Back to Belize City we go. The scenery hasn't changed along the Northern Highway in less than a week, so the 2 hour trip lasted the full 2 hours.
We had an address for the shipping agents, who receive and do all the paperwork to process the shipments. Paid our $14bzd and were handed our paperwork-a "Dock Receipt". Make sure you have a Bill of Lading (with itemized contents in Belize dollar estimated value--you'll need this for Customs at the dock). HINT: Undervalue everything that is used (used=opened boxes or little or no resale value) anything new, it might be a good idea to have the receipt.
I've gotta stop here, paperwork should be addressed in it's entirety--many trees are killed in the name of bureaucracy in Belize; along with blue and black stamp ink...EVERYTHING "official" from shipment paperwork, insurance, passports and even raffle tickets (yes, raffle tickets!) are stamped! Mostly round stamps, only the passport ones are small rectangles. 'Nuf said.
This is the procedure:
1) Proceed to Port Loyola (down Central Americas Blvd. ends in a "T", through the fence/gate straight ahead, bear right to the security checkpoint. Present Dock Receipt. **Make sure you have the tools necessary to open your crate, if needed, we had a drill to unscrew ours!
2) Park in the lot to the left. Enter the green building on your left--cashier---pay delivery fee (ours was $140bzd).
3) Go to the small yellow building labeled "Port of Belize", sign in at the desk --have driver's license available to exchange for a visitor's pass--go to the main "shed".
A word of advice here---most of the people inside the "shed" do this for a living and it was funny to watch as they sent Larry back and forth between the windows--not getting anything accomplished! Keep a sense of humor..be patient and keep asking "What is the next step?" Belizeans are not good at explaining more than one thing at a time.
4) Inside the "shed" go to the 2nd bank of windows, present paid port fees and bill of lading. Follow the progress of your shipment on the tv board--it indicates the "status" (customs or delivery) and your "checker's" name.
5) Once it enters "Customs", go to the 1st bank of windows and have an agent check the contents. This is when you gain access to your shipment, have your tools ready! When our crate was evaluated by the agent, it was designated as "household goods"---there must be different categories for different shipments....
When we opened our crate, there were a couple of dock workers who peeked in and noticed my husband's 2 bicycles (1 road and 1 mountain bike) they immediately and excitedly began discussing the bicycling races in Belize, inviting him to join them. They even took him back to their office to show him pictures of a custom painted Cannondale road bike on their computer. These guys could not do enough for us! we departed with "see you on the road"!
6) Present the Bill of Lading--with the estimated value of the contents clearly marked in Belize Dollars!!! Follow your agent back to the Customs window. Our duty charges were calculated at 41.4% of the estimated value....we estimated $500bzd value, import duty was $100bzd, environmental tax was $10bzd, GST on landing charges was $20.92, General Sales Tax was $76.25...so the amount we paid on a $500bzd value shipment was $207.17bzd. And your paperwork gets stamped.
7) Be sure to get a vehicle pass at the Customs window so you can bring your vehicle to the "shed" to pick up your shipment. More stamps on more paperwork.
8) Return to your vehicle, queue up to enter the "shed", pull up and the dock workers will load the vehicle.
**NOTE: There are several pickup trucks waiting outside the fence line who will transport your stuff locally....your checker will hook you up with a reputable guy.
|Our crate and one of the bicycling guys|
Now, where to put the "stuff"??? Storage facilities in Belize are virtually non-existent! But, we found a gringo-owned one about 9 miles from the port! Edgar's Mini-Storage, located in Vista Del Mar subdivision near Ladyville---these are 10'x20' spaces in a pre-fab building with garage doors, on a concrete slab, fenced/barbed wire surrounds the area... provide your own lock....not climate controlled...discounted price if paid for 1 year in advance....owner lives nearby. www.edgarsministorage.com