Belize travel guide
Sandwiched between Mexico, Guatemala and the shimmering Caribbean Sea, Belize occupies a slice of paradise that is packed with culture, wildlife and a wondrous selection of historical sites. Much of the mainland remains swathed in jungle, where the vestiges of ancient cities punctuate verdant forest canopies. Caracol is the most famous. Its crumbling temples and stone pyramids stand as powerful reminders of the Maya civilisation.
The history is fascinating for sure, but most people visit Belize to see its natural wonders and admirable conservation work; the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary was the first jaguar sanctuary in the world; the island of Half Moon Caye has been entirely dedicated to the conservation of birds; and the protected Belize Barrier Reef harbours an incredible array of marine life. Visitors can swim with sharks and stingrays along colourful walls of coral, or explore the Blue Hole, renowned as one of the world’s best dive sites.
Numbering fewer than 335,000, Belizeans have surprisingly diverse roots: the country is a melting pot of Creole, Garifuna, Mestizo, Spanish, Maya, English, Mennonite, Lebanese, Chinese and East Indian heritage. Racial harmony, religious tolerance and a relatively peaceful political culture, have allowed these different elements to blend successfully and have given Belize a reputation as a friendly, laidback destination.
Belize’s towns and cities are small and, on the whole, pleasantly unexciting. San Ignacio is a charming enough stop-off for those disappearing into the jungle and Punta Gorda offers insightful home stays with some of the country’s last remaining indigenous communities. The somewhat bland capital, Belmopan, however, is hardly worth going out your way for and bustling Belize City, though energetic and ruggedly charming, is used largely as a gateway to the islands.
And what exquisite islands they are. Caye Caulker, Ambergris Caye, Cayo Espanto (to name a few) are everything you expect from the Caribbean and more; swaying palms, pellucid waters, sandy shores, ramshackle beach bars and charming restaurants. All that’s missing are the crowds. Go figure.
22,965 sq km (8,867 sq miles).
366,942 (UN estimate 2016).
14.8 per sq km.
Parliamentary democracy and member of the Commonwealth.
HM King Charles III since 2022, represented locally by Governor-General Froyla Tzalam since 2021.
Prime Minister Johnny Briceño since 2020.
Before you travel, check the ‘Entry requirements’ section for Belize’s current entry restrictions and requirements. These may change with little warning. Monitor this advice for the latest updates and stay in contact with your travel provider.
If you plan to pass through another country to return to the UK, check the travel advice for the country you’re transiting.
It is more important than ever to get travel insurance and check it provides sufficient cover. See the FCDO’s guidance on foreign travel insurance.
For information about what you should do if you test positive for COVID-19, see the Coronavirus page.
3,648 British nationals visited Belize in 2020. Most visits are trouble free.
However, there is a high incidence of crimes. You should maintain personal security awareness throughout Belize, and exercise particular caution in the Southside area of Belize City due to gang violence and gun crime. The State of Emergency has now been lifted. However, gang tensions remain high, and shootings occurred in the area within days of the lifting. See Crime
The hurricane season in Belize normally runs from June to November. During the hurricane season, you should monitor updates from local authorities and the media before travelling to or around Belize. See Hurricanes
Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Belize, attacks can’t be ruled out. See Terrorism
You can contact the emergency services in Belize by calling 911 (police), 990 (fire) or 911 (ambulance).
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.
Coronavirus travel health
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Belize on the TravelHealthPro website
See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Entry and borders
See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Belize.
Be prepared for your plans to change
No travel is risk-free during COVID-19. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes that may delay your journey home.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.
Plan ahead and make sure you:
- can access money
- understand what your insurance will cover
- can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned
Travel in Belize
All mandatory mask wearing requirements and restrictions on social gatherings and social distancing have been removed.
See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Belize. You may need to quarantine, subject to testing, at your own expense.
Healthcare in Belize
If you develop COVID-19 symptoms during your stay, you will be expected to quarantine for 10 days at your own expense.
For further information on health care services in Belize, visit Belize: medical facilities.
See Health for further details of healthcare in Belize.
For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.
If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.
We are committed to supporting British nationals in Belize.
Belize has one of the highest per capita murder rates in the world. While the murder rate declined in 2022, the per capita rate remains high and incidents of other crime (armed robberies, burglaries, theft, rape and sexual assaults) increased.
Armed criminal gangs have also been known to operate in the past in the densely forested areas of Belize, particularly around the border area with Guatemala, close to tourist sites. These incidents are uncommon and the areas are patrolled by the Belize Defence Force.
The majority of muggings occur in Belize City but can also occur elsewhere, including tourist destinations such as San Pedro, Caye Caulker, Placencia and San Ignacio. Avoid dark alleys, do not hitchhike or accept lifts from strangers, keep valuables out of sight and be aware that wearing expensive jewellery could attract unwanted attention. If possible, travel in groups and use a qualified guide for trips off the beaten track.
Serious gang-related violence does occur in Belize City, most commonly in the area to the south of the Haulover Creek (known as Southside). While tourists are not normally the targets of gang violence, anyone in the vicinity of an incident could be affected. Follow the advice of your hotel and the local authorities and remain vigilant of your surroundings.
A month-long State of Emergency was put in place in July 2023 for parts of the Southside of Belize City in response to recent gang-related shootings. This has now been lifted, however tensions between gangs remains high in Southside, and shootings occurred within days of the lifting. A State of Emergency may be introduced again if gang-related murders and retaliations escalate.
