Vanlife Belize – Guatemala: 5 steps to cross the border with your vehicle

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Article updated on 07.06.23

Here are the steps to follow to cross the border at Benque Viejo del Carmen (San Ignacio) between Belize and Guatemala in a van.

1. The administrative side in Belize

When you arrive at the Belize border, park your vehicle in the parking area (1).

Payment of exit fee

Everyone must get out of the van and go to the green and yellow building (2) to pay the exit fee of 40BZ per person (approx. 20 USD). This is the counter on the left.

You can pay by credit card or in Belizean.

Cancellation of the vehicle's temporary import permit

After paying the exit fee, the person with the import permit must leave the building and go to the building on the left to cancel the TIP and receive the cancellation stamp in his passport.

He can then return to the first building to join the others.

Exit stamp from the country

While the person cancels the TIP, the other person(s) may already be in line on the right to receive the exit stamp in the passport.

Once these steps have been completed, return to your vehicle and continue towards Guatemala.

2. Vehicle disinfection in Guatemala

Drive towards the Guatemalan border. You will pass through a metal tunnel (3) where your vehicle will be “disinfected” with a spray.

Be sure to close all the windows, as the product doesn’t smell very good!

Once your vehicle has been sprayed, park alongside the road (there isn’t much room, but you can park anywhere as long as you don’t block the way).
Go to the small counter in the building on the left (4) to pay cash for the vehicle disinfection (18 Q/ 2 USD/ 4 BZ).

3. Visa for Guatemala

Go to the building (5) opposite the counter where you paid to have your vehicle disinfected. As you enter, go to the counter on the right. This is where you will receive your visa with the stamp in your passport. This step is free of charge.

4. Temporary importation of the vehicle in Guatemala

Once you have the immigration stamp, go to the second counter on the left, where you can do the TIP for your vehicle.

Take copies of all your documents with you so that you don’t have to go into the village to make photocopies.

In our case, the person at the counter made a photocopy of our passport with the country’s entry stamp. We didn’t have to go anywhere else to make a copy. Ask nicely and smile 😉

Once the TIP has been made, the person will ask you to go and pay the bill (160Q) at the bank and come back to him once it’s done.

To pay this bill, you have two options:

  1. Walk into town and make the payment at the bank yourself (see iOverlander).
  2. Go to a small shop on the other side of the border guard post (6) and pay a further 40Q ($5). Everyone does it and we recommend it. Ask around to find out which little shop it is and show the person your documents and pay in cash. 160Q for the TIP + 40Q fee. You can pay in Quetzal or USD.

Then go back to the counter in the building (5) and show the agent your proof of payment. Once this has been done, you are ready to cross the border.

5. Transit tax

Once you’ve crossed the border, you still have to drive over the bridge (7) to the first Guatemalan town, Melchor de Mencos. A crossing fee of 50Q/6 USD/ 12BZ is payable in cash to the person opening the gate. We tried to negotiate 40Q (which should be the real price) but couldn’t even after waiting 30 minutes with two other vans.

To sum up

It takes around two hours to complete these different stages. It’s important to have enough cash (BZ, USD or Q) and copies of important border documents (vehicle registration document, driving licence and passport).

To sum up:

  1. Belize exit immigration (exit fee, exit stamp in passport and cancellation of TIP)
  2. Vehicle disinfection
  3. Visa for Guatemala
  4. Vehicle import into Guatemala
  5. Transit tax

Local currency

A general tip: try not to change your currency at customs, as you’ll get ripped off in any case. Take some cash with you to pay any taxes. If you still have Belizean dollars or US dollars, you can also pay for everything with these, even on the Guatemalan side (don’t listen to what people tell you at the border, they’ll do everything they can to get you to exchange them for Quetzals).
However, be careful not to have any more Belizean dollars, as you won’t be able to exchange them in Guatemala (we visited all the touristic towns and couldn’t find a currency exchange office that would accept them).

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  • Ilona

    Thank you so much for this INFORMATION! It is golden.
    Is it easy to get Quetzal in belize before entering the country?

    • On Vagabonde

      Yes, you can exchange some money at the border or directly withdraw at an ATM on the first town in Guatemala (which is better as there is no fees compare to the money exchange).

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