importing a vehicle into Belize

What is the procedure to import a vehicle into Belize from Canada?  Have bought a property near Dangriga and will be building a home there.  Need answers to questions like: Where to find a reputable broker? How do I register the vehicle with Belize? How do I obtain vehicle insurance once there, and any recommended insurance company to deal with?
Thanks,
Phil

Just brought my car from Alberta to Belize. Drove it down. At the Belize border I got a broker who was there at Customs. He did a good job for me. If you are shipping it in a container you would need to find a broker here before you ship it. It is a good idea to have a bill of sale for the vehicle. Without one, they will value it at whatever price they want to evaluate it at. Once you get it through Customs, you take all the paperwork down to any of the insurance agencies (we use Atlantic) and get your insurance. Once you have your insurance, you take the vehicle, customs paperwork, and insurance down to the transportation department and register it. Pretty straight forward.

Thanks BmCraig,
Always difficult to figure out the ways of a different jurisdiction.....So there was a broker available at the border as you entered?  I am considering driving down from Ontario vs shipping via container.  Pros and cons both ways - time being a big factor as well as security driving through Mexico.  We would of course be crossing the US/Mexico border distant from where you did and taking another route down to  Belize, but how was your journey through Mexico?

The trip through Mexico was great. We crossed from the US at Del Rio. Stayed overnight there and bought Mexican insurance for the vehicle (this is a must). we left early the next morning to avoid line-ups at the border. Once you get into Ciudad Acuna you will be right at Customs. There you need to get a permit for your vehicle (the cost of that was $400 US for us but it is refundable when you leave Mexico at the Belize border). You also have to get visitor permits for everyone in the vehicle.
I have been told not to go off the toll roads for two reasons - one because the non-toll roads usually are very bad, and secondly because they are controlled by local police and/or cartels. Both those are dangerous. Toll roads are controlled by the Federales and they are good to tourists.
We followed toll roads the whole way. Don't depend on GPS as often you may not get a signal. I planned the route with Google Maps before I left and printed all the maps off, enlarging those where there might be confusion as to which turn-off to take. Be sure you go AROUND Mexico City, not through it as they have laws regarding which days you can drive there, depending on the last number on your plate. I have had people tell me it could take days to get through and fines are very hefty if you drive on a no-drive day. The highway going around the city is new and well marked. There was some construction when we went through and probably will be most of the time, but drive slowly in construction areas and everything is fine. We only encountered one police check in the 5 days it took us to go through the country. No problem there.
Make sure you have lots of pesos. Toll booths are many and they only take Mexican cash - no credit cards and no American money. We filled up with gas at PEMEX service stations and did not have a problem using our Canadian Tire credit card, however, I have been told you should be sure you have pesos just in case. NEVER DRIVE AFTER DARK. Arrange your day so you arrive well before dark as sometimes finding your hotel might be dicey. Two of the cities we had reservations at were difficult to navigate to find the hotel.
You will probably arrive at the Mexico/Belize border late in the day. Do not cross - stay overnight in Mexico and cross early in the morning. We made the mistake of crossing because it was before 4pm. There are brokers right at the border, but late in the day there may or may not be Customs agents. You want to have enough time to go through several Customs agents. There is no "set" rate for duties. Your broker will do all the negotiating for you, but he or she will have to go through several agents in order to get the rate down to a reasonable level. At 4 pm, there was only one agent and he was determined that the duty we should pay was greater than the value of our car. We came back the next morning early (7:30) and it was 2pm before I was through everything (including getting Belize insurance). There is an insurance agency right after you go through customs where you can get your insurance.
Also be prepared to pay for services (ie bribes). It will cost about $1200 BZ in cash for the final Customs agent "for getting your duties so low". Also, there will be porters assisting you and the broker. They do not get paid for their work other than the "tips" people give them. There were 3 that assisted me in one way or another and it cost me $60 BZ each. They will tell you to "give what is in your heart" but if they think you have not given them enough they will let you know. You do not want to make them angry because everybody has relatives everywhere in Belize and you may have to do business with one of the relatives some day. Their memories are very good. Your broker will charge you a set fee, and will tell you up front what his or her fee is (if he doesn't volunteer, ask).

Sorry, just sent a repeat message by mistake!  Thanks so much for your advice!!

