Do you need to get from Belize to Mexico? This article has absolutely everything you need to know about the Belize to Mexico border crossing. It’s possible to cross this border by either water taxi or public bus, and I have instructions for both options below.
I recently traveled from Caye Caulker, Belize to Bacalar, Mexico, as part of my year backpacking Latin America. I’m sharing all of my on-the-ground research and experience in this article.
Before we go further, there are some important things you should know that differentiate the Belize Mexico border from other borders in Central America:
1. High fees: There are really high border fees and taxes, that you need to budget for (details below!).
2. Boat vs. bus: You can cross from Belize to Mexico by either water taxi or bus, but keep in mind that the water taxi does NOT leave daily.
3. Taxi across no man’s land: It is not allowed to walk across no man’s land at this border. You MUST take a taxi.
If that sounds like a lot, don’t worry! I explain everything you need to know in detail below. Read on for my complete guide to the Belize to Mexico border crossing.
NOTE | I did this border crossing in March 2023, and will do my best to keep this article updated. If you find this guide helpful, please comment below with any changes or updates! Together, we can help future travelers navigate the Belize to Mexico border safely.
Check out my other border crossing guides…
Sailing the San Blas Islands to Cross From Colombia to Panama (Coming Soon!)
Belize to Mexico Border Crossing Location
Belize’s northern border shares the southern border of Mexico’s Quintana Roo state. There is only one land border crossing between Belize and Mexico, however it’s also possible to do this journey by boat.
The main Belize to Mexico border crossing locations are:
- Subteniente Lopez international bridge (by bus/vehicle): This bridge marks the only land border crossing between Belize and Mexico. The closest towns on either side are Santa Elena (Belize) and Subteniente Lopez (Mexico). Bigger towns that are transportation hubs on either side are Corozol (Belize) and Chetumal (Mexico).
- Chetumal ferry terminal (by boat): There are several water taxis running from Caye Caulker and San Pedro islands in Belize to Chetumal, Mexico. You will go through immigration at the ferry terminal in Chetumal.
Keep reading for more information on both of those options!
Travel Requirements at the Belize to Mexico Border Crossing
Before you complete this border crossing, you should also be prepared with some important items or details.
These travel requirements include:
- Cash: There are high fees at this border, unfortunately, so you should plan to have cash on hand in both BZD and USD. Read more about the fees in the next section.
- Pre-booked accommodation: At Mexico immigration, we were asked to report where we were staying that night. We stayed at Yak Lake House in Bacalar for 5 nights. It’s a great place to stay directly on the lagoon on a backpacker budget (although we did have to stay in a dorm as the privates are $$$).
- Printed Mexico departure flight itemized receipt: Unfortunately, there is a scam at this border (I’ll explain more further down this post). If you’ve already bought a flight out of Mexico, then you’ve already paid the border tax and you shouldn’t have to pay it again. I’ve heard that if you print your flight’s itemized receipt you can prove you already paid the tax… however this may not be successful so read the next section for details.
- Six-months passport validity: It’s best to have minimum six months passport validity and at least two empty pages in your passport, before you cross any border. Some countries will deny you entry without this.
- Check entry requirements: It’s different for every nationality, so check your government website.
- Check health requirements: As you probably know, things are constantly changing regarding COVID-19 travel rules. When we crossed this border, we had no health checks at all. However, you should check your country’s embassy page for the most reliable information.
You should always double check about travel requirements before attempting a border crossing. We didn’t need to come prepared with much, but keep in mind that things can change and rules may be different for different nationalities (I’m a US citizen and Dan’s a UK citizen, so this is written from that perspective).
Border Fees for the Belize to Mexico Border Crossing
The Belize to Mexico border crossing was far and away the most expensive of any of the 11 border crossings I did in Latin America.
Why? Well, it all comes down to the high border fees both when exiting Belize and entering Mexico.
Unfortunately, neither of them are really avoidable (some people argue you can avoid the Mexican one, although I’ve never heard a success story – I’ll explain below). So, this is something you’re going to have to build into your budget.
Belize Exit Fee
There is no fee to enter Belize, however there is a fee to exit. Currently, the Belize exit fee is 40 BZD / 20 USD per person.
You must pay in cash, but it can either be in BZD or USD.
This fee is totally legit; it’s not a scam. There’s no way to avoid it. Just think of it as a relatively small price to pay to have witnessed the incredible country that is Belize!
Total cost: 40 BZD / $20 USD
Mexico Entrance Fee
There is a fee to enter Mexico but this one is a bit more of a gray area. In fact, it largely seems like a scam. Let me explain.
