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Area Codes -- There are no area codes in Belize. All local phone numbers are seven-digit numbers.

Business Hours -- Banks are generally open Monday through Friday from 8am to 4:30pm, with a few banks now open on Saturdays. However, in many small towns, villages, and tourist destinations, bank hours may be limited. In very few instances, banks have begun opening on Saturday. Belizean businesses tend to be open Monday through Friday from 8am to noon, and from 1 to 5pm. Some businesses do not close for lunch, and some open on Saturday. Most bars are open until 1 or 2am, although some go later.

Drinking Laws -- The legal drinking age in Belize is 18 years old, although it is often not enforced. Beer, wine, and liquor are all sold in most supermarkets and small convenience stores from Monday through Saturday. No liquor is sold on Good Friday or Easter Sunday. On Election Day, no liquor can be sold until 6pm.

Drugstores -- There are a handful of pharmacies around Belize City, and in most of the major towns and tourist destinations. Perhaps the best-stocked pharmacy in the country can be found at Belize Medical Associates, 5791 St. Thomas Kings Park, Belize City (tel. 223-0303; www.belizemedical.com).

Electricity -- Electricity is 110-volt AC, and most outlets are either two- or three-prong U.S.-style outlets.

If you wish to access the Internet with your own computer, 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.

Embassies & Consulates -- The United States Embassy is located in Belmopan on Floral Park Road (tel. 822-4011; http://bz.usembassy.gov). The British High Commission is located in Belmopan, at Embassy Square (

www.ukinbelize.fco.gov.uk; tel. 822-2146). You can contact the Canadian Honorary Consul in Belize City at 80 Princess Margaret Drive (tel. 223-1060).

Emergencies -- In case of any emergency, dial tel. 90 from anywhere in Belize. This will connect you to the police. In most cases, tel. 911 will also work.

Gasoline (Petrol) -- Gasoline is sold as "unleaded" and "super." Both are unleaded; super is just higher octane. Diesel is available at most gas stations as well. When this guide was published, a liter of super cost around BZ$11.

Hospitals -- Belize Medical Associates, 5791 St. Thomas Kings Park, Belize City (tel. 223-0303; www.belizemedical.com), is a modern, 24-hour private hospital, with emergency care and numerous private-practice physicians. The country's main public hospital, the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, Princess Margaret Drive, Belize City (tel. 223-1548), is also open 24 hours and has a wide range of facilities and services.

Language -- English is the official language of Belize, and it is almost universally spoken. However, Belize is a very polyglot country, and you are likely to hear and come across Spanish, Creole, and Garífuna.

Laundromats -- Most folks rely on their hotel's laundry and dry-cleaning services, although these can be expensive.

Legal Aid -- If you need legal help, your best bet is to first contact your local embassy or consulate. Alternatively, ask at your hotel for an appropriate recommendation.

Lost & Found -- Be sure to tell all of your credit card companies the minute you discover your wallet has been lost or stolen and file a report at the nearest police precinct. Your credit card company or insurer may require a police report number or record of the loss. Most credit card companies have an emergency toll-free number to call if your card is lost or stolen; they may be able to wire you a cash advance immediately or deliver an emergency credit card in a day or two. It's a good idea to write this number down and carry it someplace separate from your wallet or credit cards. Visa's emergency number is tel. 800/847-2911 toll-free in the U.S., or call 410/581-9994 collect from Belize. American Express cardholders and traveler's check holders should call tel. 800/221-7282 toll-free in the U.S., or tel. 336/393-1111 collect from Belize. MasterCard holders should call tel. 800/307-7309 toll-free in the U.S., or 636/722-7111 collect from Belize.

If you need emergency cash over the weekend when all banks and American Express offices are closed, you can have money wired to you via Western Union (tel. 800/325-6000 in the U.S. and Canada, or 227-0014 in Belize; www.westernunion.com), although the service charges are substantial.

Mail -- Most hotels will post a letter for you, and there are post offices in the major towns. It costs BZ$.80 (US40¢/21p) to send a letter to the United States, and BZ$1 (US50¢/27p) to send a letter to Europe. Postcards to the same destinations cost BZ$.40 (US20¢/11p) and BZ$.50 (US25¢/13p) respectively.

If your postal needs are urgent, or you want to send anything of value, several international courier and express-mail services have offices in Belize City, including DHL, 38 New Rd. (tel. 223-1070; www.dhl.com); FedEx, 1 Mapp St. (tel. 224-5221; www.fedex.com). Either can arrange pick up and delivery services to any hotel in town, and sometimes in the different outlying districts.

Newspapers & Magazines -- Belize has no daily newspaper. There are four primary weeklies and bi-weeklies, Amandala (www.amandala.com.bz), the Reporter (www.reporter.bz), Belize Times (www.belizetimes.bz), and the Guardian (www.guardian.bz). All come out on Friday, with the bi-weeklies also having a Tuesday edition. All are relatively similar in terms of content, although with some differing (and usually obvious) political leanings and loyalties.

Police -- The police in Belize are generally rather helpful; there is a dedicated tourism police force in Belize City. Dial tel. 90 or 911 in an emergency. You can also dial tel. 227-2222.

Smoking -- In 2015 Belize enacted a smoking ban that makes smoking illegal in places like government buildings, banks, hotel lobbies, schools, public transportation, and in non-designated smoking areas in restaurants.

Taxes -- There is a US$55.50 departure tax that must be paid in cash at the airport upon departure. There is a 9% hotel tax added on to all hotel bills, and there is a 10% GST tax on all goods and services. A 10% service charge is sometimes added on to restaurant bills. Take this into account when deciding how much to tip.

Telephones

Belize has a standardized seven-digit phone numbering system. There are no city or area codes to dial from within Belize; use the country code, 501 (not to be confused with the area code for the state of Arkansas), only when dialing a Belizean number from outside Belize.

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.

Time -- Belize is on Central Standard Time, 6 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time. Belize does not observe daylight saving time.

Tipping -- Most Belizeans don't tip. Many restaurants add a 10% service charge. However, if the service is particularly good, or if the service charge is not included, tipping is appropriate.

Toilets -- There are very few public toilets or restrooms in Belize. About the only ones I know of are located at the little cruise-ship tourist village on Fort Street in the Fort George section of Belize City. However, most hotels and restaurants will let tourists use their facilities.

Water -- The water in most major cities and tourist destinations in Belize is ostensibly safe to drink. However, many travelers react adversely to water in foreign countries, and it is probably best to drink bottled water throughout your visit to Belize.

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.