The Belize International Airport re-opens on August 15th 2020. Here are the rules you need to follow before you visit.
Belize Airport Overview
The Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport (PGIA), is the primary international airport of Belize and is located only 10 miles from Belize City.
All international flights to Belize arrive at the Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA/BZE) on the outskirts of Belize City. With a long main runway measuring 9,700 feet, PGIA is able to receive full-size aircraft. American Airlines, Copa Airlines, Delta, TACA, Southwest Airlines, United and U.S. Airways all provide non-stop service to PGIA from Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, New York City and Miami in the United States and Cancun and Flores, Mexico, San Salvador, El Salvador, three cities in Honduras, and Panama City, Panama.
Overnight parking is available at the Philip Goldson International Airport for 18 Belizean dollars per night. Locals are required to pay a departure tax of 35 Belizean dollars and all non-Belizeans must pay a departure tax of 37.50 U.S. dollars.
Inside Belize, local airlines Tropic Air (TA) and Maya Island Air (MIA) serve a number of airstrips and air fields domestically.
Belize Airport Codes
Airports and air fields in Belize:
Philip Goldson International (BZE/PGIA) – A fully equipped modern airport that handles all international traffic
Belize City (TZA) – Handles some domestic flights to and from the country’s largest city
Belmopan (BCV) – Service provided by TA for the country’s capital
Caye Caulker (CUK) – Service provided by TA and MIA
Caye Chapel (CYC) – Service provided by TA and MIA
Corozal Town (CZH) – Service provided by TA and MIA for Corozal District
Dangriga (DGA) – Service provided by TA and MIA for Stann Creek District
Independence and Mango Creek (INB) – Charter flights only
Maya Flats (MYF) – Service provided by TA for San Ignacio Town/Benque Viejo in Cayo District
Orange Walk (ORZ) – Service provided by TA and MIA
Placencia (PLJ) – Service provided by TA and MIA
Punta Gorda (ORZ) – Service provided by TA and MIA
Sarteneja (SJX) – Charter flights only
Savannah (SVH) – Service provided by MIA for Stann Creek District
San Pedro (SPR) – Service provided by TA and MIA for Ambergris Caye
The Belize International Airport At a Glance
The proper name for this airport is “Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport” (PGIA). Anyone watching flights to or from PGIA should look for code “BZE.”
PGIA is just 10 miles away from Belize City, Belize, residing within Ladyville, Belize.
While several local airstrips dot the country, like on Ambergris Caye, PGIA is the only one with a runway sufficient for the large jets necessary for international aviation.
PGIA is roughly the same scale as a regional American airport. Passengers exit the plane from the stairs, cross the tarmac and walk to the airport-jet bridges are unnecessary due to Belize’s weather. After clearing customs and immigration, international passengers can leave; local flights only deal with security at the main terminal.
International Arrival Process: Flight attendants will distribute important forms during the flight and these forms should be completed before reaching the immigration section. While immigration forms cover individuals, a customs form is suitable for entire households. Immigration will verify your information and process your passport. Once you finish with Immigration, you can move on to baggage claim. Lines exist for non-residents, Belizeans, CARICOM members and the wheelchair-bound.
Local Time: Belize uses Central Standard Time but does not worry about Daylight Savings.
PGIA is open every day of the week from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m..
ATMs: The main terminal features two ATMs, Atlantic Bank and Belize Bank; only Belizean currency is covered by them.
Currency Exchange: It is unnecessary to convert American dollars into Belizean ones; a single American dollar bill is worth as much as two Belizean ones. Common policy when paying with American money is to receive change in Belizean currency.
Business Venues: Multiple restaurants and businesses operate throughout the airport, including duty-free shops in the arrival and departure areas. Terminals 1 and 2 both souvenir shops and restaurants. Furthermore, even those in the departure lounge an find a place to eat.
