Currency, Exchanging Money and Tipping in Belize
Belize Currency – Advise For Travelers To Belize
The currency in Belize is the Belizean Dollar, often abbreviated BZD. The Belizean dollar is pegged to the U.S. dollar at 2:1, making it extremely easy to convert prices.
American bank notes (i.e. “paper money” as opposed to coins) are widely accepted through Belize. Indeed, many American visitors never even need to convert their dollars into the local currency.
Most major hotels, resorts, and upscale restaurants accept credit and debit cards.
Visa cards have the widest acceptance in Belize with American Express and Discovery having a minimal presence in the country. Smaller businesses usually do not accept MasterCard due to fees charged by the company. Be aware that your card issuer will usually charge a currency conversion or inversion fee, so be sure to check ahead of time.
Visitors must declare any currency or financial instruments of US $5,000 or more. There is also a departure tax that must be paid in cash using American dollars only, currently $56 per person.
Banks and larger hotels are the safest and most secure places to exchange money. Beware of freelance money exchangers, particularly near the border with Mexico. Banks generally operate from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM and are closed on national holidays.
There are international ATMs located in all of the larger towns in Belize. These generally charge a fee of $5-10 per transaction. Your local bank may also impose additional surcharges. Be aware that ATMs in Belize sometimes experience connectivity issues and may not always be available.
Traveler’s checks, particular from American Express, are accepted in some locations. The best place to cash a traveler’s check is at a bank, but some merchants do accept them. If you do cash a traveler’s check at a merchant, common practice is to leave the recipient’s name blank as traveler’s checks are usually later counter-signed by someone else.
Outside of Belize, the only places you can spend Belizean dollars is at a few border towns like Melchor de Mencos in Guatemala (across from Benque de Viejo) and Chetumal in Mexico (across from Corozal). Be aware that Belizean dollars are NOT accepted inside the Corozal Free Zone, only American dollars and Mexican pesos.
Tipping taxi drivers is not necessary. For restaurants and resorts, check the bill to see if a gratuity has already been included. If it hasn’t, tipping 10% is common for standard service and 15% for exceptional service. Tipping for concierge services is also generally practiced.