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How You Can Get Residency In Belize That Works For You

5 min read

How You Can Get Residency In Belize That Works For You

Belize is a tiny nation on the eastern coast of Central America with a population of only 419,199 people. Because Belize was part of the British Empire until 1981, English is the official language, although Creole and Spanish are very popular as well. The temperature is typically between 60°F (16°C) and 80°F (27°C), although it can spike above 90°F(32°C) during the peak of summer. Humidity is very high during the wet season.

Belize, known for its pristine beaches, lush jungles, and vibrant culture, offers an attractive pathway to residency for individuals seeking to call this beautiful country home. Obtaining residency in Belize can be a straightforward process, and by understanding the requirements and options available, you can find a residency program that works for you.

Crime and personal safety in Belize are serious issues. The homicide rate in 2021 at 29 per 100,000 is a significant decrease over previous years (down from 37 in 2018) but still among the highest in the world. According to the U.S. state department, Belize is a “major transit zone for narcotics“ because of its porous coastal borders and rugged geography.

 

If you are interested in making Belize your home for an extended period of time, you can apply for permanent residencyIf you are interested in making Belize your home for an extended period of time, you can apply for permanent residency

TYPES OF RESIDENCY IN BELIZE

From the breathtaking jungle landscapes to the turquoise waters perfect for boating and diving, Belize is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Residents can indulge in activities such as hiking through lush rainforests, exploring ancient Mayan ruins, or even teeing off at luxurious golf courses. For individuals looking to work or start a business in Belize, the process involves obtaining a work permit. This requires securing a job offer from a Belizean company and providing supporting documents such as a passport, medical examination, and police record. Work permit fees and costs vary depending on the type and duration of the permit, and it's important to factor in these expenses when considering residency options.

There are two types of residency in Belize. If you are interested in making Belize your home for an extended period of time, you can apply for permanent residency. Temporary residency is available if you have investments or commercial interests in Belize but cannot meet standard permanent residency requirements. Belize permanent residency requirements can be strict regarding how much time you spend outside the country.

 

Related content: Mexico Permanent Residency Made Easy

 

REQUIREMENTS

The requirements for permanent residency in Belize are:

  • You have resided in Belize for a minimum of one year
  • You have not spent more than two weeks outside of Belize during this time period
  • You must demonstrate financial solvency to the Immigration Office
  • You cannot have a criminal record in any country where you may have been liable for a jail sentence of one year or more.

Because you are required to live in Belize for a year before applying for permanent residency, the expectation is that you will enter the country with a visa-exempt status and then extend your tourist visa every 30 days until you have been in the country for a year.

To qualify for temporary residency, you must demonstrate a minimum investment in the country of $500,000 Belize Dollars ($250,000 USD).

In terms of documentation, for permanent residency, you must supply:

  • Your passport
  • A clean bill of health
  • A clean criminal record check
  • Evidence of economic means
  • Passport sized photos
  • Any documentation pertaining to your spouse or accompanying dependents

The complete residence process is as follows. It begins with you gathering up all the documentation that will be required for your application. Certain items, like your clean criminal record check, may be best acquired while you are still in your home country, although the application itself will occur in Belize. The second step is to submit your application along with the accompanying documentation. At the same time that you submit your application, you will also want to book your immigration interview. From there, you will have an interview with immigration authorities, followed by an interview with the police. Once your application is accepted, you must complete all required payments, and then you can receive your residency card.

 

For individuals looking to work or start a business in Belize, the process involves obtaining a work permit

For individuals looking to work or start a business in Belize, the process involves obtaining a work permit

CITIZENSHIP BY NATURALIZATION

If you have been a permanent resident in Belize for five years and have resided continuously in Belize during that time period, you can qualify for citizenship. To reside continuously means that you have not been absent from Belize for more than a month at a time and not for more than three months in any twelve-month period. That being said, if your prolonged absence was related to your employment in Belize or for medical reasons, you may qualify for an exception. When you are interviewed by immigration for citizenship, you must bring two people from Belize who can vouch for you (your references).

