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

by | Apr 4, 2022 | Belize, Guatemala, Travel

Looking for the most up-to-date info on getting from Guatemala to Belize in 2022? In this blog post, I’m going to describe how I got to Belize from Guatemala by land in 2022. I will also include the latest changes to Belize’s entry requirements. By the end of the post, you’ll know whether you need a vaccine, a COVID test, or both, where to buy your shuttle van ticket in Flores, where to cross, how much it’ll cost you to get to Belize, and how to get to Caye Caulker.

route from Guatemala to Belize, Caye Caulker

There is a really good travel agency in Flores called Getaway Travels that will go above and beyond what other agencies are willing to do. They’ll provide you with all the forms you need ahead of time so that you’re not scrambling at the border trying to fill out pages upon pages of forms.

For the latest information on entry requirements and regulations for Belize, check the Belize Tourism Board website.

For info on doing the route in the opposite direction, you can read my article on how to do the land border crossing from Belize to Guatemala by yourself.

If you’re planning on traveling further in Central America, I have a guide for crossing the border from Honduras to El Salvador. I did it for only US$12.

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What are the COVID requirements for entering Belize

As of April 5, 2022, Belize entry requirements have changed again. They change often so double check on their website as well as here and here. Here is the latest information:

Belize Tourism Board Entry Requirements

What are the COVID vaccine and testing requirements for Belize?

As of March 1, 2022, if you ARE fully vaccinated and can show proof, you do NOT need to take a COVID test at the border.

However, if you are NOT fully vaccinated and CAN NOT show proof, you must show proof of a negative PCR result taken within 72 hours of arrival or a negative Antigen Rapid test taken within 48 hours of arrival.

A test can be administered by the Ministry responsible for health at the border.

The test costs BZN$100 (US$50) and must be paid in cash. They accept only Belizean or American dollars.

I crossed when EVERYONE had to take the test. Let me just say that the person taking the COVID test at the border barely shoved that swab up my nose. I’d be surprised if anyone ever tests positive at this border crossing.  If you do, though, the agency where I bought my shuttle ticket told me that you’re then taken to a Guatemalan government facility and then sent back to Flores and quarantined in a hotel at your expense.

Do you need to stay at a Gold Standard Hotel?

According to the Belize Tourism Board website as of April 5, 2022, it is recommended that you stay at a Belize-Tourism- Board-approved hotel.

However, you are no longer required to stay at Gold Standard Hotels.

Buying Quarantine Insurance

The biggest change in Belize’s entry requirements is that as of February 15, 2022, international visitors need to purchase Belize Travel Health Insurance for medical and non-medical expenses in case one tests positive for COVID.

You can sign up for the insurance at this website or visit the Belize Tourism board website and there is a link to the insurance page.

It costs US$18 and you get up to US$50,000 in coverage to cover COVID medical expenses for up to 21 days. You also get up to US$2,000 (max $300/day) in accommodation expenses. It covers air evacuation and emergency assistance even for pre-existing conditions and trip cancelation expenses.

It is recommended that you purchase the insurance prior to your trip. However, you can make the purchase at the border.

The reason, according to Evan Tillet, Chairman of the Belize Tourism Board, is that many times visitors who test positive are unable to pay for their quarantine.

Belizean nationals, permanent residents, travelers with QRP and Long Stay Status, and flight crew do not have to purchase the insurance.

Where Can You Cross Into Belize From Guatemala?

You can only get into Belize from Guatemala at Melchor de Mencos, Guatemala. The city on the Belize side of the border is Benque Viejo del Carmen.

Belize and Guatemala border crossing

What Time does the Belize Border Open?

As of February 15, 2022, the border is open from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm.

Where can you buy your shuttle ticket for Belize?

Many travel agencies in Flores sell shuttle tickets to Belize. I bought mine (shuttle van and water taxi to Caye Caulker) at Getaway Travels in Flores. They were great! They provided me with all the forms that I needed to fill out to enter Belize. No other travel agency in Flores did that for their customers. Therefore, when I got to the Belize border, I had already completed the online form and all 4 paper forms, while my fellow passengers were scrambling to complete them at the border.

Map of Flores

What forms do you need to fill out to enter Belize?

The 4 forms that you need to fill out include a form to take the COVID test, a health form that includes your COVID test results and your health condition, and 2 immigration forms.  

You also need to fill out an online form with all the same information you filled out on your paper forms. Getaway Travels provided the QR code for me.

How much does it cost to get to Belize?

It cost me Q350 (US$70) for the shuttle van to Belize City and then a round-trip San Pedro Belize Water Express Taxi ticket from Belize City to Caye Caulker and back to Belize City.

Including the COVID test of US$50, the total was US$120.

Getting from Flores to the Guatemalan Border

My shuttle left at 6:00 in the morning from in front of the bridge that connects Flores to Santa Elena. It is the same departure point where all the shuttles that go to the ruins and other cities in Guatemala leave from. The travel agencies in Flores usually pick you up from your hotel and bring you to the correct shuttle.

When I got to the shuttle, the driver took my ticket and gave me two water taxi tickets (one ticket to Caye Caulker and one ticket back to Belize City).

Luckily, there was a transport employee on the shuttle that spoke English.  

How long does it take to get to the Guatemalan border?

It took us 2 hours to get to the border town of Melchor de Mencos. Once there and before we got to immigration, the transport employee announced that we needed to have Belizean dollars to pay for our COVID test. Not to worry, though, he said while holding a stack of Belizean dollar bills that he could exchange our Guatemalan money for Belizean money.

I asked him whether it was true that we could use U.S. dollars to pay for the test.

He said, “No.”

He lied.

I did exchange Q400 for BZN$100 even though I had US$50. I’m glad I did because when I got to the water taxi terminal in Belize City, I had local money to buy a coffee and breakfast.

Some people on the shuttle didn’t have cash with them to pay for the COVID test, so the shuttle stopped at an ATM inside a pharmacy. Then they exchanged their money with the liar.

After that, he said that we could use U.S. dollars to pay for the test.

Guatemalan Immigration

When we got to Guatemalan immigration in Melchor de Mencos, we had to take all our stuff out of the shuttle and carry it through immigration because we would be getting into another van after we get through Belize immigration and customs.

Do you need to pay a fee to exit Guatemala?

All I did was hand the immigration officer my passport and she stamped it. I didn’t need to pay any exit fee.

The border between Guatemala and Belize is nothing like the chaos that you see when crossing between Mexico and Guatemala. For Belize, immigration is on a bridge and there are no stores or restaurants or people loitering about at the border. It’s all very official and controlled.

Tikal ruins in Guatemala

Taking a COVID test at the Belize Border

The next step in the process was to get a COVID test (if you are NOT vaccinated).

When I crossed the border, everyone had to take a test.

However, now (April 5, 2022) Belize says that if you are not vaccinated and can’t show proof of vaccination, you need to show proof of a PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival or an Antigen Rapid test within 48 hours of arrival. If you don’t have a test, they still administer them at the border, according to the Belize Tourism Board website.

I’ll still tell you what I had to do in January 2022.

After exiting Guatemalan immigration, I walked for about a minute to a small building like a hut. This was where you take the COVID test.

First, I submitted one of the 4 forms I filled out earlier and the fee for the test (BZN$100 / US$50). I got a receipt.

I took the receipt to another window at the hut. After a Belizean family of 4 took their test, I took mine. As I mentioned earlier, the person giving the test barely stuck the cotton swab up my nose.

Then I went around to the other side of the hut and sat down on one of the very few benches to wait for my test results. I had to wait to get my results until EVERYONE on my shuttle was done filling out their forms and taking their tests.

The other people had to fill out a second form that they got from a man sitting at a desk in front of the immigration building that was very close by.

When the person who gave the tests finished running the tests, she would announce your name and hand you a paper with your results. Mine was negative along with everyone else’s.

I then took my results to the health inspector, who was sitting at a desk outside of immigration. He wrote the results on my form and then signed and stamped it.

Going through Belize Immigration

I then took all my forms with me to the immigration desk. I think there was only one immigration window.

The immigration officer asked me several questions:

  • How long do you plan to stay in Belize? 18 days
  • Why are you going to Belize? tourism
  • Where are you staying in Belize? Caye Caulker Beach Hotel
  • How many days have you booked at your hotel? – one night
  • What is your itinerary? After Caye Caulker, I’m going to Hopkins and Placencia and then San Ignacio and then back to Guatemala (I answered this question confidently and quickly with little detail—I think she was happy with my answer)
  • What is your job? – teacher
  • Where are you going after Belize? Back to Guatemala

I’ve never been asked so many questions before at immigration.

How long did it take at immigration?

