How to Cross the Border from Belize to Guatemala (2022)

by | Apr 1, 2022 | Belize, Guatemala, Travel

Are you looking for info on how to cross the land border from Belize to Guatemala? In this article, I’m going to share with you how I did it in January 2022. This is the cheapest and easiest way to get to Guatemala from Belize by land.

I have also updated this post to reflect the most recent entry requirements for Guatemala as of March 25, 2022.

As of March 11, You no longer need a COVID test to enter Guatemala if you are vaccinated.

From San Ignacio, Belize to Flores, Guatemala, it took me a total of around 3.5 hours traveling by taxi, foot, and colectivo. Transportation cost me US$8.69 and with the COVID test of US$60 (a test is NOT needed if you’re vaccinated) and the Belize Departure Tax of US$20, I paid a total of US$88.60. Read more to find out how I did it:

I’ll also include some tips on what the current entry requirements are for Guatemala, where to easily get your COVID test if you’re not vaccinated, how to catch a taxi to the border, where to change money, how to avoid getting ripped off, and how to get to Flores cheaply and safely.

However, because things change often in regards to COVID, double-check official websites for the MOST up-to-date info on COVID entry requirements for Guatemala.

For those wanting to go in the opposite direction, you can read my article on crossing the border from Guatemala to Belize.

You can also get more travel info on traveling in Guatemala here. I was in Guatemala for over 3 months traveling around the country, studying Spanish, and working on my laptop.

For those of you traveling to Antigua, I also have a guide on the BEST hotels and hostels in the city. The guide is ideal for any kind of budget. I list budget hostels and hotels as well as boutique hotels. Oh and…I stayed in ALL of the ones I recommend.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate and a Bookshop.org Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.  Please see this website’s Disclosure for more info.

What COVID requirements do you need to enter Guatemala in 2022

As of March 11, 2022, to enter Guatemala as of March 11, 2022, you need to show EITHER proof of vaccination OR a negative COVID test. You no longer need to show BOTH vaccination AND a negative test.

COVID requirements for entry into Guatemala

Here is info on entry requirements for Guatemala from the U.S. embassy.

Another great resource for finding out what the COVID entry requirements are for a country is a Swiss International Airlines website.

Here are further details on the two options for entering Guatemala (you need to show proof of ONLY ONE)

1. Proof of COVID vaccinations to enter Guatemala

As of March 11, 2022, travelers 12 and older who can show proof of COVID vaccination do not need to take a COVID test to enter Guatemala! This includes completion of a 2 dose vaccine or 1 dose of Johnson & Johnson.

The last shot needs to have been done more than 2 weeks prior to entry.

Make sure to have a paper copy of your proof.

2. Antigen or PCR COVID test not more than 72 hours prior to entering Guatemala.

For those who cannot show proof of vaccination, you need to have an antigen or PCR test administered not more than 72 hours before entering Guatemala.

Luckily, you’ll find advertisements for COVID tests all over Belize. They also have COVID testing centers at all major tourist points: on the main drag in Caye Caulker, the port in Belize City, and downtown San Ignacio. This is so unlike other Latin American countries, where trying to find a place to get a COVID test is like searching for a toothpick in a stack of hay.

When you get your COVID test, bring your passport as the testing places need to enter the information from your passport (name, country, birthdate, and passport number) onto the COVID test result form/letter.

Where can you get a COVID test in San Ignacio?

map of places in San Ignacio
Click here to view the interactive map in Google Maps

1. According to this one British guy I met in San Ignacio, Codd’s Drug Store in Santa Elena (Google Maps) does COVID antigen tests for US$50. Santa Elena is the city across the bridge from San Ignacio—pretty much the same city (see above map).

2. Your hotel/hostel can arrange for a testing place to come to your hotel and administer the test there for US$60; this is what I did and my test results were ready within 5 minutes. They printed my results right there at the hostel (Yellow Belly Hostel).

3. A COVID testing center in downtown San Ignacio near the Cayo Welcome Center & Tourist Information Center (Google Maps) charges US$75 for an antigen test and US$200 for a PCR test; you get results in 15 – 20 minutes for antigen test and 1.5 hours for PCR test. I stopped by their little office and asked them for their prices and turn-around time.

Where can you get a COVID test in Belize City?

You can get one at the San Pedro Express Water Taxi pier. I asked the people there how much, but I forgot what they said. I want to say US$50 because if it were US$75, I think I would have remembered.

Where can you get a COVID test in Caye Caulker?

The testing center is along Playa Asuncion/Avenida Hicaco (the closest street that runs parallel to the ocean) somewhere between the port and Ice N’Bean Café or Caveman Tours. I passed by it every day when I was in Caye Caulker, but I can’t remember exactly where it’s at. Don’t worry. Just walk up and down that street and you’ll see it.