Legally, you can enter Mexico for up to seven days without paying a tax. However, chances are that you will be in Mexico for more than seven days and in that case you do need to pay a tax.
The trick is that all flights out of Mexico include this tax, by law. So, if you’ve already booked a flight departing Mexico then you’ve already paid this tax.
How to Prove You Already Paid the Exit Tax
I’ve read articles like this one that state that if you print your itemized receipt from your departure flight, which shows the tax is already paid, and show it to the immigration agent, then you should not have to pay the tax.
Will This Work? (Probably Not – Get Ready to Pay)
However, I’ve spoken to MANY travelers who crossed the border from Belize to Mexico with their flight receipts, and every one of them still had to pay before they were let through.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to test this for myself because while Dan and I were attempting to print our departure flight’s receipt, we discovered that our flight had actually been CANCELED without anyone notifying us! That’s a whole other story… but basically we just had to suck it up and pay the fee.
In summary, the tax is legitimate. But if you’ve already paid it (via a departure flight) and they insist you pay it again, it’s a scam. A scam that there’s not really a way out of…
Total cost: 687 MXN / $37.15 USD (I believe this amount may change based on the number of days you have in Mexico – we had 30 days)
Time Change Between Belize and Mexico
One more thing that you need to be aware of when traveling from Belize to Mexico? The two countries are in different time zones.
In 2015, the Mexican state Quinatana Roo switched to Eastern Standard Time Zone and does not observe daylight savings time.
Belize is in Central Time Zone and no longer observes daylight savings time.
This means that the area of Mexico you’ll be entering is one hour ahead of Belize, all year round. For example, when we crossed the Belize Mexico border, it was 2pm in Belize, which suddenly became 3pm in Mexico!
So, when you cross the Belize to Mexico border at Chetumal you essentially lose an hour, and you should factor this into your travel plans (ie, get an early start in Belize so you’re not traveling at night!).
Belize to Mexico Border Crossing: The Complete Guide
As I mentioned, there are two methods for crossing the Belize Mexico border: boat or bus.
I explain all the details for both options below. You can also scroll down to read my thoughts on the pros and cons of each method, and which one you should choose.
Belize to Mexico By Boat
The most popular option is to take a ferry/water taxi from Caye Caulker or San Pedro to Chetumal, Mexico. Alternatively, there is also one boat that goes to Corozol, Belize (close to the border, but you’ll have to complete the land border crossing from there).
The complication is that in 2023, not all water taxi companies are operating at full capacity. Some have even stopped running the route to Chetumal completely.
Below are your options for taking a boat to Mexico, based on my on-the-ground research on Caye Caulker talking to the companies in person.
Water Jets International (To Chetumal, Mexico)
Currently, Water Jets International is the only boat company that offers the route from Caye Caulker and San Pedro to Chetumal, Mexico. AKA, this is your best option.
The downside is they do not operate every day (this is why we had to go by bus!).
From Caye Caulker: 12:45pm on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday only. Costs $148 BZD / $74 USD. Takes 3 hours 15 minutes (including 1 hour wait at San Pedro).
From San Pedro/Ambergis Caye: 2:30pm on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday only. Costs $138 BZD / $69 USD. Takes 1 hour 30 minutes.
You can purchase tickets online here, or at EZ-BOYZ on Caye Caulker or San Pedro International Ferry Terminal on Ambergis Caye.
San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi (Not Currently Operating – 2023)
San Pedro Belize Express is the other main water taxi service you’ll see on Caye Caulker. They used to run a daily service from Caye Caulker to Chetumal that departed at 7am.
However, as of March 2023 this route is NO LONGER IN SERVICE.
We asked all around the island and it was confirmed multiple times that they no longer do this route. I’m not sure if/when it will be reinstated. I’ll try to keep this post updated, but if you hear any news please leave me a comment!
Thunderbolt Water Taxi (To Corozol, Belize)
Your only other option for traveling from Belize to Mexico by boat is to go with Thunderbolt Water Taxi.
Note that Thunderbolt offers a daily route from San Pedro to Corozol, Belize… not Chetumal, Mexico. Once at Corozol, you will still have to cross the border by land (you can read my directions below).
If you are staying on Caye Caulker, you will also have to get a separate water taxi to San Pedro first.
This boat leaves at 3pm daily from San Pedro and costs $104 BZD / $52 USD.
For me personally, this option seemed a bit expensive and convoluted, and it also left a little too late in the day for my liking. I don’t recommend going through any international land border at night, and this cuts it close (especially considering Mexico is one hour ahead).
