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Still Current at: 8 January 2008
Updated: 2 January 2008

Flag of Belize
Belize
 
This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments to the Summary (removing reference to Hurricane Dean). The overall level of the advice has not changed.

SUMMARY

  • The hurricane season in Belize normally runs from June to November.  See the Natural Disasters section of this advice and the Hurricanes for more details.

  • Around 10,000 British Tourists visited Belize in 2006 (Source: Belize Tourist Board).  Most visits to Belize are trouble-free. The main types of incident for which British nationals required consular assistance in Belize in 2006 were for petty crime, sports-related incidents and road traffic accidents.  However, you should be on your guard and exercise caution, as there have been occasional violent incidents against tourists.

  • There is a low threat from terrorism in Belize.  But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign nationals.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake.  See the General (Insurance) section of this advice and Travel Insurance for more details.

SAFETY AND SECURITY

Terrorism

There is a low threat from terrorism in Belize.  But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.  For further information read Security and General Tips and Risk of Terrorism when Travelling Overseas

Crime

There have been incidents of violent crime and physical assaults, including armed robbery and rape, targeted at tourists.  Armed criminal gangs have been known to operate in and around densely forested areas of Belize and close to a number of tourist sites.
 
Mugging is a risk to travellers especially in Belize City and other urban and tourist centres.  Muggings can occur at any time: day or night.  Avoid dark alleys, keep valuables out of sight, do not wear jewellery.  Where possible you should travel in groups.  You should use a qualified guide for trips off the beaten track.
 
When a crime is reported to the police they will take a 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 on completion.  Regardless of where you gave a statement, payment for a copy of the report can only be made at the main police stations:  Corozal, Orange Walk, Belize City, San Pedro, Belmopan, San Ignacio, Benque Viejo, Dangriga and Punta Gorda.
 
For more general advice see: Victims of Crime Abroad.
 
Political Situation
 
Political demonstrations can occur in Belize City and Belmopan, often at short notice.  Though most are peaceful, some demonstrations have resulted in civil disorder. You should avoid getting caught up in demonstrations.

You should monitor local media and avoid large gatherings of people or demonstrations.

LOCAL TRAVEL

There has been a number of sports-related incidents resulting in injuries to and fatalities of foreign tourists.  Some of these incidents involved water sports such as snorkelling and diving.  Severe weather conditions and inadequate safeguards being applied by local tour operators have been cited as causes.  You should consult weather forecasts locally and ensure that you use registered and licensed operators before undertaking any sporting activities.

You should exercise particular care when travelling in the Belize/Guatemala border area because of the ongoing dispute between the two countries.  You are strongly advised to use only the officially recognised border crossings.

You can find more information on local travel on the Belize Tourism Board's website at:  http://www.travelbelize.org.

Road Travel

You can use your UK Driving Licence or an International Driving Permit to drive in Belize for visits under 3 months.  For longer stays, an International Driving Permit is required.

Road traffic accidents are a common occurrence and local driving standards are poor.  You should take great care when driving.

For more general information see: Driving Abroad

LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

You should not become involved with drugs of any kind:  possession is still considered a serious crime in Belize and can lead to a fine and/or imprisonment.
 
Homosexuality is generally considered to be socially unacceptable and some homosexual acts are illegal.
 
For more general information for different types of travellers see: Travel Checklists

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

Visa Requirements
 
British nationals can normally visit Belize for up to 30 days without needing to obtain a visa.  However, you must ensure that your passport is stamped on entry as failure to do so can result in either a fine and imprisonment when you come to leave the country.
 
Passport validity
 
Your passport should have at least 6 months’ validity before travelling to Belize.
 
Travelling with children
 
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country.  For further information on exactly what will be required at Belizean immigration you should contact the Belizean High Commission in London:  Belizean Representation in the UK.

HEALTH

Medical facilities throughout Belize are limited.  Serious cases are normally evacuated to the United States at the expense of the patient.  Your insurance policy should cover medical evacuation by air ambulance.
 
Dengue Fever is endemic to Latin America and the Caribbean and can occur throughout the year.  In 2007 there has been an increase in the number of reported cases of dengue.
 
You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date.  For further information on health, check the Department of Health’s website at:  NHS Direct (0845 46 47) can provide you with advice on vaccination requirements for Belize.
 
For further information on endemic diseases, like rabies, health outbreaks and vaccination requirements for Belize you should check the websites of NaTHNaC and NHS Scotland's Fit For Travel
 
For more general health information see: Travel Health
 
NATURAL DISASTERS
 
The hurricane season in Belize normally runs from June to November.  You should monitor local and international weather updates from the World Meteorological Organisation.  You can also access the National Hurricane Centre for updates.  Please also see Hurricanes for more detailed information about what to do if you are caught up in a hurricane.
 
Hurricane Dean
 
Hurricane Dean passed through Mexico and northern Belize, on Tuesday 21 August.  You should be aware that it caused extensive damage to infrastructure in the northern regions of Corozal and Orange Walk.

GENERAL

Insurance

We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake.  Please see: Travel Insurance

If things do go wrong when you are overseas then this is What We Can Do To Help.
 
Passports

The British High Commission in Belmopan does not issue passports and, before setting off, you should ensure that your passport has sufficient validity and a plentiful supply of unused pages.  Applications for new passports are accepted but forwarded to the British Embassy in Mexico City for processing.  This may take up to 6 weeks.  If a courier is used, the cost will have to borne by the applicant.
 
Identification

You are not required to carry identification whilst in Belize. However, it is advisable to do so.
 
Money
 
ATMs are readily available in the larger towns.  However, credit cards and travellers cheques may only be used in large tourist facilities.

CONTACT DETAILS

Address:
 
British High Commission
PO Box 91
Belmopan

Telephone:
 
(501) 822 2146 or 7

Facsimile:
 
(501) 822 2761

Email:
 
brithicom@btl.net

Office Hours:
 
GMT:
Mon-Thurs: 1400-1800/1900-2200
Fri: 1400-2000

Local Time:
Mon-Thurs: 0800-1200/1300-1600
Fri: 0800-1400

Website:
  www.britishhighbze.com


See Also:
  UK Overseas Mission: Belize
 

GLOBAL TERRORISM WARNING

You should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate attacks that could take place at anytime, anywhere, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

When overseas, you should always maintain at least the same level of vigilance as you would in the UK and take sensible precautions. If you see or hear anything suspicious, you should inform the appropriate authorities or security forces.

The FCO uses four broad threat descriptors to inform you of the terrorist threat overseas. See Risk of Terrorism.

Avian & Pandemic Flu
Find more information and advice on Avian & Pandemic Flu.

Know Before You Go
The FCO strongly recommends that all travellers abroad take out comprehensive insurance.

NB: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not assume any responsibility, including legal responsibility, in respect of any omission or statement contained in FCO Travel Advice. To see our full disclaimer visit the How We Advise page.

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