Everything you need to know about the Mexico/Belize border
If you’re traveling overland from Mexico to Belize, you may wish to make not of the following process at the border. Be one step ahead and note down what you’ll need to have ready and the potential scams you may encounter.
After almost a month in Mexico, we took the ADO bus from Tulum to Belize City and here’s what happened at the border.
The Mexico/Belize Border Step By Step
1) The vehicle you are using to travel across the border will stop at the first part of the border crossing on the Mexico side and the driver will advise passengers to get off the bus and bring their passports with them.
2) Everybody on the bus will form a queue to get into the Customs office. Our advice here is go as far back in the line as you can, you will see why in the next few steps.
3) There will be a member of staff at the entrance to the customs office who will ask how many people are together and the Officer will then let you or your group in together. We met some people at our hostel that were also traveling to Belize and we decided to go in together as a group of four, strength in numbers.
4) The Customs Officer will be sitting at a desk inside the small ‘office’. They will ask for your passports as a group.
5) Now you’ll likely experience the Mexican exit tax scam. After a few seconds, the border officer(s) will likely and tell you you have to pay $25USD per person which is an ‘Exit tax’.
As a backpacker, you may have heard of this tax scam from other travelers.
DO NOT PAY THIS TAX IF….
a) You entered Mexico on a commercial airline and your flight itinerary includes a ‘Mexico Tourism Tax’ or similar wording (usually around $10 USD per person)
b) You entered Mexico over land and have paid tax at the border,
Keep all evidence (receipts, flight emails) as you will need to show this to the staff to back up your refusal to pay anymore.
We entered Cancun with United Airlines and the tourism tax was clearly visible on our email receipt. Despite this, the Mexican government still tried to recover this from us again. We had no Mexican money left and they only take cash in the border office.
This is a well known scam that stings most people traveling through to Central America and you may have to point blank refuse or argue against paying it. We told them we had already paid the exit tax with our commercial airline and still they demanded the $25per person.
As stubborn (and brave) as we are, we refused. Lucky for us we were one of the last groups to be seen and it was 4am so the officer gave in and handed our passports back. We didn’t have to pay.
They said they would not give us an exit stamp from Mexico in our passport so we may be refused entry into Belize. We took our chances and proceeded out of the office with an accomplished smile.
Stand your ground and tell them you are not paying. We walked away just as we went in. Everybody else on the bus paid the fee as they didn’t know it was a scam. Be bold and brave.
The officer told other passengers who pretended they had no money that they had to ask someone off the bus if they could lend it until they got to Belize and if they didn’t they wouldn’t get an entrance stamp into Belize on the other side of the border. This is also fiction. We didn’t get an exit stamp from Mexico and we were allowed into Belize without any issue.
5) You will go back on the bus and the driver will drive down a road for around 5-10minutes until you reach the Belize side of the border where you will need to take your bags off the bus and join another line to get the Belize stamp in your passport. You will be given a customs form to complete before you show your passport.
6) The Belize customs officers will probably ask a few questions that is typical at any border, “How long are you staying in Beliize?”, “Where are you staying?”, “What hostel?”, “Where are you going next?”, so have your answers prepared.
7) You will get a Belize entrance stamp in your passport, be sure to read the date you are expected to leave and if it’s not clear, ask the officer for clarification. (Note, visitors are normally only granted 2 weeks in Belize).
8) You will be directed to another member of staff who looks like they are going to search and/or scan your bags. We didn’t have our bags looked at, we carried them through and were asked a series of questions such as “do you have any food”, “dairy products, meats?”, “any money over $10,000 USD?”. These are questions usually on the customs form.
9) If you don’t have any of the items, or if the customs staff are not suspicious of anything, you will be allowed through where you will then leave the building and walk back around to your bus.
10) You are now cleared for access to Belize.
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