stop to offer road-side assistance to others
If you intend on hiking:
- never do so alone and always hire an experienced guide from a reputable company, even when visiting Mayan archaeological sites
- buy travel insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation
- ensure that your physical condition is good enough to meet the challenges of your activity
- ensure that you’re properly equipped and well informed about weather and other conditions that may pose a hazard
- inform a family member or friend of your itinerary, including when you expect to be back at camp
- obtain detailed information on trekking routes before setting out and do not venture off marked trails or slopes
Rescue services may not be consistent with international standards. Ensure that rental sporting and aquatic equipment is safe and in good condition, especially for diving and snorkeling.
Water safety abroad
Belize City is a cruise ship stop.
Advice for Cruise Travellers
Bus maintenance may not be reliable, and buses may lack safety equipment.
- Carry valuables with you on the bus
- Give your stored baggage to the bus driver or conductor only, and watch as it is stored
- Be present when the bus is unloaded to retrieve your luggage
Registered taxis are identifiable by their green licence plates. Private vehicles have white licence plates. Taxis may not have a meter.
- Use taxis after dark instead of walking
- Negotiate the fare before getting in the vehicle if the taxi doesn’t have a meter
Boats, usually referred to as water taxis, are the primary means of transportation between the islands (cayes), barrier reef attractions and the mainland. Regularly scheduled water taxis operate between Belize City, Caye Caulker and San Pedro Town (on Ambergris Caye).
Don’t board vessels that appear overloaded or unseaworthy.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
General information about foreign domestic airlines
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from Belizean authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid at least 6 months beyond the date you expect to leave Belize.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest diplomatic mission for your destination.
Tourist visa: Not required for stays up to 30 days
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
Length of stay
If you intend to stay longer than 30 days, you must apply for a proper visa from immigration authorities. Immigration offices are in major towns and cities.
If you overstay the 30-day period without proper authorization, you may be fined, detained or deported.
Other entry requirements
Customs officials may ask you to show them a return or onward ticket and proof of sufficient funds to cover your stay.
Children and travel
Children travelling unaccompanied or with only one parent may be required to present a notarized consent letter confirming that the child has permission to travel, as well as proof of parentage, such as a birth certificate showing the names of the parents.
More about travelling with children
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
- Zika virus: Advice for travellers - January 14, 2019
Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health professional 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 (e.g., are children, have an occupational risk, or in close contact with animals, including free roaming dogs in communities).
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
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.
- There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from or have transited through an airport of a country where yellow fever occurs.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
- Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care professional.
- There is currently a shortage of the yellow fever vaccine in Canada. It is important for travellers to contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of their trip to ensure that the vaccine is available.
About Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada
* 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.
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 children, travellers going to rural areas, travellers visiting friends and relatives or those travelling for a long period of time.
Travellers visiting regions with a risk typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care professional 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), West Nile virus, and Zika virus.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is currently a risk of chikungunya in this country. Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. 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.
- Mosquitoes carrying dengue typically bite during the daytime, particularly around sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
Zika virus infection
Zika virus infection is a risk in this country. Recent or ongoing cases of Zika virus have been reported in this country.
All travellers should protect themselves from mosquito bites day and night.
Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects such as abnormally small heads (microcephaly). Zika virus can also be sexually transmitted.
Travellers who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy:
- Should avoid travel to this country
- If travel cannot be avoided follow strict mosquito bite prevention measures.
- Talk to your health care professional about the risk of Zika infection in pregnancy.
- Use condoms or avoid having sex for the duration of the pregnancy, if you are pregnant and your partner has travelled to this country.
- Female travellers: wait at least 2 months after returning from this country before trying to conceive (get pregnant) to ensure that any possible Zika virus infection has cleared your body.
- Male travellers: wait 6 months after returning from this country before trying to conceive. Use condoms or avoid having sex during that time.
See travel health notice: Zika virus: Advice for travellers
- 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 professional 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.
Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.
Medical services and facilities
Medical facilities are limited.
You may need medical evacuation in case of serious illness or injury.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
Travel health and safety
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 and culture
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
Penalties for possession of unlicensed firearms or unlicensed ammunition are strict, including large fines and mandatory jail sentences for repeat offenders.
Individuals and organizations must obtain a permit to possess pre-Columbian artifacts.
Plants, and animal products
A Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora permit is needed to collect, possess or export certain plants, animals, and plant and animal products.
Belizean law does not prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. However, homosexuality is not widely socially accepted.
LGBTQ2 travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Belize.
General safety information and advice for LGBTQ2 travellers abroad
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Belize.
If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of Belize, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.
General information for travellers with dual citizenship
You should carry a photocopy or digital copy of your passport.
If your passport is stolen or lost, Belizean police won’t issue a police report without a digital copy or a photocopy of the passport.
You can drive in Belize with your valid Canadian driver’s licence for up to 3 months.
You should carry an international driving permit.
More about the International Driving Permit
The currency of Belize is the Belizean dollar (BZD). U.S. dollars (USD) are also widely accepted.
Cash advances in BZD can be obtained at local banks with major international credit cards. Cash advances in USD are difficult to obtain and bills higher than US$20 may be difficult to change. Change for payments in USD is frequently given in BZD.
Sometimes prices are in USD. If not indicated, confirm whether a price is in USD or BZD.
Natural disasters and climate
Hurricanes usually occur from mid-May to the end of November. During this period, even small tropical storms can quickly develop into major hurricanes.
These severe storms can put you at risk and hamper the provision of essential services.
If you decide to travel to a coastal area during the hurricane season:
- know that you expose yourself to serious safety risks
- be prepared to change your travel plans on short notice, including cutting short or cancelling your trip
- stay informed of the latest regional weather forecasts
- carry emergency contact information for your airline or tour operator
- follow the advice and instructions of local authorities
- Hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones and monsoons
- Large-scale emergencies abroad
- Active storm tracking and hurricane watches and warnings - United States’ National Hurricane Center
Belize is in an active seismic zone and is prone to earthquakes and tsunamis.
Dial 911 for emergency assistance.
Belize City - Consulate of Canada
Guatemala City - Embassy of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada to Guatemala, in Guatemala City, and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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