A rising Caribbean destination and one of the most popular sunny getaways for Americans during the Covid pandemic, Belize will now require all international visitors to take out travel insurance before landing in the country.
Looking to strengthen policies at the border, especially at a time when the Omicron threat advances, the Central American jewel is one of many in the region currently struggling to contain a spike in cases, as evidenced in data compiled by the World Health Organization.
The measure, which will come into effect soon, will directly impact vacationers to Belize whether they arrive by land, air or sea:
The New Requirements For Americans And Other Foreign Visitors
A select number of foreign nationalities can enter Belize without requiring a visa in advance, of which Americans, Canadians, Brits, and some Europeans are a part of, which makes it an accessible enough destination for those in the Northern hemisphere.
As announced by the Belize Tourism Board (BTB), besides complying with usual visa requirements unless exempt (as are Americans) all foreign arrivals to Belize will need to apply for a mandatory Belize Travel Health Insurance from February 15.
The aim is to help protect travelers against “incurred medical and non-medical expenses if they test positive for COVID-19″ while traveling, an eventuality that is becoming increasingly more likely lately.
Now, in order to be granted entry into Belize, all passengers will need to:
- Purchase the Belize Travel Health Insurance before traveling, though purchases can also be made upon arrival at the Philip Goldson International Airport or land borders;
- Complete the Customs and Immigration form provided during the flight;
- Book accommodation at a Golden Standard property and present proof of having done so at the state border;
- Present a negative Covid test, regardless of vaccination status.
As seen above, in addition to proving to border authorities they have applied for the insurance, visitors are subject to stricter entry requirements compared to neighboring Mexico.
Under present rules, both the vaccinated and unvaccinated must present a negative test. Those who opt for an RT-PCR can submit a result within 96 hours of traveling, while a rapid antigen can be taken under 48 hours.
Other widely commercialized tests such as Sofia, SD Biosensor and ABBOTT (Panbio) are also accepted as proof, so long as they are taken within the 48-hour window and infection has not been detected.
Travelers from the United States, Canada, and other countries may also choose to get tested upon arrival for a fee of $50, though that is not advised as positive results may incur unexpected isolation mandates and extra costs.
How Much Will The New Health Insurance Cost And What Will It Cover?
As the health situation deteriorates once again across the world, and particularly in the Caribbean, American tourists are susceptible to a number of risks when traveling abroad.
From testing positive merely hours before boarding their flight back home, to having expiry dates applied to existing vaccination certificates, no one is ever fully protected against potential disruption. The new Belize Travel Health Insurance seeks to minimize those risks.
Once it goes online on February 15, it will cost $18 and provide coverage for up to $50,000 in Covid-related medical costs over 21 days. Also included are emergency assistance services for pre-existing conditions, including air evacuation.
And there is good news for travelers concerned about testing positive while abroad! The new policy covers quarantine lodging expenses of up to $2,000, capped at $300 a day. Moreover, it even covers trip cancelations as a result of the health crisis.
As it extends into 2022, the pandemic has already caught several passengers off guard, and mostly those who never purchased travel insurance that covers Covid. Even if not required by several other destinations both in the Caribbean and beyond, we strongly advise you to include it in your travel plans for all the reasons listed above.
Is Belize A Safe Destination For Tourists Right Now?
In 2021, Belize did not hesitate in implementing several health protocols to keep visitors safe. Among them were the Tourism Gold Standard Program and the Travel Belize app, which helps tourists plan their long-awaited vacation through certified hotels and tour operators.
Surrounded by pristine Caribbean beaches and featuring plenty of overlooked natural reserves and ancient Mayan ruins, Belize can be easily reached on flights from several major U.S. cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Houston.
Despite its listing on the CDC website as a “Level 4” nation, meaning all unnecessary travel should be avoided by Americans, the small nation hopes the revamped measures will allow them to continue welcoming U.S. tourists throughout 2022.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com