The money used in Belize is called the Belize dollar, often abbreviated as BZD. The official exchange rate is permanently set at 2 BZD to 1 US dollar, although some banks provide a slightly different rate.
Many visitors from the United States to Belize choose not to exchange money at all as the US dollar is accepted and warmly welcomed everywhere. The Belize dollar is only valid currency inside the borders of Belize, and it can be difficult to exchange it outside the country except at border towns in Mexico and Guatemala.
Cash is the most popular form of payment in Belize, although major hotels, resorts, lodges, and restaurants do accept credit cards, primarily Visa. Only a limited number of businesses accept MasterCard, American Express, or Discover.
Declaration of Funds
The law in Belize stipulates that every visitor entering the country must declare any cash or financial instruments totaling more than $5,000 in US currency or its value equivalent. If visitors enter with more than $5,000 and fail to declare it, the penalty is three times the undeclared amount.
Belizean Bank Notes
Belizean bank notes are world renowned for their beauty and colorful designs. All bank notes are printed by the British firm De La Rue, Limited. As a former British colony and current member of the Commonwealth, Belize has Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state. As such, all bank notes in Belize depict the official portrait of the queen on one side. The obverse of Belizean bank notes depict indigenous wildlife species as well as notable architectural landmarks such as bridges, buildings, or ancient Maya temples.
Belizean law prohibits its citizens from holding bank accounts in US currency. For Belizeans wishing to travel or in need of US currency for business purposes, they must make a special application to the Central Bank of Belize. However, Belizean passport holders who do not reside in the country are exempt from these restrictions but must declare any money or financial instruments with a value equal to or in excess of $5,000 in US dollars or their equivalent.
For visitors entering Belize via the land crossings in Mexico or Belize, the safest way to acquire local currency is at a bank. Unofficial money changers should be avoided at all times. Inside of Belize, banks can convert Belizean currency to US dollars, Canadian dollars, British pound sterling, or the Euro and vice versa.