Providers: Mayan Island Air and Tropic Air are Belize’s two local aviation companies. Both feature ticketing within the main terminal. After pursuing all of the steps for international arrivals, you can then check in for any local flight. Clearing security to departure and then the flight gate is a breeze and the flight to Ambergris Caye lasts around 15 minutes, allowing you some great shots of the Belize Barrier Reef during the flight.
Wheels: Taxis are available from beyond the airport’s arrivals gate and rental cars are also offered from PGIA’s parking lot.
American has a non-stop service from Los Angeles (LAX), Miami, Charlotte, NC, Miami, and Dallas-Ft. Worth. The flying times from Miami are two hours, three hours from Dallas, 3.5 hours from Charlotte, and five hours from Los Angeles. In November 2016, American started to operate a direct flight from London (UK) to Belize with a stopover in Miami.
Avianca offers non-stop flights from San Salvador (El Salvador) which is a 60-minute journey.
Southwest has a two-hour non-stop flight from Houston (Hobby) and also operates a non-stop seasonable flight from Denver with a flying time of about four hours. The seasonable flight runs from March to April every year.
United has non-stop service to Belize from Houston (IAH), Newark, NJ, and Chicago (O’Hare). Flying time from Newark is about 6 hours, from Chicago 4 hours, and two hours from Houston.
Tropic Air is predominately a domestic air carrier in Belize, but the airline also has short-hop international service between Belize City and the island of Roatan (Honduras), Cancun (Mexico), San Pedro Sula (Guatemala), and Flores (Guatemala). Flights to Honduras and Guatemala take approximately one hour while the destinations in Mexico have a duration of about 90 minutes.
On Return Flights
Most international airlines will let you check in online, though some airlines demand this step to secure a seat. Double check your particular airline’s policy regarding check ins. When checking it, make sure you know you flight information, passenger information and passport. While you can check your luggage at the ticketing counter, PGIA does not do pre-checks with TSA. Give yourself at least two hours to make it to the airport before your flight.
Belize Airport Departure Tax and Border Exit Fees
For individuals with an American, Canadian, EU, or CARICOM passport, there is no visa to enter the country. Entering Belize involves zero fees or taxes.
However, when non-residents of Belize leave the country, there is a mandatory departure tax.
How the Tax Is Paid
If you are flying out of Belize, the departure tax may be included in the price of your airfare. It is recommended that all visitors investigate whether their airfare includes the mandatory departure tax because if it is not included, it must be paid upon leaving the country.
Confusingly, some taxes are quoted in American dollars (USD) and some in Belizean dollars (BZD) but all foreigners are required to pay in American currency.
For individuals who spend less than 24 hours in Belize (i.e. travelers transiting through Belize), there is no conservation fee. Any visitor spending more than 24 hours in the country must pay a conservation fee of BZD 7.50 upon exiting the country.
Every traveler departing from the Philip S.W. Goldson airport outside of Belize City, including those who have spent less than 24 hours in the country, must pay the departure tax.
For Belizean citizens and individuals with residency in Belize, the departure tax is $35 BZD. There is also a security fee of $0.75 USD that must be paid for a “security screening.”
For non-citizens and non-residents of Belize, the departure tax is $35.50 USD plus the “security screening” fee of $0.75 USD.
For travelers leaving Belize via land/water crossings to Guatemala or Mexico, the departure tax is BZD 2.50 for a “border development” fee, BZD 7.50 for the conservation fee, and BZD 30 for the departure tax itself. In total, travelers must pay BZD 40 to leave the country via a land/water crossing.
Note: All departure fees (not included in airfare) must be paid in CASH. Credit and debit cards are not accepted.
Why Does Belize Charge a Departure Tax?
According to the government, the monies collected are earmarked for infrastructure development and conservation programs.
Do Children Have to Pay These Fees Too?
Getting to Belize
Belize’s location in the north of Central America makes it an easy destination to get to from anywhere in the world.
For North Americans, the main carriers are Delta, SouthWest, Avianca, United and American Airlines. Unless you live in Houston, Miami, New York or Atlanta, expect to have to transfer at one of these major cities. Occasionally you may be able to catch a connection in either Los Angeles or Chicago.
