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Belize to Guatemala Border Crossing

Written by Jared on January 29, 2012

Belize and Guatemala's flags.

This article is part of our Border Crossing Report series.

Border name: Melchor de Mencos
Between cities: Benque Viejo Del Carmen, Belize and Melchor de Mencos, Guatemala
Cost to exit Belize: BZ37.50 ($18.75 USD)
Cost for visas: Q20 ($2.60 USD) per person (unofficially)
Cost for vehicle: Q18 ($2.34 USD) for fumigation, Q160 ($20.78 USD) for Vehicle Import Permit
Total time: 55 minutes

The steps:

    1. Go to the Belize immigration building.
    2. Pay the exit fee at the first counter.
    3. Have your passport stamped at the second counter.
  1. The driver takes the Belize vehicle permit to a third counter (the customs desk) on the side. Where the permit is cancelled.
  2. Passengers meet the driver on the other side of the customs checkpoint and proceed to Guatemala.
  3. First stop is the huge fumigation area. Your car is sprayed as you drive through. Pay the man upon exit and get a fumigation receipt.
  4. Walk to the open air customs and immigration building.
  5. Stand in the “Entrada” line. Get passports stamped and pay Q20 per person fee. There is no receipt for this fee, it isn’t official. And we probably could have argued our way out of it.
  6. Go to another man on the left side of the long counter. Present vehicle title, drivers passport and copies of both documents. He will give you a printed form with your vehicle information and the amount you have to pay.
  7. Go to the cashier window on the other side of the big building. Present the vehicle paperwork and pay the fee. The cashier will stamp the paperwork and return it to you.
  8. Go back to the vehicle import counter and show the official your stamped receipt from the cashier. He will issue you a permit sticker for your windshield and give you a paper permit and the receipt. He will keep the copies of your title and the drivers ID.
  9. Return to your car and affix the sticker, we were told on the top drivers side corner of the windshield, then drive towards the bridge.
  10. An officer will stop you and ask for your permit paperwork. He may take the paperwork to the side and consult with his gun toting colleagues. Then hopefully, he’ll return the paperwork and wave you through.

Our experience:

We left our campsite at The Trek Stop in the small town of San Jose Succotz at around 10:30am and reached the border crossing in about 15 minutes. We parked off to the right and headed into the Belize immigration office on the left side of the road.

There are two desks in the building. At the first desk we paid the BZ$37.50 exit fee. There was a sign above the desk explaining what the fee was for - BZ$30 processing fee and BZ$7.50 environmental protection fee.

Then we headed onto the second desk and had our passports stamped. The friendly guy at the desk told Kobus to have the vehicle import permit canceled at an office next to the first desk. From there he was walked to the other side of the building where permits are issued for people entering into Belize. The guy wrote down some stuff and told Kobus the permit was effectively canceled. He didn't need to check the VIN number on the car.

While Kobus handled the vehicle permit, Jessica and Jared waited outside the Belize immigration building. Kobus returned to the car and drove through the Belize exit point. They checked the canceled permit and waved him through. We changed our leftover BZ$80 at a not-so-great rate of Q3.50 to BZ$1 in order to pay the Guatemalan immigration costs.

The fumigation tunnel at the Belize border.Safely in no man's land, our next stop was to have the car fumigated. It was sort of like a drive-through car wash - much more thorough than the tire squirts we got crossing into Belize. Make sure your windows are rolled up as you drive through!

After the fumigation we stopped off to the right to pay the Q18 fumigation fee, and receipt in hand we headed across the road to the Guatemalan immigration building. The desks are in the back of the open-air building, the immigration lines were on the right side marked with "Entrada/Entrance" and "Salida/Exit" signs.

The Guatemalan immigration building.Our passports were stamped, and the lady told us there was a Q20 per person fee. We've heard that this is a questionable fee, and it is possible to get out of paying it by demanding a receipt and firmly refusing to pay. We didn't feel like making a scene, and since everyone else was paying without question we just handed over the money.

To the left of the immigration lines are lines for vehicle importation. We handed over Kobus' paperwork, the fumigation receipt and car title, as well as a copy of Kobus' ID and the car title. The man at the counter had us fill out a form with our basic contact information, including an address in Guatemala. We used the address of the Jaguar Inn, where we'd be staying in Tikal.

The guy typed in our information, and added the VIN and license plate number from our car title. He handed us a printout of that information and told us to head to the counter on the right wall to pay the import fee. The cost was Q160, the cashier stamped the paper and gave it back to us. Then we went back to the same guy at the vehicle import desk, he gave us a sticker for our car, a printout of the import permit and a receipt showing that we paid. He returned our original documents, but retained copies of the title and our driver's passport.

The Guatemalan border.At that point the paperwork was done, we piled back into the car, put the sticker in the upper-right of the windshield and drove up to the border. The guys with guns took our paperwork, checked it with his colleagues and waved us through without looking inside our vehicle.

