We wanted to cross the border to Belize from Chetumal by water taxi and made the mistake of letting the taxi company call the border for information. This led to a bit of miscommunication, a fine and a few lessons learned…
To enter Belize with a dog you have to get an import permit, which will cost about 50 Belizian dollars (19 euro) plus tax and can take up to 7 days to be issued. You also need a health certificate from a veterinarian, based in the country where you came from. This then needs to be made official by someone at Sagarpa, the secretariat of agriculture.
Thanks to the connections of our couchsurfing host Paco, we got Lewis’s health certificate from a local vet in Chetumal for just a 100 pesos (5,6 euro). This didn’t take long to get, he basically just checked if his rabies vaccination was still valid and if he had gotten his deworming pills lately. As soon as we got it we went to Sagarpa to get the official form. This took quite a long time, the officials over there like to work at the same speed as their old computers do: very slow. A few hours later we finally got the official paper.
We had enough of Chetumal and wanted to go to Caye Caulker as fast as possible and decided not to wait for the import permit and to try our luck at the border. So, off we went.
There is only one of the two water taxi companies that has a license to transport animals and because of Lewis we got to sit on top of the boat getting a ride with the captain. This was a nice bonus. Once we arrived in San Pedro it was clear the customs officer was not going to let us enter the country without paying a fine for not having the import permit, even Val’s tears had no effect on him. He even said that he could put Lewis in quarantine on our expenses. We decided no to argue with the man for too long and paid the 100 Belizian dollar fine (about 40 euro) plus the 10 dollars inspection fee. He also explained that if we didn’t have the official health certificate, the fine would have been 200$, so our work in Mexico had paid off and for only 40 Belizian dollars extra we had successfully crossed the border with Lewis.
In the end the process is quite easy, as long as you know what to do.
So, to sum it up:
- Get an import permit online at least 7 days before you enter Belize. Total cost 65 Belezian dollar.
- Get a certified health certificate. Price depends on the vet.
- Ask for the water taxi company that accepts dogs. A dog gets the water taxi ride for free.
In general our advice would be, in order to make your life (and your dogs life) easier, to call at least a week in advance to the border of the country you want to visit and ask what you need to do if you want to import a dog. It can save you some money and a bit of trouble.