Belize to Mexico By Bus
Most people (who’ve never done this journey) shudder at the idea of traveling to the Belize Mexico border by chicken bus. However, having been on many chicken buses throughout my time in Latin America, I can say that this one isn’t so bad. In fact, it’s one of my better chicken bus experiences.
And if you’re reading this and you don’t know what a chicken bus is, it’s basically an old reconverted American school bus, that’s used for public transportation throughout Belize and all of Central America!
In order to complete the Belize to Mexico border crossing by bus, you’ll need to follow this route:
- Ferry to Belize City (if you’re staying on Caye Caulker or San Pedro)
- Walk/taxi to Novelo Bus Station
- Chicken bus to Corozol/border
- Exit Belize
- Taxi across no man’s land
- Enter Mexico
- Taxi to Chetumal
- ADO bus to Bacalar, Tulum, Cancun, or any onward travel
Keep reading this article for detailed directions to the public transport route, including location pins, times, and costs, based on my experience.
Boat vs. Bus: Which Should You Choose?
Overall, I would say that the boat crossing from Belize to Mexico is more popular, faster, and more convenient. However, it’s also more expensive and currently, the boats don’t run every day.
Personally, Dan and I were planning to do the Belize to Mexico border crossing by boat, until we discovered that the boats don’t run on Thursdays, the day we were planning to leave Belize.
Our plans weren’t very flexible. We were meeting a friend in Bacalar, Mexico who was flying all the way from Chicago, so we didn’t want to stand her up by waiting for the Friday boat.
Instead, we decided to ferry back to Belize City, and attempt this border crossing by bus. Overall, this journey was long but it was pretty easy and I share all the details from our experience below!
Overall, I wouldn’t say one option is necessarily better than the other. It depends what you’re looking for. Below are the basic pros and cons of each option.
Pros: More direct, more convenient, less transfers.
Cons: More expensive, doesn’t leave every day, possible sea sickness, apparently seats are uncomfortable with the bouncing of the boat (according to travelers we met).
Pros: Less expensive, daily departures.
Cons: Takes longer, requires an early wakeup call if you’re staying on the cayes.
How to Complete the Belize to Mexico Border Crossing by Bus
Below is a play-by-play of my experience crossing the Belize to Mexico border by bus! It was a long journey but surprisingly smooth.
The worst part was that when we did this journey, there was no article written about crossing from Belize to Mexico by public bus. So we felt a bit like we were winging it. That’s why I’m writing this article – so you don’t have to feel lost!
1. Water Taxi to Belize City
Our day started with an early wakeup call at our Airbnb on Caye Caulker. We packed up our backpacks, checked out, and headed to Errolyn’s Fry Jacks for Dan’s breakfast and Ice and Beans for my mandatory morning cappuccino (best coffee on the island, for sure!).
Both businesses open at 6am, strategic for all the early morning boats…
By 7:15am, cutting it a bit close, we were at the Belize Express Water Taxi terminal/dock, and bought our tickets for the 7:30am boat to Belize City. The ticket is only 33 BZD / $16.50 USD when bought in person (cheaper than online).
However, you might want to buy tickets earlier than we did because some people showed up after us and the boat was filled!
It’s a long day so I recommend getting the 7:30am boat if you can. They also have departures at 6:30am, 9am (already too late, I think, if you don’t want to cross the border in darkness), 10:30am, 12pm, 1:30pm, 3:30pm, and 5pm.
The whole boat ride was smooth as can be and lasted the promised 45 minutes. We even saw dolphins on the way! I just love Belize!
Cost: 33 BZD / $16.50 USD
Time: 1 hour
2. Walk or Taxi to Novelo Bus Station
Once at the ferry terminal in Belize City, we had to wait a bit for our luggage to get released.
Then, our next step was getting to the Novelo Bus Station (location pin).
This is an easy (but sweltering hot) 15 minute walk, which we’d already done prior to our week on Caye Caulker after we took the chicken bus from San Ignacio.
Alternatively, you could take a taxi. There are a few taxi people drumming up business inside the ferry terminal. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how much a taxi costs so if someone finds out, leave me a comment below!
Time: 35 minutes
3. Buy Tickets to Corozol / Border
By 8:50am, we had reached the Novelo Bus Station which honestly, is not the most charming bus station in Central America…
We approached the gray ticket kiosk, and bought two tickets for the bus to the border.
You should ask for either “Corozol” (the city in Belize close to the border) or “border.”