Where can you get a COVID test in San Pedro?

I saw people lining up to the right of Central Park along Barrier Reef Drive (Google Maps). It’s near the San Pedro Express Water Taxi pier.

Can you get FREE COVID tests at the Guatemala border?

I have heard rumors that you can get a free COVID test at the Guatemala land border. I cannot confirm this, however.

Pro Tip: If you need a COVID vaccine like a booster shot or even your first and second shots, you can get them in Belize pretty easily. I got my booster at the Lion’s Den in San Pedro. They offer them Mondays and Tuesday afternoons (closing at 3:00 pm) and Fridays (8:00 am to afternoon).

Where to cross the border

Currently, the only border crossing open is the one near Benque Viejo Del Carmen (Belize) and at Melchor de Mencos (Guatemala).

Belize and Guatemala border crossing
Click here to view it in Google Maps

You are still not able to cross by boat from Punto Gorda to Livingston or Puerto Barrios.

When is the border between Belize and Guatemala open?

I asked the immigration official in Belize about the border’s opening times as I’d gotten conflicting information. So, here is the official information:

From Belize to Guatemala, the border is open 24 hours 7 days a week. However, it closes at 6:00 pm for those with their own car. I failed to ask what time it opens again in the morning for vehicles.

From Guatemala to Belize, the border is open from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm Monday to Friday and 8:00 am to 12:00 pm noon Saturday and Sunday.

How to cross the border from Belize to Guatemala?

There are two ways to cross the border from Belize to Guatemala:

1. Tourist shuttle

You can buy a shuttle ticket from Atlanta Travels, located at the San Pedro Express Water Taxi port in Belize City, for US$30.

Atlanta Express Travel Agency in Belize City

The shuttle van leaves between 12:00 and 12:30 pm daily.

The shuttle will take you to the border and after you cross into Guatemala, another shuttle will pick you up and take you to Flores.

You can take this same shuttle just to San Ignacio.

If you’re in San Ignacio, the shuttle will pick you up at your hotel or hostel. It’ll cost US$27.

2. Independently

I crossed the border on my own and it was very easy and inexpensive.

I began the journey at 8:48 am and arrived in Flores at 12:15 pm.

Crossing into Guatemala and getting to Flores cost me US$3.50 for a taxi to the border and US$5.19 for a colectivo to Flores for a total of US$8.69

I’ll explain how I did it below.

How to cross the land border from Belize to Guatemala

Step 1: Take a taxi from San Ignacio to the Belize Border

I started in San Ignacio. If you are in Belize City, you can get a public bus from the Public Bus Station in Belize City for BZN$9-11 (US$4.50 – $5.50) to San Ignacio. Try to get an Express Bus.

It costs BZN$10 (US$5) for a taxi from the San Pedro Express Water Taxi port to the Bus Station.

In San Ignacio, take a shared taxi that is headed to Benque Viejo del Carmen.

Taxis have green license plates.

map of where to catch taxi in San Ignacio

I was staying at Yellow Belly Backpacker Hostel (I highly recommend them) and I just needed to stand near the Cahal Pech roundabout (see the red X in the above map) and wait for a taxi (green license plates) to come by.

If you’re staying in another part of the city, you can get a taxi from a different location.

It cost me BZN$7 (US$3.50) for the trip to the border.

The taxis are shared with other passengers.

I’ve taken a taxi twice from this spot and I’ve never had to wait for more than 5 minutes.

I left San Ignacio at 8:48 am and arrived at the border at 9:08. My taxi dropped me off right at immigration.

green immigration building at Belize border

Step 2: Change money at the border

When I got to immigration, a man came up to me asking if I wanted to change my Belizean dollars into Quetzales. I changed almost all of my money except for what I needed to pay the Belize Exit Fee.

If you don’t change money in front of the immigration building, don’t worry. I was approached by money changers three or four more times before exiting Guatemalan immigration.

Step 3: Pay the Belize Departure Fee

When I entered the immigration hall, the first desk was for paying the Belize exit fee. This was BZN$40 (US$20). You can pay in Belizean or US dollars.

The Departure fee encompasses 3 fees: a border exit fee of BZN$30, a conservation fee of BZD$7.50, and a land border development fee of BZD$2.50.

Step 4: Get Your Belize Exit Stamp

Then I took my receipt and passport to the next immigration window to get stamped out of Belize.

I was asked one question and that was, “How long were you in Belize?”

The whole process took 12 minutes.

Step 5: Walk to Guatemala Immigration

After I exited immigration, I walked along a covered walkway.

To my left, I could see the people doing the COVID test for entering Belize. If you need to return to Belize, you can read about my experience entering crossing the same border from Guatemala to Belize.

