Belize to Guatemala: San Ignacio Crossing

1.) Pay Belize exit fee, and get passport stamped. (18 USD exit fee)
2.) Cancel Belize Vehicle Importation.
3.) Drive through fumigation structure. (6.38 USD)
4.) Get entry stamp for Guatemala. (2.50 USD)
5.) Get photocopies. (Title front and back, License front and back, passport photo, and passport stamp) (Not free)
6.) Import vehicle into Guatemala (20 USD)
7.) Possibly pay a municipality tax. (6.38)

 

Belize is easy to get through, you pretty much follow one major road and eventually get to the Western Border, I did both the Belize and Guatemala crossings the same day, though I recommend you get an earlier jump as I arrived at my destination of Flores a bit after dark.  Since I hadn’t put much planning into this I didn’t have any maps of Belize or Guatemala.  I used the cartoon map they gave me at the Belize border and did not get lost once, just head towards Belize City, but once close to the city you can follow signs to bypass it and then head towards San Ignacio where the border crossing is.  Park at the Belize customs building and at the first counter pay your Belize exit fee (18.75 USD) and at the second get your exit stamp.  After you have completed the process at both counters, go through a door on the left to get to the other side of the building and cancel your vehicle importation, just ask how to get over there.  The whole process took 5 minutes.  I then exchanged money outside from dollars to quetzals, not the best rate but the exchange only cost me 5 USD, so I didn’t care.   I grabbed 250 quetzals, he gave me some nonsense about how expensive Tikal was trying to get me to buy more, but obviously you can grab money from an ATM with a better rate than this guy.  You then drive through the gate, and proceed through the giant fumigation building, great more cancer.  Pull over to pay that, they charged me 50Q because I had a van, I objected since others in a truck only paid half that, but it was on the receipt and there was not much I could do.  You then park across the street and finish the process in the open air building.  Proceed to the Guatemala entrance line, you get your passport stamped for a questionable though small fee of 20Q (2.50 USD), most people seem to pay it, though theres no receipt so you can try and argue it.  Then leave the building and go to the right of the open air building where the wooden shacks are and get a photocopy of the front and back of your title, front and back of your license, and your passport photo page, and Guatemala stamp.  I noticed a Swiss couple behind around the same age as me and told them they needed to get the photocopies before jumping in the next line so we went over together.  Turns out they started in Washington and are headed to Argentina.  Return to the open air building and proceed to the left part of the giant counter to get your vehicle importation done.  This is where I hit some snags, as my guy was pretty social, always on the phone or chatting with his coworkers.  He took a “quick” look at the van which consisted of 1 minute of looking, and about 15 minutes of talking on his phone and disappearing and reappearing several times.  I had to fill out some forms, as did he, and eventually he gave me my paperwork to take to the bank window to pay.  ALWAYS CHECK THESE PAPERS.  Ive read of typos causing problems when trying to leave a country so made sure it was correct, which of course it wasn’t.  Not only did he mess up the VIN, he also messed up the plate number.  I warned the Swiss couple, but they didn’t seem concerned.  I don’t think they understood what I meant as far as problems down the road even though their English was very good, they just shrugged me off.  10 more minutes of social hour and the guy finally fixes everything and I check it again.  New typos in BOTH the VIN and Plate number…welcome to Central America!  Suddenly the light bulb goes off and the Swiss girl tells me she will be checking hers from now on, yeah no kidding…you’re welcome.  I stay calm and tell him its no problem, and this border is calm so these things are once again good practice for more hectic ones down the road.  This time I write out the numbers in huge block letters for him since he is having trouble reading my brand new easy to read title.  Perfect, turns out the third times a charm.  Head over to the bank window to pay the fee, I don’t recall what I paid but others have paid Q160 per person (20 USD).  Eventually I get my sticker, put it on my windshield and cross the bridge heading into Guatemala.  There is one last booth which charges a municipal tax or something, and ranges from Q10-Q40 so I read.  I got hit with Q50 (6.26 USD), but at that point didn’t care as it was getting late and I wanted to head to Flores before dark, plus that’s like 6 bucks total, I’m over it.  This border took me about 1.5 hrs, but it should have only been about 45 minutes to an hour as well had I not had the guy I had.  Tons of money changers on both the Belize and Guatemalan side, but all respectful and not pushy.  I now had Q30 left over, which was not much, and the local ATM only took from a savings account, something I didn’t have, wait people save that stuff?   Without much of a plan I drove off with half a tank of gas and no money into a country I knew little about as I didn’t have any time to read up due to my last minute decision making. I had less than 2 hours of daylight left, and no idea of the road conditions.  In hindsight I should have walked back over to the money changers and get some more money, but Flores was only 2 hours away so gas was not a problem, and ATMs are available, though I later found out only 1 of the 3 I tried would take from a checking account.  It also turns out they all had checking accounts, its listed as DDA accounts on most machines if I remember correctly.  The Flores ATM actually said checking rather than DDA, so I didn’t realize these were the same until much, much later.

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *