One thing you need to get right when you visit a country is the money – can you spend only the country’s legal currency, or are US dollars, or other international currencies accepted too? Can you use credit cards to pay for food and hotel rooms? These are some of the questions you’ll want to ask before visiting Hopkins Village – keep reading for the answers.
The official currency of Belize is the Belizean dollar (BZ$). The colorful notes come in denominations of $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100. Each dollar is split into 100 cents, with coins ranging from 1 cent to BZ$1.
When using the Belizean currency, it’s important to only use notes that are undamaged. Otherwise, they will likely be refused by the shop or service you’re trying to pay. Damaged notes are no longer legal tender, but they can be exchanged for new notes in the Central Bank of Belize, which is located in Belize City.
If you used BZ$ during your vacation and have some left as you leave, these are readily accepted at border towns entering Guatemala and Mexico (although not in the Corozal Free Zone at the northern edge of Belize). Try to exchange any remaining money before you leave, as you’ll get little in return for Belize dollars outside the country.
It’s worth noting that there’s a fixed exchange rate for US to Belize dollars, which is USD$1 to BZ$2.
Using US dollars in Belize
Although US dollars aren’t legal tender in Belize, they are widely accepted across the whole country. You’ll be able to make all the usual vacation transactions in US dollars, including paying for rooms and services in hotels and resorts, meals in restaurants, and paying for tours and trips.
You can use US dollar notes, which is the most common way of bringing US currency into Belize. Make sure you bring small denominations, if possible, as US coins are not accepted and any change will be given in Belize dollars. You can also use US dollar travelers’ checks or can pay using a credit card, although card transactions will be charged in Belize dollars, not US dollars.
Many visitors don’t bother changing their US dollars into Belize dollars at all, as they find it easier to use their own currency. And, as the official exchange rate is already set, you won’t be ripped off by unscrupulous traders. It’s entirely up to you though, as some visitors enjoy using the currency of the country they’re exploring, as it makes them feel they’re experiencing more of local life.
One thing to note, if you’re entering Belize with US dollars, be sure to declare if you have more than USD$5,000, as it’s illegal to enter the country otherwise.
Using other international currencies in Belize is less common, and although some places will accept payment in Euro or British Pounds, this isn’t recommended as there is no fixed exchange rate, so you’ll probably get a pretty terrible conversion.
Withdrawing money from an ATM in Belize
You can withdraw cash from ATMs in Belize, although they only dispense Belizean dollars, not US dollars. Be aware, it’s likely there will be a transaction fee for using this service, both on the Belizean side and from your own bank.
If you do decide to use an ATM, these can be found in the Philip S W Goldson Airport in Belize City, as well as in Dangriga, and – conveniently – at the entrance to Hopkins Village.