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Border Crossing (Mexico to Belize): Chetumal-Santa Elena


We wrote these instructions for the benefit of other overlanders entering Belize via Chetumal, Mexico. This crossing was very smooth and easy to navigate, largely due to the English-speaking staff at the border.


Port of entry: Chetumal-Santa Elena
Date of crossing: May 1, 2015
Time of arrival on Mexican side: 9:30 am
Time of departure from Belize side: 10:45 am
Total time to cross border and buy vehicle insurance: 1.25 hrs

What you need:
– passports
– receipt showing payment of Mexican Immigration Service fee (332 pesos per person, paid when you entered Mexico)
– receipt showing payment of Mexican Vehicle Importation Permit (200-400 USD, depending on your vehicle)
– Mexican Vehicle Importation papers
– Vehicle title/registration papers (from your home country)
– 5 USD or 10 BZD to pay for fumigation
– 60 USD or credit card to pay for Belize vehicle insurance


Mexican side of border: Chetumal

When entering from the Mexican side of the border:
– The immigration booth is on the right hand side of the border crossing complex.
– The Banjercito building is on the left side.

NOTE: When we arrived, the immigration officer instructed us to first go to the Banjercito. That’s where we could get our refund for the vehicle importation deposit that we paid when we entered Mexico.

1. Banjercito

1a. Cancel Vehicle Importation Permit and get refund for vehicle importation deposit
– Give your vehicle importation papers to the Banjercito clerk.
– Banjercito clerk compares the VIN number on your vehicle, takes photos of the VIN, and takes your vehicle permit sticker off the windshield.
– Banjercito clerk gives you vehicle importation cancellation papers and a receipt showing your refund for the vehicle importation fee.

NOTE: If you paid your vehicle importation fee by credit card when you entered Mexico, the money will go back onto your credit card in about 3 working days.

1b. Present payment of Immigration Service Fee
– Give the Banjercito clerk your receipt for the Immigration Service fee of 332 pesos per person (you would have paid this fee when you entered Mexico).

2. Immigration
– Immigration officer stamps your passport.
– Once the passport is stamped, drive over the bridge from Mexico into Belize.


Belize side of border: Santa Elena

The border crossing complex on the Belize side was under construction when we entered, so some instructions may be inaccurate by the time you read this.

1. Immigration

– Park your vehicle at the marked parking lot for the Immigration building.

NOTE: When you enter the immigration building you will see a tourist information booth. Pick up the tourist map and guidebook – they are very helpful. It also makes for interesting reading as you wait in the immigration line.

– Present your passport to the immigration officer. The immigration officer asks questions such as: What you do for a living? How long you will stay in Belize? Where are you going in Belize? Best to mention some key cities you will visit, so research these in advance.
– Immigration officer stamps your passport with a 30-day Tourist Permit.

2. Customs (in same building as Immigration)
– Present your passport and vehicle title/registration papers.
– Customs officer will ask questions like: What do you do for a living? How long will you stay in Belize? Where are you going in Belize?
– Customs officer will give you a 30-day Vehicle Importation Permit.
– Customs officer inspects the vehicle and verifies your VIN number.

NOTE: You can apply for a maximum of three 30-day extensions on your Vehicle Importation Permit. This can be done at any customs office (in Belize City, Placencia, Punta Gorda, and San Ignacio). However, BEFORE extending your Vehicle Importation Permit, you must FIRST extend the 30-day Tourist Permit on your passport. This can be done at an immigration office. You must renew at least ONE DAY BEFORE the expiry date of your Vehicle Importation Permit and Tourist Permit.

3. Fumigation

NOTE: Normally, you would get your vehicle fumigated before entering immigration. Due to the construction, there was no signage to direct us. The Customs officer instructed us to go backwards into the ‘Free Zone’ to get to the fumigation building.

– Pay 5 USD/10 BZD to get your vehicle fumigated. You will get a fumigation receipt.

4. Customs checkpoint
– Present passport, Vehicle Importation Permit, and fumigation receipt to the customs officer.

5. Insurance Corporation of Belize
– Drive to the big white building marked “Insurance Corporation of Belize”, located just outside of the border crossing (on right hand side).
– Pay the insurance clerk 60 BZD for 30-day vehicle insurance. You can pay by credit card.
– Insurance clerk gives you vehicle insurance papers and an insurance sticker.
– Place insurance sticker on the driver side corner of your windshield.

You’re done! You can stock up on groceries at Corozal, which is a short drive away.

6 thoughts on “Border Crossing (Mexico to Belize): Chetumal-Santa Elena

  1. Melvin

    Very informative but lacking the humour and colour of all the other posts. You are losing your touch Janice. I’m glad you guys made it through without any major problems.

    1. Janice Post author

      Yeah, I had my ‘technical writer’ hat on for this one. Don’t worry, more stories to come!

    1. Janice Post author

      A guy in a jumpsuit and a heavy duty haz-mat mask sprayed Lucky’s undercarriage and wheels with some sort of liquid chemical. We were able to drive out right after we paid. Perhaps they should have fumigated inside the vehicle because Gregor is a pest 🙂

      1. gesine kovac

        I’m with you on that one janice. A very big pest!! lol, but what would we do without him? really enjoying the blog, always look forward to the next one. Hoping to meet up with you guys sometime in the future! Thinking of you guys all the time, miss you both alot, but very glad you are doing this. Life is too short for “what if” you are both following your dream, kudos to you!!
        Love you guys, Gesine.

        1. Janice Post author

          Love you guys, too! We’re sorry that the timing didn’t work out for Belize, but the locals are saying that rainy season (June, July, August) is not the best time for vacation here. We’ll just have to meet up somewhere else 🙂