A guide on what to expect when going through Belize customs and security at the Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport (BZE)
I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the BZE customs process. I’m pretty sure those specific people haven’t traveled internationally often enough… because realistically, it’s a breeze.
Before you land, you will be handed your customs forms. Bring a pen, because nobody ever has a pen… and the only place to get one once you land only actually has one 50% of the time *sigh* So, rather than running around finding someone with a pen to loan, just bring one. It will ensure you get in line, get through the Belize customs, and into paradise faster. Learn from my forgetfulness!
When you land in Belize, you will disembark the plane by going down stairs and onto the tarmac. You’ll walk from the stairs up to the main building, and along the building until you get to the entrance.
If your plane was the only one to land at this time, you’ll keep going into the building. If another plane recently landed, your end of the line might be at the door, or even out along the building. SO just in case, prepare to be standing in the shade, but potentially hot air. Take off that winter jacket before you land, and stuff it in your bag… I went from a Boston snow storm to Belize 100+ temperatures one time. hah, talk about dramatic weather change.
Alright, so you’ll move with the line down the hallway in the airport. Wave to the Belikin beer posters for me! At the end of the hallway, you’ll turn to the right, and the line will curve around, and you will finally make it to the actual marked lines.
NOTE: At this point when you’ve turned to the right, you’ll see the bathrooms, and a table against the wall with extra customs forms and (maybe) a pen.
There will be two lines when you get up close enough. You want the one on the left (unless you’re a Belize citizen, then go to the right.) Not sure your rights and lefts? The left lane is the long one. lol
I think a majority of the complaints I hear about, are regarding the slowness of the line. Not sure they’re fully reasonable complaints, because it seems to be moving as fast as it can… but still, unless you got to the front of the line (very possible if you sat near the front of the plane and no other planes landed when you did) you’ll probably be standing in some hot air for awhile. Plan ahead by having a water bottle packed and handy to keep you hydrated 🙂
BTW it’s not super deadly hot, it just might be a little uncomfortable… and I don’t know about you but I overheat when I’m in big crowds anyway.
My average wait is maybe 25 minutes. The only time it was longer (probably 45 minutes) was when I forgot a pen and had to go all the way up front to the table with extra forms and a pen. Of course, there was no pen and 8 other people hoping to find one. A very nice security agent dug one up for us, and I filled mine out. By this time another plane had landed, so I had to go all the way back out to the end of the line which was now at the doorway into the building. Yeesh. Again though, even still it wasn’t more than 45 minutes to get in.
Alright, you’ve scrambled to fill out your forms, you’ve waited in line (maybe took a bathroom break?), and it’s finally your turn to talk to security! Woohoo! There are only a few things I’m asked every time, and I’ve listed them below.
- My name
- Where I’m going (just say the name of the hotel and which town it’s in)
- How long I’m staying
They listen to your answers, stamp your passport, and send you on your way!
Now, you’re in the baggage area. There’s an ATM machine you can use here. Use it if you forgot cash and are renting a car! It’s a $2us ($4bz) fee to exit the rental car parking lot. However don’t stress over getting local currency if you already have cash. Here’s a blog post I wrote about Belize currency and other money tips for Belize.
If you checked a bag, grab it from the conveyor belt. Didn’t check a bag? Me either!
Ok, now you go through the final check, which is basically when you hand your last form to an agent and walk out. At least, that’s all I do. During my last stay, I was asked if I’ve ever been to Belize before. I had to admit it was my 5th time in the past 12 months… he laughed and asked me who the guy is. I didn’t catch on to what he meant, until I had left the building haha ugh.
NOW YOU’RE IN BELIZE! WOOHOO! – jk, you were in Belize for probably the last 30 minutes of your flight. You are however, done with Belize customs! woo!
As you exit the building, you’ll be in a small crowd of people waiting. Some will be holding signs with peoples names, some will be taxi drivers asking if you need a ride, and some will be friends/family waiting for someone who just arrived.
Where do you go next?
Rental Car: If you rented a car, you’ll just cross the street right where you exited the building, and walk across that parking lot. You’ll be able to easily see all of the rental car offices, just pick the one you need and walk on in to the perfectly air conditioned office paradise (ok, I just really needed that AC after a Boston winter). Here are some driving tips I’ve put together that might interest you!
Bus Station: Grab a taxi as you exit the airport, and they’ll know where to take you. (plan for about $25us) Here’s a guide I’ve created about taking the local bus in Belize.
Water Taxi: If you’re on your way to the cayes, grab a taxi as you exit the airport. Let them know which water taxi you want, and they’ll take you right to it. Not sure which water taxi you want? There’s only two, so just ask them for which they prefer. (plan for about $25us to get there)
Tropic Air flight: Going directly on a tropic air flight to get to your next location? I’ve actually never done this, but I do remember seeing signs as I went through the airport. Just follow them or ask an agent for help. I know I say this all the time, but Belizeans are extremely helpful so just ask!
I’ve put together another blog post about transportation in Belize, so read through if you’re not quite sure how you want to get around!
Anyway, Belize customs are pretty simple so don’t stress over it! Have a experience to share, or questions about your upcoming trip? Post them in the comments!
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