We heard that we would be stopped and asked to pay another fee just across the border. Apparently it's a municipality tax that foreign vehicles must pay upon entering Melchor de Mencos. The border official on the Belize side told Kobus that this should legitimately be Q10, although we've heard of people paying Q40 or more. Luckily we weren't stopped, we didn't even see the guard until we passed and she stopped the guy behind us.

All told we were in and out in under an hour. The vehicle import processing took the longest time, perhaps 30 minutes total between filling out the paperwork, having the guy enter it into the computer and paying the fee.


#11 Chris 2013-08-22 16:51
Michel & Ursi

Totally understand the sentiment. That being said, for me, I look at it as contributing to the local economy. None of the people I met in Guatemala has the financial opportunities I do. Just fate that allowed me more opportunity than them. So a semi-legit bridge tax is an easy way to contribute to the local economy. The money will get spent to buy things that otherwise wouldn't have been bought. Plus, life is too short to sweat the small stuff.
Michel &  Ursi
#10 Michel & Ursi 2013-08-22 02:36
Chris - that's exactly the problem... if everyone pays those bogus prices or pay bribes to crooked cops they think that's ok and more will be doing it or prices will rise!
We never paid any bribe and will never pay any bribe! That also includes bogus prices where we KNOW about it.
The Belize-Guatemal a boarder was the easiest and friendliest boarder we crossed so far! But the bridge is really an ungly start to a wondeful country!

our 2 cents
Chris Ransom
#9 Chris Ransom 2013-08-19 22:32
We crossed in late July and the bridge was 50QZ. I was sure it was bogus but The gringo tax never bothers me.

There was no need to hire a porter but we did anyway. Ask for Gustavo. Really great spending 45 minutes with him and learning more about him. He was, of course, helpful, but the time with him was worth way more than the assistance.
Michel & Ursi
#8 Michel & Ursi 2013-07-28 14:06
We just passed the Belize-Guatemal a boarder July 2013).
An update on the bridge fee there at that boarder: we paid only 20QZ/car! But it took me 30min of fight (and I talk very fluent spanish) till that lady gave up her bluff! She was threating me with Police, called then her boyfriend etc. I also told her I will give her HUGE problems and was already ready to WALK to the town and get things straight! Then she gave up and charged us the 20QZ! (maybe still too much?!) I didn't have the courage to drive through the open gate...
So if someone really has the time and can speak good spanish he only needs to pay 20QZ! Otherwise walk to the village/municip io and make it clear there!

And you don't need to pay ANY fee at the boarder itself except the 160QZ for the car registration! For the person NO fee! We didn't pay anything!

No insurance needed.

There is a ATM and shopping possibilities at the boarder town. I added the waypoints to my homepage.
If you head to Yaxha & Nakum ruins as we did for a few days (we can really recommend that!) it's wise to go shopping there. Otherwise you can go to Flores.

And be prepared from now on always to pay extra gringo-fee's! They always will try to get more! ;) At Semuc we paid much less than most, same at Lake Atitlan for crossing the villages or for the boats (Pana-Santa Cruz for example you can pay 10-15QZ, but most tourist pay much more). You just need to inform yourself in ADVANCE how much things will be, before you know if the price is right or not...

Good travels!
#7 jessicam 2012-11-18 17:41
Hi David,
I am not sure about buying Gutemalan insurance. I don't recall seeing any offered at the border, but I wasn't looking either. We carry car insurance from the States that covers us through Central and South America. Contact Sanborns for more information. You will likley need to email them to get details.
Hope that helps!
#6 David 2012-11-17 01:38
Hi !
I've seen that the insurance is not requiered, but would you have one that you would recommend , as I don't feel safe driving without at least liability coverage.
Thanks !
#5 VictoriaH 2012-07-03 02:10
Thanks Jessica.

Your site is really helping us with the Central America border crossings, so thank you very much.

Hope your trip is going well.

Best Wishes,

#4 jessicam 2012-06-29 12:45
Hi Victoria,
Nope, you are not REQUIRED to by insurance for Guatemala. If it is obligatory (as it is in Belize, Panama, Nicaragua and Colombia) then we list it in the "costs" at the very top of the article.
Thanks for reading!
#3 VictoriaH 2012-06-29 01:46
Hi Jessica,

We are currently traveling down the Americas also and wondered if we could trouble you for some advice. We wanted to know if you need car insurance when in Guatemala, where you get it from and how much it cost you guys? Any information would be great.

Many Thanks,

#2 Jessicam 2012-04-16 14:52
You're welcome. There's more postings coming soon for our marathon through Honduras in one day. Stay tuned for that. And hope to meet up with you soon!
Cesar Morales
#1 Cesar Morales 2012-04-15 14:42
Great info- we are about to leave San Ignacio and head for the border and thanks to you we are better prepared.

Thanks and see you on the road.

Cesar and Danni

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