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Safety in Belize

Before continuing

We highly recommend reading the State Department’s Country Specific Information about Belize, and enrolling in the Smart Traveler program before leaving.

Below, we have a brief summary of their report, and contact information for the U.S. Embassy. Please also feel free to contact us directly with any safety questions or concerns: info@keteka.com.

Important Phone Numbers

The U.S. State Department on Safety in Belize

Civil Unrest: Demonstrations occur in Belmopan and Belize City, and while some remain peaceful others turn violent so it is best that they are avoided.

Road Safety: Roads tend to be in poor condition and lack everything from lane markings to reflectors and shoulders. Driving at night is especially dangerous and while roadside assistance exists, it can be very difficult to signal due to lack of public phones and cell service in more rural areas.

Health: Medical facilities in Belize are capable handling minor ailments, but more serious issues may not be able to find treatment in major cities. The chances of proper treatment in more rural areas is even lower. Emergency services are often unavailable or delayed, meaning evacuation to another country is likely.

Crime: To be perfectly honest, reading the US State Department’s page on Belize would maybe deter you from going. They warn about a list of brutal crimes including sexual assault, armed robbery, and murder. They also warn that criminals tend to target tourists. And all of these warnings aren’t completely baseless.

However, there is no actual travel warning in effect for Belize. It is still indicated at a high crime level, meaning that if you choose to go you should exercise extreme caution. Travel in a group, don’t wander at night, don’t carry valuables, and avoid semi-deserted areas. Also, don’t accept any food or drink from strangers as criminals are known to drug them in order to rob and assault victims.

While worrying about the crimes above will be the priority, the greatest risk for tourists is still petty theft. So keep close watch on your bags, hide any valuables you may carry, and be careful of scams with people trying to get your attention while someone else picks your pocket.

In Our Experience:

Belize Full Package

Travelers should exercise additional caution in touristy areas, including in main plazas and Mayan ruins. Although there are typically armed guards stationed at archeological sites, criminals have been known to opportunistically target individuals who break away from the main areas. In these cases, victims almost always go unharmed, losing only their personal belongings and cash. Some who have resisted have suffered injury and the State Department strongly encourages you not to resist in these situations.

 

 

 

Credit Cards

Belize is not “Payment Card Industry (PCI) Compliant” with Point of Sale (POS) credit card swipe machines, which means that when a receipt is printedBelize river from a credit card machine, it does not automatically delete the first 12 numbers of the card. This means whoever is working the machine could potentially note the numbers and use them to make unauthorized charges. The State Department believes there are several credit card rings active in Belize, particularly in San Pedro.

Don’t Do Drugs 

Drugs are common in several touristy parts of Belize, but their ubiquity should not make you think they are tolerated. Drugs, including marijuana, carry potentially strict consequences, including heavy fines and jail time in Belize prison.

Belize for Foreign Women

Belize fishing
(Note from the founders: This section was written by a female Peace Corps Volunteer with extensive travel experience in Belize)

Belize is a wonderful country for women to visit.  The locals are friendly and there are lots of other travelers in the country to meet and possibly link up itineraries or daily activities.  The best way for women to stay safe in Belize is to follow common sense practices that you would follow in your own country.

 

Embassy Information

U.S. Embassy Belmopan