Driving from Canada to Belize with 2 dogs towing an RV

Hi everyone

Thought that maybe some people will find this post interesting..

My husband and I with our 2 small dogs drove with our Van towing our 27 1/2' travel trailer from Kelowna, BC Canada to Hopkins, Belize in October, 2015.

If bring pets into Belize apply online to BAHA officials for your pet permit. Cost is $50USD per pet and takes up to 10 days.

It took us 11 days driving.

We crossed into the USA at the Osoyoos border crossing and drove to Pendalton, Oregon and fiinally finishing in Anthony, Texas.
During our trip through the United States we boondocked at truck rest stops and every 2nd night we stayed somewhere with full hookup.

We crossed into Mexico at the Juarez broder crossing. This is what we learned from that experience.

1. NEVER drive at night. the roads are horrid and you will ruin your vehicle or worse, like encounter a drunk driver. Period.
2. Get Mexico car insurance before you enter into Mexico. It's hard to find in Juarez if you don't. We paid for 7 days of mexican insurance.
   If you google mexico car insurance for sale in texas you will find plenty that will insure you.
3. Make sure all aspects of the border are open when you cross. 8am/9am is usually a good time.
4. You will have to pay for a car/truck permit plus an rv permit if pulling an rv. Permits are available for up to 180 days.
   Ours for 180 days cost $450 which is refundable upon exit at 180 days. We chose that long to make life easer upon our return to Canada.
5. For us personally it cost $25/each for 180 days at immigration.
6. Have copies of everything...from the purchase agreement to your insurance coverage to your pasports.
7. Travelling with dogs you will need your vet to examin your pet, fill out a Canadain Animal Export Form
   as well as a Canada Agriculture form stamped within 10 days of crossing into mexico. We got ours stamped in Vernon, BC.
   Belize gives you 14 days to make it across their border only. So no dilly dadling :) MAKE COPIES OF THESE PAPERS AS WELL.
   $50 Vet exam fee, $20 each pet for Canadian Agricultural stamp.
8. Make sure you have Pesos for gas and food as not all gas stations accept major credit cards. Nor do the borders.

We went the longest possible route through Mexico. From Juarez to Mexico City then over to Chetumal. We thought this route would be best because
of all the toll highways. We are unsure what the other roads looked like but we spent $3900 pesos getting to Chetumal from Juarez and only about
10% of the roads were decent. So pack your unit well! Also make sure you have a spare tire for your RV as well as your tow vehicle.

Also if you drive in or around mexico city please google what their license plates laws are regarding emmission control. We were driving through
Mexico City on a Friday and got a $250 USD fine because our plate on our trailer ends in the #9. arguably the trailer does not have an engine
therefore no emmissions but you try telling a mexican policia that. They originally asked for $500 USD so we got away with paying less. 

During our road trip through mexico, we boondocked at PEMEX gas stations. Sounds crazy, but they have armed guards there and it was safe.
If you happen to see something you think is shady, it probably is so look the other way. Pay no attention. It took us 4 nights and 5 days driving
to make it through Mexico.

At the Mexico / Belize border there is what is called a free zone. To enter it, you leave Mexico, but you do not enter Belize yet. We stayed in the
free zone for 1 night at the Las Vegas Hotel. A great hotel with very friendly and helpful staff. There are bank machines that give out belize dollars.

Entering into Belize is tricky. There are 5 steps with no pets, 6 with pets.
1. Get Belize car insurance before you enter Belize. In the free zone there are insurance companies. They insure up to 4 months but only for comprehensive.
   So drive carefully!!
2. There is a little white house that you have to stop at before the border. They spray/fumigate your trailer to get rid of the cockroaches that you may have picked up in Mexico. Cost $6 Belize.
3. Go to immigration. this is where you may need to lie. If you plan on staying more than a month NEVER tell them that. Tell them that you are
   visiting for 30 days or less. Being honest will make you have to pay 12% duty up to 70% duty on your vehicles and contents.
4. Get your vehicle import permits. Again only say 30 days.
5. See the BAHA officials regarding your pets. Inspection $10 USD each pet.
6. Get your vehicle inspected and off you go! You are now in Belize.
(We somehow got away with not paying immigration for entrance so we do not know how much this costs).

The first town you will enter is Corozal Town. In Corozal Town there is a great RV Resort with full hookup. It's called Caribbean Village. The cost is $20USD per night or $480 USD per month.
It is right across the street from the ocean with unobstructed views. The Owners and staff are very friendly and helpful.

The only other RV spots with Full Hookups are in San Ignacio. They have `two at the time of this writing.
San Ignacio is a very beautiful town that borders Guatemala. Their market is a must see! The food is awesome and the people are amazing!

