Sunday, April 6, 2014

Crossing the border from Mexico into Belize

If you follow the procedure as directed by the various officials at the border and read this article before you cross, then there shouldn't be any problem getting out of Mexico and into Belize. The procedure is straight forward, but can be quite time consuming. Especially when you travel with 3 motorcycles. Make sure you are at the border relatively early, to avoid crowds and to give yourself some time.
There are two things that you won't read on the various websites but are important. Nr 1: your VIN number has to be clearly readable. Nr 2: make sure you have the receipt of the tourist card you received when entering into Mexico. If you don't have the receipt, you will have to pay the 300 pesos for the tourist card again… 
Have your passport at hand, the title or registration document of your motorcycle and the temporary import permit you received when you entered Mexico plus the receipt.

Mexico: 1: Entry gate (return of tourist card), 2: Parking area for Banjercito, 3: Banjercito building
Ride up to the entry booth, marked '1' on the areal photo. The guard there will most likely ask you to park your bike at the other side of the building. That's not to annoy you but to allow other traffic to pass and is in the end a lot safer for yourself. He will want to see your passport, the tourist card and the receipt.

After he has taken the tourist card, he will stamp your passport (make sure he does) and direct you to the Banjercito, parking for which is at parking area '2' The actual building is marked '3' on the Mexico Customs areal photo. Enter the building, the Banjercito is on the right. You will need to bring the title of your vehicle, the Temporary entry permit and your passport. The person at the Banjercito will come out and take a photo of your VIN number on the motorcycle, go back inside, process the paperwork and give you a receipt. The US$400,- bond you paid will be returned to the same credit card it was paid with and should be in your account 2 days later.
That's it, you are officially out of Mexico and ride into no-mans-land! 

Belize border, 1: Pesticide spray
2:Parking area Customs
3: Customs building
4: Entry gate to Belize
On the Belize side it's somewhat more time consuming. Mexico is more modern with computer, in Belize it's more pencil and ledger work. First step is to stop at the Quarantine building '1' to have the bike's tyres, mudguards and underside of the engine sprayed. Costs: 5 Belize dollars for the spray. Don't worry about not having Belize dollars yet, you can pay in US dollars (US$ 2.50) and Mexican pesos too (40 pesos). Then ride on to parking area '2', park the bike and make sure that everything is locked if you are on your own or leave one of your party with the motorcycles like we do. Walk into building '3' go to the Immigration with your passport at hand. They will check your exit stamp from Mexico and do the paperwork to allow you into Belize. Then move a little forward inside the same building to Aduana/Customs to get you vehicle entry permit for Belize. You will need the title or registration document and your passport, as the entry of your motorcycle will be stamped into your passport! The procedure is straightforward, the people from both immigration and customs are friendly and helpful, but it takes time. Make sure that you don't lose the vehicle entry permit as exiting Belize without it maybe somewhat problematic and expensive.

Next step is to ride up to the actual entry gate '4', have your passport, vehicle entry permit and pesticide spray document at hand. Customs will check the paperwork and ask you to open all or part of your luggage and basically look for food. Fruit etc is not allowed into Belize!

Overview: 1: Mexico Customs, 
2: Pesticide spray, 3: Belize Customs
Insurance is a funny one. It may be obtained before the border, but apparently the person selling it before the border when we were there wasn't licensed to do so… Belize Customs advised us to buy it over the border at building '3' on the overview photo of Insurance Belize. The costs for this are B$ 29,- per week per motorcycle, or U$14.50 and can be paid with Visa or in cash. The funny side is that you are actually already in Belize when you are at the insurance building and out of sight for Belize Customs… in theory you could ride on without taking out insurance. The tricky bit will be to convince the Belize Police at a road check that you actually have a valid insurance… and as it's inexpensive, why look for problems? Unlike what has been written elsewhere, you do not need photocopies of anything to exist Mexico or enter Belize. There are also no costs involved in exiting Mexico or entering Belize.

If you follow these steps and have the paperwork at hand then the whole process would take about 1,5 to 2 hrs. In our case it was a bit longer as there were 3 motorcycles involved.