Immigration Day

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Immigration Office in Corozal

One of the rules in Belize is you have to renew your visitor permit every 30 days. For us, this occurs around the 9th day of every month. It is an interesting process! First, we go to the office of immigration. We walk in through a glass sliding door into a lobby/waiting area. Cameras are not allowed in any government offices, so I have tried to provide detailed descriptions. The walls are stark white, the floor is a cream/grey tile, there are three wooden benches, and the air conditioner is on. There are two windows, neither of which have signage. We just get in line where there is someone at the window. Right now the lobby is decorated with banners and streamers in honor of Independence Day, September 21.

There was no one in line when we arrived on Wednesday. We gave our passports to the immigration officer. She asked where we are staying, she wrote down (by hand) our names and address with dates of renewal and expiration of our visitor permit in a giant ledger. She gave a payment voucher for the visitor permit renewals.

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Treasury Office door, a little to the right is the door to the Post Office

Then it was off to the Treasury Department about four blocks away. The Treasury is located in the same building as the post office. It is an industrial green building right next to the town square. Inside is air conditioned for the employees which bleeds out a bit for customers. The waiting area/lobby if tiny with two chairs and two customer windows. However, only one window is ever open (at least so far) so we are not sure of the use for the second window. The Treasury officer takes the payment voucher received back at immigration and takes the fee for visitor permit renewal. To renew our visitor permits for the first six months we are here is $25US each, after that it is $50US each. This was the second time we renewed so it was $50US for us both ($100BZ). Upon payment the Treasury officer gave a receipt showing payment.

stampThen it is back to the immigration office! In line again, this time there were a couple people in front of us. We presented the receipt from the Treasury officer with our passports and viola, a stamp is received allowing us to remain in the country for another 30 days. The immigration officer also completed her entry into the ledger upon stamping our passports.

You might be wondering, what happens if the visitor permit is not renewed? We don’t know for sure because we’ve always been early. In our research, we found there can be a fine. Fines are not set in stone like they are in the States of other countries. They fluctuate with the politics of the time. The best information located so far is a fine of $1,500BZ or $750US (each). Pretty steep so we don’t plan on finding out and we certainly don’t want to get deported!

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