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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
Safety and security
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.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international 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.
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 the 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 for at least 6 months beyond the date of expected departure from 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
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
Learn about travel with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
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 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 - 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 provider.
- 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 pediatric travellers, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers 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), West Nile virus, and Zika 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.
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.
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 and culture
Laws & 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 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.
Penalties for possession of unlicensed firearms or unlicensed ammunition are strict, including large fines and mandatory jail sentences for repeat offenders.
You must be over 25 to rent a vehicle. Remember to purchase sufficient car insurance. An International Driving Permit is recommended.
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.
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.
The currency is the Belizean dollar (BZD). Cash advances can be obtained at local banks with major international credit cards.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & 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
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.
Dial 911 for emergency assistance.
Belize City - Consulate of Canada
Guatemala City - Embassy of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada in Guatemala City, Guatemala, 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. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.
The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.
If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
Learn more about consular services.
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