Traveling can provide you with breathtaking experiences all over the world; however, it can also sometimes throw up some deeply uncomfortable encounters. A forum user has recently retold her experience of trying to cross the Mexican/Belize border and how border security tried to force her and her friends to pay for a tax that they didn’t need to. She offered the following advice to other travelers who were considering taking a similar trip…
The Importance of Standing Your Ground
The original poster (OP) explains that she was passing through the border on the Mexico side to Belize recently when border control agents took her into a side room to tell OP and her friends that they needed to pay an additional tax due to the fact they were leaving the country on land.
As an experienced traveler, OP knew this to be false and has warned prospective travelers of the tricks border control might employ to get them to fall for the scam. For example, she said that the officers pretended they couldn’t speak English and threatened not to stamp their passports unless they paid for this imaginary tax.
Another thing that border control told OP and her friends was that they couldn’t accept their tax receipts because they only had them on their phones instead of having physical copies. Again, OP knew this was a lie and stood her ground.
After a long argument, border control gave up, angrily stamped the group’s passports, and sent them on their way.
The Belize Border
Once they got to the Belize border, OP chatted with another traveler who had gone through something similar with Mexico’s border officers. After initially handing over the money, he began to record the border staff for evidence, as he suspected it could be a scam. Once they noticed he was recording, they returned his money and stamped his passport.
OP and her group had no issues with the border staff at Belize and found out a couple of days later from a local taxi driver that the Mexican staff asked local taxi drivers and bus drivers to go along with the tax scam for a cut of the money.
The bottom line – know your facts and stand your ground!
A Community Grateful for the Heads Up
The post attracted a lot of attention from other travelers who were planning on heading across the Mexican/Belize border, with one user saying, “heading to Bacalar in a couple of weeks and considering going to Belize for the day, thanks for this!”
Other users shared similar experiences. For example, one person recalled a trip across the Belize/Guatemala border in 1990:
“I went from Belize to Guatemala in 1990, and the Guatemalan border said, “5 dollars” to Americans and Europeans but “5 Quetzals” (about $1.25) to Central Americans. Belize didn’t charge us anything on the way back.”
Another user who had been across the same border as OP said that they hadn’t experienced the same issues but that the post was a great reminder to “familiarise yourself with exactly what the procedures are at border crossing” so that “you know if they go off script.”
Have You Been Scammed?
Have you ever suspected you were being scammed while traveling? If so, how did you deal with it? Let us know in the comments.