The next departure was at 9:30am, and we got lucky that this bus was going all the way to the border. Some buses only go to Corozol, at which point you’d have to get a separate collectivo or taxi to the border.
The tickets cost 15 BZD / $7.50 USD per person and we spent the next half an hour or so chilling on the floor of the bus station with ice cold water bottles pressed to our foreheads!
Cost: 15 BZD / $7.50 USD
Time: 40 minutes
4. Chicken Bus to Border
At 9:30am, the bus station attendant called out “Corozol!” and we got in line with the other passengers. We were led out to a bright green chicken bus, and thankfully got to put our big backpacks in the hold underneath the bus.
The bus left right on time around 9:35am, but that’s about the only thing about this journey that was timely!
If you look up the drive from Belize City to the Belize Mexico border on Google Maps, the journey is just over two hours. Our chicken bus took about twice as long… it took just under 4 hours! It wasn’t picking up tons or people nor driving a weird route, just slowwww.
After a brief stop in Corozol to let off every passenger except Dan and I, we arrived to the Belize Mexico border around 1:20pm.
Time: 3 hours 50 minutes
5. Exit Belize and Pay Exit Tax
Our first step at the border was to exit Belize. This was easy and quick.
The chicken bus dropped us off directly in front of the Belize immigration building. We walked inside and up to the first desk, where we paid the 40 BZD / 20 USD exit tax in cash.
Then, we had to fill out a departure form.
After that, we walked to the next desk where we handed in our departure form, receipt for the exit tax, and had our passports stamped.
Like I said – easy!
Cost: 40 BZD / 20 USD
Time: 5 minutes
6. Taxi Across No Man’s Land / To Chetumal
The next part was a little confusing. Like many other border crossings, there is a “no man’s land” between Belize immigration and Mexico immigration.
However, unlike all 11 other border crossings we did in Latin America, where you just walked between the two buildings, this is not allowed at the Belize Mexico border. The no man’s land here is about 3km and it is mandatory to take a vehicle – no walking allowed.
So… what do you do if you arrived to the border by bus, without a car? We walked out of the Belize immigration office and were met with a completely deserted parking lot. “Uhhhh… what now?” I said to Dan. We’d been expecting a big stand of taxis ready to take us across no man’s land!
We saw a sign in the distance and to the right, that said “check point”. Not knowing what else to do, we walked over to it. Luckily along the way, a white taxi came driving by outside the fence and asked us if we needed a ride. We said “YES!” and he waited for us on the other side of the fence. Phew!
We spent a while talking through the price and agreed on 50 BZD / 25 USD (total, not per person). Note that this was the price for him to drive us to Mexico immigration, wait for us there, and then drive us onward to Chetumal, Mexico.
Ugh, that felt like an annoyingly high fee, but what else can you do? Having spoken to other travelers, I know that’s the normal price. You’ll save money if you can group together with a few other people.
Cost: 50 BZD / 25 USD total or 25 BZD / 12.5 USD per person
Time: 15 minutes
7. Enter Mexico and Pay Tax
Our taxi driver dropped us off at the Mexican immigration after about a 10 minute drive. Lo and behold, there was a girl standing there trying to hail a taxi onward to Chetumal. And coincidentally, we’d met her the week prior at our hostel in San Ignacio, Belize!
We decided to group together, and while Dan and I went into Mexican immigration, she stayed in the taxi with our driver and our backpacks.
We got lucky having her watch our bags, but if I were you, I’d bring your backpacks into the immigration building with you. I’m sure most taxi drivers are trustworthy but it’s not worth the risk to leave all your possessions in the car of a stranger you just met!
Once inside the Mexican immigration building, we had to go up to the desk closest to the door where we spoke to the immigration officer and were granted 30 days in Mexico. Then, we had to go to the other back-left desk, where we paid our Mexican tax. Like I mentioned earlier in this article, this tax is somewhat of a scam, because if you already have a departure flight then you’ve already paid it.
Since our departure flight had been canceled, we just sucked it up and paid the tax. It was higher than we expected (687 MXN or roughly $38 USD per person), but what can you do, honestly? The only good thing was it was possible to pay by credit card.
We got our receipts, and went back to the first desk. Here, they checked the receipt as well as a form we filled out, and stamped our passports.
The whole thing was a bunch of disorganized back-and-forth, and unclear justification behind the fees we paid, but overall we didn’t put up much of a fight and just did what they told us. If you have more energy (and a printed out, itemized receipt of your departure flight) then you could possibly argue the fees.
Cost: 687 MXN / $38 USD per person
Time: 20 minutes
8. Taxi Onward to Chetumal
By 2pm, which (with the time difference) was actually 3pm, we had officially entered Mexico!
