Belize making it even easier for Americans to visit
You will no longer need to download an app to travel to Belize.
The country will no longer require visitors to use its Belize Travel Health App. You'll still need either a vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test, but it's another step in the country's full reopening.
Back in March, the country said vaccinated travelers could enter Belize without providing proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Upon arrival, travelers must provide a vaccination record card as proof they were vaccinated at least two weeks prior to arrival. Though vaccinated travelers may still be subject to random testing upon arrival, the update should speed up entry and make travel to Belize easier.
The new guidelines came as a result of a successful two-month period in which COVID-19 transmission dropped significantly. Aside from a brief uptick around the December holidays, Belize's cases have fallen steadily since the country announced its reopening in October. By mid-February, daily new cases were in the single digits.
Belize is taking safety precautions to protect tourism workers who come into contact with foreigners by offering the AstraZeneca vaccine to frontline workers.
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The safe Travels Stamp & what it means
In addition to low COVID-19 numbers, Belize was awarded the Safe Travels Stamp by the World Travel &Tourism Council (WTTC) in December. Developed along with governments and health experts, the certification ensures that Belize has adopted and enforces global health and hygiene protocols.
The standardized protocols were developed by industry leaders — including executives from Marriott, United Airlines, and the Expedia Group — and are based on current World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control guidelines. Other destinations recognized include Dubai, Barcelona, and Jamaica.
Belize’s economy is heavily reliant on tourism, and the small country in Central America has been eager to welcome back international tourists. The country initially aimed to reopen to international travelers by Aug. 15, but a surge in coronavirus cases worldwide forced the nation to delay its reopening until Oct. 1, 2020. Both new developments should help the country get back on its feet.
Related: 8 reasons Belize should be on your travel bucket list
The Reopening: What it entails & What that means for you
Philip Goldson International Airport (BZE) reopened Thursday, Oct.1, and travelers of all nationalities are being welcomed back. American Airlines and United Airlines have resumed daily direct flights to the Central American country from Miami (MIA) and Dallas (DFW), and Houston (IAH), respectively. Both airlines resumed flights from Los Angeles (LAX) in January, and Delta Airlines has begun daily flights via Atlanta (ATL).
Visitors who present proof of clean health in the form of a negative COVID-19 PCR test or vaccination record card can "fast track" their arrival process but may still be randomly selected for secondary screening. The country's most recent updates to restrictions became effective at the end of February.
Visitors and returning citizens without a vaccination card will be required to submit a negative COVID-19 test prior to boarding their flight or will be tested on arrival.
Note that all visitors will have to stay at one of the country's full-service hotels or resorts that have received the Belize Tourism Gold Standard Certificate of Recognition (the full list is updated regularly and can be found here). Among the requirements for this designation? The hotels must have private transportation to and from the airport, a restaurant on-property, and strict cleanliness protocols.
Similar to Jamaica's "resiliency corridor," Belize has designated a series of "safe corridors" for tourists to keep visitors isolated from most locals and vice versa.
As mentioned above, entering travelers who are not Belizean citizens or residents must book their stay at a Gold Approved Standard hotel which has passed local certification requirements.
Related: Thinking of visiting Belize? Plan ahead. Getting a COVID-19 test can be complicated.
There may be testing upon arrival. Anyone who tests positive will need to quarantine.
Belize tourism laid out the following guidelines and requirements for tourists:
- Obtain a certified negative PCR COVID-19 test within 96 hours of departure, an antigen test within 48 hours, or provide proof of vaccination two weeks prior to arrival
- Book approved lodging
- Wear face masks when traveling to the departure airport
- Wear face masks and practice physical distancing at the departure airport
On the plane
- Wear a face mask while on the plane
- Practice social distancing to the extent possible
- Continue to wear face masks and practice physical distancing
- Get a health screening
- Check-in daily on health app
Once at the airport, you'll need to be medically screened as well as go through customs. If a passenger is showing symptoms upon arrival, they may be placed in quarantine at their own expense until cleared. If you show up without a COVID-19 test, you may be able to get tested on arrival for $50.
There's still no word on when cruise ships will be allowed to return.
What is open?
Belize is currently is in the middle of a five-stage reopening. Masks are required in public, and a daily curfew from 10 pm to 5 am is in place. No Exceptions. Most sites are open to the public with limited capacity. All tours and activities have to be arranged by your hotel and operated by Gold Standard-certified tour operators — the list of which can be found here.
Spas are open, though there are restrictions in place. Shops are also open, but visits must be arranged via your hotel.
How to get there?
As mentioned above, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines all offer nonstop flights to Belize. American and United have resumed flights from multiple U.S. gateways: American now flies nonstop from Miami (MIA) and Dallas (FW), and United from Houston (IAH); both offer flights with a stopover from Los Angeles (LAX). Delta has recently started flights from its Atlanta (ATL) hub.
American's nonstop flights from Miami (MIA) are in the mid- to high-$300s round-trip through May. United's flights from Los Angeles (LAX), which stop Houston (IAH), are in the mid- to high-$400 round-trip for the same period.
Related: Major U.S. carriers unexpected eliminate most change fees on North America travel
If you're located in a city other than the ones offering nonstop flights, you can connect on a variety of carriers, including the aforementioned Delta and United, as well as Panama's Copa Airlines.
Where to stay?
The current list of Gold Approved Standard hotels can be found on the Travel Belize website and will be updated daily.
Related: How to fly to Belize on points and miles
As of publication, the only approved properties from major hotel chains are the Radisson Fort George Hotel & Marina and the Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza.
Belize had been on a steady upward trajectory in terms of attracting new visitors before the coronavirus derailed that trend. Now, tourists no longer need to show a COVID test if they can provide proof of vaccination.
Before you go, consider if you feel safe to travel, and book refundable airfare and hotels just in case. It takes a lot of planning and patience to travel right now, but if you follow the guidelines put in place by the Belize Tourism Board, you should have no problem having an enjoyable vacation.
And if you missed it, here’s our country-by-country guide to reopenings.
Additional reporting by Nick Ellis, Katherine Fan, and Christina Garofalo.