Welcome to Belize! Belize has a small but active international airport, officially known as the Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport. All international flights to Belize arrive here. It’s about the size of a typical regional airport in the US. There is only one runway at the airport, and one arrival and departure terminal. About 75% of all the overnight visitors to the country will come through this airport, according to the Belize Tourism Board.
The Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport is located near the village of Ladyville, about 10 miles north of Belize City. It’s the only airport (in the country), with a runway long enough to accommodate large aircraft. It's important to note, that you are NOT landing in Belize City, which means you may need ground transportation if you need to get to Belize City to catch a water taxi.
There are several other small airstrips scattered throughout the country, designed to service small commuter aircrafts (aka puddle jumpers). Each major destination in Belize, has a small aircraft airstrip, to include: Belize City, San Pedro, Caye Caulker, Placencia, Dangriga, San Ignacio, and the capital Belmopan.
Airlines servicing Belize as of May of 2019 are: Air Canada | American Airlines | Aero Mexico | Avianca | Copa Airlines | Delta | Maya Island Air | Southwest Airlines | Sun Country Airlines Tropic Air | United Airlines | WestJet
About an hour prior to landing, the stewardess will be handing out immigration documents for your to fill out. Be sure to have your passport and a pen ready. You will receive two forms, one for each person and one for each head of the family. You will need your passport handy to complete these forms.
Tip: About an hour before landings, have your pen and passport handy, so you can fill out Belize immigration and custom forms.
ENTRANCE REQUIREMENTS A passport is required to enter into the country of Belize. A 30 day visitors permit will be issued to you upon arrival. Citizens of the British Commonwealth (India excepted), the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the European community, or U.S. dependency visitors do not require visas for travel to Belize. All other citizens contact the nearest Belizean Consulate or Embassy for more information.
A visa is required to be issued before arrival for citizens of China, Columbia, Cuba, India, Libya, Pakistan, Peru, South Africa, and Taiwan. For the non-US citizens, please contact the nearest consulate or embassy of the country to which you are traveling to determine your entry/visa requirements.
If your passport expires in 6 months, you need to renew it prior to leaving your home country. Citizens of some other countries are also required to obtain a visa. All visitors need (in addition to a passport) an onward or round-trip ticket in order to enter Belize, unless you are a resident or Belizean citizen. A visitor's permit will be stamped into your passport at your point of entry, for a stay up to 30 days.
If your visit exceeds 1 month, you will need to obtain an extended stay permit from the immigration authorities in Belize. AIDS test required for those staying more than 3 months; US test accepted if within 3 months of visit. For longer stays and other information, contact the Embassy of Belize, 2535 Massachusetts Avenue., NW, Washington, DC 20008 (202-332-9636) or the Belize Mission in New York at (212-599-0233). For information regarding visas in Belize call 011-501-822-2423. The immigration office for San Pedro, is located above Scotia Bank across from Tropic Air.
All visitors need to enter Belize, with a passport and an onward or round trip ticket.
ARRIVING AT BELIZE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT Enjoy the view out your window (from above), as your pilot makes his descent into the Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport. You’ll get a glimpse of the coast, nearby mangrove swamps, patches of rainforest, a river, and private property. You might even be able to get a glimpse of Belize City and spot some cruise ships in the distance. Once you cross the Belize River, brace yourself as it's going to be a hard and fast landing.
The runway is small by most standards, even with the recent extension. For that reason, your airplane will land and immediately turn on the reverse thrust and brakes. You definitely want to have your seatbelts on!
Airport WIFI is free and is available throughout the airport terminals. Use the "PGIA Courtest WIFI" network to connect. There is no password necessary.
DEPLANING AT BELIZE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT There are no jetway bridges at the Belize airport. Rather, you'll be asked to deplane using a motorized staircase. Sometimes, they will open the front and rear doors for deplaning. This is not always guaranteed, but sometimes if you’re at the back of the plane you’ll end up getting out first.
The crew on the ground will guide you along a pathway to the doors to enter the arrivals terminal. It will be to the far right of the building. Be sure to have your passports and documents ready for Immigration. You can’t get lost, everything is literally in one large room.
Tip: At the very end of the hallway when you enter the building, there is an office for the Belize Tourism Board. You can pick up some free maps, brochures, and travel guides.
