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Telephones

Belize has a standardized seven-digit phone numbering system. There are no city or area codes to dial from within Belize.

To call Belize: 1. Dial the international access code: 011 from the U.S.; 00 from the U.K., Ireland, or New Zealand; or 0011 from Australia.

2. Dial the country code: 501.

3. Dial the number.

To make international calls: To make international calls from Belize, first dial 00 and then the country code (U.S. or Canada 1, U.K. 44, Ireland 353, Australia 61, New Zealand 64). Next dial the area code and number. For example, if you wanted to call the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., you would dial tel. 00-1-202-588-7800.

For directory assistance: Dial tel. 113 if you're looking for a number inside Belize, and for numbers to all other countries dial tel. 115 and (for a charge) an operator will connect you to an international directory assistance operator.

For operator assistance: If you need operator assistance in making a call, dial tel. 115, whether you're trying to make a local or an international call.

Toll-free numbers: Numbers beginning with 0800 and 800 within Belize country are toll-free, but calling a 1-800 number in the States from Belize is not toll-free. In fact, it costs the same as an overseas call.

Telephone Access Charges -- Make sure you know what the charges are for your particular international long-distance provider. Be careful about using these numbers if you're not on a specific plan. If you don't have an international calling plan, only charge calls to your credit card as a very last resort, as these calls are usually exorbitantly expensive. If you are making direct-dial international calls from your hotel, always find out what the charges are in advance. A good option is to buy a local international calling card, which will be billed at approximately BZ$1 (US50¢/25p) per minute for calls to the U.S., or BZ$1.40 (US70¢/35p) per minute for calls to much of the rest of the world.

Cellphones

The three letters that define much of the world's wireless capabilities are GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications), a big, seamless network that makes for easy cross-border cellphone use throughout Europe and dozens of other countries worldwide. If your cellphone is on a GSM system, and you have a world-capable multiband phone such as many Sony Ericsson, Motorola, or Samsung models, you can make and receive calls across civilized areas around much of the globe. Just call your wireless operator and ask for "international roaming" to be activated on your account. Unfortunately, per-minute charges can be high -- usually US$1.50 to US$3.50 (80p-£1.85) in Belize.

For many, renting a phone is a good idea. (Even worldphone owners will have to rent new phones if they're traveling to non-GSM regions, such as Japan or Korea.) While you can rent a phone from any number of overseas sites, including kiosks at airports and at car-rental agencies, we suggest renting the phone before you leave home. North Americans can rent one before leaving home from InTouch USA (tel. 800/872-7626; www.intouchglobal.com) or RoadPost (tel. 888/290-1606 or 905/272-5665; www.roadpost.com). InTouch will also, for free, advise you on whether your existing phone will work overseas; simply call tel. 703/222-7161 between 9am and 4pm EST, or go to http://intouchglobal.com/travel.htm.

Belize Telecommunications Limited (BTL) and their cellular division DigiCell (tel. 227-2017; www.digicell.bz) have a virtual monopoly on cellular service in Belize. Luckily, DigiCell does have affordable packages for SIM card activation. If you have an unlocked 1900MHz GSM phone, they sell local prepaid SIM cards in various denominations, although the initial activation costs BZ$54 (US$27/£14), including BZ$10 (US$5/£2.65) of calls. You can buy subsequent minutes in the form of scratch-off cards in a variety of denominations. Calls anywhere within Belize are BZ65¢ (US30¢/15p), and you are not charged for incoming calls. The SIM chips and calling cards are sold at their desk at the airport or at one of their many outlets around Belize. Their website also has information on setting up your home phone for roaming in Belize. But be careful, the rates are quite high.

Voice-Over Internet Protocol (VOIP)

If you have Web access while traveling, consider a broadband-based telephone service (in technical terms, Voice-over Internet Protocol, or VoIP) such as Skype (www.skype.com) or Vonage (www.vonage.com), which allow you to make free international calls from your laptop or in a cybercafe. Neither service requires the people you're calling to also have that service (though there are fees if they do not). Check the websites for details.

Internet/E-Mail

Without Your Own Computer -- In Belize, you'll readily find cybercafes in most major destinations. Many of the more upscale, isolated nature lodges also provide guest connectivity in one form or another. To search for cybercafes in Belize check www.cybercaptive.com and www.cybercafe.com.

With Your Own Computer -- More and more hotels, cafes, and retailers in Belize are signing on as Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity) "hotspots." Mac owners have their own networking technology: Apple AirPort. iPass providers also give you access to a few hundred wireless hotel lobby setups. To locate other hotspots that provide free wireless networks in cities around the world, go to www.personaltelco.net/index.cgi/WirelessCommunities.

For dial-up access, most business-class hotels throughout the world offer dataports for laptop modems, and a few thousand hotels in the U.S. and Europe now offer free high-speed Internet access. In addition, major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have local access numbers around the world, allowing you to go online by placing a local call. The iPass network also has dial-up numbers around the world. You'll have to sign up with an iPass provider, who will then tell you how to set up your computer for your destination(s). For a list of iPass providers, go to www.ipass.com and click on "Individuals Buy Now." One solid provider is i2roam (tel. 866/811-6209 or 920/235-0475; www.i2roam.com).

Wherever you go, bring a connection kit of the right power and phone adapters, a spare phone cord, and a spare Ethernet network cable -- or find out whether your hotel supplies them to guests. Electricity in Belize is 110-volt AC, and most outlets are either two- or three-prong U.S.-style outlets.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.