Passport Requirements for Belize
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Belize, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. When driving in Belize, exercise caution at all times, as poor roads and/or vehicle maintenance cause many fatal accidents.
Driving while intoxicated is punishable by a fine or imprisonment. If a road accident results in a fatality, the driver may face manslaughter charges, regardless of whether alcohol or drugs was involved. U.S. citizens can and have been imprisoned in Belize as a result of road accidents, even where intoxication is not suspected. Public transport consists of buses and private vehicles. Currently, no railways operate in the country.
Drivers operate vehicles on the right side of the road. Road signs are in English with distances indicated in miles. Speed limits are a maximum of 55 miles per hour on highways and 25 miles per hour on most other roads, but they are seldom observed or even posted. Valid U.S. or international driver’s permits are accepted in Belize only for a period of three months after initial entry.
Drivers should watch for speed bumps and rumble strips as they pass through villages on the major highways. These usually denote pedestrian crossings and are not always marked by clear signage or reflective yellow paint.
Roadside assistance can be difficult to summon as there are very few public telephones along the road and emergency telephone numbers do not always function properly. While cell phone service is fairly reliable, reception in remote areas is spotty or non-existent. Driving without insurance in Belize is a very serious offense and is checked at police checkpoints. There are permanent police checkpoints on the major highways throughout Belize, at which all vehicles are obliged to stop.
Road conditions in Belize range from two-lane paved roads to dirt or gravel tracks. Roads often lack shoulders, which can contribute to cars overturning. Roads often lack markings or reflectors; even in urban areas, most streets lack lane markings, contributing to chaotic conditions. Bridges on the major highways are often only a single lane. The Manatee Road (Coastal Road), leading from the Western Highway east of Belmopan to Dangriga, is mostly unpaved, easily flooded after storms and without services. Service stations are available along the major roads although there are some significant gaps in the rural areas.
Inclement weather during Belize’s June to November hurricane season can create hazardous road conditions. Motorists should not attempt to cross any low bridge with water flowing over the surface of the bridge as both the strength and depth of the current may be stronger than is apparent. Certain stretches of the George Price Highway that connects Belize City to Belmopan and continues west to the Guatemalan border have been the site of several fatal accidents.
Many vehicles on the road do not have functioning safety equipment such as turn signals, flashers, or brake lights. Seatbelts for drivers and front-seat passengers are mandatory, but children’s car seats are not required and are not widely available for purchase. Maintaining a safe driving distance to help avoid accidents.
Bicycles are numerous and constitute a regular part of traffic. Cyclists, like drivers, do not always obey basic traffic laws; they commonly fail to obey red lights or stop signs, and often ride against traffic. Although frequently encountered after nightfall, few cyclists have lights or wear reflective clothing. It is not unusual to see cyclists carrying heavy loads or passengers, including small children balanced in their laps or across the handlebars.
During daylight hours, particularly during weekends, highway drivers may encounter groups of cyclists engaged in either training or in organized competitions. These may be accompanied by slow-moving “pace” vehicles such as pickup trucks or motorcycles. View these pace vehicles as the warning they are, and exercise caution when passing groups of cyclists, as their attention may be on each other rather than passing motorists.
The driver of a vehicle that strikes a cyclist or pedestrian is almost always considered to be at fault, regardless of circumstances. U.S. citizens who struck cyclists in Belize have faced significant financial penalties or even prison sentences.