Belize - Business TravelBelize - Business Travel
Foreign businesspeople should not expect to find their Belizean counterparts in suit and tie, but rather business casual for the conduct of official business. Appointments are preferred and punctuality is encouraged and appreciated in business settings. For more information on visiting Belize, its customs, attire, recreational activities, and maps, please visit www.travelbelize.org.
Detailed and updated travel information on Belize is available through the U.S. Department of State Consular Information Sheet at https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/belize.html.
All U.S. citizens must have a U.S. passport valid for the duration of their visit to Belize. U.S. citizens do not need visas for tourist visits of up to thirty days, but they must have onward or return air tickets and proof of sufficient funds to maintain themselves while in Belize.
Visitors for purposes other than tourism, or who wish to stay longer than 30 days, must obtain visas from the Government of Belize. For a list of fees applicable during visits, please go to the following link: http://www.travelbelize.org
U.S. Companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States are advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process. Visa applicants should go to the following link(s): State Department Visa Website.
The Belize dollar is pegged at $2 Belize = $1 USD. The U.S. dollar is readily accepted at most places of business. Traveler's checks and credit card payments are also accepted but often require valid identification to be presented. ATMs are also available across the country to facilitate cash transactions.
The telecommunications service providers in Belize charge some of the highest rates in the region. Land line telephone and internet service is relatively good. Voices over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services are available as well. However, the cost of internet in Belize is higher than other Caribbean nations.
Cellular phone service is limited primarily to urban areas. Poor reception can be experienced travelling through the hills on the Hummingbird and Southern highways, as well as through heavily forested and rural areas. Mobile internet is available on cellular phones. In addition, several hotels offer free wireless internet, while others charge a fee.
The voltage in Belize is 110 V and the plugs used are B or G.
International air transportation connections are relatively good between the United States and Belize City, with direct flights to Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, El Salvador, Houston, Newark, and Florida. Since late 2015, Southwest airlines and Copa commenced direct flights to Belize from Houston, Fort Lauderdale, and Panama respectively. AeroMexico opened a direct route to Mexico City in 2018.
Marine ports in Belize City and Big Creek in southern Belize handle regularly scheduled commercial cargo from the United States and the UK. The Belize City port suffers from inefficiencies such as having only one berth and frequent tension with stevedores and others. There are two private cruise ship port facilities, one in Belize City and another on Harvest Caye in Southern Belize. For additional details, please see “Distribution and Sales Channels” above.
Traveling by road in Belize can be challenging. Belize’s highways are two-lane paved roads, many with no shoulder but with pedestrian and bicycle traffic and unmarked speed bumps. Most lack adequate markings or reflectors. Even in urban areas, few streets have lane markings, leading many motorists to create as many lanes as possible in any given stretch of road. Portions of the country’s highways become very slick when wet. Reducing travelling speed during these conditions is highly recommended. There are five major highways in Belize (Philip Goldson Highway, George Price Highway, Hummingbird Highway, Southern Highway, and Coastal Highway) and a total of 4,515 km of roads, of which only 791 km are paved. Road and infrastructure improvements are currently a national priority with several major road construction, expansion, and safety projects underway.
Pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicles without functioning lights can pose an increased risk of driving at night. Belize is currently implementing a Road Safety Project that will improve inter alia, road safety infrastructure; accident emergency services; road safety enforcement in the municipalities and on the highways; public education and awareness.
The least expensive way to get around in Belize is by public transportation, which is still relatively expensive for the region. Buses and vans are in poor condition, lack safety equipment, and are often slow. There are, however, several auto rental firms, including American franchises, such as Avis, Budget, Hertz, and Thrifty. Traditional taxis are available, and there are no trains, ride sharing or Uber services.
Belize has inexpensive water taxis that travel between the mainland and all major island tourist destinations. There are two major commercial domestic air transportation providers that fly within Belize, one of which also offers flights to destinations in neighboring countries.
The official language is English and is widely spoken. Spanish is the second most common language in Belize. Locals often speak in Belizean Kriol, which is derived from the English language.
Medical care for minor conditions is generally available in urban areas. Trauma care or advanced medical care is limited, even in Belize City; it is extremely limited or unavailable in rural areas. Emergency services, such as ambulances, are seriously limited, even in urban areas. Serious injuries or illnesses often necessitate evacuation to another country. Americans are urged to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling to Belize to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses, such as a medical evacuation. Tourists are strongly encouraged to obtain medical insurance that would pay for medical treatment and medical evacuation before traveling to Belize.
Caution should, of course be exercised, but in general, Belize is safe for travelers in terms of general pollution and hygiene—for example most water is potable, air is free of pollution except for a few weeks in spring when crops and brush are burned to clear land.
While in Belize, tourists are cautioned to being vulnerable to vector borne diseases including dengue, chikungunya, and Zika. While the risk of malaria is low in Belize; travelers to certain areas are at higher risk and may need to take extra precautions. They are also advised to be up to date with routine vaccinations such as measeles, mumps, rubella, and to get travel vaccinations for diseases such as hepatitis A and typhoid. The country suffers from the highest rate of HIV infection in Central America. For further information please see the Center for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov.
Local Time, Business Hours and Holidays
Belize’s Standard Time is six hours behind UTC/GMT and Daylight Saving Time is not used.
Normal business hours for the private sector are from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon and from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Government offices follow the same schedule except on Fridays, when they close at 4:30 p.m. The one-hour lunch hour is stringently adhered to, but lunch meetings at restaurants are common.
Belize’s holidays for 2019 are:
January 1 New Year's Day
March 11 National Heroes and Benefactors Day (in lieu of Saturday, March 9)
April 19 Good Friday
April 20 Holy Saturday
April 22 Easter Monday
May 1 Labor Day
May 27 Sovereign’s Day/ Commonwealth Day (in lieu of Friday, May 24)
September 10 St. George’s Caye Day (National Day)
September 23 Independence Day (in lieu of Saturday, September 21)
October 14 Pan American Day(in lieu of Saturday, October 12)
November 19 Garifuna Settlement Day
December 25 Christmas Day
December 26 Boxing Day
Temporary Entry of Materials or Personal Belongings
The Belize Customs Department allows temporary entry of certain items into Belize, providing that the items are not modified or transformed while in Belize. Businesspeople traveling with items such as laptop computers and exhibit materials generally do not have any difficulty in getting a temporary permit to bring these items into the country. For details visit www.customs.gov.bz.
Travel Related Web Resources
- Belize Tourism Board – Travel Guide: www.travelbelize.org
State Department Visa Website: http://travel.state.gov/visa/a_zindex/a_zindex_2911.html
State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1055.html
United States Embassy – Belize: https://bz.usembassy.gov
Belize Customs and Excise Department: www.customs.gov.bz
Center for Disease Control: www.cdc.gov
Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.
Belize Trade Development and Promotion Business Travel and Etiquette