Renting a car and having the freedom to go wherever you want, whenever you want is absolutely one of the best ways to travel. However, it does not come without its own risks and challenges. A smart traveler will establish their travel plans in advance and read up on local laws and regulations! Honestly, we wish we had been more prepared and it cost us! Here I proudly present Paul’s Top 5 Tips for driving from Mexico to Belize and Guatemala.


If you’re planning to drive across country borders, you’ll want to start your search with those companies that permit such driving. As of December 2017 there are two car rental companies that permit crossing the border into the neighboring countries of Belize and Guatemala:

Cancún Rent a Car: which operates under multiple names: Caribbean Rent a Car and most prominently, America Car Rental. When we picked up and dropped off our car all the signs on the buildings said “America Car Rental” on them. The other car rental company permitting driving across the border is Europcar. I don’t have any experience with Europcar as we chose to go with America Car Rental (booking through Cancun Rent a Car).


Do not expect to just drop into a car rental location and drive out with a shiny new rental car with the proper paperwork to cross the border into Belize or Guatemala. Depending on which country you want to drive into, the process could take 24-48 hours depending on the time of the week. For crossing into Belize the car needs to be equipped with a letter granting permission to cross the border. If you’re planning on traveling further to Guatemala you will need to reserve your car an extra day in advance in order to have all the paperwork necessary. Guatemala requires a letter from the government and the office that processes this paperwork is only open during specific days and hours so make sure you book well in advance. Let your rental company know you wish to travel to Guatemala with the car and will need all required paperwork.

After you’ve booked, I recommend calling the company two days prior to pick up and just make sure all the required paperwork is in order and that your rental car has been secured. When we booked our car through Carribean Rent a Car we were not required to pay a deposit at the time of booking to secure the car, this made me a bit apprehensive about them actually securing a car for us, however when we arrived at our scheduled rental time, the car was ready for us.


Insurance is guaranteed protection against you in the case of an accident where either you or another party is at fault. Let’s breakdown insurance for Mexico, Belize and Guatemala.


In Mexico, third party liability is required and is NOT covered by your US auto policy, credit card, or any other insurance you likely already carry from back home. This coverage is for public liability to the persons or their properties caused by the your rental vehicle. Coverage limits are always in Pesos, keep that in mind!


Car insurance is 100% required in Belize and driving without it is an arrest-able offense so make sure you acquire it as soon as you enter the country. Car insurance can be acquired as soon as you cross the border into the country at the Insurance Company of Belize (ICB). If you are planning on arriving at the border after 6pm CST (remember, you’ll be switching time zones when you enter Belize!) you might want to reconsider. The ICB is only open during normal business hours. We happened to arrive at 8pm CST and the agency was closed which meant we had to drive into Corozal town and wait until the next day to acquire insurance. Patrolling police cars are replaced with checkpoints scattered throughout the country. When we hit the first one they let us proceed without insurance but noted that if we were pulled over or in an accident then we would be arrested. We stayed a few nights in Corozal town and took a taxi back to ICB at the border the next morning. Make sure you bring the signed letter granting permission to drive the car in Belize as well as your rental contract and car registration. Insurance for 6 days cost us $28 BZD ($14 USD).


Car insurance is not required in Guatemala and there is no insurance that can be purchased at the border. If you plan to drive in Guatemala I highly advise you seek out insurance companies ahead of time and arrange coverage for the time you expect to be there.


Crossing the border into any country can be a stressful and confusing process. Traveling via car can add even more stress to the situation. Personally, I found crossing into Belize via car to be incredibly antiquated, lackadaisical and extremely confusing.

Exiting Mexico

Required Documents


We exited Mexico and got our exit stamp after proving to the border official that our exit fee was already paid for. I read many stories and blog posts about a supposed border scam when leaving Mexico. The more I read the more it became apparent that people didn’t truly understand that departure tax is a valid fee that must be collected whenever someone leaves Mexico. Unfortunately it’s not clear what paperwork is needed to prove that one has paid the departure tax. Many posts suggested that the possession of the FMM (Form Multiple Migracion) itself satisfied proof of departure tax payment, or that your plane ticket or bordering pass were sufficient enough. However, these documents by themselves do not constitute proof of departure tax payment. What worked for us and what I recommend is an itemized list of fees obtained via your airline e-ticket. We flew United and in the booking confirmation email they graciously provided a breakdown of the fares which included the departure tax. I advise you make multiple copies of this as they will request to keep a copy of it at the border. After providing documentation our passports were stamped and we were on our way to the Belizean border.

Entering Belize

Required Documents


After you exit Mexico you will pass what appears to be an abandoned quarantine/weigh station. This is actually a fumigation station that you drive through and it sprays your car with pesticide to kill off any bugs, it is a requirement before entering Belize and you will receive a receipt after paying the $10 BZD ($5 USD) fee for the fumigation which the border agents will ask for. We accidentally drove right by the station and were turned around at the Belize border because we had not fumigated our car.

Once you’ve fumigated your car you can proceed to the Belize border. You will be instructed to park your car in front of the fence on the right hand side where you’ll see signs for “Visitor’s Parking”. Once parked you and your passengers should retrieve your luggage and proceed inside the immigration building. The process is as follows:

  1. All passengers fill out the immigration form completely and proceed through immigration
  2. Passengers will proceed through a bag check (they didn’t even open our bags)
  3. The driver of the vehicle will proceed to vehicle permitting where you will receive a stamp with information about the car you’re driving and the destination(s) in Belize.
  4. After you get your vehicle permit you will head back to the visitor’s parking to retrieve you car and proceed through vehicle inspection and pick up your passengers.

The process was a bit stressful for us mostly because we were unsure of the multiple steps involved.

Exiting Belize

Required Documents


Exiting Belize back into Mexico is very straightforward. Similarly to entering Belize, you will park your vehicle and proceed inside the immigration building to pay your exit fee, and receive your exit stamp. The driver will proceed through the double doors on the left to the other side of the building where you originally entered the country and receive your vehicle permit stamp. At the vehicle permit desk the agent will stamp your passport to cancel the permit. After this you will proceed back through the double doors and out to retrieve your car. Again you will drive through a vehicle inspection after which you will proceed to pickup your passenger and proceed on your way to the Mexican border.

Entering Mexico

Required Documents


When you first drive up to the Mexican border you will be handed a new FMM and told to proceed to the second building where you can fill it out and receive your entry stamp from the agent. No money is exchanged here and after you receive your stamp you’ll drive through an inspection station and be on your way. Shortly after the vehicle inspection there is what appears to be a fumigation station, however it’s not clear on whether this is a requirement and we drove passed with no issue.


I leave you with this last tip, gas stations are plentiful when you’re close to the larger towns, however I advise you never let your car fall below 1/4 of a tank. Once you get south of Tulum you could go for long stretches of road before seeing a gas station.

I hope you find these tips helpful on your next adventure. Driving in these countries is a lot of fun and a great way to experience all that they have to offer. Stay alert, drive defensively and most important have fun! What experiences have you had driving to and from Mexico, Belize or Guatemala? Comment below and share your story!

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