Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

  • Reviewed: 28 August 2023, 12:31 NZST
  • Still current at: 29 May 2024

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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.

Avoid non-essential travel

Avoid non-essential travel to the Southside of Belize City (south of Haulover Creek Canal) due to high levels of gang-related violence (level 3 of 4).

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.

A State of Emergency has been put in place for part of the Southside of Belize City, this is in response to recent gang-related shootings and will last from 28 July for a month. The state of emergency covers George Street and the surrounding area, Taylor’s Alley and surrounding area, and some areas west of Central American Boulevard and north of Faber’s Road.

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 including in Belmopan. 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.

Police capacity to respond to violent incidents is limited, and many crimes remain unsolved.

Authorities may declare a state of emergency in certain areas with little or no notice in response to crime. The state of emergency allows the authorities enhanced powers of arrest and detention, as well as the ability to call on military support. 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. Make sure that the vessel is carrying proper safety equipment and that life jackets are provided for all passengers.

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.

Serious crimes, such as murder, can carry the death penalty.

ATM and credit card fraud occurs frequently, particularly in San Pedro.

The possession, sale and export of artefacts without a permit may carry heavy penalties. It is illegal to photograph official buildings. 

The Caribbean hurricane season is June to November, however tropical storms and hurricanes can occur in other months. New Zealanders are advised to monitor local and international weather reports to keep up to date with developments. If you are staying in a hotel, you should follow the guidance of hotel management or your tour operator. Follow the instructions of the local authorities. 

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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