HOW TO GET THROUGH IMMIGRATION Your first stop is the immigration check. Make sure you’ve filled out all your paperwork before you get off the plane. This is an easy process, but if you end up at the back of the line, it will take a while, especially if multiple flights just arrived.
Try to get in line as quick as possible, especially if you need to catch a puddle jumper flight or a ground shuttle. If you’re a visitor to Belize, you will want to get into the two lines in the middle and to the left. If you are a Belizean citizen (arriving back into the country), then you will get in the line to the right. This is typically the shorter line. As immigration finishes processing documents for Belizean citizens, they will open up the line to the right and accept the remaining visitors.
Tip: Bring a pen with you to fill out your paperwork on the plane.
HOW TO COLLECT YOUR BAGS AT BAGGAGE CLAIM If you have checked luggage, the baggage claim is immediately in front of you as soon as you are done with the immigration check. There are only two baggage carousels, so you'll need to pay attention because it can get confusing if multiple flights arrive at the same time. This is probably where you’ll have the longest wait.
Grab a free luggage cart if you have lots of luggage and keep an eye on both carousels. Also, if you were in the back of the immigration line, your luggage may have already been removed from the carousel. Look through the pile of luggage either in the middle of along the right-side wall.
While you wait for your luggage (if you're not in a rush), check out the duty-free stores on the left of the luggage carousels. These make for great last-minute gifts if you’re visiting friends or family in Belize. When it comes time to leave, wait and buy your duty-free items then to take back home. There are more duty-free stores in the departure terminal.
HOW TO GET THROUGH CUSTOMS INSPECTION All those entering into Belize must proceed through customs and provide the proper documentation to the customs officers, whose job it to inspect the luggage and collect the necessary tax or import duty. Once you've collected all your luggage, follow the directions of airport personnel, they are going to ask you to stand in one of two lines.
LINE TO THE LEFT - If you have something to declare The first line is for those with something to declare, this is typically for Belizean citizens returning from vacation who have purposed goods from abroad.
LINE TO THE RIGHT - If you have nothing to declare The line to the rights, is for those who have nothing to declare or who have purchased duty-free items. Most tourists arriving to Belize, will get into the line to the right with nothing to declare. Sometimes this line is not always open.
There are restrictions on the quantity of cash, liquor and cigarettes that may be brought into Belize per person. Of particular note is the restriction of bringing drones into Belize, these must have a special permit from the Civil Aviation Department or are otherwise not allowed to be brought into the country.
If you are importing any goods, such as gifts or commercial merchandise that you will leave in the country, then you DO have something to declare. In that case, you may be assessed a small tariff (typically 35% of the value of the item you are declaring). You pay this tariff at the cashier window just as you exit the room. Make sure you have cash on hand if you expect to pay any customs tariffs and taxes on goods you are importing.
Note: Drones are not allowed in Belize without a special permit. If you bring your Drone, make sure you’ve done some research first and have the permits ready. If not, they may confiscate it and return it when you depart.
How long is the process? The entire process from deplaning to clearing customs and immigration can take up to (1) hour on busy days, and as quick as (25) minutes on slow days. (40) minutes is about average for airport processing, but we suggest giving yourself one hour to catch a connecting flight or ground transportation.
BAGGAGE PORTERS - After you have cleared customs, a baggage porter will begin to assist you with your bags. He will help take your bags from customs, to either a taxi, a rental car, or to the connecting flight (check in desk), if you are going to Ambergris Caye. These baggage porters, typically charge $2.00 bzd (or) $1.00 usd per bag for their service. If you don't want to pay this fee, simply motion to the gentlemen that you will take care of your own bags. Bear in mind, that many of these men, support their families on the income that they make working at the airport.
FOLLOWING ITEMS ARE EXEMPT FROM DUTIES & TAXES
The following items are exempt from duties and taxes:
Clothing, jewelry, and toiletries that are for personal use during your stay in Belize;
Wines or spirits not exceeding one liter in total;
Tobacco, not exceeding 250 grams or less than 50 cigars, or less than 200 cigarettes;
Goods less than $200BZ through the airport and $50BZ elsewhere that belong to the visitor and are for personal use, such as gifts or souvenirs.
CONNECTING FLIGHTS - To Ambergris Caye After clearing customs inspection, go STRAIGHT THROUGH the double doors, which will take you into the room shown in the above picture. Do NOT exit the building. You only exit the building if you are going to take a taxi-shuttle, rent a car, or have a friend pick you up.
