Belize Travel Tips

The Official Belize City International Airport Guide : What to Expect?

By Belizing.com Staff 2/14/2019 10 minutes

Belize has a small but bustling international airport, officially known as the Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport. All international flights to Belize arrive here. It’s about the size of a typical regional airport in the US. There is only one runway at the airport, and one arrival and departure terminal. About 75% of all the overnight visitors to the country will come through this airport, according to the Belize Tourism Board

Follow this official guide to learn everything you need to know to successfully navigate the Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport in Belize (PGIA/BZE). Don’t stress, it’s a small airport and it will be a breeze.
 

Where is the Belize Airport?

Belize’s only international airport is located near the village of Ladyville, about 10 miles north of Belize City proper. It’s the only airport with a runway long enough to accommodate large aircraft. Note that you’re NOT landing in Belize City, which means you may need ground transportation if you need to get to Belize City to catch a water taxi.
 
There are several other airstrips throughout the country that are serviced by smaller planes, sometimes called puddle jumpers or hopper planes. Each major destination has an airstrip, including Belize City, San Pedro, Caye Caulker, Placencia, Dangriga, and San Ignacio. 

What Airlines fly to Belize?

As of May 2019, the Belize city airport is serviced by the following airlines: Air Canada • American Airlines • Aero Mexico • Avianca • Copa Airlines • Delta • Maya Island Air • Southwest Airlines • Sun Country Airlines • Tropic Air • United Airlines • WestJet.

Arrival at BZE

  1. Landing

    Enjoy the view from above while your pilot approaches the runway for landing. You’ll get a glimpse of the coast and nearby mangrove swamps. You might even get a glimpse of Belize City and spot some cruise ships in the distance. Brace yourself when you see the Belize river because it will be a hard and fast landing.

    The runway is small by most standards, even with the recent extension. For that reason, your airplane will land and immediately turn on the reverse thrust and brakes. You definitely want to have your seatbelts on!

    Belize Airport Arrival
    Belize Airport Landing

    Look to your left and you will get a glimpse of the Belikin Beer brewery, which is housed in the old airport compound. To your right will be the main airport terminal building. Your plane will make a U-turn on the runway and park in front of the terminal building.
  2. Deplaning

    There are no jetway bridges at the Belize airport. It’s going to be old school deplaning via a stairway onto the tarmac. Sometimes, they will open the front and rear doors for deplaning. This is not always guaranteed, but sometimes if you’re at the back of the plane you’ll end up getting out first. YMMV on this hack, but if you’re lucky you can get out and get processed through the airport quicker.

    Belize Airport Deplaning
    Belize Airport Deplaning

    The crew on the ground will guide you along a pathway to the doors to enter the arrivals terminal. It will be to the far right of the building. Be sure to have your passports and documents ready for Immigration. You can’t get lost in here…everything is literally in one large room.

    Tip: At the very end of the hallway when you enter the building, there is an office for the Belize Tourism Board. You can pick up some free maps, brochures, and travel guides.
  3. Immigration

    Your first stop is the immigration check. Make sure you’ve filled out your paperwork before arrival (you’ll get it on the plane). This is an easy process, but if you end up at the back of the line, it can take a while, especially if multiple flights just arrived.

    Belize Airport Immigration

    Try to get in line as quick as possible, especially if you need to catch a puddle jumper flight or a ground shuttle. If you’re a visitor, you will line up in the lanes on the left side. Belize citizens and CARICOM country citizens will line up on the right lane (which is usually the shorter line).

    Tip: Bring a pen with you to fill out your paperwork on the plane.
  4. Baggage Claim

    If you have checked luggage, the baggage claim is immediately in front of you as soon as you are done with the immigration check. There are only two baggage carousels but you need to pay attention because it can get confusing if multiple flights arrive at the same time. This is probably where you’ll have the longest wait.

    Belize Airport Baggage Claim
    Belize Airport Baggage Claim

    Grab a free luggage cart if you have lots of luggage and keep an eye on both carousels. Also, if you were in the back of the immigration line, your luggage may have already been removed from the carousel. Look through the pile of luggage either in the middle of along the right-side wall.

    While you wait for your luggage, or if you are in no rush, check out the duty-free stores on the left of the luggage carrousels. These make for great last-minute gifts if you’re visiting friends or family in Belize. Don’t buy anything just yet if you’re planning on taking it back with you. There are more duty-free stores in the departure terminal.
  5. Customs Inspection

    Your last stop in the arrival terminal is the customs inspection station. Turn around after you’ve collected your luggage and walk to the top-right side of the room. Most times there may be a long line because the customs officers need to manually open and inspect a lot of luggage.

    If you don’t have any checked luggage, turn the corner to your left as soon as you clear immigration and go to the first available customs inspection table.

