Getting through customs can be a hassle, but in Belize, travelers are subject to relatively few importation regulations.
As visitors enter Belize, they must declare plants, fruits, vegetables, meats, live animals, arms and ammunitions, and more than BZ$10,000 or its equivalent in other currencies, approximately $5,000(USD). All of these items are subject to inspection by customs officials upon arrival. Customs hours at the airport are 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., every day of the week including holidays, but emergency inspections can be arranged. If you are traveling across the border, and avoiding air travel, know that Border Offices are open 24 hours a day, but commercial items may only be inspected and cleared between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Sales tax for most items imported into Belize is nine percent, although alcohol, tobacco, petroleum, yachts, jewelry, perfume, large fans, cosmetics, stoves and refrigerators over 15 cubic feet, and vehicles over four cylinders are subject to a 15 percent sales tax.
The following items are exempt from duties and taxes:
Visitors may claim these items no more than twice a year through the airport, and no more than once a month through other entry points.
To avoid paying duty on the foreign-made high-ticket items tht you already own and will take on your trip to Belize, register them with customs before you leave the country. Consider filing a certificate of registration for items such as laptops, cameras, watches, and other digital devices identified with serial numbers or other permanent markings; you can keep the certificate for other trips. Otherwise, bring with you a sales receipt or insurance form to show that you owned the item before you left the United States.
Travelers shopping in Belize should keep in mind these tips for getting through customs:
Keep receipts for all items you buy in Belize;
If you have any questions or complaints about your customs experience, write to the port director at your point of re-entry;
Upon departing, keep your purchases in an easily accessible spot in case your home country's customs officials request an inspection.
The following additional reentry rules apply for United States citizens:
You may bring back to the United States up to one liter of alcohol (if you are 21 or older) or perfume containing alcohol, up to 200 cigarettes, and up to 100 non-Cuban cigars. If you stay fewer than 48 hours, you may bring home up to 150 ml of alcohol, 50 cigarettes, and 10 non-Cuban cigars;
You may send packages home duty-free, with a limit of one parcel per addressee per day, with the exception of alcohol or tobacco products, or perfume worth more than $5 (USD);
You may bring home original works of art such as paintings, drawings, and sculptures, and antiques (officially defined as objects more than 100 years old) duty-free;
You can mail up to $200(USD) worth of goods home to the United States for personal use; be sure to write "PERSONAL USE" on the parcel and attach a list of its contents and their retail value;
You may send up to $100(USD) worth of goods as a gift ($200 from the USVI) to someone in the United States provided you write "UNSOLICITED GIFT" on the package;
If you send home a parcel containing personal belongings that have been used, write "AMERICAN GOODS RETURNED" on the package to avoid a duty fee.
Mailed items do not affect your duty-free allowance upon your return.
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
|United Kingdom||HM Customs & Excise
|Canada||Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
|Australia||Australian Customs Service
|New Zealand||New Zealand Customs Service
Note 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.
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