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 Queen Elizabeth II since 1952, represented locally by Governor-General Froyla Tzalam since 2021.
Prime Minister Johnny Briceño since 2020.
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.
Returning to the UK
Travelling from and returning to the UK
Check what you must do to travel abroad and return to England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
If you plan to pass through another country to return to the UK, check the travel advice for the country you’re transiting.
Be prepared for your plans to change
No travel is risk-free during COVID. 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.
If you develop COVID-19 symptoms during your stay, you will be required to enter quarantine at your own expense.
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 are showing COVID-19 symptoms, you must call one of the following numbers:
- COVID-19 Hotline: 0800 MOH CARE / 0800 664 2273.
- COVID-19 Emergency: + 501 613 0787
- Corozal: +501 625 6667 / +501 660 1115
- Orange Walk: +501 614 8091 / +501 677 2839
- Belize City: +501 615 7973 / +501 223 2722
- Belmopan: +501 634 2870 /+501 600 2544
- San Ignacio: +501 600 7506 / +501 621 6687
- Stann Creek: +501 607 0133 / +501 634 8648
- Independence: +501 624 0839 / +501 600 8167
- Toledo: +501 614 1417 / +501 624 7619
For further information on health care services in Belize, visit Belize: medical facilities.
Belize’s Ministry of Health and Wellness has partnered with private healthcare facilities to expand testing capabilities across the country. See the Travel Belize website for a current list of approved COVID-19 testing facilities.
See Health for further details of healthcare in Belize.
COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Belize
Wherever possible British nationals should aim to be vaccinated in the country where they live. We will update this page when the Government of Belize announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.
The Belize national vaccination programme started in March 2021, and is using the AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech, Sinopharm and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. The Government of Belize has stated that British nationals resident in Belize are eligible for vaccination. You can register for your COVID-19 vaccination appointment online, or call the COVID-19 Hotline: 0800 MOH CARE / 0800 664 2273 or see Healthcare in Belize for more information. Further information on the vaccination programme is also available on the Government of Belize Ministry of Health and Wellness website.
Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad page.
If you’re a British national living in Belize, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider.
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.
The British High Commission in Belmopan remains open and operational staff are working a combination of in the office and remotely to comply with local Ministry of Health guidelines. We are committed to supporting British nationals in Belize for the necessary consular services during this time.
Belize has one of the highest per capita murder rates in the world. There have been increased incidents of violent crime (armed robberies, home incursions, murders) against long-term expatriate residents as well as physical assaults, including rape, of tourists.
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 are common in all districts, 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.
Incidents of serious gang-related violence do 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. You should exercise particular caution and remain vigilant of your surroundings if in and around these areas, especially at night.
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.
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 standards are poor. Take great care when driving, particularly during rainy conditions when roads can become slippery. 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.
Political demonstrations can occur in Belize City and Belmopan, often at short notice. Most are peaceful, although some have resulted in civil disorder.
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’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
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, however, being open about being LGBT is generally considered to be socially unacceptable. There are no openly gay bars or clubs. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
You are not required to carry identification whilst in Belize, but it can be useful to carry a photo ID.
This page has information on travelling to Belize. Check what you must do to return to the UK.
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.
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.
Foreign tourists are required to pay BZ$36 (US$18) for Belize Travel Health Insurance – this is mandatory even if you already have personal travel insurance and helps protect against incurred medical and non-medical expenses should you test positive for COVID during your stay in Belize. It covers up to a 21 day stay; an extended coverage can be purchased if you are staying longer. It is recommended to buy this in advance via Belize Travel Insurance though it can be bought upon arrival at the Philip Goldson International Airport, Santa Elena Border (Northern border) or the Belize Western border. Foreign nationals with long stay status, airline crew and personnel, cruise ship passengers and crew, travellers staying in Belize for 1 day or less and foreign government officials and diplomats are exempt.
If you’re fully vaccinated
Fully vaccinated visitors no longer require a negative COVID test but must show proof of immunisation for entry at Belize’s airport, land borders or sea ports.
Proof of vaccination status
You must present proof that you have been fully vaccinated to enter Belize.
Belize will accept the UK’s proof of COVID-19 recovery and vaccination record and proof of COVID-19 vaccination issued in the Crown Dependencies. A digital or hard copy of an up to date NHS COVID pass showing two doses of an approved vaccine (or one for Johnson and Johnson) is accepted as proof of immunisation / full vaccination.
Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres is not designed to be used as proof of vaccination and should not be used to demonstrate your vaccine status.
If you’re not fully vaccinated
If unable to show proof of being fully vaccinated or if unvaccinated, you must present a negative result from a PCR test taken within the 72 hours prior to arrival or an approved rapid antigen test (home testing kits are not accepted) taken within the 48 hours prior to arrival, or a test can be administered at the airport for a fee of BZ$100 or US$50 (which must be paid in cash).
If you receive a positive result on arrival, you will be required to undertake a mandatory quarantine at an approved quarantine hotel at your own expense. The Ministry of Health will monitor each case. A negative test is required as proof of recovery.
If you’ve had COVID-19 in the past year
If you’re not fully vaccinated but have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last year you will be required to present a negative test as above to enter Belize - a PCR test taken within the 72 hours prior to arrival or an approved rapid antigen test (home testing kits are not accepted) taken within the 48 hours prior to arrival, or a test can be administered at the airport for a fee of BZ$100 or US$50 (which must be paid in cash).
Children and young people
Children aged 5 and above are required to present a negative COVID-19 test as above if they are not fully vaccinated. to enter Belize.
If you’re transiting through Belize
Transiting is when you pass through one country on the way to your final destination.
All transiting passengers, regardless of vaccination status, are required to provide either a negative COVID-19 test or documentation of recovery to enter Belize.
While there are no official exemption guidelines for Belize, exemptions can be sought by contacting the Belize Tourism Board:
- Telephone: +(501) 227-2420 Ext. 292
- Mobile (including WhatsApp)- + (501)-614-7935
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Returning to the UK
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Belize on the TravelHealthPro website
See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in Belize.
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) – this could take longer than usual with COVID-19 protocols in place. 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 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 and the US National Hurricane Centre. For advice on what to do if you are caught up in a hurricane or tropical storm, see our tropical cyclones page.
Belize does not suffer from 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. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.