Work and Travel in Belize
VOLUNTEER AND PAID WORK OPPORTUNITIES IN BELIZE FOR TRAVELLERS
Belize is a Central American nation that retains the best of Caribbean and Central American culture. Its position on the coast and growing tourism footprint means more backpackers than ever are flocking to Belize. There are also more opportunities to work in Belize than ever before. Working travellers can choose from a variety of programs that are aimed at both skilled and non-skilled volunteers.
The majority of jobs in Belize revolve around the booming tourism trade. And the low season in the country, as well as the chance of hurricanes, makes work in Belize extremely seasonal. You have to time your volunteer position right, otherwise you could be left disappointed.
Most working traveller positions will revolve around the island and coastal areas, such as Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye, but you can find a range of conservation projects in the interior of what was once British Honduras (https://www.britannica.com/place/Belize/Early-history) . This guide is going to go into the options you have on the table.
VOLUNTEER WORK VISA / PERMIT REQUIREMENTS FOR BELIZE
Citizens from Britain, America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand can enter the country for thirty days without the need for a pre-arranged visa. Citizens from Russia and a number of other non-European countries need to have a pre-arranged visa.
Take note that before you work in Belize you will need to enter the country first. It’s nearly impossible to organise a work visa for volunteering outside of the country. You should first enter the country as a tourist and visit the Immigration & Naturalization ministry (http://www.belize.gov.bz/index.php/useful-links/publications/viewcategory/6-immigration-and-nationality-services). They will give you all the necessary forms needed to volunteer. All you need is proof that you have the position.
If you happen to be working for a major organisation they will usually handle the issue for you without the need for you to visit anywhere. They may even be able to organise your work visa from their side prior to your arrival.
SEASONAL BACKPACKER SKILLS NEEDED IN BELIZE
The spring season in Belize takes in the tail of the high season and the first shoulder season of the year. Temperatures will be humid at this time of year and you’ll notice a sudden drop off in tourists. This is probably the worst time of year to attempt to pick up any seasonal work purely because most attractions are preparing to close down in a month or so for the low season.
If you’re a working traveller in Belize it’s highly advisable that you don’t attempt to find work for the spring season. Your best hope is to find work on one of the many farms, including those near Bullet Tree Falls, on one of the private islands of Belize (https://www.workingtraveller.com/members/willowreed), or to opt for long-term eco projects that aren’t tied down by seasonal variations.
The summer season is actually the low season for Belize. Most Westerners will find the period from June to the middle of November to be filled with rain. This is also the time for hurricanes. You should bear in mind that this is the time to start applying for the tourism positions during the high season.
Again, this is one of the worst times to work in Belize because most resorts and attractions have closed down or downsized for the low season. The majority of long-term volunteers in Belize use this season to travel the country. There’s no specific seasonal work during the summer season.
Belieze’s autumn period takes in both the low season and the shoulder season, beginning in November. Most volunteers in Belize begin to return to their positions at this time. This is the best time to start finding work in resorts because most places want to have an established team before the chaos of the high season starts.
In particular demand will be anyone who can manage guests or anyone who has experience in diving. There are volunteer positions even for those without a lot of experience. Belize’s beautiful coral reefs and turquoise waters make it one of the best diving destinations in the region.
If you decide to go into the interior, you can also find many wildlife conservation programs (http://www.ajauntwithjoy.com/volunteering-for-paw-animal-sanctuary-in-belize/). Not all of them require you to have existing skills. For example, you can work on a butterfly farm and simply manage the day-to-day tasks, whilst the professionals take on the more advanced jobs.
Winter is the premier season for those who want to work and travel in Belize. This is the high season and it lasts from December all the way through to April. Marine conservation is in high-demand at this time of year. There are a number of organisations offering positions, which could give you access to some of the rarest sea creatures in the world.
You’ll also find that the forest conservation projects are recruiting. You don’t need to have any specific skills to volunteer in Belize within conservation projects. Most organisations are just happy for a spare of hands. But make sure you apply a few months in advance as this is becoming an increasingly popular country to volunteer in.
ATTITUDE TO FOREIGNERS WORKING OR VOLUNTEERING IN BELIZE
Foreigners working in Belize have become so common over the years that it no longer causes a raised eyebrow. You’ll have no problems working in Belize because it’s extremely diverse with a booming tourism industry that local communities have benefitted from.