Then I walked across a no-persons land for a few seconds to Guatemalan immigration.

Again no lines at immigration.

Step 6: Submit COVID test and vaccine proof

The first thing I did upon entering Guatemala immigration was to have my CDC vaccination card and my negative COVID test inspected. The immigration officer (or maybe he was a health inspector) recorded my information in a ledger.

As of March 11, 2022, you need to present EITHER vaccine proof OR a negative test. NOT BOTH!

Step 7: Submit form and passport to immigration

After that, I needed to fill out an immigration form.

Finally, I went to another window and submitted my passport and immigration form.

All along the way, there was this guy who was telling me what to do for each step. I don’t remember who he was but I swear he was the same guy who tried to get me to take his taxi to the colectivo.

Before you walk away from the immigration desk, check your passport to see how many days you were given. Make sure the number of days is clear.

Step 8: Change money again

Even before leaving the immigration building, I was asked one final time whether I wanted to change money. I had BZN$10 leftover from paying the Departure tax so I changed that for Q35.

I exited immigration at 9:34 am.

Step 9: Walk to the Colectivo Station

After exiting immigration, I was approached by a taxi driver. He said that the colectivo station (Terminal de Autobuses Melchor del Mencos) was 2 kilometers away (he told someone else that it was 3 kilometers away) and that it would cost me Q35!

This is a HUGE LIE!

Don’t listen to any taxi drivers who tell you that the colectivo station is 2 or 3 kilometers away! Ignore them.

route from Guatemalan border to Bus Station

The colectivo station is less than 5 minutes by foot from immigration.

bridge between Guatemala immigration and Melchor del Mencos

Once I crossed the bridge into the border town of Melchor de Mencos, I took a left at the first intersection.

red fence surrounding the bus terminal in Melchor del Mencos

Less than a block away and on the right-hand side of the street is the entrance to the colectivo station (Association de Transportistas Comunitarios ATC). You can’t miss it! It’s got a red fence and a few white, blue, and red vans in the parking lot.

bus terminal in Melchor del Mencos

There’s a white building in the parking lot. Go to the window to buy your ticket. I was charged Q40 (US$5.19)

It was 9:41 am when I got on the colectivo.

Colectivos are just what people call minibusses in Latin America.

We left at 9:53.

Step 10: Take the Colectivo to Flores

However, the colectivo drove around the city and stopped at another place near a market to collect more passengers, so we didn’t actually leave Melchor de Mencos until 10:17 am.

By that time, the colectivo was full of people and almost no one was wearing a mask. One guy was sneezing and coughing and looked sick.

Step 11: Arrive in Flores/Santa Elena

When we arrived at the bus station in Santa Elena (Google Maps), it was 12:15 pm. The trip took 2 hours.

route from bus station in Santa Elena to Flores

I took a tuk-tuk from the station to Flores (Google Maps). Usually, it costs Q5 to go from Santa Elena to the island of Flores, but I was charged Q10 (US$1.20). Because I really needed to use the bathroom, I just accepted it. It took 5 minutes to get to Flores.

Can you walk from the bus station in Santa Elena to Flores?

Yes, you can, but I don’t recommend it because there’s a lot of traffic and the road lacks sidewalks. all the way.

It’ll take you 20 minutes without a heavy bag. Plus you still have to then find your accommodations on the island.

Where to stay in Flores, Guatemala

Flores has a variety of cheap hotels and hostels, but you need to do your research. They also have a variety of overpriced mid-range hotels.

I stayed at 4 different hotels and hostels in Flores. My favorite place was Hotel Petenchel for its price and cleanliness.

Hotel Petenchel

Booking.com | Agoda

COST: Q206 (US$27) for a private room with a private bath

I recommend Hotel Petenchel because it’s quiet and inexpensive. It has decent WiFi and comfortable and clean air-conditioned rooms. You also get hot water, something that you shouldn’t expect in a hotel for this price.

hotel room with 2 beds below window and air conditioner and green walls

Los Amigos Hostel

Booking.com | Agoda

COST: Q137.25 (US$18) for dorm room |

This party hostel is loud and dirty with terrible customer service. If you want some peace and quiet, don’t stay here. Also, if you want to catch COVID, stay here!

Natz Hotel

Booking.com | Agoda

COST: US$10 for a private room

This hotel has the cheapest private rooms I’ve ever stayed in. They’re very basic with uncomfortable beds. You don’t get hot water, but you do get some lovely bugs that fly through the window that’s missing some glass panes.

Casa Azul

Booking.com

COST: US$61

Right on the shore, Casa Azul isn’t a bad mid-range priced hotel, especially if you get one of the rooms with a balcony overlooking the lake.

Where to stay in Belize

Hotels in Belize are very expensive. It’ll be hard to find a private room for less than US$50 a night.