If a baggage porter is assisting you with your bags, simply tell him which airlines you are traveling on to the island and he will get you to the appropriate check-in desk. If you are handling your bags yourself, simply ask questions of airport personnel and they can direct you to where you need to go.
Don’t worry if you are too early or too late. You can always ask them to put you on the next flight out as long as seats are available. This happens often, and they have flights about every 30 minutes.
You will need to clear security inspection to get to the departure lounge, so if you bought anything in duty-free, you should put it in your checked luggage first. From here you will go back into the departure lounge (shown below) and proceed to your gate.
When you board your puddle jumper, try to be first in line and ask if you can sit in the co-pilot's seat. It will make your trip to the island, a little more exciting and interesting.
Flying to Ambergris Caye takes about 15-20 minutes
WAITING FOR SOMEONE AT THE AIRPORT? Sometimes you’ll have to wait at the airport because your ride is delayed, or you’re meeting others arriving on a later flight. What can you do while you wait? Unfortunately, there’s not much to do while you wait at the airport. You may want to step back into the main terminal building if it gets too hot outside. The building has air conditioning, and there are waiting chairs inside. Restrooms are available on the main level (to the far right at the end of the room), and upstairs beside the Global Spice restaurant.
There’s a restaurant and bar upstairs if you want to grab some food or drinks while you wait. Beware, the prices are a bit hefty for food and drinks, but it's a comfortable place to wait. If you want to try some good and cheap local food, you can venture behind the main parking lot outside. To the far left across the street, you will see some tents and local food vendors.
DO YOU NEED AN AIRPORT TAXI? Remember the Belize International Airport is in Ladyville, not Belize City. So if you need to be in Belize City, you will need to take a taxi. If you are connecting to the water taxi, to get to the island, you will need a taxi.
Walk to your left as soon as you exit the building and pass the crowds of people. There you will see a line up of taxi cabs waiting to assist. If you're not sure who to ask, no worries. It won’t be long before a taxi driver will approach you. These taxis belong to the Ladyville Taxi Association.
A taxi ride starts at $25 USD for two passengers and an additional fee for each additional passenger. All taxi's have a green license plate. Do not accept a ride for anyone who does not have a green license plate. State your destination and ask for the fare amount before you get in. Don’t fall for the tourist tax. There are no meters, just standard fares.
DO YOU NEED TO RENT A CAR? As soon as you exit the arrivals terminal, walk straight across to the adjacent parking lot. You will see the Rentals Services building straight ahead. This is where all the rental car offices are located.
You can find the following rental agencies in this building: A Class Auto Rental | AQ Car Rental | Avis | Budget | Crystal Auto Rental | Hertz | Jabiru Auto Rental | JMA Budget Rentals | National | Pancho’s Auto Rental | Thrifty | Tour Auto Belize | Vista Auto Rental.
Some rental companies offer free use of their phone if you need to contact your hotel that you are on the way. This is useful if you’ve had some delays in traveling.
IF YOU'RE TAKING A BOAT TO AMBERGRIS CAYE If you're taking the boat to Ambergris Caye, tell the taxi driver you want to go to the San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi. Ask how much will the fare be for him to take you there? It's about a 20 minute drive from the airport to the water taxi terminal. At the water taxi terminal, you will be asked to check your bags, and purchase a boat ticket. We recommend purchasing a one way ticket. Then when you are ready to leave Belize, purchase another one way ticket back to the mainland. To often guests will purchase a round trip ticket and then lose their ticket stub, at some point during their vacation.
If we know when you are arriving in Belize, we can arrange to have a taxi driver be at the airport to pick you up.
Taking the boat to Ambergris Caye, takes about 1-1/2 hours
Since customs regulations are subject to change from time to time, it is best to check with your country's specific entry requirements before leaving, and keep your knowledge current using the following contact information:
United States U.S. Customs Service 1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, DC 20229 877-227-5511 http://www.cbp.gov
New Zealand Customs Service 04-473-6099 http://www.customs.govt.nzNote that Belize has made it illegal to leave the country with any pre-Colombian artifacts. It is best not to purchase any artifacts because you will not be allowed to remove them from Belize.
With these tips in mind, making your way through customs will be made much easier. Remember that customs officials are just there to do their job and keep the border safe, so it is best to be respectful of their decisions with regards to which items may enter and exit the country with you.