Comprehensive Guide to Shipping a Car and Belongings to Belize
Moving around within the U.S. is simple enough to do. You find a place to live, pack your boxes and possibly hire a moving crew to load and haul everything to the new place. If you’re lucky, the movers will even put everything in the right room and even set up electronics or appliances for you. Even if they don’t do that, your stuff arrives, and you unpack and begin life anew in the new home. That sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?
Moving to Belize, which means working your way through the passport process, dealing with customs agents and figuring out how to ship the things you love, as well as the ones you need can be a very daunting process to undertake. Central America is beautiful and for American expats, making a move to Belize can be a dream come true. It can also be a nightmare unless you take time to plan things accordingly, so you won’t feel overwhelmed with all that needs handled before, during and after the move.
Belize is a country where English speakers will feel comfortable because English is the official language. You will also hear Creole, Spanish and several other languages including Kekchi, Mopan and others.
The weather is nice and there are many beautiful beaches to enjoy paddle boarding, swimming or snorkeling, or just relaxing in a chair on the sand. You’ll also find a great market place where you can find virtually anything under the sun to buy and enjoy. The scenery is spectacular, and the people are warm and friendly. This is paradise at its finest.
Finding a Home
First, it’s a good idea to head to Belize ahead of the planned move if you have never been to the country before. You’re going to have to find a new place to lay your head at night and it’s wise to check out the area before you decide to lease a villa, book a room at a nice resort or put down your hard-earned money to buy property or a house to live in. As a foreigner, you can own property in Belize, but it’s best to work with a licensed realtor to find the best deals and learn about the best areas to build or buy.
Many expats stay in rentals where they can move around if they decide the local area isn’t what they wanted, or they want to upgrade to a better home. Whatever you decide, you’re still going to have to determine how to bring your belongings over.
Unless you like living out of a backpack and washing clothes every couple of days or so, you’ll want to have some comforts of home with you in Belize, especially if you plan a long-term move to start a new life in Central America. This means you need to hire a shipping company to move things for you.
The Physical Move
Plan to bring a car with you so you can get around with worrying about public transportation? A personal car can make local travel go much smoother than catching a packed bus or waiting on a busy taxi to pick you up when you need to get somewhere fast in Belize. It’s also easier, and much more fun to sight-see from the comforts of your own car rather than from a massively busy public bus.
First, you will need to have your passport stamped. As an American citizen, you will not need a visa to enter Belize but when you arrive, you will be given 30 days to stay. If you want to stay longer, you will need to go to the Immigration Department in Belize City and ask for an extension on the length of time you can stay.
Many people drive to Belize from the United States as that is a cheap way to get a car into the country. If you’re moving however, you will need to transport personal household goods along with the car and the best way to do this is going to be in a container.
A good international shipping company like A-1 Auto Transport can arrange to have the car shipped inside a 40-foot container and you will be able to pack your household goods inside the same container during your move. You’ll need to provide some important paperwork to customs to import the car. This includes:
- Driver’s License or Photo I.D.
- Proof of Ownership
- VIN documentation
- Sales/Purchase Invoice or Receipt
- Proof of Insurance
Cars that are over 4 cylinders will require a 15% tax on the value to import.
For property including laptops, cameras and other valuable electronics or property, it is wise to bring a receipt with them to show proof of what the item cost, so you can avoid paying excessive taxes on them. You can also file a certificate of registration before you move so you can avoid paying duty on them when you get to Belize.
Belize is not a difficult country to relocate to and expats from America and around the world have found it an ideal country to live in, work in and build life in. When you arrive, you will see for yourself how laid-back life can be and how refreshing it is to live in such a beautiful area of the world.