Unfortunately, because of how large North America is, the time to your destination varies greatly depending on where you’re located. While a direct flight out of Miami is only 2.5 hours, Toronto travelers can expect a four to five hour trip with WestJet which operates seasonally from November to April every year. Even so, no matter where you depart from or who you depart with, you’ll always end up at the Phillip Goldson International Airport in Belize City.
Should you want a cheaper way to travel that takes a bit longer, nothing beats going by land. Try Mexico’s ADO bus line, taking visitors to Belize City from Cancun and Playa del Carmen. There are also the Guatemalan Linea Dorada buses that travel from Flores, Peten and Guatemala City to Melchor de Menchos, a small Guatemalan town on the border of Belize.
Travel within Belize is a Breeze
If you’ve ever been to a foreign country and had a tough time getting around after you arrive, Belize requests the pleasure of your company. In-country travel is so easy and effortless, we call it breezy. Approximately the same size as the state of Vermont, Belize is small enough to make sure you see everything you wish to see, because instead of traveling to and from attractions and sites, you can spend all of your time “being there.” The following ground and air options should cover all of your in-country needs, and unlike other Caribbean destinations, you can travel seamlessly from place to place by bus without ever having to share the ride with noisy crowds and squawking chickens!
Travel by car
Come and go when you please by renting a car while you’re in Belize; especially if you are skilled at map reading and have a good sense of direction. That said, frequent Belize visitors rarely take this option because they know that their resort hosts specialize in getting guests where they want to go, so you can avoid car rental fees and driving strange roads. That stated, if you are the independent sort and require a car, choose between these two recommended resources: Untame Belize www.untamebelize.com (011-501-671-5281) and Barefoot Rentals and Services http://barefootservicesbelize.com/ (011-501- 629-9602) to get the best rates during your stay. Use BELIZEHUB coupon to get a discount.
Travel by air
Whether you’re in a rush to get from place to place or love flying, two Belize airliners service a limited number of cities and offer convenience and time savings. There are plenty of north-south routes ready to deliver you to these small airports expeditiously: Ambergris Caye, Belize International, Belize Municipal, Big Creek, Caye Caulker, Caye Chapel, Corozal, Dangriga, Placencia and Punta Gorda. Down the line, things will get even easier once Ambergris Caye’s little runway turns into an international airport. Service from Belize is fairly inexpensive at around $68 USD one way. Your in-country carrier options are Maya-Island Air www.mayaregional.com (Belize: 011-501-223-1140; USA: 1-800-225-6732) and Tropic Air www.tropicair.com; (Belize: 011-501-226-2012; USA: 1-800-422-3435).
Travel by bus
Belize bus fares and schedules change frequently to service busy routes, but what never changes is the fact that you won’t find a more affordable way to get around! This is the primary transportation method for people throughout the nation, and at any given time, eight bus lines service residents and tourists alike. Your resort host will be a font of information if you need bus service to get where you’re going, but http://www.guidetobelize.info/en/travel/belize-bus-timetable-route-guide.shtml, is a terrific resource for getting information on bus times, locations and fares.
Travel by cab
As you can imagine, taxis are easy to find in this thriving tourist mecca, so if you prefer not to go by bus and don’t mind paying more, taxis could become your favorite form of travel while you’re in Belize. Drivers eager to help offer helpful information in hopes their tips increase, but if you’re already paying a premium price to travel long distances (Belize City to San Ignacio, for example, could set you back $125 USD!), you can probably afford to tip generously. While the government posts rates at Belize City’s international airport, taxi companies often use that day’s gas prices as their rate-setting guide. Look for green license plates and once you flag one down, ask how much your driver charges to transport you to your destination before you get in to show him how Belize-savvy you happen to be!
Get a copy of The Ultimate Belize Bucket List! Written by Larry Waight, a local with more than twenty years of experience in the travel industry, the book is packed with tips, information, and recommendations about all of the best things to see and do in Belize.