The documentation required for a citizenship application is:

  • Nationality Application Form
  • Two passport photos
  • A lease or property title proving your address
  • Passport
  • Clean criminal record
  • A clean bill of health
  • The identification of your references

 

Residents of Belize can experience the unique blend of cultures and communitiesResidents of Belize can experience the unique blend of cultures and communities

TAX IMPLICATIONS OF RESIDENCY IN BELIZE

If you are working for a Belizean company, the Employee Income Tax is a tax that must be filed by all persons receiving an income.

Below is information related to earning brackets:

  • Persons earning below $26,000 USD personal relief is $25,600 USD
  • Persons earning between $26,000.01 USD and $27,000 USD personal relief is $24,600 USD
  • Persons earning between $27,000.01 USD and $29,000 USD personal relief is $22,600 USD
  • Persons earning $29,000.01 USD and over, personal relief is $19,600 USD

The rate for Employee Income Tax is 25% of the Chargeable Income.

Pension income is exempt from the income tax, and there is no capital gains tax. Because property taxes are generally levied on the value of undeveloped land only, they end up being pretty low, especially in urban areas, despite a nominally high rate of 1% to 2.5%. In Belize City, property taxes are levied on the value of both land and buildings.

Belize has historically been known as a tax haven. In the 90s, the government passed the International Business Companies Act, allowing corporations to register as International Business Companies (IBC) without tax liabilities, exchange controls, and minimal reporting requirements. There were also substantial confidentiality protections. These reforms attracted some 30,000 corporations to Belize. In 2019, many of the advantages previously afforded to IBCs were reversed.

Belize also has a Qualified Retirement Program. To participate, you must be

  • 45 years of age or older and
  • have a monthly income of $2000 USD. This income can come from retirement savings, a pension, personal savings, a reverse mortgage, an inheritance, or any other source of retirement income.
  • Pass a security check and
  • must stay in Belize for a minimum of 30 consecutive days every year.

This program offers you residency, duty exemptions, and tax exemptions. However, it does not grant you the right to seek employment (although it does grant this right to your dependents).

 

Related article: What Is Life Like In Panama? 

 

Belize, known for its pristine beaches, lush jungles, and vibrant cultureBelize, known for its pristine beaches, lush jungles, and vibrant culture

CONCLUSION FOR RESIDENCY IN BELIZE

Belize is a country that offers many tax exemptions for pensioners and retirees. Its residency process is relatively simple; all it requires is that you can provide for yourself and wish to live within the country by spending much time in it. It also has been historically viewed as a tax haven for investors, so you’ll keep more of your money to yourself. Residents of Belize can experience the unique blend of cultures and communities, forming connections with both locals and fellow expats. The country's welcoming environment and friendly population contribute to a rich and fulfilling lifestyle.

While living there, there is also plenty to enjoy in the country. For example, you can live in a beach house for cheaper than in the USA, while enjoying its white sand beaches. It is a small country so you can travel easily without using many resources and not worry too much about communication as English is the primary language; however, you'll hear Spanish often while you're there. You also can enjoy different lifestyles, from living off-the-grid to non-stop partying on the Island of Ambergris Caye.

 

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I help my clients to move offshore for freedom, privacy and autonomy by focusing on the immigration, legal, and tax issues that you will face when becoming an expat. If you would like to work one-on-one with me on getting out of your home country (or setting up a Plan-B location), then read this important letter and fill in an application form to become a Private Client. My fees are not cheap; however, I can assure you that when you work with a professional firm like ours, the results will be worth it.

 

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Mikkel Thorup

Written by Mikkel Thorup

Mikkel Thorup is the world’s most sought-after expat consultant. He focuses on helping high-net-worth private clients to legally mitigate tax liabilities, obtain a second residency and citizenship, and assemble a portfolio of foreign investments including international real estate, timber plantations, agricultural land and other hard-money tangible assets. Mikkel is the Founder and CEO at Expat Money®, a private consulting firm started in 2017. He hosts the popular weekly podcast, the Expat Money Show, and wrote the definitive #1-Best Selling book Expat Secrets - How To Pay Zero Taxes, Live Overseas And Make Giant Piles Of Money, and his second book: Expats Guide On Moving To Mexico.

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