The border: Mexico to Belize at Chetumal
Border crossings thus far have been easy-ish. Canada and the states are just a stamp, and entering into Mexico was only a little more involved. Getting out would be slightly more involved, but not much. We write this for our fellow travellers for reference.
Approaching the border, get gas. Gas costs a little over 1.00$CAD a liter in Mexico, it’s 1.60$CAD in Belize. So fill your pockets with gas before crossing the border. And your shoes too. If you’re crossing at the Chetumal border, the closest gas to the border is just past the roundabout turnoff to the border. Get gas at the Pemex then turn back for the border.
To get out of Mexico you have to turn in your tourist Visa, have your passport stamped, then have the motorbikes exported (and get the deposit refunded!). Step one should have been easy, with everyone in front of us in line barely stopping at the window. Not us.
We had heard that there is an “exit tax” scam where border agents try to tell you there is an exit tax to leave Mexico. There isn’t, but some friends had recently been forced to pay it. This was on our mind as we approached the lady in the box.
The tourist visa card costs about 25$CAD when you arrive in Mexico. We had been advised to always get receipts, this had been no different. When we purchased the visas in Tijuana, asking for our receipt was met with the response that “the stamp is the receipt”. Insisting that the man provide us a receipt was met with the man insisting the “the stamp is the receipt”. We did not get a receipt. The stamp was the receipt.
Fast forward to us trying to leave Mexico. The lady in the box is now insisting that we have a receipt. Having learned from the man back in Tijuana, we in turn insist that “the stamp is the receipt”. Oh how the tables have turned. This goes back and forth for awhile, initially we thought she was trying to extort us for this mythical exit tax, so we had our backs up. Eventually, after letting many people through past us, and talking to her supervisor, and showing us the piles and piles of other people’s tourists cards with receipts, we realized that uh, perhaps all she wanted was our receipt. And all we had was a stamp.Â In the end, she shook her head, stamped our passports and let us go.
Next was to export the bikes. This was remarkably quick.
Paperwork to box lady #2, she came out and checked the serial numbers on our bikes, gave us documents that said we had indeed exported the bikes, and promised to pay the deposits back to our credit cards “maÃ±ana”.
Following Mexico’s habits of poorly signing things, coming into Belize has zero signs directing you where to go. Belize does however have many signs telling you to buy “mandatory insurance”, and several excited men near each of these signs clambering to sell it to you. One of these clambering men helped us immensely by giving directions, then begging us to come back to buy insurance from him.
But we did find more assistance down the road, from a couple gents who showed us where to get our passports stamped and get the HAND WRITTEN import documents for the bike. We were the only ones in line and it took us 25 minutes to have him write out all the details. I can’t imagine if there were a whole gang of us trying to cross at once. All involved reminded us to get MANDATORY insurance. All in all, quite straight forward though.
Back to the gents in the parking lot, who had their friend give us a decent exchange rate on our pesos, and told us where we should go to get our MANDATORY insurance.
Then they informed us that if we left now, we could skip the fumigation and associated charges, as the man whose job it was to check the paperwork was on break. We had been warned of pushy “helpers”, these guys were nothing of the sort, and tips like that earned the gents some tips of their own. Straight through we went, fumigation free and 10$ richer.
Quick stop for some MANDATORY insurance which you can buy after you have completed all the border checks and driven through.
29$BZ (15$ CAD) each for a week’s worth, and into Belize we go. DO buy this insurance, as just down the road there is a passport insurance checkstop. Welcome to Belize!