- Buying Bus Tickets
- Mexican Immigration
- Belize Immigration
- Return Trip
One of the advantages of living in Mexico as an expat is that you’re allowed up to six months within the country. That means no pressure to change your immigration status for up to half-a-year at a time. You will have to leave the country during or before that time has expired, especially if you wish to re-enter.
Mexico’s shares its borders with the USA to the north and Guatemala and Belize to the South East.
Our sixth moth stay would have come to an end in January 2019, so we decided to make the trip during the mid-December 2018 and take the most cost efficient route, crossing the border to either Guatemala or Belize.
Jamaica’s historical ties with Belize (more on that here) and our insatiable desire to eat rice and peas or anything remotely similar to Jamaican food make this decision rather easy…off to Belize!
Buying Bus Tickets to Quintana Roo, Mex
Since we wanted simply to cross the border, our final destination was Corozal Town, Belize, the closest town to the Mexican Border.
I live in Oaxaca City which is a stunning 27-hour drive to the Yucatan border state of Quintana Roo. Mexico has a reliable interstate bus line called ADO which basically runs throughout the entire country. Two tickets from Oaxaca City to Cancun, Quintana Roo is usually over MXN$2000 (USD$103.70) each, but at the time of purchase they were on sale, so we got them for MXN$1302 (USD$67.55) and left 8:30 am Friday Morning.
At the ticket office in Oaxaca, we were not able to buy tickets for Corozal, neither was it an option online. We were told that purchases had to be made at the ticket office in Cancun, Q.Roo, which is where the bus was originally headed.
Chetumal instead of Cancun
The ADO bus lines tend to make stop at most of the ADO bus stations in each state it travels through. So in Quintana Roo, the bus made a stop at Chetumal, which is closest to our final destination. We were able to make ticket purchases for a bus headed to Corozal from Chetumal, so that saved us an additional 5 hour bus ride north up to Cancun. These tickets cost MXN$150 pesos (USD$7.78) each.
You’ll notice that a lot of travelling is unsure, especially via bus. Quick thinking and asking questions repeatedly to different persons is best. Lots of times, answers to navigational questions aren’t as straightforward as the first answer.
Even though the bus was three hours late, it only took about 30 minutes to get to the border.
After offloading, we presented our passports in the office and were required to pay an exit fee of MXN$533 (USD$27.46) each. This fee applies to everyone leaving the country no matter the vessel of entrance (land, air, sea).
Because we had plans to re-enter, the border agent told us that we had the option to pay MXN$3000 (USD$154.65) and be allowed to re-enter the country immediately with the full grant of 6 months. This would allow us o turn right around for Oaxaca but Belize though…
After declining, the agent then queried how well we know Belize and that is very dangerous and that paying the fee would be a wiser choice, and if we didn’t pay the fee, we were not sure to be guaranteed the full 6 month stay. We took the chance on Belize anyways…we were’t gonna miss it
Back on the bus and a 2 minute ride later, we stood in line at the Belize Immigration office. At the sweet and familiar sound the melodious creole, tension eased and the joy of the right decision overshadowed the possibility of not being granted 6 months on our way back.
With blue CARICOM passports, we were made aware that our stay in Belize could be up to 6 months and our bags were barely checked at customs as we were only asked about things to declare.
In fifteen minutes, were dropped off at the Corozal Town Bus Station in Corazol, Belize. The bus’ final destination was Belize City, a further 5-hour drive to offboard at Novello’s Bus Depot.
Return Trip from Belize City
To head back to Mexico from Belize via Bus, tickets can be bought at the Novello Bus Depot or online. As soon as you get there however, querry the propoer procedure as information and procedures change quite frequently, especailly when buying cross border bus tickets. The reutn bus makes stops at Orange Walk and Corazol then into Mexico.
Return Trip from Corozal Town
In Corzal Town, ADO ticket office outlet located accross the road from the own bus station. I would not recommend thsi ticket outlet firstly because the tickets are pricier than local town busses. Secondly, the sales represenattive assured us that we did not enter Belize on an ADO Bus, despite showing him our tickets. For this reason, we ditched ADO and headed to the local station for information. The daily times and are not consistent and we were not able to buy tickets at the station. After telling them which day we planned to leave, they told the time of the Border bus that goes into Chetumal which would be 7 am on Saturday.On the bus, the conductor will ask you which of the stops you’ll be coming off at, when you say border/Chetumal, you’ll pay BZD$10 per person.
Belize Exit Immigration
At Belizean Immigraton, you’ll pay an xit fee of $BZD40 (USD$19.85) per person. Double check all your currencies before you get to the counter. I confused a few Mexican pesos coinage with BZD coinage and ended being short at the counter for the exit fee. Thankfully, our bus driver paid for it and I was able to repay him in Chetumal.
We ofcourse remembered the advisory caution regarding not getting 6 months if we didn’t pay the immediate return fee of MXN$3000 pesos. We did in fact get 7 days by the border agent, possibly because most of the people we travelled with were tradesmen and market vendors heading to the tax-free trade zone in Chetumal.
However, the border agent let us know that the immigration card received (FMM) allows up to 6 months to any traveler unless a box marked “no more than” is ticked. So even though he wrote 7 days on the card, we were still allowed 180 days because the aforementioned box wasn’t ticked. We were also told that this rarely happens.
Our bags were ran through the scanner and then it was simple drive over the border into Chetumal. The bus is only allowed to stop at the tax-free market before it returns to Belize.
We caught a cab to the ADO Bus station for $MXN 30 (USD$1.50).
For the most part, this was a relatively easy border crossing and I’m defintely heading back to Corazol.