A Little Confusion… The Mexico to Belize Border Crossing at Chetumal

Last updated on March 5, 2022

Given how popular this border crossing is, and the sheer lack of information, I am excerpting the latest detailed comments from travelers who have just done the border crossing during Covid restrictions. Far below this information is the original post, but do not assume that any information you find online is accurate unless it’s been updated in the past month with the constantly-changing Covid protocols. Here is an synopsis of the stand-out comments relevant to crossing the Mexico and Belize border at Chetumal in Jan 2022. The comments at the very end of the post have even more details and travelers weighing in.

Travelers have shared the contact numbers for a safe, affordable taxi transfer—these are reliable options for crossing either way (from Belize into Mexico, or vice versa). Each driver also speaks English, has contacts on the Mexico side, and can help you with advice on how to get to your ultimate destination (be it the islands, Guatemala, or back into Mexico). Spread the love around to each as they are all very highly recommended by travelers who have come before you.

  • Alberto the BZ Transporter: +501-630-2700
  • George from Get Transfer: +501-604-5789
  • Venancio, who has a van ideal for larger groups: +501-603-6711
  • Jesus Catizm: +501-620-6653

You might call a couple and see if they have any travelers scheduled who are willing to share the transfer if you’re looking to save money. And each driver will hook you up with a trusted contact on the Mexican side of the border if needed, so you’re not ripped off on the short trip. Note that if the Belize border organizes your transport to Belize City it’s a flat, non-negotiable $180 and some travelers have reported getting ripped off on the Belize side. Also note that if you want to go very budget, Emma in the comments outlines how she booked a taxi to Corozal for $25 USD and then caught the chicken bus to Belize for about $5.

Also, you CANNOT cross from Mexico to the Belizean islands. You need to cross into Belize overland through Chetumal, then catch a ferry. Check out this company operating ferries three times a week.

How to Cross the Border at Chetumal

This process is cribbed from detailed, recent comments from those who have crossed recently, you should have all of the cash you need on you. This is how the trip goes from Cancun to Belize City.

Consider taking the comfortable bus down from Cancun and stay overnight in Chetumal. Travelers recommend Hotel Urban 101 in the city center for about$30 a night. You can have the hotel to call a taxi in the morning, or arrange through trusted drivers above. Leave early—between 7:30 am and 9 am is a good bet. Book somewhere to stay in Chetumal.

1. Get a Taxi in Chetumal to the New Border

Your taxi will know which border you need for the crossing—it’s the new border, not the old one. They are very near each other, but some guide books and blog posts will tell you to visit the old one. Also note that you can not cross the border via water—this is your border crossing option, period.

2. Have Your Travel Documents Handy for Both Border Checks

On the Mexico side they will thoroughly check your luggage, and then make sure you already have reservations in Belize, which is a requirement. Screenshot everything on your phone so this is very quick and easy. Next, I went to have my exit stamped in my passport and they asked me if I had already paid the tourism tax. Since I had read up on this potential for a scam before, I knew that it was included in my airfare from Canada to Cancun so I said yes and named the airline. You can ask for an itemized receipt from the airline that shows this fee already paid—then screenshot it and show it to them. Many people have had to pay this “fee” even though they probably already paid it if they flew into Mexico. Be prepared ahead of time and you can avoid being charged twice! It continues to be an issue. This will save you 560 Mexican pesos.

Next, your taxi will cross the bridge to the Belize Customs Control area. This is where you say goodbye to your Mexican taxi driver and pay him. You’ll pay 250-500 Mexican pesos.

3. Prepare for the Belize Border Process

At Belize Customs, first you have to fill out the customs form and health declaration. They will reconfirm you have hotel reservations already booked and that you have transportation waiting. Book a hotel in Belize—you must have a reservation before arriving at the border! I didn’t have transportation booked, but I knew I would have to take a taxi, which costs a flat $180 USD to anywhere in the Belize City area. YES, you could book a hotel in Corozal, stay over and then take a chicken bus to Belize City for around $8 USD, but if you don’t have this arranged ahead of time, it won’t work—they are strict about making sure you DO NOT take the chicken buses at the border—it must be private shuttle or taxi—which they can arrange for you on the spot if you haven’t pre-booked a taxi. (Note: Some recent travelers in the comments have said it’s not always possible to arrange/find a taxi on the spot, so book one ahead of time!)

