This is our experience/record of crossing the Belize-Guatemala border on Tuesday, 6 January 2015. Our traveling party consisted of two people, two motorcycles, and one dog (Chihuahua). We have gathered our initial border information from Life Remotely and Neli’s Big Adventure. Both groups have written excellent reports of their border crossings in Central and South America. Neli’s Big Adventure includes information about traveling with a dog. We are forever grateful to both groups for sharing so much detail.
Our overall experience at the border was straightforward and our total time was 1.5 hours. We started at 11:30am and finished at 1:00pm. We did have a young boy as a helper who somewhat attached himself to us on the Belize side of the border as we were changing money/exiting Belize. As we were leaving we gave him our remaining Belize coins (which we couldn’t change with the money changer) in the amount to about 4USD. He ended up meeting us on the Guatemala side and assisting there as well. This would all easily have been done without him though it was fun laughing/chatting with him and he did know exactly what the steps were on either side of the border. His service was in no way required nor was there any intimidation/pressure to use a fixer of any sort, this is something we did for our own enjoyment and we felt no pressure from anyone to use the local help. If you use one of the helpers, be prepared for the “I am starving, give me more money” pout as you pull away and drive into Guatemala.
Border Name: Melchor de Mencos
Cities: Benque Viejo Del Carmen, Belize and Melchor de Mencos, Guatemala
Costs: 91.50 USD for one dog, two people, and two motorcycles
- Belize exit fee: 18.75USD/37.50BZD per person
- Fumigation: 1.57USD/12Q per bike
- Vehicle import fee: 20.96USD/160Q per bike
- Municipal tax: 2.62USD/20Q per bike
- Helper: 4USD
- Passport plus one photocopy
- Driver’s license plus one photocopy
- Motorcycle title plus one photocopy
- Motorcycle registration plus one photocopy
- Note: we keep all originals in individual plastic sleeves. We labeled these sleeves clearly to avoid confusion as to what was what, to keep original documents clean, and to differentiate what was original and what is a copy. We left Seattle with multiple copies of all our paperwork.
- International health certificate from the US
- Health certificate from Mexico
- Valid rabies certificate (not more than one year old and not less than 30 days).
- Vaccination record
- Microchip certificate
Note: We did not claim/declare Ducati at this border. He was in his carry bag and had we been asked to claim him we did have all his paperwork ready. Border agents did see us take Ducati off the bike and put him into his carry bag and did not question us. For specific experience with your dog please see Neli’s Big Adventure. http://nelisbigadventure.com/belizeguatemala-border-crossing-with-a-dog/
Step 1: Park in front of large while building.
Step 2: Exchange money if needed. There are multiple people available and they were not aggressive. We received decent rates for both changing USD to Quetzals and Belize dollars to Quetzals. Make sure you have written down current exchange rates so you can evaluate your offer. You will need Quetzals for the Guatemala expenses.
Step 3: Belize immigration. At the first desk as your walk into the building you pay your Exit fee off 37.5BZD. At the second desk they will stamp you out of Belize.
Step 4: Belize customs (vehicle). Go through the door at the left of immigration that says authorized personnel only. You walk through the hallway to the other side of the immigration building to the customs declaration desk (this is the same desk that people entering Belize go to). Hand them your vehicle import form and passport and they will stamp your vehicle out of your passport. No inspection.
Step 5: BAHA office (dog). We were told as when we entered Belize that we were not required to return the Belize landing permit. Therefore we did not stop at this office.
Step 1: Fumigation. Drive next to the fumigation garage (down the pedestrian walkway if you are on a motorcycle) and park in front of the fumigation office (immediately on your right). A fumigation officer will spray your tires. Provide your license plate number at the window and pay the fumigation fee (12Q per bike). Make sure to get your receipt.
Step 2: Dog declaration would occur at the same window. As noted above we did not declare Ducati. We do carry all required paperwork so if we are asked to declare him we have all necessary documentation.
Step 3: Guatemala immigration. Across the street from the fumigation office (we left our bikes parked in front of the fumigation office and walked across the street) is a large open-air building. Immigration is on the right as you face the counter. They will stamp your passport and be sure to have them stamp the photocopy of your passport (we forgot this and later the customs agent took our photocopy over and had it stamped). No fee.
Step 4: Guatemala customs. The desk is next to (left) of immigration. Provide your passport, stamped photocopy of passport, vehicle title and registrations and photocopies. Also provide the fumigation receipt. The agent put all our information into the computer and printed out a receipt that we collected two people down on the right. Take this receipt over to the Banjercito window and pay your vehicle import fee (160Q). It is the window next to a man with a large gun against the right wall as you face the immigration/customs desk. Make sure to review the document as they had mis-spelled Shannon’s name and had to re-do the paperwork. Bring the Banjercito receipt back to the customs agent who will then provide you will all your paperwork and import sticker. The agent did not walk us out to our vehicles but just waved us out and we put the stickers on our windshields ourselves before driving out. Our fixer said to not bother putting the stickers on but we did anyway.
Step 5: Inspection Gate. As you drive out a man will move the cones blocking the road. Immediately stop at the small brown hut on your left (where the cone man came from) and they will review your import permit, your license plate, and write that information down on a clipboard and wave you out. We were not asked any questions.
Step 6: Municipal tax. As you drive over the bridge to enter Guatemala you will be stopped and asked to pay the municipal tax fee. We had asked our helper about this and he told us it was 20Q per bike. We were asked to pay this amount and we did receive a receipt. Some people have driven through without paying. We asked at the border and were told this was a legitimate fee. We have heard from others that this fee is a scam. They gave us a receipt for the payment but we are unsure if we could have waived paying this.
Step 7: Insurance. Insurance is not mandatory in Guatemala so we have not purchased it. If you are interested in purchasing there is an agent in Flores and their information is listed on iOverlander. The friends who came after us did purchase insurance there and said it was easy and straightforward.