Caye Caulker Accommodations

I was quite pleased with the only place I stayed in in Caye Caulker.

Caye Caulker Beach Hotel

Booking.com | Agoda

COST: US$50

This hotel had the cheapest available private rooms on the island. They were centrally located, clean, comfortable, and quiet. After fighting for hot water in Guatemala, I was happy to have it here. The decent water pressure was an added bonus. WiFi was better than anything I experienced in Guatemala or Belize. There was a terrific rooftop terrace where you could watch the sunrise and sunset, work on your laptop, or just hang out.

hotel room with white bedpread
toilet and shower in bathroom
4 lounge chairs on rooftop of hotel

San Pedro Accommodations

Prices for hotels in San Pedro are about the same as in Caye Caulker.

Sandbar Hostel

Booking.com | Agoda

COST: US$15 for dorm | US$50 – $60 for a private room

One of the cheapest places to stay on the island is Sandbar Hostel. They have both dorms and private rooms. The hotel is located about 10 minutes by foot from the Water Taxi port and is located right on the beach. They have a restaurant that serves really good food and a small pool. It’s not a bad place. The dorm beds and bathrooms are just ok. WiFi is unreliable.

a dock goin out into the ocean with sunrise in the background

Drift Inn

Booking.com | Agoda

COST: US$57

Drift Inn is right next to Sandbar Hostel. It has dorm rooms and private rooms. It’s one of the cheaper places to stay in San Pedro. It’s not bad. WiFi is spotty.

San Ignacio Accommodations

Yellow Belly Backpacker Hostel

Booking.com | Agoda

COST: US$32 – $35 for private room

I rather liked Yellow Belly despite its ridiculous name. They have decently priced private rooms as well as dorms. There’s a huge, very well-stocked kitchen and a nice social area that’s quiet and comfortable enough to work in. Bathrooms are shared. WiFi is spotty.

Is it safe to travel alone in Guatemala and Belize?

I traveled around Guatemala for almost 3 months and Belize for a month. In Guatemala I felt safe walking around in the tourist destinations alone during the daytime; however, I was told repeatedly not to hike alone, not to walk alone at night, and to only take trusted taxis or tuk-tuks. Therefore, I did find it more restrictive than other places that I’ve traveled to.

In Belize, I felt completely safe in tourist destinations during the day and in the evening.

Conclusion

The whole process was quick and painless. I highly recommend doing it on your own. You don’t need to book a shuttle. Overall, it cost me the following:

  • US$60 – COVID test
  • US$3.50 – taxi to the border
  • US$20 – exit fee for Belize
  • US$5.19 – colectivo

Transportation comes to US$8.69.

With the COVID test and exit fee, it’s US$88.69.

I also have a description of how to cross the land border from Guatemala to Belize.

PRO TIP: No one likes to think about insurance, but accidents do happen. I highly recommend getting World Nomads. This is what I’ve used for short-term travel. When  I quit my job to travel around the world, I switched to Safety Wings. They’re very affordable (less than US$100 a month depending on age) especially for those of us who are over 40 years old. They now cover COVID19.

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Practical Tips on traveling in Guatemala and Belize
Practical tips for traveling in Guatemala and Belize

Lookin’ for more info on traveling in Latin America?

11 Comments

  1. When crossing from Belize to Guatemala wait until you reach the Guatemalan side to change money.

    There is usually a whole bunch of people offering to change and you can get a rate of around 3.70 GTQ to 1 BZ$

    Reply
    • Sorry also meant to say that this is a great article and very helpful thanks.

      Reply
      • Thanks! I’m glad you found it helpful!

        Reply
    • Thanks for the info! It’s really good to know.

      Reply
  2. Are the exit fee’s per person? We are traveling with our family with young children also.

    Reply
    • I think it’s per person.

      Reply
  3. Thanks. Referenced your blog crossing border from Belize to Guatemala two weeks ago. Update. Covid test no longer required to enter Belize. Also cost for shared taxi from San Ignacio to border is 5 Belize dollars. Wait at bus station for taxi with ‘BOZ’ license plate. Only had to wait fifteen minutes on a Saturday morning.

    Reply
    • *Covid test no longer required to enter Guatemala

      Reply
      • Yep, I had updated my post last week.

        Reply
    • Thanks for the info, Chris! I’ll add it to my blog. Much appreciated.

      Reply
  4. Wow good may good bless you for doing this I need your help bro

    Reply

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Welcome to The Bamboo Traveler, a travel & digital nomad blog, dedicated to helping women over 40 travel the world safely, cheaply, and comfortably. Whether you’re going for a one, two- or three-week vacation, exploring the world as a digital nomad, or staying home and discovering the world from the comfort and safety of your home, you’ll find loads of information to help inspire and inform you in your wanderings.

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