Other options for onward travel: To Corozal they charge $35 USD per taxi, from there to San Pedro you can take water taxi at 7 AM for $50 USD or a plane at 9:30 AM or 5 PM for ~$70 USD but the latter only during the week which, however, is not confirmed as so far travelers have opted for the boat.

4. Undergo Covid Testing Protocol at the Belize Border

After filling out the forms at the Belize border, you then have to get an antigen test on the spot—it costs $50 USD, with results in 15 minutes. Do NOT test in advance—this is NOT accepted at Belize land borders (airport is a different process). There was only a couple ahead of me, so there was no wait for the test. After you receive your negative results, they assign you a driver and he drives you to the next Customs gate for border formalities.

5. Finish Up the Belize Border Process After Negative Antigen Results

The driver waits for you on the other side for you to finish your testing process. I was the ONLY traveller in the whole customs building, so it took 30 seconds. The customs officer took a picture of my reservation, including the paid receipt. Have this ready on your phone before you head for the border. It will speed everything up and reduce your stress level.

After that, I took the taxi to Belize. My driver was excellent, the car was comfortable, and I was in my hotel at 11:15 am!! Faster than flying by a long shot! For the same cost, better experience. If you are on a budget, do the Corozal dodge I mentioned above—just be prepped and book everything in advance (here are some hotels you can pre-book in Corozal).

So that’s it in a nutshell. Expect to pay about $225 and spend about 40 minutes in total to get all that done at the borders.

Update Jan 2022

Read through the comments at the end for the latest additional details on this border crossing. Travelers weigh in almost daily on the state of the border and offer tips on getting across without issue.

Border Crossing Story Prior to the Pandemic

Dear Lonely Planet,

Why have you lead me astray? You disappointed me this past week at the Mexican/Belizean border crossing. To be fair, this is the first time you’ve been so incredibly misguided, dear Lonely Planet: Central America —you have helped me confidently navigate uncharted waters, until now. 

I love you, I nurture you, I pull you out of the depths of my bag when I’m in a pinch, yet you disappoint me at the weirdest times. You have ten different hostel accommodations for random pueblitos, but yet a mere paragraph about the fairly confusing border crossing between Mexico and Belize via Chetumal.

But also, you know, thank you. You made me realize that travel is about more than a guidebook. Without the right information, I was forced to get creative. And over the years, I’ve realized there’s always a local nearby willing to impart the information you so coyly keep to yourself. I’m learning to rely on you less and less LP, and that’s probably a good thing.

With lukewarm love,


chicken bus border crossing Mexico into Belize
Safely on the chicken bus with the locals crossing from Chetumal into Belize!

My Border Crossing Debacle

The whole guidebook debate crops up on travel blogs every now and again, and I’ve always been on team “tote a guidebook around.” I nearly always have one somewhere in my backpack, and it often provides key information at opportune times—it helps me unlock a different side to a place that I might not have found without it.

But on the other hand, guidebooks also give travelers a false sense of security as well as take out some of the adventure—and hey, travel, after all, is fundamentally about the adventure and interpersonal connections, right?

Here’s the deal, when I arrived at Chetumal, Mexico, I expected the border crossing to be straightforward, like my guidebook indicated. But I arrived after 4pm and first class busses no longer left the terminal for the border.

There was also no  information about what to do at that point.

Picture me now frantically flipping through the Chetumal section of my guidebook. Hmm. The barest mention of another bus terminal.

Perplexed, I looked at the accommodation section of the guidebook with two other Americans who were in the same boat—they stood nearby with the exact same guidebook.

Fast forward a few minutes and were dividing and conquering, each of us hunting down locals and taxi drivers for tips. We came up with nothing. One taxi driver (naturally) wanted us to cab to the border for US $20—instead we asked about the elusive second bus station, he gave us a noncommittal shrug and told use to walk “a couple kilometers in that direction.” And being a fairly rural town, all of these exchanges took place in Spanish, upping the stakes considerably—thankfully my high school Spanish trickled back!

chicken bus into Belize
new friends on the transport misadventure

We actually had a grand mini adventure asking locals for more directions along the way. Rather than just following instructions mapped out in a guidebook, we were forced to hunt down a way to cross the border into Belize. Locals always kept us walking the right way, pointing us the “bus station,” and when we arrived at the indicated lot, there was one single, lone, green school bus sitting forlornly in the lot.