It took nearly 2 hours for everyone in the shuttle to go through Guatemalan and Belizean immigration. We were already in the bus by 10:00 am.

green building surrounded by palm trees and a dock going out into the ocean

Going from the Belize Border to Belize City

A new shuttle van was waiting for us at the border.  One couple had arranged for their hotel to pick them up at the border. But the rest of us in the original shuttle got in this new one.

Our shuttle dropped one traveler off in San Ignacio.

On our way to Belize City, the van broke down and we had to wait for a new one to pick us up. However, we didn’t have to wait that long.

How long does it take to get to Belize City from Flores?

We arrived at the San Pedro Belize Water Taxi port at 12:30 pm. That meant we’d be getting the next water taxi at 1:30 pm.

The travel agency had told me that we’d get to Belize City in time to take the 12:00 pm water taxi.

So overall, it took us 6.5 hours to get from Flores to the Belize City port.

How to get from Belize City to Caye Caulker

We got off the shuttle and the people at the port took our bags. They tagged them and gave us a ticket that we needed in order to retrieve our bags when we got to Caye Caulker. Orange luggage tickets go to Caye Caulker, purple ones to San Pedro on Caye Ambergris, and yellow ones back to Belize City. Make sure they put the correct destination tag on your luggage.

ticket office for San Pedro Express Water Taxi

Some people still had to buy their tickets for the water taxi, but most of us already had our tickets. The people who already had their tickets just needed to check in at the ticket office (above photo).

My ticket had the date of December 24 on it. That just meant the date the ticket was purchased.  Water taxi tickets are good for 3 months from the date of purchase.

When you check in, you need to submit your name and your ticket is punched. Hold onto the ticket because you’ll need to hand it in when you enter the boat.

After that many of us went to grab some breakfast at the Last Drop Café at the port. There are a few stores at the port where you can buy snacks, suntan lotion, and souvenirs.

What time does the water taxi depart Belize City for Caye Caulker

  • 8:00 am
  • 10:30 am
  • 12:00 pm
  • 1:30 pm
  • 3:00 pm
  • 4:30 pm
  • 5:30 pm

The same water taxi goes to both Caye Caulker and San Pedro on Caye Ambergris. It takes 1 hour to get to Caye Caulker and another 30 minutes to get to San Pedro.

Everyone lines up in either a Caye Caulker line or a San Pedro line, but we all get on the same boat.

interior of water taxi to Caye Caulker

The boat left at 1:40 pm and arrived an hour later.

How much does the boat cost from Belize City to Caye Caulker

The water taxi ticket from Belize City to Caye Caulker costs BZN$29 (US$15) one way and BZN$41 (US$20) round trip.

San Pedro Express Water Taxi at dock

Ocean Ferry Water Taxi to Caye Caulker and San Pedro

An alternative to the San Pedro Express Water Taxi is the Ocean Ferry Water Taxi. It’s quicker but more expensive than the San Pedro Express. One-way ticket costs BZN$41 (US$20.50) and takes 30 minutes to Caye Caulker and another 15 minutes to San Pedro. Round-trip is BZN$52 (US$26).

It leaves Belize City at 8:00 am, 10:30 am, 12:00 pm, 3:00 pm, and 4:00 pm.

It’s not in the same building as the San Pedro Water Taxi.

Arriving at Caye Caulker

The boat left 15 minutes late and arrived at Caye Caulker one hour later at 2:45 pm.

Before leaving the port at Caye Caulker, pick up your luggage at the small pink building at the beginning of the dock.

Most hotels are within walking distance of the port so you probably don’t need to hire a golf cart.

unpaved street lined with a green building in Caye Caulker

How to get from BELIZE to Guatemala

I wrote an article all about how to cross the land border from Belize to Guatemala.

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.

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 at 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.

bed with white comforter and grey walls
bathroom with toilet and shower
4 lounge chair on rooftop terrace

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 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. I did find it more restrictive than other places that I’ve traveled. In Belize, I felt completely safe in tourist destinations during the day and in the evening.

Conclusion

Overall, I was pretty impressed with the whole experience. It was fairly smooth for me thanks to Getaway Travels and to the people at the San Pedro Express Water Taxi port.

If you’ve traveled from Guatemala to Belize by land, share your experience in the comment section below. For those who are planning to take this route, feel free to ask me questions in the comment section as well.

If you’ve found this post useful, please share it on social media! Thank you!

I also wrote an article on crossing the land border from Belize to Guatemala.

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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Tips for traveling in Guatemala and Belize
Travel Tips for Guatemala and Belize

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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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