We jumped back in our same taxi, and drove to the ADO bus station in Chetumal, Mexico. The drive took about 10 minutes.
I should note that our taxi driver had offered to drive us straight to Bacalar, but there was confusion about the prices so we just went to Chetumal. Potentially, it’s the same cost but I’m unsure so you should check.
And, it worked out for us because our friend wanted to go to Chetumal anyway, and she gave us 10 BZD for the taxi. We were going to take the taxi anyway so it was just a nice bonus and meant our taxi journey ended up being only 40 BZD / 20 USD total.
Cost: subtract 10 BZD / $5 USD
Time: 10 minutes
9. ADO Bus to Bacalar
At the ADO bus station in Chetumal, we had to buy our tickets to Bacalar. The Bacalar stop is on the same route that goes onward to Cancun, and based on their current timetables it leaves every hour.
You have to buy the tickets in CASH! Luckily, there is a Santander ATM inside the ADO bus station so we could get Mexican pesos out to pay.
We took the 3:30pm bus to Bacalar which cost 102 MXN (~$5.50 USD) per person.
The bus itself was super nice with comfy seats and air conditioning. Our journey to Bacalar took about 30 minutes!
A note on money exchange: Usually we exchange our leftover currency at the border, but we didn’t see any money exchange people at the Belize Mexico border. We ended up just exchanging BZD for MXN with some people we met at our hostel in Bacalar, who were traveling onward to Belize!
Cost: 102 MXN / ~$5.50 USD per person
Time: 40 minutes
10. Walk to Hostel in Bacalar
Once in Bacalar, it was a pretty quick walk from the ADO bus station to Yak Lake House, our hostel. This hostel is directly on the super-blue lagoon, and I highly recommend staying here or at the very least, at any accommodation that has direct lake access.
We spent the next five days lounging in the sun, gorging on Mexican food, sailing and paddle boarding the lake, and learning to make margaritas!
Overall it was a great time and I highly recommend spending at least a couple days in Bacalar if you’re doing the Belize to Mexico border crossing. It’s the perfect place to get your bearings in Mexico.
Onward Travel in Mexico
You do have a few other options for onward travel within Mexico after you complete the Belize to Mexico border crossing.
Personally, I think Bacalar is the best choice because it’s quite close to the border, yet a destination in its own rite. However, don’t limit yourself to my preferences! Below are a few other options.
Other options for onward travel from the Belize Mexico border include:
- Chetumal: You could stay overnight in Chetumal, the biggest town by the border. To be honest, there’s not as much to do here but it’s a good transportation hub. In addition to the ADO bus station, there is also an airport in Chetumal. We flew from Chetumal to Oaxaca City after our 5 days in Bacalar.
- Tulum: I don’t think Tulum needs an introduction but here’s one anyway – bougie American travelers, mega-trendy and touristy, incredibly inflated prices, beautiful cafes, beaches, and cenotes. You can reach Tulum via the ADO bus in about 3 hours.
- Cancun: Another city on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula that doesn’t need an introduction. Think huge all-inclusive resorts and overpriced everything, but beautiful beaches. Cancun is a big transportation hub with a lot of cheap international flights. You can reach Cancun via the ADO bus in about 6 hours.
Belize to Mexico Border Crossing Overview
Everyone’s border crossing experience will be different. My experience crossing the Belize to Mexico border is based on going from Caye Caulker to Bacalar by public bus, traveling in a couple (we split taxi costs), and luckily meeting another person at the border to split taxi costs to Chetumal with.
Total time: 7 hours
Total cost: $97.50 USD per person
Eeeeek, that’s a high border crossing cost! Note that the majority of that number comes from the unavoidable border taxes ($20 USD to exit Belize + $38 USD to enter Mexico = $58 USD in fees).
The Belize to Mexico border crossing was BY FAR the most expensive of any border crossing I did in Latin America, so be sure you budget for it!
Final Thoughts on the Belize to Mexico Border Crossing
I truly hope that this guide was helpful for any fellow travelers who are planning to do the Belize to Mexico border crossing, whether by boat or bus.
Whichever option you choose, you’ll be fine! Just be sure to give yourself plenty of time due to losing an hour in time differences at the border. And also be sure to bring extra cash and budget for the high fees.
If this border crossing guide is helpful for your own journey, please leave me a comment below! Let me know any updates or changes from what I’ve written here, and how your journey went.
I will try to keep this article as updated as possible so it remains useful, and your help in that is appreciated!