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Belize Driving Tips

Does Belize Use Miles Or Kilometers?


Distances are given in miles, and gas is sold by the U.S. gallon. Some Japanese-made automobiles have speed and distance shown in kilometers only, a source of confusion on local mile-denominated roads. Please pay attention. Speed bumps are deployed to slow traffic coming into residential areas. Kindly note that some speed bumps do not have warning signs, but expect them as you enter any town or village.




Check Points


Unlike in some other countries in the region where extorting tourists in rental cars is a small industry, in Belize you will usually not be pulled over for phony traffic offenses, and if you are stopped at a checkpoint, which often happens, it is rare but not unheard that you will be asked for a bribe. If you are in a rental you are hardly ever harrased. Just make sure you have your driver's license available (you may also want to have a copy of your passport and other documents to show you are in the country legally). Most police officers at check points are nice (once you are nice to them, of course). Police normally check driver's license and your insurance sticker. That's about it. Almost always you will be on your way in seconds. Of recent, the escalating crime in Belize means that rolling police checkpoints have increased.




Safety


Belize drivers are as well-trained as drivers in the U.S., and driving after drinking is unfortunately common. Watch carefully when passing stopped buses — people may suddenly run around the bus to cross the road. Outside of settled areas, you may drive for an hour or more and never see another car. Be prepared: Bring water, a flash-light and other basic supplies, and a cell phone, just in case. Don’t leave valuables in your car, locked or unlocked. In Belize City, it’s best to park in a secured lot, or at least in a well-lit area. Do not pick up hitchhikers. Belize has strict drug and guns laws. You don't want to get caught up with the law in Belize.




Driving At Night


Unfortunately many of Belize's road do not have proper markings and cat-eyes (it has improved over the years). However, it is easier driving at night than elsewhere because there are so few people on the roads after dark. Be on the lookout for potholes, cyclists (many don't use reflectors) and speed bumps. If you are driving on the weekends, be careful, drunk driving is quite common in Belize.




Unusual Driving


Belizeans basically drive like Americans or Europeans. There are a few practices that may be unfamiliar to foreign drivers. Making Left Turns: Some drivers usually (not always) signal right and pull to the right when turning left across traffic, waiting for vehicles behind them to pass. Always be on the look out for drivers will signal one way, and then take the opposite direction.




Tips On Renting A Vehicle


If it is just two person; a car is fine. Enough space for luggage in trunk, and backseat is usually used for personal bags and stuff you will likely buy along the way, such as items from gift shops. If you plan on having a group of more than 2 and planning on doing your own tours around the country, get an SUV, 4x4 if possible. If you have a large family of more than 5, a van is the way to go.





Traffic Rules

Basic Traffic Rules You Should Know:


  • Drive on the right-hand side of the road
  • Wear seatbelts - drivers and passengers
  • Observe speed limits: 55 mph on highways and 25 mph in cities and towns
  • You can make a CAUTIOUS right-hand turn on a red light
  • Left-hand turns on the highway, as per regulation, requires the driver to indicate a left-hand turn then pull on to the right-hand shoulder of the road until traffic is clear both ways in order to complete the left-hand turn. However, keep an eye out on these turns as most drivers in Belize tend to disregard the regulations.





Drinking & Driving

Drinking & Driving In Belize:


According to the laws of Belize, a person conducting a vehicle should not have more than 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 milliliters of blood (0.008). Driving under the influence can result in fines, the suspension of driver's licenses, imprisonment and a possible criminal record.





4x4 Auto

Do I Need A 4 x 4 Vehicle?


All the main highways are paved, two lanes and well sign-posted -- you don't need a 4-wheel drive vehicle unless you plan to get way off the highways.





Additional Helpful Info.

Airport Departure Fee


There is an Airport Departure Fee of $39.25US required. This consists of a $18US Airport Development Fee, a $15US Passenger Service Fee, a $2.50US Security Fee, and a $3.75US Conservation fee, which is used to promote, enhance, and conserve Belize’s protected areas.




Cleaning Fee


A cleaning fee of $12.50US / $25BZ will be charged if the rental vehicle is returned in a condition considered dirty beyond normal.




Climate


Belize climate is subtropical with a crisp prevailing wind from Caribbean Sea. The temperature in Belize averages 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The rainy season is between June and November. It gets pretty humid along the coastal areas.




Currency Exchange


Local currency is in Belize Dollar, or BZD$. US$1 dollar is equivalent to BZD$2. Belizean banks and ATM’s throughout the country include: Atlantic Bank, Belize Bank, CIBC First Caribbean, Heritage Bank and Scotia Bank.




Customs Allowance - Importation of Currency:


Under the Customs Laws of Belize, each person is allowed to import up to $10,000BZ or foreign currency equivalent. If you are importing in excess of $10,000BZ or foreign equivalent you must declare this to Customs Officials.




List of Duty Exemptions


As an arriving passenger, you are entitled to the following exemptions:

  • Wearing apparel, jewelry, toilet requisites, and any portable articles in your accompanied baggage or on your person, which you might reasonable by expected to carry with you for your own regular and private use.
  • If you are 18 years or older (and not returning from a visit to a neighboring Border Town or City), one liter total of wine or spirits and 250 grams tobacco, or 50 cigars, or 200 cigarettes. If you are a Belizean:
    • In addition to the above, you can claim duty exemption on accompanied goods acquired abroad for personal or household use, or as souvenirs or gifts, with a combined value of BZD$200 twice a year through other ports or places of entry




Ports of Entry Via Airport


All international aircrafts must clear through the Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport in Ladyville, Belize.




Ports of entry via Land Borders


It is possible to enter Belize through the Northern Border in Santa Elena and the Western Border in Benque Viejo Del Carmen.




Ports of Entry via Sea Ports


The following are seaports where vessels may be entered or cleared:
Belize City, Big Creek, San Pedro, Dangriga and Punta Gorda. Additional information is available as you enter by calling VHF channel 16.




Electrical Systems


Same as US, 110volts A.C. power.




Government


Belize is an independent country with a democratically elected parliamentary government and is a British Commonwealth member.




Language


English is the official language and is widely spoken. Other languages, dialects include: Creole, Spanish, Maya and Garifuna.




Population


Population - The population of Belize is approximately 383,071, comprising of Creole (african-European), Garifuna, Mestizo (Spanish-Indian), Maya, Mennonite, Lebanese, Chinese, East Indian, and European. Due to racial harmony and religious acceptance, all of these cultures have blended successfully.




Public Hospitals & Medical Facilities


Medical care is available at hospitals and clinics throughout the country. There are clinics in each village and Regional public hospitals in designated town/municipality (south, regional, KHMH Belize City, north). Private clinics are popping up all over the country and all major tourism areas have several.




Taxes


The hotel tax is nine percent (9%) and General Sales Tax on goods and services is twelve and a half percent (12.50%).




Time Zone


Belize occupies time zone GMT-6, same as US Central Standard time. Daylight saving time is not observed.




Tipping


Tipping is voluntary. Usually ten percent (10%) is acceptable with fifteen percent (15%) for exceptional service. In some cases, a gratuity charge may be added to your bill. This practice varies with each establishment. Be sure to ask before paying the bill. Large hotels/resorts normally has a mandatory service charge. Ask if you are not sure.




Topography


Belize is an area of only 8,867 square miles. It is situated on the east coast of Central America, on the Caribbean Sea. Belize is bordered by Mexico to the north and Guatemala to te west and south. The second-largest barrier reef in the world (185 miles long) falls within Belize’s territory as well as three of the four coral atolls in the Western Hemisphere.




Water


Tap water in Belize is potable.





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