We glanced toward it, wondering if this could possibly be the elusive second bus station. As the bus began moving out of the parking lot, our instincts kicked in and we began running across the lot just as the driver leaned out the window to holler at us.  “Belize?!” he asked in a quick and questioning manner. As we frantically nodded yes, he rumbled to a stop so we could jog to the doors and haul ourselves onto the last bus of the day crossing the border.

beers in corozal, belize with new friends

Is this the biggest adventure of my life? No. But it sure was a lot of fun once we had we hunkered down into the seats, high-fived each other, and then jostled with the motion of the school bus all the way to the border. Once there, cash changed hands (there’s a controversial and possibly scammy Mexican exit tax if you’re not prepared), and I have a couple of new stamps in my good ‘ole passport. Twenty minutes later, we had reached our destination and we confidently made our way into Belize without even a second glance at our guidebooks.

I’m still carrying my guidebook, and I know there are times when I will be so glad it’s nearby as I make my way across Central America. In fact, it’s likely that I won’t go guidebook free anytime in the near future, but this reminded me of how fun and freeing it is to just wing it. The world is not so scary a place that every move needs scripting and planning beforehand, sometimes figuring it out along the way is the real adventure.

Quick Tips: Border Crossing from Chetumal, Mexico into Belize (2021)

Let me clarify this border crossing for anyone following the same path—as of 2019 there are three bus stations in Chetumal: the new bus station for ADO and first class buses, the old ADO bus station, and a smaller one that has been essentially bypassed by new bus routing in 2017, El Nuevo Mercado Lazaro Cardinez. This smaller one was a small market with an open lot in front that held the chicken buses, but unless things change, it’s been effectively handicapped by the re-routing.

If you arrive late into Chetumal and you’re heading into Belize, back in 2009, the only non-taxi transport was a local chicken buses from the market to take you across the border. These buses go all the way to Belize City and stop at smaller towns along the way (we got off in Corozal so that we could head to San Pedro/Caye Cualker in the morning). In the years since my first Central American backpacking adventure, things have changed, and they are likely to change even faster than internet information can keep up since it’s a small border crossing. So, go prepared with information on both bus stations and be prepared to solicit information directly from the bus stations. Taxi drivers will selectively share information so you’re seemingly left with no choice but a taxi to the border.

Bus Stops in Chetumal

  • NEW ADO terminal: Located on Av. Insugentes at Calle Palermo (close to Plaza Las Americas). This is the main ADO bus terminal for services to other destinations in Mexico, including Cancún, Campeche, Mérida, Valladolid, Xcalak, and more. You will likely arrive here and need to head to the Old ADO terminal.
  • OLD ADO terminalSalvador Novo street near Av. Insurgentes and Av. Belice. Buses into Belize leave from here until at least 5:30 pm, possibly later. Buses to Corozal, Belize City, Orange Walk, and also into Guatemala.
  • El Nuevo Mercado Lazaro Cardinez: As of 2017, this market no longer has buses operating services into Belize. If a taxi driver takes you here and tells you that buses are finished for the day, make your way to the Old Ado terminal.

Updated travel advice

This basic wordpress site shares what has to be the most updated information about bus travel in Belize, including frequently updated information about this border crossing right here—he even updated it during the Coronavirus pandemic. The guy who updates it is also very active in the Lonely Planet Thorntree forum discussions about all things Belize. And Rome2Rio shows regularly updated transportation advice for this passage as well.

Ferry Options to Caye Caulker or San Pedro: If you’re up for it, there is a great water taxi transfer from Chetumal to Caye Caulker or San Pedro. You’ll have to arrive and catch the last one by 3pm, so if you do arrive in time, it’s a great option.

Paying the FMM / Mexican Exit Fee: I have read that there is now a bit of a shakedown at this border, at times. If you arrived by air and are leaving by land, paying this fee gets complicated. Here is the best rundown you’ll find online, and this blogger shares their experience in 2014—note that their bus information is wrong, but their advice on the FMM is good to know.

