Belize to Mexico Border Crossing: The Complete Guide (2024)

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 2023 and this post is updated for 2024. I 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.

Green bus - chicken bus from Belize city to the Belize Mexico border
The bus we took to the Belize Mexico border! Don’t worry – you can also go by boat!

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!

Brown seats inside an old school bus used for public transport in Belize.
The public bus in Belize looks like this!
The blue hole in Belize.
The Blue Hole in Belize. Yes, it’s hard to leave Belize!! Such a gorgeous country. But don’t worry… Mexico is totally worth it, too.

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).

A white paper that says "departure record" at the top and has places to fill out demographic information.
The form we had to fill out upon exiting Belize.

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)

A sign that displays Belize exit taxes at the Belize to Mexico border crossing.
The Belize exit tax sign at the immigration building at the border. You can see it adds up to 40 BZD. Unlike Mexico, Belize actually explains what goes into the money they are charging you.

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!).

A timetable sign for water taxis from Caye Caulker to Belize City.
The current timetable for water taxis from Caye Caulker to Belize City. I recommend the 6:30am or 7:30am water taxi if you go by public bus, due to the time difference. You’ll need an early start!

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 currently, 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 – 2024)

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, 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 so I can update this post accordingly!

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).

A sign that says Water Jets International, water taxi to Chetumal.
Water Jets International – the most popular boat option for travel from Caye Caulker or San Pedro to Chetumal, Mexico.
A sign that says water taxi tickets sold here, san pedro belize express water taxi and a timetable.
San Pedro Belize Express – you’ll see their signs around Caye Caulker, but upon asking you’ll learn that their 7am daily departure to Chetumal is no longer operating.

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:

  1. Ferry to Belize City (if you’re staying on Caye Caulker or San Pedro)
  2. Walk/taxi to Novelo Bus Station
  3. Chicken bus to Corozol/border
  4. Exit Belize
  5. Taxi across no man’s land
  6. Enter Mexico
  7. Taxi to Chetumal
  8. 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.

A green and white chicken bus in Belize.
This is what the chicken buses in Belize look like!

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.

By Boat

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).

By Bus

Pros: Less expensive, daily departures.

Cons: Takes longer, requires an early wakeup call if you’re staying on the cayes.

A small water taxi boat on Caye Caulker in Belize.
This is the size of the boat you’ll be taking to the Belize Mexico border.

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

Two tickets from Caye Caulker to Belize City.
Our tickets for the 7:30am boat from Caye Caulker to Belize City!
People sitting on a boat and blue water to the right hand side of the frame.
The boat journey to Belize City. I can’t believe we saw dolphins!

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!

Cost: 0

Time: 35 minutes

A yellow and red building that says Novelo's bus terminal.
This is what Novelo’s Bus Terminal looks like. Not the fanciest!

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

A gray ticket counter with a man in a blue shirt behind a glass.
This is what the ticket counter looks like, where you’ll buy your bus tickets to the border.

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

Dan, a white man in a green shirt and green hat, sits on a brown bus seat and leans on the seat in front of him and looks toward the camera.
Dan… enjoying the 4 hour chicken bus journey, haha. Actually this was our FINAL chicken bus trip from our year in Latin America!!
A green bus. The chicken bus we took from Belize City to the Belize Mexico border.
The chicken bus we took from Belize City to the Belize Mexico border.

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

The Belize immigration building, a bright blue and orange building with an A frame roof.
The Belize immigration building, where the chicken bus dropped us off in front of.
The inside of the Belize immigration building, two desks with a hanging sign that says border management agency.
The first desk where we paid our Belize exit tax. After we paid, we walked straight ahead to the next desk (hidden in this photo).

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!

An empty parking lot at the Belize to Mexico border crossing.
This is what the parking lot looks like when you exit Belize immigration into “no man’s land.” We walked toward that blue building in the distance, where we met up with a taxi (in this photo, you can spot the white taxi on the left-hand side, outside the fence!). I recommend you do the same.

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

Inside of a taxi. Outside the window are green trees and blue sky.
The taxi journey through no man’s land was easy! The hardest part was finding a taxi and figuring out the price between BZD, USD, and MXN currencies!

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

A Mexican immigration form.
The paper with our allotted 30 days in Mexico, which we handed to the border agent who charged us 687 MXN.

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

A selfie of Sarah and Dan, on the ADO bus in Mexico.
Happy to be in Mexico – after completing our final land border crossing during our year of Latin America travels!!
A big window looking out the front of a ADO bus in Mexico.
The ADO bus to Bacalar – super comfortable! I highly recommend ADO buses in Mexico.

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.

A view out a window of a very blu lake with a dock with a sail boat.
View from our dorm room at Yak Lake House – unedited! Those blues are REAL!
Sarah sitting on a sail boat on a very blue lake.
We spent an afternoon sailing on Bacalar Lagoon – one of my favorite experiences.