DO NOT trust any advertisements that say they are RV friendly. They are not. Period. Unless you are in a camper van or something very small and you do not require hookups. We drove all through Belize looking and had to boondock. There simply are no RV resorts except the three I mentioned.

Once into Belize for your 30 days, you can pretty much stay as long as they let you. On your immigration form there are 4 more spots for extensions. But understand you can extend much longer if you wish.

So, one or two days prior to your exit date that immigration gave you, you simply go to an immigration office
(if you have a vehicle &/or RV you must go to one that has customs at it). Immigration is in most major towns.
Immigration with Customs is at the border you crossed or at Big Creek as they have a port of entry there. 

Driving to Belize has been an adventure to say the least. Traffic in Mexico is insanely busy! Never go into a Mexican township with your RV as
you will get stuck. That goes for Belize as well. The streets are way to narrow and way to busy with other motorists and pedestrians. Almost all cities
have some sort of bypass around them. Use them!

On a side note, we are currently the only RV in Belize. And driving through Mexico we seemed to be the only one also. People will look and stare
as they haven't seen an RV in a long time. Just give them a wave and they smile and wave back.

The issues that are in Mexico right now and seem to have been plagued with for last few years (mostly drug related), has unfortunately eliminated
most RV tourism into Central America. It would be nice to see it as a RV destination again, as it was in the past. 

We did not experience anything bad or scary in our travels down here.

Belize is a small, beautiful country with lots to see and do while here. And most people in Belize speak English.

If you are thinking about driving down here, do it! You will love the experience! Lots of people will scare you with their tales of woe and of what they
have heard. Go with your gut. Be friendly and polite and again, trust your gut. If something feels "off" it probably is so politely excuse yourself and go
on your merry way.

Happy travels.

Actually, you are probably the 2nd RV to hit Belize this month. I drove in on October 9th with a little (Toyota) Dolphin 21 footer and 1 cat.  Never saw another RV in Mexico the whole 3 days that I drove through. And not a single US or Canadian license plate, for that matter. I tried to find RV campgrounds, but ended up boondocking at truckstops. Could not find WiFi, either.
Next time I will get a GPS unit and pre-program it!

Nice to hear we are not the only ones!!! Are you still in Belize? There are 3 campgrounds here that I know of. One in Corozal town and 2 in San Ignacio. We had the same issue with wifi. Some of the Pemex gas stations that have a restaurant attached to them have wifi while they are open for business.

I am actually living in a cement home in Esperanza, just east of Santa Elena. I will do some exploring, then probably try to sell the RV to someone who wants to travel a lot or to someone who is building on purchased property.

Hi again

I googled Esperanza. It looks beautiful..and big! Belize has so many interesting places!!!!

I was wondering if you could tell us the route you took and what towns you stayed the night in on your way to Belize. We are going home up the east coast but unsure what is the best route.

Did you encounter any problems at all on your way down. The safety reports are horrid...as they were throughout the route we took and it was all good. Just thought speaking to someone who has been through recently might help :)

Any info would be awesome!!

I used the eastern route that JohnP created. If you PM me your email address, I can forward the file to you. Very detailed, too much for me without a copilot! I ended up just looking for the next city name and highway number, which actually worked pretty well. 
My biggest problem was an inability to get a GPS signal, so I got off track a couple of times. Tampico traffic was a nightmare.  I ended up following a truck, which was going out of town, fortunately.
I got hit with a US$200 "fine" in Tuxpan for an imaginary "infraction." Otherwise, the police checkpoints were innocuous.
Most of the toll roads were in good shape, but I still would not drive at night because of surprise road conditions. I think I spent about US$200 in tolls, be sure that you have enough pesos. Contrary to some people's advice, you do not need coins. Bills work fine, and some of the tolls were pretty expensive for an RV. A couple of them were about 300 pesos!

Thanks for help!!

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Moderated by kenjee 4 years ago
Reason : For own security measures, please do not share email address on the forum, you could use our private message system for that.

We'll be driving through Mexico to Belize in our RV with our truck in tow and our 4 dogs next year. We plan on an extended vacation (6 months) with the hope of staying. The mcconnells said not to tell them we will be staying longer than a month, but I've heard that not having duties paid on our vehicles will create problems every month when we renew our visas. What does everyone think?

Also, we're planning on coming down the west coast for the first half of our journey then cutting over to the east coast (maybe at Guadalajara?) and continuing down to BZ (San Ignacio). Any route suggestions?

hi Mcconnells...
very interesting reading your travel experience to Belize..☺️😊.
We are living in Creston BC...&  would love to to to you by phone.
We hope to pull a trailer down there in Nov.   ..to property we have put an offer on.
is there away we can contact you...with out either of us being too public?