Yup, I agree on most, and I drove through Mexico to Belize at the end of October 2019.  I crossed into Mexico in a car I bought in Arizona, an older RAV4, it blended well.  Paid $200 to the Federales, bc of the cars age.  It was almost easy peezy but I only had one suitcase and some hand tools and snacks.  If you’re loaded up with a pickup bed full of crap, like the Canadians or Washington couple I met, be prepared for a more time consuming search.  I paid whatever fees, less than $400 total for me, and I was on my way in an hour.  By the way, I had to go to three different windows in one large room to do what seemed like one window could accomplish.  Got my stamps for my car with/on my visa stamp, and they gave me a big sticker for my car window, like a permit.  Be sure to have the original car title and three copies of all documents, including insurance cards and passport.  I drove only during the day along the coast, and took the toll roads when possible.  THE TOLL ROADS ARE NOT CONTIGUOUS AND END RANDOMLY, and your left with dirt and stone roads again, seeking the next toll road you hope comes soon!  There was one pothole big enough to put the whole RAV4 into.  Be alert and watch carefully the shaded road areas.  Don’t stop at any small town roadside businesses unless you want to attract unnecessary attention.  MOST GAS STATIONS HAVE CONVENIENCE STORES FOR FOOD AND DRINKS, and security guards.  I tipped everyone well, and they appreciated it.  I even had the one security guard stand guard outside the bathroom after I tipped him.   By the way, take LOTS of Mexican money bc the roads ARE NOT LIKELY TO YIELD MANY CASH MACHINES, and I had to resort to changing US dollars with a military policeman on at least one occasion.  He was very happy to give me half the currency exchange rate, and I was happy to give it to the man with the guns.  Sometimes negotiations are overrated.  Looking back, I probably should have researched my nightly stops, bc they happened to coincide with gang mass murder events from the media reports I read.  On the brighter side, the hotels were cheap, and I stayed only at very nice ones, and the price was likely lower bc of a drop in tourism.  I made the drive in two and a half daylight days.  I began early and stopped prior to dark, NO EXCEPTIONS!!!  DO NOT DRIVE AT DARK.  As far as nighttime activity, I did go out to some nice bars and a pool hall.  The nightclubs all had full security, and I could tell they didn’t get many Gringos.  I didn’t stay long anywhere, I did my people watching, tipped any of the staff that helped me, and made sure to tip the manager that went out of their way to accommodate me.  I dressed not so well to stand out but good enough not to be beaten down at the door.  I was told at several places that there were no tables and that a reservation was required, but in Mexico once they realize you’re a Gringo and you top them a bit. they will find you a nice table, but please order a bunch of food and some drinks and then tip well.  Your conduct may help the next lone American crossing Mexico and looking for a nice meal.  I stopped the first night in Tampico, the second in Coatzacoalcos (nightclub massacre), and the third in - heck, I can’t remember but I think I was in Belize and heading to Orange Walk.  By the way, I wasn’t planning on driving through Mexico to Belize, but it kinda just happened.  I just took a uneducated, except for reading many website articles, gamble to have a line adventure in a place so many earn to stay away from.  I do speak enough Spanish to converse and get by and I blend well.  BLENDING IS KEY, but if you have to stick out, please try to stop only at nice gas stations and stay at nice hotels, all with security... NEVER EVER FOR ANY REASON DRIVE AT NIGHT.  Do a google search of drug gang activities and massacres (note to oneself) before you choose your hotel nighttime layovers.
I hit the Belize border and went through as a tourist, after handing in and getting my refund paperwork done on the Mexican side.  I used a Cc and they, Mexico, returned my money to it.  I wasn’t sure at first, but sure enough the money was returned in a few days or so.  WARNING, there’s a $500 BZ penalty to pay the duties on your car after entering on a tourist visa and temporary permit for the car.  This penalty is “flexible “ I guess bc I only paid half of it at the Guatemala/Benque Viejo border customs office where I paid my duties.  (I was told by the Benque broker that they are easier to deal with at the Mexico border for duties, compared to the Guatemala side)
OK, I paid a broker to help but I gave a poor first impression to the officer in charge, and this probably cost me a few hundred US dollars in the end.  NOTE TO ONESELF, shut the hell up and keep your personal desires and beliefs to yourself, let your agent do the talking until everyone is friends!  Ok, duties paid, about $600 US, and then I needed to go to Belmopan to the Transportation Department, or some similar name to get the title work done. There I paid more money, handed in the vehicle title, and received a hand written formatted vehicle title to announce to anyone who cared that I owned a Belizean vehicle, and COOLEST OF ALL I received a license plate from Belize.  AWESOME!  Anyway, now that I was legal (I already paid for insurance at the Mexican border) I went to wash the car and make it unugly, a word that should exist.  Unuglifying a car is the process of making it not so unseemingly valueless after a staged valuation by someone paid to notice the shortcomings of your car and use these qualities to have you pay less than you probably should.  It took about $20 US to have the car washed and the interior cleaned at a local roadside shop in Belmopan.  Warning, if you think the Capital of Belize is going to look like D.C. you will be surprised.  Belmopan is more like a highway rest stop in the middle of Montana.  Government facilities resemble the accessory buildings of high school facilities that are in the process of demolition.  Such is the laid back life of Belize, and I can learn to love it!  Try to blend, and enjoy the Papusas, yummy 😋  If you run into Dannymaz in Belmopan or anywhere else, I drink Bourbon, Diet Coke( no ice) in the can or bottle, bottled water ( unopened), and I eat.  Remember, never put off til tomorrow what you can postpone until next week. Thanks, Dan

Dannymaz again: I forgot to say that you WILL need to get Mexican car insurance before going into Mexico.  I have Geico, the little green lizard/gecko, in the US and they hooked me up with a 3rd party insurer they deal with.  It was easy, all it took was money 💰 I paid less than $50 to drive through Mexico.  My theory on payments is if it’s less than $50 it’s a tip and don’t worry about it 😎 La vida loca

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