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.
A sail boat in Bacalar Lagoon, Mexico.
Sailing around Bacalar Lagoon – highly recommend!
Two paddleboards in Bacalar Lake at sunrise.
I also loved our sunrise SUP trip in Bacalar. Bacalar is the best!!

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!

Selfie of Sarah and Dan swimming in Lake Bacalar in Mexico.
Yes, this was by far our most expensive border crossing. But it was SO worth it to experience Mexico!!

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!

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This is your complete guide to the Belize to Mexico border crossing, including detailed directions for how to travel by boat or bus!
This is your complete guide to the Belize to Mexico border crossing, including detailed directions for how to travel by boat or bus!

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  1. Just wanted to comment as we found this post really helpful – thank you! We did this route today, but just wanted to add that a local on the bus prior to the border crossing told us to use the old border rather than the new one as he said we could then catch a collectivo to Chetumal for around 20 pesos rather than being charged a lot more by the taxis at the new border crossing. Another local at the border confirmed this and said we could walk 5/10 mins there (it’s marked as subteniente Lopez on Google maps) and get our passports stamped there, so we thought we would try it and see. Quite a few taxi drivers drove alongside us whilst we walked telling us we were going the wrong way and one even told us this border was closed and we had to use the other one but we kept going, past the casinos and over the bridge and at the Mexican immigration got our entry stamp from that border all fine! A local then kindly offered us a lift to Bacalar but there is a collectivo bus to Chetumal from there (20 pesos each) and there were also lots of tuk tuk drivers too. Hope that is helpful for anyone reading! Also the bus from Belize city to the border we caught went at but 10 but maybe because it was a Sunday?

    1. Ooh nice find! Sounds like you saved a good amount of money this way. So did the bus drop you off at the main border (from this post) and then you walked toward the other border from there?

      1. So there is only one office on the Belize side, the bus drops you there. The walk between the Belize and old Mexico offices 1.1km per Shorter than the new Mexico border route (which curves away from the free zone) the old route passes through the free zone which contains stores (like most borders) and casino. You can walk it but taxi drivers will harass you as expected. Only told one I was going to the other border when he said the border is the other way. Didn’t get any pushback, maybe because I’m a guy, or perhaps its been more traveled now since covid. After that, the rest just asked if I wanted a ride. It doesn’t have shade cover in the midday, but it’s only 10-15 min walk.

        A money changer came directly to the “chicken” bus I got off of when I arrived from Belize City. Think there was a permanent sign about money exchange there as well. This is right outside the Belize office. Also arrived around 130p from a 930a departure in BC. I arrived at the BC bus station at 820a and that was still the next available bus.

        I didn’t have to pay a fee for entering Mexico, nor was it even mentioned. Perhaps this was because my stay is under 7 days which the immigration officer wrote on my slip rather than the 30 days on yours.

        Once you pass through customs the colectivo is at the street corner. Not sure the wait because I arrived just before it took off and it wasn’t full. I paid 20 mxn for it and rode from its start to finish in Chetumal. It’s destination is just a minute walk to the ado bus station to the east of the airport. Not the one on the main road to the north of the airport.

        This ado station is quoted as 2nd class whereas the first class is the other station. I guess the station is second class because it’s open to the air but there is shade cover and I found an outlet in the back row of seats. They took a US visa card. The attendant just needed 10 mxn first for the debit tap card you get for boarding that she needed to load (not sure this needs to be in cash, I just had some on me). I paid 10 for the card, 400 for the ticket to Cancún, and 60 in tax. Not sure if the price was more than if I paid cash, but she mentioned 400 before I asked if they accept card. The bus has AC, curtains, and reclining cushioned seats so not sure if only the station is 2nd class(?) but I was expecting another public bus haha!

          1. Hola! We tried this route and unfortunately for us, it didn’t work. When we arrived at the old border at Subteniente Lopez, the border agent asked how long we were staying (26 days) and if we had an exit ticket (which we did and had it printed). However, then she requested all our ho(s)tel bookings for this period, also in print, which we (of course) didn’t have. She offered to print them for us, but there is no internet there, so we had no way of sending those over to her. We asked some locals if they would hotspot us but they told us there is no reception there, so… We had to go to the new border, where we unfortunately had to pay the exit tax (again…) even though we had our flight + cost overview printed. They just say it’s something else and if you don’t pay again, they just don’t give you a stamp.

            Once we found a taxi that would take us to the newer border, he mentioned something about the 7 day stamp you get at the old border, which is probably why it wasn’t an issue for Andrew who posted earlier. If you’re planning on staying in Mexico for longer than 7 days, for sure you’d have to have EVERYTHING printed (flight + hotel bookings), but as we didn’t get further than that, I’m not sure if they require anything besides this.

