Just another day in Belize

Buying your sticker to prove that your pay your ‘road taxes’ in Belize is normally a fairly easy process.

You drive the vehicle in question to the Dangriga traffic department, take proof of insurance, pull the old sticker from your wind shield and report to the traffic officer. The officer then inspects the vehicle. Depending on the work load of the officer and the weather conditions, this inspection is done by looking through the window, or actually walking outside and asking you to blow your horn.

After the officer is satisfied, he fills out a form, you go to the very friendly lady at the  cashier window to make payments and about 10 minutes later you walk out the office until it’s time to return again in a year’s time.

Last week it was time for me again to do my yearly routine. It didn’t seem to be very busy in the office since all the officers and the cashier were sitting around one desk chatting and enjoying a cup of coffee. I waited a bit since I didn’t want to interrupt their break but then announced the purpose of my visit.

The officer in charge told me that I could not pay today. When I asked him why, he told me that the office had run out of receipt books and therefore no transaction could go through today. My follow up question was if I could come back later the day or tomorrow to take care of this. He mentioned that I could try but he didn’t think that the receipt books would arrive tomorrow, since he just ordered them and it normally takes ‘some time’ to arrive.

Normally I don’t  give up to easy so I asked them when he expected the receipt books, he answered it would be ‘fairly soon but possibly not this month.’ When I told that my license would expire the end of this month he gave me a big helpful. “Just come back on the last day of this month” he said,  “and if the receipt books haven’t arrived yet we will give you a letter that you can show to the police if you get stopped”.

I asked him if the letter would work as a proof of payment replacing the receipt.

He let out a big sigh and said to me, ‘ I told you already you can’t pay if we don’t have receipt books. So if these books don’t come in before the end of the month you still can’t pay”.

I felt a bit silly to ask about the value of the letter but i still did.

He said, “I will give you a letter saying that  you came in trying to make payments but since we don’t have receipt books you can’t pay”.

He mentioned that “most traffic and police officers at check points will understand that, so you probably won’t get a ticket……”


You’ve got to love this country!