    Belize Airport Customs Inspection

    Sometimes there is a line for “Nothing to Declare”. That line is not always open. If it’s open, it's the fastest line if you, in fact, have nothing to declare.  Usually, if you’re just visiting and only have your personal effects, then you have nothing to declare.

    If you are importing any goods, such as gifts or commercial merchandise that you will leave in the country, then you DO have something to declare. In that case, you may be assessed a small tariff which you will pay at the cashier window just as you exit the room. Make sure you have cash on hand if you expect to pay any customs tariffs and taxes of goods you are importing.

    Note: Drones are not allowed in Belize without a special permit. If you bring your Drone, make sure you’ve done some research first and have the permits ready. If not, they may confiscate it and return it when you depart. 

    How long is the process? The entire process from deplaning to clearing customs and immigration can take up to 1 hour on busy days, and as quick as 20 minutes on slow days. 30 minutes is about average for airport processing, but we suggest giving yourself one hour to catch a connecting flight or ground transportation.
  6. Waiting at the Airport

    Sometimes you’ll have to wait at the airport because your ride is delayed, or you’re meeting others arriving on a later flight. What can you do while you wait? Unfortunately, there’s not much to do while you wait at the airport. You may want to step back into the main terminal building if it gets too hot outside. The building has air conditioning, and there are waiting chairs inside. Restrooms are available upstairs beside the Global Spice restaurant, and downstairs to the far right as you enter the building. 

    There are a few small gift shops in the main terminal building that you can browse. There is also a snack shop available. If you walk down to the other end of the building, there are more small gift shops.

    There’s a restaurant and bar upstairs if you want to grab some food or drinks while you wait. Beware, the prices are a bit hefty for food and drinks, but it's a comfortable place to wait while you grab some food and drinks. If you want to try some good and cheap local food, you can venture behind the main parking lot outside. To the far left across the street, you will see some tents and local food vendors. 

Airport WiFi

Free WiFi is available throughout the airport terminals. Use the "PGIA Courtesy Wifi" network to connect. It generally works inside the terminals. No password is necessary.

You can also get free WiFi at the Global Spice restaurant located upstairs in the arrivals terminal building. You will need to ask them for the password to connect.

Connecting Flights

Your connecting flight (puddle jumper flight) will be with either Maya Island Air or Tropic Air. After clearing customs inspection, go STRAIGHT ACROSS the double doors. Do NOT exit the building. If you do exit the building, you can simply veer left and go back into the building. You will see the check-in counters for the local airlines.

You can get connecting flights from the Belize airport to San Pedro, Caye Caulker,  Placencia, Dangriga, and San Ignacio.

Don’t worry if you are too early or too late. You can always ask them to put you on the next flight out as long as seats are available. This happens often, and they have flights about every 30 minutes.

You will need to clear security inspection to get to the departure lounge, so if you bought anything in duty-free, you should put it in your checked luggage first. From here you will go back into the departure lounge and proceed to your gate.

When you board your puddle jumper (outside the building where you just deplaned), try to be first in line and ask to be the co-pilot. If you’re lucky, you’ll get picked.

Airport Shuttle

Most travelers book a shared airport shuttle or private airport transfer to get to their final destination on the mainland. Unless you are going to San Pedro or Caye Caulker, an airport shuttle will be more cost-effective than a flight. You can find a large selection of airport shuttle/transfer providers here.

To find your ground transportation provider at the airport, go through the doors immediately to your right after you exit customs. You may encounter an avalanche of airport shuttle drivers and people waiting to greet arriving passengers. It can get confusing, and it’s also the outside of the building so it could be hot and very humid.

If you’ve reserved an airport shuttle with your resort or a private shuttle company, scan the group of drivers holding signs and find the one with your name. Also, look for the company logo. Be careful here, sometimes you can end up in the wrong shuttle if you don’t look close enough for your name. Be sure you know what company you booked with.

Belize Airport Arrival
Belize Airport Arrival

If you don’t find your driver immediately, just wait around by the benches. Sometimes you can catch the free airport WIFI if you sit at the benches immediately to your right as you exit the building. You may be able to check your emails or any messages your shuttle company may have sent while you were in the air.

Tip: If you intend to take an airport shuttle, you should make your reservation in advance. You cannot hire a shuttle after you have landed. Only taxis are allowed to take passengers on demand.

Airport Taxi

If you’re headed into Belize City, you can grab a taxi as soon as you exit the arrivals terminal. Walk to your left as soon as you exit, past the crowd of people, and you will see the taxi cabs lined up. It won’t be long until a taxi driver approaches you. These taxis are from the Ladyville taxi association.

A taxi ride starts at $25 USD for two passengers and an additional fee for each additional passenger. Make sure you know the fare before you get in. Don’t fall for the tourist tax. There are no meters, just standard fares.

Car Rentals

As soon as you exit the arrivals terminal, walk straight across to the adjacent parking lot. You will see the Rentals Services building straight ahead. This is where your rental car office is located.