You should immediately report all incidents of crime, including assault, robbery and theft to the police by calling 911. They will take your statement and investigate the matter. This may take several weeks. You can pay a fee at any point during the process to receive a copy of the report when it is completed. Be aware that police capacity to respond is limited and many crimes remain unsolved.
Take particular care when travelling in the Belize/Guatemala border area because of the ongoing dispute between the two countries. Only use officially recognised border crossings.
There have been a number of injuries and fatalities resulting from adventure sports activities including snorkelling and diving. Severe weather and inadequate safety precautions are the main causes. Check local weather forecasts and only use registered and licensed operators.
You can find more information on local travel on the Belize Tourism Board’s website.
You can drive using your UK Driving Licence or an International Driving Permit for up to 3 months. For longer stays, you will need to get a Belize driving permit from the Department of Traffic in the district you’re in.
Road traffic accidents are common and local driving and vehicle maintenance standards are poor. Take great care when driving, particularly during rainy conditions and if you need to drive at night, be aware of the risks - there is a high incidence of drink-driving and the highways are mostly unlit, with potholes, unpaved dirt shoulders and lane markings present only on a few of the major highways for short stretches. In southern parts of the country, particularly in Stann Creek and Toledo, temporary bridges and causeways in low-lying areas may flood during severe weather.
Private and shared shuttles are available to travel between towns and cities. Public bus services are also available but bear in mind that most public buses are not well maintained and many don’t have seatbelts.
Taxis are widely available. If you are taking a taxi, ensure it is registered (registered taxis can be identified by their green licence plates) and ask for the fare before getting in (this will need to be paid in cash).
From the international airport, transport options are to rent a vehicle, take an Airport Taxi, a pre-booked shuttle or other taxi, or an internal flight.
Political demonstrations can occur occasionally in Belize City and Belmopan. Most are peaceful.
Follow local media and avoid large gatherings of people or demonstrations.
Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Belize, attacks can’t be ruled out.
There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. You should remain vigilant at all times.
Possession of illegal drugs is considered a serious crime in Belize and can lead to a fine and/or imprisonment.
A Supreme Court ruling in 2016 decriminalised homosexual activity between consenting adults. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
It is advised to carry a photo ID.
This page has information on travelling to Belize.
This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Belize set and enforce entry rules. If you’re unsure how Belize’s entry requirements apply to you, contact its UK embassy, high commission or consulate.
British nationals do not need a visa to enter Belize. On arrival, you’ll be allowed to enter for one month. Any extension to remain in the country will incur a fee of BZD$200 for each month’s extension.
There are no direct flights between the UK and Belize. The regulations of countries that you may pass through and / or UK requirements on travel from transit countries may affect your travel. For more information see FCDO Travel Advice on the countries through which you may travel or transit.
There is no longer a requirement to present proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative test and the Belize Travel Insurance is no longer mandatory for foreign tourists.
You should avoid bringing in home COVID-19 tests; they will be confiscated if found.
Travelling with children
Single parents or adults travelling with children under the age of 18 are required to provide notarised documentary evidence of parental responsibility, or consent to travel from those with parental responsibility. Such documentation is often required before being allowed to enter Belize and, in some cases, before permitting children to leave the country.
When leaving by air, the departure tax is usually included in the airfare. When leaving by land, the departure tax is BZD$40 or US$20, which must be paid in cash.
If you’re fully vaccinated
Entry requirements for Belize are the same for all travellers, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.
If you’re not fully vaccinated
Entry requirements for Belize are the same for all travellers, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.
If you’ve had COVID-19 in the past year
Entry requirements for Belize are the same for all travellers, regardless of whether you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past year.
Children and young people
There are no specific requirements for children and young people.
If you’re transiting through Belize
Transiting is when you pass through one country on the way to your final destination.
Check with your airline before departing.
Check your passport and travel documents before you travel
If you are visiting Belize, your passport should be valid for six months from the date you arrive.
If you are a resident in Belize, your passport must be valid for six months from the date you arrive.
Check with your travel provider to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
If you have a health condition, or you are pregnant, you may need specialist healthcare abroad. Check whether your destination country can provide the healthcare you may need and ensure you have appropriate travel insurance for unexpected medical evacuation or local treatment.
See the Coronavirus travel health and Healthcare sections in the Coronavirus page for COVID-19 health information.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.
General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist are available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 911 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Medical facilities in Belize are limited and availability of prescription medicine inconsistent. For a full list of health care providers and services, visit Belize: medical facilities. Serious medical cases are normally evacuated to the United States (at the patient’s expense). Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
Other health risks
UK health authorities have classified Belize as having a risk of Zika virus and Dengue transmission. For more information and advice, visit the website of the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.
The hurricane season in Belize normally runs from June to November. You should monitor local and international weather updates from the World Meteorological Organisation, the US National Hurricane Centre, the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) in Belize and the National Meteorological Service of Belize. For advice on what to do if you are caught up in a hurricane or tropical storm, see our tropical cyclones page.
Belize is not directly affected by earthquakes, but tremors from earthquakes in neighbouring countries can occasionally be felt in Belize. To learn more about what to do before, during and after an earthquake, see this advice from the US Federal Emergency Management Agency.
ATMs are widely available in larger towns and they generally accept UK cards – but sometimes can be temperamental, so allow time for the unforeseeable. The local currency is Belize dollars. However, US dollars are also accepted as currency.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).
Foreign travel checklist
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we will state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
Refunds and cancellations
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Registering your travel details with us
We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.
Previous versions of FCDO travel advice
If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request.
If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry, or contact us on Twitter or Facebook. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.