BELIZE

General Business Information

Flag_of_Belize.svgBelize is a culturally diverse nation linking the Caribbean and Central American regional markets. Belize is a member of the Caribbean Community Single Market and Economy (CSME) as well as the Central American Integration System (SICA). Belize has a small economy with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2013 of US $1.6 billion. Its lead foreign exchange earners are tourism, agriculture (including but not limited to the traditional “big three” of citrus, bananas, and sugar cane), and petroleum. Belize features a year-round sub-tropical climate suitable for year-round tourism, and is conducive to cultivating quality agricultural crops year-round. [Sources: World Factbook & Embassy of the United States in Belize]

Belize’s natural assets, development policies and pro-business investment climate have created an ideal destination for investors looking to differentiate based on quality.

No other country has so emphatically proclaimed this niche-oriented destiny. Belize’s government, recognized by investors as supportive and predictable, is wholly committed to creating the conditions, policies and institutions to continue supporting the country’s «niche-oriented» development model and preserving the country’s distinctiveness. [Source: Belize Invest]

Globally, Belize stands at 167 in the ranking of 189 economies on the ease of starting a business. [Source: Doing Business]

Reasons to Invest in Belize

  • Stability: long-standing, democratic tradition; independent judiciary; fixed exchange rate since 1978
  • Profitability: attractive Fiscal Incentives and concessions; Commercial Free Zones; Export Processing Zones; repatriation of profits and dividends.
  • Liveability: subtropical climate, virgin rainforest, un-spoilt beaches, a spectacular barrier reef and friendly people
  • Emerging investment location
  • Fixed Exchange Rate with the US Dollar (Bz$2 = US$1) since 1978
  • Business-friendly environment
  • Close proximity to the US, Canada, and Mexico
  • Daily flights to the US market (approximately a two hour flight)
  • Stable democratic government
  • Pro-business governance
  • Preferential trade agreements
  • Free flow of information
  • Modern banking and telecommunication systems
  • 100% business ownership
  • Repatriation of capital
  • Foreigners do not need qualifications to own real estate and can acquire full title to properties
  • Affordable cost of land with increasing property values
  • Established infrastructure Business-friendly legal framework Excellent Government Incentives
  • Relatively low Tax Structure
  • Advantageous trade agreements and bilateral relations
[Source: Belize Invest]

Fast Facts

Capital Belmopan
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
Area 22,966 sq. mi.
Population 340,844
Climate Tropical
Official Languages English, Spanish
Currency Belize dollar
Government Parliamentary democracy; British Commonwealth
GDP per capita $8,800
Labor force 120,500
Unemployment rate 15.5%
Main trading partners US, UK, Germany, Mexico, Cuba, Guatemala, Nigeria, China
International dialing code 501
Internet domain suffix .bz
Quality of life High risk of infectious disease
Doing Business rating 106
[Source: World Factbook]

Market Entry

Belize DisctictsIncorporation: is usually done through an attorney, and requires the submission of the company’s Memorandum of Association and Articles of Association in order to be issued a Certificate of Incorporation.

The processing fees may be different depending on the Share Capital (less of more than 10,000) Other fees may become payable under the following circumstances:

  • Change of the company’s name (the original certificate is required with resolution)
  • Transfer of shares (5% stamp duty consideration)
  • Increase in Share Capital, a Special Resolution (requires a 3/4 membership agreement); the fee is calculated based on the Companies Act, Chap. 250, Section 222.

All other changes must be filed with the Registry (e.g. new director, address, allotment of additional shares, etc.). [Source: Belize Invest]

Business Name Registration: The applicant/representative must complete an application form and submit the application to the Belize Companies Registry in Belmopan City. The applicant may also request a name search by telephone or fax for a fee.

  • A name search is conducted to check whether the name is unique or it is not similar to any existing business, and to ensure compliance with the rules set out in the legislation.
  • If business name is available, a Certificate of Business Name Registration will be issued.

NOTE: Foreigners must apply with a Belizean partner or someone with a Permanent Residency to be able to register a business name. [Source: Belize Invest]

Trade License Registration: A business must obtain a trade license before the commencement of any type of operations in Belize. A trade license is required for each location that the trade will be carried on regardless as to whether it is the same business. The trade license must be renewed annually. This applies to companies, partnerships, and sole traders including professionals.

Applications are submitted to the local city or town council and approved by the Trade Licensing Board of the municipality/town. The Licensing Board consists of the Mayor of the local authority who is the chairman of the board and, four (4) other members. The Clerk, Administrator or General Manager of the local authority is usually appointed as the Clerk of the Board.

Annual license fees are calculated based on the annual rental value of the property and penalties are imposed for non-payment of fees. The police and Council Field Officers often go out to investigate whether there are businesses operating without a trade license which may be closed down if operating illegally. The Trade License must also be displayed on the premises for the public viewing.

  • A person wishing to establish a business submits a completed application form along with a copy of the Certificate of Registration (Business Names) or Certificate of Incorporation to the city or town council.
  • The applicant may be required to attend an interview.
  • The application is sent to the Trade Licensing Board for review and approval. The Board meets quarterly (January, April, July and October) every year. However, a fee can be paid to the Council for a special sitting of the Board which will meet within 10 – 15 days of payment of the fee. The Mayor will set a date for the meeting of the Board.
  • The application is evaluated at the Board meeting and if a quorum of three (3) members’ vote yes to the application, the application is deemed approved. If there are any queries, the Board will defer the decision on the application.
  • The Board communicates its decision to the Clerk at the Council.
  • The Clerk will inform the applicant and prepare the letter of approval or denial for signature by the Chairman, and the Clerk of the Board. The Clerk will request additional information from the applicant if needed. The applicant may appeal the decision in writing if the application is denied.
  • If approved, the applicant pays the license fee and can return to collect the Trade License Certificate at the respective Council office when prepared.
[Source: Belize Invest]

600px-BLZ_orthographic.svgApplying for Residency: An individual can apply for permanent residence after a legal presence in Belize for a minimum of one (1) year.

  • Submission of Completed Permanent Residency (PR) form with supporting documents.
  • Upon Acceptance interview date is issued
  • Interview with Immigration Department
  • Upon Clearance file is submitted to Director of Immigration
  • Upon approved by director, PR status is issued (Fee is payable)

Applying for self-employment (Foreign Investor):

  • Submit the application and supporting documents, in person to the Department of Labor.
  • Upon receipt of the application an interview date for the applicant is provided.
  • The Department will review the application and if additional information and documentation is needed, this will be requested.
  • The applicant must attend an interview.
  • The application will be forwarded to Special Branch to conduct a security check on the individual.
  • If all is in order, the application is approved and then the applicant is required to pay a fee.
  • The applicant should then register with the Income Tax Department and the Board of Social Security.
[Source: Belize Invest]

American Corporate Services offers experience and expertise for astute investors who wish to establish offshore businesses. Whether an investor wishes to immigrate or simply to establish a business entity, our network of professionals has the ability to advise, assist, direct and enable clients to understand and navigate the process for Belize company formation.

Our services include everything you need for starting a new business in Belize. In addition to helping to establish a Belize business bank account, helping you set up your business to conform to Belize accounting standards and to comply with Belize taxes, we also offer boutique amenities such as Belize secretarial services. We can even help you to create a Belize virtual office that will appear to others as though you are actually in Belize, even though you may be just about anywhere else on the globe at the time. Our business is making your investment a success..