Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

  • Reviewed: 7 October 2022, 12:10 NZDT
  • Still current at: 6 December 2022

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COVID-19

If you are planning international travel at this time, please read our COVID-19 related travel advice here, alongside our destination specific travel advice below.

Exercise increased caution

Exercise increased caution in Belize due to violent crime (level 2 of 4).

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Belize

Post Closure
The New Zealand High Commission in Bridgetown (accredited to Belize) has formally closed. New Zealanders who require emergency consular assistance should contact the 24/7 Consular emergency line on 0800 30 10 30 (within New Zealand) or +64 99 20 20 20 (outside of New Zealand) or email cons@mfat.govt.nz. 

Violent Crime
Belize has one of the highest per capita murder rates in the world. Other violent crime, including muggings, sexual assault, and armed robbery, is also a significant problem. Muggings in particular are common, especially in Belize City and other urban centres. Serious gang-related violence does occur in Belize, most commonly in the ‘Southside’ of Belize City (the area south of Haulover Creek). While tourists are not usually a target of gang violence, anyone can be caught up in it by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

Crime also occurs at known tourist areas such San Pedro, Caye Caulker, San Ignacio Corozal, Placencia, and Mayan archaeological sites. Tourists around Caracol and the border area with Guatemala have been targeted by criminals for their personal belongings. You should avoid displaying or wearing items that appear valuable, such as mobile devices, cameras and jewellery, as this could make you a target for criminals.

Authorities may declare a state of emergency in certain areas with little or no notice in response to crime. Always follow the advice of local authorities and follow local media for developments.

Always travel in groups and avoid isolated areas, including unsupervised beaches, especially at night. Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers due to the potential for drug spiking. We also advise against accepting drinks or food from strangers or recent acquaintances as they may contain other substances.

We advise New Zealanders travelling in Belize to exercise vigilance at all times, particularly in popular tourist destinations and public transport hubs including airports and bus stations. You should avoid travelling alone at night and only use official licensed taxis. Offer no resistance if you are the victim of a mugging or armed robbery as this could lead to an escalation in violence. Monitor the media for security updates.

Civil unrest
Demonstrations and strikes take place occasionally in Belize and may disrupt local public services and transport. While protests are generally peaceful, New Zealanders in Belize are advised to avoid all protests, demonstrations and political marches as they may turn violent with little warning. You should follow the instructions of the local authorities and exercise a high degree of personal security awareness at all times. 

Transport Safety
Driving in Belize can be dangerous as road conditions and the local driving standards are poor. There is no emergency roadside assistance, fuel stations aren’t common and are often closed on holidays. Avoid travelling after dark, especially on rural roads, and always keep your gas tank full if travelling in remote areas. 

Do not board any sea vessel which appears overcrowded or unseaworthy.

General travel advice
Belize has an ongoing border dispute with Guatemala. New Zealanders are advised to only use officially recognised border crossings if travelling between Belize and Guatemala. 

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe and can include lengthy imprisonment or fines.

The possession, sale and export of artefacts without a permit may carry heavy penalties.

New Zealanders in Belize should have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place that includes provision for adventure activities and medical evacuation by air. The safety standards of some transport and tour operators can vary.

New Zealanders in Belize are encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

See our regional advice for Central/South America

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