Belize City and the international airport in Ladyville have most major car-rental agencies as well as several local operators. At the international airport, a line of about 10 rental-car offices is on the far side of the main parking lot across from the airport entrances. There also are car-rental agencies in Corozal Town, San Ignacio, Placencia, and Punta Gorda. Some Belize City car-rental companies will deliver vehicles to other locations in Belize, but there is always a drop fee that varies depending on destination. Prices for car rentals vary, but all are high by U.S. standards, and vehicles are often a few years old with quite a few miles. If renting from an agency at the international airport, there’s a BZ$10 airport fee. Off-season, rates are a little lower. Weekly rates usually save you money over daily rates. Make sure you ask the agency what procedures are in place if your car breaks down in a remote area. Most agencies in Belize send a driver with a replacement vehicle or a mechanic to fix the car.
For serious safaris, a four-wheel-drive vehicle is invaluable. But since unpaved roads, mudslides in rainy season, and a general off-the-beaten-path landscape are status quo here, all drivers will be comforted with a four-wheel-drive vehicle.
Car rental has never really caught on in Guatemala, which, given the narrowness of some roads, is just as well. If you want to rent, several international and local car-rental companies, including Hertz, are based at the Flores airport, serving Tikal. If your car breaks down in Guatemala, your best bet is to call the National or Tourist Police.
In Belize and Guatemala, rental-car companies routinely accept driver's licenses from most other countries without question. Most car-rental agencies require a major credit card for a deposit, and some require you be over 25, but under 70.
Most Belize agencies don't permit their vehicles to be taken into Guatemala or Mexico. Crystal Auto Rental in Belize City does permit its vehicles to be taken into Guatemala, as do a couple of the car-rental companies in San Ignacio, although without any insurance coverage while in Guatemala. There is no place to buy Guatemalan liability insurance at the Belize-Guatemala border.
On Belize’s cayes you can’t rent a car, but you can rent a golf cart, at prices not much less than renting a car. You’ll need a driver’s license and a credit card.
Auto liability insurance is mandatory in Belize, and nearly all rentals include basic liability coverage in the rental rate. However, other damage to the car, such as from hitting a tree or stolen car, is not covered by basic liability insurance. If you own a car, your personal auto insurance may cover a rental to some degree, though not all policies protect you abroad; always read your policy's fine print. If you don't have auto insurance, then consider buying the collision- or loss-damage waiver (CDW or LDW) from the car-rental company, which eliminates some of your responsibility for damage to the car. Many credit cards offer CDW coverage, but it's usually supplemental to your own insurance and rarely covers trucks, minivans, luxury models, and the like. American Express and some other credit/charge card companies offer a premium CDW plan for a flat fee, usually around US$20–$25 per rental, not per day, that has more leeway than regular CDW plans–-for example, covering SUVs, trucks, and driving off paved roads. If your insurance coverage is secondary, you may still be liable for loss-of-use costs from the car-rental company. But no credit-card coverage is valid unless you use that card for all transactions, from reserving to paying the final bill. All companies exclude car rental in some countries, so be sure to find out about the destination to which you are traveling.
Belize has agents or franchisees of international auto rental companies including Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, and Thrifty along with local companies such as Crystal Auto Rental and AQ Auto Rental. Recommended auto rental agencies in Belize City have kiosks across the main parking lot at Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport in Ladyville as well as locations in Belize City. See individual chapters for vehicle rentals in other locations in Belize and Flores, Guatemala.
Alamo Car Rental. Alamo along with its affiliated company National Car Rental have offices at the international office and share an office in Belize City. 1 Slaugherhouse Rd., Commercial District, Belize City, Belize District. 223/0641; www.alamo.com.
AQ Auto Rental. AQ Auto Rental has locations at the international airport, in Belize City and in Placencia. Mile 5.5, Goldson Hwy., Northern Suburbs, Belize City, Belize District. 222/5122.
Budget. Offices at the international airport, on the Goldson Highway in Belize City, and in Placencia. Mile 2.5 Goldson Hwy., formerly Northern Hwy., Northern Suburbs, Belize City, Belize District. 223/2435; www.budget-belize.com.
Crystal Auto Rental. With offices at the international airport and on the Goldson Highway in Belize City, Crystal is the largest car rental company in Belize. It is one of the few rental companies in Belize that permits its vehicles to be taken into Guatemala. At least 2 days' advance notice required for Crystal to prepare Guatemala paperwork. Mile 5, Goldson Hwy., formerly Northern Hwy., Northern Suburbs, Belize City, Belize District. 223/1600; 800/777–7777; www.crystal-belize.com.
Hertz. Offices at international airport, in Fort George area of Belize City, and an affiliated agency in Placencia. 11A Cork St., Commercial District, Belize City, Belize District. 800/654–3001; 225/3300; www.carsbelize.com.