            Would be interesting to find out for how many days Hannah got a stamp for, as she didn’t mention this in her original post, in case she sees this 😛

            Have to say this border was highly annoying lol, and by far one of the worst (read: expensive) in Latin America.

  2. ADO buses from Chetumal to Cancún at Terminal ADO Centero are scheduled for:

    Thanks for the post!

  3. Thanks so much for giving me and Other more light on this travel from Belize to Mexico…am from Ghana and planning this journey as I can now travel visa free to Belize
    Extend my greetings to your wife and Everyone
    Kind Regards

  4. Hey guys,

    We just had a shocker at this border. Upon being asked to pay the Mexican entry fee we showed our departure flights from Mexico City to dispute this. A very bullish senior border official was called over who disregarded our flights and stated that we must pay the tax. We asked why and he immediately changed our time to 7 days. We were told that if we asked any more questions we would not be let in. We then decided we would pay the tax and tried to change our time to 21 days. This was denied, our forms were taken and we are now back in Belize city. We were even told that we are not allowed back in Mexico ever and are currently trying to assess the validity of that.

    So yea, even if it is a scam just pay the fees. We sure wish we did…

  5. Benjamin,
    Sarah is a US citizen and doesn’t require a visa to enter Mexico on a short stay. I’m not to sure as a Ghanaian you shall be allowed to enter through this border since Ghanaians need a visa to enter Mexico although Belize is visa free to Ghanaians.
    I stand to be corrected though, this opinion is just personal others who have successfully gone through the route can he give guidance….

  6. We did this crossing today too. Can confirm you can walk across – ignore the taxi drivers who say you can’t. You need to turn right at the roundabout once you’ve been stamped out of Belize and head into the “free zone”, past the casinos and over the bridge. On Google you can search for Princess Hotel and head that way.

    $40BZ fee to exit Belize, the bus drops you right at the office. There’s some guys changing money there who we were told do the best rate. They were offering 7.7pesos to the Belize$.

    Very easy entry into Mexico too, we’re staying for 7 days and didn’t have to pay anything. Bags were searched pretty thoroughly though. We just got a stamp with today’s date.

    There are taxi and colectivos that leave from just on the corner. We paid 130 pesos for a taxi to our hotel in Chetumal, about 20/25min drive.

  7. We just did this trip about three days ago. We had spent the night in Orange Walk to break up the northward journey and were told by one of the staff at our hotel that there are early morning buses (she thought departing at 7, 8, and 9 am; these may commence in Belize City) that take workers directly to Chetumal and that wait for you at the border crossing. We arrived at the bus station – NB. there is a “new” bus station in Orange Walk that is not very new, but both still show up on Google maps so make sure you’re going to the right one – shortly before 8 am, and nearly missed the bus as it leaves from the street outside, rather than from inside the bus station compound. This was one of the Tillett chicken buses, and had “Chetumal” as the destination on the front window. However, when the conductor came to take money for our ticket he told us they were only going to the border today. We didn’t find out which days they cross.

    At the border, a Belizean official told us we could walk to the old border and cross there rather than taking a taxi to the new crossing (much too far to walk). Outside, taxi drivers tried to tell us that we couldn’t do this, but once we walked up to the end of the fence in no-man’s-land there were tuk-tuks telling us they’d take us to the old border crossing for just a few pesos. Until that point we hadn’t decided whether to head for Chetumal or Bacalar, but we ended up opting to take a taxi directly to Bacalar. This was 500 pesos, negotiated through the fence outside the Belize exit point with a Belizean, who then called a taxi for us. (We had already walked up the road by this point to check out options, and taxi drivers were offering to take us to Bacalar for 600 pesos.) The driver then drove us to and waited for us at Mexican immigration, and drove us straight to our hotel in Bacalar, 30-40 minutes away. More expensive than an ADO, but we were ready for a break from buses. We didn’t pay an entry tax as we will be in Mexico 7 days or less; the border official checked our plane tickets before waiving the fee, and put our departure date on our entry papers (i.e., no changing our flight to extend our stay now without another trip to immigration somewhere).

    Note about the Mexican entry/exit tax: it really seems like it’s not worth arguing with officials about this, given Olly’s experience above and one we witnessed crossing into Belize in early Feb. One of the passengers on our ADO from Cancun to Belize City disputed this payment, aggressively telling the Mexican border official that he was not obliged to pay the exit tax. She eventually waved him onward without it, but when our bus got the the Belize entry point, he and his girlfriend were denied entry to Belize because they had no Mexican exit stamp in their passports. Our bus left them behind in no-man’s-land, having to find a ride back to the Mexican side of the border, and facing the situation of trying to cross back into Mexico without a Belizean exit stamp. Perhaps it worked out fine for them, but at best they lost a lot of time and their bus tickets into Belize City.

  8. Planning to cross this border in June, and wow this was extremely clear and helpful. Couldn’t find anything like it anywhere else. Thank you for your time !

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