Duty-Free Merchandise and Nothing to Declare Protein drinks and name-brand snacks are common food products brought into Belize by visitors. They might not be accessible in Belize. The Belize international airport has duty-free businesses near baggage claim. Duty-free commodities, including alcohol, are available there. Local vendors sell similar goods outside the airport.
In general, you can bring any packaged food product into Belize as long as it weighs less than 30kg (66lb). Some items are prohibited, such as meat, poultry, milk, eggs, beans, fruit, vegetables, and other foods with natural preservatives. Disposable diapers also are banned because they contain chemicals that break down over time into smaller compounds that could enter the environment. Certain medications must be declared at the border or upon entry into Belize; check with the Belize Customs Department for a list of restricted items.
You should know that some countries have strict regulations about the packaging of food products. For example, some countries require that all dried fruits and vegetables be packed in opaque containers. So if you're taking food products into these countries, you should look into their import requirements before you travel.
The best thing to do is ask your local health professional where you can get a complete list of what's allowed and not allowed into Belize. They will be able to help you determine whether or not the ingredients in your favorite snack fits within Belize's guidelines.
Sugar, bananas, citrus, clothes, fish products, molasses, timber, and crude oil are the most important exports, while machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, fuels, chemicals, medicines, food, drinks, and tobacco are the most important imports. Customs income is managed by the Belize Customs and Excise Department. It is estimated to be around $75 million per year.
Bananas are the main export of Belize, followed by sugar cane and maize.
Almost all imported items enter Belize through one of two ports on the Caribbean coast: Belize City or Corozal Town. From there, they are distributed throughout the country by truck or air.
Belize's economy is heavily dependent on foreign trade, with more than 80% of its exports going to the United States. American companies such as Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Kraft, and Procter & Gamble have large operations in Belize that play an important role in the country's economy. In return, Belize receives significant amounts of money from its sister country. In fact, Belize receives more than $150 million each year in remittances from its citizens living abroad.
In 2015, Belize entered a treaty with the United States under which Americans working in Belize can apply for temporary work permits. Around 1,500 people applied during the first year of this program.
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The primary exports of the country are fish, sugar, citrus goods, bananas, and apparel, while the main imports are machinery and transport equipment, food, fuels and lubricants, and chemicals. Belize has experienced a significant trade imbalance in goods since the 1990s. In 2015 it was reported that Belize imported $150 million dollars' worth of products but exported only $80 million.
Fish is by far the most important product for Belize, accounting for more than 95% of its exports. The country's two main fishing areas are the Western Bank and the Glover's Atoll. The Western Bank area is particularly known for its coral reef fish, while the Glover's Atoll is famous for its huge drumsticks. Sugar production has declined significantly since the 1980s, when over 90% of the crop was exported. Since then, the government has been promoting other industries such as tourism to replace the lost revenue.
Belize's location on the Caribbean Sea makes it well-positioned to trade with the United States and Canada. But because most exports are shipped frozen or in containers, they can't take advantage of lower shipping rates during off-season months.
In addition to exporting fish and sugar, Belize also imports petroleum products, wood, and minerals.
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Drinking in Belize may be costly. A drink at a neighborhood tavern costs $5BZD (about $2.50 USD). Local rum is often priced similarly, whereas foreign liquors are significantly more expensive. Drinks including vodka or tequila often start around $12 bzd. The costs are low—50% or more less than prices outside the airport.
Alcohol is sold by the unit of volume called "gallons." One gallon is about 3.78 liters. Of course, the amount you pay depends on the price per gallon at the time you buy it. During off-season periods, when liquor stores run low on inventory, they may sell alcohol by the bottle instead of by the gallon. If this happens to you, one bottle will equal two drinks.
Belize has a monopoly on the local liquor market. There are no significant wine or beer industries to speak of. However, many international brands are available in Belize, so shopping for foreign wines and beers isn't difficult.
The government controls all liquor sales through its department of excise. The price we were told about ($5/gallon) was for white rum, which is the cheapest option available to consumers. Darker rums are also sold but at a higher cost because they're made from sugarcane rather than corn or molasses. These are not widely available except at specialty drinking establishments like bars and nightclubs.
You can find out the current price of liquor online.
However, due to the delectable blend of numerous cultural influences, Belize is home to a rich variety of seafood, fresh fruit, Caribbean staples, and savory delicacies that would please even the pickiest eater. Rice and beans, a Caribbean traditional, are appreciated by Belizeans from all walks of life. They are often used as a staple food, but are also served with everything from chicken to fish.
The food in Belize is quite tasty, especially when you consider the short amount of time it takes to eat it. Since there are no waiters or service staff, you will need to be careful not to overeat.
The most popular meats are beef and pork. Chicken is also available but tends to be expensive. Fish is plentiful in Belize and usually cheap. Shellfish is eaten mostly on the coast; inland people tend to prefer land animals.
Vegetables are not commonly eaten by itself but rather combined with other ingredients. This is true both for salads and main dishes. For example, coleslaw is common in North America but unheard of in Belize. However, once in a while you might come across something called "cabbage soup" that is sold by street vendors. This is made with green cabbage, onion, and sometimes potato cooked in water with spices. It's very popular with tourists and is usually only found in major cities like Belmopan and Dangriga.