Onward from the border. Stay the night in Corozal, the closest town to the border, if you’ve made one of the last crossings of the day (this is what I did and then headed by water taxi to San Pedro). Alternately, head to the main bus station (if your bus is not one already heading to Belize city). Southbound buses to Belize City take about four hours and depart from Corozal roughly every half hour from 3 am to 7:15 pm.

If you’re heading through Belize into Guatemala, check out my Guatemala Travel Guide for free advice on the best things to do, see, eat, and insider tips on how to navigate the country. 

547 thoughts on “A Little Confusion… The Mexico to Belize Border Crossing at Chetumal”

  1. We used Venancio for travelling from Bacalar to the Belize City ferry terminal to go to Caye Caulker in November 2022. It may sound weird messaging a number on WhatsApp but trust me it works! Venancio was super helpful and we only booked two days before. The journey was smooth and Venancio is great, good to chat to to pass the journey time. And got us to Belize City in great time. He also helped us to navigate the Mexico – Belize border. Would highly recommend him!

  2. Just want to add another endorsement for Venancio shuttle service!

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  11. We went with Venancio from Bacalar to the ferry in Belize City. He was really helpful with the border crossing which made the whole journey so easy! We didn’t have to pay the tourism tax because they knew we were with Venancio. He runs a very organised shuttle and I’d highly recommend!

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  19. Hi travelers,

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  32. Hi,

    I see that there are also no buses going from Mexico to Belize anymore? Is that correct? I cannot find anything on the ADO website?

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  37. We are attempting to get from Cozumel, Mexico to San Pedro, Belize tomorrow 25th of July 2022. We can not figure out if there’s a straight ferry, and if they help with border crossings? Can anyone help with suggestions?

  38. Recommend Venancio Shuttle service. Picked up from hotel door in Chetumal and dropped at ferry terminal to Caye Caulker and San Pedro Send a WhatsApp ( number in thread) and he will respond.
    No bother with health insurance or proff of vaccination at border and did not need to pay any departure tax ( just showed passport with Mexican arrival card inside). Very straightforward. Things are gradually getting back to normal. Hurrah!

  39. The article says you need a reservation to enter Belize. What if you want to cross into Belize and immediately cross back into Mexico (due to expiring FMM)? Has anyone done this successfully?

  40. We just returned from Belize where we stayed one night in Corozal, one night in San Pedro and 4 nights in Caye Caulker. There were 9 of us (2 families) who drove from Mexico to the Belize border. We contacted a few of the recommended taxi drivers on this blog and Jesus got back to us within seconds. He and his wife, Carmen, met us on the Mexican side and guided us step by step through the process. It made things so much easier and faster as they work with the border management team and do this on a regular basis. Jesus explained that their country has been in a recession in the past two years since tourism came to a halt. Upon returning from Caye Caulker to Corozal, he and Carmen were at the dock waiting for us and took us back to our vehicles at the border. I highly recommend Jesus shuttle service to anyone wanting to drive to Belize from Mexico!!

  41. We went from Bacalar to Belize City (and right after to Caye Caulker – in total it took 4 hours) with Venancio (+5016036711) and we were so happy that we did it! Even though the border crossing was surprisingly easy and quick we were happy to have less stress with the transportation. Venancio is really fun and tells a lot of his stories on the drive!
    Concerning the crossing: we did not have to show any vaccinations or pcr tests actually – i don’t know if that was due to our officers. We also didn’t have to pay the exit fee, even though we didn’t have a detailed bill. We just showed that we payed taxes on our flight but didn’t have detailled information (normally they want to see something with “Mexican Tax”). But I guess that was just luck cause the officer was nice. I feel like speaking spanish helps too. So all in all I would definitely recommend it!

  42. Will have a shuttle moving tomorrow from bacalar or chetumal to go directly to belize city to go to caye caulker or san ignacio or Guatemala flores for more information feel happy to ask +5016036711 Venancio Shuttle Service

  43. Just wanted to say the Venancio was absolutely amazing! We got the ADO bus from Tulum to Chetumal and then Venancio organised a taxi for us from the bus station to the border and then he collected us from there and brought us to the ferry to Caye Caulkner. It couldn’t have been smoother and he is such a nice guy and shares lots of interesting information. Thanks so much Venancio :) Also the border control is very straight forward and the people working were really friendly.

