This is our experience crossing the Mexico-Belize border on Tuesday, 30 December 2014. Our 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.
Overall our experience at the border was pleasant and very straightforward. Everyone spoke English on the Belize side which made the process much easier. We started at 10:15am and had finished all steps including purchasing insurance in Belize at 12:15pm, so total time was two hours.
Border Name: Santa Elena but goes by Chetumal
Cities: Subteniente Lopez (Chetumal), Mexico and Santa Elena (Corozal), Belize
Costs: 102USD for one dog and two motorcycles
- Mexican health certificate: 16USD/200MXN
- Fumigation: 5USD/10BZD per bike
- Dog import: 30USD/60BZD
- Insurance: 23USD/46BZD per bike
- Motorcycle title
- Mexico tourist visa and receipt of payment
- 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. We visited Universum K-9 in Chetumal and no appointment was required. The vet speaks excellent English and was very helpful. We updated all of Ducati’s vaccinations while there. Address is Av 4 de Marzo #374-A, Colonia Gonzalo Guerrero, C.P. 77020 Chetumal, Quintana Roo.
- Valid rabies certificate (not more than one year old and not less than 30 days).
- Vaccination record
- Belize import permit: It is mandatory that the process should be started one to two weeks before you enter. We started the process three weeks early to account for the December holidays.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and request an import permit application. Fill it out and return via email. It is not necessary to print/sign/scan the permit but typing in your name on the signature line is adequate. I suggest emailing both addresses.
- We received an email with an attached copy of the import permit. This is not an official copy but I did print it print it prior to crossing so that it would be easier for the border inspector to look up in their system.
- Note: most rabies vaccinations in the US are good for three years but many country laws have not updated their requirements so an annual rabies vaccination may still be required. When I asked at the Belize inspection I was told the three-year vaccination would have been adequate. We have vaccination records from the US vet as well as the Mexican vet.
As you follow signs for the Mexico-Belize border be sure to follow the signs for BELIZE and not tax free area (unless you are in need of cheap Chinese imports). If you do go that direction you can still make all the steps but it will require a little back-tracking.
We drove to the Mexico immigration building (small booth-like building with a drive up window) but the man inside directed us to drive/part to the left by the primary immigration building across the roadway. We parked our bikes and walked back to the small building with the drive up window with our passports for exit stamping. Then we went back across the roadway to the Banjercito is in the main large while building where we parked. It also includes a passport control so you may be able to do all steps in the one building but the line for passport control seemed quite long and we think we saved time by walking our passports to the booth.
Step 1: Provide your passports, tourist visas, and receipt for tourist visa. They will stamp you out of Mexico. If you have lost your receipt for the tourist visa or arrived by plane you will be required to pay the tourist visa cost.
Step 2: Go inside the large white building (there is a Banjercito sign on the outside of the building), proceed to the Banjercito window and ask to cancel your TVIP. They will come outside to the vehicle and verify the motorcycle VIN, in our case they also took a picture of the VIN. They will also pull the sticker off the windscreen. Back inside they process the paperwork on the computer and provide you with a receipt. If you paid in cash they will return your money on the spot. As we paid via credit card we were told it would take 1-3 business days to see the refund. I was able to confirm the credit by the third day.
Drive through a few miles of no-man’s land. There was a lot of road construction at the belieze border area when we crossed so it will be changing as the work is completed . We managed to first drive to the fumigation for cargo (they turned us around) and then we drove right by the actual fumigation station. Later while I was doing Ducati’s paperwork Mike returned with each bike to have it fumigated.
Step 1: Fumigation station where they will spray your wheels. This can be a bit difficult to find but is a small shack on your left before you get to the passport control building (just ask anyone you see and they will point you in the right direction). Make sure you get a receipt as you will be required to show it later. Cost is 5USD/10BZD. You can pay in either US dollars or Belize dollars.
Drive to the large Belize immigration building. We parked just in front (to the side of the lanes exiting the country) of the inspection booth and steps 2-4 are in the building.
Step 2: Belize immigration/passport control. The first desk is immigration/passport control where they will stamp your passport. There is no charge for the 30-day maximum stay visa.
Step 3: Belize customs which is the second desk after immigration (sign above says “items to declare”). The customs agent will review your vehicle title, fill out paperwork by hand while chatting with their friends (this can be a slow process), and stamp the vehicle into the driver’s passport. They will ask how long you will be in the country and this information goes into the stamp. We said two weeks so we only had two weeks that the vehicles could be in the country even though out personal visa’s were for 30-days. This was our longest step in the process (about 30-40 minutes) because the agents were chatting with each other and easily distracted.
Step 4: Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) for the dog (Ducati) which is the door between immigration and customs. As Ducati was in his carry bag no one noticed that we had a dog. It is always possible that we could have snuck him into the country but as Belize is very strict about this we didn’t want to take any changes. Provide the inspection agent with all the paperwork and if you have a copy of the import permit. The agent reviewed the paperwork and inspected the dog for any cuts or bugs; in particular they checked all his paws. They then exchanged the import permit for a landing permit. The pet permit cost 25USD/50BZD and the inspection was 5USD/10BZD. You pay the inspection official and they provide a receipt.
Step 5: Inspection Gate which is where we had the bikes parked. The official will look at your paperwork ask if you have any fruit, veggies, or alcohol. We said no and were not inspected.
Step 6: Insurance which is required in Belize. At the T in the road as you drive away from inspection there is a large white Belize insurance building. They need the title. Two weeks of insurance per bike is 23US$/46BZD payable in US dollars or Belize dollars. He also said he would take any remaining Mexican pesos (bills and not change).