Greetings ..stay away from the west coast , nice big highway but the cartels control most of the  hotels and any other places tourists might stay or stop at..the police are there but 0n the take , they look for out of state plates , Canadian or  America, and they will harass you and demand money any thing of value..i have been through Mexico 12 times one of which was the west coast left to Guadalajara , you will be a target, it is an easy drive and quick but risky , i just talked to two big German men who just did that drive 5 months ago , the police stopped them under a false pretense , with a fictitious traffic violation , place them under arrest at the seen , and only released them after they gave up all valuables, take your  chances , or  when you get to the US , mex border you follow the highway in the USA going east then to Reynosa  or Mcallen , then south ...my opinion..check with the Mexican embassy in Vancouver or  AAA the one along the Mexican border ...dont forget to buy your TEmporary Importation permit , at the Mexican Motor Vehicle branch  i believe now you have to  give a deposit down refundable at this end .along the west coast there was no where to camp , do your  home work.

I did not pull an RV, but I drove my car to Belize from Alberta 9 months ago. I crossed into Mexico at Del Rio, Texas (Ciudad Acuna, Mexico). I followed toll roads all the way and except for a couple places where there was construction, the roads were good all the way. I did not drive into any of the big cities (especially not Mexico City). I would suggest taking the road going around them. The one around Mexico City is new, good, and well marked. I also printed off enlarged maps of all the roads I planned to take in Mexico, which turned out to be good because as has been mentioned before, finding wifi is very iffy. Took us 5 days to cross Mexico. We crossed into Belize at 4:00 pm, thinking it was early enough. Big mistake! Ended up having to leave the car at Customs overnight and come back in the morning or pay more than the car was worth in duty. The next day I was back at Customs at 7:30 am and did not get out of there until 2:00pm, but did get the duty cost cut way down to reasonable. (in all went through 5 customs agents)

Wow... 5 custom agents... Ouch.... Was it worth it?
We will be pulling an older trailer... Which we plan on leaving in Belize,
On the land we are buying...
Oh dear... Wonder how that will work. Anyway.... THANK YOU SO MUCH
FOR YOUR ADVICE AND EXPERIENCE!

For an older vehicle, yes, it was worth it, but we have decided, in the long run, if we want a newer vehicle, we would buy here. North American vehicles are made to run on low sulphur fuel. The fuel here is high sulphur and within two months the catalytic converter was burned out. In research we found that the vehicles sold new here are made specifically for this high sulphur fuel so if we want a newer vehicle, we would buy here next time.

bmcraig :

The fuel here is high sulphur and within two months the catalytic converter was burned out.

Living about 6 months of the year in Placencia village, we walk or bike most places we want to go. Occasionally we use a readily available Cab. A couple of times each year, we will rent a car for a few days to explore other areas, or make a run to Belmopan/Spanish Lookout.

(now to connect to your post  ;) )
All the cars I have rented were brought in from the USA, and all had a check engine light on.....because the  catalytic converter had been replaced with a small muffler or a straight pipe. After the first time I rented I brought with me black electrical tape or one time a band aid to put over the check engine light that is way to bright when driving at night.  :o

Can't ever remember driving in Belize in a vehicle over about 6 months old without the check engine light on. Even in the locally purchased Wingles. There are a couple of places here in Belmopan have the readers for them, but after 'repairs' the light is back in hours. Mostly black tape over the light  is the repair that gets rid of it.

Well.... did the OP from Alberta buy a farm. Did they live happily ever after?

Very interesting... BM CRAIG...And helpful. We will definitely keep that in mind. THANK YOU.

Hello,

Can you tell me about the fees to import the RV?
I would like import mine who is in Yucatan, plates from Quebec.
I saw in Hopkins a sir who import his, a 1992 RV. He paid only 1500bz.
Mine is 1998 but I don't know if it will be the same fee.

Thanks

Great info - thanks!

How is the crime situation in Belize after living in Canada?
Are the locals folks receptive to Canadians?

Thank you,
Khalid

Nutz,
A bit of a late reply to your post, but I brought in a 1992 Toyota Dolphin with a V6 engine, had a bill of sale for USD $6000. Paid about 60% of that when I got around to officially "patriating" it, after 2 months here. (I had played tourist upon entry, to avoid extra hassle at the border. Adding the cat was enough!)
As with everything in Belize, your results may vary greatly depending on the day and the officer in charge.

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