    Side note : we originally were going to get the ferry directly from chetumal but it seems to only come once everyday and we wouldn’t have made it on time. It also seemed to work out cheaper to do it our way!

  44. Hi everyone,

    Thanks so much for all the advice! I’m just a bit confused, it looks like we can get a ferry from chetumal to Caye caulkner directly but then I’m confused as to where we would go through the border? We’re currently in Tulum and we were planning on getting the ADO bus to Chetumal and then the ferry but do we have to go to Belize city and get the ferry from there because of the border?Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  45. We crossed the border today and we didn’t need a pre-booked driver at all. At the border we made a deal with one of the local drivers to bring us to Corozal for 25 USD. There we catched the 11:45 bus to San Ignacio (which took about 5 hours), which passes through Belize City as well.
    Btw; the mandatory Belize health insurance isn’t needed as well since today. What a luck!

  46. Hi,
    I am so happy I have found this page, the comments have been great. What is the best option to visit San Pedro from Chetumal. Is the water taxi a good option from there and what is the customs situation arriving by boat into Belize.

  47. Hello!
    I am taking the shuttle with Jesus on Friday morning 15.07.2022. If anyone else wants to join please let me know ( WhatsApp: +4915120745791)


  48. 19th July 2022 bless day just letting all travelers know that for that date we have two persons intresting in a straight ride coming from San ignacio and looking for 2 more persons to share cost price can be vise versa Mexico to San ignacio or to Guatemala belize aswell to chetumal or bacalar contact us for more information +5016036711 Friendly zone 4:20 📲🚖🇲🇽🇧🇿💯

  49. Hi me and my boyfriend travel the 27th of july from Bacalar to Belize city. If people want to join, send a message to venancio (number is stated above). Greetings

  50. We recommend Venancio’s shuttle service for border crossing. He is very reliable and made the whole process very easy for us. +5016036711

  51. We travelled the border in July 2022 with Jesus (+501 620-6653). One can reach him easily via WhatsApp and he is super responsive and helpful.

    A driver picked us up at our hostel in Bacalar, helped us to find an ATM on the way, brought us to the border where Jesus was waiting and helping us with all the administration and even provided the needed forms. Afterwards, we were driven to Orange Walk, however also Corozal and Belize City are options.

    All in all a very smooth boarder crossing I can recommend!

    Administration at the border included:
    – paying a Mexican exit fee. However, if you can proof that you travelled with Aeromexico this is already included in the flight price and you don’t have to pay
    – Covid administration only included checking of proof of vaccination. The health insurance we bought online upfront didn’t have to be shown
    – Entering form in Belize (no cost involved)

  52. My friend and I were traveling from Belize to Tulum and are so thankful that we found this blog! We took the ferry from San Pedro to corazol and Venancio picked us up from the ferry station and drove us across the border to the Chetumal ADO bus station. He was so kind and helpful throughout the trip by telling us what to expect during the immigration / border process and then even helping us figure out what bus to take to Tulum. A perk is that he is a dual citizen of both belize and mexico, meaning he will be there with you throughout the whole border process.

    Would definitely book Venancio again :)

  53. I literally just cross from Chetumal-Belize-Chetumal these last couple of days.
    I organzied my trip with JESUS who was amazing since the very beggining! Very professional, always on time, he guided me through all the border steps, total stress free!!! He even organzine my accomodation in Belize side and always gave me tips and advice based on his 13+ years of experience!
    Seriously, contact Jesus! He knows how to deliver an excelent service!!

  54. I would like to recommend Jesus’ shuttle service. It makes the whole border crossing a piece of cake. He arranged a taxi at our hotel in Bacalar and we got dropped of all the way at the Belize City Harbor. He made us feel safe during the border crossing and made sure everyone arrived safely. The price is also very fair.

  55. I just went from chetumal to Belize city today and took a cab at8am to the border for 200 pesos I did have to pay the exit fee (638 pesos) for Mexico since I had lost my receipt along my travels. When I got to the Belize side there was no COVID testing they only asked to see my shots (I only have 2) asked where I was staying and how long I’ll be in the country but they didn’t mention anything about having travel insurance at all.once I got through customs I took a small shuttle van for $2us to corazale and it dropped off right at the bus station where the bus to Belize city was which was $6us

    • Hi Adam, did you book your shuttle van in advance to Corazale? How did you find out information about this in advance?


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