You can find the following rental agencies at the rental services building: A Class Auto Rental • AQ Car Rental • Avis • Budget • Crystal Auto Rental • Hertz • Jabiru Auto Rental • JMA Budget Rentals • National • Pancho’s Auto Rental • Thrifty • Tour Auto Belize • Vista Auto Rental.
 
Belize Airport Parking Log
Belize Airport Car Rental Building

Some rental companies offer free use of their phone if you need to contact your hotel or BnB that you are on the way. This is useful if you’ve had a delay and need to call a local company.

Departure from BZE

  1. Arrive on Time

    You are required to arrive at the airport two hours prior to departure for your international flight. You will check in at the far-right end of the building, the first entrance you encounter when you drive into the compound.

    Standard procedures apply just as with most airports. Make sure you have your departure paperwork filled out. You should have filled this out when you arrived. Make sure you sign it. If you lost it, you can fill it out again.
  2. Exit Immigration

    I know, it’s a bit of an oxymoron, and not a common to have to go through immigration screening when you are leaving a country. Belize has exit immigration, so you will clear immigration after you’ve checked in at your airline counter. This is a quick process to get an exit stamp, and they will take your signed departure form.

    Are there any departure fees? Don’t worry, all your exit fees are already paid for via your airline tickets.
  3. Departure Terminal

    After you’ve cleared security screening, you’ll be in the main departure terminal. Make sure you take a quick note of where your gate is. It’s a really small airport so it’s no stress to find your gate.

    Belize Airport Departure Terminal
    Belize Airport Departure

    There are several duty-free stores, snack shops, and gift shops in the departure terminal. This is your last chance to get rid of the extra Belize currency you didn’t spend and buy that last-minute gift for your friend back home.

    The terminal also has a few cell phone charging stations you might want to use to juice up your cell phones, so you have enough charge when you get back home.
 
Let us know what you think! Have any useful tips about your experience at the BZE International Airport? Post a comment below and help others have a stress-free time at the Belize International Airport. As you may have guessed, it’s a pretty small airport and there’s no way you will get lost. Now that you know what to expect….pack your bags and Lets Go Belizing!
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Shared Shuttle from International Airport to Placencia Luxury affordable daily shared shuttle service to Placencia. Drop off to any hotel along the Placencia peninsula.... more
Departs from the airport in the afternoon after all passengers are onboard. The drive to Placencia is about 3 hours, with an optional bathroom break and convenience store stop near Belmopan.
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Philip S.W Goldson International Airport to San Ignacio One Way Shuttle from Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport (BZE) to San Ignacio Town.... more
Shuttle departs promptly from the airport arrivals terminal and arrives at Hode's Place in San Ignacio Town.
Schedule of Airport Departures:

12:00 pm

2:45 pm

4:30 pm

5:30 pm

*This departure schedule is fluid. We may leave early as soon as all passengers are onboard. Sometimes we may wait for passengers who may be delayed. We don't normally take walk-on passengers, so it is always possible to leave earlier than scheduled.

Don't worry, we won't leave without you if your flight is delayed or arrives very close to the departure time. We try to accommodate all passengers and ask for some consideration if we need to wait a few minutes for other passengers. If you have a significant delay, we may switch you to the next departure if one is scheduled. The day's last departure will wait until all passengers are accounted for.

An optional hotel drop off service is available to hotels and destination within town limits of San Ignacio and Santa Elena. Please select the appropriate add-on options when submitting your booking request. If you are not sure whether your hotel is within town limits, you may contact us to inquire or you may book the regular rate and book the additional service with the driver. We also offer service to destinations beyond town limits. The additional cost is usually determined by the distance from town.

Hotels within our drop off zone include, but are not limited to:

Ka'ana Resort

San Ignacio Resort Hotel

Cahal Pech Village Resort

Maya Mountain Lodge

Casa del Caballo Blanco

Western Guest House

Midas Resort

Western Guest House

Bellas Backpackers

D's Hostel

Aliana's Airbnb

Lucina's Airbnb

Homehill Apartments

Casia Hill Resort

Rumor's Resort

Rolson's Hotel

If you are staying at Hode's Hotel, you do not need to pay the additional hotel drop off fee since all drop off's are at Hode's Place. This is a nice outdoor restaurant to relax, grab some food, and wait for your in-town transport or local taxi.

*Drivers cannot accept cash payments but can process credit card payments for additional service arranged before departure.
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Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport is an airport that serves the nation of Belize's largest city, Belize City along the eastern coast of Central America. ... more

There is one more airport located in Belize City which includes: Belize City Municipal Airport.
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International or municipal Airport pickup or drop off, to and from San Ignacio Town. We can drop you off at your hotel in San Ignacio Town or surrounding areas.... more

2 hours of travel time.

Belizing.com Staff

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Very informative guide to the BZE airport, with useful information on what to expect for arrival and departure. This is the only international airport in Belize.
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