Mexico farewelled us as warmly as they had welcomed us, with a friendly official refunding our temporary import car visa. Unlike other borders, there is really only one choice for crossing between Mexico and Belize - at Chetumal.
All in all the process of leaving Mexico and entering Belize took us just over an hour, which was a lot better than we were expecting after reading about so many Central American border horror stories.
Step 1: Exit Mexico
In general the exiting process was pretty painless for us, in part because we had already incurred the "tourist tax" that is typically charged on exit (if you have entered via vehicle) when we flew from Mexico to Cuba for a stint.
- Receipt of payment for Temporary Import Visa
- Payment or receipt for payment of tourist taxes ($335 pesos)
- Temporary travel visa for each person travelling
Process we went through:
- Get your Mexican exit stamp from a tiny little hut on the road (you may be asked to pay a tourist tax / exit fee, or show proof that you have previously paid this)
- Park next to the Aduana (to the left of the road) to return your temporary import visa (they will check your car and VIN number)
- Wait a couple of days for your credit card to be refunded with your $200 USD deposit
Step 2: Enter Belize
Entering Belize was a little bit more of a roundabout exercise, although still pretty pain free. There is just a few quirks around fumigation, insurance and border payments which we will cover off below.
- VIN documentation for your vehicle
- Fumigation receipt
- Belizean Insurance (bought just after crossing the border)
Process we went through:
- Fumigation (11 BZD / $5.50 USD): First off, you need to find the little fumigation shack just off from the roundabout and before you get to customs in the middle of "no-mans-land". A man with a hose will spray down your vehicle and give you a receipt (keep this you will need to show it at customs). It takes less than 2 minutes.
- Immigration (free): Next you will need to drive just down the road to the main immigration / customs building, you can park in front of it while you go inside to process your entry to Belize. Make sure you do not drive to the town that straddles the border (as this is the wrong direction). Process is easy and officials speak English, need to get stamp then move on to customs.
- Customs (free). Next you move over to the customs line where if you have bags you should check them, we didn't as most of our things are well pack in our car. This was fine a friendly officer just came over to our car and very briefly took a look at things, asked us a couple of questions and confirmed we were not bringing beer, fruit or soft drinks in to Belize. Customs will do the paperwork for your temporary import visa for Belize.
- Car importation (free): If you are entering with a vehicle they will add a stamp in your passport with your temporary import visa to Belize.
- "Green shirt guy" ($30BZD / $15 USD): While this doesn't feel or seem legitimate we have heard that the police will enforce this charge at the border. We asked more about it at customs and at the insurance company and this fee has been imposed since they renovated the facilities at the border to help the government pay for it. Since time of writing, we believe this is now being charged as an "administrative fee".
- Insurance ($23 USD for 2 weeks): Insurance is compulsory in Belize and can be purchased just outside of the border area as you enter Belize (near the T in the road). Insurance must be purchased from the Insurance Company of Belize, the agent here was super helpful.